Yoga at Thorncraft & Grocery Cart Yoga

imageSometimes, I get the question, “so, why are you doing this yoga thing now?” It makes me laugh. I won’t go into the threads of yoga in my life and when they began and what they became at different times for me. Right now, yoga is becoming part of my publishing company’s journey, too. And, it’s fitting. Not only do I practice yoga, but so does Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo, one of the authors published by Thorncraft. In fact, Melissa wrote a blog in 2010 about how her children busted out their yoga moves in the grocery store for a public display of asana. While this blog is centered on NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month), it’s the humor and overall zen quality of Melissa’s approach to mothering and accomplishing goals that captivated me (& caused me to laugh until I snorted). She has allowed me to publish it again here on my blog in a series about yoga and what we are working on for the future. Stay tuned and enjoy this hilarious story that most all mothers can relate to:

Grocery Zen with Children…yeah, right
By Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo
You know what’s one of my biggest challenges with NaNoWriMo? Finding time to go to the grocery store for the weekly shopping.
I remember when I was lying on the sonographer’s table and saw my twins in utero for the first time (BIG surprise), one of my first thoughts was how am I going to grocery shop with three little kids? But I figured it out: one baby in the car seat in the cart itself (yes, groceries piled around her), one in the baby carrier, my (then) two year old in the kiddy seat. As time went on, it morphed into one twin in the kiddy seat, the other in the carrier on my back and my little boy on foot. This arrangement worked beautifully for a long time.
Until recently.
The girls have decided they want to be neither on my back nor in the kiddy seat. So, I decided, fine, you can both go in the cart itself which prompted this facebook post once we returned home: Yes, I was THAT mother in the grocery store and my kids were THOSE kids. Everyone was probably relieved to see the extra big bottle of wine in the cart…
They have grown to be completely nuts in the grocery store. It used to be a piece of cake, but no more. Ella asked me recently if we were going grocery shopping. And I said, “I don’t think so, sweetie. Do you know why?” She said, “Cuz Ella and Lily don’t listen.” She’s right—they open packages of grape tomatoes in the aisles, they stomp on bags of flour, they toss things out of the cart, they pull labels off cans. And they think it is all hilarious. They yell as loud as possible and crack each other up. They try to jump out, too. And every shopper who walks by freaks out that they are imminently going to fall. I can sense them questioning my mothering skills. Something about the grocery store brings out the evil in my daughters. I’m sure everyone else thinks it’s quite comical, but I am the nut saying things like, “If you don’t stop crushing our food, you are going to lose the privilege of grocery shopping with Mommy!” While I am saying these crazy things, they are singing Ironman at the top of their lungs. (Thanks to husband for introducing Black Sabbath to my precious children…)

So, here’s the thing: I go out on Thursday nights alone. I go and write. There are times when I go and read or stare at nothing. I just like being alone while drinking my nice little latte without anyone touching me. Once, my husband jokingly said on my Thursday night, “You look nice,” (which meant, I think, oh you showered). “You going to meet some guy?” And I said, “No. The last thing I want is someone touching me or trying to talk to me.” This was when we were in the thick of two babies and a toddler, when the best personality trait a person could possess was the ability to hold it together when presented a broken cracker.
So, ever the optimist, and attempting to preserve the sanctity of my Thursday night writing time, I decided to try shopping with them again. This was the next facebook post:Remember that time I said I would never go grocery shopping with the kids again? Well, I mean it this time.

Getting to the point, I started using part of my Thursday nights to grocery shop, sans kids. But it’s NaNo time now and I cannot afford to utilize any of my precious Thursday nights for anything but writing. (See? This does have something to do with writing!) I was more determined than ever to make our grocery shopping together work. Damn it.

My new tactic: two carts! One for the kids, one for the food.

Here is the one with the food—peaceful and tranquil:
 (You can imagine it with produce)
You saw the photo of the kids at the top of the page. That photo documents a semi-good moment in the shopping experience. Soon after, they were dumping water on the floor and doing Downward Facing Dog from the top of one side of the cart to the top of the other. All while chanting the words to “Five Little Monkeys” as loudly as possible. Then they commenced to freak out at the check-out when they realized that it was logistically impossible for them to place (throw) the food onto the belt from their cart. I defied the laws of physics and figured it out. I’m sure someone from MIT will be contacting me.

Long story short, I really mean it this time. But not on Thursday nights. I gotta write.

(Someone know a way to stretch the week one little hour longer?)

I still managed to stay mostly on track this week. A little behind but I will catch up this weekend!
How’s your NaNo project going?

Visit Melissa’s blog at
Melissa’s blog was first publishing at Her Circle Ezine for The Writer’s Life blog.

An Odd Pairing–the Sacred Silence of Giving and Conscious Purchasing: Part 6 to What is Service? What is Generosity?

Image created by Constantina Dirika

Image created by Constantina Dirika

This was tough to put into words for awhile, and yet I was feeling it all along. My point has been to teach my daughter about service, giving and generosity and to share our experiences while doing that. During the process, one perspective I have considered and one that has been expressed to me by others is silence in giving. Anonymity. I have done my fair share, and admitting that does, in some ways, defeat the purpose of being anonymous. Some would say you should give so much that you fail to notice where your life ends and giving begins and vice versa. Service is your life, but most people have a different relationship. Though they still participate in giving with anonymity in mind, we choose specific times and places to give. Zoe and I weren’t an exception, and some days were monotonous in sorting, picking up, organizing, donating, and dropping off (but this is essential to the process). I kept an activity log every day, but I stopped listing each day’s activities to readers since it didn’t retain the sincerity I felt. Lists are tricky anyway, but explaining each day’s activities is overkill, and going into details can at times break someone else’s confidence (giving to people who are “proud” and to people who don’t know I gave to them). Another example: Day 25’s meditation with my daughter. While I am overjoyed that she has continued to meditate (at random times but mostly after playing video games), sharing her private thoughts about her meditative state would break her confidentiality (even if she isn’t reading this blog).

I did find some places where our life and giving are merged, as in selfish giving, but I also found it in our weekly grocery purchases. I felt proud to show her the companies that give part of their profits back to organizations and non-profits that benefit our communities and world. One of the products we discussed, and that Zoe likes, is 505 Southwestern salsa. On the side of every bottle: “Flagship Food Group, LLC, will donate a minimum of $100,000 to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) from May 1, 2013 through April 1, 2014, contributing 1% of the purchase price of this product. Visit
We talked about products like Newman’s Own (donating 100% of their profits to various charities and non-profits)that are environmentally-conscious and contribute to making the world a better place. Being a conscious consumer is a necessary survival skill in a capitalist society, but it also allows us to sponsor products and companies with business practices that we admire. (I say this without my full enthusiasm since we all participate in purchasing some products created by workers making extremely low wages or working in bad conditions–that leads to more questions from my daughter.) I have been crestfallen when having to explain many of the conditions in our world.

I always spin it into a positive direction by showing her examples of people, products, and companies that consider conservation and try to better the world. This card company, Skyflight Mobile, is one of my favorites for providing information about birds native to the U.S.

I explained how important it is to care for our natural areas and wildlife–that is service to the earth and the future people and animals who will live here. I told her about the Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. These are free events to help the Audubon society with bird counts: “All Christmas Bird Counts are conducted between December 14 to January 5 inclusive dates each season. Your local count will occur on one day between those dates. Participate in as many counts as you want!” Open to families and new bird enthusiasts, as well as experienced birders. She was curious and said that she’d like to maybe pariticipate next year, but this year, she already has plans.

Mulch for these trails--they need it.

Mulch for these trails–they need it.

Yesterday, on the 31st, our act of service was dropping off the Christmas tree so that it can be turned into mulch for the trails at the park where we are always overjoyed to hear and/or see the owls, cedar waxwings, great blue heron, the sparrow hawk, kingfisher, pileated woodpeckers, and our many bird neighbors.

On this first day of the year, after 30 days of taking a close look and participating in a variety of service activities, this project was a wonderful way to show Zoe different ways to give and the wide range of feelings confronted during the process of giving.

The Path of Selfish Giving & Meditative Techniques: Part 5 to What is Service? What is Generosity?

Photo by Felipe Hadler

Photo by Felipe Hadler

Last week, my daughter and I continued our service exploration, and I had the opportunity to contribute to some national organization about which I previously knew nothing.

Like many women enlisted as a bridesmaid, I had a champagne pink formal from a wedding, with 6-inch heels to match, hanging in my baby’s closet. I was never wearing any of that again. I googled, “prom dress donations to girls” and discovered Becca’s Closet. Plenty of girls gaga over pink would love this one-shouldered satin dress with Vince Camuto heels. I also let my friends and family members know that I would deliver dresses, accessories, and jewelry. I picked up dresses and jewelry (Days 15 & 17). My husband even picked up some dresses when I lost my car keys. And that was the biggest lesson Zoe learned from those prom dresses, keep giving and asking for help because many people will help you to give. Then I showed her the photographs of girls in dresses, and she asked, “When can I get a pair of high heels?”
Uh, yeah, lesson learned :-/

Cue the discussion about selfish giving. “I participate in it all of the time,” I admit to her. “It’s kind of the easiest type of giving for a lot of people because you get something in return and you know that you’re getting it.” I explained that I enjoy supporting the arts because I so often receive a performance or free tickets to something for giving to theater, dance, and music companies. I also explained that many of those programs receive less and less federal funding, so sponsoring the arts ensures that artists have jobs. It goes beyond that, but it’s difficult to retain a 7-year old’s attention about federal funding and such for more than 7 minutes (if that).

So, I explained by example that her Dad and I were going to a benefit concert (Day 18), and while it benefitted Nashville-area veterans and at-risk children, I wanted to go because I would get the opportunity to see some of my favorite musicians (Brendan Benson & Jack White) play music at one of my favorite venues (Ryman Auditorium). Totally selfish giving.

And in that moment of selfishness, I learned about the David Lynch Foundation and transcendental meditation.

What Brendan Benson said about transcendental meditation during the concert: “I believe it’s addressing the source. I believe If you can achieve inner peace, you can achieve outer peace.”

For one summer ten years ago, I taught literature to high school students who were planning to become first-generation college students. They were participating in a university-preparatory program. At first, we didn’t connect at all, and then I just followed my gut, took a major leap, and had them practice a meditative technique in order to try to convey the concept of symbolism to them. I had practiced meditative techniques for about five years, and I was a grad student who had been teaching writing in a developmental writing course. I teetered on the edge, waiting, when they opened their eyes. Would they call me crazy? Were they asleep? Amazingly, it worked, and they wouldn’t shut up about symbols and meaning, metaphor, hyperbole…you name it–they did get the concept. I began to teach a variety of meditative techniques in connection with literature. Every day we met, the students asked me if we would be meditating. I was in shock. They read, they wrote, they arrived early. I’ve never taught that way again, but I always knew something exceptional happened in those classes that I’ve never been able to recreate by other traditional classroom means. While I haven’t been trained in transcendental meditation yet, I do know that the practice of meditation changed my life.

The David Lynch Foundation puts transcendental meditative programs into public school as well as working with the Wounded Warrior Program and many local organizations. Meditation in schools and helping veterans–that gave me a greater feeling than rockin out at the Ryman.

And don’t read my stuff anymore right now, read theirs, read about transcendental meditation and the David Lynch Foundation.

From the David Lynch Foundation website:
Operation Warrior Wellness:
building resilience and healing the
hidden wounds of war
The nightmare of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
Over half a million U.S. troops deployed since 2001 suffer from PTSD. Yet less than 20% will receive adequate care due to lack of effective treatments, fear of stigma or insufficient government resources. Half of those with PTSD won’t receive any care at all.
Left untreated, PTSD cripples functioning and places veterans at great risk for violent and self-destructive behavior, including:
Alcoholism or drug abuse
Severe depression, anxiety or emotional numbness
Family and employment problems
Suicide—today, more than 6,500 vets die by suicide every year
Creating resilient warriors
Operation Warrior Wellness (OWW), a division of the David Lynch Foundation, offers the Transcendental Meditation-based Resilient Warrior Program, a simple, easy-to-learn, evidence-based approach to relieving symptoms of PTSD and major depression and developing greater resilience to stress.
Since its initial launch in 2010, the OWW initiative has partnered with leading veterans service organizations, Army and Marine bases and VA medical centers across the country to deliver the Resilient Warrior Program to veterans, active-duty personnel and military families in need. The initiative also partners with military colleges to create a new generation of more resilient officers.
Evidence-based relief from the epidemic of mental injury
The TM-based Resilient Warrior Program has been extensively researched by over 340 peer-reviewed studies, including over $26 million in grants from the National Institutes of Health to study the program’s effectiveness for reducing heart disease. Key findings include:
40-55% reduction in symptoms of PTSD and depression
42% decrease in insomnia
30% improvement in satisfaction with quality of life
25% reduction in plasma cortisol levels
Decreased high blood pressure–on par with first-line antihypertensives
47% reduced risk of cardiovascular-related mortality
View references for these findings

Positive & Negative Responses to What is Service? What is Generosity?: Part 4

My daughter’s approach to service has been both positive (“what are we doing for service today?”) and negative (“do we have to drop it off today? I want to play on the computer.”). She has these responses to most activities, even those she loves like gymnastics.

She has learned that many of our activities involve organizing. Some days, organizing and transporting are the service. I’ll spare you the daily details of organizing, sorting, and drop-off for local non-profits and shelters that help families and children (Days 10-14).

Zoe has learned how many people must cooperate to get donation items, drive the donations to the pick-up person, drop off at the non-profit, some of which are in undisclosed locations in order to protect the women & children in the shelter. That was a complex lesson to communicate–that some families need protection from people in their own family who would harm them. She was ready for this knowledge and asked the questions, but she continues to question why people need to hide from their family members.

A wonderful positive gift happened to show Zoe how much people value it when someone does a good deed for them. After her failed cookie delivery to our neighbor, Zoe wanted to take her cookies the next day. I baked apple buttermilk muffin cakes, just in case those chocolate chip cookies weren’t the best, and Zoe marched to our neighbor’s house with the goods. She thanked Zoe, who skipped proudly back to our house. The next day, after making a pick-up of donated items from a local church, we arrived at home to find a Christmas bag hanging from our front door knob. Our neighbor left Zoe (&Silvie) some Christmas treats with a card that said, “An unexpected gift is the most precious.”

Zoe was thrilled. She said, “sometimes if you do something nice for someone, they can do something nice back for you, but they don’t have to. It’s not good to do something just cause you think you’ll get something. That’s not the best way at all. It causes trouble.”
Made me laugh. “What kind of trouble?” I asked.
“Thinking you’ll get something and then waiting around for it. Just waiting and waiting–that’s not a good feeling and will make some people mad at the other people. Like if they don’t get what you were thinking.”
“Good for you to learn that now,” I said. “You know it took me much longer to learn that–”
She cut me off, “Okay, I get it. Can I play a computer game now?”

Even though I know she’s only going through the motions at times, I am as well. We have our positive days and we have others when we have to force ourselves to fulfill obligations. Thankfully, we’ve enjoyed more positive giving than the tiredness that sometimes controls us.

Next week, we’re connecting with some national non-profits, so I’ll blog about those next.

What’s your approach to service in your community? Do you involve your family? If so, what are your positive experiences? And, how do you get through the negative days?