The Outer Banks are a super thin strip of sandy islands that run along the North Carolina shore.  On the East side of each island is the beach and on the west is the Sound, a saltwater marshy space where the inter-coastal waterway runs.  Here’s a map:

outer banks map

In some places those skinny islands are so skinny, you can walk from surf, across a few dunes and a highway, then through a bit of live oak forest, and be standing in the salty sound, all in a few minutes.  Many are thicker but no more than a mile across.  The island tips, though, are the coolest spots, places where the sound and surf come together in a mingling swirl of sandbars, marsh grass and beach.

Here is the view from the porch of the cottage I was at last week:

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It’s hard to see it in the photo, but the farthest (highest) strip of water in this picture is the breaking waves of the beach itself.  Those distant specks are the 4wd trucks of fishermen pulled right up to the breakers on the tippy-tip of the island.  The green is marsh grass is where the sound is swirling around to meet the surf.  Between the two are sandbars, some with trees, like on the left top, and marsh, all great for birds, fishing, and canoeing.

A huge number of my favorite childhood memories have this very view in them.  The Lassiter’s have been going to this bit of beach for thirty-plus years, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all piled in, sleeping on sofas, getting up early to walk to the beach or check the net.

In summer, you can swim from the surf to the sound.  Or float in the channel down to the nearest sandbar and explore.  If the tide turns you’ll have too strong a current to swim against, so you’ll have to be picked up.  My Granddaddy used to come get us in his fishing boat, the same fishing boat we had on this trip, still going strong after fifty years, although Granddaddy has been gone a decade now.  Lots of layers of personal history in this particular spot of the world for me.

And tons of adventures to be had.  Canoeing is a favorite.  Here is little Luc between his Great Aunt and Great Uncle…

luc in the canoe

There’s a bazillion treasures to find…

feather on beach

Love the light in this next one!

shell in the water

Everyone’s got to learn to drive the boat…

sophie steering the boat

And the aquarium is not too far of a drive…

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Plus there is swimming, yes, even in October!…

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Although, truth, Luc nearly levitated to get back out of that water.  “Too cold!!!!”  Sophie and her aunties swam for a good half-hour though.  Lassiter women are bad-ass like that.  (Not me.  I’m with Luc.  I had to, uh, take the pictures.)

The sky and the colors are always changing.  So beautiful!

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That last one with the crazy Sauron-Is-Coming sky is at the beach proper.  It looks like a desert, but that strip of dark on the horizon is the ocean.  Part of that is a trick of the camera angle, but also, there’s just a ton of sand down at the point, where the ocean keeps depositing the sand picked up from the more northern parts of the island.  The Outer Banks are always in motion.

Here’s another beach-y shot, sand castle construction with another of the Great Aunts (while I took the best nap of my LIFE, I am totally serious):

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The colors!

Of course, a very important part of the recipe for a great beach week:

margharitas

Margaritas!  Hell yeah.

One of my favorite things, though, is the sunsets….

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They’re different every day.

If you get a chance to visit, I highly recommend it, but be super ecologically responsible.  So many parts of this place are delicate and endangered.  Makes me weep.

LOVE.  If there is an inner Maya Landscape, this is it.

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I went to the beach this week!  WOOT.  That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  Excuse for not posting here, and for not doing a damn bit of yoga.  I went whole hog and didn’t write (because the current novel is out to beta readers and I need a BREAK), didn’t do yoga, didn’t study kanji and Japanese, basically didn’t do anything but hang with the kids, walk on the beach, do a few canoe rides, and eat a ton of good food.

Just got back and it’s dive right into PARTY PREP for Luc’s NINE-YEARS-OLD birthday party, O.M.G.  I can not believe he is nine.  Nine is like, the last year of true childhood.  Don’t you think?  Ten is something else altogether, plus, double digits.  Nine is still a little boy….

In the last twenty-four hours I have cleaned the entire yurt (A-MAZING), made two giant pots of chilli, baked and frosted a cake, etc.  Sunday night I’m going to collapse with a big glass of wine.  Monday I’m returning to my life, writing, yoga, kanji, driving the kids to their various activities, blah blah.

SO.  This is the yoga thread where I DON’T TALK ABOUT YOGA.  Ha!  Except maybe how much I miss it.  I guess a break can be a good thing, if it makes you want to practice….

 

I noticed today that it felt good to get into padmasana.  I mean, I got to the end of finishing, those last three lotuses, and it was Ahhhhhh.  Not just for finishing, but for actually bending my legs into that ridiculous, upside down, shape.   You know, that good feeling like stretching first thing in the morning, like you’ve been waiting to do it, and you finally have, and it’s lovely.  That feeling.

“Really?” I asked myself.  “Seriously?”

Yes.  Seriously.  Instead of padmasana aching my hips, or being barely tolerable by my knees, or hurting the top of my left foot (it did that for years), it felt…good.

Just another of those minor asana miracles that happen if you stick with it.  Impossible body positions become old friends.   It’s freaking weird.

Please drop by and leave a comment about your practice this week.  Plus, if you’re new, you might want to look at some of the old Friday Open Thread chats, they’ve been great, lots of discussion of yoga after 40, sticking with it (or not), showing up (or not).  I’m delighted to keep hosting as long as there is interest!

 

Danielle” is a wonderful, beautiful vid showing a young girl aging into an old woman in five minutes.  It happens so slowly, at first you don’t quite realize what you’re seeing—LIKE REAL AGING—and then you get it and wow.  Highly recommended!  And no skipping around!  Don’t cheat!  Watch it straight through for the full effect, watch it in HD, just watch it.

I feel strangely moved by this, by how beautiful she looks at all the ages, by the little girl inside the old woman, by how fast my life is passing before my eyes, like this.  It feels like five minutes ago I was that little girl.

The video was made by Anthony Cerniello    by merging and animating high-def photos of many relatives within a single family.  Here’s the info: Cerniello traveled to his friend Danielle’s family reunion and with still photographer Keith Sirchio shot portraits of her youngest cousins through to her oldest relatives with a Hasselblad medium format camera. Then began the process of scanning each photo with a drum scanner at the U.N. in New York, at which point he carefully edited the photos to select the family members that had the most similar bone structure. Next he brought on animators Nathan Meier and Edmund Earle who worked in After Effects and 3D Studio Max to morph and animate the still photos to make them lifelike as possible. Finally, Nuke (a kind of 3D visual effects software) artist George Cuddy was brought on to smooth out some small details like the eyes and hair.

Obviously, I’m still pondering aging.

Sidenote: my current novel is out with the first round of beta readers.  FINALLY.  It feels very, very bizarre not to be working on it every day.  I’ve been writing it for the last sixteen months, which is really embarrassing.  Why so long???  It isn’t proportionally better a novel than my others, I don’t think.  It just…took longer.  I hope to get it out by the end of the year, but that might be pushing it…..

 

I was making breakfast this morning and Sophie, 10, still groggy and droopy, hands me two bowls with two spoons and says in a monotone, “If you let these two spoons touch, it will create a paradox.”  And she wanders off.

??

I turn to Luc, 8, eyebrow raised in question.  He is waiting for his cereal, humming a little song, as is his way, eating a banana.

“Wha–?” I say.

He shrugs and says with a cheerful smile, “I poop mints!”

Honestly, it’s like I’ve accidentally ended up in some dadaist improvisational dance troupe, only they forgot to send me the memo.

 

 

Ugh, I’m exhausted, spent all week cleaning the yurt to get ready for upcoming PAR-TEH.  Party’s are fun but the pre-cleaning is HELL.  On the upside, there is plenty of room on the floor right now to spread my mat.

So how did y’all fare this week?  How’s practice treating you?  (Or you, it?)

 

Ran across this today, SUPER FUN:

Amiright? How cool is that? And then, of course I clicked on the “see our previous video” link and it went to this, amazing and moving story of one, lowly orc’s trials and desire for supremacy.

What a terrific idea, to tell a story from the lowest orc’s perspective. I always wonder about those poor losers. I mean, to be the Low Orc on the Orc Totem Pole, the bottom guy in a world of bullies and meanies, that’s got to suck. What can I say, I’ve got too much empathy.

And then Sophie and I really liked this “making of” the Mordor video, I mean, wow, these guys are bad-ass. I love it when people do cool things in the name of art/fun! I wonder who they are, who is funding this venture, how they learned all of this? I’m totally impressed.

And there went the rest of the morning, the kids and I watching more and more of these terrific vids….

I’m late to the party on this. Digital Corridor has been putting out videos for years. Very cool. Two thumbs up. Youtube is amazing, or rather, what some people do when given a platform like youtube…is amazing.

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I’ve been thinking about easy-going yoga practices vs. those practices where you push against…actually I’m not sure what I’m pushing against.  Against what my body can easily do today, perhaps.  Against the line where a luxurious stretch becomes effort.  Against aging.

I mentioned it in a comment on the Friday check-ins a few weeks ago, I’ll quote my comment here: “…striving vs. maintaining, or possibly it is working hard in the practice (as in this post by Stacey Ingham about a recent David Garrigues workshop) vs. pleasure in the practice (as described by me in this post about the first David Williams workshop I went to).”  Who doesn’t want a pleasurable practice?  Why wouldn’t we just do easy, relaxing practices?  I mean, duh.

But it’s like this wall of flesh is advancing on me.  That’s the big bad boss in one of my kid’s games, “The Wall of Flesh,” I love that, haha.  But look, if I push against it, this relentless advancing wall, I CAN gain ground.  I CAN get stronger, more flexible, more able.  On the other hand, if I do an easy practice, if I don’t push against that wall very hard, or at all, then IT advances.  Just a little on any given day, but it does, and before I know it I’m back to pushing again, just to maintain, or I have to make my easy practice even easier, to maintain the feeling of ease.

Pushing practices are harder (obviously) and it’s much more of a challenge to get myself out of bed to push.  Easier to get myself out of bed for something I think will pleasurable.  Yoga as tai chi feels delicious.  And it does maintain, and even advance (if you do it every damn day), although slowly (but safely, fewer injuries on this route).  But that wall of flesh gets more powerful every year and the ground I’m standing on is turning to sand.  I find I have to throw some hard-work practices into the mix on a regular basis just to keep where I’m at.  Tai-chi yoga isn’t enough.

Grrrr.

Joe Friel is a world class cycling coach and has written the bible on Cycling Past 50.  In it he looks at studies on older athletes, either that keep up a ‘good enough’ training schedule as they age (they drastically slow the deterioration that comes with aging) vs. the ones that keep pushing hard.  The pushers are just as good, or even better (faster, greater maxVO2 values, etc) than they were in their 20s!  Bottom line: use it or lose it.  (Friel has a new book coming out soon that I’m interested to read that looks at fitness and triathletes after 50, called Faster After 50, check it out if you like lots of science with your exercise reading.)

As Pamela says in the comments of that above post: aging body is real. We’re more tired just doing the same old things.  Injuries happen more easily and take forever to heal.  Everything is harder.  I want to rest.  It seems…kind…to honor that.  I want to be kind to myself.

On the other hand: “Don’t give aging an inch!” says Gillian Lynne, and 87 year old choreographer in this terrific interview, part of the documentary, Fabulous Fashionistas, about older women who are killing it with style and grace.  Two parts here: the first couple of minutes (first vid) introduces her and her work (and her husband who is 27 years younger):

And in the next couple of minutes she talks about her morning yoga/stretching practice and about pitting herself against the aging process, very inspiring.

Each day, each practice, each asana in a practice, I look at the question of how much to push, how easy to let it be.  Sometimes ease is what’s needed just to show up at all.  Sometimes I have to buckle in for some pushing—and I’m not talking about  crazy, I get injured too quickly.  But there is a continuum isn’t there, from going through the motions of practice like tai chi, through some effort, through wringing myself out.  I almost never wring myself out.  I’m lazy!  And afraid of hurting myself—it takes SO LONG to heal….  I want some of Gillian’s verve and energy to keep up the fight.  Actually I don’t want to fight at all.  But it seems unavoidable.  The war of attrition.  Maybe there is a different way to frame it?  Maybe engage, instead of fight…?

My weekly check-in is in the comments.   Fridays are open-thread days to drop in, say hello, talk about your practice, what you did, what you didn’t do, commiserate, ask questions.  Home practitioners especially need some community time and the Cyber Shala can offer that.  Please join in!

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Hello yoga practitioners, another week has passed, I know, I can’t believe it either.  How was your practice this week?  Check in, report, ask, commiserate, ponder, it’s all welcome.

 

I remember watching my Grandma put on her make-up: Oil of Olay, powder from a compact, a brown pencil (eyebrows?), and coral lipstick.  She would blot the lipstick on a tissue and you would find them, these lipstick kissed tissues, in her purse because she was thrifty and wouldn’t throw them away until they had been “used up.”  I remember that if you opened her medicine cabinet there was all this old fashioned looking stuff, my Granddaddy’s shaving brush and mug, Vaseline, Pepto Bismal, Vick’s Vap-o-rub, Bayers Asprin, baking soda, Thayers Witchhazel.

There is a junk store we drove by once called “Everything But Granny’s Panties” which, of course, got shortened to “Granny’s Panties”, as in, “Hey, let’s go shopping in Granny’s Panties” (snicker snicker from the backseat)…and somehow that phrase has now come to mean my new face products.granny's skincare 1

Huh?

Okay, I’m having a midlife crisis and it is taking the form of a sudden interest in skincare.  I wrote about some of this here, a quest resulting in red lipstick, and a bit more here, where I discovered such things as exfoliating.  Then I ran across the people at the r/skincareaddition subforum on Reddit.  And after lurking for a while, I tried a few things they recommend and…

granny's skincare 2…well, they’re not the high end fancy schmancy expensive luxe products I was expecting from skincare addicts.  On the contrary, they are the sort of products I would find in my Grandma’s medicine cabinet.  Cerave in the tub costs about .80 per oz and has the appeal of a tub of Crisco, but wow, it’s a very nice moisturizer.  Or Vaseline—who would have thought petroleum jelly could ever shake off the evil reputation it picked up in the 70s, but you know what?  It really works as an occlusive moisturizer, and at only a penny per application.  Or EltaMD sunscreen  that looks like something you’d get at the dermatologist, sort of cold and medical, but damn.  Its great.  And cheap, at $6 per oz.

My thrifty Grandmother would be proud.granny's skincare 3

After mentioning this to the kids, they started calling my new face products “Granny’s Panties Moisturizer”, and “Granny’s Panties Sunscreen”, etc.  Har har, like it’s a brand name, they love to make fun of me.  Everyone needs a hobby.

But “Granny’s Panties Beauty Products” is so very…not sexy.  I mean, if I use Granny’s Panties Moisture Cream, does that make me Granny?  I’m not sure how I feel about this.  This whole skincare thing was supposed to help me with my midlife crisis, not make it worse.

There are some mysterious references on r/skincareaddiction to cult-status Asian products like Hada Labo hyaluronic lotion or the even more weird sounding snail excretion treatments (I’m not kidding!) but I’m so not in the inner circle yet.  Those posts are too advanced for me.

They do love oil cleansing over there, though.  Which may be how I ended up there in the first place, come to think of it.  Sophie and I made those lovely cleansing balms and were about to run out, so I was poking around the internet for new recipes.  Because while we have loved our balms, getting the oil off is not the best part of the process, so…why not add an emulsifier?  r/Skincareaddiction had just such a recipe.

Break out the lab coats and the mad scientist hair!

So, our new cleansing oil (we decided not to use shea this time, so the resulting cleanser is not as solid as the first batch…more oil more than balm, although I like the word balm, I miss it) recipe is:  Hemp oil, Castor oil, Green Tea extract, Rosemary oleoresin, and Polysorbate 20.  Turns out you can get the needed ingredients easily at Lotioncrafter.com.  As per the skincareaddict’s instructions, we used this calculator to figure out how much of each thing to put into our 4 oz bottle.  It was all ridiculously easy.

End result: you put it on like an oil, massage (ahhhh), and when you’re done, you rinse it off with water.  It’s so cool!

This post has a bunch of info on different oils that can be used.  Here’s the bit about hemp oil:  “Hemp has a 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs), which is the perfect match to human skin, meaning it quickly and easily soaks deep into skin to provide hydration from the inside out, reducing redness and irritation of the skin. Additionally, hemp’s high concentration of polyunsaturated EFAs helps it reduce inflammation, aiding in the treatment of skin conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, or sensitive skin in general. Hemp seed oil is a non-comedogenic moisturizer that does not leave a greasy layer or clogged pores. Hemp has been found to be very effective for those with sensitive skin or other dermatological issues (Callaway, JC, Schwab U, Harvimaa I, Halonen P, Mykkanen O, Hyvonen P & Jarvinen T (2005). Journal of Dermatological Treatment.). Hemp helps lock in moisture and soften skin, while at the same time, creates a firm lather and effective cleanser that can clean away the toughest grease while still leaving your skin smoother than ever.”

Hell yeah!  Gimme some of that that, yo.

Aaaaand, I thought I had a picture but my ipod just died.  I’ll post a picture of our cleansing oil as soon as I get it, with Sophie’s hand-drawn label, because packaging matters in skincare.  In fact, I might have her design some new labels for all of these things.  A gal’s beauty potions need magic, they need sex appeal, right?

So how the heck did I get stuck with Granny’s Panties Beauty Potions?  I want, like, Sex Bomb Magic Gorgeousifying Treatment, and Unicorn Skin Protection Gel, and Liquid Gold Essence for Princess Skin Cream.  I want my eight year old son Luc’s skin, omg, it’s like the softest silk you ever touched, no pores, the color of cream….

His favorite skin cream?  MUD.

Life is so unfair.

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