A letter to you, my friend, and an asana for the letter A

Good morning!

I wasn’t going to do it. Right up until supper time yesterday, I wasn’t going to do it. But then…I changed my mind.

Snap! Just like that.
snap_zoidberg_futurama

I’m participating in the 2016 Blogging from A to Z in April challenge.

In the very first blog post I ever wrote, way back in 2010, I mused about how much I missed letter writing. Real letters, on beautiful stationary. Written with pen in hand and cup of tea at elbow, settled in at the kitchen table to compose a chat in which I would be spending the next hour thinking about and spending time with the letter’s recipient: you, my friend.

In that very first blog post, I wrote about how I hoped this blog would be a way to keep in touch with family and friends.

I still hope that. Especially now that I no longer call Whitehorse my (primary) home. I don’t know how many of my old friends or family read my blog. I know the blog has strayed away from it’s original purpose…letters from – and to – home.

I want to return to that original purpose, and so I’m taking the opportunity provided by the A – Z challenge to write a letter every day via this blog. I don’t know what I’ll say just yet. Maybe a bit of reminiscence, a short little personal essay or a simple up-date on my day.

Whatever I write each day, I’ll try to make it personal. A glimpse into what I’m thinking about, musing about. A struggle I’m having or something I’m celebrating. I hope you’ll read along and join in the conversation by leaving a comment. I promise to write back. 🙂

And since the rules of the A-Z Challenge are that you must blog according the the alphabet, I am going to include something alphabetical at the end of each post that is related to YOGA. Yup. Yoga. I’ve started my daily practice again, and it’s very personal and important to me. I’ll put it at the end of the post in case you aren’t interested in this part of my life. And if you are, maybe you’ll want to try doing one or two poses with me. 🙂

Today is a beautiful spring day. The sun is shining, the lake is literally a mirror, the first green leaves are unfurling and the birds are singing their hearts out. I am sitting at the kitchen table. When I lift my head and look out the window, this is what I see:spring3AThe letter A: Asana

The Sanskrit definition of the word asana is to be seated in a static position. However, in the yoga world, it has come to mean assuming and holding any yoga pose. Yoga poses are, in essence, exercises that create strength, balance, flexibility and improved circulation in the muscles and joints in the body, and encourage serenity, patience and calmness within ourselves and in our interactions with other people. In short, practicing yoga asanas promote well-being in both body and mind.

In the spirit of the Sanskrit definition, to be seated, here is your asana for today:

Make yourself comfortable in your chair. Sit in a way that is the most relaxing to you. Close your eyes. Put one hand over your heart. Let your lips curve into a small smile. Breathe slowly through your nose for a few moments. Listen to the sound your breath makes. Notice your ribs and belly moving as you breathe. Feel the chair against your bum and your back, the soles of your feet inside your shoes or pressed against the floor.

Pay attention to the little pause at the top of your inhale and at the bottom of your exhale – a slight pause, a moment of stillness.

Just be. Just for a moment.

Steel cut oats in the crock pot for breakfast

Just a few minutes ago, I opened the fridge and took out a container of left over, steel-cut oatmeal.  I’d made a batch the other day; it is my favourite dead-of-winter breakfast. Stomach grumbling, I spooned out a congealed glop, added a spoonful of honey, and poured a bit of milk over.  After three minutes on reheat in the microwave, my bowl of oatmeal looked, smelled and tasted as good as it did when I spooned my first bite fresh out of the crock pot two days ago. Yes, I said crock pot!

I’ve posted this recipe before… I thought you might like to see it again. Bon Appetit!

~

007Everybody seems to call these by a different name. I call them steel-cut oats. I’ve also heard them called Irish oats, or groats. Here’s what they look like:

006Here’s the box they came in:

005They are creamy and chewier than rolled oats, and have a rich, nutty flavour.

003My friend Maureen gave me the recipe and I played around with it a little bit. Do you want to make some? They are easy-peesy!

008Before you go to bed, get your small (I use a 6-cup) crockpot out of the cupboard and put 3 1/2  cups of water and 1/2 cup milk into it. Pour in 1 cup of steel cut oats.Put on the lid. Plug it in and turn the setting to low. When you get up in the morning, give it a good stir and let it sit for 5 minutes while you make your coffee. Enjoy!

You can add chopped apple, some walnuts or raisins right into the pot, whatever you like. I like mine plain with a teaspoon (okay, 2 teaspoons) of brown sugar. Sometimes I throw a handful berries on top just before digging in. Delish!

In a nutshell for you:
3.5 cups water
.5 cup milk
1 cup steel cut oats
6 -cup crock pot, on low overnight.009Do you love oatmeal? What do you call them: Groats? Irish Oats? Steel-cut?

Enter the MOOC: free online education

“You can go downtown,” I used to say to my son, “but you can’t just hang. You have to have something to do.” I abhorred the thought of my kid just hanging around Main Street, looking bored. 

I’ve felt sort of like one of those teenagers these last few weeks. Just hangin’. An aimless Hum-de-dum-dum, not wanting to do any of the things on my to-do list. You know the feeling.

Before I retired, I yearned for unstructured time. Now that I’ve got it, I find myself yearning for some structure! Thus my feelings of contrariness.

No, I don’t want to go back to work, so don’t even suggest it.  I just want a little something-something in the way of a schedule. Because I’m not as good with unstructured time as I thought I was.

In my working life, I was an administrative assistant at Yukon College.  One of the great things about working there was being totally immersed in an atmosphere of teaching and learning.  In fact, practically my entire life revolved around teaching and learning. I taught dance classes for 15 years, I traveled “outside” regularly to pursue my education as a dance artist and teacher and I took an assortment of college courses in the evenings.

As I sit here writing, I realize that that’s what’s missing. Teaching and Learning! Especially the Learning.

Enter the MOOC.

MOOC is an acronym for Massive Open Online Course. These are (non-credit) university courses that are open to anyone, anywhere. As long as you have access to a computer and the internet, you can take a course. And best of all, the courses are free!

Part of retiring early (early 50s instead of mid-late 60s) was accepting the challenge of learning how to live successfully on a tight budget. So you can imagine how attractive the word FREE is, especially when followed by the word EDUCATION! Lol!

The other day I discovered The Open University’s Future Learn program. Within minutes, I’d signed up for a course: Start Writing Fiction.  The course starts at the end of April, and I can’t wait for class assignments, assigned readings, critical thinking and deadlines! I realize that makes me a bit of a geek. Too bad, so sad. It’s the way I roll. I might even sign up for a second class!

If you are interested, here’s the link to the courses Future Learn offers.

What would you like to learn?