Wedding Bells

I vividly remember the day my son Danny, and his bride Alli were engaged. It was a beautiful summer day and our families got together for a wonderful celebration in the city. Their engagement was two years, and I recall thinking back then, that there would be so much time to plan for their actual wedding day. And now, with their wedding this past weekend, I find myself saying, “Wow! That sure went by fast!”

I discovered no matter how you prepare, as a parent, you are never quite emotionally ready to see your oldest child marry. For me, it was almost surreal. As I sat in the church watching my son, my little boy take his vows, I felt like my mind and heart were being shown a mini movie of his life, little snapshots of his childhood up to the very moment he said, “I do”.

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The chapter of Danny growing up in my life’s novel ending, and a new fresh page of his life as a married man, a husband, about to begin.  I am blessed to have very close relationships with all my children, and our newly combined families had a wonderful time celebrating together. There will be beautiful photos to enjoy, I know. However, the sweet unexpected moments that weren’t captured on film, are the ones that I will always hold close to my heart. We love, love, love Alli and can’t imagine a more perfect match for Danny. We wish them much love and happiness in the years to come. I think my son David, the best man, said it best in his speech and I would like to share a portion of that with you.

“Remember that life is a mutable and transmogrifying experience, and to try to remain static within it is impossible, misguided, and just plain stupid. So everyday, do something that on the surface seems impossible, misguided, and just plain stupid, because those are the things that stay with us. No one ever says “do you remember that time everything went exactly according to plan and the outcome was just as we expected?” So, be aware that when things go wrong, and they will go wrong occasionally-such is life, that it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It may just be the universe’s way of saying “hey, this is something you should file away.” Life may be corybantic, but it is not without purpose and the best thing you can do is embrace the chaos, and avoid prolonged lamentation. ” David Malone

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So Danny and Alli, here’s to you and your new journey as man and wife.  May your life together be filled with peace, joy, love, and laughter……lots of laughter. We love you!

~May (aka mom)

 

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September Books

Let’s face it in our world every season is a good season to read, but Fall seems to be prime reading time.  There are so many fiction works released in the early Fall, we can barely keep up.  And the books tend to be bigger and more complex than summer releases.  Because those are just now being released, we have a few books today that will bridge the gap between the summer light reading and the more consuming Fall reading.  And one of our picks is an older selection by Ann Patchett that will hold us over until we can get our hands on her new release, Commonwealth.  Our three books are The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown, Truly, Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty and Bel Canto by Ann Patchett.

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

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From Amazon:

The Light of Paris is the miraculous new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Eleanor Brown, whose debut, The Weird Sisters, was a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike.
 
Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

May’s Review:I first heard about this book from June, who is familiar with Eleanor Brown’s previous novel. This was my first read by Eleanor Brown, and I really enjoyed the book. I loved that the characters in the book were dreamers, thinking about all the possibilities of what their future could be, even though at times they felt quite stuck.  I really enjoyed the writing in this book, and look forward to the next one.

June’s Review:  I was eagerly anticipating this book and it did not disappoint.  Eleanor Brown’s previous novel, The Weird Sisters, was a favorite of mine with eccentric characters and the sisters all named after Shakespeare’s heroines.  I really enjoyed this book.  The characters in the book are caught between what is expected of them and what they had always dreamed to be, which I think is a theme many can relate to at certain times in their life.  The setting of Jazz Age Paris is romantic until the real world comes crashing in on Margie.  But who doesn’t dream of having lived a romantic summer in a foreign city?  I always love a well written book that uses past stories as a comparison to a character’s modern time life.  I highly recommend that you pick up this read.

 

Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

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From Amazon:

Six responsible adults. Three cute kids. One small dog. It’s just a normal weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty turns her unique, razor-sharp eye towards three seemingly happy families.

Sam and Clementine have a wonderful, albeit, busy life: they have two little girls, Sam has just started a new dream job, and Clementine, a cellist, is busy preparing for the audition of a lifetime. If there’s anything they can count on, it’s each other.

Clementine and Erika are each other’s oldest friends. A single look between them can convey an entire conversation. But theirs is a complicated relationship, so when Erika mentions a last minute invitation to a barbecue with her neighbors, Tiffany and Vid, Clementine and Sam don’t hesitate. Having Tiffany and Vid’s larger than life personalities there will be a welcome respite.

Two months later, it won’t stop raining, and Clementine and Sam can’t stop asking themselves the question: What if we hadn’t gone?

In Truly Madly Guilty, Liane Moriarty takes on the foundations of our lives: marriage, sex, parenthood, and friendship. She shows how guilt can expose the fault lines in the most seemingly strong relationships, how what we don’t say can be more powerful than what we do, and how sometimes it is the most innocent of moments that can do the greatest harm.

May’s Review:I have always been a fan of Liane Moriarty, and always look forward to her new releases. I was number 46 on the library waiting list when this book came out, eagerly anticipating my email letting me know that it was finally my turn to read the book. I dug into it expecting it to be her like her previous novels, and really struggled to finish it. It was a long book too (432 pages), which made it even more challenging. This story centers around three couples and their children, who are attending a neighborhood barbecue where something unforeseen happens that forever changes all their lives. I thought I had solved the secret, but was told by June that I was wrong. Anyway, the secret of what happens could have been wrapped up very quickly, but unfortunately goes on and on and on. This definitely was not one of my favorite books by this author. I would check out some of her earlier works which are very good.

June’s Review:  I have enjoyed many of Liane Moriarty’s books in the past.  She usually has a way to write about a somewhat serious topic and add some quirky and humorous moments that give some levity and entertainment to the story.  Unfortunately, in this book any attempts at that fall flat.  This is a long book (432 pages) and the story centers around an event that happens at a barbecue attended by three couples and one of the couple’s two young children.  The book spends at least two-thirds of those pages building up to the event that occurred at the barbecue.  As the reader you think you know what that big secretive event is going to be.  I was almost finished with the book when May was about a third of the way through it.  She texted me about what she thought the secret was going to be and I told her that sadly she was wrong.  However, I had thought the same thing and that the secret was going to be a 1970s-era spouse swapping key game.  After the secret is revealed and while what happened was scary it seems that many of the characters are way to overwrought but what occurred considering the outcome.  This was not my favorite book by this author and I found it hard to get through which was disappointing because there was a lot of buzz around her having a new release.  If you have not read What Alice Forgot or The Husband’s Secret by this author I would pick those up and pass on this one.

 

Bel Canto by Ann Patchett

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From Amazon:

Somewhere in South America, at the home of the country’s vice president, a lavish birthday party is being held in honor of Mr. Hosokawa, a powerful Japanese businessman. Roxanne Coss, opera’s most revered soprano, has mesmerized the international guests with her singing. It is a perfect evening-until a band of gun-wielding terrorists breaks in through the air-conditioning vents and takes the entire party hostage. But what begins as a panicked, life-threatening scenario slowly evolves into something quite different, as terrorists and hostages forge unexpected bonds and people from different countries and continents become compatriots. Without the demands of the world to shape their days, life on the inside becomes more beautiful than anything they had known before. At once riveting and impassioned, the narrative becomes a moving exploration of how people communicate when music is the only common language. Friendship, compassion, and the chance for great love lead the characters to forget the real danger that has been set in motion and cannot be stopped. Ann Patchett has written a novel that is as lyrical and profound as it is unforgettable. Bel Canto engenders in the reader the very passion for art and the language of music that its characters discover. As a reader, you find yourself fervently wanting this captivity to continue forever, even though you know that real life waits on the other side of the garden wall. A virtuoso performance by one of our best and most important writers, Bel Canto is a novel to be cherished.

May’s Review:I was given this book by a friend years ago, and it was my introduction to Ann Patchett. I have been a fan of hers ever since. I have read the same novels that June has listed below, loving all of them. Bel Canto was one of my favorites about a birthday party gone wrong, and how it forever changes the lives of those in attendance. Like all her novels, Bel Canto is beautifully written and still sits on my book shelf. I am eagerly awaiting to read her newest release, Commonwealth.  Unfortunately, I am going to be out of town when she is in Chicago for a book signing, but if you are in the area, I highly recommend you attend!

June’s Review:  I am a huge Ann Patchett fan and I think this was the first book I ever read by her.  After reading this one, I immediately went back and read her previously read novels The Patron Saint of Liars, The Magician’s Assistant and her beautiful and at times heartbreaking memoir, Truth and Beauty: A Friendship and fell even more in love.  I think so far Bel Canto is by far my favorite of her novels although I would recommend any of those I mention and her later novels.  Plus she owns a bookstore in Nashville called Parnassus Books which maybe I can work at someday? (jk)  Ann Patchett has a new novel that just released called Commonwealth that I made sure I was one of the first on the reserve list at the library.  However, I just got tickets to hear her speak on October 20 in Chicago so now I am conflicted do I read the library copy before going or wait until I have very my very own signed copy from the talk and reading?  But back to Bel Canto, it is a beautiful story about a very scary, and in this world, an all too real situation.  The characters are interesting and the story is compelling.  Ann Patchett is an author where not only do you get lost in the story but also her use of language and syntax of writing.  I have not read this book in awhile but after writing about it here, I think I may add it to “my read pile” to be revisited.

Have a good weekend!  We hope you find some time for some good reading. –May and June

 

 

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The Joy of Ordinary Laundry

Are there any chores or housework that you enjoy?  Unless you are Mrs. Brady and have an Alice that lives with you, doing housework is a never ending and sometimes thankless task.  There are many chores that I do because I have to and feel ambivalent about like grocery shopping or cooking dinner.  There are others because of working and other commitments, I pay someone else to do and for that I thank my cleaning ladies who come every other week to vacuum, mop floors and scrub the bathtub.  And then there are those chores that I almost like doing, and one of those is laundry.

I know laundry is a controversial subject.  I have seen posts on Facebook, blogs and other outlets from laundry haters about mountains of laundry that never seem to get done.  But for me there is no better chore than doing the laundry.  I find it soothing and comforting among the chaos of life.

Our laundry collects in our basement laundry room.  We live in an older home and one of its “luxuries” is a laundry room with a little hidden door in the upstairs main bathroom and the first floor powder room.  We have no need for hampers in our sleeping areas or to carry the laundry down a couple of flights of stairs.  Plus there is something fun about dropping your clothes down a little chute that is essentially a slide.  When you are angry you can violently throw them down there or, if you are feeling calm, gently drop them down. If you are in a hurry and stuff many items in the chute, you usually end up with having to find a broomstick to break-up the logjam of clothes in the chute.

I find the laundry prep of sorting clothes into different piles rather satisfying.  Like colors go with like colors.  Simple.  Once in awhile, you get in a conundrum.  Does the gray tshirt go with the dark clothes pile or the light clothes pile?  How about the green pair of socks?  Does it really matter?  One thing is for certain, the white load that will have bleach added to it only gets white clothes.

Clothes with stains get treated separately, and it becomes an experiment about what solvent can get out which stain.  What gets out a grease stain?  How about ink?  Chocolate, coffee or red wine?  And how do you get the stink out of your husband’s running clothes that come out of the dryer still smelling like they could run a mile on their own?

The dial on the washing machine gets set to hot or cold water, a permanent press cycle or a regular cycle.  Nice smelling detergent from Mrs. Meyers gets added and the lid gets closed.  The machine then does all the work through the agitation cycle, the spin cycle, rinse and repeat.

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I use a clothes dryer to dry most of my clothes but a few items get hung on the laundry rack to line dry.  I wonder what it would be like to hang laundry on a clothesline outside.  The meditation of the clothespins securing the sheets to dry in the sunshine and breeze.  The convenience of soft feeling dried towels smelling like Bounce dryer sheets is satisfying too.  Removing clothes from the dryer when they are still warm and smell like fresh laundry has its own comfort.  In the winter, cuddling with some of that warm laundry can take the chill from your bones.

Folding is the part of the laundry that I think most people dread.  I usually watch part of a television show or movie while I fold laundry.  I often try to catch up on a Netflix binge watch or something on my DVR, which lately has been the last season of Call the Midwife (they always had clean towels in that show).  While I fold I feel the texture of each of the items and sort them into neat little piles based on which drawer they need to be placed in, or which room they should be returned.  When I am done there is a sense of accomplishment looking at all of those nice clean clothes.

I will admit I am sometimes lax on taking the clean folded clothes out of the laundry basket and putting them away.  But Gatsby is always there to remind me that I should take care of it right away.  Gatsby will root through a laundry basket full of clean clothes to find my rolled up socks, which he then carries around like a tennis ball daring someone to chase him.  And if there are no socks in the laundry basket, then his second choice are clean washrags and dish towels to steal.  When that happens I have to rewash those things.  No one wants to wear dog slobber encrusted socks.  That teaches me a lesson.

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Our tagline for this blog is “finding beauty in the present moment.”  It is so easy to find that in a moment that is amazing or momentous but how about the beauty when doing an ordinary task like laundry?  You may never find the beauty in the laundry and that is ok (I don’t think I will ever find the beauty in dusting), but think about it the next time you are doing a mundane task.  You may find that there is something about it that is enjoyable.  And if you are wondering, my love of laundry does not extend to ironing.  Those things we send to the dry cleaner. –June

 

“Hanging laundry on a line is a very ordinary task. It is as ordinary as scraped knees and lost keys, as fixing the same simple dish for supper again, and again. Ordinary is most days, and Lord help us if we overlook them.”
― Jerusalem Jackson GreerA Homemade Year: The Blessings of Cooking, Crafting, and Coming Together

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Finding Stillness. A Yoga Favorite

Now that we know we are going to be moving in the near future, I have been cleaning out the clutter in my home, so that I am not overwhelmed with boxes of useless stuff at the last minute. The main part of my house was pretty easy, but I had been putting off the dreaded crawl space for months, for obvious reasons. I have to crawl in and out of a little hole, I can’t stand up, it’s dark, there are creepy crawlers, and I always hit my head. I couldn’t avoid it any longer though and for the past two weeks, my mom (who is staying with us a few weeks while her house gets finished up) and I have been cleaning it out. I don’t want to confuse you into thinking this is a post about cleaning, as much as I love to clean and organize things. As I was pulling out one of the many boxes, I twisted funny and hurt my back. I wasn’t incapacitated, but I definitely felt it and have had to adjust my fitness routine a bit, so that it can heal. Legs up the wall pose is such a wonderful, relaxing posture and I realized this past week that I don’t practice it enough. I love this pose! It is calming, grounding, and the perfect pose to practice at the end of a particularly stressful day, and it has felt wonderful on my back.  I love to sometimes end a class with legs up the wall, always getting positive feedback from students afterwards.

There are some great benefits to legs up the wall too! It’s wonderful for reducing fluid in the legs and feet, especially if you have been on them all day. This pose relieves tired legs muscles, calms the central nervous system and if you practice deep diaphragmatic breathing while resting in legs up the wall pose, it is wonderful for quieting the mind.

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Like an inversion, it reduces the effects of gravity on the entire body, plus it aides in digestion. As you relax in the pose, allow yourself a few minutes of simply doing nothing, feeling your back and shoulders opening up, allowing the earth to support your weight.  Legs up the wall can also relieve some of the uncomfortable symptoms associated with menopause. For a more therapeutic approach, you can place a bolster or folded up blanket underneath your hips.

Getting into it is pretty easy too!  Simply sit with one side of your body next to the wall, and slide your legs up, scooting your hips a little closer if necessary.

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Now as you can see, Alyssa is demonstrating with her legs up our backyard tree. I love practicing yoga outdoors whenever possible and I always have a mat rolled up in my sunroom. There is something so magical about looking up through the branches of a mighty tree, to the brilliant blue sky above.

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Try it sometime! To help stretch my back, I turned this pose into a relaxing twist. Simply tuck your knees into you chest, and relax over to one side, and then the other.

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Namaste,

~May

Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.

B.K.S. Iyengar

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A Few Things we are Loving in September

Lately, both of us feel like we have to look at the calendar, to make sure it is actually September! The sunny skies and warm breezes have been such a wonderful gift, and we are so happy Mother Nature has extended summer a bit longer. While enjoying this beautiful weather, we were thinking about some things we are loving in September.

What May Is Loving Right Now:

Right now, May is loving some wonderful time with her mom. Our family home sold quickly, and with her new home not closing until October, she has moved in with us, and we are truly enjoying every minute. We love to tease that she is Nicole’s stand-in while she is away at college. She is sleeping in Nicole’s room, sharing a bathroom with Alyssa, and taking Nicole’s seat at the dinner table. It’s like nothing has changed! (Except no sister fights about clothes!) My mom and I have always been close, talking on the phone just about every day, and now that we will be living in separate states for a bit, having this extra time together has been really special. It has also been nice for Alyssa, who has had an opportunity to spend time with her grandmother, which isn’t easy when you are 17. Of course Sawyer has loved the extra attention too.

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We have enjoyed cooking together, working on projects for our new homes, yoga, and we have been planning a new business venture. So exciting! We are also getting ready for our road trip to South Carolina, which I will share in a future post.

What June Is Loving Right Now:

June is loving school supplies right now.  There is something about September and the start of school that makes me want new notebooks and pens even though I am not starting school.  When I was starting junior high (now called middle school), the best part I thought is that finally I could have a Trapper Keeper.  Do you remember those?  It was always a very exciting day when it was time to shop for school supplies and I picked all of my notebooks and folders and pens and pencils with care, thrilled with the possibility of all that would be written into all of them.

Now even though I no longer go to school, I still love to buy new notebooks and pens.  I have a collection of quite a few of them so we never have to worry about running out in this house.  Although I do wonder why when I need a pen, I can never find one that works.

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What May and June Are Loving Right Now:

As Fall begins to slowly envelope us, we find ourselves transitioning back to our favorite jeans. There are so many great styles out there to flatter every figure, which we love! Since it is still relatively warm outside, May has been enjoying a lightweight denim skinny that she purchased at Loft. For her, Loft is a great choice because they carry petites that work well with her shape.

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And June picked up a pair of jeans at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale from the Kut from the Kloth brand.  They have some fun distressing on the legs and also at the hem.  Don’t tell anyone but they are  supposed to be ankle length jeans on taller people but on June they are just the right full size length.

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Have you ever noticed as the season changes, so do your food choices? This past summer May and June both did a lot of grilling, and focused on all around lighter meals like shrimp pasta salad and summer wraps. As the temps get cooler, we seem to crave those heartier comfort foods that nourish the soul on a chilly night. We both also start using the slow cooker pretty regularly. In fact, last night May made a slow cooker chicken with roasted root vegetables. And June has made that same slow cooker chicken in the last couple of weeks, and also slow cooker taco meat.  We are looking forward to trying some tasty new recipes this winter.  If anyone has any favorites, please share!

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Both May and June discovered a new refreshing treat, Teavana Berry Sangria Tea, at one of our recent business meetings at Starbucks. It’s light, fruity, caffeine free, and a perfect drink before we transition to the hot winter teas and coffees.

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What are you loving in September? Have a great weekend!

~May and June

“We know that in September, we will wander through the warm winds of summer’s wreckage. We will welcome summer’s ghost.” 
― Henry Rollins

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Taking Your Yoga Off The Mat

If you have ever taken a yoga class, you may have heard your teacher tell you to take your yoga off the mat or to live your yoga.  When I first heard that it seemed like a strange task, because after all how can you take those poses outside the studio? I am sure I would get a lot of strange looks if I suddenly started doing Warrior II pose on a street corner.  However, what I didn’t understand then that I understand better now, is that yoga is much more than the physical practice of doing poses, it is an internal mental practice as well.

I have mentioned before that when I first started taking yoga, I hated it (and unbeknownst to me poor May was my teacher).  I dreaded going to class and only went because I had paid for it, I knew it was supposed to be good for me and I have never been a quitter.  At the time I tried it, I had a job that was really high pressure with a lot of hours, ultra competitive, and in a hyper critical environment which was affecting my health.  That was the reason I signed up for yoga.  But those conditions also made me hate yoga.  It wasn’t just that I had trouble with the poses because my body was not that bendy, it was because my brain could not get to that place it needed to be. So I became a yoga drop-out.

When I returned to yoga many years later, I was in a different place mentally.  I was still in a job that caused a lot of stress although not quite as much and I had several life transitions in a very short period of time, and my body and my brain were telling me that I needed a quieter form of exercise.  Through serendipity May ended up being my teacher again and this time, I looked forward to going to class.  Was my body more bendy this time making the poses easier?  No way because I will always be the girl with super tight muscles and ligaments.  However, I knew that going in and I was also ready to tackle the mental practice.

Along the way I have learned a few things through practicing yoga that I try to carry into my everyday life. Or in other words, taking my yoga off the mat.

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Breathe.  When you are holding a yoga pose, your teacher often reminds you to breathe because chances are part of the discomfort is because you are holding your breath.  Similarly, in life when in the midst of a stressful situation, take a moment and check your breath.  I can guarantee that you are breathing shallowly and fast, or holding your breath.  If you stop and take a few deep breaths part of the stress melts away.

Be Kind To Yourself.  During your physical practice you have to know when to be kind to yourself.  Sometimes it means taking a rest because you are tired or something hurts.  Also, you need to remind yourself that it is ok that you cannot do a pose that looks exactly like your neighbor.  I often have a very mean critic that plays in my head.  It likes to tell me that I am not enough. Not smart enough, not talented enough, not likable enough, etc.  Through the physical practice of yoga and having to be kind to my body because otherwise I might injure it, I have learned to be kinder to myself and to quiet that critic quite a bit.  To remind myself that I am human, I make mistakes and I am not perfect.  That the effort I put in can be good enough.  This is a practice that I have to keep on top of it because that critic is persistent.

Be Generous To Others.  I have practiced at the same studio for several years and because of that I am familiar with many of the other students.  We have formed a little yoga community.  So when someone in a class accomplishes something they have been working towards we often clap and cheer for that person.  We are happy for that person and are generous to that person with our praise.  That generosity can easily be taken out into the world.  It is true that we can be generous to others by donating our treasure or volunteering for a worthy cause, but it doesn’t even have to be that large of a commitment.  You can be generous by holding the door open for someone, helping an older person with their bags in the Target parking lot, letting someone merge in front of you in traffic or even saying good morning.

Any Effort Is Progress.  I will admit that I cannot bend down and touch my toes (see above about tight muscles) but over the years of practice I am closer to touching the ground than I was when I started.   The progress may be minute, but it is progress.  Just by putting in the effort and showing up you are going to see progress in any endeavor.  Sometimes that progress is so slow you feel like you are at a standstill or sometimes even, moving backwards.  One day you realize that your efforts have moved you further along than when you first started.

Be Mindful.  When I am practicing a balance pose like tree pose, I have to be mindful of focusing on the pose.  If I am mindful I am steady and strong like the big oak tree in my backyard.  When I start thinking about the errands I need to do after class or a conversation I had with a friend, my tree starts to sway and sometimes falls over.  When I am not mindful in my outside life, I am often inefficient, make mistakes and feel rushed and hurried.  If I focus on the task that I am currently participating in, it gets done much better and I have more enjoyment.

Express Gratitude.  At the end of every yoga class, the teacher and the students put their hands in prayer position in front of their heart, bow, and say the word “namaste.”  The word namaste means the divine in me bows to the divine in you.  It is a nice way to thank the teacher and each other for the class.  Gratitude should be expressed outside the studio too.  I find that when I forget to be grateful, I tend to get caught up in all of the things I do not have.  That attitude makes me unhappy and restless.  When I remember to be thankful for the many blessings I have received I am much happier.  Gratitude is not something that comes easy to me and is a state that I have to consciously work on, but the work is worth it.

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May you find peace on and off your mat.  Namaste . –June

Yoga is not about touching your toes, it is what you learn on the way down. -Jigar Gor

 

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Does Your Home Need a Facelift?

Anyone who has lived through a home remodel knows first hand how quickly the excitement wears off once construction begins- and lasts, and lasts, and lasts.  The promised time of six weeks comes and goes, contractors arrive late or don’t show up at all, the wrong appliances are delivered or arrive damaged, or problems within your home such as bad plumbing, electrical or structural issues show up, increasing your already stretched budget.  Unfortunately, a lot of these problems are not within your control, but there are preparations you can take to make the overall experience of home renovation a little more tolerable.  I am using the word tolerable because I don’t want to lie to you and say enjoyable. There is nothing enjoyable about a home renovation, until it’s finished. Our new home in Charleston is in really great shape, but we wanted to make a few changes and updates to truly make it ours. We are adding can lights, a new chandelier, updating the railings, pendant lights and a backsplash in the kitchen, hardwood flooring in the master bedroom, and of course paint. The painting is going to eat up a lot of our budget because most of the color palette the former owners chose, is not our taste. This renovation was a little more challenging because I wasn’t going to be there while it was happening, which was a little scary considering all the things that can go wrong, even when you are there to see it!  I started by doing some research on Home Advisor and when Bob and I were in Charleston this past July, we met with contractors, landscapers, painters, etc.. for estimates, and overall we have been happy with the choices we made. We are currently in the process of painting and I do have a pair of eyes down there, so I am getting photo updates and I stay in regular contact with the general contractor which makes me a little more comfortable since I can’t be there. The inside will be finished when I visit next month, and I look forward to showing you the updates.

We always tell clients to get their home ready for a renovation well before the actual work begins, so they are not overwhelmed. So much to easing the stress of home projects is in the preparation and being organized. Here are some tips you can use if you’re thinking about a kitchen renovation, or any renovation for that matter.

Packing and Storage

When cleaning out closets, cabinets, and drawers it’s a great idea to make three piles.  One is for garbage, the second for charity, and the third is for items that you’re going to keep and store.  Donate your charitable items ASAP, so they are out of the way once your construction starts.  Store the items you’re keeping in clear plastic containers, and don’t forget to mark them so you can find them easily once it’s time to move everything back.  Remember to keep out any items you may need to use while your home is getting its makeover.

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The Container Store

There is always plenty of dust and debris during renovation so it’s a good idea to remove curtains, blinds, rugs, and anything else you want to keep from being ruined, and store them as well.  Use plastic sheeting to protect stairwells, doorways, or other areas of your home.

Preparing a Temporary Kitchen

Setting up a temporary kitchen is essential to surviving your renovation.  Your former kitchen is going to be off limits, and unless you plan to eat out every meal for six plus weeks, you will need a small space, preferably near a sink, where you can prepare basic meals. You will want your temporary space to be as far away from the area of construction as possible, where you’ll have some privacy (basement, laundry room, garage, etc..).  When my kitchen was under construction, I set up a small temporary kitchen in a corner of my sun room and used the powder room sink to wash basic utensils.  I used a lot of paper plates and plastic forks during that time to make my life a little easier, not very environmental I know, but at the time I had two young children and a dog.  Need I say more?

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Pinterest

Some items for your temporary kitchen include a microwave, toaster, coffee pot, hot plate, dishes, utensils, paper towels, napkins, garbage bags, cutlery board, an area for non perishables (I set up temporary shelves), and if possible a fridge.  Our fridge was moved to the garage, but you can even use a mini fridge, if necessary.  I kept dish soap, a sponge, and towels under my powder room sink for washing and drying dishes.

Home Rules

It’s important that you have a good relationship with your contractor and always keep the lines of communication open.  Before demolition, establish where debris and construction materials will be kept.  Have a dumpster or specific storage area so garbage isn’t left on your lawn or in flower beds.  Ask your contractor to make sure he cleans up at the end of the day, putting away power tools, nails, or any items that my cause injury to young children or pets.  Remember, you still have to live there.

New Routines

If you try to keep your normal everyday routine during construction, you’re going to become very frustrated.  For the most part, my contractor was at my home by 7am, and stayed until 4pm. Plus, there were various electricians, plumbers, and flooring people coming in and out of my house daily.  Your power and water will be shut off at times, so I recommend that during construction, you get up a little earlier and have yourself ready for the day by the time your contractor arrives. If your kids are not yet in school, plan trips to the park and fun outings. I was lucky enough to have my parents close by, which provided a much needed break from the mess at home.  My house is my sanctuary, and having people in my space for such a long period of time was, let’s just say trying at best. There were times when I was less than pleased with my contractor, but that’s normal, and I found that sometimes doing something nice for them such as bringing them donuts or cookies went a long way, and they were willing to go the extra mile for me too.

So, if you are planning a total renovation in a kitchen or bathroom, or you just want to spruce your rooms up with a fresh coat of paint remember, being prepared and organized will make a stressful period of time, a little more tolerable.

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There’s no place like home

Have a great week!

~May

Living through a home renovation is like living in the wild, you do whatever it takes to survive.-Unknown

10 Things We Love About Fall

Don’t you love short work weeks? The weekend is upon us once again, and we are definitely settling into September and the transition from summer to fall. The leaves are starting to get ready for their last hurrah, which is always beautiful, before the trees settle in for their long winter’s sleep. Even though June is not a fan and she is participating in this post under protest,  she knows the rich jeweled tones of fall are always stunning, and who doesn’t love the crunch of leaves under their feet on a crisp walk? As we are on the cusp of the fall season we thought we would celebrate the beauty of the (almost) present moment, and share some things we are looking forward to this fall.

  1. Cozy cardigans and hoodies.
  2. Taking care of May Meets June business in front of a warm fire.
  3. Warm, soothing drinks to take out the chill.
  4. Feeling the leaves crunch under our feet on morning walks.
  5. Wrapping ourselves in a snuggly throw for a Saturday evening movie on the couch.
  6. Watching the new season of Younger.
  7. A new selection of Fall reads.
  8. Comfort food from the slow-cooker.
  9. Slipping into our favorite suede booties.
  10. Finally wearing the Fall clothes we bought at the Nordstrom Anniversary sale.

You will notice we didn’t add Starbucks Pumpkin Spiced Latte to our list. (We are probably the only blog that hasn’t..Ha!) May and June are not fans, but we do enjoy a cup of ginger tea or Mexican hot cocoa.

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We hope you have a wonderful weekend. How do you celebrate Fall?

~May and June

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. Albert Camus

The Benefits of a Lazy Weekend

Much like my weekdays, my weekend days have agendas.   Some of the items on my weekend agenda are the mundane tasks of living, errands to run, chores to do, projects to complete and some are fun things to do, time with friends, dinners to eat out, parties to attend, movies to see.  So those seemingly stress-free days of the week, quickly become full of hurry and anxiety to fit it all in before Monday morning returns, and the schedule of the work week.

This past weekend was a three-day weekend and the last “official” weekend of the summer.  So the combination would seem to many to be the perfect opportunity to try and squeeze in as much activity as possible.  Other than a dinner with friends on Friday and a family birthday party on Sunday, we instead had a lazy weekend.

It’s nice when you have a busy weekend.  You have fun or you feel accomplished for finishing something on your to do list for awhile.  However, I usually start my Monday, then feeling tired and a little worn out.  So on my extra long weekend, I took a nap on Saturday afternoon.  My husband and I ordered pizza, curled up on the couch and watched a pretty stupid but light movie “How To Be Single.”  I slept in until 7:00 which for me is sleeping in.  Gatsby got several relaxing strolls around the neighborhood.  I finally finished the second season of Outlander.  I read a book and started to write a story.  I laid on the loveseat on the back porch reading said book and promptly fell asleep (as did Gatsby) probably because the sun was warm and it was so quiet out there.  If not for the wasps making a nest behind a shutter on the front of our house, I probably would not have left the house on Monday, but buying some wasp spray was a necessity.  Of course that trip also necessitated a visit to Starbucks for a very refreshing and delicious Berry Sangria tea.

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(Gatsby is always up for being lazy with me)

I went to bed on Monday feeling relaxed and a little rejuvenated.  Is the linen closet that I was supposed to clean out still a mess?  Yes it is and I do feel a little guilty that I put off that chore for yet another week.  Was I a little envious of all of the posts on social media showing the weekend spent on a boat, in a lake, at a pool?  Maybe a bit.   But sometimes I think your soul needs permission for you to be lazy.  Lately, I have been feeling like I don’t have enough space to just be.  I fill my life with so much busyness and so many lists, that I forget to take time to enjoy just being.  This “lazy” weekend, ended up as just that.  A few days to have no agenda and no place to be, the benefit of a lazy weekend. –June

Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes… including you. -Anne Lamott

10 Things We Will Miss About Summer

Well, it is here. It seems like we were just celebrating Memorial Day weekend, and the kick off to the summer. How can it be Labor Day weekend already? As the unofficial start to Fall draws near, May and June have been reminiscing about all the things we loved this season, and here is what we will miss about summer.

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  1. Listening to the birds singing and enjoying the summer blooms on early morning walks.
  2. Dining al fresco.
  3. Moonlight swims.
  4. Tomatoes right off the vine.
  5. Flirty sundresses.
  6. Enjoying the porch by relaxing, reading, writing, doing anything.
  7. Impromptu happy hours whether on the rooftop or anywhere.
  8. Walking barefoot.
  9. The humid heat enveloping your skin as you walk outside and the cool air conditioning causing goose bumps when you return indoors.
  10. Frequent and regular national holidays that fall on a workday.

As the season fades, the sweet taste of summer will remain on our lips, reminding us of all the lovely moments we have enjoyed the past few months. As we transition into a new season, which is also beautiful, we will find new things to enjoy. After all, we both are dedicated to seeing the beauty in the present moment. For now, we will say so long summer, we look forward to seeing you next year.

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“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
― F. Scott FitzgeraldThe Great Gatsby

 

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