Friday, November 26, 2010

Poem for a young girl

She loved to sing.
But, her voice was a thing
Off key and flat.
So, she wouldn't do that!

For joy she'd dance,
Til she saw people glance
In an envious, sour way.
"What's there to dance about?" they would say.
Though it wasn't a sin,
She'd keep her urge to dance within.

She dreamed she'd draw.
But, soon she saw
She was no Da Vinci, Raphael
Nor O'Keefe neither.
Then, just as well
She wouldn't do that either.

She hoped to write.
But all day and all night
Not a thought would come into her head.
T'was as if she were dead.

So she wanted to cry.
But, her heart was so dry
That she curled up so small
Til nothing at all
Was left of her.

Without her will
The world stood still.
And all was doom
All was gloom.
For the lack
Of hopes, dreams, joy and love.

She seemed forever
Lost in this land of never
Where no songs were sung,
No dances danced,
No colours seen,
Nor thoughts expressed.

But what few people know
Deep down there's a glow
Deep within
Where Black is thin
Is buried an ember
That can remember
Hopes, dreams, joy and love.

Gradually the ember stirred
The Black blurred
Out Light spilled
A heart it filled

The light grew stronger
And brighter
Eventually spilling
Into the form of a young girl
Eyes welling
With tears that fell, soothing
Her spirit and clearing her mind
Because in her heart
Hope, dreams, joy, and love were entwined.

Now always she sings
In a voice that still rings
Off key and flat
But, she doesn't care about that.

And, when she dances
She notices glances
Joyous as well as sour
Some are just meant to be dour.

She'll draw and paint
So what!  A master she aint
Her work's unique
At its peak.

Now her writing flows
Cus, in her heart she knows
In doing these things that are part of her
Doesn't matter what others think of her
The expression's the thing
Makes her free spirit sing
Sweet, clear and true
Loves to do.

Poem copyright Nance Thacker 2010.
Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1985.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Yoga with animals

cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 19984
click on image to enlarge
They don't call it downward dog and upward dog for nothing.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Post notification

Warning: this post may contain some material that is offensive to readers - you have been forewarned.

I am writing this post to let you know that I have written a post which won't be published until Dec 1st as it contains a Christmas Carol. I refuse to listen willingly to Christmas Carols until December.

This is my personal stand against PCC (Premature Christmas Celebration) which begins once Halloween is over and leaves one too mind-numbed to enjoy the climax of the season at the appropriate moment.

Actually, by writing about Christmas I may be contributing to that which I protest so strongly against, but I just wanted to let you know that a lovely Christmas post is coming DEC 1st.

It'll be worth the wait!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A simple yoga life

Yoga can be done almost anywhere. I have done my yoga practice:
  • in a crowded family room at my family's home while everyone was watching TV
  • in a relatively secluded corner in the airports departures lounge
  • in my Dad's hospital room during my "Dad watch" stint 
  • on campsites throughout the country
  • on the beach at Jan's sister's cottage 
My in-laws' spare bedroom
used for storage
They kindly cleared a space for my practice
when we were in Campbell River
I have not done yoga in India.

Yoga can be done almost any time of the day. I have done it at almost all hours of the day and night. Spring prompts me to do earlier practices; winter lures me into midnight ones.

I haven't done yoga earlier than 6 a.m.

Yoga can be done alone or in the company of others. I have done my practice with:
Flip helping me in Virasana
She does a fabulous abdominal massage
when I'm in Supta Virasana
(Reclined Hero pose)
  • my pets crowded around the mat
  • friends' little children participating with me, most notably Sarah and downward dog all those years ago
  • my brother heckling me
I haven't done yoga posing in front of an elephant nor balancing on perilous precipices.

I have done yoga wearing:
  • nothing at all (in the privacy of my own home)
  • a bathing suit
  • yoga wear
  • jeans and a sweater
I prefer to do yoga in my PJ's.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Wireless Wizard

It's only taken me a little over a week. But, I've finally done it! I have finally connected my... rather I should say - Rod's - Kindle, to the wireless.

The Kindle was a birthday gift that I purchased and gave to him well before his birthday, which is on the 16th of this month, because in all our 24 years together, I've never seen him soooo excited about any material item.

I bought it from the Kindle store online and it came the very next day (no need for express delivery).

I left the package, with a bright orange sticky note attached saying, "Whatever can this be?" on the steps leading upstairs so that he would see it as soon as he got in the front door that night. The excitement in the air was as thick as a 3year old's Christmas morning. "Thanks for my birthday present!" he said as he squeezed me tight and then the totally thrilled birthday boy bounded up the stairs to play with his new toy.

I got him exactly what he wished for; my gift-giving experience was truly joyful and I shouted back with a huge smile of utter satisfaction spread from ear to ear "you're welcome!"

A few hours later I went upstairs expecting to find him caught up in Kindle magic. Instead I found a grumpy guy aimlessly surfing the net; his new toy unceremoniously dumped into its delivery box.

He couldn't get it to connect to the wireless.

The letdown was as drastic as a 3 year-old finding his Christmas toy doesn't come with batteries and all the stores are closed.

"I'm not going to spend hours trying to set this thing up. It's not worth it. Send it back. And, if you don't I will. I don't have time for this s**t." He threw up his hands and glared at the tiny perfect object with disgust.

Through gritted teeth I replied in calm, measured tones, all the while counting to 10, "It's your birthday gift from me. I'm not sending it back. We'll get it to work, other people do. I'll handle it." As I stomped out of the room, I added, "Happy Birthday!"

We didn't talk much that night.

And, for the next few days he greeted me with, "Got that Kindle running, yet? How's it going? (referring to the Kindle)" all accompanied by a knowing smirk, so sure was he that I wouldn't succeed. He passed newly discovered numbers, letters and codes to routers, computers and modems scrawled on colourful sticky notes down to me as I worked in my office at the bottom of the stairs. He was attempting to speed the process along yet he was enjoying the fact that numerous hours of my life (not his) were being invested in this project.

"Nuts to this, from now on you're not getting any birthday gifts until your actual birthday." I took the Kindle out of his den and hid it so that it wouldn't tease him and he wouldn't taunt me any further.

It worked. He hasn't uttered a word about it since and it my work progressed without further input.

And after all my dead end searches, last Friday it took less than 5 minutes to get it connected after a phone consultation with an I T guy; referred to by a friend.

I begged him to just come over and help me set it up; better yet, set it up and let me watch, ask questions and make notes. But to my dismay he would have none of it. I couldn't get him to leave his office. However, acting like a translator of sorts he was able to "dumb down" his techno speak, tell me which questions needed to be answered in a stepwise manner, and ran me through the steps to reconfiguring ones' router and network.

What a difference it makes when you speak the language!

I left a message on his answering machine later that afternoon squealing with delight, "Oh my God I got it to work. I can't believe it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." I may not be "King of the World" but I am a Wireless Wizard. Yessss!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

...and landing

I left us hanging in JUST DROPPING IN, so I think I should come down now as the blood's kind of pooled in my head.

My first word of caution to any who practice this form of yoga is to gradually extend the time you hang from the pelvic swing. Think about it, the ligaments and tendons (which are less elastic than muscles) have a totally different orientation to gravity's pull in this inversion. One's head, which weighs in at approximately 8 lbs., provides great traction; adding to the stress placed upon the spine and joints. In terms of structural engineering alone, hanging upside-down demands respect.

Come down with control and come up to full standing position gradually.

I do this by bringing my feet onto the floor in front of me and going into downward dog. This allows the body and circulation to adjust to the change in position. Like decompressing after a deep dive, you don't want to stand up too quickly. The cool thing is that downward dog takes a whole new lightness afterwards and it is, dare I say it of one of the most oft repeated and dreaded of yoga poses, a delicious experience.

the dreaded DOWNWARD DOG
actually feels lighter after the inversion
enjoy the sense of length attained from the traction
A standing forward bend further takes advantage of the new, easy, length of my spine.

I stand with my heel supported in the rope for a while to align before bending forwards. I press my foot into the wall, anchor the other into the floor while internally rotating the thighs and extend out the crown of my head towards the wall. By shooting my arms outwards into the ropes I am able to use my core to maintain the position through the completion of a circuit of energy created between feet, arms and head rather than by the application of force or pulling. I do the right leg first, moving through the breath to deepen the pose while counting the breaths. I  then follow with the left for an equal amount of breaths.

radiate the energy from the centre of the body outward to the extremities
like a star shining
The use of even inhaled and exhaled breaths is a natural and organic way for me to work. Working with a timer takes me out of the pose makes me think, oh God how much longer do I have to do this keeping me focused on the end rather than on the process.
surrender to the forward bend
radiating outward the whole time
Taking further advantage of the easy length of the spine, I then do a twist to the right followed by a brief forward bend over the extended leg and repeat on the left side. To rotate, first one must lengthen the spine and create space between the vertebrae. Pressing into the wall and floor through the feet, internally rotating the thighs — which feels like scissoring them — provides stability to the pelvis and allows for internal movement through the pelvic and abdominal cavities. Draw the belly towards the point on the back of the body where the back of the hand contacts it; extend the hand beyond the fingers of the outstretched hand while opening up the delto-pectoral groove. Mula and uddiyana bandha can be applied throughout.
stand tall and collected
spiralling around the central axis
A spiralling of energy can be imagined, if not felt, winding around the spine. This action actually originates at the feet and continues through the torso and gently through the neck (be careful not to let the gaze of eyes place too much emphasis on the turning of the neck by drawing the ribs towards the centre line and elevating the upper sternum and outwards under the collar bones) all the way beyond the top of the head. I always like to maintain the twist for a few more breaths with the head turned to gaze forward before I release the twist; I feel so Regal as I perform this complementary action.

One last forward bend and...

There, I feel much better now!

My next challenge is not a yoga one but a tekkie one; to do a You Tube video of this so you can see it in action. Actually that means my next challenge is a consumer one; to get a camcorder/camera as my camera went on the fritz towards the end of our trip out west.

This is kind of a cliff hanger, isn't it? The video is the least of my problems; it's the shopping that I dread. Hanging upside down, learning tekkie stuff I can handle. Shopping, ugh — that's a real challenge for me.

Keep posted to the same bat channel.

Monday, November 8, 2010


I'm warning you now.

Read the words in the title and commit them to memory because somewhere down the road, maybe 20, 30, 40 or perhaps 50 years from now, you will be sitting across a table from someone who, almost immediately, upon meeting you, will tell you to remember those 3 little words. You will feel nervous, confused, insulted, patronized and perhaps experience something akin to "performance anxiety" as they then proceed to run you through various mental challenges. About 5 minutes after you are stirred up enough they will then ask you what the words were that they gave you to remember. And despite the increased intensity of emotion, self-doubt and confusion the words will bubble up from your long term memory and you will be able to say calmly, "car, ball, man". The thing is they will assume that these words are new to you and that you have stored them in your short term memory and you will have passed this portion of the test.

Just giving you a heads up.

OK, it might not play out exactly like this but after hearing those words first repeated in 1998 and every year thereafter at each of my parents' cognitive assessment evaluations, I can assure you that they are etched in my brain. Every time I accompanied my folks for "their" assessment all I could think was, please don't change the 3 words because I am so primed to remember them that they will block out any new incoming ones. I bet ya that almost everyone who's accompanied their parent or loved one to a geriatric assessment from this particular team has these three words burned into their brains too.

This all leads me to these observations about memory retention.

When trying to remember something state it - short, simple and to the point. Let's say I have to remember a grocery list consisting of: milk, bread and cheese. There is no need for me to say, "remember to get milk, bread and cheese". Because I am anxious about my ability to remember, using the word "remember" (in this context) triggers my belief that I have a bad memory and that I'm going to have difficulty remembering. Feeling that I won't be able to remember the list; I become anxious.


Cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1991.
Click on image to enlarge
To embed this kind of memory it is best to feel relaxed and happy. So:

  • My memory prompt is SIMPLE: "milk, bread, cheese". 
  • I  REPEAT these words at least 3 times while tapping my watch (Since I am inclined to look at my watch numerous times before going to the store, each time I do it is a visual prompt for memory. In hypnosis we call this anchoring). 
  • Each time, while repeating and tapping I VISUALIZE: the items (perhaps getting really specific about the images) and me picking up the items and paying for them at the checkout (this takes only a few seconds). 
  • And, I FEEL how good it feels to have accomplished the task.

Now I just have to remember where I parked my car!

The key for this - I have to be MINDFUL of parking it in the first place. I liken it to getting out of "passenger" mode. It is less likely that, as a passenger, I will remember where the car was parked because I tend to rely on the driver to do this. So I have to shift to "driver" mode and note my surroundings. Since I can be an easily distractible, multi-tasker, mindfulness is something I have to come back to constantly. I call this "applied meditation" practice.

Since, in the scenario I have just described, I have a vested interest in the things I want to remember I am more motivated to recall these things. In the case of my grocery list - these items will allow me to make a meal and that makes me feel good.  And since I'd rather not wait til the parking lot is sufficiently emptied before I can find my car I'm highly motivated to take note where it was parked in the first place.

In contrast, "car, ball, man" meant nothing to my poor parents who were full of anxiety at the time of their assessment.  And, when the time comes, it will mean nothing to you too. So practice those 3 words now.

There will be a test!

COMMENT ON THE CARTOON. I'm not proud to admit this but, unlike some people, I will pick out the longest line at the checkout so that I can browse the "brain candy" mags. And I often memorize where I left off for the next visit to the grocery store.

Saturday, November 6, 2010


cartoon copyright Nance Thacker 1991
click on image to englarge
While I'm busy trying to put together a blogpost on memory, please enjoy this cartoon...

It came to me when I was reading an article about a 86 year-old woman who went skydiving for the first time. She figured she had nothing to lose. Which made me think that I might like to go skydiving myself when I reach 86, not right now cus I'm afraid that the chute won't open but, at that age... well why not? And then Dotti's voice came into my head and a cartoon was born.

I love how the subconscious plays with my brain!

Monday, November 1, 2010

No "ums"

The night before leaving for beautiful Vancouver Island I was sitting cross-legged on a stool at CJ's Cafe in Burlington, reciting my poem ODE TO A YO-GI. This was no small feat and I'm not talking about my precarious perch - that's a piece of cake (I'm sitting this way on a stool as I write my blog). I'm talking about public speaking.

In public school every year from about grade 5 to 8 we had to write and give a 5 minute speech. My older sister excelled at this task and the unspoken expectation from my teachers was that I would too. But this wasn't the case. Being shy, short and feeling out of place in my pleated skirt that hiked geezer-like above my waist and knee socks that rolled down at my ankles, I decided to stand behind the lectern. As I spoke, for what was at that time the longest 5 minutes in my life, soft sounds of someone counting in the background could be heard.


My teacher grinned all the while I must be doing pretty good. And at the end he applauded... and then broke into gales of laughter. "That was the funniest thing I've ever heard". (My topic, an informative presentation on Mario Lanza, my Dad's favourite singer of the moment, was, I assure you very earnest and without any hint of humour.) "You said 105 um's (he looked at the boy who was counting them for confirmation) in a 5 minute speech. Not only that, we couldn't even see you."

I was mortified, I'm NEVER doing this s**t again I vowed as slunk back to my front row seat.

I was told, in high school by my English teacher to stop talking once, "I find your voice extremely irritating" was all he said. I shut up for the remainder of the school year.

This from people in a position who should know better!
It's enough to give someone a complex.

Yet here I am, someone who's been a yoga teacher for the past 34 years; a hypnotist for 3. Somewhere along the line I was able to let these experiences go. Amazingly to me, people ask me to record hypnosis sessions for their use and often I've been told that guided relaxation is the favourite part of a yoga class...because of my voice.

It wasn't a conscious thing, it just happened.

When I found myself sitting under the glare of the spotlight that night a brief shiver of foreboding, remembrance ran down my spine. But, I had practiced for this moment over and over in my mind as I drove the car, went to sleep, showered; I spoke it aloud to establish points of emphasis; I imagined sitting in front of a hushed crowd listening to my flawless recitation. All pure SELF-HYPNOSIS 101 techniques for conquering stage fright.

What I didn't account for was laughter (this time welcomed) nor for the cloak of darkness the spotlight illuminating me, cast over the crowd, cocooning me and lending the moment an unexpected feeling of intimacy.

Best of all, there were no "ums" in my recitation of the poem nor in the other selections that I read that night and no one counted in the background.

Thanks Brian and CJ for the opportunity to give it another shot after all these years.
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