Saturday, September 28, 2013

House of 1000 Corpse Poses

On December 29, 2010, I made an early New Years resolution to do twenty minutes of yoga every single day no matter what. I have since kept that resolution, and this past Monday marked 1000 days of yoga practice in a row. In honor of this accomplishment, I have decided this week to answer your yoga questions. Keep in mind that I am not a certified yoga instructor, nor do I play one on TV. I am merely an enthusiastic yoga practitioner with a desire to spread the good word of yoga. Without further ado, here are your yoga questions:

Have you seriously done yoga every single day no matter what?
Yes, I have.

How do you do that?
Sometimes I practice in the morning, sometimes afternoon or evening. I’ve practiced in an airport, in a campground, and in our ren fair booth before the fair opened, with and without spectators. If I have a busy day ahead of me, I plan to wake up early. If I’ve had a busy day already, I do a relaxing routine before bed.

What about when you’re sick, injured, or recovering from surgery?
In the past 1000 days, I have experienced each of those things. At such times, I have practiced in three to five minute increments with long breaks in between until I hit the twenty minute mark, or used props like yoga blocks, rolled up blankets, foam rollers, and stability balls. Always remember there is a pose called Shavasana, or “corpse pose”, which consists of lying on the floor. This still counts as a yoga pose.

You’re only able to do yoga every day like this because you don’t have kids.
I’m not really seeing a question here…

What are the benefits associated with regular yoga practice? 
Regular yoga practice is great for calming the mind, stretching the muscles, and impressing other people when you tell them you practice yoga. It doesn’t matter if you’re overweight, unorganized, or frequently unZenlike: as soon as you say, “Oh, sure, I do yoga every day,” people reassess their opinions of you. It’s the easy way to be a hipster. You can either cram your legs into skinny jeans and listen to indie music no one likes, or you can do yoga and drink pumpkin-spice lattes.

What's a good way to control my breathing during yoga? 
Try my personal creation: Karyoga, or karaoke yoga (patent pending). Create a new playlist of familiar songs with words you remember. Name it "sing-along". Play it. Do the hardest sun salutation you know while singing like you have a drunk and forgiving audience. Karyoga is great for group practice, provided your group agrees on musical preferences. You can also take turns being the drunk and forgiving audience.

Yoga mats are expensive! What's the best way to take care of my yoga mat so it lasts a long time?
Don't do yoga on it.

I'm thinking of starting a meditation practice. How do I do that?
Congrats! Thinking about meditating totally counts as meditating! Remember to bow and say “Namaste” afterwards, as that makes it official.

How do I keep up a yoga practice while traveling?
That's actually impossible. You'll have to stop traveling for at least twenty minutes.

Can I practice yoga with my toddler? 
Yes, but it would probably be better to find a certified yoga instructor, or perhaps a video. Toddlers tend to be naturally flexible and are therefore harsh yoga instructors with unrealistic expectations.

What makes a good yoga routine?
A good yoga student.

What part of my body is likely to be most affected by yoga practice?
The psoas muscle. Yoga literally works muscles you never even knew you had. Only yoga practitioners can have entire conversations about the psoas muscle, because no one else knows what it is.

Why do all yoga routines seem to end in Shavasana? 
Because it’s really hard to start a routine in Shavasana. No one wants to get up afterwards.

Is there a time of the day that is best to do yoga? 
Yes, right after you finish it. It never seems like a good time before you start.

Do I need to be in good shape to start doing yoga? 
No. In fact, if you do it right, you’ll be in terrible shape when you finish. If you’re already out of shape, you’re actually ahead of the game.

Will doing yoga improve my sex life? 
Only if your lover is into that sort of thing. Otherwise, a better way to improve your sex life is to go have sex.

I’ve heard I should practice on an empty stomach or wait at least three hours after eating. Is this true? 
No, you always have the option of practicing on a full stomach and taking a vomit break in the middle. It’s a matter of personal preference. Try it both ways to see which works best for you.

What’s with all the funny foreign words in yoga? 
Yoga poses have Sanskrit names, but many instructors will talk you through the poses descriptively so learning the names is optional. Feel free to make up your own names, particularly for the poses you don’t like, if that helps you remember them better. I often struggle with Pretzel Pose, Slasher-Victim Pose, and The Exorcist Pose, but your own practice will vary.

Do you have any other advice for a yoga newbie? 
Forgive yourself when you can’t do a pose, but be sure to try the pose again tomorrow.
Never underestimate the power of a great pair of yoga pants.
Always remember that Corpse Pose still counts as a pose.

If you have any other yoga questions, be sure to post them in the comments. Then go practice yoga while I have you thinking about it.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Five Day Forecast

You’re going to have to deal with weather. All the weather. In fact, those are the only certainties in life: death, taxes, and weather.

Some days, there will be rain.
You know that bit in Lord of the Rings when Gandalf says "This foe is beyond any of you"? On rainy days, you may feel that way about your hair. The rain will fall up, around, sideways, and through obstacles in order to get to you. Not everyone else, obviously: just you. So you can skip the hair dryer. There will always be at least one person in your life who says "I just love this weather," and rather than look like a drowned rat, her damp hair will appear perfectly groomed, resembling what the magazines call "beachy waves". You will be tempted to throttle this person. Resist.
Tomorrow will be better.

Some days, there will be fog.
Particularly, any morning after you’ve stayed up all night watching monster movies and reading Creepy Pasta, there will be fog. Thick fog. Ravenloft fog. Not the kind of fog that comes in on little cat feet, but the kind that rolls in on Silent Hill right before the scary nurses come out. It will move mysteriously, like wisps of smoke, reaching for something, perhaps…seeking something. On your morning run or your morning commute, you will be terrified: every shadow, every movement, will look like Slenderman, coming to get you. Fear not: Slenderman is not real. Probably.
Tomorrow will be better.

Some days, there will be snow.
And at the first blue blip on the weather radar, everyone becomes a mindless shambling beast with an irresistable craving for brains.
Did I say brains? I meant French toast. Zombies obviously crave French toast because when the ravening horde descends on the grocery store for supplies, they clear out all the milk, eggs, and bread. If they don’t get their French toast fix, they forget how to drive. A thin patina of powdered sugar on the ground, and suddenly everyone has selective amnesia that only targets their long ago memories of Driver’s Ed.
You know what else powdered sugar is good on?
French toast.
Tomorrow will be better.

Some days, there will be humidity.
But you’ll know, on account of how it will knock you over when you open the door. You won't sweat so much as condensate, because at 98.6 degrees you’ll be the coldest thing in the room. In your perpetual dampness, you will become one of the swamp people—not the quaint Louisiana bayou kind you might have seen on reality TV, but the black and white sci fi/horror b-movie kind. And can we talk about your hair again? Forget it. In fact, everyone else will forget it too: all of society will go around with eyes downcast, politely avoiding one another's hair.
Tomorrow will be better.

Some days, there will be sunshine.
It will beam out of the ether like the loving caress of an angel. I mean, like, a sexy one. The temperature will be perfect, the birds will be singing, the flowers will be blooming among the green hills. The trees will sway in a light breeze and you will be miserable.
Because allergies.
Because the floral department is trying to kill you one mucus membrane at a time.
Just think about sneezing. If you think about sneezing, maybe you’ll be able to sneeze, and if you can get one good sneeze in, maybe it will all turn out okay.
And if sneezing doesn’t help, just hold out for the next sneeze.
And keep holding on, because tomorrow will be better.

Tomorrow will always be better.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Farmer Tori's Almanac

Almost two weeks after a minor surgery, when I started running again, I felt good despite the massive hit  to my normal running pace. “It’s important to get back out there,” I told my husband as I stripped off my sweaty running clothes. “My goal is to run a ten minute mile.” Ambitious, since my average before the surgery was twelve.
“I believe in you,” he said encouragingly. “You’ll get there someday. Just not today.” He thought about it for a while. “Or tomorrow either.”
“Right,” I said. “Tomorrow’s a rest day.”
“In fact, it’s not even in the five day forecast.”
“Gosh, really?” I said, dripping contempt.
“Maybe sometime next year?”
“That’s not like a weather prediction at all. That’s… that’s an almanac.”

Farmer Tori’s Almanac 
A Guide for Geeks and Introverts
Fall and Winter 2013

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Today, I have essential information to help you live right through the upcoming harvest and holiday seasons.

First, the Weather Predictions:
According to the time and temperature sign at the school, on 1/1/70 we can expect a brisk minus 196ºF. This is either a computer error or an uncanny prediction of our post-apocalyptic future. If you plan to be around in 2070, play it safe by stocking up on important supplies now. I suspect blankets will be a hot commodity (or at least a less cold one), so go ahead and splurge on the zebra-striped throw you’ve had your eye on.
This winter looks to be a comfortable 73 degrees every day—provided you’ve done the annual maintenance on your heating system—with highs in the mid-80s on any days you plan to use the fire place. There will be days you will actually have to go “outside” over the next few months: these events are unavoidable but don’t have to be unpleasant. Dig out your winter gear now and check for spiders. Have a shoe handy in case you find any.

Which brings us to our next topic, Useful Science Facts:
Reader Cassie recently asked Farmer Tori, “How do you tell the difference between good spiders and bad spiders?” This is an excellent question, Cassie, but the answer is simple: If it’s INSIDE the house, it’s a bad spider. If it’s OUTSIDE the house, well, those bastards could go either way. Approach with caution and carry a big shoe.

Household Tips:
Tired of the state of your home? Dishes and laundry piling up? Try this clever household tip passed down by older generations: just do the dang chore. Right now. Get off your butt and do it. There, was that so bad? You can easily apply this simple bit of homespun wisdom to other onerous chores, like running errands, going to the grocery store, or working out. Give it a try! Like right now. No, really: get up.

Science and Technology:
Is your computer mouse behaving erratically? Try flipping it over. When you find the layer of grime so thick that it’s growing fur, scrape it off. Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards! Your mouse should now be as good as new.

I have been informed that almanacs are also supposed to talk about natural cycles such as tides, planting dates, and seasonal phenomena, so let’s discuss Tides and Things:
Recent tests involving clumsy bloggers on treacherous stairs confirm that gravity still works and definitely pulls in a downwardly direction. Do keep this in mind while you go about your daily business. Be especially attentive in the act of traversing stairs.
Tides exists. They are most certainly there. Use that information in whatever way seems best to you.
A reliable source tells Farmer Tori that runners who are slow who keep trying may eventually get faster. This process will not be pleasant.
The peoples and cultures of the world who frequently go “outside” will have finished all their gardening by now. Expect the big box stores to put important gardening supplies on sale to make room for their Christmas decorations. Now is the time to stock up on potting soil to re-pot the cactus that thrives on your benign neglect. Any day is a good planting day when you have such easy-going houseplants.

Astronomical Data:
According to IMDB, the stars are all over the place these next few months. Expect a convergence in November, when Ender’s Game, Thor 2, and Catching Fire all come out within weeks of each other, forming a wallet-sized black hole. Try to save enough money for The Hobbit in December.
Many TV shows will soon return from their summer hiatuses, including Castle and Big Bang Theory later this month, and Supernatural already in progress. Jensen and Jared say Season 9’s going to be a good one: Apparently, there are demons!
The Walking Dead returns after that, in October, and looks to be a great season, considering they finally killed off that one character you didn’t like—you know the one.
The Doctor Who 50th Anniversary Special premieres in November. Now is the time to be extra nice to those loved ones who have BBC America and a DVR. Continue to be nice to them through the holidays, as Sherlock Season 3 is tentatively set for January 1.
But while you are busily looking forward to so many things in the future, remember to live for today as well, because Game of Thrones Season 4 does not come out tomorrow. Not for a lot of tomorrows.

I shall now leave you all with a Proverb:
Remember, a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush - but only if the bush is thorny and the bird is very calm.

This is Farmer Tori, ladies and gentlemen, wishing you well for the upcoming months.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Ride of the Wild Ideas

I wanted to write a blog post about blogging, because I’m meta like that, but I didn’t know how to start.

Then I remembered it didn’t matter how I started.


When I heard that the movie World War Z is nothing like the book (which I love), I didn't bother to see it in the theater. It’s a sigh-worthy situation.

Every time I read anything, my own personal movie plays in my head. I can't help but wonder, What was so hard about this, Hollywood? The story, the characters, all the makings of a good script were already there. You obviously didn’t end where you thought you would when you started. Did you get lost?

But I'm too hard on them, I think.


“It’s not that they’re not paying attention,” said the speaker during the extra credit lecture in college, as she described a Myers-Briggs type that – I promise – sounded nothing like me. “We call it,” she said, “an ‘Uncle Fred’s Bicycle Moment’.”

The speaker explained, “Say you’re in a room full of people talking about public funding. Public transportation comes up and someone makes an offhand comment about bicycles. 

“You immediately remember that Uncle Fred used to ride a bicycle, a red one. He loved that bicycle. He would ride it into town every day. Uncle Fred was an odd bird. He had that lisp, you know, and people used to make fun of him for it. That was so sad – he didn’t deserve to be treated that way. 

“As you have these thoughts, the conversation about public funding carries on without you, until finally, while everyone else is discussing property taxes and other very important things, you blurt out, ‘Why do people make fun of people with lisps?’”

Almost everyone in the lecture hall, myself included, pointed and laughed at the gawky ginger in the front row who was infamous for such outbursts. One of his friends couldn’t breathe from all the laughing and had to excuse himself, which only set the rest of us off again.

Smiling, I looked at the desk to my right, where my husband sat, straight-faced, cocking an eyebrow at me. “And just who are you laughing at?” he said.


There’s a series of children’s books about giving things to other things, and the trouble it can cause.

For example, if you give a mouse a cookie, he’ll want milk. You’ll go to the kitchen and discover you’re out. You and the mouse will trek to the store for milk, and you’ll decide to pick up some other stuff while you’re there. As you wander the aisles, the bleach will remind you that you need to treat the stain on that white shirt, so you’ll do that when you get home because you wanted to wear that shirt to the party next week that you still need to RSVP.

Or did you do that already? So you’ll get on Facebook to check the event page but instead you’ll see a cute cat picture, laugh at it, and spend an hour chatting with whoever else is online.

What were we talking about again?


One time, I wanted to write a post about my struggles to clean the house. Somehow it became a diatribe about robots (link here). After editing it down for the blog, I had three pages of unused notes about housecleaning and two more about robots which became another post on housework (linky), another on how frustrating it is (click here), and another about robots (click here or Skynet wins). You would think I’m running out of ideas by now, but each of those posts generated more notes which are waiting to be turned into still more posts.

I know I’m not the only person this happens to. Entire movie studios have this problem. We start with an idea or a book or a design, set out in good faith to foster and feed it and watch it evolve like a good little pokémon, and at the end of the day we have no idea what we’re looking at but we know it’s not a Charizard.

Somewhere, we got lost.

Somehow, the idea got away from us. It’s what they do.

People are always asking writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” and writers invariably respond with “Ideas are everywhere! You just have to look for them.”

But it’s not a matter of finding ideas: it’s a matter of taming them.

Sometimes I start with a perfectly sound idea, write for an hour or three, and end with a finished product: the idea gets used up and magically transforms into a story or a blog post or a newspaper article, which is generally very satisfying for me. I have tamed this idea.

Other times I write and come away with both a finished product and the original idea, pristine and unused, ready to be attempted again on another day. Surprisingly, this outcome is not as satisfying as the previous one.

I’m left scratching my head in wonder as the wild idea rides laughing off into the sunset astride Uncle Fred’s bicycle.