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  • a happy, ordinary, middle-aged, suburban woman who paints odd pictures, gardens in a straw hat, lives with the love of her life, is owned by one cat and the ghosts of several others, and walks a little funny 'cause she has a fake leg. She started this website because there's more to life than what we lose, and we need to let each other know what's possible, even if it's only a happy, ordinary life.

November 2011

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  • E-mail me at:

    sara at saraarts dot com

    Make sure the subject line of your correspondence is clear and specific. I do not open e-mails from strangers unless I can tell in advance that I want to read them.

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  • I Took The Handmade Pledge!

Good reads, grownups only

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kathy a.

this is absolutely gorgeous.


Last night my yoga teacher told us that since most of us will be practicing yoga until we're 80 or 90, there's no need to try to achieve everything at once. In other words, just do what we can do right now. Since it's Iyengar yoga, the studio is usually littered with props by mid-class - chairs, bolsters, blankets, blocks. I'm thinking that a good creative Iyengar teacher could figure out alternatives using props for anyone who's disabled. My teacher is always setting up different arrangements for different students just due to various back or knee issues, or whatever limitations each of us has, so we can get proper alignment. It does take a creative and attentive teacher. Also, the prop-happy Iyengar style might be particularly well-suited for people with disabilities.

Michelle | Bleeding Espresso

Such a fabulous message for everyone. I would love to take tai chi with your TL; dang this ocean between us!


Now I'm in love with your beloved.

I think I'll take up Tai Chi.

Ron Sullivan

You know that thing about love? That's one reason I get all blissful at things Hawai'ian. I mean, they say "Aloha" all the time and it's even kinda culturally safe to practice it.

Kay Olson

I love your true love.

Also: Matthew Sanford

Simi Linton reviewed his book some time ago here.

Also: I can't wait for more of the snark.


Hi! Thanks for the comments and help on my blog! Chris


Thank you all for the great comments! I will respond to these comments individually, but first I have to finish reading all the other BADD '08 posts. (I feel like I should listen to some other voices before I start up with my own blabbing again.)

Yes, I AM STILL READING. Yes, still! I've been reading since Thursday night, and yet I am only about 2/3-3/4 of the way through. Part of this is because my reading is still a little slow, and part of this is because almost nobody had anything short and sweet to say this year (pot, meet kettle), so there are all these long, impassioned, often quite brilliant entries that have been filling my mind and heart and that deserve far more than a quick skim.

But meanwhile, thank you all, really. I'm grateful for your contributions here, and I'm not ignoring you, I swear. :)

jen of a2eatwrite

Hi Sara - I found your blog via Michelle at Bleeding Espresso. You are a marvelous writer!

I'm either an EDSer or have fibromyalgia or RA (still trying to figure out the diagnosis 6 years later because I don't fit into a "category). Another EDSer and I took NIA classes at the Y and got a great deal out of it. It was reminding me of your points here about Yoga and Tai chi, as Nia will take you as you are, and you can get both cardio and meditational benefits from it. It's great stuff. Thank you for this wonderful post, and thanks to your True Love for his loving stance!


You had a lot of important things to say, and I think that you did a great job! Those signs are hysterical, IMO. Must get some!

Kay Olson

My true love said he will teach tai chi to anyone who shows up, no matter what their physical condition might be, though he does feel that you should be able to at least breathe and move your shoulders in order to feel the benefit.

I've been obsessing on this a bit. I've read books on meditation that insist on the importance of breath to the process -- and I understand why that is so for meditation, yoga, tai chi, etc. I used to meditate, back when I breathed for myself. I even reached that blissful euphoric state once -- unbelievable. So I think I get the point of focusing on or manipulating breathing as part of the process.

But I suspect that an understanding of how vents work with the person using them combined with a knowledge of tai chi (I have the first kind of knowledge and utterly lack the second) would remove even the prerequisite of breathing on one's own from a teacher already willing to work with someone who can only move shoulders.

It'd be interesting, in any case. Take Christopher Reeve as an example. He had as high of a spinal injury as is possible to have and before his death was able to do some minimal level of breathing on his own, I read at the time. I don't know the exact details of that, but what it likely means, at minimum, is that he was able to keep the vent from regulating everything for a short time. Maybe he could trigger just enough breaths per minute that the machine didn't kick in to deliver a minimum number. Or maybe he could even "stack breaths" which is a vent-user trick for stretching the lungs similar to sighing big: You don't exhale all of one breath so that the next, and the next, collect in the lungs so you hold more than the set volume of air. It's exercise for those of us who get little otherwise.

In Reeve's case, I'm not sure he could feel his chest rising even if he could breathe a bit on his own. An interesting puzzle for tai chi or meditation, where feeling the breath is important, right?

Like me, many people using a vent can move their diaphragm some, just not enough to maintain a healthy level of oxygen in the blood. So understanding what the vent does, what the vent user does, and how the user might "subvert" the machine's work for the length of an exercise regime, just enough to create that relationship to breath needed for the workout....

Well, it interests me.


Ello! Great blog you've got here. I did appreciate your suggestion of Tai Chi. I need to look into it! Finding sports/martial arts teachers who will accept disabled students is difficult, in my experience. But your story shows it's not impossible. I will give it some more research time. Thanks! :)


FINALLY I am here to answer comments. Thank you all for your patience.

Kathy A: I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)

Leslee: I love your teacher's attitude. It's sort of like something else my true love and I have put into this discussion, but which I forgot to mention specifically: NOBODY starts out anywhere but the beginning. Nobody.

Thank you also for making the Iyengar connection. I hadn't realized that one of the "prop-happy" yoga styles was Iyengar specifically, but that makes sense, and it's a good tip -- as good a starting place as any, certainly. :)

Michelle (Bleeding Espresso): You never know what may happen in the future. My true love has averred over and over -- and stop me if you've heard me say it before -- that he dreams of living in a place where he tells the village children all about snow, the strange ice that falls from the sky; and then the children go home and tell their parents about it, and their parents call him a big fat liar. Maybe it's a stretch to think that could be anywhere in modern southern Italy, but... ;)

Liz: Hey, go for it! And do let me know how it works out for you.

Ron: Yes. And from what I understand, in the ancient Tahitian culture from which the Hawaiians are believed to have derived, children didn't belong to their parents but to the whole community. Everyone could love them, everyone could teach them, and everyone was responsible for protecting them, always. Kind of like Canada geese, I've also heard. (Had to bring birds into this somehow, right?) Whether true or mythical, we could do worse than to attempt to emulate this model.

Kay: Thank you so much for the great links! Awesome! I've never heard of this guy before, or if I have, I've forgotten. Oh, and look: he's an Iyengar guy, just like Leslee was mentioning. And I see that he's in MN; have you ever taken a class with him?

Layton's review is great, too, very wise and open-minded.

And never fear; in me the snark is always seething just below the sugary surface.

(And I saw that you left a second comment, but I'll answer it in order because otherwise I'll get confused.)

Chris: My pleasure!

Jen: Funny you should mention NIA! My true love and I have just started noticing studios offering it around here (in West Concord and also in Maynard Center) and we were wondering what that was. Thank you so much for sharing it; it sounds like it has a lot of potential for a lot of people.

NTE: Thank you! I'm so glad you enjoyed your visit. And yes, I would dearly love to see a lot mor signs like that. A lot more.

Kay again: :) Well, since I know absolutely NOTHING useful about either ventilators or tai chi, I forwarded your comments to my true love to see what he would say. This was his reply:

"Strengthening the lungs, and oxygenating the blood as much as possible is always a good goal. However, I am not sure that I as a Tai Chi teacher would provide much value to some one in this situation, over say a respiratory therapist."

And this is not to be construed as "Don't bother coming here; I won't teach you." He really will work with anyone who shows up (though individuals of any ability level who are under 18 years old must be accompanied by a legal guardian of some sort at all times), and is both curious and creative by nature. He just wants people to get the most bang for their bucks (not many bucks, but still).

When I asked him about this to confirm that this was the case, he also brought up another practice called "qi gong" (pronounced "chee gung"). This is sort of similar to tai chi, but not martial. "And the breathing is much simpler," he said, but I don't quite know what that means. It's another mind-body-energy practice which he thinks would be perfectly suitable for anyone who wants to pursue it, and he suspects it might even be more suitable for vent users than tai chi, but he confesses that he doesn't know enough about how vents work to say for sure. He doesn't teach qi gong himself simply because of a lack of passionate interest, but he strongly feels we should put it on the list of things a lot of different people might find useful and fun, and which people of diverse ability levels can practice together.

LilWatcherGirl: How delightful to see you here -- and to know that you didn't think I was being presumptuous! I hope you read the comments above and my replies to them, because yes, it shows that it is possible! And if you ever find yourself in eastern Massachusetts, USA, do let us know. I'm sure my true love would be happy to give you a lesson if you haven't already found a teacher by then.

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