Thinking Yogi

The intersection of two loves: yoga and writing.

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Posted by on in Off the Mat

I like lists, especially numbered lists. But today when I was thinking about about concrete ways to keep our fabulous neighborhood independent, I could only come up with one thing each of us can do. I'm still going to number it.


1. Shop Local

If you don't want your strolls around the neighborhood to be punctuated by big box stores and chain restaurants, vote with your dollars. Yes, it may be easier to sit in your pajamas and click your way to the end of the shopping experience, but when you walk into a local, independent store you get so much more out of the experience and you give back to your neighborhood, too.


Being the sort of person who only buys new stuff when my old stuff has completely fallen apart, I admit that I was not quite looking forward to my holiday shopping spree yesterday. But when I headed down Lincoln Avenue, stepped through the doors of Timeless Toys, and was greeted by smiles and offers of help, I was so glad to be there rather than in front of my computer. Instead of clicking around and reading reviews by anonymous from TX, I was able to get specific suggestions for toys based on the ages and personalities of my children. Take that, Amazon.


At the Book Cellar, I was similarly pleasantly surprised at how quick and easy it was to find just the right gift when given guidance by friendly and knowledgeable employees. And I always find something unique and fun when I walk into Hanger 18, Enjoy, and Merz Apothecary. The kids and I are greeted warmly by name when we go to buy shoes at Piggy Toes.

I feel a sense of connection when I shop locally. I feel like a real human being as I ask for advice and touch the product I'm buying and maybe even find out how someone else's day is going. In this highly digital age, couldn't we all use more of that sort of activity? Doesn't it feel good to interact with people rather than technology?

Let's keep our fabulous Chicago neighborhoods cute and independent and unique. You can become a local activist each time you make a purchase. When you need to buy something, instead of thinking Target or Amazon first, think Lincoln Square, or Andersonville, or your neighborhood of choice. You may not think that your one purchase matters, but each time you set foot in local businesses, you are investing in your neighborhood, and taking a step to ensure that it doesn't become overrun with big, cold, chains.

As I wrapped up yesterday's local holiday shopping spree, piling up bags on my stroller, and stopping on my walk home to chat with neighbors I met along the way, I had a huge smile on my face. The wealth of independent local businesses are just one of the reasons I love Lincoln Square. I spend enough time with electronic devices in my work life. When I step away from the computer, I crave people, warmth, and unique experiences. Thanks, fabulous Lincoln Square small business owners, for providing just that!

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Growing up my mom used to joke that while some people aspired to greatness, her father's motto was 'It's good enough.' She said it like it was a bad thing, like it meant he wasn't aiming high enough. It always made me laugh and struck me as yet another example of my family's self-deprecating humor. But now as a business owner and parent, I have a completely different take on things. Though I have less 'free time' today than at any other point in my life, I'm happier and more productive than I've ever been. I've reclaimed my old family motto and turned it on its head. 'It's good enough' now gives me permission to put work out into the world, rather than perpetually waiting for a few hours extra hours to make it perfect. It empowers me with the knowledge that small chunks of time spent well can lead to something big. Reclaiming 'It's good enough' has been a liberating paradigm shift. Below are 10 ways this philosophy can help you love your life and get more done, no matter how busy you are!



  1. Take on passion projects you aren't fully convinced you have time for (i.e. parenthood, volunteer work, creative pursuits, etc).
  2. Work your tail off because you love the things you're doing and the people with whom you're doing them.
  3. Let go of perfectionism, do your best, and adopt the 'Good Enough' mantra (see Good Enough is the New Perfect, co-written by Lincoln Square resident Becky Gillespie).
  4. Refuse to apologize (to yourself, to others) for things that don't matter; you are living to the fullest, you are accomplishing things that make a real difference in the world, so don't put yourself down with a flippant 'This isn't quite done' or 'I'm glad you could come even though my house is a total mess.'
  5. Give up bad TV and commit to spending more time in the real world and less in the virtual world.
  6. Make time to eat well and exercise regularly; both these things take a little thought and planning, but you'll be rewarded with extra energy to put towards the people and projects that matter most to you.
  7. Think for yourself and don't be afraid to disagree with group consensus if that allows you to stay true to what you believe is important.
  8. Spend time with people who inspire you and mirror the qualities you identify with your best self or the person you would like to become; we tend to rise (or sink) to the level of those around, so be wise about the company you keep.
  9. Make time on a consistent basis for an activity that brings you back to your essential self; for me, it's yoga practice, for some it's going fishing or taking long walks or sitting for meditation or something else. All that matters is that the activity provides a sense of grounding and reconnection.
  10. Be grateful for what you have and remind yourself that the day-to-day stuff is all there is; this life is your one chance to connect with great people and do great things, so you might as well make the most of it!


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A couple of years ago I wrote a Thinking Yogi post about an unwanted visitor in our home in the hopes that confronting her head-on would help banish her from my life for good. This visitor's name is Mean Mommy. You may know her, or someone like her (she is in cahoots with Mean Spouse and Mean Friend). She was back in my home for the better part of today, and let me just say that you do NOT want to mess with her.

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 I know why she comes, I know what it takes to get her to leave, but sometimes she just lingers. Mean Mommy only shows up when life gets busy and I'm not taking enough time for myself. Whenever she's around, my perception of daily life is distorted so that what would normally seem like one of life's little hiccups becomes a catastrophic event. For example, one might expect that a sane mother of two wonderful children would patiently redirect their squabbles over library books rather than barking at them, running down the hall towards their room, and telling them how crazy they were making her. Mean Mommy thinks patient redirection is overrated, she thinks it will feel good to vent all that anger at young children who are on summer vacation, waiting around for something to do. She is, in short, a tyrant, and not someone I have much respect for.

My husband has unfortunately gotten to know Mean Mommy quite well over the past five years and he usually knows just what to say to send her packing. He starts with a gentle inquiry, something along the lines of, 'Are you okay?' Mean Mommy twitches to hear someone taking an interest, caring. Then he suggests that he might take the kids for a while and as the three of them walk out the door, Mean Mommy all but goes into the 'I'm melting...." speech from Wizard of Oz.

Today my wonderful husband did all of those things and I did a quick emergency yoga practice, which usually does the trick, but when he and the kids returned Mt. Mean Mommy still threatened to erupt for most of the day. I wondered why it wasn't working, why I couldn't get rid of her. Then my daughter politely asked for a glass of water and when I heard the cold hardness in my reply I realized I was just holding on to the meanness out of habit. I needed to take responsibility, decide to shift gears, quit frowning and slouching, and just make a change. So, I dragged my sorry self outside to play with the kids, we went to hear some music at Welles Park with friends that evening, and as I was racing down the block with my son on the way home, I knew we would come back to a blissfully empty apartment.

Mean Mommy or one of her associates visits all of us on occasion, so when she brings an extra large suitcase and wants to get her name added to your lease, just remember that eviction is a two step process. First, take time for yourself. Second, decide to let go of the meanness, the pettiness, the taking-it-all-for-grantedness, and just be nice and enjoy the people around you.

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Posted by on in Writing

It's been a while, so I may be a bit rusty.....After four years off I'm feeling the Thinking Yogi itch again, so I'm reinventing my original monthly column on Bloom's website and giving it a new home here.

My hope is to explore and share the intersection of two of my great passions: yoga and writing. I'll also sprinkle in a little bit about motherhood, life in Lincoln Square, exploring creativity in daily life, staying healthy and active, etc. I hope you'll join me on my blog-a-riffic adventure!

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