No. 1 - On getting started

When I wrote this, the sky was a beautiful combination of pastel peaches and pinks, yellow and green and that unique mid-winter blue (if only for a second, it is February after all). I love the quietude of early winter mornings; they carry with them the still fresh newness of the year and speak of possibility and new beginnings. As each new day brings a fresh start, so does February bring new plans and ideas.



The state of being calm, peaceful, and untroubled.

Serenity is one of my core values but, in the face of modern distractions, finding it is not always easy or top of mind. I am working on making a more deliberate practice. Care to join me?

Here's what I am trying this week. Time required: 7 to 10 minutes (if I can find them, so can you :). I'm doing this in the morning to set a calm tone for my day.

  1. Prepare the spot where you are going to sit for a short meditation. Since we're not going to sit long so it doesn't have to be perfect.
  2. Fill the kettle and set to boil. Go to your spot, close your eyes and rest your mind on something - a phrase, your breath, an image of a loved one, whatever comes and feels right.
  3. Once the kettle boils, take a deep breath and end your meditation.
  4. Pour the water over your tea. While it steeps, grab a scrap of paper or your journal and for 2-4 minutes (however long your tea needs to steep) write down the great things that happened yesterday or simple things that make life good / easy / joyful / calm / [insert adjective]. Focusing on positivity that already exists puts peace in my brain.
  5. Fill your cup and off you go into the day.


"I was waiting for something extraordinary to happen, but as the years wasted on, nothing ever did unless I caused it."
- Charles Bukowski


Health is the cornerstone of longevity and, IMO, a smooth-running life. As I was reminded recently, persistent stressors can significantly undermine our health and well-being. I want to share a concept with which I was not familiar until last fall, the concept of allostatic load. It's the cumulative wear and tear on the body as one encounters persistent or chronic stress – think work pressures, parenting challenges, grief, caregiving duties, daily commutes, and so forth. Allostatic load represents the cost our bodies pay to manage these stressors. I highly recommend exploring it further (this article is a good starting point).

The amazing capacity of the body to 'push through' or 'take on' pain during times of stress is critical in emergencies, handling hot water to snatch it away from a child before they get burnt or dodging a speeding vehicle even if you have a sore foot. But when stress is relentless or excessive, it can lead to an accumulation of allostatic load, which may manifest as various health issues. So we have to purge stress from our system. This is crucial. For me, purging looks like a walk through nature, a yoga session, or enjoying tea and gazing into the distance. What's your stress-relief go-to?

A final note for parents and kid-look-afterers. Children also experience allostatic load. Assist them in discovering their own stress relievers – perhaps starting with a cup of tea and a heartfelt conversation. Help them (and yourself!) to learn what their body needs to do to shed their burdens. Because life is better in the calm.

One more thing...

"Anything that makes you feel smaller
Leave it by the angels of the water."
- Stand Like an Oak, Rising Appalachia

Until next time,
Steep Calm.

No. 1 - On getting started
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