Improvised Life » health + wellness If you can't hunt with a dog, hunt with a cat... Tue, 22 Apr 2014 20:00:44 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Quick 4 —The 4 Minute Workout for Lazy Dogs Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:00:42 +0000 We downloaded Quick 4 to our iphone and find that a 4-minute workout (based on high intensity interval training) allows for no excuses and won't let us off the hook, despite the fact that we are naturally lazy dogs (exercise-wise).]]> 0 Embracing our Mortality to LIVE MAKE GROW Tue, 18 Mar 2014 08:12:39 +0000

Sally Schneider

In a recent New York Times, 36-year-old Paul Kalanithi wrote How Long Have I Got Left about his diagnosis of terminal cancer, and coming to terms with his doctor’s inability to tell him how much time he had left: The reason doctors don’t give patients specific prognoses is not merely because they cannot..[but because] ...the range of what is reasonably possible is so wide….Yes, you will die. But one wants a full pound of certainty, and that is not on offer.

Kalanithi eloquently addresses how he learned to live aware of but NOT knowing, with the gravest of uncertainties: (more…)

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Pockets: What Essential Item Carries You Through Your Day? Mon, 10 Feb 2014 09:52:17 +0000 Pockets, a tiny treasure of a video by director James Lees made us reflect on what one treasure carries us through our day.]]> 2 Chill with Birdsong Radio Wed, 29 Jan 2014 23:00:39 +0000

Our friend Josh Eisen alerted us to the great, a site that streams only birdsong (you can also download its app or mp3): (more…)

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Beyond Broken Resolutions: What the New Year Offers Us Mon, 27 Jan 2014 09:17:24 +0000

Joan Thirlaway/Guardian Green Shoots

Birds have been much on my mind since revisiting Anne Lamotts’ inspirational book, Bird by Bird, on Improvised Life, especially now that the New Year has come and gone, scattering in its wake a litter of broken resolutions. How is it possible that so many thoughtfully-strategized good intentions have fled my newly-reordered spiritual house already, and the year yet a month old? (more…)

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The Health Benefits of Having Your Mind Blown Tue, 21 Jan 2014 08:50:12 +0000

Creative commons via NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

The Dish recently posted an excerpt of Cayte Bosler’s study showing “the residual health benefits of having your mind blown”. The gist: experiencing awe makes you feel like you have MORE time, makes you LESS impatient and MORE willing to help other people. And our favorite: it makes you more strongly prefer experience to material goods.

So we thought we give you a dose of awesome right here and now with some everyday things that are made of fractals, the mysterious patterning mathmatician Benoit Mandelbrot spoke so eloquently about: geometric shapes, whose pattern splits into reduced copies of the whole, over and over. (more…)

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The Art of Snow (Snow as Art Material, Fashion Inspiration, Gym)… Wed, 08 Jan 2014 22:41:11 +0000


Our friend Holton Rower sent us some screenshots of very imaginative snow creations (unfortuantely unattributed), that remind us just what a splendid, ephemeral FREE material snow is for spontaneous making.  (more…)

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What Language Does Your Body Speak? Wed, 08 Jan 2014 09:17:15 +0000

Gracie Hagen

Artist Gracie Hagen‘s project Illusions of the Body explores the distance between media-propagated imagery of men and women with impossibly pristine bodies, and the genuine very-imperfect reality of our own flesh.

Hagen photographed her “normal” models in two separate poses. In the first, they took conventionally sexy poses that accentuated the parts they themselves thought acceptable, while hiding sections they considered unattractive. In the second frame, they struck an unflattering pose.

While Illusions of the Body’ was made to explore the norms that we think our bodies are supposed to look like, to us it gives a more powerful message: (more…)

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Ai Weiwei-isms for the New Year Mon, 06 Jan 2014 09:16:18 +0000

(Video link here).  At first we thought a video of artist Ai Weiwei dancing around singing a cute kid’s tune with an iPad in his hand to be a fun, restorative, vicariously-liberating bit of ‘technobiophilia’. That’s researcher Sue Thomas’ word for our “innate attraction to life and lifelike processes as they appear in technology”, that actually enhance our digital well-being. After all, Ai Weiwei’s work is always life-affirming and illuminating; and we know for sure that just watching joyful stuff can help our mindset.

We discovered that Ai Weiwei’s video is also a message of rebellion and action. (more…)

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Wheelz’s Wheelchair Freestyle: ‘See Challenges in a New Way’ Wed, 27 Nov 2013 09:09:18 +0000

(Video link here.)  We considered Sue Austin’s deep sea dives in her wheelchair among the most amazing examples of outside-the-box wheelchair thinking until we saw this splendid, energizing, deeply heartening video of Aaron “Wheelz” Fotheringham, a “professional hardcore sitter” pushing his wheelchair to exhilarating limits. We appreciate clips of his occasional wipe-outs, par for the course with any attempt at mastery and risk-taking. And his attitude: (more…)

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6 liberating truths about our bodies, from a massage therapist Mon, 18 Nov 2013 09:48:53 +0000

Love Magazine

Who among us doesn’t secretly feel ashamed and less-than-ok about our bodies? Count me among that multitude. Judging our bodies in the U.S. is a national pastime and obsession. Too big, too small. Too much, too little (except maybe the fab Beth Ditto, above, though her nipples appear to have been airbrushed out).

We catch a glimpse of ourselves sideways in the glass doors of our local supermarket and wonder:  Are we okay? Is our enough really ENOUGH?


Our rush to judge ourselves can be harsh and unforgiving.


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fern berman: “turn loss into something else” Thu, 07 Nov 2013 09:55:34 +0000

Fern Berman/Composition in Red #14

Finding her capacity to walk diminishing due to MS, artist Fern Berman’s practice became to “turn loss into something else...and generating creativity”. With each photograph she wants to make, she must ask: How can I make that happen?]]> 8
design + diet lessons in an oddly-cut apple Tue, 08 Oct 2013 21:05:47 +0000 top cut apple star pattern

One of the central principles of improvisation we follow is to turn things on their side, or upside-down, a simple shift that often yields unexpected results. It’s a practice you can do in your imagination just about anywhere, and in practice with everyday things.

Recently, instead of the usual way of cutting an apple (slicing it in quarters, coring it, slicing each quarter), we shifted our cutting method to unexpected effects. This exercise yielded charming visuals, a slightly different taste —how a food is cut effects how it hits the tongue — and the illusion of ‘more’ apple  useful for our dieting selves. (more…)

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strategy: the 4-minute workout + the mio alpha Wed, 24 Jul 2013 16:06:20 +0000 4 minute workout

Along with our strategy of exercising outdoors with whatever is at hand,  we’ve found this heartening report in the New York Times really useful for getting ourselves to work out regularly:

In a study, published last month in the journal PLoS One, researchers from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, Norway, and other institutions attempted to delineate the minimum amount of exercise required to develop appreciable endurance and health gains. 

…For those unfamiliar with the term, high-intensity intervals are just that: bursts of strenuous exercise lasting anywhere from 30 seconds to several minutes, interspersed with periods of rest. In recent years, a wealth of studies have established that sessions of high-intensity exercises can be as potent, physiologically, as much longer bouts of sustained endurance exercise. (more…)
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