EcnaLab | Balance


Can I crawl under a blanket

Social exhaustion
Media overload
Everyone wanting something from me

Who will steady me
In all this buzz
Nurture my delicate flower heart
So gently?

The tide is rising
My blanket is soggy
But all the shelter I have.


Learn How To Cook – A Recipe A Day

Ever feel stuck in a cooking rut? Or want to pass along a love of cooking and knowledge of healthful food to your kids?

Here’s what we’re doing this year as a homeschooling cooking project…

We’re taking recipes from these two blogs and cooking one every day.




In this corner: Gary Alinder is legendary chef of the Peninsula Macrobiotic community in Palo Alto, and after decades of cooking incredible meals every Monday night, he has finally started publishing some of his recipes.

In that corner: Cynthia Lair is author of my all-time favorite cookbook, Feeding the Whole Family (I’ve made almost every recipe in this treasure of a book), and she has also posted recipes and videos of her fantastic feasts online.

So my 2 daughters and I have taken on the challenge. A recipe a day, all year. We’ll be posting pictures and links occasionally. Here’s what we made this week:


Blanched Vegetables:


White Bean and Kale Minestrone:


Cranberry Walnut Muffins:


Mixed Greens with Balsamic Vinaigrette:


Caribbean Lime Halibut:


Tempeh Stroganoff:


Date Squares (ok, this is my Grandma’s recipe – let me know in the comments if you want it – sooo yummy!):


That was this week’s adventure. Stay tuned for more recipes!

Love, the 3 chefs. 🙂

Freedom Poem #1: Lose Yourself

blue chewing oozes under crystallized intensity
misty rise to sicken independent grubs
i wander by with laserly meandering
only to find shredded hugs pooling true

hurry before the water comes
if you dare to take your freedom
containers never suited you anyway

sweet spark of a listening pearl
black swirls choking in rhythm
i drop glances in buckets of harsh
willing a permeating quiet

sometimes you have to lose your self to find yourself

Birthday Idea: Random Acts of Kindness!

My 33rd birthday was on October 1, and as a new tradition I sent out this email to my friends:

Hello amazing friends!!

Today is my 33rd birthday, and you are invited to a virtual birthday party, with a challenge!

Logistics, or My gift to you:
At 7:30 pm your time today, give yourself a big hug from me – I’m so grateful for your wonderful presence in my life!!

Challenge, or Your gift to me:
Do a random act of kindness today and tell me about it – it can be anything from the smallest smile at someone to changing someone’s life. I can’t wait to hear what you did! 🙂

Wishing you a year of happy fun and meaningful projects,
Alex 🙂

The responses flooded in, and 2 days later I sent out this note of thanks and friend-sourced ideas for random acts of kindness!

W-O-W!!! I was overwhelmed by the positive energy and love from all of you who came to my virtual birthday party! Thank you for making my 33rd so special and for touching my life.

Here are some of the amazing random acts of kindness you all did, roughly in the order they were received. Celebrate yourselves and how wonderful you are! 🙂

– I gave a thank you card and gift card to a librarian who has been helpful to me.

– I finally blogged about your recent announcement.

– I shall be counseling someone whose marriage is in difficulties.

– Thanking someone for supporting me and running with me, who helped me get started on the road to health and well-being and get myself back after having my 3rd baby.

– I had the joy of meeting an older couple in the hallway – I asked them if I could be of assistance as they looked a little lost.  They told me they had an appointment but didn’t know where they were suppose to go.  I told them I would be happy to help them, so I walked them to their next appointment. We reached their destination and I wished them a great day – they both thanked me so much and said how much they appreciated me taking the time to walk them there as “they are slow walkers”!

– I let someone else sit at the last outside table at lunch, instead of grabbing it for myself.

– I stopped what I was doing and cleared my calendar for over an hour when an old friend who really *likes* to talk, if you know what I mean, called this afternoon, instead of letting her end up in voicemail. 😉

– I noticed our bookeeper had lost weight and told her so.

– I made a donation to Room to Read in your name.

– I found the optimum spot behind a puppy’s ear and scratched him into ecstasy for 20 minutes.

– I took a friend to lunch for her last day at work.

– I watched the kids so my wife could have a quiet lunch all to herself.

– I called my spouse this morning just to thank him for his efforts helping with our child this morning and to tell him I’m thinking of him

– I wrote something nice to someone whom I suspect does not receive much kindness or attention

– I held the door open for an otherwise obnoxious person who was rude to me in an elevator

– I listened to a friend open up about how she was feeling.  The results were amazing for us both.

– I decided to skip a conference and spend the weekend with my family. When I told my son, he was very happy vs having me vanish again for the weekend.

– On my ride home I noticed that a guy’s rear tire was really low on air so I thought of you and pulled up next to him on the scooter to tell him about it so he could get it fixed.

– Yesterday my girlfriend was an hour late to meet with me and I told her it was absolutely no problem and made her feel better and hopefully less guilty.

– I decided to help out with a drum circle being held in a class at my daughter’s school (not her class though). It was a blast watching the kids get into the rhythm of drumming.

– I made a friend smile with a funny voicemail.

– I tweeted to spread the word about random acts of kindness.

Thank you, everyone, for the wonderful gift of kindness you spread!
Be well and happy,
Alex 🙂

Here’s to changing the world for the better, one small act of kindness at a time.

What is Right and Wrong?

My amazing friend Ryl Brock Wilson runs the ArtAsAccess blog, which had this wonderful post on using art to explore beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing.

An excerpt:

Rumi wrote:

Beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing,
there is a field. I’ll meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase ‘each other’
doesn’t make sense any more.

This piece of prose has been working me for years now and still touches my heart and peaks my curiosity. My ego cannot make sense of it and my soul already knows the deep truth of it. I long for the freedom of an open heart, the spaciousness of being and the place beyond my ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing.

This month’s inquiry  is “beyond our ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing”. This month notice both your ideas of right-doing and wrong-doing especially in regards to yourself, your experience,  feelings, thoughts, and actions. Also notice the moments without judgments and expectations where it may feel empty, quiet and expansive.

Thank you, Ryl, for your constant inspiration and modeling of a beautiful way of living.

Peter Diamandis’ Laws for Life

This guy has boatloads of courage. He’s Peter Diamandis, creator of the XPrize and Singularity University. I’m always interested in what motivates people who have achieved great things and seem to be having a lot of fun in life. Peter’s Laws are shockingly bold and beautiful.

Here they are, to inspire or surprise you, in the same giant font Peter originally used…

Peter’s Laws

The Creed of the persistent and passionate mind

1. If anything can go wrong, Fix It!!… To hell with Murphy!

2. When given a choice… Take Both!!

3. Multiple projects lead to multiple successes.

4. Start at the top then work your way up.

5. Do it by the book… but be the author!

6. When forced to compromise, ask for more.

7. If it’s worth doing, it’s got to be done right now.

8. If you can’t win, change the rules.

9. If you can’t change the rules, then ignore them.

10. Perfection is not optional.

11. When faced without a challenge, make one.

12. “No” simply means begin again at one level higher

13. Don’t walk when you can run.

14. Bureaucracy is a challenge to be conquered with a righteous attitude, a tolerance for stupidity, and a bulldozer when necessary.

15. When in doubt: THINK!

16. Patience is a virtue, but persistence to the point of success is a blessing.

17. The squeaky wheel gets replaced.

18. The faster you move, the slower time passes, the longer you live.

19. The best way to predict the future is to create it yourself!

20. The ratio of something to nothing is infinite.

21. You get what you incentivize.

22. If you think it is impossible, then it is… for you.

23. An expert is someone who can tell you exactly how it can’t be done.

24. The day before something is a breakthrough it’s a crazy idea.

25. If it were easy it would have been done already.

26. Without a target you’ll miss it every time.

27. Bullshit walks, hardware talks.

28. A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.

29. The world’s most precious resource is the passionate and committed human mind.

30. If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.

Copyright, 1986, 2009, Peter H. Diamandis, All Rights Reserved.  Laws # 14 & #18 by Todd B. Hawley.  Contact info:

Letting Go: A Poem

I wrote this poem in May 2009.


green stranglings cough tables into crushing oblivion
hearts crushed bodies weak souls beyond crying

light calls
so faintly


ears strain flowers fly swirls streak flamingly

abyss yourself or climb to paradise
actually just let go and fall to paradise

let go

loose free-fall ahhh spinning stop! no, go screams chaos filmy grime chest caving
trees creep silently through veins of cash
bags there just open eyes to see them, love there too

what? the blind can see the wise one says no and yes as the river flows
there is no thing.

don’t block the flow
get out of the way
let the river go
you were never in control

Best Life Lessons from 3 Great Philosophers

Wisdom_PearlLife is good, the journey is easy. Reading the words of three wise minds has taught me some new lessons on how to live, and how to enjoy living.

Here are the top 3 take-away messages from Emerson, Robinson, and Seneca.

(I’m still looking for great female philosophers. Let me know in the comments if you have favorites!)

This beautiful mandala is courtesy of the amazing Richard A Waters. Happy reflecting!

1. Trust yourself, be yourself.


Emerson writes a compelling essay, not only fiercely authentic but advocating fierce authenticity. Be yourself, even when others around you don’t agree. Don’t conform, he says, and don’t even worry about being consistent with yourself. Allow yourself to be in every moment, and stick to the principles that you have chosen for your life. His final words? “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

2. Find your passion.



Robinson is a modern philosopher, polio survivor, and educational reformer. His message is simple and strong: Follow what you love doing, let that be ok. Don’t try to change yourself to fit our abominable education system; learn in the way that suits you. He gives the powerful example of a “hyperactive” child who wouldn’t sit still in school. Her mother got the enlightened advice to let her go to a dance school, because she so obviously loved to move and thought by moving. She ended up being the creator of amazing dance productions like CATS.

Robinson’s work is filled with dozens of these inspiring, thought-provoking stories. One of my favorite quotes: “Often we need other people to help us recognize our real talents. Often we can help other people to discover theirs.”

3. Live for today.


Thanks to my friend Tim Ferriss for this one. My take on Seneca’s message is to use your life to do only what you love doing at every moment instead of sacrificing today for a potentially better but non-existent tomorrow. This one sentence sums it up: “It is not that we have a short space of time, but that we waste much of it.”

So here’s to doing what you love, being yourself, and enjoying life! Be well and thanks for reading.

Letter to a child

A friend I recently made on Twitter wrote a beautiful blog post about balance as a letter to her child.

In this time of incredible un-balance in my life, I sometimes feel like I’m failing on all fronts. So hard to keep my health in check, my kids engaged, my personal relationships strong, and work on the upswing.

At the moment I can only be grateful for this moment, right now, and trust that I will find my way.

The 7 Principles that Guide My Life

Two weeks ago I went to Portland, by myself. At first I felt very out of place. I kept thinking, “What am I doing here?” “Why did I come?” I doubted my decision, but decided to stick with it.

Ten minutes into the workshop, I remembered. I knew why I was there. My whole body was washed with the bliss that floods through my body every time I do tai chi. And when they brought out the sabers, that’s when the real fun began!

I’m pretty sure it was my first time actually holding a weapon. I felt surprisingly powerful and strong, yet calm and graceful at the same time. For the first two hours my arm was killing me, until I learned how to hold it at the correct angle and not swing wildly with my wrist.

My mind was cleared by the mental and physical intensity of learning a new set of moves with a heavy object. My usual mental loops about kids, work, and worry were replaced with a singular focus on the task at hand.

Plus, I had a new set of worries – with forty people in a room cutting through the air with sabers, it’s important to stay in unison and give each other enough space. (I got whacked twice. The sabers were wood instead of metal blades, so it just hurt instead of drawing blood).

After two days of this incredible mind-clearing movement, I had a solid three-hour chunk of time at the airport before boarding my flight. I wanted to use this time to reflect, to process, to find balance. I struggled to find a set of guiding principles that fit me – Buddhism? Taoism? Zen? Minimalism? Universal Energy? Nothing felt completely right.

Then it hit me – why not come up with my own set of principles to guide my life? I started writing, and was surprised by how effortless it was!

So here are The 7 Principles that Guide My Life:


A 7-path labyrinth

1. Open, honest communication.

2. Authentic self-expression.

3. Questioning authority.

4. Service to others.

5. Care of self.

6. Balance.

7. Love.


I found this to be a tremendously helpful exercise. Taking the time to define what is important to you in your life and then crafting your life to live by those principles – this is how you can live your best life.

Give it a try! Don’t think about it. Just put “My Guiding Principles” at the top of the page. Then start writing and see what comes out. No judgment, only acceptance. And if you feel like sharing, I’d love to hear what you come up with!

With my own guide in hand, I now feel a much greater sense of self and purpose in my daily decisions. When something comes up that I need to deal with, I go back to my 7 principles and usually find the answer, or at least a sense of peace.

I don’t feel so out of place now. I know why I went to Portland. And, at least for this brief moment in time, I know how to live my life.