Speaking Without Saying a Thing

This morning I read a NY Times piece about a Canadian family, just outside Edmonton, that does Bikram yoga together.  There’s a great picture of them standing barefoot in the Canadian wilderness, each of them, perfectly executing a pose.



All credit, NY Times, click link below to read full article.


There is something so gratifying about this picture, it’s almost indescribable.  But, then this post would be over, so let me try and put the feeling into words.


I think there’s something intrinsically healthy about working out with your family.  There’s something really unifying about -as Olivia Newton John would say- getting physical.


Pretty-damn-near-everyday Wifesy and I do our P90X workouts together.  I’m not sure I’ve lost a whole lot of weight from it, but I am getting stronger.  It’s also really great to push each other in a healthy way.


I can’t remember doing very many physical things with my mother.  My mother is more of a laugher and a talker.  She used to like to have a cocktail and tell a story.  That’s my biggest memories of mom.  A year or two ago, she gave up drinking entirely.  But, still she likes to hold court.  It’s something hard wired into her personality.  She’s the mayor of every dinner party.


My dad, though, is not much of a talker.  When he does talk, it’s more preachy.  After a while, even the most focused listener finds themselves tuning out.  BUT, my dad and I communicated in other ways.  I’d say we communicated by doing things.  Dad built half of our house from scratch.  Literally.  He dug out a basement.  With a damn shovel and a wheelbarrow.  He’s not a carpenter.  He did it all by reading Time-Life DIY books.  My brother was too young while dad was rebuilding, so a lot of the right hand man stuff fell to me.  I helped him lay a concrete floor, put up walls, nail things, install windows, pick up sheetrock from Home Depot, etc.  Name a home improvement project and we did it together.


I also have vivid memories of my father working on the car.  He had this huge auto repair book.  It was like the encyclopedia of auto repair.  He’d look something up and then go out and toy with it.  I remember him bringing me outside, opening the hood, and pointing out the carburetor, and how to check the oil.


My parents also have a liquor cabinet in the living room.  The doors to that cabinet are these ornate, old school, German, winter and summer, hand-carved, scenes that my dad found in a library book somewhere.  I remember coming up the stairs at night and passing his room to go to my own.  He’d be sitting up in bed with an X-Acto knife and a sheet of wood.  Night after night he worked on his German carving.  I don’t know how mom didn’t  kill him for getting those wood shavings all over the bed.


Most people don’t have nostalgic feelings for X-Acto knives, but I do…

Years later at college, I was in a car with a group of girls while we suffered a flat tire.  It was a nice, older, red, BMW that the girl’s dad had given her.  We pulled over to the side of the road and the girl who owned the car started to panic and whine.  She called her father.  I said, “Why don’t we just change the tire and put on the spare?”  She talked to her dad and panicked some more.  I got the jack out of the car.


I changed the tire, I think, to everyone’s amazement.  We got back in the car and drove to campus.  By the time we arrived, the girl’s dad had also arrived.  He was very quiet.  We all moved away from the car, while he inspected it.  He looked at the flat in the trunk.  He looked at the spare donut now installed where it should be.  He paused for one long moment and then said, “Good job, Donohue.”


Maybe my dad couldn’t give me a red BMW himself, but he most certainly gave me much more.  I always think, “I got my heart from my mom, but my spine from my dad.”


(Hey, Brother J, this one’s for you…)



Sweet Mother is updated daily-ish.  If you’d like to follow this blog, simply click the “follow” button in the upper, right hand, corner.



You might also like:

Women Are Crappy Drivers & Other Nonsense



Photo credits:

NY Times Yoga family piece, X-Actos


76 thoughts on “Speaking Without Saying a Thing

  1. The thought of doing yoga with my three ‘men’ makes me laugh. That would be quite the sight. A scary sight. But we did play the Big Bang Theory trivia game last night, so that should count for something. Of course, my family automatically picked the Sheldon game piece for me…

    1. loooool. that is SUCH a great sitcom. i didn’t even know there was a board game version. i have dreams about writing for chuck lorre. either on big bang or mike and molly. preferably mike and molly, i think. have you ever seen his vanity cards? they are hilarious. xoxo

      1. I haven’t seen the vanity cards. I watched Mike and Molly last year, but I just haven’t had time to tune in this year. So many shows, so little time. I don’t know if you watch The New Normal, but that’s one of my new favorites. The little girl in it is great.

  2. Lovely story. My dad and I worked out all the time. Every sunday we do a family walk now. But, the best part of your story is the yoga pic. We only have a hot yoga studio in town. Which is like craving italian and going to olive garden.

  3. I love the part about your dad carving in bed – my pop had a Black & Decker Workmate in the living room in front of his recliner. He carved, made bullets, and ground metal while never missing a minute of primetime TV 🙂

      1. Why sit outside melting down lead ingots and making bullets – bring it all into the living room:) None of us dared to enter his “corner”. 🙂

  4. Hey, this is really nice, thanks for sharing.

    I learned everyday normal things from mom, like cooking and laundry. (Sounds cliche, and old fashioned, but it’s true.)

    I get most of my wit and attitude from my dad. I can totally understand the preachy thing. I never got spanked but I did get a lot of talks. (Sort of “mind gamey”)

    It’s weird, I’m not really anything like either of my parents, but you can still see a little of them in there. Two extroverts do make an introvert. Throw in my brother and things go nuts. People often give me a hard time about being quiet and shy, until they meet my family. Then it all makes sense.

    1. you can NEVER escape your dna, which is something i have learned. 😉 i got a lot of good things, though, and the rest, i ditched. the best part of being an adult. loool. anyway, you inspired this. so, thank you, jon. xo, sm

  5. I’m a bit envious of you, Mother. I never did anything like that with my dad. However, I did get my love of history and the military from him, so there’s taht. 😀 From my mom, I got my love of cooking & baking.

    Awesome story, btw.

    1. dudes LOVE history. both my brother and my father are history nuts. it’s almost fun to see them argue about stuff because it’s a race to see who knows more about what events and dates. now that my brother is a grown man, he can go pretty toe to toe with my dad on history stuff and i find it endlessly interesting to watch. tho, i find it’s never interesting enough for me to actually immerse myself in it, like they do… thanks for the awesome comment, foster. xo, sm

  6. LOVE this piece Mom! The picture blows me away… as a follower of yoga for 16+ years now, it does my heart good to see that family! Agree with nevercontrary, however: hot Bikram is Olive Garden for me. Such a nice solute to both of your parents, but I do love the image of your dad carving those doors in bed. Just lovely. See, I guess I’m a sucker for your “serious stuff.” 😉 xox

  7. My dad was not one to do handy work. He grew up on a farm and I think wanted no part of “manual labor” after that. Great story, though, and you learned skills that every woman should have. Flat tire? Oh boy. Hubs better be in the car or I need the police to show up quick while I’m calling for roadside assistance!

    1. well, i’m definitely not an auto mechanic, but i can do a couple of things. i DO have a AAA card tho because i don’t WANT to do things when i don’t have to… looool. xo, sm

  8. SM, I love this post! I enjoyed learning about your family history. The thought of exercising with my family is inspiring, although I don’t know that everyone would be on board. Maybe it’s worth a shot. I think it’s great you got to learn practical things from you dad. That’s priceless!

    1. it is, isn’t it? he was great at doing things his damn self and i’m proud of him for that. and i’m happy that i got some of it. tho don’t ask me to make a chair, unless you want to break your arse. loool. thanks for reading, bumble. xo, sm

  9. I was definitely the “son” of my sister and I in the family. Broken lawn mower? Better fix it together. Toilet’s not working, “you figure it out.” Oh, building a relationship over fixing shit. The memories. 😀

    1. seriously. this ‘role’ always falls to someone whether it’s a girl or a dude. i wonder if my brother had been older and / or actually liked doing this kind of thing, if i would’ve done it. but, alas none of those things applied, so i did and in retrospect, i’m glad i did ’em. xo, sm

      1. Yes, it certainly is nice to be capable in life. But also a little bit of eating your complaints and having to sheepishly admit “thanks” to moms and dads for all the lessons. Did you see my dad’s words of wisdom in my latest post? Oh man… haha

  10. I saw the article this morning and it produced a big smile on my face–I LOVE Bikram yoga. I’m the only family member who does this type of yoga (my fam is peppered with yoga snobs..) and it’s a panacea for me. Great post!

    1. i would watch a whole show on that family and them doing yoga together out in the wilderness, i’m not kidding. maybe that times article will get them one. i find it endlessly fascinating. i’m a yoga fan too. i always feel better after i do it. xo, sm

    1. it’s great to do together. it really is. turn off the tv, unplug, and get out… you’d be surprised what you’ll talk about. but, then again, you already know that. 😉

      1. Then again, dinner on the couch every night with taped (yes, using a VCR) episodes of that day’s Young and the Restless with mom and sister was also quite the bonding experience. haha

  11. Love the warm memories you have of your parents. My dad was also handy around the house. Each year during his one week summer vacation he redid something in the house: wiring, plumbing, painting, carpeting. Luckily (or unluckily) I had brothers that could help him, but mostly us girls just stayed out of his way. None of us kids learned too much except that none of us ever wanted to do that kind of work for a living. 🙂

    1. there is some truth to that. i would work WITH a construction company, but doing ALL the work myself. no way. nothing would be stable. they would call me ‘bob villa’ around my college apartment tho because those girls were helpless… couldn’t even hammer a nail if the wall were falling down. i can do enough to keep my pants up, but make a whole outfit – no way. oh, you know what i mean… loool. xo, sm

  12. Those are pretty challenging poses. You can tell that this family has been exercising together for some time. My family’s schedule is very different so that alone would prohibit us from working out together. That, and most of us don’t want to exercise. 😛

    1. “that and most of us don’t want to exercise.” ha! who does? wifesy has to drag me to the p90x tapes some days, but i’m always glad after i’ve done it. seriously. xo

  13. -smile- My Dad taught me to think like a boy. My Mum taught me to cook. Between them they turned me into a reasonably competent human being. 😀

    1. ‘between them they turned me into a reasonably competent human being.” that’s really all a parent can hope for, now, isn’t it? it sounds pretty darn good to me. xo, sm

  14. Love your story about changing the tire on the BMW. You go, girl! I would have been the girl panicking and phoning her dad (except that I’d have been driving a green Chevette rather than a red BMW!) It wouldn’t have occurred to my father to teach me to change a tire. He’d just do it for me. But like your mother, he was the life of every party, and after a couple of drinks, he told the best stories going. I learned a lot about having a generous view on life from that good man.

    1. i think my particular set of parents was a lucky roll of the dice. i got a ‘zest for lifer’ on the one hand and a ‘practical, imaginative, do it yourselfer’ on the other. not too bad, all in all. sounds like you did pretty well yourself. 😉 xo, sm

  15. What a lovely post 😉 great photo and quite an inspirational story, and then what you shared… I love how each of us have those unique memories… kinda reminds you we’re all special.

    1. i know… sometimes i have such fun reading through other people’s experiences on here. it’s kinda great. and we are all kinda special. okay, gonna go put my vag away now before i cry or write a poem. loool. xoxo, sm

      1. …and I run out of inspiration
        a used-before phrase I used
        to start.”

        I kinda finished it for us. Almost a haiku.

      2. you most certainly did. and what a wonderful haiku indeed. i have nothing to add except…’bulbous buttocks on which bouncing balls bing.” see, i’m wretched… looool.

  16. I think getting physical in any way with family members creates a bond (somehow that doesn’t sound right). What I mean is, those times are the ones you remember … the times you actually do something together. You learn something and it sticks or you just appreciate the time spent. I get excited if He-Who will even go for a walk with me. I would never get him to exercise with me.

    1. i couldn’t agree more. even those vacations i dreaded…the ones were we didn’t fly, but got in the car and drove up to canada. i hated the idea of them before they happened. but, with hindsight, they are some of my favorite family vacations. xo, sm

  17. 26 poses, repeated twice, in the sweatiest place on earth! I practiced Bikram on a challenge from a woman 15 years younger than me who said she wanted to “kick her workout up a notch.” She dropped out after three classes. I finished the challenge, not because of anything special about me, but just to prove to myself that I could do it.
    I got that bit of hard-headed determination from my dad.

    1. that doesn’t surprise me about you one bit. 😉 i did the 30 in 30 too. it’s an interesting thing to try at least once. i also happen to like the hot box, not everyone does. but, i always felt i could stretch further in that hot room. wifesy hates it tho. can’t get her to do it. she’s an iyengar fan. xo, sm

      1. Hey, I like me some Iyengar too. but that rope wall
        =:o is not for me. I went to the Yoga Journal conference at Rocky Mt. National Park the first year we lived in CO. I felt like a total goober in there with all of those bendy stretchy blissed out yogis. I had just started practicing and my hammies were screaming like the elk bugling outside! Ever tried power yoga by baron baptiste? I had a teacher that was hooked on him. it too is a sweat your guts out more athletic less spiritual style.

  18. I love it when parents incorporate activity into their family outings so that kids are being active without realizing it….without thinking it’s a chore.
    Your post made me remember family bike rides where my dad would lead and my mom would bring up the rear. Kinda like a family of ducks…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s