Wizard of Ahs


2successOnce upon a time, there was Toastmasters. If you wanted to give speeches (for work; I could explain, but let’s just say it was the olden days) you could join a club in your area – sometimes even at your workplace – and practice your presentations. THEN, someone else would give a speech about your speech, and other people around the room had tasks like “Who used the Word of the Day,” and “Ah Counter.”

The Ah Counter, or as some clubs called them, the Wizard of Ahs, kept track of everyone who stood up to speak that meeting and humiliated them by sharing how many times they used fillers like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “okay,” prolonged “ands” and “sos,” aaaand, let me see, what else…?

Some people thought it was mean to have an Ah Counter because it was public shaming and negative reinforcement, but it certainly made people more aware. Tough love, we used to call it.

My Toastmaster days are over, and my YouTube days are in full swing. When I need to know how to pry the bumper off my phone, tie a gi belt, or suture my own wounds, I turn to the most trusted source on the internet.


The people in these videos are 84% helpful, but the AAAAHHHHHS! As I write this, my daughter is watching an origami tutorial. I keep hearing the word, “Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” And it’s only 4 minutes long!

Thank you very much, technology: everyone with an idea and a phone can make a video and upload it – and they do!

It’s enough to make a Toastmaster deviate from parliamentary procedure.


Unprofessional! I’m out of here on my unnaturally long legs!

Lately, someone told me I need to stop writing a blog with all these wordy-words and switch to video. Well, I don’t want to! I like to read, and my readers like to read. I don’t usually have anything to “show,” and as a consumer of media, I’d rather read an opinion than watch someone bloviate for 12 minutes.

(If you see me in a video, brush up on your Morse code, because I will be trapped in a bunker.)

The next time you encounter a YouTuber or (even worse) a Facebook Live sort in real life, please, grind their phone under your heel for me. Or at least tell them practice and editing are their friends.

If you’re as old and croctchety as I am, find me on Facebook, twitter, or leave a note here!


I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sleep


Sleep, glorious sleep! The holy grail. It was my favorite thing to do, until I stopped being able to do it.

I sleep all night (according to my lifelong eyewitness), but somehow it’s not satisfying. Somehow, I can get a full night’s sleep and wake up as tired as when I went to bed.

Add to that my social anxiety, and I might never get to sleep. On the off chance I should go to a party, my brain is abuzz afterward, backtracking and analyzing: should I have said this? I should not have said that! …and were they laughing with me or at me? (Hint: it’s at, always at.) I have watched the sunrise on many a Sunday morning after a Saturday night do, not for those fun reasons you see in the movies.


They’ll never see me here.

Recently, I found Richard Miller’s Yoga Nidra book and CD at the library, and checked it out on a whim. I do not love yoga. (Sorry, yoga, I have never loved you. You’re bizarre and uncomfortable; two things that do NOT relax me – see social anxiety above.) You see, my sister LOVES yoga, and has devoted her life to it, and I wanted to read the book to have something interesting to say to her. (See social anxiety above.)

The book contains a lot of yoga theory and some interesting exercises, but the CD – THE CD!! I put it in my laptop, plugged in my headphones, and felt like I went under sedation. The first time I played it, I fell asleep in my chair. ynmiller


You’re not actually supposed to fall asleep, yoga nidra is more of a sleep-like meditation, but I must have needed the nap, because it was fantastic. After that, I felt great. I started listening whenever I could.

I felt pretty crummy confessing to my sister that I had been doing yoga, but it was cheating because it was yoga nidra.
“That’s not cheating!” she said, “There are thousands of different kinds of yoga. Yoga nidra is awesome!”

It turns out, you can find lots of yoga nidra on YouTube, and (if you live in the big city) even attend a class! (If laying in a dark room with a bunch of strangers doesn’t wig you out.)

The best part is, you can do a very short practice – from eight to twenty minutes works best for me, but longer meditations exist – and feel rested!

Miller now helps veterans suffering from PTSD in a program called IREST. I have the Kindle edition – it’s a lot of research, and the focus is not as “yogic.” I also like Jennifer Reis and Steve Wolf (he sounds automatedbut he’s real.)


No yoga nidra while driving

I don’t have to worry about sleep anymore! Whoopee! I can finally do all of those late-night things I’ve always wanted to do – when I think of what they are, I will let you know. For now, I will be doing my yoga practice without a care in the world about the person behind me seeing my underpants.


Connect with me on Twitter @lynnvanlier or on Facebook.