Friday, December 24, 2010

Rarities of All Sorts

We hope you had a chance this past Tuesday to witness the winter solstice lunar eclipse; a beautiful sight indeed. It is extremely rare for a lunar eclipse to occur on the same day as the winter solstice, a conjunction that last occured in 1638 and won't occur again until 2094.

We feel fortunate that our many loyal customers, many of whom have become friends over the years, are a different kind of rarity: socially conscious, engaged, and caring people living meaningful, fulfilled lives and doing their best to make the world a better place. We are honored that you choose our little center to help you on your journeys.

Thank you for your support & friendship over the years. We feel grateful, blessed, and proud to be part of such a caring community.

From all the staff of Mindful Hands, we wish you a healthy and happy holiday!
-Sally, Chris, Lilo, Amida, & Baby

Friday, November 19, 2010

Small Business Saturday

Join more than 300,000 people nationwide who have already expressed their support for locally-owned businesses. Sponsored by American Express, the Saturday after Thanksgiving is a nationwide promotion in support of small business everywhere:
"A day to come together in support of the small businesses we love. The shops and restaurants that employ our neighbors and reinvest our money close to home. The businesses that are the heartbeat of our communities and local

Show your support and receive a $25 credit on your American Express statement when you shop your local small businesses on Small Business Satuday. See Small Business Saturday ( for details. If you're a facebook user, you can give a "shout out" to your favorite small business at

Shop Local, Shop Small!

Friday, November 5, 2010

The Value of Impermanence

Fall is here, winter is soon to come. The changing of the seasons reminds us that nothing is permanent except change itself, to appreciate the good things we have while we have them, and that it is the last piece of Halloween candy that is always savored the most.

Welcome to November.

("Mount Vernon in the Fall," colored pencil by Chris Engnoth)

Friday, October 8, 2010

"Care for Kids" Benefit to Support Children's National Medical Center

Every year at the end of October, The Children's National Medical Center sponsors a pre-holiday shopping promotion. Mindful Hands is once again a proud supporter of the "Care for Kids" holiday promotion. Mindful Hands, along with more than 500 other DC-area retail stores, will generously provide participants with a 20% discount off all regularly priced merchandise during the promotion period.

This year's designated shopping period is from Friday, October 22, through Sunday, October 31. All you have to do is purchase a Care For Kids holiday shopping card at selected merchants, through a team of 200+ volunteer sellers, or online at Your card purchase allows you to give a $50.00 contribution directly to Children's National and, in return, you will receive 20% off all regularly priced merchandise at participating stores, including Mindful Hands.

The Care for Kids program has provided more than one million dollars in donations to Children's National. Donations from previous years provided the Medical Center with a bright and cheery playroom for the patients in the Respiratory Care Unit, a clinical simulation training laboratory, and educational programs for children with Type 1 Diabetes and their parents.

Children's National is ranked as one of the top ten pediatric hospitals in the nation. The hospital provides care to all children in need, regardless of financial situation or whether insured or not. Last year, Children's National provided more than $50 million dollars in health care to children whose families could not afford treatment.

When you purchase a Care For Kids Card, 100% of the card sale proceeds go to Children's National Medical Center. Help this most worthy cause by purchasing your Care For Kids Card today!

Purchase your Care for Kids Shopping Card here.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Pledge to go Car Free on Sept. 22!

September 22 is International Car Free Day. Celebrations are happening in more than 1,500 cities in 40 countries as people all over the world pledge to go car free for just one day. Imagine: one day a year with no traffic congestion; breathable, cleaner air; reduced reliance on gasoline; and a greener earth. And you can help to make it happen.

Try a day off from your car and see just how liberating it can be. You can make a real difference for the environment by choosing to walk, cycle, use public transit, or telework for just one day. Pledge to go car free (or car-lite) on September 22 and participate in celebrations and contests in your city or region.

In the DC-metro area, pledge to go car free and be entered in a raffle to win fabulous prizes. You can enter even if you're already car free. To learn more and to make your pledge, click here

Shops and restaurants across the DC-area are offering special promotions to those who take the car free pledge. At Mindful Hands, just say "I'm car free today!" and receive 15% off your total purchase!

To find other activities and celebrations in your area, check out the International Car Free Day website.

Pledge to Go Car Free!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

No Child Left Inside

You may have heard the term, "nature deficit disorder," coined by Richard Louv in his book, Last Child in the Woods (2005). According to Louv, today's children spend far less time outdoors than even a generation ago. With the rise in electronic entertainment - from television & DVDs to computer games to social networking sites like myspace and facebook, to cellphone texting and Wii - today's children are spending more than 50 hours a week with electronic media (Kaiser Family Foundation).

This disconnect from nature has been linked to childhood obesity, attention disorders, and stress and depression in children. Conversely, recent research has shown that children with ADHD concentrate better after a walk in the park. And overall health improves for both children and adults who live near parks or woods, even in urban environments.

The benefits to children of re-connecting with nature include:

  • increase in attention span, focus, and self-discipline
  • better problem-solving and cooperative behavior
  • increase in creativity, self-esteem, and overall happiness
According to the Children and Nature Network, "Children will be smarter, better able to get along with others, healthier and happier when they have regular opportunities for free and unstructured play in the out-of-doors."

You don't have to send your kids away to camp, take a family vacation to a National Park, or even allow them unsupervised play in the woods across the street. Outdoor activities can take place - safely- in your neighborhood park or even in your own backyard. Making outdoor play a family activity has the added benefit of strengthening family ties and creating shared memories that your kids will cherish for many years to come.

Check out these resources for family-oriented nature activities:

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Keeping Cool By Being Green

The Washington, DC-area is experiencing one of the hottest summers in history, as is much of the east coast. Chris & I just recently installed a room air conditioner in our bedroom. Our home has central air conditioning but as we live in a 3-story shoebox, we found our electric bills to be far too high for a house that was still uncomfortably warm. The central a/c was wonderful at keeping the basement cool, only so-so on the main floor, and did nothing for our bedroom upstairs. We are rarely home except in the evenings, so a single room a/c for our bedroom is not only far more energy efficient but also a lot easier on the pocketbook.

Since then, I've found a few other ways of keeping cool by reducing indoor air temperature. Even simple things, like turning off lights when you leave a room and keeping windows and blinds closed, can dramatically reduce the amount of heat generated inside your home. Here are a few other simple solutions to beat the heat:

  • Turn up the thermostat as high as possible during the hours when no one's home, or turn off the a/c altogether. Better yet, invest in a programmable thermostat.

  • Run heat-generating appliances in the early morning, late evening, or when you're not home (this includes clothes dryers and dishwashers). Better yet, line dry your clothes if you can.

  • Use ceiling and floor fans to circulate the air. Fans use far less electricity than air conditioners and the cooling breezes they generate will allow you to run the a/c at a higher temperature.

  • Install working window shutters, put up awnings, or plant a tree to shade your windows from the sun.

  • Try "tuning" your double-hung windows to suck the hot air out and bring cooler air in.

These are just a few suggestions for chillin' in the summer heat. Check out these additional resources for simple, low-cost ways to stay cool while being green:

How to Keep Cool Without Air Conditioning

Hot Time in the City? Keep Cool in Your Home

Low-Tech Air Conditioning Guide

Low-Tech Tips: Tune Your Windows

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Peaceful Sleep, Peaceful Dreams

According to the National Sleep Foundation, nearly 60% of Americans typically do not get a good night's sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to ill-health, poor decision-making, and depression. If you're finding it difficult to fall asleep, stay asleep, or you don't feel refreshed when you wake up, then try some of these tips for healthy sleep:

(1) Try to go to bed at the same time every day. A regular schedule helps to maintain your body's natural circadian rhythm, important for good sleep. Try to wake up at the same time everyday, too.

(2) Create a sleep-inducing environment. Take your computer, television, exercise equipment, and other electronics out of the bedroom. Keep your room comfortable and quiet.

(3) Exercise regularly, but finish your exercise at least 3 hours before going to bed.

(4) Avoid consuming caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol close to bedtime.

(5) A relaxing bedtime ritual can be especially helpful. Turn off the television, computer, or other electronic device at least an hour before going to bed. Then soak in a hot tub, read a book, or listen to soothing music while drifting off to sleep.

More tips for healthy sleeping and other sleep topics can be found at the website for the National Sleep Foundation.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Only Species with the Capacity to Destroy the Earth

"We need to consider how our actions, in affecting the environment, are likely to affect others. This is often difficult to judge; but it is clear that we are the only species with the power to destroy the earth. Birds and insects have no such power, nor does any other mammal. Yet if we have the capacity to destroy the earth, we also have the capacity to protect it. I believe we have an urgent responsibility to do so." - H.H., the XIVth Dalai Lama

Celebrate the earth this Earth Day, and reduce, re-use, and recycle!

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Can't We All Just Get Along?

American culture is deeply rooted in the lore of individualism and competitiveness. We learn at a young age that achieving our own individual goals is more important than compromising for the greater good of the family or community. Yet study after study has indicated that cooperation, not competition, actually works better for achieving group goals as well as for achieving one's own individual goals.

Children gain many benefits when their parents and teachers encourage cooperation. Some of these benefits are:

  • increased self-esteem
  • a sense of belonging
  • respect for and trust in others
  • emotional maturity
  • creativity and flexibility in thinking

And studies have shown that when children learn cooperation at home and at school, they are much more likely to take this behavior into their work world and into relationships. People with cooperative natures are generally healthier, happier, have a higher sense of self-worth, and experience less stress than those who are more competitive.

So for your own good, can't we all just get along?


For more information on cooperative learning, visit The Cooperative Learning Center at the University Minnestota.

Cooperative board games are available through our sponsor, Mindful Hands, in their children's section.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Eat Healthy, Eat Local

On March 25, Alexandria became only the second city in the country to pass a resolution in support of healthier eating, including increasing residents' access to locally grown, environmentally sustainable foods. And here at Mindful Hands we are happy to do our part in support of that same goal!

Mindful Hands is once again sponsoring an organic farm co-op (also known as a "CSA," or "community sponsored agriculture") in which members pay at the beginning of the season for 20 weeks worth of fresh, organic farm produce. If you are like me, you definitely appreciate the crisp and flavorful taste of homegrown vegetables picked fresh just that morning.

To find a co-op, farmer's market, or CSA near you, check out the
Local Harvest website.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Ten Virtues of Incense

Lighting a stick or two of incense in the evenings is an easy way to relax and refresh yourself after a hard day's work. Some of you incense afficianados may already be familiar with these "virtues of incense." However for those of you who aren't, I thought our version - updated for a contemporary audience - might be of interest. Enjoy!

The Ten Virtues Of Incense

  • heightens your awareness
  • refreshes mind and body
  • purifies the environment
  • increases alertness
  • is a companion in solitude
  • used everyday, it harms no one
  • does not change with age
  • when it is plentiful, one never tires of it
  • when there is little, it is still enough
  • brings a moment of peace amidst a weary world

These virtues were originally compiled in the 16th century. We've slightly updated them for contemporary times but they remain as true today as they were then.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Random Acts of Kindness in the Snow

As Washington digs out from one of our harshest snowstorms on record, we are emerging from our white cocoons to hear of almost the entire metro region paralyzed and shut down, more than a hundred thousand homes without power, major highways and roadways impassable because of icy conditions, accidents, and downed trees and power lines. Oh, and, another near-blizzard on the way!

And in the midst of all the chaos, there is kindness. Neighbors checking on neighbors, bringing food and medicine to those who cannot get out, sharing their homes with those without power, coming together to help shovel out cars, driveways, homes, and sidewalks. Neighborhood families coming out into the streets, backyards, and parks to sled and play in the snow together.

It may take a village to raise a child, but it may take a snowstorm to make a village.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Waking Up

Hope runs high with the dawning of a new year. We leave behind the events and expectations from the past year - with all of its successes and failures, joys and sorrows, disappointments and happy surprises alike - and make way for the new: new beginnings, new goals, new activities, a new you. We talk about the start of a new year as if it is a chance to start fresh again, wipe away the mistakes of the past, re-invent ourselves, be the people we always had intended to be.

Actually, however, every day affords us that chance to begin anew. Every day that we awake is a new day and new beginning. It's rarely beneficial to set aggressive goals for one's self that, come March, will be forgotten amidst the fears and frustrations of too high expectations. Instead, try setting little every day goals, easily accomplished, that will bring pleasure to you or someone else. Small pleasures and little thoughtful actions, performed everyday, lead to big accomplishments.

Even large mountains are eventually worn down by the simple rain, one drop at a time. And like the rain, with focus and steady effort, transcending both hopes and fears, you will likely wake up one day to a kinder, gentler you.

Wishing all of you peace, love, and much joy in the new year!