I recently entered a writing contest for a new website, Undertendollars, and made it to the top three finalists (one of the judges was Amber Dusick of Crappy Pictures fame)! I didn’t win the contest, so I guess that gives me the right to publish my little piece here… And since I’m desperate for blog posts, even though it’s not the grand prize winner, it will have to do. 

I’m including a picture of my shower, which I didn’t have in the original, and which probably would have catapulted me to winnerdom. Sigh… Success is all about choices and once again I made the wrong one. Actually, I was just too lazy to stand up and go take the dumb picture.

I told you it was small…



Dear Under Ten Dollars,

It’s March 1st and I just found about your contest and its deadline, March 4th. Crap. I’m supposed to write about how I save time, money, and/or reduce stress in my life. Well, that’s just great cause now I’m getting stressed AND wasting time as I quietly freak out about the approaching deadline. I think I might be missing the big picture here.

Time to inhale pink, exhale blue.

Okay, I’m back. While meditating, I remembered one thing that I do that saves time. It’s a little weird, though, and I’m not really sure I should share it with the world, even if it means I might win a contest…

All right. I’m going to do it. Time is precious, the kids have been home all week on break (one of them is currently playing organ music on our electric piano – and not good organ music), and I’m feeling the winter doldrums. I need to get crazy. Are you ready? Wait for it…

I exercise in the shower. Yes, it’s true. Not only do I maximize that hair conditioning time (two whole minutes), I’m showering off the sweat. (Truth be told, I don’t sweat all that much. It’s really just stretches…but go with me on this).

A long time ago, back in graduate school, I injured myself studying. That’s right. Studying. I think I’m the only person in the world who has done this and I should probably receive some sort of accolade or letter from the president.

Did I get injured from lifting all those heavy books, you ask? Not quite. Was it from racing to the library to snag the best carrel? Not even close. Oh, I know! You got a paper cut! I wish it were that simple.

The pain radiating throughout my chest – which, as I staggered to the student health center, I sincerely believed was a heart attack – was from leaning over so intensely, and for such long periods of time, that I hurt myself.

Pathetic, you say? Righto.

The doctor gave me a few stretches to help avoid the agonizing pain and I did them religiously. In a few weeks, the pain went away and I was able, once again, to study like nobody’s business without wanting to cry at the end of the day!

These days, I no longer study, but I do write every day. So to keep the pain from returning and to maximize every spare minute of my day, I do my stretches in the shower. I do shower every day, which is not the best for the environment, I know, but it keeps me from forgetting to stretch, releases me from my typical morning zombie-like stupor, and helps my fine, oily hair retain some measure of perkiness. To counteract my wasteful ways, I use natural products, recycle, compost, and hand sew all my boys’ clothes (okay, I don’t actually do that last one because I sew like I imagine a monkey would). So please, fellow Greenies, don’t lynch me.

I’ve even added some stretches to my routine over the years – I stretch while the water is heating up and while rinsing out my hair. Crazy genius, I know, but that’s how I roll.

It’s a win-win situation. I save time, I stay limber, and I stay clean.

So who wants to join me?! We’ll start a shower stretching revolution! We’ll conquer sore muscles! We’ll— Um, you know you have to do this in your own shower, right? My shower is like, 3 x 3. It’s tiny and my elbows swing and…

Oh, what the heck, come on in! It’ll save on water!

Sincerely yours,

Kristina Schram, Ph.D. (in Shower Stretching)

P.S.  Here are my stretches:
1. While water is heating up, lift arm over head, grab elbow, and gently pull down for 10 seconds. Do for other arm. Then stretch arms backward, keeping them straight, clasp hands and gently pull upward for 10 seconds. After that, I do the following 20 times (stomach pulled in): lift shoulders, pull back elbows (so your chest thrusts outward), then drop your shoulders.

2. Once in the shower, while shampooing my hair, I hold in my stomach muscles. As I rinse out, I stand flat-footed, then lift up onto toes…twenty times. Again, hold in your stomach muscles. I’m not going to repeat this again because it gets annoying…but do this as much as possible while stretching. It’s an added core builder.
3. Once the conditioner is in, I do shoulder rolls, forward and backward (almost like you’re rowing, but quickly), twenty times in each direction. I also do ankle rotations (make circles), 10 to the right, ten to the left, for each foot. While rinsing out the conditioner, I bend my arms, turn palms upward (as though in supplication to the almighty shower god), pull back, hold for 10 seconds. Do ten times.
4. Don’t forget to towel off…you could even do leg stretches while drying!
Easy, peasy, one, two, threesy, now you’re fresh and flexible!