Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011: the wrap up

Here we are. At the end. The finish line. The summit. The end of the road. The last page. And in a few hours, we will be at the beginning.The starting blocks. The trail head. The beginning of the road trip. The blank page. A New Year is super exciting. Pouring a glass of bubbly, spending time with friends and family, reminiscing about the last year, hugs, kisses, and the ball dropping. A New Year is the unwritten permission to "start fresh," to make a plan, put everything behind us, and attack whatever goals we have set for ourselves.

I look back on the past 365 days and a lot comes up for me. There are areas in my life that expanded beyond my wildest dreams. There are areas I still need to grow in. There are amazing memories and periods of grief, celebration, exhaustion, and utter love and compassion. I don't want this post to go on and on about the past year but reflection is important and writing about my goals and where I am at with them allows me to get them out of my own little head and out into the world for the matter of completion.

Here were my 7 goals from 2011 and where I ended up.I truly believe that we are always in process. Things happen, sometimes we have the best intentions and life and the universe create a different plan for you.


Happened
Healing my knees and running again
I am thankful and so incredibly stoked that my knees are better than where they were in January of 2011. I started Crossfit and got serious about healing years of abuse on my joints. I am happy to say I am running again and plan to continue.


Started Giving Back...Volunteering
I was so lucky to start volunteering at Jubilee Women's Center in Seattle. Every week, I travel down and give some of my time. Sounds simple, so gratifying. I always leave grounded, appreciative, and feel like my heart has expanded just a little more.

Grew my first Garden
The Man built me a 13' x 3' raised bed and I grew a lot of my own veggies, herbs, and flowers. It was magical to be in the dirt, see the process, and eat the fruits of our labor. It was fun and I am hooked.

Saw My Family...A LOT!
This year, I saw my folks more than I have ever seen them since I moved away in 2003. Between vacations, 1 wedding, and a funeral, I had so much fun with them. And to end the year with my family, including my brother, in Maine, it was so spiffy.

Expanded my community
I started doing stuff with people. Made new friends. Got out a little bit more. Joined a book club. There is nothing that feels so good in the world like being part of a tribe.

Didn't Happen

Writing 100 Blog Posts by the end of 2011
Well, two posts ago, I explained how I didn't achieve this goal and I was sad about it. The reason I took the goal on in the first place was that I wanted to hone my craft of writing. Coming into the identity of a writer is new for me and putting myself out there and developing my own voice has taken me to new places in my confidence and vulnerability. I ended up with just over 60 something posts and I suffered from not making the time to write.

Emergency Fund
My financial health was a huge priority in 2011. Getting my student loans under control and my finances in check was big but I am still catching up and getting real with the "cash money" part of my life. :) Thankfully, The Man is so good at mentoring me in this department, I have literal in-house support.

Getting Outside
The outdoors and nature is a huge part of my life. Growing up, the woods were my church. I didn't escape as much as I would have liked. So, I bought The Man and I a tent. No excuses :)

Still Happening


Maintaining a regular spiritual and self-care practice
I tried. I did my yoga. I meditated. But I didn't make it a priority. Things would slip. Overwhelm happened. Stress ensued and I collapsed at times. This is an ongoing process for me and I am clear about what I need to do to make these things a priority.

Overall, when you look back over the year, I stay focused on the good things. It just happens that way. Sure, we can't get it perfect all the time, but we can use our life as a microscope to adjust what we need to so we are living powerfully in every area all the time.

Happy New Year folks!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday: What is your wish for the New Year?

I came across this photo via Pinterest. It is the floating lantern festival in Thailand. It makes me think of wishes being cast off into the universe to be processed and manifested. The New Year is upon us. I am loving my time in Maine and I am finally adjusting to the timezone. The walks, the yoga, the couch time, the laughter, the amazing food have consumed my days in a fabulous way. 

At this time of year, it is totally natural to sit and reflect on the year by asking two questions: what went well & what do I want for this upcoming year. It's very typical when approaching year end reviews with oneself to think of things in terms of accomplishments. I noticed while penning my year in review while flying home, a lot of my sentences started with, "I did X," "I finished Y," "I wrapped up Z." 

I popped on Jamie Ridler's Blog over at Jamie Ridler Studios and what perfect way to approach the New Year than her Wishcasting Wednesday Prompt: What is your wish for the New Year? What I love about this Wishcasting is that by wishing, things stay light, hopeful, optimistic, and low pressure. Wishing keeps things magical. 

What I Wish for the New Year...
...that my year is centered around two main themes: Alignment & Letting Go
...I operate holistically in my 4 Values: Abundance-Vitality-Intention-Growth
...that I stay connected to my family & friends and see them often as they warm my heart & soul
...that I maintain my practices of yoga, writing, self-care, and nature dates
...I nourish my physical body with regular exercise & bountiful nutrition
...I am full of bliss and joy in my relationship with the man
...that at the end of the year, I am living my best life



Monday, December 26, 2011

homecoming & goals


In the beginning of November, my dad and I were working tirelessly to track me down a cheap flight home to Maine. For a few weeks straight, we collaborated via phone, e-mail, and text message and finally settled on an Expedia ticket that brought me home Christmas day.

The weeks leading up to my visit mirrored a twisty, curvy, up and down rollercoaster at Six flags. Life was busy and on top of life was the Holidays, getting ready for my trip, and tying up loose ends on multiple projects.  The Man and I were living at what felt like the speed of light. Coming and going, rushing around, getting little sleep, and neglecting things like dusting and dishes. My lesson in all of that craziness was that at some point, you just have to throw your hands up and surrender to the divine, knowing that in the end, everything will take care of itself.

I sit here in my parents house on the living room floor and admire the beautiful New England Christmas tree. I am cuddling up with a cup of tea and a plate of cookies and laughing with my parents. Pure bliss.
When I arrived on Christmas day, I was a very lucky gal. My flights were on time, there was snow falling from the air, and on my way up the turnpike I closed my eyes, took a full breath, and smiled as I immediately fell into the space of vacation amazingness.

When I come home, I truly can relax. I can let go. Turn off and tune in to what brings me joy: meals with my family, laughter, board games, crisp air, snow, and cookies and coffee. As I said before, true bliss. We went and visited some family friends up at Sugarloaf, a famous Maine ski area and nestled into their camp. Eating, sleeping, laughing, and walks outside comprised the last two days.

Coming home is such an amazing experience. There are memories, tears, smiles, and laughter. Love fills the rooms. Everybody gets back in sync. This trip is exactly what I have been needing.


It is almost the end of 2011 and I have not reached my goal of 100 blog posts by the years end. Part of me is sad, for sure. I loved the goal because it was specific, measurable and realistic. The other part of me is eager, because I am going to shoot for 150 posts in 2012: 3 posts/week.Yikes!


While I am here, I am doing some major visioning for 2012 regarding goals, personal values, and dreams. I am putting together my 2012 Manifesto: The Year of Alignment & Letting Go. I am looking forward to sharing this on my blog in the new year.

Here is to champagne, goal setting, and bringing in a magical and wishful New Year! Cheers!








Monday, November 28, 2011

TED Talks

If you haven't seen, heard, or visited the TED Talks, go now. http://www.ted.com/. The motto of TED is "Ideas Worth Spreading." So, I thought I would compile a few of my faves and spread around.



















Sunday, November 27, 2011

insights from the land of insomnia

Last night, I didn't sleep a wink. I was up from 7:10am Saturday morning until 3:00pm on Sunday afternoon, which at that point, I collapsed on the couch watching Hulu episodes of Grey's Anatomy. It was the first night in a very long time that I couldn't sleep. It's a little scary for me because it brings me back to my emotionally dark days of college. I would lie awake and just think. I would think about things I had to do, the projects I needed to complete, the errands I had to run, whether the ski season would be good...or I would struggle with nightmare after nightmare, literally scaring myself senseless.There were so many nights I wouldn't sleep but maybe an hour or two and then have full days of classes which may have included rock climbing or backcountry ski trips. It was hell.

Last night, as I struggled with the monster of insomnia, I decided to just be curious and sit with it. I tried all the traditional methods of getting back to sleep: counting backwards from 300, deep breathing and then I pulled out the laptop and cued up some TV trying to unwind, but for some reason, my body just resisted. A few years ago, if this was to happen, I would have been sent into a panic. I would have freaked out as if something was terribly wrong and I needed to see my doctor immediately. But last night, it was different.

I simply sat. I simply waited. I enjoyed the company of the monster hovering around me. I knew that my body just needed a reset.

In my yoga class this morning, full of exhaustion and soreness from traveling in the car, I pushed back into one of my downward dogs and thought about how as I get older, my body wisdom increases. In college, I recall feeling a disconnect from my brain and my body. Insomnia is the perfect example of this-my body is tired and I know I have to sleep but my mind is at the velodrome, racing round and round. The disconnect is what causes the anxiety, the pain, the worry, the anger, the rage. So, getting back to my downward dog, I pushed back and felt the "koshas," or sheaths as you say. I literally felt my bones inside of me. My muscles and all their fibrous strands expanding and contracting. My lungs expanding and getting in good doses of air. My heart beating in a steady rhythm.

Maybe it was because I was beyond the point of exhaustion, but I connected with my body this morning in a new, wise way. And it felt good. My body wisdom has evolved as I have gotten older. I listen better now. I judge less, and notice more. I can be the witness and the participant at the same time. This is the essence of being human.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

ocean essence

Reentry from a vacation, no matter how short or long, can be difficult. We just returned from our Thanksgiving vacation down on the Oregon coast, and are back here in Seattle, ready to tackle house projects, paperwork, cleaning, and getting ready for the Holidays. Mix that in with dog walking, meal prep, working, and family engagements, and yep, the calendar gets pretty full. Thanksgiving was wonderful. We stayed in a cute place down on the beach, access to the sand and surf 25 seconds from the front door by foot. It was exactly what I needed.

amazing food. beach walks at night barefoot on the cold, wet sand, holding hands with the man as we watched men dig for clams by headlight. mornings being lazy and reading my book while sipping on coffee. hugs. laughter. family. love. resetting my body clock. taking a run Thanksgiving morning. treating myself to a mini-shopping spree at the outlets. enjoying the drive. enjoying being in love with a wonderful man.

Ever since I was little, I felt that there was something magical about being close the ocean. Growing up in Maine, summers meant days at the beach, sandcastles, and bodysurfing. I have always dreamed of living in an ocean cottage or bungalow style home, spending my days teaching yoga and writing, with the occasional run and swim. Cooking meals of pasta, seafood, salads, and warm bread with a bottle of wine. Living in cozy sweaters and yoga pants and Uggs during the winter, and board shorts and tank tops and flip flops in the summer. Riding a "townie" style bike into town to get my mail and pick up groceries including beer and hard cider. Having a little garden where I could sit and look out from my Adirondack chair. Being cozy while winter storms whipped at the windows. Staying out way too late in the summer eating ice cream and going to movies.

On our drive back to Seattle, I thought about that dream. I thought seriously about it. What it wold take. Writing it all down paints a picture not about the ocean, but about simplicity. About the small things that are indeed the biggest, most important things in the world for me. I guess you could call this my essence. The core of what makes me grin. It's not the beach now. It's life in a dreary city 9 months out of the year. But my mini-vacation brought me back to this essence and I am happy for that.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

things I can't live without


Call me materialistic, but sometimes, okay, most of the time, it's super nice to have nice stuff. Perhaps its your wedding ring, that super sweet black dress that you look AMAZING in, or that tattered water bottle you have been carrying around since college. We have our stuff, we like our stuff, and sometimes, our stuff just makes life better. In this month of gratitude, I decided to write a post about things I can't live without. These are things that I am super grateful for because they give me that little boost, smile, and comfort in my everyday life. I decided to spend some time on these things because without them, life would be a little different.

1. My Brain. Yep, my brain. I am grateful for being able to function and think independently, to work at a job I love, to create and have ideas, be able to read, remember, communicate, and have emotion. Most of all, I am grateful that in that space between my ears, I have the power to change the world or if not the world, at least the moment.

2. 8 Hours of Good Zzzzz's. I like to think that I treat my sleep time like gold. And when it is taken away from me or I lose it, I don't do well. I am grateful I can sleep in a warm, cloud like bed and get the rest I need to enjoy the rest of my life. The Man calls me a "Franken-bear" when I don't get enough sleep (visualize Frankenstein and a grizzly bear having a child...that's me).

3. A Hot Cup of Morning Tea. Hot tea in general is the bomb. I love it. We have about a dozen boxes of tea in our pantry and I can drink cups and cups of herbal, decaf tea daily. Especially while writing, reading, and during my commute. The hot liquid touching my lips on a cold, rainy morning....OH YEAH!

4. Cell Phone. Without this magical little device, I couldn't stay in contact with my loved ones on the east coast, my friends in the mountains, and my traveling father. I also can let The Man know when I am running late and also call just to tell him I luv him. Oh yes, and to be able to order Thai on those bad days.

5. Yoga Mat. Enough said.

6. Blank Notebooks & Sharpie Pens. As someone who loves to write, I become giddy at the thought of curling up with a notebook and penning out dreams, goals, lists, and musings.

7. My Pots & Pans. My mom & dad got me a brand new set of pots and pans two years ago and they were the best gift ever. I love whipping up quinoa, quesadillas, kale, pasta, and so much more. Cooking is a fabulous creative expression and over the past couple years, I have made it a personal goal to become a kitchen ninja.

8. Gore-Tex Rain Jacket. Yeah, I live in Seattle. It's nice to stay dry after yoga class or teaching a class of classroom chefs.

9. Earrings. I don't wear a ton of jewelry, simply because it's not my style and it's a pain in the ass when you are working with kids. I do love earrings though. Putting on a pair of earrings after brushing my teeth makes me feel ready to tackle the day with a little sparkle. And taking them off at night symbolizes that I can kick back and relax and settle into relaxation.

10. Camera & Photos. Living so far away from family can be tough. Homesickness is inevitable sometimes. But photos make it all better. Just glancing through some albums or facebook photos can turn that homesickness upside down. And carrying my camera with me to family events and gatherings with people I love make for good memories and stories to share down the road.

dance party

Pinned Image
photo from etsy.com

I have always loved to dance. I am a sucker for trendy pop music that I can just move and groove to, even if the lyrics are ridiculous. There is a feeling you get when you just let go and move freely. When I was little, I took ballet. My mom and dad still have pictures of me in lycra and sequins at our house in Maine. I grew out of  ballet for a variety of reasons. First of all, we moved to Maine. Then I took up sports like swimming, soccer, and basketball. And the rest is history. I remember going to my first dance in seventh grade and just being ecstatic with the loud music, lights, and open space to move. I was a little dancing joy bug. Just recently, I substituted for a ballet class at the Y and it brought back memories of being in that structured setting of grace, ease, and hard work. Granted, the goal was to move and have fun and learn fundamentals but I though to myself how cool it is for young women to still have confidence in their bodies. It is super powerful. To this day, I love to dance anytime and anywhere. Pack me in a club of hundreds of sweaty people and turn on some music and I am in heaven. 

So, I thought it would be cool to put some of my favorite dance music into a post for when the cold, dreary days are just wearin' on ya. This mix ranges from Thriller to Saturday Night Fever to Kesha (which I think is hilarious), Madonna, the infamous scene from Napoleon Dynamite and more. Get up now and move. Who cares what you look like. The goal is to be a dancing joy bug. And in the words of my Crossfit coaches, 
"3, 2, 1..GO!"



















Thursday, November 17, 2011

goalposts


I have been doing a lot of reflecting lately about 2011. The year has flown by. And in this month of expressing my gratitude, I am so thankful for what the year has brought me. Time with family, lots of nights with good friends, continuing to grow in my relationship with my amazing partner and best friend, a new volunteer position at the women's center, lots of yoga & meditation, travels and journeys, celebrations, growth in my own job & career, and improved relationships with my extended family. Some of these things were incorporated in goals this year like volunteering, doing more yoga, seeing my family more. One of my big goals this year was to have 100 posts on my blog. Currently, I am at 60 and with this post, 61. That means I have 39 posts left to reach my goal. 39 posts in 44 days. Yikes. 

I think back to why I made this goal in the first place as the beginning is always a good place to start. For one thing, I know that I enjoy writing. It is my "creative thing," the thing that I just enjoy doing. It's my own little way to make my mark. I could care less if anyone read anything I wrote. For me, it's personal. It's my craft. It's my outlet. It's the way I chill out and get my head space all clear and shit. Back in the day, I used to write in my journal by flashlight under the covers. I loved to take a pen to an empty page. I guess you could say I would have "writegasms," where I would just write and write until wee hours of the morning. Now, life is a little different. I don't smuggle a journal and flashlight into bed and I enjoy sitting down in my little nook my the aquarium and pumping out words, whether it's in my journal, my free write notebook, or on my blog. I knew if I set a goal, I could get there. But then there is that thing called life that sometimes gets in the way of doing those things we absolutely friggin' love. 

Throughout my life and interest in self-development and personal growth, I have always heard the experts say that when you are creating goals, whether they are short-term or long-term, it is integral to look at the barriers. For me, looking at the barriers just gets my down. Kinda depressing but I get it. For me, some of my barriers to writing include time, lack of wanting to get behind my computer after a long day, nice weather outside, opportunity to cuddle with The Man, blah, blah, blah. The list is endless. 

And then there's the final push. You just have to sit down and do it. Like those cookies you have to bake for the bake sale and you remember at 11:00pm. Like letting the dog out in the morning at 5:30am in the bitter cold and dark. Like the oil change or the grocery shopping or the laundry. You just have to do it. And that is why in the next 44 days, my goal is to write 39 posts. I am not sure what they will be about or what they will manifest into, there may be some YouTube Videos sprinkled in as well as some photographs, but it will get done. I will reach this writing goal. Whether I like it or not. 

If you have some ideas for posts, let me know in the comments section of my blog.

Here's to reaching your goals in the last 44 days. 


Sunday, November 13, 2011

taking the time

It's a typical Northwest Sunday and I am situated perfectly in my comfy chair with a cup of coffee and warm sticky bun from Larsen's bakery down in Ballard, one of my favorite little shops in Seattle. I like to treat myself every so often with some of their delicious baked goods and coffee on my way home from walking the dog down at Shilshole Marina.
The past week has been a bit rough. Sickeness has attacked our household taking hold of both me and The Man. We have been antsy and moody and just plain blah. Being sick sucks. For me, I know it's my body telling me to slow down, take care, and take time to rest which is so incredibly super duper hard. I called in sick on Tuesday, my first sick day in probably three years. I noticed how frustrating it was to sit home and do nothing but sip on broth and juice and tea. It goes against my entire m.o. Yesterday was the first day I felt really good and I am still not at 100%. I went to yoga and also did more stuff around the house and ended up going to a publishing party for a friend. It felt good to be in the world again.

Of course throughout my recovery this week, I started reflecting about being sick and using it more as a teacher than a barrier. It got me thinking of this concept of "taking the time." While sitting on my couch all day on Tuesday feeling absolutely pathetic, I was witnessing my inability to relax and really do absolutely nothing. On the contrary, I know that while I am living life at my regular speed (actually quite a fast speed), I crave the "doing nothing." Hmmm. I see myself being stuck in this cyclical paradox. I came to the question, can we still get the maximum benefits out of living life the way we live it and still have the ability to take the time for rest, small pleasures, and gratitude? Well of course. It just takes some work and it all comes back to being intentional and realistic.

I know that 8 hours of doing nothing is a bit unrealistic for me but I know that creating the intention of outstanding self-care and quiet time everyday is a bit more manageable.

Try this:
1. Write down 10 things you dream about doing when you are in the midst of overwhelm. (i.e. sitting and watching that Netflix that has been gathering dust on your coffee table, taking a yoga class, sipping tea in your favorite sweatpants with your Kindle)
2. Do one of those things right now.
3. After doing that thing, write down how you feel and why you are grateful for having done that thing.
4. Repeat.

I think at times we are so completely stuck in our fantasies about what relaxing & rejuvenating should look like that we just keep putting it off and putting it off. This month, my theme is all about gratitude and giving thanks. Most of the time, our gratitude is external; giving thanks to those close to us or experiences that we have. Knowing that all of that is super great, by taking the time for honoring and being grateful for ourselves and what we bring into the world, we can express even more gratitude externally.

Happy giving to yourself!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

gratefulness notes

I am sitting here in my writing nook, sipping on hot Throat Coat tea and smiling, even though I am feeling a little cruddy. The day has been perfect: an extra hour of sleep, a fabulous yoga class, homemade chicken noodle soup, cooking a last batch of tomato sauce with our last bit of garden tomatoes, and finishing my yummy book while being enveloped with a down throw and my yoga pants and wool socks on my chair. Oh yes...I fit in a 30 minute cat nap too. :)

I am really starting to embrace this idea of gratitude and I am noticing how different I feel emotionally when I am staying in this space of being grateful for people, experiences, and the small stuff. Last week in my afterschool program, we facilitated a conversation about gratitude. The kids had just had an assembly about Veterans day and one of my students talked about what Veterans Day meant for her and her family since her dad is in the Army and had served in Iraq. It was very impressive that a 3rd grader could articulate Veterans day with such pride as well as talk about sacrifice. I was brought to tears.

I am so thankful to be in the space of tiny humans everyday. They teach me so much about life and how to treat others. They also remind me about super small things that I need to be grateful for.

...glue bottles that work
...hot soup for snack
...sharpened pencils
...reading a story at the end of a long day
...getting 15 minutes to play outside

When I provide these super small things for them, they light up. They enjoy them. They use them. At those moments, they are the only things that matter. It got me thinking in this 30 days of thanks project, the super small things I am grateful for and I came up with my top 10.

...hugs. anytime, anywhere.
...fresh, clean sheets.
...wool socks.
...hot drinks on cold days.
...good food.
...pens and notebooks.
...walks and time outside.
...sleeping in.
...conversations with family who live so far away.
...rest, relaxation, and rejuvenation.




Thursday, November 3, 2011

moving into gratitude

It is hard for me to believe that November is upon us. Last Saturday, I had just picked up my Halloween costume at the Goodwill in Ballard and as I was driving home, I was thinking about how October just flew by in that crazy, superhero kind of way. Like one minute it was there and then the next, it wasn't. Here in the PNW, it is colder, darker, and all I feel like doing is hibernating with endless cups of tea, down comforters, sweat pants, and books and magazines.

October was an interesting month. There were some highs like transitioning my garden to winter, getting out my fleece jackets, making tomato sauce, joining a book club, continuing my Crossfit journey, starting my volunteer opportunity at the Jubilee Women's Center, and getting organized again after a crazy September. There were also some lows like feeling a bit under the weather emotionally, not tapping into my spiritual practices a whole lot, not committing to my writing practice, and feeling a bit out of sorts scheduling wise. Halloween came and went and I felt like October was just a blip.

But instead of beating myself up for it, I have decided to move into the space of gratitude. Since starting my volunteer position at the women's center, every time I leave and drive away, I think about how humbling it is. I come back to this special, sacred place that I have all that I need, right here, right now.

Shannon Kinney-Duh over at Free Spirit Kits is hosting "Thirty Days of Giving Thanks." It is a very cool way to express as much gratitude as possible for all the people/experiences/things that make our life worth living for. I have chosen to participate as I know that moving into the space of gratitude is both uplifting and an amazing act of love.


Giving Thanks Update...

November 1st: Stopped by work on the way home and thanked one of the volunteers I supervise for giving his time to the climbing wall, even when it's freezing out, he walks to the Y and helps youth reach amazing heights on the wall.

November 2nd: Called my parents on my bluetooth while driving home in the rain and thanked them for the awesome skype conference call we had on Sunday. Even though it was super impromptu, it felt like we were all in the living room together.

November 3rd: Expressed my deepest gratitude to three of my students in my after-school program for being outstanding leaders with some younger students during our slimy science class. They lit up.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

acts of love: changing the mindset

I came home from shopping last weekend and on the dining room table was a vibrant bouquet of market flowers that Charlie had arranged in a vase on the table. Yep, this is the man I am in total love with. For the past week, I have gotten to come home and see this exquisite bouquet of orange-yellow dahlias and zinnias and just enjoy their immense beauty in my home. Although a small gesture, it was a huge expression and act of love. It was exactly what I needed during these dark and dreary days up here in the Pacific Northwest.

The flowers were not only extremely lovely, but they got me thinking about cultivating acts of love. For us, our relationship centers around the values of honesty, communication, compassion, and teamwork. Those four things bring with them unconditional love. Sure, we have our days where we just can't seem to get on the same page and there are arguments and there are mood swings. But, all in all, there is a deep seated love that fills our home and our lives and I am grateful for that.


Unfortunately, I have been catching the news here and there the past couple nights before bed. Note: This is sacrilegious in my own life and I must say, I try as hard as I can to not do this simply because it's poor mental health and does not align with my values of self-care. The news is symbolic of how although we try our best to stay positive, loving, and grounded, we may feel that there will always be this lingering background of negativity, despair, depression, and dark clouds. How do we cope? 


This past week, I attended The Bridge 2011 Conference, a two day education conference about bridging the gap between the regular school day model and extended learning opportunities (i.e. after-school programs, summer enrichment, etc.) Not only did it inspire me and infuse some energy back into my bones, but it created the context that everything we do has the power to transform. Our actions or lack thereof have a direct result on our environments, relationships, work, personal life, and our money.

The cultivation of love is one of my new priorities. I am trying to ask myself what would be the loving thing to do? Operating like this can feel like a trap. Sometimes I think of being loving as an outward expression for someone or something else. I struggle with shifting this paradigm for myself, knowing that sometimes the most loving thing to do is say, "This isn't working," or "No. I won't be able to do that," or "Can we pause for a moment and come back to this?" It does circle back to creating healthy boundaries and transforming our mindset when it comes to being loving towards others and most importantly ourselves.

Bask in the greatness of who you are and what you have to offer to the world and all the relationships you have.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday: What Do You Wish To Make Time For?



Oh time. Time, time, time. I am always wishing there was more of it, bitching about how there isn't enough of it, and always watching it fly by. I know myself to be a slave to the clock at times, especially working with tiny humans in a fast paced after-school environment. On the other end of the spectrum, sometimes I notice myself listening to the natural rhythms of the days, and I have the ability to focus on one thing at a time.


Jamie Ridler over at Jamie Ridler Studios poses the following Wishcasting Wednesday Prompt: What Do You Wish To Make More Time For?

The list is endless for me. There is always something I want to be doing/learning/exploring. For instance, reading. I love to read. I have so many articles, books, blogs, etc. that I want to peruse and enjoy and they just keep piling up. I also wish I had more time to write, do yoga, meditate, be creative, travel, and spend time in nature.

The best thing about the above is that I am already doing all those things, its more a matter of making them a priority and not letting them go, which I know to be the case for me. I read a leadership article a long time ago about time management and how perhaps balance is just a myth. What happens is that if we are truly living in the present moment in each and every day, we can put our full, 100% heart and soul into "that thing" we are doing, and not worry about whether or not we will have time for the rest. We can move into things and experiences with this heightened sense of "flow," or living in the "zone," as one might say.

For me, it's also about structure with flexibility. By having a structure in place to manage my time, (i.e. planner) I can physically see what's happening and also be flexible with things at the same time. For instance, I try to get 3 crossfit workouts in per week, but things happen, my body isn't always feeling super great, and I adjust without being self-sabotaging. The Man is really good about holding me accountable in this realm: Be gentle. He always says that. It reminds me that I am a human being with feelings, emotions, and a physical body I must take care of. I am not a machine and I don't have to chain myself to the clock.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

from the ground up & steve jobs

Growing up, my brother was the builder. I remember Tonka trucks and blocks covering the floor. I remember the vivid primary colored Lego towers mixed in with Army men and creations of bridges, cities, and spaceships. Sure, I would play every now and then, but I was the reader, the writer. I would rather pretend to play "school," grading fake papers and collecting pens. 

This fall, I am teaching a Lego class in my after-school program and I am LOVING it. In the class, we cover a different building topic each week. For instance, the kids worked in design/build teams to create bridges that we ended up loading with weights to see who had the strongest bridge. Then, one week, we built boats and raced them in a water table. Last week, we designed walkable cities and talked about what makes a community. The kids are having a blast in this class. They come in excited. They are ready to learn. And they are ready to work and create and show off their creations and projects at the end of the day. 

Not only is this class so super duper fun to teach, but it is so profound in terms of some life lessons:
...everything is built from the ground up
...creativity, innovation, and fun are key in any project you take on
...all it takes is an idea

I am a firm believer that we go through stages of thinking, planning, building/creating, and presenting. Very similar to the experiential education cycle, we are constantly in motion. Lately, I have been feeling I am in the "Building/Creating" stage in many areas of life. For instance, I have spend the past two days rebuilding my laptop from a fried hard drive. Luckily, with the help of The Man, I was able to recover my data from my old hard drive, but the majority of my Saturday was spent rebuilding Windows, Office, and a multitude of applications and downloads, which included restoring my iPod. Yikes! How exhausting. Luckily, I had some good healthy support, but I am drained, which leads me to my own reflections on "building."

When we expend quite a lot of our own personal energy on something for a large chunk of time, we can sometimes feel extremely exhausted and spent. It may come across as exhaustion, fatigue, irritability, or moodiness. Whatever it is, in can feel yucky. Below are some "Blissful Raindrops" that can help you get back on your feet again.

...rest. Pick your feet up, hit up some Hulu or Netflix and just tune out.
...do something outside. Walk, jog, skip, hike, anything.
...change your scenery. When we are in the same spot for too long, it can feel stale. Hit up that new place.
...eat and drink. Feed yourself, your soul, and your dog if you forgot. :)
...shut-down. Turn of that computer. Hide your phone. Ditch the Facespace. Even for a day.
...celebrate. Celebration is just as important as any step in the process. Buy yourself some flowers.

On another note, I was super sad to hear of Steve Jobs' death this past week. After hearing of his passing, I have spent my commute time thinking about his contributions, innovation, and pure eagerness to make a lasting impact on the world. The quote below is something I will be printing and hanging above my desk at work. We must listen to our inner voice. We must be willing to take a risk to be extraordinary in our life, in the work we do, in our relationships. Thank you Mr. Jobs for your work, your contributions, and your courage. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wishcasting Wednesday: What Do You Wish For Fall?

It feels so good to get back into a routine and back on the Wishcasting Circuit. My focus has been all about getting a good grip on transitioning from summer into fall. My job goes back inside, I am back working in the schools, I work a little later which means my mornings are consistently open, which I absolutely love, especially living in the Northwest where you gotta get the sunshine when you can get it. With all that said, I am excited to be back and I am very excited to participate in this post as fall is my all-time favorite season. 

Jamie Ridler over at Jamie Ridler Studios asks, "What do you wish for fall?" 



...implement "Sunday Shutdown." No computer, websurfing, or e-mail.
...cook, bake, and experiment in my kitchen.
...transitioning over my garden from summer crops to fall crops.
...sleeping with the windows open just enough to feel chilly yet cozy.
...taking the time to rest and read daily.
...getting lots of good sleep and exercise (Crossfit) so I keep my immune system strong.
...hanging out with friends on fall evenings.
...hot drinks. 
...dog walks around the lake.
...wearing my favorite fleece and jeans down at the farmers market while sipping on some chai.
...eating pies, chile, and roasted veggies.
...cuddling with my partner while watching a movie.
...playing with pumpkins, visiting pumpkin patches, making/eating pumpkin muffins.





Monday, September 26, 2011

pearl jam, kitchen notes, and mental toughness

It's raining. It's not drizzling or misting or grey. It's for real raining. That's what happens when you live here, right? You have been enjoying a fairly sunny weekend, you have tons of energy, and then WHAM! Overnight, your sunshine fantasy land crumbles or rather melts to the ground because the heavens have opened and are going through a cathartic awakening, shedding lots and lots of tears. And it does not seem to stop. And in a weird way, I am welcoming the rain. Ask me in three months if I am still welcoming it and showing my gratitude, and I will probably laugh in your face.

Since my last post, my laptop hard drive collapsed. By collapsed, I mean the damn thing doesn't even turn on without the system32 error causing mayhem. So until further notice or a financially viable solution is reached with what I am going to do with my laptop, I'm sharing with the man. As the saying goes, "Sharing is caring." I will be doing my best to write more on the blog, but I find myself engaged in other endeavors. For instance:

*I fell in love with Pearl Jam. Charlie and I went and saw the PJ20 Documentary on Friday night down at Cinerama, which by the way, if you have not seen a movie there, go now. Leave whatever your doing and go down there. What was so interesting is that I "knew" Pearl Jam but the group had its high points while I was in my late childhood. Charlie on the other hand, experienced the true love of the band. Our generation gap became apparent while I was sitting in the theater and loads and loads of 35-40 year old fans filled the theater around me. I came home and while I was puttering around the house on Saturday before a S'More and Hot Drink Party, I dug out all the Pearl Jam CD's and rocked out. What was so cool is since seeing the documentary, there was a personal connection and knowledge that connected me with the music. This is not about music-this is about artistic appreciation. All in all, I fell in love with a wonderful band over the weekend.

*I am becoming a Kitchen powerhouse. A lot of experimenting in my kitchen has been happening. I have all of these amazing ingredients and am loving trying new things. For example, my boss has an Italian Plum tree in his yard and he gave me a bag of about 40 of these plums. Since we have access to this amazing thing called the internet, I searched and got a recipe for Italian plum coffee cake. Delicious. Local. Perfect for fall. Sundays are my new kitchen days. Cooking delicious foods for the week prevents the "WTF will I have for (fill in the meal of the day here). 

Sunday Menu "Fall Induction" (Click for recipes)
-Cheddar Chive Buttermilk Biscuits (Using chives from the garden)
-White Lightning Chicken Chile (Using jalapenos from the garden)
-Italian Plum Crumble Coffee Cake (Using plums from a fruit tree)

*I started Crossfit. Yep. That crazy, hardcore, extremely challenging workout. I LOVE IT. Not only does my body feel absolutely great, but I am sleeping so well, not craving sugary and fatty foods, and loving life. That powerhouse feeling stays with me each and everyday and I started my first "real" week this week outside of my on-ramp class. Try it. Do it. Love it. 

The last thing that has been on my mind is developing mental toughness. I know that I am addicted to comfort. I like being comfortable. I like having things go my way. I am pretty certain that many people can relate. When we transition from season to season, there are microchanges that our bodies and brains go through, especially when leaving summer and entering fall. Our bodies want to hibernate, we may feel a little more depressed and under the weather, it becomes harder to get up and get going. Here are some simple tips to develop your mental toughness during transition time:

1. Start exercising. Sounds simple, yet daunting. Do it in the morning.
2. Get outside, even if its pouring. Put on that cute little Gore-Tex jacket and get in some air.
3. Find quiet time. Even if its turning off the radio while your commuting. 10 mins a day does wonders.
4. Drink loads of water. It will make you feel alert and limit your sugar cravings you get around 2-3pm
5. Make love, not war. Spend time with your partner. Have a confirmed date night once a week.
6. Don't overschedule yourself. Enjoy blank space in that calendar of yours. Say no more.
7. Enjoy some sleeping in time. Our bodies need it in this damp weather. Shoot for at least 7 hours a night.
8. Eat your veggies. Enough said.
9. Tune into the universe. Yoga, meditation, church, praying, whatever. Just tune into something bigger.
10. Connect. Spend time with close friends, make that phone call, write that letter.

Alrighty then. Develop your mental toughness in this time of transition. Seems to be the theme all over the place. Enjoy the start to your week. 


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Transition is Yummy

Fall is here. I wish I could have bottled up the last few days of hot weather and was granted the magical permission to take out the bottles on the grey and cold days and let them loose to lift my spirits. But, no luck. Fall is here. It is cool, crisp, grey, cloudy, and I feel it in my body, my bones, and my blood, right down to the core of my soul. It was a fast transition for me. The transition from being outside all summer for work and then heading right into fall programs with school age youth happened so fast that I was nearly knocked off my feet.

Transition and change are the typical themes of fall and they can be a bit funny. They are funny in the sense that we crave change yet we sometimes don't handle it super well. I know for me personally, this week was a BIG adjustment from the track I was on. My hours were different; I was going into work later, I was getting home later, eating later, going to bed later, and overall feeling pretty wacky. I also started Crossfit last week and it is amazing. It is intense and it works me so my body was also adjusting to all the new movement & training.

So here I am, sitting in my writing nook on a bit of a gloomy Saturday, in a state of complete peace. Fall reminds me to take it slow, go inward, notice, observe, and savor.

There are so many things I absolutely love about fall...
...feelings of fleece and cuddly clothing
...cooking hearty meals
...movies on the couch 
...lounging in the fluff of a down comforter with a book and cup of tea
...new school & office supplies
...walks under changing leaves
...baking/eating/drinking
...day trips with loved ones
...fires
...nights with friends
...fall vegetables
...wool socks

Another thing I love about fall is the natural tendency to just slow down. To take the moments as they come and to enjoy the time with family and friends. Fall also reminds me to take care of myself a little better, both physically, mentally, and emotionally and also to remember that life is good. It is always good. We just have to bring back the little things and savor each and every one of them...perhaps with a glass of wine. :)

My friend/colleague Jamie gave me a wonderful recipe for a Zucchini Pie. It is delicious and warms the soul from the inside out. It's also a great way to use up any summer zucchini, and if your garden got out of control like mine did, I am sure you have some left. Enjoy!


Zucchini Pie

3 cups grated zucchini
1 small onion, chopped
1 cup flour
1 cup grated provolone cheese
3 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
4 tbsp Parmesan cheese
2 tsp fresh basil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

preheat oven to 350.  Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl, reserving 1 tsp of the Parmesan.   Spoon the zucchini mixture into a 10 inch pie pan, sprayed with oil.  Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until golden brown.  Sprinkle with the reserved Parmesan.  Cool 10-15 minutes before slicing.  Enjoy!

I added a premade, frozen pie crust, too, even though it doesn't call for it. I cooked it for about an hour. So good! :)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

on celebration

finding pockets of time to write has been difficult. to be perfectly honest, the weather has been too damn nice to be inside behind the computer. along with the sun and bluebird skies, i have been consumed by amazing, perfectly created celebrations. the summer included 3 weddings, a funeral (a.k.a "a celebration of a wonderful man's life,"), Charlie's 40th birthday, and the celebration of a successful summer working with tiny humans at summer camp.

tonight, after returning from a fabulous all day adventure with the man, i started thinking about celebration. mainly why it feels so good to celebrate, how the intricacies of celebration weave together and bring people from all over to a magical moment to witness and be part of another's bliss, and also, why we need more celebration on this planet.

today, i jumped on facebook for a very brief minute and saw that people were commenting on where they were on september 11, 2001. for some, it was in a yoga studio or church, deep in prayer, sending light & compassion out to the world. for others, it was in a classroom or at a sporting event. for me, i was sitting front and center in spanish class in auburn, maine when my principal got on the intercom and told us very calmly what was happening. i remember feeling sadness. a deep sadness because i knew that the world would never be the same again. from that point on, i grew to be part of a society that continuously instilled a silent fear into the general masses. words like terrorist alerts, patriotic duty, homeland security, and war on terror have become so prevalent that i have come to be completely numb.

now, 10 years after one of the most devastating events in our nation's history, i feel that in spite of the horrific nature of terrorism, hate, and war, we must make the concerted effort to celebrate more.

this summer taught me how important it is to celebrate...
...2 people coming together in union and starting a life together
...birthdays
...people's lives, even after they leave the planet
...my parents and my family, especially when they travel many, many miles to visit
...my partner and his accomplishments, at work, in school, and at home
...my gardening adventures and all the yummy veggies and herbs
...just because

celebration is that moment we sometimes forget. we put our hearts and souls into planning something, then give all of our elbow grease to the effort, and then after final completion, we have this funny tendency to just move right onto the next thing. celebration is the important step. it helps seal the deal. it allows us to enjoy the fruits of our labor and bask in greatness. why do we skip this essential step? perhaps it's because there is so much to do, more items on the never ending list, so many people to include, or we feel that the celebration has to be extravagant.

i love books. i love to read. i love finishing books that i start. just yesterday, i completed a 400 page read that was pretty intense. it was all about women's sexuality across all ends of the spectrum. it consisted of lots of personal interviews with women of all demographics and it had a certain depth to it. every night for the past 3 weeks, i would plug away, trying to get at least 10 pages in before bed. and on the weekends, i would sit for a couple hours mowing through. when i finished the last page on the couch yesterday, i jumped up from where i was sitting and pumped my fist in the air and yelled, "i finished! i finished the damn book!" it was my personal celebration for mowing through a great yet intense read. no champagne required, just a little mini-celebration.

whether we bust out the cake, balloons, and champagne or simply give a kiss and say, "today was super great," we must take the moments to enjoy what this crazy, wacky life has to offer.

here is to celebration in many of the moments that comprise our days.


Saturday, September 3, 2011

weekending

Ahhhhh...the magical feeling of a long weekend. I am sitting here in my writing nook with a cup of tea and two pieces of toast getting ready to bring the dog down to the marina for a morning walk. It was so yummy sleeping in until 9:30am. Just being in the space of quiet and rest does wonders for the soul. I plan on enjoying the day, bringing my book to a soft, grassy spot somewhere with my Nalgene filled with delicious iced tea, making a loaf of zucchini bread, harvesting some tomatoes from the garden, and if I feel like it, tackling some housework. But, this weekend is about being mellow. Enjoying some downtime. Following what feels good. Enjoy!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

August Break and the Summer Recap

It's September 1st and I am back in the blogosphere. For the month of August, I took not only a blogging vacation but I also took a one month social media fast. It was absolutely enlightening to spend one entire month away from Facebook. Lot's of juicy learning lessons I will be sure to share in the next few posts.


My August break was pretty fantastic. The weather got better here in the Pacific Northwest and Seattle saw some much needed sunshine. My garden is in crazy full bloom-zucchini, tomatoes, peppers, and herbs galore are sprouting every which way. 
Zucchini Galore...
On the contrary of taking a "blog & Facebook break," August was a busy month as well. My parents came and visited for a week and it was fabulous to spend lots of time with them. We enjoyed lazy afternoons, a great day down at Mt. Rainier, eating crab outside, and roasting marshmallows in a cute new fire pit. My mom helped me in the garden, my dad enjoyed some time away from work, and they got to take the ferry up to Victoria, B.C., and stay overnight in a 5-star hotel. Yay for them :)

Mt.Rainier visit while the folks were in town.
The Man's sister also got married last weekend which marked a huge celebration. There were showers, a very fun bachelorette party on Bainbridge Island, fun prep, and a great day for a beautiful wedding in Ballard. The festivities were so enjoyable and I am so blessed to be part of such a wonderful family.
The most beautiful wedding cake in the world from  The Man's sister's wedding.
August was also a time to take care of myself. I started getting back to the gym again, got some massages, and took some time off which was super nice and restful. All of this combined with reading great books at night, getting at least 8 hours of sleep, eating delicious & fresh summer produce, and getting some sunshine luv made for an amazing last month of summer.

The summer has been a roller-coaster. It has been full of happiness, tears, laughter, creativity, grilling, lemonade, date nights, walking, a great chaco tan, 3 weddings, 1 funeral, trips to Colorado & Maine, sunsets, hiking, journaling, reading, digging in the dirt, taking breaks, resting, family, friends, brainstorming, learning, children, pizza, yoga, and soooooo much more. This summer proved to be busy yet at the same time, restful and enjoyable. With the end of summer comes a bit of sadness. I think there is the tendency to look back and think, "I wish we could have done more," or "I had all these plans and expectations." What is important to think about which has been a huge learning lesson for me is that although summer is that time of year when we try to pack in as much fun as possible, we have to remember that we still have life and all its "lifeness," including bills to pay, jobs to go to, housecleaning, laundry, and day to day domesticity. 
my new serving bowls...compliments of Goodwill
I think another important lesson we can take from summer is that we can always make room for more fun, no matter what season we're in. So what's next? Well, back to writing, more reading, working in the garden, and planning more fun and rest into daily life, even though summer is almost behind us. 

Happy September and it's good to be back! 

Saturday, July 30, 2011

summer love (part 2) & august break


 Summer is that season of big toothy grins, lemonade, sandals, and smells of bbq grills traveling through the air. 
At the end of August, I will have attended 3 weddings and 1 funeral. Most recently, I have been experiencing the flood of emotions that love brings. In my yoga practice, I have been engaging in lots of heart opening postures: upward dog, camel, upward bow pose, and wheel. One day last week, as my hands grasped my sweaty heels as I moved into camel pose, I felt my chest crack open. It was scary yet serene.  I thought to myself, "This is exactly what I need, each and every day."

It hit 80 degrees here in Seattle Saturday. Not only was it overwhelmingly hot, but it was overwhelmingly awesome. I attended a bridal shower on Saturday morning for The Man's sister which was wonderfully elegant, came home, ran errands, and then took Ginger on a long hike down through the forest trails of Carkeek Park to a lookout where we sat and enjoyed the peaceful serenity of the Puget Sound as the sun shone down on the Olympic Mountains. I was engaging in some much needed quiet time and solitary self-reflection. 

This summer, even though it has been flying by, has proven to be a summer of personal growth. My yoga practice has taken on a new life of its own and I crave it daily and am starting to treat that yoga time as completely sacred and untouchable. I am enjoying being in a relationship with a man I absolutely adore. I am loving working outside on a daily basis. I am loving my garden and dabbling in domestic ventures. I feel at home.

When we reach that state of complete and absolute love and contentment in life, it feels like nothing can shatter it. I know that I personally feel invincible when it comes to enjoying the small things, including reading on the grass, walking the dog down at the beach, and eating fresh, juicy peaches. It is in these moments that life happens. So what's next for the rest of the summer?

I am taking a "facebook fast" for the month of August. I am interested to see how my break from social media will impact my soul. This includes taking a month off from the blog and really being with my friends and family, enjoying all the yummy moments.

My parents are coming to visit at the end of this week so I will be enjoying some time off...

I am going to start Crossfit this month and continue practicing my daily yoga that my hips and back are enjoying so much...

My hope is that you are enjoying all the wonderful, juicy moments that the summer brings. It goes by way too fast. Enjoy the month of August and I will be back in September!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

nuggets of wisdom

It's been a bit since my last post. Life has been busy but in that good, succulent way. I have been working outside everyday at camp which has been fantastic-tiny humans running around with big smiles, playing in the dirt, taking hikes, and eating lunches in the sun. I have also been getting to yoga almost everyday and coming home blissed out on good "om-ness." One night during class after flowing through shoulderstand and fish, I came up into the full expression of wheel pose for the first time without pain or fear and thought to myself, "This is some good shit." :) I have been in the garden, reading great books, journaling a lot, and just taking it easy. Can't complain on the Seattle homefront.


I was thinking about what to post and lately, I have been getting some good nuggets of wisdom in my inbox through various e-mail subscriptions. Wisdom is no good unless shared so I thought I would copy and paste these juicy little words into a post for you to enjoy!




From an anusara yoga newsletter:
A story...
 "An elderly Chinese woman had two large pots, each hung on the ends of a pole which she carried across her neck.  One of the pots had a crack in it, while the other pot was perfect and always delivered a full portion of water.  At the end of the long walk from the stream to the house, the cracked pot arrived only half full.  For a full two years this went on daily, with the woman bringing home only one and a half pots of water.  Of course, the perfect pot was proud of its accomplishments. But the poor cracked pot was ashamed of its own imperfection, and miserable that it could only do half of what it had been made to do. After two years of what it perceived to be bitter failure, it spoke to the woman one day by the stream, "I am ashamed of myself, because this crack in my side causes water to leak out all the way back to your house."  The old woman smiled, "Did you notice that there are flowers on your side of the path, but not on the other pot's side? That's because I have always known about your flaw, so I planted flower seeds on your side of the path, and every day while we walk back, you water them.  For two years I have been able to pick these beautiful flowers to decorate the table.  Without you being just the way you are, there would not be this beauty to grace the house."  Each of us has our own unique flaw. But it's the cracks and flaws we each have that make our lives together so very interesting and rewarding.  You've just got to take each person for what they are and look for the good in them and remember to smell the flowers on your side of the path!                                           ~Anonymous 


From a forwarded e-mail from a family member, some good advice:

1. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.  

2. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other.  

3. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want.  

4. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.  

5. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.  

6. Be engaged at least six months before you get married.  

7. Believe in love at first sight.  

8. Never laugh at anyone's dream. People who don't have dreams don't have much.  

9. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.  

10. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling..  

11. Don't judge people by their relatives.  

12. Talk slowly but think quickly.  


13. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?'  

14. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk.  

15. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.  

16. When you lose, don't lose the lesson! 


17. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and responsibility for all your actions.  

18. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship..  

19. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it.  

20. Smile when picking up the phone.. The caller will hear it in your voice.  

21. Spend some time alone. 

Sunday, July 17, 2011

gateway


In my yoga classes, I have really been enjoying "Gate Pose." This pose is a combination of contraction and extension and expansion. I have been thinking about what about this pose is so great at the moment. When I think about the literal idea of a gate, opening and closing and allowing certain things through and keeping other things out, I think about what a transparent metaphor a gate is for life. 

We are constantly opening ourselves up to new experiences and sometimes shutting things out at the same time that may benefit us in the long run. Our gates become stuck and need repair and replacement. We are sometimes forceful, bringing in relationships or situations that may not be emotionally, physically, or mentally healthy.

There is magic in opening up. I remember when I was in college struggling with some of my own emotional gates and my first couple vinyasa yoga classes broke open my gates. Out of this breakage, out flooded feelings of intense vulnerability, joy, abundance, transformation, and release. Just as we crave to open ourselves up to the world and to those we love, we have to be aware and grounded to know what we need to keep out. This goes all back to creating healthy boundaries. Unplugging and disconnecting through a spiritual practice, avoiding overindulgence, observing non-violence and non-attachment in our daily lives. 

I encourage you to practice opening and closing this week. Noticing what comes out of practicing "Gate Pose" or any other activity that brings you closer to your real essence. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

summer notes & wishes

Summer is absolutely awesome. Perhaps it is all the fond memories we have of being out of school for almost 3 months, playing outside from dawn until dusk with only bathroom breaks and a quick ten minute lunch, or the taste of cool Popsicles on a sweltering day. I think as we get older, our summers evolve as we take on summer part-time jobs, college classes, move into a place of our own, plant gardens, have full time jobs that require us to be on our game, raise families, attend weddings and family events, and the list goes on and on.

I have the most awesome setup with work: 9 months of my year, I work inside/outside and then when the 3rd week of June hits, I am outside 40+ hours a week with kids, running relay races, going on hikes, doing art projects, and seeing smiles plastered across faces. Indeed, I do feel like it's a summer vacation. :)

In my yoga class tonight, I was thinking about how summer is a magical time. It stays out later, I eat more veggies, I have a consistent schedule, I see people more, I get to wear shorts, t-shirts, and Chacos 7 days a week, and take the occasional day off here and there. I grill, tend my garden, smile more, enjoy cold beverages, I feel more relaxed, I sleep better. And then on my way home, I started thinking about what I want to do for the rest of the summer and the following wish list was populated:

Summer 2011 Wish List!
-Get our newly used Weber grill in action (waiting on parts)
-Entertain more. Can you say outside happy hours?
-Eat from my garden. It's in process, just waiting patiently.
-Enjoy my parents trip out to the PNW.
-Take my stand up paddleboard lesson with the groupon I purchased for my brithday.
-Start training for a Triathlon. September 18th = compete..fingers crossed that my old lady knees hold up.
-Take some hikes. Go camping. Roast marshmallows. Enough said.
-Write more. Read more. Nap more. On the weekends mostly.
-Spend a few days at the beach.
-Enjoy dining al fresco. Margaritas and chips and salsa = my faves.
-Bask in the sun as much as possible before rainy season comes back.

Hope you are enjoying your summer!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

vinyasa experience

Perhaps you read in my previous post that I started yet another $30 for 30 days yoga class pass at a studio near where I work at day camp. Great space, great teachers, small community, absolutely perfect. After work, I made my way to the 90 minute vinyasa class, unrolled my mat, changed out of my Patagonia hiking shorts, nasty tennis shoes and staff shirt and settled in to my time.

Vinyasa is a sanskrit term meaning "to flow." My first experience with vinyasa yoga was back in college at a small studio called "The Yoga Room." That is where I met my first teacher/guru/lifesaver, Miya Must. A wonderful woman who left the planet way too early. I got hooked on vinyasa because of how the movements match the breath, or at least they are supposed to. Vinyasa pushes me to my edge-a term used in yoga to signify that place where you feel like giving up, the body is pushed to limits without severe pain, and that place where you want to run the other way.

My new teacher, Yoon, is gentle yet strong. A nice blend of pushing when needed and backing off when necessary. He uses a great phrase during class: "Spend some time." He says this in postures requiring greater flexibility (i.e. Camel pose or upward bow pose) as well as restorative postures (i.e. bridge pose & supported savasana). I have really taken this phrase to heart these past couple days. "Spend some time," has come up a lot in my interactions with my colleagues, with kids, with making dinner and time with my partner. On my yoga mat, I am spending time working on me through the experience.

Self-discovery is a huge facet of yoga yet yoga is just as much about the rest of the world as it is about oneself. What we find on the mat that makes us uncomfortable can be literally transposed to what makes us uncomfortable in our real life. That is one of my most favorite things about yoga yet it is the thing I hate the most. Sometimes I come home stiff & sore and I recognize that I have neglected my practice. I then go into an inquiry: Why have I let go of my practice? What is getting in the way? What is preventing me from unrolling my mat? Other days, I leave on a high. I also perform an inquiry: This feels good. Why does it feel good? Is it because I took time for myself in the midst of a crazy busy day? Is it because the poses released some tense energy?

The experience of yoga is my experience of life and my experience of life is my experience of yoga. In my early days of practicing yoga, I used to think I had my real life and my yoga life, similar to how we view our work life and our personal life. It's all interconnected, whether we want it to interconnect or not. How we live is how we work. How we practice is how we show up for the rest of life and the people close to us. When we harm ourselves through being overstressed, overworked, or on edge, we harm others.

I am grateful for the lessons yoga provides me. They are constant teachers constantly available. This is what I want to connect with more and more.