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


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.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

on newness

Everybody I talk to is on the "get the most bang for your buck" train. Do more for less. Go out on the cheap. Find the best deal. Buy a Groupon/LivingSocial/Tippr. Happy hour = a meal. Skip out on extravagant date night and instead, take the dog for a walk. With the way the economy is, I know that my friends and me are being smart with our money. The coolest thing about this trend is trying out new places. 

Typically, I have always been that girl that is very stuck in my ways. I find a sandwich place, I will eat there until I move out of the zip code. I find a good Thai menu item, I don't even give the wait staff a chance to tell me the specials. Ice cream flavors? Vanilla, Chocolate, and Cake Batter. I know what I like and I know what I don't like. Call me addicted to comfortable. 

In my relationship, the Man is the explorer, the adventurer, especially when it comes to food. He has no problem switching our plates halfway through dinner or handing over his fork with mystery meal on it saying, "Hun, please just TRY it." With much hesitation, I can usually get away with, "I'm full," or "Nope." Perhaps it was my extreme gastrointestinal battle in Nepal that turned me off of curry or my not so great experience with Pho (Vietnamese soup) at a sketchy place when I moved here 4 years ago, but for whatever reason, I have a hard time venturing out of my comfort zone when it comes to food. 

Yet, when it comes to yoga studios, sign me up.

Today, I ventured north to a small little studio in Shoreline to start a $30 for 30 days unlimited Groupon I purchased. There is something about trying out a new yoga studio that lights me up from the inside. Very similar to getting a beautifully wrapped gift and not knowing what's inside, there is an excitement to embarking on a yoga journey, even if it is for only a month, at a new studio with new teachers. I love seeing how people deisgn their studio spaces, the teachers they hire, their new student registration process. It's very much a enthnography process for me each and every time.

I am baffled and how fearless I am when it comes to this as yoga is super sacred in my own personal life. It is a facet of my being that I don't take lightly, yet, I love to see what is out there, especially living in such a big city. Just like walking into a restaurant or hotel for the first time, first impressions are everything. The front of the house/studio staff are responsible for my experience at least 60% of the time. They set the tone for my practice. Even though that sounds ludacris, it's true. I am not a fan of the "Fakeys," staff that act friendly to one person and condescending to another or bitch about scheduling or management in front of you while scantily clad in very expensive yoga gear that I would never walk out of my house in. 

Either way, my practice this morning was pretty rough. I felt out of sorts. Maybe it was because I was super tight and sore from being on my feet a lot these past couple weeks or maybe it was emotional tension or frustration with the housework awaiting me at home or maybe it was the teacher who was all bendy like Gumby and kinda showing off a bit in front of a class of 9 folks who were definitely unable to get into "legs behind the head lifted lotus pose." 

In my evolution as a yoga practitioner and student, I always use my practice as a microscope as to what is really going on in my own life. Everything is just an observation. The key is to not make judgments about it. In theory, sounds easy, in practice, WTF comes to mind. This morning on my way home from my new yoga studio, I started my inquiry. What is going on? A few things came to mind.

-Haven't been engaging in much "me time." This is a source of frustration.
-The house is a war zone. Never enough time to pick up the clutter.
-Missing my family. Craving social time. Need more community.
-Haven't been taking super good care of my body = tension, fatigue, and being irritable.
Next step? Action. Do something about it Jen! This was my thought for the day and I did get some movement.  

Just like I get comfortable with my Thai dish and my ice cream flavors, I get comfortable with being stuck-things are the way they are and tough shit. Well, I am learning to venture out, to change things around, shake it up a bit. I have a feeling my 30 days at this new studio will indeed do just that.