Monday, November 28, 2011

TED Talks

If you haven't seen, heard, or visited the TED Talks, go now. 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

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


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 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. drinks on cold days.
...good food.
...pens and notebooks.
...walks and time outside.
...sleeping in.
...conversations with family who live so far away., 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.