Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Close Your Eyes...

...and picture yourself here:

I was browsing one of my favorite websites for design-y/kitchen-y/awesome stuff, and found this picture. I immediately saw myself doing some yoga in the early a.m. followed by coffee and a book on that comfy couch! I will have a room for that exact purpose - someday! Happy Hump Day to you all - here's to ending the week on a happy note!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Yummy Post-Yoga Snack?

Growing up, June represented many things: hot days, warm nights, swimming till the sun went down, delicious watermelon and backyard meals. June is meant to be warm - and no matter how long I've lived in San Diego, every June I am horribly disappointed. While most of the country tumbles gaily into Summer, San Diego goes GREY. The term is June Gloom - and it couldn't be better described. It's cold, gloomy, misty and all around just bleh. So, rather than complain (as I can hear a collective sigh from the rest of the country who have severe winters and things like, um SNOW) I'm looking for ways to enjoy June.

Eating seems to be a good way to enjoy pretty much anything, wouldn't you agree? With the cooler weather and grey skies, I find myself wanting to curl up with a cup of tea and a good book. A perfect compliment to these things is a cookie, of course. However, as some of my closest friends know: I'm a sucker for any cookie, and will eat my weight in them if given the opportunity. I was on the hunt for a "healthy" cookie and I think I found one! Please excuse the less than stellar picture - I apparently have really poor lighting in my kitchen, no artistic talent, and my 'good' camera had a dead battery. Excuses - but all true! ;)

I found this recipe in Gweneth Paltrow's new cookbook My Father's Daughter. I first bought this cookbook because I have a father who is an amazing cook, and has pretty much taught me everything I know in the kitchen. Food and eating together was always a priority in our family, and there are countless memories of the five of us laughing uncontrollably around our dining room table. The title of this book struck a chord with me, so I had to have it. I've made a few things so far, and all have been delicious and really easy, too! Baking was my mother's forte and I have a passion for it, as baking = yummy, sweet treats!

This recipe is so simple - with a focus on using a few, clean & healthy ingredients. I substituted whole wheat flour for barley only because I couldn't find barley flour at my local store. Anyway - they were a cinch to make and filled the house with a comforting, sweet smell that elicited a "Mmmmm! What are you baking?" from my hubby before the front door was even closed behind him! Chopped almonds, maple syrup, and cinnamon make these cookies super hearty and completely perfect with a cup of tea. Or, if you're in a hurry (like me) on most mornings - a really good breakfast! Topped off with your favorite jam - you can't go wrong with these.

I'm not sure if I should post the actual recipe or if I'd get in trouble for that, so I'll need to gather some feedback from my amazing food-blogger friends out there. If I can, I'll post later! ;) For now, just come over to my place for some tea and they'll be there to greet you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer! I've been waiting for you...

Yesterday, I spent some time cleaning up my blog page. I changed the layout, color and some of the fonts. Nothing major, but after a good hour or so, I felt excited and re-invigorated and ready to blog more often! Summer is on the way and this means more time for me to spend doing the things I enjoy or haven’t had as much time for during the “busy” season at my job. I’m looking forward to exploring new ideas for my blog, gaining inspiration from friends and family during a few awesome vacations, and focusing on being happy, healthy, and active! I can’t wait to see where the summer takes us!

Friday, April 29, 2011

When the clouds part, the sun shines. Ramblings...

** I wrote this in my journal on Wednesday, but was only able to post today. Happy Friday & Good Weekend to you!

This morning I heard birds chirpping while outside of my office. Happy, hopeful little chirps. Not a caw or a cry; no warning or protest. These were the chirps of baby birds new to the world - their slate free of history or responsiblity. They seemed to be relishing in the mere fact that they had discovered their voice. The sound made me stop. The thought of those happy birds made me smile. Yet others walked by, unaware. I was reminded that many of life's truest pleasures and most sincere lessons are so often blantantly ignored or rather drowned out by the "noise" of complicaiton. So it is with sun on my face, that I take a moment to reflect on why and how I experienced that moment with the singing chickees.

It was a moment when I was completely present in only that moment. Like a photograph, everything was frozen in that moment - the light, the sound, the smells. There were not thoughts of future or past, no worries and no thoughtless-ness. I heard the chicks. I saw the sun through the trees. I took in the scene and observed it with all of my senses. (okay, I didn't taste it... please try not to picture me licking a tree!) It was a quick moment, but as I write this now - 4 hours and 1 bad mood later - I'm re-living that moment again and again. That moment has proven itself very worthy of the time I took to recognize it. It's coming back around to snap me out of a mid-day funk!

This is yoga.

So often you'll hear a teacher of yours encouraging you to focus only on the present: where you are mentally/physically/emotionally during your practice and the thoughts that these things bring while on your mat. When you spend some time cultivating this part of your yoga practice those moments and observations will surely translate to your everyday life. The objective is to be less burdened by the things you can't possibly predict (a particular struggle for me) or by the things that have already happened and therefore cannot be changed. Instead of spending your energy spinning your wheels, you focus it on what is in front of you. What is in front of you? It could be you. It could be a loved one or co-worker needing help. It could be your child who is encouraging you to get down on the ground and play with them. The choices and observations you are able to make when you are present allow you to actually participate in the moment!

Now, contradicitng "my moment", I allowed myself to slip into some negative self thinking. I was overwhlemed by the devil on my shoulder whispering to me about of the things I'm not doing well. This is the "noise" I mentioned earlier. I'll be the first to admit - I have a lot to learn, and much practice-at-being-present ahead of me. However, this time I was able to realize what I was doing, and to take myself out of that neagive space and back into my moment! Today I did this within a span of a few hours. Sometimes it takes days, but it used to take weeks! I'm making progress!

It's not always easy, I know! We can't always physically remove ourselves from a meeting, our office or some uncomfortable encounter. If you find that you are stuck physcially, I encourage you to turn your focus inward. How are you sitting? Is your posture slumped or tight? Have you taken a deep breath lately or today at all? Is your brow furrowed? Lips pursed? Try to relax your body and be present in it. Find something in your present to be thankful for! Do it for you!

I didn't realize at the time of "my moment" what it was that got me there, but now I feel ready to reacognize these moments more readily. I feel infinitely lighter now. This was a good day!



Friday, April 22, 2011

A Happy Day

Friday played hard to get this week – taunting me from 5 days away. Lots to do, co-workers out of the office, sick baby, and onward the week trudged. So today, after 3 less hours of sleep than the usual 7, it took a lot of mental coaxing to put my feet to the floor and face the day.

I did it though, because there was much to be done and no good enough reason to put it off. As I approached the stairs from the parking lot to the office, I began to pump myself up. Eye of the Tiger playing in my head, and plans to annihilate my to-do list - I wasn’t excited, but I was determined!

As I sat down to get comfortable, I quickly checked my personal email to make sure all was well with family and friends before I buried myself in work. Man, am I glad I did! To my complete surprise, I found an email from the Haute Apple Pie ladies informing me that I was the WINNER of their latest giveaway! I recently found their blog through a friend and it is beautifully designed, bursting with amazing recipes, DIY projects and photos, and is just really, really, enjoyable. I won The Earth Dinner giveaway sponsored by Organic Valley, the organic dairy cooperative. (Check out The Earth Dinner initiative page on facebook!) I’m looking forward to a year’s worth of free Organic Valley products, 4 Earth Dinner books, and a new re-usable shopping bag! Yay!

As it turns out, this Friday was worth waiting for! I hope you all had something worth waiting for this week!

Happy Earth Day, and Happy Weekend!!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Roaming Review

A friend from work, who knew of my love for yoga, shared with me a couple weeks ago that she had been taking some yoga classes. She said to me, with an almost astonished look, "Michelle, it has been a truly transformative experience!" Of course, I know this about yoga! I was so excited for her and wanted to hear all about it. She sent me some information on the teacher she had been learning from, and it worked out perfectly that I was available to try her classes two Wednesdays in a row! :) I was so excited to try a new class! From her bio, I learned that Lisa Dumas was certified in 2010, and was trained in the Anusara style. This was awesome to hear, because my mentor is greatly influenced by the Anusara principles, and I really feel at home with that style.

What most impressed me about Lisa was her warmth from the very first moment that I entered the room. She made me feel welcomed! There were candles all around the room, music playing, and it just felt comfy. I loved that she started her classes by encouraging us to set an intention for our practice, and she reminded us of that intention throughout the class. This was so helpful for those moments when a challenging pose starts to tug at your concentrtaion, threatening to weaken your focus! At one point she said "Breathe... and remember: we're all in this together..." WOW. At that moment, I was really struggling, and it gave me this boost of energy to know that the person on the neighboring mat was willing me to continue and to support her too so we could both get to where we were trying to go. It was just what I needed.

Lisa was very encouraging to the students who were newer to yoga. She was gentle yet inspiring and very good about validating all of our efforts. Lisa also had amazing soundtracks! They really set the mood and also picked up the beat when we were heating up our bodies. I was able to sweat and be challenged, focus and breathe, relax and rejuvinate - a very well rounded class!

Sadly, Lisa's class at the studio won't be continuing. However, she's promised to let us know of new classes she'll be teaching around town. I'm really excited for a possible "Happy Hour" class on Friday evenings! I can't think of a much better way to start the weekend than an hour with Lisa and her positive vibes, her challenging classes, and her reminders of bringing our minds and bodies together, exploring the endless opportunites available to us. I give Lisa so much credit because it takes a lot to get in front of people and teach yoga! I'm so glad I roamed into Lisa's class, and I look forward to seeing her again soon!

Namaste, Michelle

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Best Medicine

Last night, my husband and I laughed so hard we were both crying. The joke was at my expense, and it didn't even matter. We laughed and laughed and then kept laughing some more. It felt SO GOOD.

On many days, we fall prey to "the grind" or "the routine". It's not necessarily negative - I mean, we have things we need to get done! Our dogs need walking, children need feeding, bathrooms need cleaning! After we finally regained control of ourselves, I said "Whew! That felt really good!" It was like I extricated every ounce of stress from my body with just a few minutes of laughing!

It's true it can be hard to force a laugh, but I'm going to feel encouraged now to focus more on life's little idiosyncrasies that can be an excuse to just laugh!