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!

Namaste,

Michelle

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!!

Namaste,
Michelle

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!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Get Uncomfortable!

Habits keep us comfortable. I don't think often about my habits, but today as I was making a sandwich for lunch I did something different. It was a small action, but it made me feel like a completely different person.

I cut my sandwich in half down the middle, rather than diagonally.
I know - it's borderline lame that I'm even writing about this. But seriously! After I did it, I stopped and wondered: "What on Earth made me do that?" I can't even remember the last time I did that. Why did I change my way of cutting my sandwich TODAY?
Anyway - I have no idea why, but it made me smile. I feel silly, but it made me happy to think that I can still surprise myself. With all this self reflection and learning I do, it's refreshing when things happen for no darn reason at all and capture your attention.

How to help?

Someone I love very much is about to embark on a long journey. This journey is sure to be one of the most challenging things she has ever done and she is bound to meet a few bumps in the road. I am here to support her with 100% of my efforts and will do anything I can to help.

But I've been struggling. How can I help her if I've never had to experience what she is going through? I can't truly relate to this challenge, and don't want to give the wrong kind of support. I've been thinking a lot about this, and something that I noticed is that most of the thoughts/fears/questions I had focused more on me! How do I do this or that? Will she be upset at ME if I say x, y, or z?

Her journey has nothing to do with me. It has everything to do with her: by her, for her, and decided by her. I need to be HER support. Just because this is a specific journey that I haven't taken, doesn't mean that I can't be here at any time of the day or night to just listen, love, and give hugs!

This all came even more clear when the other night I was having a conversation with my husband about a frustration he was having at work. I got excited and worked up - I started fighting his fight for him and challenging him to "stand up" to this unfairness. He reacted in the opposite way I expected. He stopped talking, started arguing the other side and in the end said "I don't want to talk about this anymore". By this time, I was confused but wanting him to hear me and jump back on board with the "down with the man!" energy I was feeling. He wouldn't and we left the conversation feeling obviously confused with each other. After reflecting on this and my thoughts about what I mentioned above, I realized that sometimes what people need most is just an ear. Someone who will simply listen. I was doing the opposite of that in the conversation we had - I was trying to force him to hear me! His biggest frustration from work that day was that he wasn't being heard and felt bad about that. Without realizing it, I made him feel the same way at home. :(

So, goal? Listen, love, and hugs first! :)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Remember To Dream

Yesterday, as I got closer to work, I noticed that I started to drive slower and sink lower in my seat. When I parked my car, I took a minute before I opened the door, and inched my way up the hill toward my office. I didn't want to go in! It was sunny (although chilly!) outside and the last thing I wanted to do was sit at a desk and work.



As I slouched into my seat, I decided that this was no way to start my day! I needed a re-boot! So I set out for the bookstore. I wanted to spend some time in the sun to refresh myself, and I wanted to look through a magazine that made me happy. I decided to buy the March issue of Architectual Digest, because looking at the fabulous spaces and interesting ideas gives me inspiration and gets my imagination flowing. I also perused the calendars (which were 50% off!) and found a pretty one with beautifuly illustrated flowers - one for each month.



After a nice little breakfast in the sun with my fun mag, I walked back to work with a pep in my step that wasn't there on my first try. I opened my new calendar, dreaming of Spring, and posted it on my wall. To my surprise, a lovely quote goes along with each flower of the month. February's quote says just what I needed reminding of:



Our truest life is when we are in our dreams awake.

~ Henry David Thoreau ~


For me, the goal is to open myself up to the signs that remind me that I have dreams to be working on, and exciting opportunities ahead. I need to focus on living the way I'm dreaming! There's little time for wallowing! I hope you are finding something to inspire and ignite you during this time when Winter can make us weary!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Yoga Is For Everyone!

It was my birthday last weekend, and one of my birthday wishes was for some alone time. My husband lovingly obliged by scooting me out the door to a yoga class. I decided to roam to a new studio that I’d been meaning to try for some time.

As I walked into this new/unfamiliar room, I was pleasantly surprised by the d├ęcor, lighting, and music flowing from the speakers. I was also surprised to realize that I felt a bit uneasy. As the other people for the class trickled in, I started to feel self-conscious for not knowing anyone, and embarrassed because I hadn’t realized that this classroom would be heated slightly and I was unprepared for that. I felt fidgety and wanted to move my mat to the back of the room where I could “hide”. I almost started to regret coming when the teacher caught my eye.

I noticed she seemed nervous too, and in fact when I engaged her with a sheepish smile she said “This is my first time teaching in this room!” I immediately said “It’s my first time taking a class here!” and we both laughed. I felt instantly better, and think she did too.

This experience got me to thinking about how intimidating it must be for someone who has never tried yoga to take that first step and go to a class. I’ve encouraged many a friend and family member to try yoga, and have heard myriad excuses. Maybe you can’t touch your toes. Or maybe you want to lose a few pounds before you slip into a pair of tight fitting yoga pants. Maybe you’re just nervous, and I totally get that.

I worried when I started this blog and titled it with the word “yogi” and mentioned that I would try to focus on yoga that I might be alienating people who weren’t doing yoga. I want to impress upon anyone who ever reads this blog: Yoga is for everyone. You don’t have to be hardcore! Yoga is for YOU. It’s a chance to spend some time with YOUrself. Check in, breathe, reflect, and bring yourself back to the present. It’s a way to quiet your mind on a particularly emotional day; a way to feel balance when you are juggling too many things on your plate; a way to challenge yourself to try new things.


I encourage you not to get caught up in the gimmicky yoga. Keep it simple. I also encourage you to try the first few times on your own. It’s tempting to go with a friend or a group of friends, but it is distracting. It’s easier to focus on yourself when you’re not worried if your friend can touch his/her toes and you can’t. If you’re alone, you can slow down when you need to or push yourself when you feel ready. You can figure out how you feel about yoga.

Anyway… we all have feelings of doubt or moments of insecurity. I have them all the time! I guess the goal is to recognize those feelings before they gain momentum and take action to change them. Seeing that the yoga teacher was nervous in her own way made me realize that my feelings of doubt needed to beat it! I took a breath and settled in to enjoy a new class and new teacher, and something new to think and write about!

Happy Friday!!



Friday, January 21, 2011

Date Night - At Home!

The greatest thing happened this week, and it wasn’t even planned: My husband and I had a date, at home!

It was Wednesday, and the baby was down for the night. We had a well rounded dinner prepared, and music playing. We decided to actually sit at the table to eat. We faced each other, we talked, and we took our time. When we were done, I was going to prepare a recipe for dinner with friends the following night. Rather than go our separate ways, my husband poured another glass of wine for the two of us. He cleaned up the living room, sat with me in the kitchen and we continued to enjoy each other. He pitched in and measured my ingredients while I stirred, and we had so much fun together. After the meal was prepared and the kitchen cleaned, we sat to relax with one short tv show, and then went to bed at the same time.

I’m writing about this because this was out of the norm for us. We both work, we both go to a yoga class twice a week, and we’re both pretty tired at the end of the day. Our pattern often consists of getting the baby to sleep, making a quick dinner and then plopping on the couch to eat and to watch a few shows. I usually fall asleep on the couch long before my husband is ready for bed, and he wakes me to send me upstairs. It’s not that we aren’t spending time together, but it feels (especially in contrast to our date night at home) that we sort of buzz around each other, and then end up beside each other but aren’t really with each other. We’re physically together, but not necessarily connecting.


This is not a knock on my husband or me! But we both realized how much fun it was to just hang out, decompress, and connect in a new way. Even though we did a lot on that Wednesday night, we both felt more relaxed. I didn’t fall asleep on the couch, I actually felt more energetic than I had in a long time. This was a welcomed realization – more like a rememberization (hehe) – that we fulfill each other, rejuvenate each other, and have fun no matter what we are doing! When we take the time to actually slow down a little bit we feel happier and stronger as a couple.

Here’s to remembering to be together, breathe together, and date nights at home more often than not!


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TRY

I’ve had an idea for a while now, and I’ve kept myself from doing anything about it because the idea seems so big that I don’t even know where to start. While staring at the blank blog page and wondering about where to begin, I realized that the acronym for my blog’s title is TRY. It was a moment where I said to myself, Helllooo!! Nothing will ever happen if you don’t even try! I’m going to take some advice that a yummy piece of Dove chocolate gave me years ago: Don’t think about it so much!

After a long (multi-day) conversation with my hubby (read: argument) that stemmed from me wanting to move away from the place we live, I did some serious thinking. I came upon a line in a post from a blog I follow (Wondrous Women) that jumped from the page and snapped me into focus. It read “Happiness is not a destination, but a state”. I realized that I have always been a roamer – someone who packed up and went wherever the winds of change took her. If a job wasn’t fun anymore, I found a new one. If a friend needed a roommate and I needed a change, I moved. If adventure beckoned, I acquiesced.

But now, I have roots. I have a loving husband, a beautiful daughter, caring family and friends, a steady job with important things like health insurance. More simply, I have responsibilities. I can’t pick up and go when I start to feel restless and I am struggling with that.

From here on out, my goal is to indulge that roamer within while also continuing to keep my state of mind at the center of my attention. I’m changing my perspective, and I’m going to focus on something that always makes me feel better: YOGA. I’m committing to being more present, more aware, and to being happy wherever I am.

I’ve realized that there are many ways to roam that will satisfy this urge to do something new and different. I can roam through my city, through the library. I can roam around my home, between moods, to new places. I can roam with my husband, with my daughter, with my sisters. I can roam to new yoga studios, around different philosophies, through fabulous museums. Just because I have responsibilities doesn’t mean I can’t keep learning, loving, pondering, sharing, breathing, and practicing.

So, here I am, TRY-ing something new. While this blog might not be All yoga, All the time, I’ll do my best to bring it back to yoga in some way. If it’s nourishing me in any way, it’s yoga to me! This blog is to help me keep my focus, to challenge myself to continue learning about myself and about yoga. For whoever wants to roam with me, I welcome you here!

Namaste, Michelle