Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Recap

I hope everyone had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving! I went up to Portland, Maine to spend it with my boyfriend and his family. It rained the entire time I was there but even a lot of freezing rain couldn't ruin our great time. My vacation included:

-Hanging out with lots of friends and family. Tons of great conversation, laughter and fun.

-Darts, ping pong and pool

-A post-Thanksgiving dinner walk on the beach

-Dinner at The Green Elephant, easily the yummiest vegetarian restaurant I've ever been to. If you are ever in Portland, you must go!

-Shopping at the outlets in Freeport

-Buying a cute gray plaid fedora for Jesse. He looks adorable in it!

-Returning to The Happy Yogi for some shopping

What a great vacation. I love, love, love Maine. What did you do for the holiday?

{Photo credit: wheat_in_your_hair}

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Joy Diet: Feasting

I will be out of town for the holiday from Wednesday through the weekend, so I am posting my last Joy Diet book club post a little early. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

It is the last week of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. Appropriately enough with Thanksgiving a few days away, this week's menu item is "feasting". Beck suggests making a list of 20 things that you are grateful for, which is something I often do anyway.

Without further ado, I am grateful:

1. For my family. Good times and bad, thick and thin. Love you guys.

2. For my boyfriend, for holding my hand and my heart. Thank you for being you.

3. For my health. I had a major health scare a few years ago and I know how horrible it is to face those sorts of things. I'm grateful to be here every single day.

4. For having a great job in an uncertain economy. I know just how lucky I am.

5. For being a mere 5 credits shy of finishing my master's degree. This has been a very long and difficult three year journey but it's almost over.

6. For yoga, which has become a reliable source of both inspiration and perspiration.

7. For living in such a great city. The DC skyline never fails to take my breath away.

8. For my friends, who listen, laugh, learn and love right along with me.

9. For my planner pad and my journal, which help me accomplish and dream simultaneously.

10. For all the sadness, disappointments and frustration over the years. I truly believe that what doesn't kill us makes us stronger.

11. For the quiet moments, whether alone or with others, when tiny sparking truths make themselves known.

12. For great books. Good wordsmiths have the power to change lives.

13. For the stars and the moon, for providing me with some perspective.

14. For candles, chocolate, pedicures, bubble baths, tea and all the other little pleasures that may seem unnecessary but make life oh-so-worth living.

15. For change. It can be scary but it keeps us guessing and growing.

16. For puppies and babies.

17. For photographs, for preserving memories.

18. For travel. Seeing how other people live is a priceless gift. Thank you to Israel, Cuba, Venezuela, Italy, Mexico, Spain and Guatemala for helping me learn about others and myself.

19. For love.

20. For everyone who reads this blog. Your comments, support and questions mean more to me than you'll ever know.
{Photo credit: aussiegall}

Monday, November 23, 2009

My Favorite Yoga Pose

My favorite yoga pose is actually several: any and all with the word "pigeon" in them. Yes, I am that girl who quickly yells out "pigeon!" when the teacher asks if there are any pose requests. I realize these poses are torture for some people but I honestly love them. I look forward to them all class and leave feeling unfulfilled if we don't get to them at some point. Hip openers help with releasing emotion and are a great way for runners to cross-train.

I love one-legged pigeon, double pigeon, king pigeon. I love the way they really get into my hips and allow me to feel more open, alive, calm, relaxed and limber. I love that they do so much for my body while requiring very little work. I love that all three feel like such different poses but also reminiscent of each other. I love sinking into them and staying there, just being, for several minutes at a time.

Tell me, what's your favorite yoga pose?

{Photo credit: Gaiam}

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Joy Diet: Connection

This was my favorite chapter of The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. It spoke to me on so many levels that I am not really sure where to begin. Let's just say that recently several key relationships in my life have felt totally out of whack and her suggestions for connection seem like a wonderful way to begin to bring them back to where they used to be.

I really loved when she talked about "nothing doing" while in the presence of the person with whom you want to connect. "I have found that it is impossible to truly do nothing while interacting with another person and not fall in love with them," she writes. To be honest, it is in those quiet moments of togetherness, when we aren't doing anything and my mind isn't all over the place, that I fall even more in love with my boyfriend. I haven't tried this as much with other people in my life, but it feels like it could have endless potential for connection.

One section of this chapter is subtitled, "Master Doing Nothing, Telling Yourself the Truth, Identifying Your Heart's Desires, and Daring to Risk". That in and of itself sounds like a pretty good recipe for life.

{Photo credit: Ana_Cotta}

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Words to Grow By.

Don't fear your best friends, because a best friend would never try to do you wrong.
And don't fear your worst friends, because a worst friend is just a
best friend that's done you wrong.
And don't fear the night time, because the monsters know you're devine.
And don't fear the sunshine, because everything is better in the summertime.

But it's never too late to start the day over, it's never to late, to pick up the phone.
You know it's never too late to lay your head down on my shoulders,
it's never too late to come on home.

Don't fear the water, because you can swim inside you within your skin.
And don't fear your father, because a father's just a boy without a friend.
And don't fear to walk slow, don't be a horserace, be a marathon.
And don't fear the long road, because on the long road you got a long time to sing a simple song.

But it's never too late to start the day over,
it's never too late, pick up the phone.
You know it's never too late to lay your head down on my shoulders,
it's never too late just come on home.
Don't fear your teachers, because if you listen you can hear music in a school bell.
And don't fear your preacher, if you can't find heaven in a prison cell.
And don't fear your own self, paying money to justify your worth.
And don't fear your family, because you chose them along time before your birth.
But it's never too late to start the day over, it's never too late, pick up the phone.
You know it's never too late to lay your head down on my shoulders,
it's never too late just come on home.
Hold to your children, hold to your children, hold to your children, let them know.

~Michael Franti & Spearhead, "Never Too Late"

{Photo credit: Nick Merzetti}

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Mondo Beyondo List!

Ever since I took the Mondo Beyondo e-course, I've been constantly refining my "Mondo Beyondo" dream list. They encourage you to dream big and then dream bigger. I've hesitated to put it out there in the world but now feels like the right time. I'm looking forward to seeing how this list grows and changes over time, how I incorporate these things or accomplish them and hearing any input/advice/suggestions/comments from all of you!

-Get to my goal weight
-Run a 5 k
-Complete the 200-hour yoga teacher training
-Complete the holistic health counselor training at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
-Live in New England (or at least spend summers there--soooooo beautiful!)
-Go to massage school
-Become a gourmet vegetarian cook
-See the world: Peru, Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, more parts of Mexico and Israel, Greece, Brazil, India, Germany, and lots more of the United States.
-Swim with dolphins
-Learn Hebrew and Portuguese
-Make my own tallit
-Own my own house with a huge kitchen and a wrap-around porch
-Publish a book
-Teach prenatal yoga
-Sponsor a child through a relief organization
-Sleep underneath the stars on the beach
-Work at an organization that helps women and children
-Become a journalist and/or a freelance writer
-Teach something
-Camp at the Grand Canyon
-Pick my own apples and make a pie with them
-Become a doula
-Pay off my student loans (because this would equal freedom)
-Bake bread
-Volunteer my time
-Have children and raise them to be amazing human beings
-Work to legalize gay marriage
-Open my own yoga studio
-Plant a garden and make dinner with my own vegetables
-Get a Boston Terrier puppy
-Take a painting class
-Have a gorgeous but simple wedding
-Own a new (and not just new-to-me) car
-Hear Salman Rushdie do a reading
-Take a few types of dance classes
-Host Thanksgiving (minus the turkey) for my family
-Take self-defense classes
-See a zebra up close in its natural habitat
-Slow dance somewhere totally inappropriate
-Learn to make my own pottery
-Design my own website
-Trace my family tree
-Own a pair of outrageous high heels
-Become a tea snob
-Fly first class (just once--I want to see what it's like!)
-Crochet a beautiful blanket (after I learn how to read a crochet pattern, that is!)
-Keep kosher and Shabbat
-Complete an adult bat mitzvah class
-Go on a meditation retreat
-Take a workshop at Kripalu

And, because this list can be a bit overwhelming, things I've already done that would have appeared here: Travel (to Israel, Venezuela, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Italy, Spain plus lots of US places), put a prayer in the Western Wall in Jerusalem, gave horse riding lessons to handicapped kids, got a BA with a double major and a minor, completed a Spanish immersion program, been kissed on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, completed the first level of yoga teacher training as well as pre and post natal teacher training at Tranquil Space, waited tables (I firmly believe everyone should have to do this at least once in their life), worked in human rights, completed a wine course, visited the mikvah, read at least 70 books a year since I graduated college, interned at the Holocaust museum, received my boating license, lived in the nation's capital, interned at my Congressman's office, started a blog, lost 70 pounds, wrote a newsletter, worked in retail, met Margaret Atwood and Adam Duritz, heard Elie Wiesel speak, voted for change, survived a near-death experience, saw a show on Broadway, been to a ballet, had several pen pals, mailed "just because" packages and cards to friends and family, raised a puppy, took leaps of faith, read (many) books in a foreign language, counted stars, wrote a letter to my member of Congress, amassed a serious collection of books and loved someone with all my heart.

{Photo credit: jillallyn}

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Joy Diet: Laughter

This week's Joy Diet menu item was laughter.  I will be honest and say that I did not get around to reading this chapter until Thursday night, which turns out to be exactly when I needed to see it.

I had a stressful day last Thursday.  So stressful that I felt like all I could muster the strength to do was crawl into bed with this book.  Beck writes, "The more stressful, dangerous, baffling, or unpleasant your situation, the more important it is to laugh at it."  I immediately thought, "Yeah right, Martha.  I am in no mood to laugh!  I just want to be annoyed and sad".  I closed the book and went to bed.

The next day I had to leave work to go take my Spanish language exit exam for graduate school, which you have to do well on to get your degree.  On the way there, the sky opened up and it rained sideways, soaking me even with an umbrella.  I was drenched.  I thought I didn't do so well on the test, which was devastating (I have been studying Spanish for almost 15 years now).  I fumed my whole way back to the office, my sneakers making squishing noises the entire time.  Then, when I got back and realized how silly the entire thing was and how little the entire past two days mean in the grand scheme of things,  I began to laugh.  And laugh some more.  It was nearly uncontrollable.  That night, I curled up with some tea and watched "The Wedding Crashers" in my pajamas.  The dark clouds, both outside and in my head, started to go away.  Then I spent the weekend watching episodes of "Glee", which I loved.  It's hysterical.  I'm starting to feel back to normal.

Okay, fine, Martha, so you were right.

"Living your right life is a process that needs the smoothing and bonding effects of laughter."

{Photo credit: sarniebill1}

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Blissful Weekend

I had one of the best weekends I have had in a long while.  I feel relaxed and rejuvenated and like I might just be able to handle the end of the semester/year at work without a meltdown.  

The weekend included:

-A visit from my wonderful boyfriend.  We hadn't seen each other in nearly a month.  It was great to have him here for a few days.

-Two homemade dinners: spinach and mushroom quiche/sweet potatoes/salad and salmon/veggies/corn bread.  And rice krispie treats!

-Watching "Bridget Jones' Diary" while snuggling  (Can you tell that my movie pick won out?!)

-A walk through Georgetown

-Lush bath bombs.  I stocked up for winter!  I was sad to hear that they are discontinuing the Hot Milk bubble bar.  But I did get plenty of Creamy Candy and Ma Bar bubble bars, as well as some Butterball and Big Blue bath bombs.  

-Partner yoga workshop.  I felt so relaxed after it!  It's great that Jesse likes yoga as much as I do and that we are able to connect in that way.  I also picked up Kimberly Wilson's new yoga CD, Tranquility to Go.  Can't wait to try it out!

-Lots of episodes of "The Office".  I swear we could sit and watch it all day long and not get tired of it.

I'm such a lucky girl.  

{Photo credit: Linds:-)}

Friday, November 6, 2009

Words to Grow By.

"The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places."

~Ernest Hemingway

{Photo credit: vial3tt3r}

The Joy Diet: Play

Sometimes things happen that just can't be coincidence.  This week, several of those happened.  One was reading this chapter in the exact moment that I needed it.

In the chapter on play, Beck first asks us to consider what your real career is.  She says that once you know this, you can keep adding more and more play in your life.  Considering I've spent the past three weeks or so utterly freaking out about finding a career/passion/calling and putting it into practice, this was much needed.    Beck talks about September 11th and asks what you did that night--or any other major crisis during which there was clearly a before and an after for you.  For me, that's been reading and writing, as well as doing yoga.  

She asks: When life is over, how do you want the world to be different-in large ways or small-because you have lived?  What experiences must you have to feel you've lived a completely satisfying life?

To be honest, I haven't gotten through much of the rest of the chapter because I've been writing, writing, writing on just those two questions alone.  They are so simple and yet they seem to have opened the flood gates for me.  I can't wait to see where they will take me.

To read more about the Next Chapter Book Club, go here.

{Photo credit: gaspi*yourguide}

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Margaret Atwood and The Year of the Flood Project

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending a night with Margaret Atwood that was held at the George Washington University's Lisner auditorium.  

The event was part of the The Year of the Flood Project to coincide with the release of her latest book.  The program included readings and acting, as well as some of the writing set to music.  Each event uses local talent.  They are given the readings and the music and told to interpret it in any way that they choose.  At the end, Atwood answered audience questions and signed copies of her books.  She said she isn't sure what type of material she will write next, discussed the importance of being aware of what we are doing to the environment and made a lot of jokes about being from Canada.  You can read Atwood's review of the event that she posted on her blog here.

The event itself was really interesting.  The actors and musicians (students and professors from GW) did a wonderful job with interpreting the pieces.  Atwood herself is a small, snarky, funny, inspiring and interesting woman.  I have waited over ten years to get the chance to hear her read and meet her.  

Atwood was on my short list of people I need to meet before I die.  (Now that I've knocked off Adam Duritz from the Counting Crows, Elie Wiesel and Atwood, I just need to track down Salman Rushdie.)  I left the event feeling inspired, thankful and really wanting to get back in touch with the English major/writing/editing side of myself that I have let go in recent years.  

Monday, November 2, 2009

Happy November!

I can't believe it is already November!  October seemed to have flown by.  This month is incredibly busy for me.  It will include:  Writing four papers, putting together and giving a presentation, a Spanish language proficiency exam for my master's degree, my yearly performance evaluation at work, attending a few events and spending Thanksgiving in Maine with Jesse and his family.

My goals for this month include:

-Find time for me.  I want to get back to a regular yoga and gym routine, read at least a few things for fun, continue journaling and get enough sleep.

-Finish as much of the list above as possible before I leave for Maine.  I want to spend my time with Jesse and his family in as stress-free a manner as possible.

-Get as much accomplished at work as possible.

-Begin thinking about how I want to spend my winter break (no work or school from December 11 through January 4th!).

{Photo credit: lordog}

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The Joy Diet: Risk and Treats

I will be very honest and say that the week of risk did not go so well.  There were a lot of things going on in my life and, as someone who is already fairly risk-averse, I just could not add that on top of it.  I did, however, begin to map out some plans for risk-taking in the near future.

Last week, the week of treats, was much more fun.  The mere act of listing my treats brought a smile to my face during a very difficult seven days.  Here is my list:

-I love the taste of: mint, mashed potatoes, chocolate, pineapple and hot chai tea.

-I love the sight of: my boyfriend, the view of the Washington, DC skyline at night, this Marc Chagall painting, babies and the ocean.

-I love the feel of: great hugs, my baby blanket, fleece, bubble baths and love.

-I love the smell of: puppies, warm vanilla, campfires, matzo ball soup and clean air.

-I love the sound of: the Counting Crows, Deva Premal's Om Namo Bhagavate, laughter, gentle rain and silence.

Read more about The Joy Diet and the Next Chapter Book Club.

{Photo credit: cybriks}