Sunday Special, Vol. 1

When I was growing up, I hated Sundays. They always felt like a sad day to me. I've kept a jam-packed daily schedule at every age, and Sundays seemed slow and empty in comparison. While my parents, I'm sure, were enjoying a restful day off from driving us around to activities, I was bored and restless. Obviously I hadn't found out about brunch, yet, or the joys of having a free day to do what one wants.

As I became an adult, I promised myself not to do laundry or grocery shop on the weekends. When I worked normal Monday through Friday jobs, I never wanted to waste a full day of freedom folding my clothes or waiting in line at the store (of course, I don't have anyone to take care of besides me, and I'm sure that would certainly change all routines!). Sundays would be for adventuring, yoga, seeing friends, or any special activity that a weekday simply would not allow. 

I've created more mindful rituals recently (but still brunch!), even though I haven't slowed down much and sometimes Sunday isn't a free day for me at all now. I'd love to share a new one with you...

Weekly Check-In

I love to read, and I often read life tip books with the hopes of someday becoming a successful person. In High Performance Habits, I picked up a weekly check-in routine that seems to be a nice way to reflect on the past week and prepare for the next. I hope to share it here with you every Sunday, and I'd love to hear what's going well for you or what you're working on.

Each week, I've been reflecting on the following categories. I'll write a few notes on what was great that week or what could be better for the next. Each category receives a +  or -, and then the week gets an X out of 10. The overall scores don't mean much, but have been an interesting way to see what's building me up or bringing me down. 

Health

I was teaching so much this week that my personal practice and workout routine took a backseat. Plus, driving all over and meeting up with friends meant eating out a lot. I spent Sunday morning getting back to my running and gym habits which I plan to continue into the week.  (-)

Family

This one can be tricky since I live so far away from everyone, but I talked to my mom, dad, sister, and grandma on the phone so I give it a plus. (+)

Friends

This week, I met up with some long lost high school friends at the beach for a day and had a blast hearing their stories and reconnecting with them. Over the weekend another friend from Austin came to visit and we got to catch up and dance in a canyon-- what a treat! (+)

Intimate Relationships

I'll keep this one private since it sometimes involves being vulnerable or putting myself out there to strangers from the internet. 

Mission/Work

This week I finally felt like a real yoga teacher in LA! I taught 9 classes, which is probably half the number that I should be teaching, but it was reassuring to come out of teacher training with a pretty full schedule. On Saturday, I started the next level toward my advanced teacher training certification, and it all feels like the right path. (+)

Finances

This one usually gets a minus due to the whole needing to teach more classes thing... but now that the full-time training is complete, I've been applying to nearby studios and working on building toward a full schedule. (-)

Adventure

I'm still an LA tourist, so this week marked a bunch of milestones. I rode the rollercoaster at Santa Monica Pier for the first time (in the front row, and they sent us around TWICE!), went to Venice Beach for the first time since moving here, and spent a night in Topanga Canyon. Adventures all around. (+)

Hobby

My heart has been calling for me to learn to play the piano, so I bought a keyboard and practiced (ie. tried to learn Drake songs from watching YouTube videos) about 4 times. For next week, I ordered a book on how to actually play, so I'll have something more foundational to practice. (+)

Spirituality

This has been a positive for me even before teacher training. Last year, after going on a yoga retreat in Thailand, I started to develop a consistent meditation practice. I'm happy to say that I've stuck to it nearly every morning since, and have seen many benefits in my life. (+)

Emotion

All the yoga learning and teaching, friend visits, and new explorations had me in a happy state of mind. I'm trying to stay focused on the special stuff in the present without worrying too much about what's to come. (+)

 YogaWorks Teacher Training

 

I hope you enjoyed this little snapshot of life at the moment! I'd love to keep these going, at least until the end of the year.

Recap: YogaWorks 200-Hour Teacher Training

I talked to my grandma on the phone the other day, and she said she was happy to hear that so many things are going well in this little life of mine. She also said that she wishes I would go out to more places to meet single guys, because she enjoys having a boyfriend since he waters her plants regularly. Would be nice. Luckily, I share plants with one of my roommates who helps out with the twice daily watering that Southern California necessitates. Plus, I am of the belief that there is much to be gained from tending to one's own garden.

 YogaWorks teacher training

The number one reason things have been going so well is because last week I graduated from YogaWorks 200-hour Teacher Training! I was incredibly pleased with the program and ended up learning a ton of new information, even though it was my second time around doing a 200-hour certification. I found that the two programs that I've completed balanced each other perfectly-- the YogaWorks program was very anatomical and alignment-based while my training in 2016 with Dharma Yoga in Austin focused heavily on spirituality and weaving a themed flow into classes. It was a nice harmony to receive two different perspectives on teaching. 

The month went by so quickly, although I experienced various waves of emotions over the 4 weeks. Some days I was feeling tremendously lucky to be doing something I love all day; other days I was so worn out in my body from hours of yoga practice and exhausted in my brain from hours of studying. I couldn't believe it when the last days arrived. It was bittersweet to leave our group after spending so much time together during the month of intensive learning and yoga. But I'm happy that a few of us will be continuing onto the 300-hour program, starting this weekend.

I packed up my Santa Monica sublet and headed back to the trendy streets of East LA. Although it was hard to tear myself away from the beach scene, I'm excited to be settled back into my sweaty non-air conditioned room that's starting to feel more and more like a home.

Spilling (even more) Secrets

I suppose I left you hanging a bit after the last secret-revealing post. But the secret was that I left my job! Of course, it's only natural that you would wonder what's happened since... 

After about a month of working there and already contemplating leaving, I asked for a sign that would tell me what to do. Later that week, I crashed my car. And I'm not attempting to take responsibility off of myself for being an inattentive driver, but that was a pretty big sign to me!

So I put in 3 weeks notice and booked a long trip home to capitalize on the newfound time off. I didn't know what to do. The jumping is always the scariest part. 

 Yoga mat

Since then, some happenings have come together. I applied for and received a scholarship to do another 200-hour yoga teacher training-- the same level that I have now, but this one is certified by the Yoga Alliance which is a whole important or maybe not-so-important deal. Then in August I'll start a 300-hour advanced teacher training which is a deeper level for yoga teaching professionals who want to know most, if not all, of the knowledge. 

For the month of July, I've been subletting a room in Santa Monica, riding my bike to the beach, and basically making all of my California dreams come true. Add to that studying yoga 40 hours a week and it is feeling pretty alright to me.

 YogaWorks Teacher Training

No matter how twisted your path has become or how fearful you might be to switch directions, remember that it's never too late to change your mind. That just might be what this is all about anyway: 

"A further meaning to the word yoga is 'to attain what was previously unattainable.' The starting point for this thought is that there is something that we are today unable to do; when we find the means for bringing that desire into action, that step is yoga. In fact, every change is yoga."

Spilling Secrets

Last weekend, my dad was off in Maryland visiting family and checking out the devastating flood damage in a little city that I love so much. During his catching up with one of our family members who happens to be an avid follower of this blog, it was mentioned that I haven't been posting as much recently. I suppose that's because I was jet-setting a bit and trying to make the most of time with friends and family. But I suppose it's also because I have a secret..

I find that it's more difficult to write here during times of uncertainty. It's easier for me to tell you about travels, tasty snacks, and the best hiking trails than to talk about the scattered pieces of real life and my silent search for the next steps. But there are a lot of other places where you could find elephant photos and hiking trails, so you're probably not here for the fluff. I like that about you.

 Wolven Threads at Joshua Tree

Back in May, after a few indecisive weeks and a very decisive car accident, I decided to end my term of service with AmeriCorps. I felt guilty and unsure. I didn't want to be quitter, but I knew that the job was not what I expected and was not matching up to the path I wanted my life to take. It seemed like the work experience was based on the dreams of a previous version of me, who had a particular idea of what "work" has to mean, but no longer fit with my goals and vision. On top of that, I'm sure it comes as no surprise that it's a bit challenging to pluck a traveling yogi off the mat and stick them in a fluorescent office with a 90 minute commute.

Once I made the decision, other factors started to fall into place. My manager and coworkers were all very supportive, making it even harder to leave. Space opened up for me to visit home and reconnect with my roots. And some new summer developments have come together that I will tell you about soon!

I'm trying to feel more confident in doing what I know is right for me, without worrying about how it might be perceived. I never want to stop helping people and serving my community, I just want to do it through work that feels purposeful to me. Thank you for being here and keeping me honest.

Not-So-Dirty New Jersey

It's nice there! And there aren't many better spots to watch fireworks than a rooftop deck with 360 degree views. I've tried Fourth of July in other areas, but this one seems to be the right choice.

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It isn't too bad for sunset scoping, either.

I enjoyed a week at the beach with my mom. It was full of celebrations, sun, and swimming, with a couple of friendly visitors dropping by. I'm so glad I had the time to visit and that this place can be a special part of each summer.

 LBI New Jersey

America's Favorite Playground

Are you looking for a place where you can lose a lot of your money and where waitstaff will assume your uncle is your husband? Well, don't waste another minute, and get your not-too-fancy self down to Atlantic City.

 Atlantic City boardwalk

It's important to see your faraway family members whenever you can, even if it's for a one-day meet up in a strange state, so when Uncle Rick and I learned that we would both be in New Jersey at the same time, we quickly made plans to spend time together. I let slip that I had never been to Atlantic City, so he insisted that we drive down together and check it out. I insisted that we should not, because it would be the 3rd of July with possibly scary levels of beach traffic. But eventually he won me over, mostly due to my curiosity and extremely open schedule. 

 Atlantic City pier

And it was.. an experience! Some of the casinos were a little empty for a holiday week, but there was much gambling to be had and, of course, the beach. So we enjoyed a day of strolling and sightseeing while catching up. I can't say that gambling is a number one favorite activity of mine, but it was fun to do something new to check off the list.

High Thrills & Hot Dogs

For someone who spent the first 18 years of their life living within 90 minutes of New York City, there are many traditional New York activities that, until recently, I had never done. I'd never (still have never) been to the Empire State Building, I waited until I was 25 to visit the MoMA, and, before last weekend, I hadn't made the trek out to Coney Island.

 Coney Island beach

Well, well. Times have changed, and I'm glad they did because my friend Liz and I spent a whole day riding wild roller coasters, strolling the boardwalk, and eating our first Nathan's Famous dogs. We even ran into some friends at the end of the day, which if you ask me, is a sure sign of belonging in a place. I'm so grateful to loved ones who are always up for sharing their spaces and showing me a new side of this city.

Nice to see you again, NYC!

 Nathan's famous hot dog

Home on the Hudson

Sometimes, sadly, it takes going far, far away from a home to make you realize how big a part of you it is. When college time came, I couldn't wait to put some distance between myself and Poughkeepsie. In my search for a school, I allowed a radius of no less than 3 and a half hours outside of my hometown. If I had my wish, I'd end up in New Hampshire or, even farther, North Carolina. I didn't know about Austin yet, and wasn't quite so adventurous as to ponder the West Coast, but there could be nothing like a new state to prove my independence and maturity!

 Walkway over the Hudson

Then I got to Delaware where I cried and called my mom or my home friends every day, after walking across an unknown campus of unfamiliar faces. I even started a transfer application to Marist in a desperate moment. Between semesters, I came back for my car, so I could make the trip home whenever possible. Of course, with that ability and a little adjustment, I lost the necessity of going back to my parents' houses and slowly made my way further and further across the country.

 The Body Art Barn

I'm thankful for that tear-filled first semester, since it somehow enabled me to live with all sorts of strangers in all sorts of locations over the years. California's got the goods for now, but every time I come back to the Hudson Valley, I find that it holds a real seat for my soul.

During this visit, I got to spend time with family and friends, visit my new favorite yoga studio with the same favorite teacher, and delight in the green, rolling scenery that always reminds me there's no place like home.

 Millbrook Winery

Love New York

It's a rainy day at the beach, so I can finally tell you about all the bagels, ballgames, and ballpark-sized hot dogs I've been indulging in around the New York area. Since I'm partial to a life of leisure, I got to come home for an extended stay to visit my sister in her new Queens-Long Island apartment, my dad in Poughkeepsie, my mom in New Jersey, and many gracious friends along the way.

 Fort Totten Park

The first half of the trip started and ended in NYC and was supported by a few train rides along the Hudson plus dad's financial contributions to us attending the Yankee game. 

 Yankee stadium

And there was an epic quest for ice cream that, thankfully, ended with this:

 Grand Slam Shake

I miss sweet cacti and air that doesn't feel so much like a sticky swamp, but nowhere else smells like summer to me quite like it does around here. I hope you're making time in this sunny season for your favorite people and places.

Wishy-washy Wisdom

There was a time this year when I found myself offering advice to two different friends on two different days. One friend was fearful of taking a risk, and I told her something along the lines of, "Life is short, you should go for it!" Later in the same week, another friend worried about making a mistake, so I told her, "Life is long! You can always course correct!"

Hm... From these conflicting examples we can learn that if you're looking for advice, you should probably ask someone besides me!

Just kidding. Sort of. 

I wonder, who am I to be giving advice? Oftentimes I'm scared that this blog will just end up as a snapshot of my wavering career path, back and forth between finding a solution, and then abandoning that solution for a shift to something completely different. I surely don't have a lot of answers, but I certainly have lived out quite a few different scenarios!

So, I stand by my wishy-washy words of wisdom. Life IS short! It's too short to spend most of your time doing something you can't stand-- too short to sweep your dreams under the rug or put them off for years ahead. Then again, for most of us, life IS long, too. It's long enough to take risks and make mistakes. In retrospect, an event that feels like the "end of the world" can turn into a tiny blip in your rearview mirror.  Follow your gut, don't think TOO much, and trust the path that sings to your heart. Life is as short as it is long, in all the best ways.

In the Trees

Hi friends! There's a new moon on the horizon, and this week is delivering the excitement of renewed energy and possibilities. How could it not, when it started out like this? (For me, at least!)

 Joshua Tree camping

The weekend took me back to Joshua Tree National Park where I camped with a new friend and got to see one of my favorite bands in funky little Pioneertown

 Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

Yo La Tengo at Pappy & Harriet's

I have a picture of Georgia, the drummer, on my 2018 vision board and, while I will say that my intention was to play the drums like her, I will accept the universe's offering of getting to see her play the drums in person.

I can tell you that Pappy & Harriet's is a magical venue that is well-worth checking out, and if you happen to be doing so, why not stay at the Black Rock Canyon Campground in Joshua Tree?  It just might be the thing for you.

 Hi View Nature Trail Joshua Tree

Sweet & Spicy

This is not a recipe blog, and I haven't written much about food since the long lost days of this special personal project, BUT I made a new appetizer this weekend for my roommate's Memorial Day BBQ and many, many friends asked for the recipe.

It's Sweet and Spicy Roasted Cauliflower from How Sweet Eats, and it was pretty easy and extremely tasty. You should probably head over there to make it asap and, while you're at it, make all her other stuff, too!

Family Fun

Do you know how it feels to decide exactly what you want from a very young age, and then work hard every day throughout your life in pursuit of that goal? Me neither!

But ya know who does? My sister! Last weekend our family traveled to Boston to celebrate her success in achieving her lifelong dream of becoming a veterinarian.

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We enjoyed brunches and blueberry beer, and I almost fell asleep post-red eye at the Red Sox game. It was a celebration of dedication, persistence, and family in the wonder of New England spring.

Getting Grounded

Last week I crashed my car in a bad way which could have gotten me hurt or killed. I'm glad I didn't die, because I like living quite a bit! The accident was all my fault, so I'm glad I didn't hurt or kill anyone else, because I like other people quite a bit, too!

 Car crash

Things around me have been changing a lot lately, and since I've gotten settled into life in LA, I've been working my 3-4 jobs, most days being out of the house from 8am to 8 or 9pm. I always say that I love being busy, and it seems like I have an endless supply of energy that keeps me on the go. I'm not sharing my daily habits because they are unusual, but because I think a lot of us are running around, living to our limits, and sometimes it takes a big wake up call to come back to the place where our bodies and minds are in balance.

It feels like I'm being called to slow down and make some further changes, so stay tuned. In the meantime, I'll be taking it easy on the roads and making sure to get my feet in contact with solid ground more than once in a while.

Happy Mother's Day

Moms! They're mostly the best, simply for growing you inside of them for almost a whole year and then usually taking it even further to always be there to answer your frantic string of phone calls when you need something, in spite of the times when you might have ignored all their text messages, phone calls, and voicemails when you didn't need anything. They are putting up with a lot every day!

Mine is the type who will spontaneously come to Delaware, Texas, or California whenever you ask her to, with about two weeks notice or less. She's often the "Why not?" when everyone else around me has said "No" and the "Get both!" when two items at the store are asking me to choose just one. She's a woman who made it so that I never wondered what, as a female, I would be able to do. Jobs, sports, solo travels, equal paychecks, using my voice to speak my mind-- there has never been a doubt that the whole world of possibility is open to me. 

We may not always see eye to eye on things like having health insurance or not needing a cosigner for a housing lease at age 30, but I love her and can't imagine a life without such a fierce lady to guide the way.

 Barney's Beanery Bus

Guess what? It's gonna be...

Just kidding, y'all. It's already May. But I did go to see Justin Timberlake on April 30th and, if you are asking me, he missed the chance to turn himself on stage into a living meme.

Of course, the show was still rhythmic and smooth, and I got to dance to "Cry Me a River" next to my mom which was everything I'd hoped it would be and more.

My aunt and cousin flew down from Portland with a group of their family friends, and we spent a little gals' weekend exploring Pasadena. Pasadena is a good place to go if you like nice things and if you like pretending you live in a quaint small city where you can walk places instead of in one of the most sprawling urban metropolises in the world.

We went to Universal Studios on Saturday, which was how you would expect Universal Studios to be on a Saturday, but we really enjoyed ourselves. It turns out that long lines are a great time for catching up with friends and fam. One of the gift shop employees gave us speed passes for the Harry Potter castle ride which really sent our day at the park above and beyond. Thank you gift shop man! It was so nice to have a whole weekend to relax and reconnect with family and new friends.

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Right Places, Right Times

Sometimes circumstances come together in such a way that it makes it impossible for you to doubt any of the steps you've taken to get to the point upon which you're standing in that exact moment. That's how I felt a couple weeks ago when I drove up into the mountains of Malibu for an Earth Day yoga weekend with my friend/teacher/mentor/inspirational goddess, La Mer.

 Malibu Mountains

I met Meredith three years ago in Austin through a web of mutual friends and wild women who were drawn to yoga and healing. My friend Beth had asked if I would like to come to a ladies' day of yoga, meditation, and honoring the divine feminine. I was practicing physical yoga regularly; I hadn't gotten into teaching or much of the spiritual side yet, but, yes, of course I would like to participate in a day of ritual practice with flowy women like me. We went to Lauren's house, which was still under construction at the time, but already filling up with cozy magic (and bulldogs). We spent the day moving mindfully, exploring our inner selves, and listening to the rhythm of the rain on the roof. It was one of my first experiences with any type of yoga retreat, sound baths, energy healing, and bringing women together to talk about our femininity in a spiritually attuned way.

 sound bath altar

Mer came back to Austin seasonally over the next few years. I got a taste of Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter practices and rituals to follow the cycle of a year. I experienced different cycles within myself, too. On that first rainy afternoon in the attic, I asked for guidance growing up. I wanted to step into my role as a woman, but still maintain the childish playfulness that feels like a big part of who I am. In the following sessions, I alternated between feeling enchanted, collapsing into tears about loss and uncertainty, and slowly gaining the confidence to share my voice. I became a teacher and began attempting (I'm still attempting...) to create the safe, open spaces for growth that Mer and all my teachers have provided for me.

In April, Lauren sent out her usual invite that Mer would be coming back to Austin for a Spring women's workshop. I replied that I was disappointed to miss this round, but I knew that Mer lived in LA so I could find her at one of her weekly classes. To my delight, Mer wrote back to me that she would be offering her first retreat in nearby Malibu later that month. I immediately signed up.

 Malibu Airbnb

The weekend started with a crawl up into the mountains of Malibu-- I hadn't even known you could go up there!-- to a hillside chateau with the most gorgeous view. I tried not to think of leaving on Sunday and imagined that it would be my home for now and forever. That night, we claimed the space and set our intentions for the weekend. We drew from a deck of goddess cards. I was lead to choose the Mother of Seas, a symbol that offered to help me trust my innate knowledge and claim my role as a healer. I was surprised that Mer remembered my request from our session years ago. I had knelt in the attic in Texas asking to grow up while staying in touch with my inner child, and now in California, in full view of the sea, I drew the mother, a nurturing guide with the wisdom to protect and to teach.

 Yoga deck

We spent the rest of the weekend exploring deeper meditation practices and bowing in reverence to our Mother Earth. The six of us formed an intimate group. We were all different-- single ladies charting their paths, mothers reclaiming their bodies, divorcees finding their way back to themselves-- and we were all the same-- lovers of the planet we inhabit and women on a mission to hear our voices ring pure in the world. I had something to learn from all these ladies and the experiences they brought to our altar. I was especially grateful to meet an assortment of ages; most of us were in our 20's-30's, but one older yogini shared the irreplaceable wisdom and humor of her years.

 Malibu sunset

We hiked around the property, sang and danced harmoniously (debatable) with hand-painted squash shakers, and capped off each evening with a restful meditation to the sounds of crystal bowls. Our weekend culminated on Sunday when we kayaked out to sea. I'd never been ocean kayaking before, and I am pretty remedial with still-water kayaking, so getting the boat out past the break proved challenging for me. We toppled over a few times and scratched up our legs a bit, but eventually I was able to push our boat onto a more stable surface and flounder aboard. It was such a relief to glide gracefully over the the waves. I worried about making it back to shore, but, when the time was right, the sea guided us gently back in.

What a weekend. I am learning to trust the flow within me and all around me. I know that with all these strong women to guide and support me, I'll always end up in the right place.

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Missed Connections

While all the con's of this social media stuff have been put on blast recently, I'm here today to say that it's not so bad. Sometimes. Maybe. I'm not exactly sure. But, in spite of being highly addicting, stupidly distracting, and unrelenting in its ability to show that just about everyone can find someone to marry them and have babies with them besides me, it has some redeeming qualities.

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For instance, here in LA I've gotten to have some lunches or dinners or other fun activities with long-lost friends from my home in Poughkeepsie, NY, my college home in Delaware, and I already told you about IBM. The internet has introduced me to friends of friends and led me deeper into connections with acquaintances. It certainly has a way of making the earth feel smaller and the places you move more manageable, for better or for worse.

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It's been cool to catch up with close friends from the past, to find out what has changed and what's remained the same. Somehow being with them here makes me feel more rooted and proud of the supportive community where I come from.

So, I guess it's all ok, as long as we remember to use it for connection instead of comparison, and to turn it off, look up, and be in the light of day.

And, of course, not to act like we didn't already know when we find out that our souls are being sold to the technology capitalist overlords.

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