Penguin Parade

I hadn’t quite gotten my fill of animal sightings, even after our Sydney zoo tour featuring the koala breakfast, so I rallied Mike for another one-day bus tour, and we took a voyage down to Phillip Island to see the parade of penguins. Every night (I think) at this point about 2 hours from Melbourne, a number of tiny penguins waddle in from the sea and make their way up to their wooden nest boxes on the coast to sleep or feed their kids or mate (very noisy) or whatever else penguins do in their nests. I was told there would be hundreds of penguins to view, so it sounded like a sight worth seeing. Count us in.

But first, we needed to find more kangaroos, so we were taken to a stop at an animal sanctuary where they had koalas, emus, and a dingo for viewing and a bunch of kangaroos for feeding.

sleeping koala
emu

The kangaroos were very relaxed and open to being fed, but the whole feeding event really was a testament to the ridiculousness of human behavior when new animals are present. Everyone was crowding, poking, and generally bothering the very calm kangaroos, so it was a little disheartening.

Maru animal sanctuary

After the sanctuary, we visited the beach and ordered iced coffee, which is actually either coffee with ice cream or with a whole bunch of sugar. I should’ve just gotten a Golden Gaytime like everyone else was doing.

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We stayed in our habit of not listening to the time we were supposed to be back on the bus and then arriving to find we were the last ones on the bus. Then it was time for a stop at a place called the Nobbies, which held excellent seascape views and the Seal Rocks where, unfortunately, the seals are too far away for the naked eye to see.

The Nobbies

Finally, onto the much awaited final destination. We arrived at the penguin march around 7 and entertained ourselves with a light dinner and sunset vistas while waiting for the penguin migration.

Phillip Island

They started coming in around eight o’clock and, I must say, there were far fewer penguins than we were expecting. Like, we saw 8 when we were expecting hundreds. Still cool to see I suppose, but also a bit anticlimactic after all the hype of waiting. However, when we turned around to walk back to the van, we did see at least tens, if not hundreds of the tiny birds. The trip was saved, either by the viewing of the penguins or by the hot chocolate that was waiting for us when we got back.

Fairy Floss

During the trip, I overhead someone say that a visitor to Australia will take one of two sides: you’ll either decide that you’re a Sydney person or a Melbourne person. I had heard cool things about the art, music, and culture coming out of Melbourne, so Mike and I decided to make a weekend out of it and flew on the budget Tiger airline to check it out. I’ve also heard that Sydney is more like the west coast of the US and Melbourne is more like the NYC area. So, you can probably figure out which one I prefer as I sit here writing this from my sunny SoCal apartment with lots of grass in the backyard.

Melbourne botanical gardens

I didn’t dislike Melbourne at all, I was just surprised to find it so similar to big cities that I’ve seen a lot of before. Hip bars, delicious restaurants, but overall not much newness. Well, there was one new thing… Melbourne is well-known for its coffee, and we were promised some of the best cups of coffee in the world. However, I hadn’t been that huge of a fan of Australian coffee at that point. I don’t like to add cream, so I found the long and short blacks all too bitter and the lattes much too milky (even though they sometimes came with adorable koala designs!) I (and Mike, too) missed the good old fashioned drip, which, while it might not be the fanciest or highest quality, felt familiarly like a satisfying cup of home.

Melbourne coffee

On our first day in Melbourne, we were off to try this famed coffee, but I decided to mix it up and sample something new based some intriguing Yelp reviews. Enter, fairy floss. What was this? It looked like a cloud in a cup and appeared to be more about novelty than actual taste. I can be into that, especially in the midst of an impromptu vacation down under. I ordered what looked like (and was like) plain cotton candy and selected the matcha to pour over top. There was also a hot chocolate option, but when I tried to order a coffee version, the waitress looked at me like I was crazy (which was a lot coming from someone who seemed like they had inserted an IV drip of caffeine for her entire shift), suggested the matcha, then brought me an extra shot of espresso just in case I wanted to try it.

Matcha fairy floss

The pouring experience was quite a treat, and it was the best matcha I’ve ever had. No joke! Our caffeine choices gave us the energy to continue on explorations of the botanical gardens, figure out the public transportation system (some free, some not free, some trolleys), and eat the most incredible Italian dinner from this unbelievable restaurant, which you should go to and tell me seriously, how is it all vegan??

While I might label myself a Sydney person, I enjoyed the rest of our stay in Melbourne, playing hipster Guess Who?, drinking craft beers, and checking out the local music scene. I would certainly go back for more of any of what Australia has to offer.

Basking in the Blue Mountains

Towards the end of my time in Sydney, I was able to make a little excursion to a place I had heard a lot of wonderful things about—the Blue Mountains and the Three Sisters rock formation. I joined a bus tour, though I found out later it would’ve been just as easy to take the train, but I was happy to have company and a guide. We started the day with a lovely waterfall hike, where we saw some beautiful nature and some not-so-beautiful homes of the famed Australian spiders that will all quickly kill you.

Blue Mountains
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Then it was off to scope out the breathtaking landscapes around the Three Sisters. There wasn’t much hiking here, just a hop off the bus and take pictures sort of situation, but the views were certainly worth the trip.

Three Sisters

Afterwards, we went off to search for kangaroos IN THE WILD!!! And we were handsomely rewarded with three sightings. Two of them were moms carrying joeys in their pouches! The babies were actually pretty big, and I’m still not sure how they fit into the pouches. I also learned during this trip that kangaroos have two uteruses and can be perpetually pregnant. Yeesh.

Kangaroos

The day ended with a stop at a swimming hole, which was really nice, but would have been even nicer had I known that “wet clothes” is Australian for bring your bathing suit. Whoops!

Steps through Sydney

After our week in Bondi, I was back on my own to wheel my giant suitcase through the buses, trains, and city streets until finding my way to Redfern to stay with Mike, one of my bff’s from college. Redfern appears to be the Brooklyn of Sydney; it’s hip, featuring cute parks and coffee shops, and less crowded than the central business district. Mike has a very sweet and very adult real-life apartment there, and he was gracious enough to accommodate me on the couch-bed for the week.

Redfern, Sydney

Mike was working during the days, so I had some time to explore more of actual Sydney, which I hadn’t seen much of yet since I’d spent most of the first weeks in Manly and Bondi. I walked and walked, and sometimes took the metro. I visited the Royal Botanical Gardens and sought out fancy donuts that my friend had seen on Instagram.

Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney
Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney

I did more yoga (at an amazing studio) and afterwards indulged in the famed Australian meat pies (mine was chicken; it was just okay).

Yoga Moves Sydney
Australian meat pie

When Mike got out of work, we visited pubs and found fish & chips, among other foods. I was grateful to have some extra time to explore Sydney, and glad that my visit took me to three very different parts of the city so I could get a feel for it all.

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Best of Bondi

Much to our dismay, our coveted beach week in Bondi, which started out looking like this:

Bondi Beach

Ended up, by the third day, and for the rest of our time, looking like this:

Bondi Beach

Oh no!

We ventured out on a scattered showers day for our Bondi to Coogee trek, but most mornings we were resigned to stay inside.

Bondi to Coogee walk

Although we had to content ourselves with the yoga and the sampling of Bondi’s outstanding places to eat and drink, we were able to make the most of it. For heaven’s sake, The Nine even made me this koala latte while I worked inside on a stormy day:

Koala latte The nine

Some of our other favorites were:

  • Bad Mama: We stumbled in here on a night when we were planning to go into Sydney, but the rain kept us home. We hadn’t made a reservation and Bondi restaurants can get crowded, so we weren’t expecting too much when this cocktail bar had open tables and seated us right away. We weren’t even sure they served food. How wrong we were! Everything was mind-blowing and we would happily come back for more.

  • Bangkok Bites: Incredible Thai food! Super crowded, but super excellent and fast service!

  • Bondi’s Best: Yummy seafood. We tried to come here without a reservation and ended up having to make one for later in the week.

  • BondiTony’s: The BEST burgers! Grass-fed, organic stuff, craft beers, healthy-ish options, and vegan milkshakes. We came here twice during our stay.

  • Fonda: Our first stop after the first day of practice. Of course you should drink multiple margaritas and much Mexican food after three hours of yoga, who’s to say you shouldn’t?

I was lucky on my final morning at the beach, when my mates had departed, that the sun finally came our for a few AM hours and I go to do Yoga by the Sea. It was a much appreciated way to wrap up a rainy week.

Yoga by the Sea

Koala Brekkie

Just to confirm that Australia is every bit as amazing as you’ve always imagined it to be, here are some photos of our brekkie with at the zoo with the koalas.

Koalas

Yup, they do call it brekkie in the Aussie way of shortening everything to make it sound 100 times cuter and more fun.

Tasmanian Devil

We saw all of the Big 5 (kangaroos, a crocodile, wombats, platypus, and the aforementioned koalas).

Wallaby
Koala selfie

The Anti-Plan

Usually, when I go on a trip, I’m at the forefront of the planning process. I want to see and do everything, so I fill up every second of the day with activities and places to go. I love being able to experience all that a city has to offer, and I don’t want to waste any time.

Because this trip to Australia was a recent surprise, I didn’t take many of the usual steps in scheduling out an itinerary for every day. I made sure I had places to stay and friends to visit, and there was the yoga training, but beyond that, I left the schedule pretty open. Much to my delight, the results of the non-plan have been incredibly positive so far!

On my second day here, I decided to walk down to the beach while Amanda was at work. As I strolled along the sand, I looked over to my left and noticed a tall, sporty blonde woman stretching about 20 feet away. “Is that Kerri Walsh??” I asked myself. I creepily walked a little closer and then noticed the nets and setup for an obvious volleyball tournament that was going on behind her. Pretty certain it had to be her, I circled around to the top sidewalk to find out which teams were playing in the tournament. I perched on the wall and checked the schedule on my phone. It was her! And the US team would be playing next on the court that I was now sitting on the wall right above! I played volleyball for about 15 years, and I definitely didn’t think I would ever have a front row seat to watch the USA women’s team play, so this was a Pretty Big Deal. I settled in to watch the match, and they won! It was definitely a point for leaving a day unplanned, since I wouldn’t have been wandering around the beach if I’d scheduled a snorkeling appointment or a tour.

USA Womens Volleyball

Lucky for me, the ladies I was traveling with in week two did have a plan, and I was able to join in for some key experiences. On one of our first nights in Bondi Beach, we went to a show at the Sydney Opera House. I hadn’t even thought it would be possible for a normal person like me to go to a concert inside the building I’ve seen in so many images from afar! It was definitely a once in a lifetime experience (or many times in a lifetime when I sell all my belongings and move down under) that we had to seize, and if you’re ever coming here, I recommend checking the schedule because you may find something you like.

Sydney Opera House night
Sydney Opera House inside

And finally, a top reason I’m glad I opened my planning palms and left my vacation fate in the hands of others on this trip was the KOALA BREAKFAST! Yes, you read that correctly, and in Sydney at the zoo, you can eat breakfast on a patio in full view of about 6 koalas. After you finish your eggs and Vegemite toast and weak instant coffee, you may enter the koala enclosure and have many many pictures of yourself taken with koalas. And the staff members are actually very patient and don’t even rush you through the whole koala photography experience. And the koalas are sleepy, so they don’t seem to care what you’re doing either way. What a treat!

Koala

So I’m here this month supporting the non-planning process. When you’re booking your next adventure, consider leaving some time open to see what kind of magic takes hold.

Manly to Bondi

I’ve gotten used to managing my way up and down public transportation stairs wielding my backpack and giant suitcase, that’s for sure. After Amanda and I finished doing yoga on grassy hilltops and taking coastal walks to swimming holes, it was time to trek to Bondi Beach for the yoga workshop.

On a Monday morning, I took my favorite and the most exciting form of Australian city transport, the ferry! Like, this is the view that people are getting when they take their regular commute to their regular jobs (or wherever else they happen to be going that day):

Sydney Opera House

Wow!

The ferry brought me to the train, which brought me to the bus, which brought me to Bondi Beach where I would meet Colleen, Katie, and Laura and where we would spend the seven days.

Bondi Beach



Mysore Practice: Day Three

We're three days deep into Ashtanga yoga training. I still have mostly no idea what I'm doing, but I've managed to memorize the primary series up to Bhuja Pidasana, which is the one where you bend over, put your hands on the ground, shimmy your thighs way up high on your shoulders, then sit your butt on your triceps and cross your feet in front of you. Are you getting the picture? Intermittently, I stop to peek around the room just to see what everyone else is up to and make sure I'm keeping good track of time. I see legs folded into lotus posture, guys doing backwards somersaults, and women rocking themselves around the mat in a shape that looks like somewhere between a pretzel and a long-legged turtle that got turned on its back. What nonsense have I been wasting my time with for the past ten years?

Ganesha

If yoga is a metaphor for life, I am thankful for my ability to keep going when the view of progress is clouded and still laugh at the ridiculousness of it all. My friends who told me about this training share stories from their Mysore classes, which are famous for not using blocks or other props. “Your suffering is a prop!” one of their teachers screamed at them. “Don't flex your muscles,” cued our leader today, “Use the muscles to support the bones!!!” I'm hysterical and exhausted and she's teaching me to lift myself up on my hands and float my feet back, and I'm rolling my eyes at her because that is just not going to happen today.

It's all such a silly mind game. We feel the frustrations of not being able to unlock certain poses. We celebrate successes only to be knocked down by our areas of weakness. We eat burgers after class because we're not real dedicated Ashtangis so maybe that's why I'm not able to lift my hips/butt/feet into the air, then we rinse and repeat the next day. Something has kept us coming back. I see the beauty, too. I've been doing this practice for so long and it's never ceased to be amazingly interesting to me. I am grateful for the flow, the repetition, the finesse, and the way I've felt led to certain teachers or how a pose that I once found overwhelmingly challenging comes easily to me at the right time.

Yoga is “to attain what was previously unattainable”, says Desikachar, son of Krishnamacharya, in the book I'm reading at the moment. I hope that that's true, I think, as I look around at everyone folded flat in Paschimottanasana or with their legs tucked neatly behind their heads. But outside of this room and this training that I was, perhaps, not wholly prepared for, I know that it is. Yoga has carried me across many state lines, transformed me from an atheist (or very agnostic at best) to a spiritual believer, and convinced me to do many things I was previously very afraid of doing. I've laughed, cried, sweated, struggled, but have never given up on the mat. I'm still here.

Mysore Practice: Day One

How did I end up here? I'm wondering as we're doing the 100th jump back of this afternoon's class. I feel like a kindergartener in a fifth grade classroom. I also feel like I shouldn't have eaten so many french fries during the first few days of this trip. I look around the room, and it seems like everyone is able to hold themselves up with their hips off the ground in a cross-legged seat. I'm hot and humbled. My hips are firmly rooted on the mat.

Body Mind Life Bondi Beach

One of the main reasons I came to Sydney was to participate in an Ashtanga Mysore yoga intensive. It was an interesting choice considering I've hardly taken any Ashtanga classes in my ten year stint as a yogi. I've checked it out a few times, but never really got hooked or felt like I could figure out what I was doing enough to feel comfortable. I've recently become more curious and have been feeling like my usual practice could benefit from the consistency and discipline of the Ashtanga method.

If you're reading this saying, “What the heck is Mysore/Ashtanga and how is that different from any 'normal' yoga class?” I would say that Ashtanga yoga is a very traditional sequence of postures and the practice can be pretty intense. There are three series or levels of poses, so you always start and end with the same opening and closing sequence, but what you do in between depends on your level of ability. Mysore means that you're basically conducting your own solo practice in a community room, and the teacher will come around to offer one-on-one advice. Usually, you won't add variations or more difficult poses until you 've mastered the ones earlier in the series. The style of yoga that I practice is more varied, flowing, and (I think) forgiving. But it can be easier to develop bad alignment habits when you're not getting the same strict level of individualized attention. In Ashtanga, I'm learning that there can be a bit of an ego check when you realize you can't just fake it and slip through the cracks, even though, like in any yoga class, you're meant to be accountable only to yourself.

I was relieved to hear that the first day of class would be led by our teacher, Maty, the famed instructor I've heard so much about. That didn't make practicing any easier, but at least it wasn't so apparent that I don't know the correct order of the sequence. I've realized that by only attending classes with familiar teachers and in teaching my own classes, I've managed to avoid a lot of the poses that are hard for me or that I don't like. I realize this while I'm attempting to hold my leg out in front of me and, impossibly, trying to reach my forehead towards my shin. I try to find the silver lining in the struggle. A new experience with an amazing teacher! I'd better get some sleep so I can survive the rest of this thing.

Australia: First Impressions

Whenever I travel to a new country these days, there's a certain need to categorize it and figure it out based on other countries I've visited. I've been working to label Australia in this way. When we were walking at night, Amanda told me that she was trying to imagine the familiar with new eyes and see our walk the way I'd see it, so I tried to take a deeper look at the way I was absorbing it all.

Spit Bridge Australia

I'd always thought Australia would be so similar to California that it wouldn't make much of a difference to come here from LA. There would be tan laid-back people, beaches, and the same Pacific Ocean. Yes, the same one I'd been seeing for 15 straight hours on a plane— isn't that incredible?

It doesn't quite feel like I'm in a new country, but so far, Sydney isn't fitting into the bucket I'd set out for it. The air is different here. It looks like the west coast of the US, sort of, but the humidity reminds me more of an east coast beach town. The way I transported from the airport seemed like I was landing in Singapore, since the public transportation was so easy and efficient, and there's that European influence that can't be ignored.

I feel a little like I'm repeating a cycle of life. In October 2017, I flew to Singapore and then to Thailand for a yoga retreat (where I met Amanda). Now we're here together again, and I'll be participating in a yoga intensive next week. After that first adventure to this side of the world, I went on to teach yoga at a hotel in Nicaragua. This summer, I have plans to co-teach on a retreat to El Salvador. Same, same, but different.

What's the need to get a handle on a country anyway? Australia is Australia. It doesn't have to be broken down into bits of other places I've seen. It's the same way with people. As I get older, I think I can determine upon meeting someone what type of person they will be. I'd better stay away from that one because she's this way, or, ugh, why am I meeting another guy like him? I wonder if I can let my eyes be as new to this experience as they are. Can I take in a situation without judging it or predicting an ending just like one I've been through before?

Prawns Manly Wharf Bar

Amanda says she feels like a completely separate person than the girl who went on that first retreat. I can tell when I look at her life now. She's content in her job and lives in a beautiful, walkable town where she's dedicated to building a life of healing spiritual practices. It's been an incredible transformation, and I'm so happy for her! My own life looks different from the outside when compared with fall of 2017, but I still find myself repeating patterns and thought cycles from that time. There must be more that I have to learn here.

Long Flights

It's already tomorrow in Australia. And I'm here to confirm it for you! It's sunny and everyone's wearing shorts and sleeveless shirts or flip-flops and bathing suits that show their whole butts. It's a nice contrast from the cold and rainy “winter” we've been having in LA.

Spit Bridge

One of the things I most appreciate about myself is my ability to sleep for nine hours of a fifteen hour flight. Last night (nights?) I did just that. Our 10:15pm plane was delayed on the runway for two hours, almost unbeknownst to me. I kept falling asleep and waking up to find that we were still on the ground. I didn't even take Tylenol PM this time.

I made my groggy way through TSA pre-check to find that Shake Shack is located at Terminal 3 and I was, sadly, posted up in Terminal 2. Bummer. After an uneventful wait at the gate, I boarded into my window seat, blocked in by two guys who became unlikely yet fast friends. I'm shocked I was able to start my nap so soon with the amount of chatting they did for the first half of the trip.

The one in the middle seat was a teenager with a few diamond lip piercings and a very large vape pen. He introduced himself by reaching under all the seats to find the electrical outlet and asking the aisle guy if they could switch because he'd be getting up a lot to smoke the vape in the bathroom. To my surprise, the other, older guy agreed. Later on, the older guy saw that I was leaning my head uncomfortably forward and offered me his neck pillow. I turned it down because I don't think that's a thing to be shared, but I guess the now-middle-seat guy is a guy who's here to help in any way he can.

I didn't learn the teenager's full story, only that he was born in Virginia to an Australian couple, moved to Melbourne for his childhood, and spent the last five years roaming the US. The flight attendant keeps warning him that if she smells the vape, she will need to confiscate it. He assures his seat mate that it's much better than nicotine. He started smoking when he was fourteen, which couldn't have been long ago because he looks that age now.

I sleep on, catching bits and pieces of their conversation. The older guy has an accent that I think is Spanish. He used to run a freelance accounting business and sold it. Now, he's heading back to Australia to try to repair an old relationship.

During the last third of the flight, I wake up and decide to join their chatter since they've kindly saved a sandwich for me while I completely slept through all the meals. We've become bonded in our last row not-fully-reclining seats.

Manly Beach

Ok, now that we’ve caught up on all the Mexican and wintry romps, it’s time to talk about Australia. Wow! Has it been over here this whole time? Why haven’t we been visiting yearly or monthly or daily? Actually, why don’t we live here?? I haven’t found an answer to that question yet and will continue seeking until I can come up with one, but if I don’t, you might have to come visit me here in a couple of years.

I came to visit a couple of friends and to participate in an Ashtanga/Mysore intensive workshop (which is currently kicking my butt). My family is having trouble keeping track of me, and I am too, because I only decided to come on this trip about a month ago. But when your bff from college is going to be living in Sydney for the next two years, you might as well check the prices of flights. And when some other college comrades are already planning to visit in March to train with a renowned instructor with whom all of your current instructors have studied, you’d better sign up and buy the tickets.

That’s how I got here, at least.

acai bowl

I spent the first weekend in a town called Balgowlah with my friend Amanda who you might remember from our impromptu travels together in Thailand. She’s living her best life with a quick and beautiful coastal walk to the beach from her apartment. If this is the view on your lunch break and you get to swim in the sea every day, I say you’re doing a lot of things right.

Manly Wharf

It was a truly lovely way to get over the jet-lag that I really didn’t have because I am remarkably able to sleep for ten hours of a fifteen hour flight and to adapt to Australia which isn’t really a major achievement because if there’s anything that’s not perfect here, I haven’t come across it yet.

Yoga mats

Winter Wonderland

If you’re at a standstill wondering if you should go on a ski trip or be practical, stay home, work, and not go on the ski trip, I’m here to tell you that you should most definitely go on the ski trip. Even if you just got back from Mexico City and are leaving three days later for another continent, just go on the ski trip.

I was invited to go skiing with a group of friends last month, and I immediately wanted to go, because Mammoth, of course, and what a dream it was to be there last year. As the trip got closer, I started having doubts because 1.) all this travel means I haven’t really been working (ie. earning money) that much, and 2.) I was feeling wildly disorganized by the lack of time between trips. I couldn’t make up my mind about going, but I guessed that it had been made up for me since we’d already purchased lift tickets and booked the Airbnb.

June Mountain

Then, sort of miraculously, a * normal * person from Craigslist decided to sublet my room for the month. She came on the last day of February—she was the only one I showed the room to and mine was the only room she looked at, but we were both ready and it seemed like a good fit (and still does). Around the same time, I got an offer for a new freelance writing job to bring in a little side income while I flutter around teaching yoga for two hours a day. Two loads off my shoulders. Whew!

(I’m sure many of you who read this wonder how I can afford to do the things I do, and the answer is somewhere between my grandma giving us an early inheritance along with my being a bit reckless and very resourceful when opportunities for adventure present themselves.)

So all that could’ve fallen into place did, and the ski trip was happening. We drove the 5 hour trek up to the snowy mountains (not a problem for Suzie’s Suburu Impreza) , checked into the very 80’s ski condo, and sipped some cocktails, because, well, of course. There were four of us in the first car, waiting until later in the night when the rest of the group would arrive. Once the second car made it to the condo area, they got stuck at the bottom of the hill, and we had a bit of an exciting time putting chains on their tires (ie. me holding my phone flashlight while the guys did the work).

The first day of skiing was hampered by the biggest blizzard I’ve seen in a while, so many of the lifts were closed. We drank Irish coffees in the lodge and almost called it quits, but as we were about to pack it in, we found an open chair with great conditions and did laps there for the rest of the afternoon.

Mammoth Mountain

On Sunday, we decided to avoid the crowds and possible windy conditions and opted to check out June Mountain, which is still as much of a gem as the first time I saw it. What a perfect day!

Anyway, the moral of this story is to stop all of your non-skiing nonsense, expect everything to fall into place, and go on the ski trip.

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Ciudad de Mexico

I’m still in Australia, yet still behind on everything I’ve wanted to share since the beginning of the year. Getting out of the ordinary routine and into the sunshine has given me a renewed source of energy to put it all out there. I shared in a video a few weeks ago that I’d written an intention for the year to travel internationally at least three times. The first of those trips came at the end of February.

CDMX

My friend Karina asked if I wanted to join in on a surprise birthday trip for her boyfriend, Trevor. The two of them are living in Mexico for a while, but he had no idea anyone else would be coming. La Ciudad de Mexico (CDMX for short) is a hop, skip, and jump from LA, so I was in. Somehow, ten of us were able to gather in the same time, same place to make the whole event happen, and Trevor was, as you might expect, very surprised.

Barcas de Xochimilco

I was surprised as well, at the amount I was about to fall in love with Mexico City. I knew it would be modern and sprawling, and was likely to be full of nice people because most Mexican people I’ve met so far in life have the most kind and generous hearts, but I didn’t know it would hold so much beauty and zest.

Panaderia Rosetta

The streets are lined with green spaces and parks, and the Spanish Colonial architecture calls to mind gorgeous Southern US cities like Charleston, Savannah, or New Orleans. The restaurants range from greasy street taco stalls to the most upscale dining experiences. The Friday night Lucha Libre wrestling is enough to convert even the least likely wrestling fan.

Castillo de Chapultepec
Lucha Libre

It is enormous and some parts are dangerous, but I felt as safe as I have in most Central and South American countries I’ve visited. It’s important to take precautions anywhere, but I didn’t find that Mexico City was any extra exception to the general rules of watching out for yourself while traveling.

Mexico City

Since this was a party-celebration-friends reunion trip, I left wishing I’d done a bit more sightseeing, but that only gives me more of a reason to get back soon, as if I needed an additional reason for that at all.

Mexico City

What To Do with Parents in LA

Hi! I’ve just freshly landed in Australia, but before we get to that, I better tell you about the time in February (too long ago now) when my mom and stepdad came to visit me in LA. It was kind of “cold” for visitors (ie. it was 60 degrees and I had to wear my ski jacket), but they were en route to Cabo, so I didn’t feel too bad. I almost went to Mexico with them, but the hotel they were staying at only had couple’s suites and that would have been a bit too much togetherness for us all. Instead, we had a few days in LA.

We were able to do a lot of the sightseeing stuff that I’d not gotten to yet. I showed them the worst of traffic—only once! They tried In-N-Out (overrated) and a few of LA’s other most fine and trendy eateries, like Sqirl, Republique, Manuela, and Donut Friend (not overrated).

I’m very into building itineraries, so I packed way too many activities into each day. We sprinted around Huntington Gardens, stopped by the Getty Villa, and ate in the Arts District all in one day, which are all in opposite directions if you didn’t know (hence the traffic).

Huntington Botanical Gardens
Getty Villa

I brought my mom to work (aka yoga and Zumba class in Monterey Park) and was wildly impressed that the Zumba teacher made up a special dance with costumes for Chinese New Year. To be a conscientious teacher like that!

24 Hour Fitness Zumba

We saw the Rose Bowl Stadium, which is kind of just there and you can’t go inside, so maybe strike that one off your list if it’s not football season and you aren’t staying in Pasadena.

Rose Bowl Stadium

We had a very Hollywood day when we took a celebrity van tour—so much fun and you must, must do this when you host visitors or are a visitor to the area, if not for the celebrity homes then for the views and for seeing parts of LA that you wouldn’t normally feel like driving to. Then we went to the Pantages Theatre to see Hello, Dolly! where everyone promptly fell asleep because I didn’t calculate our energy levels when planning the ultimate Los Angeles experience. Oh well.

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Overall, it was an amazing few days and I’m so happy they could make the time to stop here before their beach vacation. I love showing people around as well as finding new fun places for myself, so come visit whenever you can!

500 Hours

I’m still trying to wrap my head around it, but last month I finished a 500 hour teaching training with YogaWorks here in LA. It feels surreal to be done, since it had been a goal of mine since 2016 when I finished my first 200 hour training in Austin. It even feels a little anti-climactic because I’d been attending intensive workshops every weekend since August, spending 8 hours in the studio studying topics like anatomy, Ayurvedic diets, practicing with chronic illness, and prenatal yoga. Now that I have my freedom back, what was it that I used to do on the weekends anyway?

YogaWorks teacher training

The end to a training is always bittersweet. You’ve been spending so much time getting to know your fellow trainees and experiencing teaching transformations together as a group. You go through the highs of realization and grasping certain concepts and the lows of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion and simply not wanting to unroll your mat that day at all. Then, suddenly, it’s time to say goodbye and graduate, and you’re sent on your way with a paper certificate to remind you that you spent the past six months actually doing something.

The feelings are a mixed bag. Some days, there’s immense gratitude for having had the time and space to study with highly trained teachers. At other times, there’s the sense of fear and loneliness that comes with having achieved a step in your plan. There’s less of a road map and no more hand holding, you’re off on your own now.

I’m taking time to process and digest all of the information we’ve been soaking in during the training. What kind of teacher do I want to be? What are my strengths and weaknesses? Where do I still have more to learn? Am I there yet? Will I ever be?

In the meantime, I’d like to share my final project for the 300 hour program. I worked with my friend, Amie Leigh, to develop a series of yoga videos for people who have ostomy bags. This idea has been close to my heart ever since I learned Amie Leigh’s story and heard about her growing interest in yoga. I’m happy with the results and I hope it ends up helping someone. Please share if you know anyone with a similar condition who might benefit from beginning a yoga practice.

Namaste!

Scooters & Sea Lions

If your parents, like my dad, ever get tired of visiting you in the city where you live (and to be fair I cannot blame them for LA is a tiring place), a fun thing to do is to meet them in other places and have an adventure for the both of you. My dad attended a weeklong conference in San Diego for work at the end of last month, and, lucky for me, he decided to tack on a few extra days so that we could explore.

Last year, we spent my 30th birthday trip together at Mammoth Mountain, but this time we took a sunnier route… or we mostly intended to, but it’s actually been pretty dreary and cold down here in SoCal for the past month— it even snowed?!

No matter! We didn’t let the rain or grey skies ruin our plans to go out in the Gaslamp District. I put the cap on sober January when we found a trailer park themed bar, and I lost my favorite ring when I got too enthused about arcade basketball.

Trailer Park After Dark

By day, we rented Bird scooters for dad’s first time and took a pretty long ride (for scooter riders) up the coast to La Jolla. We got up close and personal with sea lions. They’re near enough that you can just about reach out and touch them, if you’re in the business of disturbing nature’s peace, so obviously it was the highlight of the trip, if not my entire life.

Sea lions in La Jolla
La Jolla

After we had scootered back down, we took our chances at spotting some whale migrations at the Cabrillo National Monument. Unfortunately, whales were not in the cards for us this trip, but we still saw some pretty nice views of the city.

Cabrillo National Monument

Whale sightings or not, it was an excellent opportunity to spend a weekend out of town and an easy way to get some dad time in. I’m glad we can always find new ways make the most of our time together! I hope you’re finding some joy in these late winter days, too.

Playing with Pals

Whew, y’all. The late January and early February times have brought an abundance of visitors to the SoCal area, and I can’t help but feel thrilled about it. My best friend, Annie, from college had the chance to come out for a few days, and it was the most perfect timing because her sister is living almost down the street from me and we already hang out all the time! I wish we could permanently add Annie to the neighborhood, but we’ll take a weekend if that’s what we can get.

Last Bookstore record player

It was one of the first opportunities I had to explore LA for visitors and find the fun things to do. We painted pots, strolled the best bookstore, rode swan boats, and celebrated the bulldogs racing in a derby. There was a lot more celebrating than there was actual racing, but what else are sporting events about?

Santa Anita Bulldog Derby
Glaze Fire pottery

One morning, we walked through the Downtown Los Angeles Flower Market, and if you are buying plants, especially succulents, anywhere else, you should really rethink your habits. We showed up towards the end of the morning when a lot of the stalls were already shutting down, but even still, I’ve rarely seen so many beautiful blooms in one place.

Los Angeles Flower Market

The most fun and unbelievable part of all was that Annie is about 5 months pregnant, so we got to see her in her maternity state, and by the next time we’re together again, there will be a little one to welcome into the world! It’s so exciting and surreal to delight in a ten-plus year friendship and to watch a loved one enter a new stage of life. Blessings all around!

Echo Park Lake swan boats

The First

Typically, when I get a burst of energy or inspiration, it’s all encompassing and definitely all or nothing. I think I only have two speeds—at home relaxing and recharging or out doing ALL the things. This new year caught me in the hyperactive way, and I was busy planning out every piece of how I wanted to start the first day of 2019. First, I planned on riding the metro to Pasadena to see the Rose Parade. That would be the thing to do for a newcomer to LA with a Gold Line stop right near her house. Then, there’s a tradition in yoga where practitioners attempt to do 108 sun salutations—called a mala—on New Year’s Day (also usually on the equinoxes). I’ve never done it, but I thought of driving over to Santa Monica to Bhakti Yoga Shala right after the parade to try.

Now, maybe you know that Pasadena and Santa Monica are on opposite sides of the city, and to do both of those things before noon on January 1st is, if not crazy, then certainly overly ambitious. Also, NYE festivities had me questioning whether I’d end up doing anything at all. I decided I’d better definitely skip the rushed drive to Santa Monica, and opted for a half mala (54 sun salutations) that would take place in my neighborhood later at night.

Fortunately, on New Year’s Day, I woke up at the proper time for the parade and forced my hungover champagne self out of bed to take advantage of that. It was totally worth it! The floats were so amazing, and it was surprisingly very easy to get there and find a spot with a good view. I had been worried, because so many people camp out overnight. But after seeing the event, I think that’s more for the fun of being there than for the necessity of securing a good spot.

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This float from Big Bear was my favorite. Look at the little bears riding the chairlift!

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After the parade, since I am a single millennial lady looking to start January off on the right foot, I went on an internet date for coffee. He showed me around Pasadena and it was not a bad way to spend the day, but not the best! I’ll remain undecided on New Year’s Day first dates, but maybe consider keeping the whole first day for you and those you’re already close to. Who knows. Afterwards, I stopped by a friend’s for brunch and then, if I remember correctly, finally made it home to take a nap so I would be ready for the nighttime sun salutes.

I loved the way the instructor, Nora, divided the repetitive practice into 4 sections of ~13 different Surya Namaskars (A, B, and C). For the first, we focused on an Intention or Dedication for the year. The second round was devoted to our Relationships, the third to our Creativity or Career, and the last round to the Source/the Universe/our Spirit. It was an interesting way to give meaning to the movement, and I appreciate the instructor infusing the ritual with something fresh. When the class ended, I felt accomplished, like I had really started the year the way I wanted (with a little flexibility for what my schedule would allow), and I was so, so ready for bed.