Weddings in Austin

If anyone wants to get married to me, please just send me an Instagram DM and make sure you’re ok with getting married in Austin! I know it’s become THE place for bachelor and bachelorette parties, but after attending my friends’ lovely wedding this weekend, I’m thinking it could be one of the best places to do the actual thing.

IMG_2271.jpg

Austin is sweetly located a few quick steps away from beautiful Hill Country. It’s a fine place to dance and eat catered BBQ, but they also have tacos if you’re not so into smoked meats. There are lots of trees surrounding precious barns for celebrating, and a short ride into the city will get you to the afterparty scene. What better way to celebrate love?

I felt incredibly lucky to be a part of the couple’s special day. We had a blast two-stepping into the night.

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.

IMG_1584.jpg

On Leaving

I have some explaining to do! My stuff and I have left Austin for the foreseeable future. It was a fast moving move, but one that I'd been anticipating before I landed back in the U.S. I have dreamed of living in California for a long time, and now here I am in California living. I have a job which I will tell you about soon because it deserves a post of its own. I moved into a house that is a testament to putting full faith in Craigslist findings. I had only seen it and met the roommates via FaceTime before driving out here, but so far everything seems to be surpassing my expectations. The two roommates are kind and inspiring, they have a cat and a dog, and there is a lemon tree outside my window. I am here. 

When I told friends and strangers I was moving to Los Angeles, almost everyone had an opinion. Some gave words of warning and others offered encouragement. There would be traffic and crowds and money needed to buy things. But there would be art and talent and vibrancy as well. I was (am) looking for change and growth. Austin had become so familiar to me that I started to take it for granted. The longer I stayed, the more time and money I spent going on adventures elsewhere. I was running out of activities and places to tick off the checklist and, while I'm trying to cut back on my constant seeking of novelty, I felt the need for something bigger and new.

I didn't want to have a going away party from Austin, since it seems like I'm always going away from someplace or another. And I'm one of the ones who comes back to visit as much as I can. Plus there's always the frightful chance of everything completely falling apart and the possibility having to return a few months later. "You can't Irish exit a city," my roommate told me, and I'm glad I listened. Having all my friends together in one place with too many beers made my heart happy.

Thank you for being such a big part of me for the past 5 years. <3

IMG_1248.jpg

Why You Should Always Ask For What You Want

It's strange to be back in Austin on what seems like a "temporary visa". When my plane touched down beside that misplaced field of longhorn cattle grazing next to long-term parking lots, I didn't know what to feel. The weather was cloudy and rainy. Not exactly the warm, bright welcome I'd come to expect from the pretty city that has been my home for the past five years. "How does it feel to be back?" asked my friends and family members during run-ins and phone calls. It felt good, and it felt weird.

After a long backpacking trip, I've found that it's always a relief to be able to stay in one place where all your stuff is, and where you don't have to unpack all your belongings just to find your toothbrush or clean socks. It felt weird because I wasn't coming back to many commitments. I had tickets to a concert that night, a longtime fulfillment around which I'd arranged my return trip. But what would I do when the week started, with no work to go to or classes to attend?

Bon Iver Austin

I had some job applications, interviews, and decisions to make that were keeping me in the limbo phase. I knew I wanted to get back to teaching yoga as soon as possible, but it's hard to ask for a permanent class at a studio or apply to new jobs when you're not sure if you might be gone in a few weeks. My personal practice was struggling, too. In Austin, studio teaching jobs and work trades had spoiled me into getting my yoga on a budget. I wanted to ask for my work trade job back at my favorite studio, but I was nervous. It's a pretty good deal-- manning the desk in between classes for your monthly membership. I didn't want to ask for freebies from yoga teachers, since I am one and I know how hard they work.

I was very close to clicking the link to sign up for a $39 for 30 days pass at one of the fancy downtown studios when I remembered the trick to ask for what you want. Wouldn't my studio rather have me work for them than spend my money somewhere else? I emailed the studio manager and asked if she might need any help over the next two weeks while I was sure to be in town. She replied that it was the perfect time to ask, because there were a few days she needed coverage before the end of the month. I returned to the studio for class and training the next day, and the day after, and the day after that. Ask and you shall receive.

Austin Greenbelt

Hanging On

I'm back in Austin, and desperately clinging on where I can to the memories of days that were too hot for sleeves and the only decisions were which attractions to walk to and what flavor of smoothie to order! Not that we are really suffering much on those fronts here in Central Texas, but we surely are driving a lot, talking about jobs, and, maybe for a month or so, wearing sleeves.

It's so easy to fall into the same old routine once we're back on our home turf. And it's usually the little changes that help us slow down and step out of that big familiar picture. I kept the mild weather, maximum relaxation lifestyle alive by making chia pudding that reminded me of Bali and Nicaragua, and green curry that reminded me of Thailand. It could happen with food, music, or souvenir reminders hanging around to bring us back to the sweet memories of those wonderful places, but all it takes is a little effort to make sure the feelings aren't all lost once we step off the plane.

chia pudding

Pace Yourself

It's starting to stay darker and cooler a little longer in the mornings, but that Texas-like ability to creep into the 90's by mid-day is still going strong enough to make you think twice about lighting cinnamon candles or ordering your various seasonal lattes. We'll be happily basking in the heat of summer until at least October around here.

IMG_8974.JPG

In August, I was able to spend a lovely day here, and I kicked myself for letting over 4 years pass in Austin before finding the time to visit. Pace Bend Park has miles and miles of trails, exhilarating cliffs for jumping off into the water, countless campsites for overnight adventurers, and some swell trees for swinging your hammock. The shallow part of Lake Travis was feeling pretty bath-like that day, but it was all just fine.

IMG_8962.JPG
FullSizeRender (9).jpg

If you're an Austin person looking for some sweaty hikes or your last swims of summer, or even a shoreline campground, I think it would really be worth your while. 

IMG_8963.JPG

Gone Outside

One day in July I sat here and meditated with the Oprah & Deepak 21-day meditation app and it was very nice, very hot, and very spiritual millennial of me. I am hearing a lot of people talk about summer coming to an end, and I hope that they will stop because there is a lot more ahead of us! 

Are you taking time to find some peaceful outside places near you?

Sweet Summer

If any past/present/future employers are reading this, please know that I am very dependable and dedicated, and this post is most definitely not about me. However, for some people who are surely not me, certain times of year require the skipping of work in exchange for the seeking out of fresh fruits.

If you're finding yourself in that seasonal position, and if peaches and blackberries are the objects of your sweet desires, here are some do's and don'ts to guide your quest:

  • Do carry out your search in Fredericksburg.
  • Do check the pick-your-own calendars before you go.
  • Don't stop at the jam/salsa stores along the way or you might take pity on lonely little old ladies with lots of free samples and end up buying more jam/salsa than you had originally planned.
  • Do stop in Dripping Springs for the very best pizza or pastries.
  • Don't run out of time for sunning and swimming on your way.

 

Pick wisely and enjoy!

A City Sekrit

When you live in a rapidly growing city, it's hard to let a conversation pass you by without commenting on the changes that have occurred between the time you moved to that city and now. Usually, these observations include mention of things that used to be better: "There was hardly any traffic!" "We never waited in lines!" "Rainey Street!"

Even if you haven't lived in the new place for very long, you'll find yourself yearning for days gone by. Weren't things less expensive? Couldn't you find a parking spot in an area now covered by valet service? Though we accept change as inevitable, our grumpiness about it proves our worth. We've been here long enough to find something to complain about.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the chance to visit a lesser-known Austin destination that is getting close to shutting its doors: the Sekrit Theatre. This lovely outdoor space features a giant backyard, lots of quirky details, and an outdoor theatre where movies are shown twice a week. The central greenhouse was the ideal location for a ladies yoga Summer Solstice celebration.

While I'm sad about the sale of this special secret, I'm so glad I was lucky enough to spend one perfect afternoon here.

The Good & the Green

Just when I think I have swum in all of the majestic swimming holes around here, I find myself stumbling upon another majestic swimming hole. 

People are coming to Austin for the brunch and the jobs, and they are staying for the good and the green things that are very nearby. McKinney Falls State Park is one of those good, green things, which also happens to not be very crowded on an overcast spring day. You had better get here before summer when all the water might go away, but for now I'm giving it all the thumbs up.

Waiting on WEST

This weekend, many of Austin's best galleries, museums, event spaces, and regular people's houses will open their doors to invite us all to come hang around and check out some really incredible art from art-makers all around the city. What's better than that? This will be my first year attending and volunteering at the West Austin Studio Tour, but I have been able to view and help at EAST for a few years now, and I imagine that its Spring counterpart will be equally magical. 

IMG_8145.JPG

Big Medium puts on some of the most wonderful art events in Austin, and these bi-annual studio tours have a particularly special way of making everyone feel like part of this giant community. You can pick out a catalog/guide from a nearby library, or plan out your route on the official website

Come hang out with me at Saturday's Community Breakfast! And if you wanted to help out by volunteering, I think you could join in here.

Family Firsts

I'm very thankful that my mom was able to come visit last weekend. This was her fourth or fifth time in Austin, but we always manage to find different things to do, like trying new restaurants and checking out art. I'll be returning to many of those places as soon as possible (looking at you, Round Top!) It was nice to have a piece of home here for a few days.

The Skylark Lounge

I visited a new place last week.

If you get tired of Dirty 6th Street or restored houses designed as bars that all feel the same, you could go here:

IMG_7244.JPG

Maybe you like music. They have it. Maybe you like pizza. They have it. Maybe you like large backyard patios where you can hang out with friends or smoke things from any of your different devices. They've got that, too.

Enjoy your weekend, Austin!

Intentions

Do y'all have any resolutions for this year?

I made it through 2016 without buying any new clothes, like I said I would, but my mom bought me quite a few new items, so I'm not sure that one counts. It might be back on the list. While I haven't been able to settle on many specific goals, my intentions for 2017 are to figure out my intentions for all the years hereafter. 

Artwork from the East Austin Studio Tour in November 2016

Artwork from the East Austin Studio Tour in November 2016

One thing I have been feeling more and more connected to in recent years is the desire for creative expression. I've been taking art classes and practicing some instruments, and I hope to keep that going this year. As I've learned more about the world and the people in it, I've become convinced that we all have a creative spirit inside of us. Of course, some people have easier and better access to it than others, but I think the potential exists in all of us.

My sister accessed hers and freehanded this awesome drawing from Instagram for me!

My sister accessed hers and freehanded this awesome drawing from Instagram for me!

I feel lucky to be in a place where the arts community is so active, and where you can pay $10 an hour to go somewhere and use any crafting supplies you need. That's the sharing economy at its best, in my opinion. Austin has so many fun events and spaces dedicated to the arts, along with amazing artists to learn from and check out. I'm looking forward to exploring and making more this year.

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.

A New Year

While the end of this past year was a little unexpected and left me feeling scattered, it's hard to look past all the magic that 2016 had to offer.

I went here for the first time!

I went here for the first time!

I finally checked a lot of things off of the to-do list of life... including semi-leaving my job and joining AmeriCorps, an idea that had been dancing around in my head for a while. I visited 6 foreign countries and 8 brand-new-to-me national parks. I watched a small handful of my best friends get married and was able to be a part of some of their weddings. I became a certified yoga instructor and some of the loveliest people came to my house every week to share their energy and help nurture each other's spirits.

 

My family members all seem to be happy and healthy. I met a bunch of amazing people to keep me laughing and growing. The blessings were plenty and the bad times were few.

2017 has a lot to live up to.

Sounds on Sounds

Well, this is a little late, but I went to a music festival.

Beach House (hardly pictured) @ Sound on Sound

Beach House (hardly pictured) @ Sound on Sound

At first I was skeptical about the Renaissance Faire/music festival combination, because I like both of those things, but thought they might distract from one another when placed in the same spot. However, I quickly found that the Sherwood Forest fairgrounds are quite magical and really cater to an off-the-beaten-path (read: trippy) festival experience! There were trees and surprises everywhere, and the Texas weather was even starting to feel vaguely like fall. I got to be a VIP, hang out with my friend Jessica (an empowered, hot lady who sells port-o-potties and has found a sneaky way to infiltrate the festival circuit), and also re-live OutKast at ACL a la 2014. If there's anything more I should be asking for in a weekend, I do not know it yet.

Big Boi @ Sound on Sound

Big Boi @ Sound on Sound

The Scene

If y'all are getting tired of these not-so-humble weekly Austin brags, stop reading now! Because we're about to talk about live music in the "Live Music Capital of the World", and there's bound to be some boasting. But in a world where some people can count the number of concerts they've seen on one or two hands, it's really something to get to be around so much music on a daily basis.

Cream Cheese Accident @ One-2-One

Cream Cheese Accident @ One-2-One

In the past month, I've seen old folks jam in a strip mall, friends play their hearts out with free tamales in the background, and newly formed IT rock bands get onstage for the first time at one the biggest venues in Austin.

My friend Chris's new band @ Mohawk

My friend Chris's new band @ Mohawk

Concrete Robot @ The Gatsby

Concrete Robot @ The Gatsby

We've got jam bands, EDM, hip hop, psych rock, synth pop, and whatever other words people are combining to describe sounds these days. There really seems to be something for everyone. Sure, some of our live* music is better than other types, but it's always here and it's usually happening. My ear drums may not make it past 50, but my dancing feet feel happy and my heart feels fresh.

Sometimes A Legend @ CheerUp Charlies (please excuse the terrible-ness of this photo)

Sometimes A Legend @ CheerUp Charlies (please excuse the terrible-ness of this photo)

 

*=I am using the terms "our" and "live" pretty loosely here. Shout outs to any kind and patient neighbors who have ever heard me trying to play drums in the garage.

Hidden Gems

In my yoga classes this week, I offered up the intention of looking at various aspects of our lives through the lens of a “Beginner’s Mind”.  This Zen Buddhist concept means shifting our attitude about familiar things: poses, hobbies, work, studies, relationships, etc. to view them from a new angle, by imagining that we are taking part in them for the very first time. The practice opens up space for different possibilities and perspectives as our habits and preconceptions are broken down. 

This got me thinking about applying a beginner’s mind to the places in which we live. When I first moved to Austin, my newcomer’s senses wanted to see and do everything. And taste everything, too, since I gained about 10 pounds upon moving here. I was a constant consumer of novelty. No adventure was too time-intensive, no distance too far. Heck, I’d sometimes even drive to San Antonio if the day felt right.

Now, as much as I love Austin, my endless explorations have settled into a routine list of favorite activities, restaurants, bars, and spots to spend my time. I guard my non-working hours closely, and if I’m going to drive south of the river or get on Mopac at all ever, there better be a darn good reason. I see the hot new places and excited out-of-towners moving in every day, but I feel happier (and lazier) to exist inside my usual bubble. My 2016 To-Try list doesn’t have nearly as many items crossed off as I was planning by this time in the year.

So I was excited last week when my friend Karina invited me to visit the River Place Nature Trail, a hike that was on my list, but off the beaten-path of nearby Austin trails. The 5-6 mile hike* overlooking the West Austin hills and eventually running alongside a river, helped me feel the same zest I felt when I first moved here, like there was something magical hiding under every rock I turned. 

While we accept more comfort in our cities, we give up some of the novelty and the zest for exploring. We settle into routines and responsibilities, and back out of more events if they’re further from our zone of normalcy. Our bodies and minds know this and start to become numb. We get tired more easily and aren’t as ignited by the idea of seeing something new or making a connection with a stranger. When we become experts on a subject, another person, or a city, the only way to counteract closed-mindedness or stagnation is to observe what we know from another side.

 

For the rest of this year, and hopefully thereafter, I’m trying to embrace the shiny, new or yet unseen parts of this city where I’ve lived for almost 4 years. I promise to say “yes” more times to something that sounds fun, before looking at Google Maps’ distance from my current location.  And to my fellow Austin dwellers, I promise that whatever I find, I’ll be sure to share with you.

*The trail is out and back, so you can make it as short or as long as you’d like.

New Yoga Offerings

Hi friends! A stroke of luck has hit me hard and I'm getting the chance to teach two weekly yoga classes in Austin. Last week I started working with Foundation Communities, a local non-profit organization, to offer regular classes at one of their residences. I'm also excited to lead a new class at 24 Hour Fitness on Saturdays. 

The Wednesday class is free and open to the public, but space is limited so please do contact me if you'd like to attend. The Saturday class is free to 24 Hour Fitness members and $20 for non-members, so if you've got a membership or are made of money, I'd love to practice with you!

  • Wednesdays 6:30-7:30pm Foundation Communities- M Station Apartments
  • Saturdays 1-2pm 24 Hour Fitness- Hancock

I'm very grateful to be sharing a practice that is so special to me with more people in the area. Check out the newly added Yoga section of this site for more information. 

And if that doesn't get you your yoga fix, I'll also be out here as a participant this weekend.

Thank you / Namaste / See you on the mat soon.