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!

This Year So Far

Where have I been? Maybe you are wondering.

Everywhere, it feels like!

Something about January has felt powerfully rejuvenating, but in the way that I want to stay introverted and careful about letting the heat leak out from within me. So I’ve been in my room, working on projects and experiencing what it’s like to plant my feet back in this new home. At the end of December, I really was everywhere. I took the most successful red-eye flight yet to New York to have a full day in NYC with my sister.

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We saw the tree and ate some yummy brunch foods. What more can you hope to get out of a wintry day in Manhattan?

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I didn’t get much recovery time, because the next day my dad drove us up to Vermont for a beautiful day of skiing. It was sunny and warm and everything ideal for a now-turned-California girl returning to the East Coast in December! Of course, we included our usual stop at the Vermont Country Store. I showed that I haven’t grown up all that much over the years— I ate all the free samples and a whole bag of assorted candy!

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The rest of the week at home in New York was refreshing and full of fun and family. I was so grateful to be home this year because, if you remember, last year was a little lonely for me in another country. But I’ll take a Christmas wherever I can get it!

Then it was back to NYC for a full family fun day. Big aLICe Brewing kept us all happy and getting along, in spite of conflicting opinions about how we should spend the day. I’m glad my sister got to take charge and show us around her part of the city a little bit.

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I returned to LA with a few days left of 2018 to spend enjoying the beach. I definitely wanted to close out the year with the ocean, taking some time to reflect on the big move out here and how I never have any idea where it will all go from here!

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Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 4

The last morning of our trip came quickly, and we were already feeling nostalgic about having to return back to, sigh, regular life. Blah! My mom and I imagined out loud someday returning with my sister, since the three of us have always wanted to go together, yet we can never seem to get our schedules to align. My mom said maybe someday I could round up a group of girlfriends like she used to do. Apparently, if you visit with a group of friends, there is a way that the group organizer gets a free vacation out of the deal so, um, hi friends! ;) The last day was just a morning for my mom and a half day for me before I made my way back to the smoke scene of Los Angeles. Here’s what it was like:

6:15am Why are we getting up so early on vacation again?

7:00am We join the 50 minute speed and hill interval walk, which is enjoyable. We had considered taking an 8 mile scenic walk to check out a nearby canyon, but obviously that is a crazy amount to walk on a whim, so here’s a picture of it. You can imagine that we were there:

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8:00am The last breakfast! I cry into my french toast and bowl of yummy fruit muesli.

9:00am My mom does a multitude of exercises while I attend acrylic painting class. The description doesn’t tell me much of what to expect, and I’m worried it will be like one of those paint and sip parties where everyone has to paint the same thing and it’s a cherry blossom or a bridge or something else that you don’t really care about. Then I’m nervous because we start really slowly, learning about color theory by blending different quantities white and black into a single color. This lesson actually improves my knowledge of making colors, and after that we can paint whatever we want. I totally copy one of the paintings I’ve seen hanging on the walls at the Ranch, and it comes out pretty nicely.

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11:00am My mom’s flight is a few hours before mine, so we eat an early lunch and more dessert bars at the outdoor cafe.

12:00-4:00pm We’re rushed to say goodbye, but we’re both glad to have had this week of bonding together. I stay for a few more hours, enjoying the sunny desert weather, taking another Zumba class, and treating myself to one last soak in the hot tub. Then it’s time to turn in my plushy robe and slippers and head for the airport.

Between Tucson and LAX, I rope myself into helping a couple of Guatemalan women locate and reunite with their relatives, so I feel like I have done my part to give back to society after taking a week of luxuriously selfish pampering. Goodbye Canyon Ranch! I hope we see each other again soon.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 3

Our last full day of fun! I’m not too sad because my regular life is a lot like life at The Ranch, and I’m sure my mom’s is, too. I was nervous to fly back to LA the next day in the midst of all the wildfire crises, but I am lucky enough not to live in the evacuation or danger zone. It feels extremely sad and scary to have a natural disaster hit so close to home. I feel guilty for not being in LA to endure the chaos, but thankful to be somewhere safe and flame-free.

Paella

6:15am We wake up early again. Today is a little easier because mom agreed to turn on the heat in the room last night, so it’s not quite so chilly as we crawl out of bed and out the door.

7:00am Another morning walk. We decide to join the 50 minute power group this time. It ends up being much like the normal paced 40 minute walk because a couple tagged along who didn’t know what they were getting into. I just like walking and being outside, and I don’t wear a watch, so I don’t mind either way.

9:00am Zumba!!! I love taking Zumba and I love that the instructors here give us belly dancing wraps with fancy silver coins hanging from them. We dance and dance and dance.

10:00am I take a yoga class on surfboards. The surfboards are indoors on platforms, so it feels a little silly, but I’m pretending to branch out and try new and different things while still doing what I do every day.

11:00am My mom and I take a TRX fusion class with straps that hang down from the ceiling and heavy kettlebells. I’m a little worried since we’ve already been working out for like 3 hours at this point and it’s marked on the schedule as a Very Difficult class, but we have a good time anyway. The instructor is entertaining, and I appreciate his enthusiasm although we stop giving full effort about halfway through the class.

12:00pm We return to lunch in the main restaurant. This time, there’s a pasta bar plus the usual lunchtime offerings. I again eat everything and end up feeling much too full after. I’m glad there is enough exercise around here to balance out all of the deliciousness.

2:00pm I meet with Leslie the psychic for a Tarot card reading. They really do have everything here! She tells me that I attract narcissistic partners (I’m a blindfolded woman surrounded by swords!) and that my near future will contain a wonderfully sunny period followed by the image of two people leaping from the windows of a burning tower. Things are looking good…

3:00pm I’m back in the room trying to write a book for National Novel Writing Month. I’ve been sticking to the daily word requirements, and I won’t let vacation knock me off track. I will end up getting knocked off track after vacation, but that’s another detail for another time.

4:00pm We make our daily visit to the spa for a quick dip. I bounce back and forth between the cold and hot tubs, and I think I could get used to this. The cold pool is very icy, but I can definitely feel a difference in my muscles the following day.

5:00pm It’s Spanish paella night! We’re excited so we get there too early and end up having some time to kill. We look around to find the “Live Ranch Music” and find that it’s an elderly man playing piano in the lobby. We run back to the room to grab our books to read on the couch by the fireplace. Someone requests that the pianist play “Thanksgiving Songs”, but isn’t sure if there are any or which ones he would like to hear.

6:00pm BINGO time! They’ve moved the game far away into one of the conference rooms, and we walk along the winding paths to get there. The adobe buildings all look similar so it’s easy to get lost here, at least for us, but there are usually signs and friendly employees to point you the right way. We have a nice time playing Bingo for prizes, but neither of us comes close to winning unlike the group of women behind us who each win 2 times in a row!

8:00pm We have to exit Bingo early to get our second round of massages. It’s not a huge loss because our cards are all duds, and getting an immediate massage is a much better prize anyway.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 2

Pardon the interruption as I was taking a little Thanksgiving break, but I’ll return to our detailed account of a Canyon Ranch vacay! Day 2 was our first full day of taking advantage of everything the resort had to offer.

6:15am My mom’s alarm goes off and I reconsider my level of interest in the morning walk. It’s cold! And I didn’t sleep well the night before. But I decide to urge myself out of bed so I can see more of the scenery around the ranch.

7:00am We meet in one of the gyms with a group of other walkers to split up into three groups. There are 30, 40, and 50-minute guided walks and the leaders are very peppy for my 7am self. We decide to stick to the middle and head out for a nice walk. I decide to decorate my future home in the color scheme of a Saguaro cactus desert.

8:00am The air warms up on the walk and I see some of my favorite cacti. We’ve worked up an appetite so we head to one of the breakfast options for pretty much anything we could possibly want to eat for breakfast including a fruit/yogurt/oatmeal bar, omelette station, pancakes, waffles, eggs, and other special menu items.

9:00am We take another yoga class, foregoing my promise to try new and different things.

10:00am We stumble upon some kind of cardio class that uses exercise balls and Bosu trainers. I like it and it gives me some new ideas for my own workouts. Then I head back to the room to work on a writing project for a little bit while my mom goes off to join another class.

12:00pm We visit one of the lunch and learn sessions in the demo kitchen where a chef shows you how to make yummy healthy meals while you watch him work and then get to eat whatever he’s making. We learn about brown butter shrimp and winter squash gnocchi, and I’m happy to devour it. I learn that you can make gnocchi much, much more easily by putting the dough into a pastry bag, and then squeezing out a bit and slicing it straight into boiling water. I’ll have to try this at home.

2:00pm Water aerobics! I am not usually a fan of swimming in outdoor pools when it’s below 80 degrees, but the water is heated and I’m trying new things so I join the pool full of eager classmates. It’s not bad, but too cold for me and run-swim-leaping from side to side across the pool is not enough to warm my spirits. I want to quit early but I like the teacher and don’t want her to think it’s because of her. Probably won’t do water aerobics in November again.

3:30pm We stick to our afternoon spa date and enjoy the hot tub(s). I try to master my mind and body by dipping into the cold tub. I turn my back to the clock and try to last a minute, which ends up being the longest 60 seconds of my life. I’m not sure how long you’re supposed to stay in the cold dip so I retreat back to the scalding waters of the hot tub. I think the cold helps my muscles though since I don’t feel sore at all the next day.

5:00pm We return to the room to get ready for dinner, and my mom spots a group of these babies just outside our door:

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6:30pm We eat in the same restaurant as the night before. There’s no need to branch out when the entire menu looks and is so good!

8:00pm My mom booked us massage appointments, which is one of the best ways ever to round out the day. My masseuse is a little heavy on the foot massaging, but I’m thankful for the overall pampering. I fall asleep easily again.

Our Canyon Ranch Vacation, Day 1

In case you missed it, my mom took me to the most wonderful wellness retreat in Tuscon, Arizona a couple weeks ago, and I promised I would tell you more about it. The purpose of the trip was to celebrate my belated 30th birthday. I moved to LA about a month before my b-day, so I wasn’t ready to make any travel plans to close to the move date. Luckily, my mom is retired and her golf and tennis schedule allows for frequent vacations. And, if you didn’t already know, my yoga teaching schedule does too!

I learned about Canyon Ranch when I was younger, because my mom used to go with her girlfriends for a week every year. She would come back carrying logo-bearing tote bags and fancy water bottles and tell us about pampering spa treatments, so my sister and I have always been curious. Unfortunately, Elayne the vet was busy slaving away at her internship and couldn’t join us this time. Hopefully there will be a next time when the three of us can go together.

Before leaving, I knew that we were going to a nice, outdoorsy type of spa place, but I didn’t know what to expect. My mom had revealed that there would be yoga classes and healthy cooking demos, but that’s the extent of what I knew. I imagined a bunch of older, already pretty healthy women treating themselves to spa day. But during our 4-day relaxcation, I found that Canyon Ranch actually offers a lot more than spa services. I was pleased to find a more holistic approach to health— the classes range from cardio bootcamps to lectures on technology addiction or running on an underwater treadmill. There were people of all sizes and adult ages. People suffering from loss, mental illness, and addiction. Families celebrating together. Men and women on their own learning about self-care. There seemed to be something for anyone interested in improving their physical, emotional, and mental health or simply looking to recharge and reset the system.

Canyon Ranch yoga

Here’s a daily schedule of some things that we experienced:

Wednesday

11:00am I arrive after a quick up and down flight from LAX. Driver Dan picks me up at the airport with a sign that has my name on it. I feel very elite.

12:00pm I check into the resort and find my mom at the outdoor cafe. We split a tasty portion-controlled salmon burger and some desert bars. I learn that everything on the menu is all-inclusive, but it’s not a buffet, so you can really order one of everything on the menu if that’s your game.

1:00pm We’re early, so our rooms aren’t ready yet, which doesn’t bother us. We stop at a shoe shop in the hallway to talk to the foot specialist about my lingering foot problem (I have a bone spur on one of my heels). Before I even stand up out of the chair, she comments on my right foot collapsing inward. She watches me walk from 4 angles on a treadmill and has me step across a sensory pad. My mom and I both end up getting new running/walking shoes. Mine are meant to correct the way I’ve been compensating for the heel spur. This ends up being the most valuable life takeaway of the trip for me. I can run pain-free again!

3:00pm We take our first class— Yogilates. I realize that I miss the strength and slow control of Pilates; it was my gateway into yoga and my first teaching stint. I feel inspired to incorporate it more into my yoga classes.

4:00pm We stay for Yoga Vinyasa flow, even though I said I was going to branch out and try other forms of movement on this trip. Oh well. You can take the yogi off the mat, but you can’t put the yogi back into a room full of mats and expect them not to practice.

5:00pm We decide to skip meditation class, having just done two hours of controlled movement and breathing. We head to the room to check in and unpack.

5:30pm We visit the spa area and change into our bathing suits and plush robes. There’s a eucalyptus aromatherapy room, a regular steam room, a sauna, two hot tubs, a cold dipping pool, showers, a nude sunbathing area (maybe good for sunning the skin, but I’m with my mom, so come on…), and a room where you can apply masks and body scrubs. And if you lose your towel or robe there are about 600 other towels and robes available to you.

6:30pm Dinner time. I order almost everything, and it is all delicious.

8:30pm My mom made us facial appointments. What a treat! I would pay a lot of money just to lie down on the facial bed again because the way it is sloped and padded makes me the most comfortable I’ve ever been. Usually I would change someone’s name if I’m going to talk about them, but Euvgenia, my Eastern European facialist, has the most amazing presence and facial skills. Seek her out! Afterwards I visit the restroom where all the walls and ceilings are mirrors and there is a hanging chandelier. I can’t tell if I’m just extremely relaxed or I’ve been transported into a Las Vegas drug-induced experience. 10 out of 10 either way.

10:00pm Easy bed time.

3 Tips for Solo Camping (as a Lady)

As you know, I’ve now been on a solo camping trip to here, and I’ve returned to share some wisdom of the wilderness. These are not very gender-specific rules, and they might even be helpful for everyone, but I did take being a lady into account when sleeping in the woods alone. And I bet I am not the best person to give this advice since I’ve only done it one time, but I’m obviously very excited about it and have been talking it up a lot, so here’s what I’ve learned:

June Lake Campground
  1. Plan ahead

    It was important to me to pick out my campground ahead of time. Even though my site didn’t end up having the best view, I was glad to be close enough to other campers to feel safe without being overcrowded. Solitude can be sweet, but for my own security, I preferred not to be too isolated. I planned to arrive with plenty of daylight to establish camp and scope out the area before dark. Years ago, I also practiced setting up my tent ahead of time just to get the hang of it.



  2. Do some activities (but not too many)

    I knew I wanted to squeeze some planned activities in—like June Lake Beach and the June Lake Brewing Company—but I also left plenty of time for lounging and breathing. I thought I might get bored in the dark and hit my sleeping bag at 8pm, but my fire kept me interested well into the night, and then I looked up and saw all the stars!

    Also, you should know how to build a fire on your own. It’s pretty easy in a dry climate. The internet has tips. Luckily, I once went on a camping trip in Austin with a mountain man and two bada** ladies who knew what they were doing, so I acted all “Oh yeah, I know about fires, too,” and observed their tricks while pretending to gather sticks and be helpful.



  3. Lie

    Unfortunately, in the life of a lady (or general person) on her own in the world, sometimes bending the truth is required. I made some friends at the brewery who offered an invitation to come out in Mammoth Village with them later that night. They seemed fun and friendly, but I fibbed and told them I had other plans and hadn’t decided where I’d be staying that night. I might have missed out on some good times, but I had a separate date planned with Nature. I think if someone is going to turn into a real friend, they would understand why you couldn’t be completely honest.



Red Rock Canyon

That might be all I learned this trip, besides not to eat too many Hot Cheetos on the drive up. If you can get past the initial scariness, camping on your own can be a wildly empowering experience and a great way to enjoy spending time with yourself.

June Lake

Hi sweet friends!

Last week, I made a spontaneous pilgrimage to NorCal to visit June Lake, one of the places where I skied with my dad this spring. It's crazy how time slips by--I can't believe I've been out here for almost six months already! After seeing June Mountain in the winter, I knew I needed to check out the area in the warmth of summertime. 

June Mountain

Even with the five hour drive up there, the day was full and peaceful. I found a musical road in Lancaster, CA on the way, then spent the afternoon hiking around the campground and lounging at the beach. August had made the grounds hot and dry, but the waters of the lake were perfectly cool and refreshing. And I don't think any trip to June would be complete without a stop at the local brewery

June Lake

I drove around the June Lake Loop whilst eating too many hot Cheetos and scoping out some other more scenic campgrounds. I was pretty happy with the one I chose, but could've used more access to the water (like at nearby Silver Lake in the photo below). Anyway, mine was safe, bear-free, and with bathrooms so I really can't complain.

June Lake Loop

The next day including a brief visit through Yosemite, and I think that deserves a post of its own. I hope you're still out seeking summer adventures wherever in the world you are!

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.

LBI Sunset

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.

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