December 20, 2011

1,000 Happy Families for Christmas

One of things that is filling my heart with the Christmas Spirit is a simple wish on a child's list. My friends Brad and Vera are two of the most amazing people I have ever had the luxury of meeting. In their presence you feel an energizing peace. Even more so when you see them talk about their children, read the stories of their kids and know they're raising some amazing little spirits.

Their daughter, M, continues to grow into a empathetic and charismatic young lady. This is evident by the amazing wish on  her Christmas list asking for "1,000 Happy Families for Christmas". It brought tears to my eyes when I read this and more so when Brad and Vera began a Facebook group to "gift" their daughter. To show her that 1,000 Happy Families is possible. Right now they're about halfway there and with a few days to go, I know we can find another 500 Happy Families for Christmas. 

If you know me, you know I'd never ask you to like a Facebook page that wasn't important. This is deeply important. Help us show M that in this crazy world happy families are still celebrating the holidays. I think you'll find being a part of something so incredible will not only benefit a child and her family, but you too. 



December 12, 2011

Review: Timberland Canard Pull-On Waterproof Boot

Timberland has been a well-known name in outdoor footwear for a long time. Even though I was a late bloomer to the outdoor world Timberland was a brand I knew of as a child. Perhaps that's because their high-quality footwear is approachable. From casual shoes to more technical boots they're easy to recognize and most people would feel comfortable buying these shoes. You don't have to be a great outdoors adventurer to feel "qualified" to wear Timberlands.

Normally I love knee high boots. I have been drooling over Timberlands broad collection of tall Women's boots in lace up and pull-on styles. However, I realized what I really needed was a boot to pull-on with jeans and yoga pants that would keep me warm and dry. I was then floored by another large collection of ankle length boots available from Timberland. I ultimately decided on the Canard Pull-On boot in black.

I love the design of this boot. They look slightly rugged with the faux fur lining (toasty!) but they also have a very streamlined look. I wouldn't hesitate to go from work to a night out in these boots. These are definitely a great fit for the urban adventurer.

I have stated a few times that my feet stay warm and dry. The waterproof construction is top notch. While the warmth is great, they're not so warm that they can't be worn all day. A plus for those of us who don't want to carry around a second pair of shoes.

The boots are usually $135, a good investment for quality boots that will see you through years of the cold weather season. I noticed they're on sale at Timberland.com right now for $99.99 so that makes them an even better deal.

December 9, 2011

It Could Be You

I have a lot of friends who are very philanthropic and always share their abundance. I have always believed that if you come across a windfall of money you should give some away to someone or an organization that needs it. I am not sure if this is how I was raised. I don't give money to just anyone I see on the street but I have a certain empathy for people who have lost it all. I try to carry an extra piece of fruit or bar to share if I see someone who could use it. 

I think I learned this behavior from my dad. He's not someone who is a heart-bleeding liberal, at all. In fact he's practically a tea party member. But once, in high school, we were out to eat at some fast food chain (yes, this is before I learned to eat well). It was a very cold day, lots of snow and as we took our food to the table we both noticed a man who looked down on his luck, most likely homeless. Dad watched him for awhile and when he left, he said "Come on let's go" and we left quickly.

I had no idea what was going on but dad followed the guy and then got his attention and told him "You look like you could use some gloves." Dad gave him his gloves and some cash. That was it. He never made a big lesson out of it. Just briefly explained that sometimes you have to trust your gut.

I thought a lot about that. I have had a few times when I have been unemployed as an adult. Though those times were brief, I knew I would never be homeless or wanting for food.  I had my dad's support. As I grew older and have become better about saving money and looking after myself I know I could take care of myself for awhile. Yet, I still know in the back of my mind I have my dad. But what if I didn't. 

I have had an ongoing conversation with a few friends who tend to assume that homeless people are always alcoholic and addicts. So I always ask them a few questions:

  • How much money do you currently have saved?
  • If you lost your job and couldn't find work for six months could you stay in your home?
  • If you couldn't stay in your home would you have friends or family to turn to?
  • If your parents were deceased and you had no other family where would you stay?
  • When you overstayed your welcome at all of your friends house, where would you go?

My intention isn't to panic everyone or to ask you to donate money. It's just the introduction of an idea of empathy. My dad maybe a bit of a nut but he gifted me with the ability to look at things from another perspective.  It breaks my heart when people I love only see the homeless as people who screwed up and are too lazy to work. Sure, that's the case some times. However, just a few rolls of the dice and it could be you. 

November 30, 2011

25 Day Yogathon

So I haven't posted in a few weeks. I have a lot of ideas but finding time to sit down and write has been a challenge. It's no surprise that my theme for teaching yoga this week has often turned to the idea of maintaining balance in our lives. When the holidays come our self-nurturing tendencies are usually the first sacrifice. So I was terribly intrigued when Teeg at Living in the (K)Now offered up the idea of a 25 Day Yogathon!

While Teeg's motivations are a little different than mine this challenge really speaks to me. I want to tend well to myself this time of year. It allows me to be a better friend, employee, and teacher. Rather than indulge in self-care in a way that can be sloth and gluttony in sheep's clothing I will set solid intentions. Designed to nourish my mental, physical and spiritual self

  • 25 days of yoga everyday (mind).
  • 25 days of drinking at least 25 ounces more water than I normally do in a day (body). 
  • 25 days of 15 minutes of meditation everyday (soul). 
  • 25 days of mindful eating. Not saying "no" to holidays treats but recognizing a little goes a long way and I don't need super-sized portions of any indulgent foods (mind, body, and soul).
  • 25 days of making home made green juice and drinking it.

You're invited to join along with the 25 Day Yogathon! Whether you want to work towards detoxing like Teeg, balance and self-care like me, or something new, the yogathon is about living your choices. Choosing an element of commitment for tending to the mind, body, and soul make your list and join us tomorrow. We're using the hashtag #25yogathon on Twitter, so joinus and follow the conversation there!


November 10, 2011

Manifesting in the Modern World: aka Creating Virtual Vision Boards

Yesterday I purchased a website domain for a project that I hope comes to fruition in a few years. I joked with a friend that buying the domain was my way of manifesting the project into existence. The truth is  I am laying the ground work, putting in the time and work, and will make it happen. Yet, knowing that url, that blank canvas is there just waiting to be developed gives me an area of focus. I realized it's like a vision board in it's own way. That lead me to wonder...is it possible to have a vision board in the virtual world?

For those of you not in the know, a vision board is usually crafted by hand. You take inspirational quotes, images, ideas, goals and put them into one place. As you can imagine it is a fun but messy project. For those not into glue sticks or push pins, then perhaps the Virtual Vision Board is for you. It also allows you to take it with you for travel, it's always there for you.



I used Pinterest to create my latest Vision Board (above). Pinterest allows you to "pin" images you find online and add text to them. I then took a screen capture, cropped the image, and saved it to use as the background on my computer and tablet. Now, it is always there. I see it every time I start the computer or alternate between programs. (You could take a picture of a hand-crafted Vision Board as well and apply the same concept).

If you want something more private you could consider using Evernote to create your Vision Board. While it takes a little more work with Evernote to pool the images in an attractive way it is possible. You can also include more robust content, quotes, images, and ideas. I used Evernote to manage my writing, my home work and also have a section for "Inspiration". Each of my notes in the Inspiration can evolve into class themes or written work easily.

 Another option, is Digital Dreamboard. This is currently a free service, donations are accepted. It is private and visually appealing. It's not as easy as Pinterest or Evernote but for some it is a good option. Another option is to create a collage in your favorite photo/image editor program.

I still love my tangible cut and pin Vision Board. However, I am a digital gal, and I find the Virtual Board easier to update, and always right there. After all Vision Board is only useful if you can look at it.  


November 3, 2011

Reflections on Loneliness

I spent the last weekend in Albuquerque visiting my friends, The Bacas. Last year we did a winter 5K walk and for this year we opted to do the Pumpkin Chase 5K. As I moved through the course on a beautiful brisk Sunday morning I had a lot of time to reflect.

During this race we did not all stay together. Paul-Baptiste is a more proficient runner than I. For me the race tends to be a jog, run, walk combination. Eveliina and their daughter Chickabiddy were happy to walk at a nice clip (Eveliina is due with their second baby soon). 

I began the race running with PB, then walked with the girls awhile, and then found my own stride. During that time I thought I would feel lonely. I didn't. I was merely alone. What was great is that we each got to do the race in a way that was satisfying while still sharing  the experience and the day.

On my trip home I thought a lot about the difference between being lonely and being alone. Generally I don't mind being alone. I am fairly busy so downtime is essential. However, there are times when you want to share experiences with people. It's easy to get down on yourself and feel lonely.

What's even easier is to convince yourself that if nobody is calling to hang out, that they don't want to spend time with you. Oh the lies we tell ourselves! For the last six months I've tested out the theory...when I feel lonely or feel the blues coming on I reach out. I've been asking my friends to brunch, to go for walks, to hit up a yoga class. Crazy thing is, they usually say yes. Often times, they were feeling a bit isolated and lonely too.

Sometimes friends are tied up, sometimes you're tied up. However reaching out and being persistent can keep the empowered, independent "alone" from turning into the "lonely". Give it a try. Make some plans. Be the one to reach out. You probably won't be the only one to benefit.

October 27, 2011

"How are you participating in your well-being?" ~ Kris Carr

Maybe you've heard of Kris Carr and her "Crazy Sexy..." book series or visited her website, Crazy Sexy Life. She is a New York Times Best-Seller author, a motivational speaker, and wellness coach.
In 2011 she visited my friends at Wanderlust Vermont speaking in their awesome Speakeasy Series.

You may know of Wanderlust as a haven for yoga and music but it's so much more. It's a sanctuary for wellness and their Speakeasy series highlights wellness and engagement. Luckily if you missed the festivals you still can be a part of the Speakeasy series. This video featuring Kris Carr is the first to be released from the 2011 schedule. Visit their YouTube channel here to see more videos from the festivals and keep an eye out for upcoming Speakeasy videos.


Health isn't the absence of disease, it's the presence of vitality" ~ Kris Carr

October 24, 2011

Save the Pumpkin Guts!

If you're decorating with pumpkins this season, don't be so hasty to throw those Jack O' Lantern guts in the compost bin. While cooking with pumpkin can be intimdating it is well worth it. Check out these great nutritional benefits!
  • Pumpkin Seeds contain about 7 grams of protein per ounce! They're great in trail mix or on salads.
  • Free-radicals aren't safe around pumpkin thanks to the high amounts of carotenoids that neutrialize those devious free-radicals.
  • Your eye sight benefits from the Leutein and Zeaxanthin slowing down free-radicals specific to the eyes and helping to prevent degenerative diseases.
  • Pumpkin is a strong source for Iron, Zinc, and Fiber.
Here are links to some of my favorite recipes using pumpkin. I have made or taste-tested each. I love Chai so most of these recipes include it but another black tea or liquid could be substituted.

What's your favorite way to incorporate pumpkin into cooking?

October 12, 2011

What's Cooking? aka Door-to-Door Organics New "Kitchen"

Eggplant and Artichoke Galettes
For many of us, the downside to having fruits and veggies delivered is figuring out what to do with them. Sure you can eat them raw, throw them in salads, but if culinary creativity isn't your strong suit, the fun ends there. Wisely, Door-to-Door Organics created their new "Kitchen" feature to help us out.

When I received a late summer Local Box of veggies I wasn't sure what to do. In all honesty, there wasn't a lot in there I would normally buy. I don't really eat squash and such but that is what we grow locally  so that's what I got. Then I remembered the recipe finder feature. I had submitted my own recipe not too long ago so I figured I would find something there.

The beauty of the Kitchen recipe finder is it allows you to search for recipes in various ways. It makes recommendations based on your current delivery or a submitted  list of items in your pantry or you can search by ingredient, meal or special diet needs. Even better, since the recipes are compiled by Door-to-Door Organics subscribers you know they're prepared in "real homes" not test kitchens. There is also the opportunity to rate the recipes.

I have grown to love this feature and use the Kitchen recipe finder even when I am not using my delivery items. If you've ever thought "I'd like to get my fruits and veggies delivered but what would I do with them?" well now is the time to find out. Still not sure? Enter the Coupon Code "CupcakeMafia" and save 40% off your first Bitty Box!

October 7, 2011

The Difference a Year Makes

As I settled into my Bhava Vinyasa teacher training last Saturday morning it felt like coming home. There were fellow students who were with me through my 200 hour journey as well as teachers I had mentored/assisted in their programs. It wasn't until my wonderful teacher, Shannon Paige, reminded us we were in the midst of Navaratri (a Hindu Festival) that I realized it was exactly one year that weekend from when I began my 2oo hour program.

So much has changed in the last year and as we move into Autumn I feel it's important to revist the changes. Here are a few of mine:
  • My sweet dog, Murphy, passed away
  • Finished yoga teacher training
  • Completed my second Urban Adventure Race
  • Taught over 55 yoga classes
  • Opened a consulting business
  • Opened and closed a yoga space
  • Biked a few hundred miles
  • Went to the Wanderlust Festival in Tahoe
  • Made a lot of great new friends
  • Let a few friendships dissolve
  • Had many fun outdoor adventures
  • Moved back to my hometown
  • Learned how to keep going with a broken heart and experience grief
  • Had LASIK surgery
  • Adopted a cat
  • Have grown more comfortable going to sleep at night knowing I gave the day my best.

I am sure there is a ton more but these are things sticking out in my mind at this moment. I find it's best for me to revisit the changes and success for the year before the holiday time hits. Everything gets so chaotic during the holidays if you let it. The stress then allows us to invite in feelings of doubt, feelings that we're less than, not enough.

I am enough.

You are enough.

We all have evolved, not into someone different but rather a new expression of ourselves. What has the last year held for you? How have you evolved and what have you let drift away?

September 29, 2011

Cupcake Wants! aka The Autumn/Fall Wish List!

I am moving this weekend. My desire to move was fueled by my desire to simplify my life. I will be five miles from work able to bike majority of the time and to use the bus when the snow is too packed. I will be close to everything I need as far as grocers and other stores. I will be central to all the yoga studios I  teach at as well as minutes away from the foothills for beautiful hikes, climbing and snowshoeing.

However, autumn and winter bike commuting always has it's own challenges. You need the right layers and gear to stay comfy but when commuting it's not just comfort that matter. I like to invest in items that are good for winter hiking and snowshoeing so flexibility is key. Riding to work or errands or outings also mean you want to look good too. Here are a few items on my wish list to help me stay comfortable and cute.

Women's Crystal Mountain Waterproof Tall Lace Boot
If you can have a crush on shoes, I have one. These boots have a Smart Wool footbed which means cozy and breathable! I love the tall height for full coverage when keeping the feet and legs warm and dry. With the Durable Green Rubber footbed you know you're getting the quality you expect from Timberland while getting the benefit of 42% recycled material. Also they're ridiculously cute. My only dilema choosing color. Do I get the pink and brown or the black and grey!


Cascadia Bike Fenders
My Specialized Vita Sport is a great little hybrid. Comfortable, good speed, super light. My only complaint is the splashy mess I get when riding on wet terrain. One way to cut back on the mess is to add some fenders. I have my eye on this pair, the Speedex Hybrid. They light, made for all-weather climates (so needed in Colorado) and they have little mudflaps!

Yogo Mat
Without the righ bag or pannierres on your bike it can be difficult to ride with a yoga mat, they're just not compact. One item I can not wait to try out is the new Yogo Mat from YogoSport. This mat will be available in December and rolls into a compact size that can fit in a bag or larger purse. I can't wait to see how it does for my teaching and studio practice!  Visit YogoMat.com to sign-up for notification when the mats are available.

prAna Parfait Jacket
I love simplistic style with an edge and this jacket has just that! I love the angles and non-frilly feminine design. Not only does the jacket look good but it's insulated and water-resistant. prAna is known for their quality and social activism so I always feel good supporting them. This jacket must be mine.




I am sure I could go on for pages on items I love. For now, these are the top four on my list. What do you have your eye on/

September 26, 2011

The Oyster Race - 2011 Edition!

Mary, Tali, Lynn, and Hazel the littlest cupcake
Once again the folks at the Oyster Race put together an amazing race. Since there are still other races in progress I won't get too detailed as to not spoil anything. What I will say is we got wet, handled fish, got messy with finger paint, rocked some yoga poses, ate a donut, tried out our slingshot skills, square danced and solved some mysteries! We covered about 25 miles on foot and bike throught the Denver area.

Unfortunately I had two ribs out of place during the course of the race. It really slowed me down. Not only on race day but during training as well. I learned a valuable lesson not to tough it out through that kind of pain and to get help. The ribs are now back in place and training is on for the next two races in October. While I really wish I took better care of myself for my teammates sake I am also happy to have such amazing teammates that were supportive and happy just to finisht he race and have a great time.

In the process of preparing for the race we exceed our biggest goal and that was to raise $5,000 for the Colorado Chapter of Make a Wish Foundation. We in fact rasied $8,300 which is about the cost of two whole wishes. We were over the moon with all the support and help our friends and family gave us. I have to give a big mention to my teammate Lynn's knitting community. They really came through in a big way! Donors that were entered in the prize drawing have been notified if they won an item from the drawing. Special thanks to prAna and Made for Grace for their sponsorship for the drawing.

Thank you all again for your support. We can't wait to race again next year and to continue to support Make a Wish Foundation! If you want to continue to support Make a Wish you can purchase a Team Cupcake Mafia shirt here.

September 9, 2011

September is National Yoga Month...

and boy has this yoga cupcake been busy! I will return to my regular posting schedule next week with two posts. The first will be a spotlight on Door-to-Door Organics Local Farm Box and the second will be a report on the Oyster Race including the winners of my donor giveaway!

In the mean time please check out the offerings in your area for National Yoga Month or if you're in the Denver/Boulder area come see me on September 17th!

August 23, 2011

Blessings from Twitter



I was tidying up around home last night and in the last week had received three new books in the mail. As I took a moment stacking them, trying to decide in which order to read them I became a little overwhelmed with emotion. As cheesy as it sounds Twitter has done a lot to open up my life.I met my best friends on twitter, have made huge connections, and even consult on using social networking in the yoga and wellness industry now. I have been touched in so many ways and this small stack of books is proof.

The Battersea Park Road to Enlightenment by Isabel Losada
This came from the awesome Meredith Le Blanc, @meredithleblanc aka the Pondering Yogi. The only way I can describe Meredith is as a Kindred Spirit. She and I both share a passion for animals, yoga, and yoga books. She has sent me two of her books so far and I have sent her one. She is one of the ring leaders of the Yoga Online Book Club (#YOBC) on Twitter and always a joy to see online. I feel blessed to know her. 

The Handbag and Wellies Yoga Club by Lucy Edge 
I first learned of Lucy Edge via Twitter. Her first book, "Yoga School Dropout", was a hit with all the yoga folks and has been one of the best yoga books I have read. It was one of the few non-textbooks I read during my yoga teacher training and helped me stay true to myself and my path. Even better, Lucy engages with people on Twitter (@yogadropout).  It's rare that you get a chance to talk with an author and while many have a presence on twitter, they don't often interact. Lucy is a real gem.

Ravenous by Dayna Macy
This book signifies my connection to my friend Jessica Durivage, @whereismyguru, co-host of the online radio show "Where is my Guru". When Jessica moved to Denver she happened to be in a class where my teacher mentioned my twitter name and blog. Jessica and I were already connected on twitter and she followed up with a message to me. Since then we have collaborated on business, hung out at Wanderlust, practiced yoga, and had the most amazing mac and cheese together. A few weeks ago I called into her show to talk to Dayna Macy, the guest of the day, and won a copy of the book Ravenous. Just another literary symbol of a special connection.

This morning I am thankful for Twitter. I am thankful for the exposure I gain to all these new people and amazing books. I am grateful for these friendships that continue to grow and blossom. I am grateful.

August 12, 2011

The "Why"

If you live in a city like Denver or Boulder, there is a LOT going on in the yoga community. Every weekend there is a workshop or eight, there are the studio classes, and there are special guests, these amazing yoga and philosophy teachers who come from a far to spend time teaching and sharing their wisdom. Sometimes you feel like you should be at every one of these events. It seems like everyone else is able to make them all, so you can too. Sure you may have a full-time job, children, a part-time job, pets, animals, reading to do for trainings, and homework, but you can fit in three more events, right?

I remember early on in my teacher training, I felt a bit of the panic set in. Maybe I couldn't attend all the events, was I less of a yogini? Did that make me less qualified to teach? I brought up my fears and frustrations with my yoga mentor and Iyengar style teacher and she asked me, "why do you want to teach?". It took me a minute to respond, and then I said something that sounded very much like this, 
Because yoga has changed my life. It's allowed me to live with depression in a way that feels sustainable and it has made the other aspects of my life easier, for lack of a better word. This is a gift and I want to share it. I want to make yoga accessible.
She asked me to write it down. I did. We also talked it through a bit more and the gist was, attend the events and classes that were going to best serve me and my students at this time. While a wealth of knowledge is available it doesn't mean you have to devour it all at once. A teacher who has time to marinate and bring these new elements and skills is a lot better off than a teacher who is too exhausted and over exerted to absorb anything new.

I go back to that piece of paper every time I begin to waver. Recently I took on too much. Not that my goals were too big just too much for one person in a short amount of time. I refined my schedule, re-assessed my offerings as far a teacher and also within my consulting business. A huge weight has been lifted from me. I am happier, I am sleeping better, I have more energy. I sound like a perky commercial.

I recognize it's scary taking on new endeavors, both for myself and for my students. In order to honor them I have to honor myself. If you're evolving something in your life, beginning a new training program or project, or just want to do better for yourself I really encourage to put it down on paper. Write down the "Why". You're "Why" may change and develop and come back to its orginal iteration over time. However, in the darker times of doubt, worry, fear, the "Why" brings a bit of light to your path. After all, we can all use a little light to guide our way.

August 5, 2011

Trip Report: Wanderlust California

If you don't know about Wanderlust it can be summed up as a long weekend of yoga, music, wellness, amazing food, and the opportunity to make new friends. The Festival began in Squaw Valley, CA in 2009. In its third year it has expanded including offerings in Vermont and Florida as well as various 'Wanderlust in the the City' events throughout the US. This year I was fortunate to attend the original Squaw Valley location as a volunteer and attendee for four-amazing days. Typically trip reports break down the experience by day, but I would rather talk with you about the various components. So here we go!

Photo Courtesy of Carl Kerridge
The Classes
There are a ton of yoga classes offered at Wanderlust. There are about 4-5 time slots per day with about 6-8 classes offered during each time. It can be very overwhelming to choose which classes to take. Sometimes the draw is experiencing new styles of yoga, or maybe practicing with that celebrity teacher, or maybe adding to your asana experience. There were a lot of combinations of running/hiking and yoga as well as meditation and lectures.

I'll admit most of my classes were with the "celebrity" teachers, Seane Corn, Schuyler Grant, and Kathryn Budig. As a new teacher I was very curious, are they worth the hype? I definitely learned some new information from them and they all held great energy. Since this is a festival format the classes tended to speak to a specific theme, like Detox yoga, or be a workshop style. So while you got a taste of what it was like to be with these famous instructors it's not quite the same as it might be to practice with them at their home studios. I think next year I will try to balance it out a bit more between the celebrity yoga teachers and the lesser known but also excellent teachers.

Photo Courtesy of Carl Kerridge
The Atmosphere
Wanderlust was pretty much like any other festival but with a wellness spin, like the Farm to Table Dinner, fresh organic food just fit the yoga vibe. There were a lot of great vendors with clothing, yoga accessories, supplements and supporting non-profits. In addition to the vendors in tents the area is full of great dining and little shops. Being in the Squaw Valley area things were a bit pricey, but hey, it's a resort area and it's in California, that is to be expected.

One of the best parts was the Anusara Village. This space is an amazing combination of asana, the YogaSlackers and thought-provoking art installations. Everyone was really nice, I mean REALLY nice. There wasn't pushing or shoving or the rudeness you may see at other events. People were just blissful.  I was very fortunate to run into Jessica from "Where is my Guru" and Carl Kerridge, her awesome beau and exceptional photographer. Through them I met more wonderful people and the bliss kept on going.

The Music
I may get blasted for this, but definitely my least favorite part of the festival. The music was GREAT, Michael Franti was awesome and I loved hearing the music interspersed throughout the area during the evening hours. What I don't love is crowds and having beer spilled on me and being repeatedly hit in the head by a hula hoop from the girl behind me. I know for many this is their favorite part, it's just not my thing, however honoring that part of myself and walking away before I became too frustrated was a big achievement for me. So in a way, I was treated to a new way to practice my yoga off the mat. Honor thyself and walk away from the hula hoop bashing.

Photo Courtesy of Carl Kerridge
Volunteering
You can read a more detailed account of my Volunteering experience here at the Wanderlust Blog. I can sum it up and say it was a great experience. As a volunteer, you get one free day of yoga for working three 4-6 hour shifts. During that time I met some fun people and working in the yoga rooms I got a chance to also observe other teacher's styles and adjustments. It was an excellent learning experience. Also a unique factor, the volunteers are treated really well across the board at Wanderlust. Not always the case at a lot of festivals.

Overall
I am really glad I went, I would love to go again. Being solo I had a lot of freedom to learn a lot, meet new people and grow. I would recommend checking out the festival near you or making a big trip out of it. I think next year I will try to go with friends but I would still go alone again. It's the type of festival where you can be solo but not feel lonely. To learn more about my experience and what fellow attendees though, check out the Wanderlust Blog!

July 20, 2011

The Sweetest Perfection

Often when we think of the perfect moments of our lives, they're times filled with bliss, joy, happiness. Though last night on my bike ride home, I found perfection in a new way. I have been going through a lot of stuff lately. I won't get into the details because they're not important. What is important is how I have been feeling. Quite simply, I have been feeling "less than", "Not enough", and as though I may have taken some wrong turns. 


As I rode home, the clouds had begun to move in and then the rain, hail, thunder and lightening followed. I was soaked, cold, my skin was turning a bit red and puffy. Just as I began to curse yet one more bad decision to be on my bike in a storm, I rode under a bridge. The bridge was a temporary haven for three people who looked like they were without a home or stability. I suddenly felt like I got the big old wake up call from the universe, you know the temper tantrum kind rather than the whispery sweet kind. I hadn't been listening. 


I was so worried about what I don't have that I couldn't see all the amazing things I do have. In that moment I was so worried about getting from point a to point b that I hadn't stopped to recognize that I had the luxury of point b. 


The part of yoga that I have always loved is the spaces in between. Learning to thrive when you're not quite in the darkness or the light. It was in that very physical manifestation of the space in between work and home last night that I woke up. I realized that some things aren't happening for me in the way or in the amount of time that I would prefer, but I am still on the path and the stability and opportunities in my life have been taken for granted. 


Time to push forward, recognize the perfection in that moment, the way everything came together to last night to serve a certain purpose, to remind me to trust my training, my motivation, my path. 


Have you ever experienced this form of perfection? Have you had the universe deliver you a perfect combination of signs and physical manifestations in order to teach or unveil?

The Sweetest Perfection

perfect [adjective, pur-fikt] 
exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.


Often when we think of the perfect moments of our lives, they're times filled with bliss, joy, happiness. Though last night on my bike ride home, I found perfection in a new way. I have been going through a lot of stuff lately. I won't get into the details because they're not important. What is important is how I have been feeling. Quite simply, I have been feeling "less than", "Not enough", and as though I may have taken some wrong turns. 


As I rode home, the clouds had begun to move in and then the rain, hail, thunder and lightening followed. I was soaked, cold, my skin was turning a bit red and puffy. Just as I began to curse yet one more bad decision to be on my bike in a storm, I rode under a bridge. The bridge was a temporary haven for three people who looked like they were without a home or stability. I suddenly felt like I got the big old wake up call from the universe, you know the temper tantrum kind rather than the whispery sweet kind. I hadn't been listening. 


I was so worried about what I don't have that I couldn't see all the amazing things I do have. In that moment I was so worried about getting from point a to point b that I hadn't stopped to recognize that I had the luxury of point b. 


The part of yoga that I have always loved is the spaces in between. Learning to thrive when you're not quite in the darkness or the light. It was in that very physical manifestation of the space in between work and home last night that I woke up. I realized that some things aren't happening for me in the way or in the amount of time that I would prefer, but I am still on the path and the stability and opportunities in my life have been taken for granted. 


Time to push forward, recognize the perfection in that moment, the way everything came together to last night to serve a certain purpose, to remind me to trust my training, my motivation, my path. 


Have you ever experienced this form of perfection? Have you had the universe deliver you a perfect combination of signs and physical manifestations in order to teach or unveil?

The Sweetest Perfection

perfect [adjective, pur-fikt]
exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose.


Often when we think of the perfect moments of our lives, they're times filled with bliss, joy, happiness. Though last night on my bike ride home, I found perfection in a new way. I have been going through a lot of stuff lately. I won't get into the details because they're not important. What is important is how I have been feeling. Quite simply, I have been feeling "less than", "Not enough", and as though I may have taken some wrong turns. 


As I rode home, the clouds had begun to move in and then the rain, hail, thunder and lightening followed. I was soaked, cold, my skin was turning a bit red and puffy. Just as I began to curse yet one more bad decision to be on my bike in a storm, I rode under a bridge. The bridge was a temporary haven for three people who looked like they were without a home or stability. I suddenly felt like I got the big old wake up call from the universe, you know the temper tantrum kind rather than the whispery sweet kind. I hadn't been listening. 


I was so worried about what I don't have that I couldn't see all the amazing things I do have. In that moment I was so worried about getting from point a to point b that I hadn't stopped to recognize that I had the luxury of point b. 


The part of yoga that I have always loved is the spaces in between. Learning to thrive when you're not quite in the darkness or the light. It was in that very physical manifestation of the space in between work and home last night that I woke up. I realized that some things aren't happening for me in the way or in the amount of time that I would prefer, but I am still on the path and the stability and opportunities in my life have been taken for granted. 


Time to push forward, recognize the perfection in that moment, the way everything came together to last night to serve a certain purpose, to remind me to trust my training, my motivation, my path. 


Have you ever experienced this form of perfection? Have you had the universe deliver you a perfect combination of signs and physical manifestations in order to teach or unveil?

July 15, 2011

Power Scones

I originally posted this recipe back in 2009 but I thought it could use another mention. I am training for the Oyster Race and trying to cut back on the cupcakes so these delicious treats  satisfy my craving for baked goods while being kinder to my calorie and nutrition goals.

The scones are still delicious but lower in fat and you can make them in smaller portion sizes than a standard scone. They're great for a quick bite before hitting the trail.

Ingredients
1 2/3C  all-purpose flour
3/4C  rolled old-fashioned oats
1/3C   sugar
1/3C  whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp  baking powder
1/2 tsp  baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp  butter, chilled, cut into small pieces
1/3 C  lowfat buttermilk
2 lg  eggs
1 tsp  vanilla extract
additional buttermilk for glazing
4 tsp  brown sugar mixed with 1/2tsp ground cinamon

Directions
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil. Pulse dry ingredients in a blender until the oats are finely ground (I tend to throw in an additional teaspoon of cinnamon in the batter, it gives a little more flavor). Transfer to a large bowl. Rub in butter until the mixture forms a coarse meal.
In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Pour over oat mixture. Using a fork, toss until a moist dough just forms. Turn out onto a floured sugace and pat into a 7in circle. Cut into 8 wedges and arrange 1/2in apart on baking sheet.

Glaze scones by brushing lightly with buttermilk. Sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. Bake 18min, until scones puff and are pale golden.

June 27, 2011

It's Time to Grant Some Wishes!

Last year Team Cupcake Mafia competed in the Merrell Denver Urban Oyster Race. It was an amazing day of racing  with two astounding women, Lynn and Mary! It was also such a great way to see my hometown in a different light.


In addition to being a day I will never forget we were also racing for a good cause. Each team is encouraged to raise at least $100 for the local chapter of the Make a Wish Foundation. Our team raised over $2,500!  With our donations and those of the other teams we were able to grant four wishes for local children facing life-threatening illnesses.


This year, we're doing it all again! On August 27, Team Cupcake Mafia will compete in the Women's Full Course race, last year we took fourth and our goal is to make it into the top three, however, we won't consider it a win unless we can beat our fundraising efforts for last year so we're offering some incentives.


Click to View Larger Image
If you're a knitter you will love this one! My friend Lynn's friends with Laura from the Knit Girlls and she has designed the beautiful My Wish Shawl pattern. If you make a donation of $5 or more you will received this shawl pattern. Just include a note in the comment field of the donation form indicating you would like the pattern.




If knitting is not your thing, there is still another great incentive to donate, other than helping the kids out. For every donation of $20 or more, donors will be entered into a drawing to win one of two $25 Amazon Gift Cards. This is great for any of my readers and friends who love to read, do yoga, climb, or cycle. As you know you can get just about anything at Amazon.





To make a donation just click here visit the Denver Oyster donation site. 
Select City: Denver
Select Team: Cupcake Mafia
Team Member: Tali Koziol


Then complete the rest of the form with your donation amount and contact information. We are automatically notified and you will receive your pattern shortly and/or be entered for the drawing. 

If you would like to make a donation of physical item that could be placed in the prize drawing or gear that could be used for our team of three please email me at tali@mycupcakemafia.com and we will update and get the word out. All Sponsors not only receive recognition on our blogs but also signage at the event and recognition on our race day shirts. 

June 23, 2011

Yoginis Love Layers: Me Sheeky's Stevie Skirt!

Stevie Skirt in Jade
Okay, maybe not all yoginis love layers but many that I know do. I think that's one of the reasons I get so many compliments when I wear my Stevie skirt from Me Sheeky. It's such a simple layer but so cute and functional. I also feel a little like a saucy super hero in it.

I chose the Stevie for it's asymmetrical hemline. It looks great with full-length pants and even better with capris. I love how the sizing is true to your regular size, you don't have to size-up because it's an over layer. The fabric is also quite then, but doesn't feel flimsy. The skirt stayed true to original sizing after a trip through the laundry and the color has stayed strong after a few wash cycles.  

The beauty of the skirts from Me Sheeky is the dual purpose. You can easily wear them for fashionista reasons alone. However, the skirt works well in Vinyasa practice. I wore it during a 10 hour day assisting at a teacher training and it fit beautifully the whole time. Even if you're not a yogini the skirt is great to go over bike shorts or for chasing toddlers around a playground.

Even better Me Sheeky is offering my readers a limited time discount! Order between today and July 7th and you'll get 20% off! Just use the code: SHEEKYCUPCAKE at the time of your order! I think once you try them you'll be hooked. I can't wait to get another!

June 22, 2011

108 Beautiful Beads: My review of Tiny Devotions' Malas.

108. It's a sacred number in many cultures and the number of beads found in a mala. Some use them for prayer, some for setting intentions, others for guidance while chanting their private mantra 108 times. No mater how you use them, many will agree, the mala is a powerful object. Not merely a necklace but a tool that brings luck and protects us. 


My newest mala is the Black Onyx Mala from Tiny Devotion. It is a beautiful blend of a Black Onyx Guru bead with Rudraksha seeds and semi-precious gems and pearls. The Black Onyx stone has been thought of to repel negativity and bring the wearer strength and focus. The Rudraksha seeds are known as the eyes or tears of Shiva and bring protective qualities. The combination together definitely does something for my soul. When I wear the mala I feel a spike in my energy and ready to conquer new challenges. 


I find when I meditate with my mala and work through my mantra the beads pass easily yet purposefully through my fingertips. Each bead holding a sacred moment in time for me. The Guru bead always warms with my wear and touch, reminiscent of how your cheeks feels after someone sneaks a kiss. 


The Tiny Devotions malas are beautifully crafted in Canada and arrive in a small silk bag, perfect for gifting. Tiny Devotions as a variety of beautiful malas with sacred stones as well as simpler malas, perfect for men or women who want a little less bling in their prayer beads. 

June 8, 2011

Shake It Like a Polaroid Picture

I love, love, LOVE teaching yoga. I have met some amazing students and I love watching their faces light up when a pose is unlocked for the first time. So amazing!

What makes me sad about teaching is how many times I hear "Sorry", "I'm sorry", "I suck at balancing". It breaks my heart that people think that some how not being able to balance on one foot while twisting and lengthening and contracting is something that should be apologized for. Our cells are constantly moving, blood is always moving through our bodies, and being wobbly or trembling is absolutely necessary.

Yoga is not the only place that I have seen this apologetic phenomenon, it happens in climbing too. As we work through a route hands, legs, feet may tremble from time to time. This happens so often that it's been named "Elvis Leg" or "Sewing Machine Leg".

Often times it's easy to think this only happens because we're either new to the activity, scared, or unprepared. Yes, in some cases those are a factor but the wobbling, trembling, shaking place comes to us at all times of life. I have seen veteran climbers tremble and yoga teachers who topple. People tend to shake it off as "they've got something going on". Yeah, maybe they do, maybe you do when you tremble too.

But how about this? How about we don't assume that the "something going on" is bad. How about we welcome the wobble as a sign that our bodies are so excited about our life that we have butterflies all over! After all, nobody ever tells a dog, "Stop wagging your tail, you're too old/mature/experienced to do that!"

I say wag it, shake it, move it, rock it. TAKE BACK THE WOBBLE! It's not a bad thing, it's your beautiful life force at work.

June 3, 2011

Chakara Love: PrAna's Victoria Top and Lolita Pant

No, not those Chakaras, I am talking about the new technical fabric from prAna. When I first found out that prAna was unveiling a new "technical fabric" I wasn't sure what to expect. While their clothing has always been performance oriented it's been soft and comfortable. Somehow in my mind I equated technical with abrassive textures and uncomfortable compression. I am happy to say prAna surprised me.

The new Chakara fabric is very soft and comfy. The Chakara fabric is available in over a dozen products in the prAna women's collection. I was able to test out two pieces, the Victoria Top and the Lolita Pant.

The Victoria Top arrived in white, a color I don't usually wear, and in a halter top, a style I usually don't practice in. I will be honest, I sat there and stared at it awhile and had to work up the courage to wear it out. I worry about white because of issues like transparency and clumsiness (aka: spilled chai).  I found a bit of bravery and wore the top to Advanced Vinyasa Yoga class and I again was pleasantly surprised the top was very comfortable. I felt quite confident in the white fabric and the style. Through many Downward Dogs and Forward Bends the cupcakes always stayed in place. The halter is sewn, rather than tied and the perfect design for support without that feeling you're being strangled. The top also has a double layer of fabric throughout the bust area, my fears of transparency were dismissed. In addition the fabric performed beautifully, wicking moisture from the skin and drying quickly.

As far as the Lolita Pants, well I will just say it, they made my butt look great! While not the only reason of value that is certainly worth mentioning. The Chakara fabric works beautifully in the pants. While thin and lighter in weight it still allows for a bit of compression.. This creates very nice lines and support. I know a lot of people say you shouldn't care about what you're wearing in yoga, but I think the clothing has to make you feel good. When you're not adjusting your pants or top and just able to feel good, you can focus on the flow.

I love prAna's traditional collection and the new Chakara items are a great addition. They're excellent for times you may need more support and moisture-wicking properties. To check out these and other items in the Chakra Collection visit prAna.com.

May 23, 2011

Holding Space and Deliberate Vulnerability

Mr. Neo
In yoga teacher training and through out the practice we learn a lot about holding space for our students. While it's not a skill you can necessarily learn, it is a part in all of us that we have to cultivate. How can we be present for the student crying on the mat, the student fearful and nervous, the student who is full of confidence? We have to hold space for all of them, in the same room at the same time. It's not easy, but it gets easier. While this area of my teaching practice is growing in leaps and bounds it was almost missing in part of my personal life.

I couldn't hold space for my cat this morning.

When taking, Neo, my 11-year-old tabby, to the vet for a procedure to treat his dental disease I got scared. The vet still reminds me of losing Murphy. I remember picking up his remains and I get sick with grief. I tried to keep it together for Neo, but it was hard. Tears were beginning to flow as they took him away. I hope he only sensed my love and not my fear.

I realized I felt so vulnerable, exposed. Yet I remembered my words to my students this weekend, "See vulnerability not as weakness, not as being exposed, but as an opportunity to willingly move to the wobbly place,  because good things come from being shaky". I need to heed those words. I realized that my willingness to put Neo's health above my own comfort level was a way of holding space for him. My willingness to return to a trusted veterinarian despite the pain was a way to be vulnerable in the most deliberate way so that I could rebuild my experience and add new memories, memories of a cat healing, not only of a dog saying goodbye.

The beauty of the Universe...she will quickly make sure you're ready to teach the ideas you're sharing by ingraining that personal experience more deeply within you. Have you come up against your past lately? Is it preventing you from moving forward, from holding space for someone who needs you?

Think about it.  How can you be present in an are of discomfort and hold space? How can you choose to be vulnerable in a deliberate, even delicious way? If you choose to take on these tasks, in what ways will your world open and expand? Give it a try, it's worth it.