March 31, 2011

A Whisper to a Scream

When people find out that I am in a yoga teacher training program the question I am most often asked is "What makes you want to teach yoga?" (followed by "Oh you must be very bendy?"). That's a big question. How do you tell someone you may not know very well how profoundly yoga has impacted your life without over sharing or scaring them with the amount of passion you have?

Eventually I found the most concise and neutral way to describe that.

"Yoga helps me stay mindful of the connection between by mind, body, soul and the universe. With that awareness I am able to take my cues from the Universe and it has made my life a lot easier. I want to share that with other people."
So what does that mean? It means my life is really a lot easier because of the awareness yoga awards me.When the universe has a suggestion for you it starts out with a whisper. If you don't hear it, it will raise it's voice until the point that it's getting your attention like a two-year-old stamping it's feet, red-faced and in tears.

I now see the subtle messages, I hear the whisper that the Universe is sending to me. I rarely make the same mistakes over and over again hoping to get different results, I used to do this all the time. The best part, the Universe's messages aren't always telling you what not to do. Yeah, sure you get the "You'll regret that 9pm Chai when you try to sleep tonight" but you also get some amazing encouragement.

I began reaching out to people on a whim, a whisper, and then I see the doors of mutually beneficial opportunity fly open. I became more daring, more willing to go outside my comfort zone and the rewards have been amazing.

Do you have to practice yoga to hear the Universe's whisper? I don't think so. It's what has worked best for me but I have had similar experiences in hiking, climbing, and cycling. Anything that brings movement, thought, and a level of meditation or awareness with the universal connection will work.

I would love to hear from people with similar experiences. Have you heard the Universe whisper? What did it say?

March 24, 2011

Return to Innocence

This is a Cassette Tape, circa 1987
When I was 11 I bought my first tape, yes I said tape - see example to the right. While I had music as gifts and hand me downs before, this tape was the first I felt worthy of my allowance and put down a whole $8.49 for it. It was The Best of OMD.

This week, I was finally able to see OMD in concert. When they were popular I was too young to go without a parental escort but too old to find that acceptable. It was an amazing evening. Not only did they sound as good as they ever did but they really loved it. You could see they loved being with the crowd. Also,you didn't have any of those weird "concert versions" of songs that bands invent to amuse themselves after touring too long. The songs were familiar and pure.

Music has a very special way of invoking memories and while at the concert I had a huge wave of feeling wash over me. A memory of a time when things were truly more simple. Before broken hearts, before partying and alcohol, before making poor decisions with real consequences. For a moment I was saddened. I questioned my life, my potential and how it might have been wasted. Then I remembered my life is actually pretty damn awesome. I may have taken a rocky path to get where I am but I stayed the course and made the journey. In a way, I have reclaimed that lost innocence with a willingness to try new things and keep a beginner's mind. Is it easy? No. Is it worth it? Yes.

I invite you to get out your tapes, CDs, albums. Use those sacred memories to fuel your next journey, rather than tie you to your past.

While you may know Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark for their hit song "If You Leave" featured in the movie "Pretty in Pink" they offer a lot more, here's a small selection.

March 18, 2011

Hi, I'm Cupcake, and I Eat Baby Food

Not too long ago I was visiting my best friends and as we were talking about how it can be difficult to stay nourished when you're active my friend showed me an awesome addition to her daughter's lunch box. At the time, I wasn't so sure how awesome it would be though, even though the daughter is six, it was still by a company that makes baby food, Ella's Kitchen.

While I think whole fruit is always a great option it was getting hard to eat pears and other sticky fruits on the go. They were messy or after a day in my bag cut, battered, and bruised. So the fruit pouch was appealing.

In the UK, Ella's Kitchen has a huge variety of snacks and meals for babies and toddlers. In the US, we get the Stage One Baby Foods and the Smoothie Fruits, the latter being my favorite.

Available in four varieties, the Smoothie Fruits are organic mashed-up fruit in a portable pouch. Averaging around 50 calories each they're a nice light snack on their own or great paired with some nuts or cheese. The fruit can be enjoyed at room temperature but I like mine refrigerated. For longer days I freeze the pouch the night before and by mid-afternoon it's ready to eat.

Once while shopping I couldn't find Ella's so I opted for the Earth's Best, Yogurt Smoothie instead. Since these have a bit of yogurt in them they are creamier and have more calories, around 70 per pouch. A little more sustainable for a snack on their own.
Also available in four varieties, the Earth's Best pouches freeze well and taste yummy.

The only drawback for me was the packaging. In the US, the pouch may or may not be recyclable based on your local practices. One excellent resource is TerraCycle, specializing in hard to recycle items. They currently recycle items like Capri Sun pouches and have a great selection of products made from recycled material.

However, if you're crafty there is another option. You can use the cleaned and dismantled pouches as material to sew a tote bag or hand bag. These instructions are based on Capri Sun pouches but with a little reconfiguration the fruit pouches will work too. I always love crafting from reclaimed material and these bags are cute for the summer and would be great for the pool or beach.

Enjoy the fun and innovating pureed fruit on your next long work day or day trip hiking and climbing. Maybe you'll love them so much you'll be inspired to get crafty and find a great new use for their pouches. If you do let me know!

March 9, 2011

The Fine Line Between Self-Care and Sloth

If I told you I had a stressful week so I spent Saturday morning doing restorative yoga, having a nice bath, and reading in bed with some tea, you would probably say something along the lines of  "That's great, it's good you're listening to your body". However, if I told you I spent the whole weekend laying on the couch, ordering pizza, watching movies, and taking approximately 7 naps....would you still respond the same way?  It's a fine line between self-care and just being sluggish.

If you grew up in the 80's, you may remember a world that glamorized the workaholic. Movies like "Working Girl" and "Wallstreet" made it chic to be running on coffee and will power alone. Eventually we came to terms with the fact that it's not sustainable. Now we focus on balance. Enjoying your life, doing work you love, staying active and healthy, and especially nurturing yourself. However, self-care can be hard to manage. If you're used to being a body in motion slowing down is hard. Bodies in motion stay in motion, and more dreadfully, bodies at rest stay at rest. We're then faced with concerns. What if I can't recover from some down-time? What if that becomes the norm?

I recognize this fear whole-heartedly. It's happened to me. I have had my quiet nurturing Saturday morning end up expanding throughout the day, then Sunday morning, then Sunday night and by Monday, it's hard to get back on track. I have learned a few things managing self-care so my times of awareness and recharging are still times I thankful for rather times that I remember as lazy or unproductive.

Here are a few tips to help you honor your need to tend to yourself while maintaining balance:
  • Understand why you need some self-care time: If you're growing tired of the same old weekly routine then maybe your time of nurture is trying something new to you. Something that gets you out of the rut. If you're constantly "on" and need some time to detach, then make it real. Turn off the phone, don't check the email, enjoy your solo time.
  • Create a container of time and space: Make a plan of how you will indulge and stick to it. It may be as simple as a hot bath or it may be a whole weekend or vacation. However get a solid idea in your mind what that container looks like. When you've seen the plan through move forward.  
  • Nurturing doesn't have to mean stagnate. For some nurturing will be taking time to hit a favorite hiking trail or a bike path you never get to use. It could be a extra long walk with your dog or playing with a niece or nephew.
  • Laughter is nurturing. You don't have to be alone to warm your soul and rest. Get together with the friends that you can completely let your guard down around and laugh, a lot.

I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or in the field of mental health. However, I am a woman who has worked to manage my own depression for almost 20 years. I know how self-care can quickly turn into a downward spiral if you suffer from depression. Even if you don't experience depression there are times where downtime can throw you off your game if you're in training or have other responsibilities.

These are techniques I use to keep that time precious for me and able to return to my life recharged and present. If you have other tips please comment.

Love Each Day

March 4, 2011

Two More Reasons to Love prAna

For awhile now prAna has been one of my favorite brands. I love their clothing for climbing, yoga, and everyday life. I love their yoga mats too. In addition to the quality of their clothing and appeal of their design I love that they've always supported intiatives I believe in. This Spring, prAna has rolled out two more initiatives that make me smile ear-to-ear.

Packaging Simplicity
The first intiative is reform in their packaging for shipping. The traditonal wrapping of each individual item in a poly bag will be reduced by about one third. Those garments that are suitable will be folded and tied. It is nice to see that company who values giving back to the community and earth are looking at their processes and making changes to represent their values.

Available in Three Colors
The second bit of prAna news worth sharing is the new Soul T. As one of the first participants in the new Fair Trade Apparel Category, PrAna began working with the Liberian Women's Sewing Project to not only create a new piece of apparel but to reach a little farther. The Liberian Women's Sewing Project is in accordance with the Fair Trade principles:
  • Fair price to farmers for their goods
  • Fair labor conditions and wages for farm and factory workers
  • Direct market access eliminating unnecessary middlemen
  • Democratic and transparent organizations
  • Community development
  • Environmental sustainability

I had an opportunity to sample the shirt first hand and I love it. It is well-crafted, the colors are vibrant and fun, it fits great and it washes well. It also makes me smile when I wear it. To know it was crafted in an environment where women are empowered and in roles outside of the norm for their community, it warms my heart.

To learn more about the partnership check out this video from prAna.

Can on Tee Intiate Global Change?