Monday, October 26, 2009
This Sunday was the most perfect autumn day. I was up early and did a number of things - long walk, made breakfast, laundry, assisted a class. I hadn't taken a morning asana class like I normally do and figured I would go to one later in the day and get that done. After that I would maybe clean the house and then make dinner. I would have a productive afternoon.
I came home from the store and it was absolutely beautiful out. We decided to make a fire outside and have lunch. As I sat and enjoyed the warmth of the sun (and the fire) I started thinking about how much I felt like I still had to do that day. I knew I had already had a very productive (even busy) day at that point yet at the same time I still felt like I had not done enough. I felt like there was still so much to do. I was focusing so much on crossing things off my list, crossing off my daily accomplishments so I could say "I did all of this, look how productive I was" that I wasn't truly enjoying the moment. I realized I need to let go of the voices in my head, my lists, my need to accomplish things and needed to just do nothing. Just be. Be present in the glorious day and just enjoy. For the next hour my husband and I just sat in front of the fire on this most perfect autumn day and did nothing. We did "nothing" yet nothing became the most important something. We just enjoyed. We were present within ourselves and with each other.
Take time to do nothing. Take time to silence the voices and the lists and enjoy the moment and just be. Do nothing, it can be the most important something.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Remember to stop and pause. Be in the moment. Appreciate where you are at this very moment. It all changes so quickly.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Today in my practice we were working on outer spiral in parsvokansana. So many people go into the pose with a negative viewpoint and are hard. They think that it will be easier if they barely square the front leg or they go the opposite root and bend over then try to force the front leg down. One of the keys to the pose is to start by softening. To breath in, to allow the front leg to soften into the hip, to descend towards the ground. There is an immense amount of space that is created by doing this. The pose becomes a real hip opener when this is done (of course with maintaining true muscular energy in the back leg and alignment.) This space allows you to outer spiral the front leg and really open up - open up the hips, open up the torso, open the heart, expand and feel the pose. If we dont soften the experience is no where near as enjoyable, freeing or open.
As I left class I started thinking about how this truly relates to our day to day life and was reflecting on how things have changed for me at work since I began practicing yoga. If we approach what we perceive as a difficult situation with a hardened attitude the experience is usually difficult. If we step back, breath, and then approach the situation we have a very different experience.
Through my yoga I have learned this and have seen what a dramatic difference it has made on how I handle the chaos of the work day. Things that use to get me worked up and crazy now seem so much easier. The constant craze I use to feel is no longer there. When I look at the reports I see that all the numbers are still there. It isn't that I'm doing less (I'm not), its that my approach has changed. There is a softeness. When a problem arises I don't go full force like a bull in the china store, I take time and breath.
How much easier life would be if we all stepped back, took a breath and softened.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
This past weekend was our 1st real weekend of teaching. WOW! It was AWESOME! At the end of the day I had a huge grin from ear to ear and all I could think of was when can I do more - when can I start teaching.
That evening I had dinner with friends and was sharing my feelings of the day and found myself getting more and more excited about the idea of teaching. I felt like a little kid waiting for Christmas day to come so I could open the presents. I started planning in my head how I might be able to offer free classes to friends I practice with to get more experience, to start teaching... to scratch the itch.
I have been contemplating since then the idea of teaching and what about the experience creating that itch. One of the things I have come to is something one of my teachers has said on many occasions. She says that she gets as much from watching us practice while she teaches as she gets from her own practice. At the times that she has said that I thought okay, maybe, but it cant really be that good. I have been observing this teacher's classes and I now know that what she said is true. I feel that amazing energy from observing and watching the students have their experience and I am not even doing the teaching. I can't even imagine how awesome it will be when it is actually my class.
I guess that is it, that question of if I want to teach is answered.
Saturday, August 1, 2009
At first I could feel the butterflies in my stomach - the anticipation of standing in front of my peers. Having to speak, give guidance, give direction. Would I fuddle my words? How would I know what to say? How would I know what to observe? Would I forget the name of the pose? There is so much to observe, to remember, to focus on. How would it all work?
Well, it did. Its just that simple. I have the knowledge within, its all there and it will come out when it is needed.
We all have everything we need already inside of us, we are innately good. This is one of the main principles of the tantric philosophy. When the time comes we will know how to open. We will have the words. We will have the confidence. We will open to grace. Remembering this, gives me the strength and the support to step to the other side of the mat and take this new seat, the seat of a the teacher.
Om Namah Shivaya Gurave
I honor the auspicious light and goodness in myself and all beings that is my true teacher
Saturday, July 11, 2009
Tonight, I am alone and wanted a glass of wine. I know what I REALLY want to drink - Rosenblum or Seghesio Zin - but it doesn't make sense.
I tried the left over bottle from last night that we vacuum sealed - yuk. Decided to try the potluck section - bottle 1 - yuk, bottle 2 - double yuk.
At this point, screw the potluck wine, I DESERVE a nice glass of wine. Rosenblum here I come!
When learning something new there is a certain amount of time and energy that needs to be put into it to get past the awkward "I suck at it" stage. I tried skiing a number of years ago and gave up - it was SO much work. I was never able to get past the awkward stage to make it enjoyable. It was always an enormous effort with frustration that left me feeling worse about myself and not better. You need to be able to invest enough time and effort to get past that stage so you can truly enjoy.
I have many interests that I really would like to spend more time on. I would love to resume my photography and drawing, learn how to salsa, learn more about wine, spend more time cooking, learn to make pasta from scratch, make more breads from scratch, develop my yoga practice further, knit more often and more complex projects, learn how to throw clay, learn to be fluent in Spanish, read more books and on and on and on. There is so much and I feel like there is never enough time. In order to concentrate on one and be more proficient I need to give up something else (even if only for a little while.)
I feel like there is never enough time. I always have to compromise - really it feels like sacrifice or giving up something. How do I make it work? How do I find the balance?
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
I spent my Saturday morning reading the book, marking various recipes to try. Saturday was a gorgeous summer day so I selected the Grilled Baby Octopus Salad as my 1st recipe from the new book to make. What a great choice! It was super easy to make, so simple and so tasty.
I made a few modifications to the recipe. I couldn't find gigante beans so I used butter beans. Scott and I are both not fans of thyme so we substituted rosemary in the bean salad. The recipe calls for a vinaigrette of olives, orange zest and other ingredients. I didn't care for the vinaigrette and was VERY happy that I tasted BEFORE I drizzled over the platter. In place I simply drizzled the platter with extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice.
We had plenty left over. I chopped up the octopus and it made a wonderful side dish to bring to a barbecue on Sunday.
Adapted from Italian Grill by Mario Batali.
If you can't find baby octopus, you can use a full-sized octopus. Just simmer it in salted water about an hour, or until tender, and then cut up the tentacles before grilling.
For the bean salad:
2 (14-ounce) cans gigante beans or butter beans, drained and rinsed
1 garlic cloves, thinly sliced - originally called for 3 cloves raw - I cut to 1 clove and would recommend sauteing or roasting to lighten flavor
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary or thyme
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the octopus:
2 pounds baby octopus
extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 small bunch chives, cut into 1-inch lengths
Preheat a gas grill or prepare a fire in a charcoal grill.
Make the bean salad: Roast or saute garlic in oil. Combine the beans, garlic, scallions, rosemary, and olive oil in a medium bowl, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside. (The beans can be prepared a day ahead, covered, and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before serving.)
Grill the octopus: Toss the octopus with enough olive oil to coat lightly, and season well with salt and pepper. Arrange the octopi on the hottest part of the grill, leaving at least 1 inch between them, and grill, turning once, until crispy, about 4 minutes per side. [Only 1-2 minutes if you're using adult octopus that you've already simmered.]
Mound the bean salad on a large platter. Arrange the octopus over and around the beans. Drizzle with olive oil and fresh lemon juice. Sprinkle with chives.
Vinaigrette option if you choose:
2 shallots, minced
1/4 cup pitted Gaeta olives
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
grated zest of 2 oranges
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Make the vinaigrette: Combine the shallots, olives, vinegar, red pepper flakes, and orange zest in a medium bowl and and mix well. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Set aside.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
I had many ah ha moments during the class and then contemplating after the class. One that sticks out to me is allowing each person to have their own experience.
In our society we typically look at someones figure and make assumptions about their health, fitness level, etc.. based on their figure. Someone is tall and thin - they must be healthy and fit. Someone is short and round - they are not. Someone is young - they must be flexible. And so on. As I observed this class I could see 9 completely unique bodies with their own special qualities. Each person was unique and in many cases was very different than societal conventions would have said.
A beautiful very tall thin young woman who could barely reach the blocks, let alone the floor and had little, if any body awareness. A mid 40's woman who was shorter and rounder yet her hands could touch the floor completely and eased into down dog and parsvokanasana with grace. As I observed I had to consciously remind myself that each person is their own person, in their own moment and having their own experience. They are not to be judged or compared against each other or a standard that I may have created in my own mind.
Through out conversations about how to teach a intro or basic class there is a re-occurring theme that as the teacher you need to be aware of each person's capabilities/limitations and take the seat with an open mind instead of trying to "fix them". You need to allow them to have THEIR experience. During this class I observed this teacher truly have an open mind and not try to "fix them". She emphasized trying to create a pulsation and allowed them to each have their own unique experience.
Sunday, June 21, 2009
This morning I decided to do one of my beginner sequences as my practice and see how it felt. I found some changes that I wanted to make and feel pretty good about it. Here is the sequence below.
Key to my abbreviations
RBS = repeat both sides 3x - repeat 3x
DD – Down Dog AOH – Arms over head
Hands and knees
Hands and knees, melt heart
RBS Hands & knees, lift right leg back straight and left arm forward
DD, walk forward
3x Uttanasana, flat back
Tadasana, AOH, uttanasana
Right leg back lunge
DD, Plank, DD
Right leg forward- lunge
DD, plank, knees to floor, lower to belly, Baby cobra
RBS Low lunge, walk hands to inside, gecko (emphasis on hip opening)
DD, plank, knees to floor, lower to belly, Baby cobra
DD, walk forward
3x Uttanasana, flat back
RBS Tadasana, bend & lift right leg, hold knee, work on getting tall, & opening
tadasana , wide stance, clasp hands behind back, bend forward
3x Uttanasana, flat back
hands on knees, utkatasana, stand up, AOH, fold forward
Uttanasana, DD, Plank, knees to floor, lower to belly, clasp hands behind
back & rise
Rest on belly
Right leg Parsvakonasana prep
wide leg forward bend, flat back 3x
Parsvakonasana prep side 2
Wide leg forward bend, clasp arms, bend forward, rotate foot forward, lunge
DD, plank, knees to floor, lower to belly, cobra
RBS DD, Parsvakonasana, warrior 2, DD
RBS tadasana, tree
RBS ardha matsyendrasana
RBS janu sirsasana (bend over front leg)
Lay on back
ananda balasana (happy baby)
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Where does it come from? Why does it pop up from time to time? How do I make it stop?
I am very content in my life. I have a beautiful home, I am surrounded by wonderful friends and family, I have more "things" then I know what to do with. I have never known what it is like to be homeless, hungry, cold or to really know what is like to go without something I want. I am extremely lucky and grateful for that.
So why when I hear a friend or colleague scheduling a trip to Ireland, buying a new boat, renovating their house do I feel that little bit of pain? I am truly happy for them in their success and enjoyment and at the same time I start to wonder why can't I do that? Why can't I have that? What are we doing wrong that we need to make restrictions and hold back? I then of course get frustrated with myself because I know I have no reason to be envious. I wish there was a way to delete the feeling envy from my mind. I know deep down that I have an amazing life.
Life is good!
Monday, June 15, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Last night as I climbed into bed I thought it a little odd that Thomas did not come and announce he was coming to bed and then get in bed with us. I figured he must be snacking downstairs. This morning I woke and while getting dressed I heard these faint cries. I called to Thomas to get him to come in the room and he didn't. A couple minutes later as I started heading downstairs I heard these faint cries again. A light went off in my head and I realized where the cries were coming from - the closed door to the guest room. Last night he snuck into the guest room (which they are not allowed in.) He proceeded to get locked in that room for the duration of the evening.
I am sure in the beginning he thought it was a great thing he accomplished - getting into the room he is not allowed in. At some point I am sure he realized he was stuck but yet did not cry for help. Why would an extremely vocal cat not let us know he is stuck. I started thinking about this and realized this is not far off from what we "smarter" humans do all the time. We get ourselves in a situation. We don't realize that this situation can only lead us to a place of being stuck. Once we realize it, we don't ask for help. We give small signs that we need help and hope someone passing by will notice. We don't cry out and make it know - I'M STUCK - HELP ME! How much quicker could we become unstuck if we spoke out, if we put our pride to the side and asked for help.
A little boy was having difficulty lifting a heavy stone.
His father came along just then.
Noting the boy's failure, he asked, "Are you using all your strength?"
"Yes, I am," the little boy said impatiently.
"No, you are not," the father answered. "I am right here just waiting, and you haven't asked me to help you."
Monday, June 8, 2009
Simply pre-heat an oven (or toaster oven) to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil. Place the tomatoes on the cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, salt (gray salt is my preference) and pepper - mix around so all tomatoes are coated well. Place in oven and roast for 20 -25 minutes.
So many ways in which to use:
- In a salad - toss arugula with lemon & oil, place tomatoes on top, shave big pieces of Parmesan on top
- Pasta - cook your favorite pasta, toss with olive oil, add roasted tomatoes, ricotta salata and arugula
- Bruschetta - toast bread slices, mash the roasted tomatoes and mix with white beans, spread over toast
I spent this weekend in my 1st weekend of yoga teacher training. To be faced with the challenge of learning something knew is exhilarating and at the same time terrifying. At times, it was a very unsettling experience. To realize that I don't know the answers. I don't know where to begin or where I am trying to go. I don't even know the questions to ask. Can you say FRUSTRATION! This is not me - I have the answers, I know my stuff!
When learning something new there are 4 stages we go through. Each stage generates different emotions and fears.
- unconsciously incompetent - you don't know what you don't know
- consciously incompetent - you know you don't know
- consciously competent - you know you know
- unconsciously competent - you don't know you know
Friday, June 5, 2009
I stopped eating meat, foul and fish over 10 years ago - basically I became a vegetarian. I was always a picky eater. As a teenager meal time was always a bit difficult depending on the latest fad food idea I was going through. I never particularly liked meat. I ate it because it was served to me and I had to. When I went to college I had the ability to decide for myself what I wanted to eat. For years I danced with the idea of being a vegetarian. Much of the dance back towards the meat was due to difficulties in finding good vegetarian food in western New York and convenience.
When I finally stopped the dance it was mainly under the guise that it was healthier not to eat meat. As with many vegetarians once you become vegetarian you start to read & learn more. Your reasons become more ethical than health based. My reasons to date are both ethical and health based. I am an animal lover and truly believe it is healthier not to eat animal products. (I believe eliminating dairy is one of the healthiest things to do - however I LOVE CHEESE and need some vices.)
About 8 years ago I was going out to lunch with clients in Manhattan. In many instances my dietary choices would become a topic of conversation at lunch, much to my disappointment and avoidance techniques. Many NYC restaurants are extremely open and accommodating to vegetarians. Unfortunately, I have found that French style restaurants are typically the least accommodating and many of my clients at that time would choose French restaurants for meals. The menu rarely had a vegetarian entree on the menu. I would need to ask the server if they would make a vegetarian dish. The resulting meal was usually an extremely boring vegetable plate. The frustrating part of this experience was that my food preferences were brought to the attention of my clients and then it was inevitable that a conversation would start - can we say NOT FUN. After a number of these undesirable experiences I caved and decide I would order fish dishes. I could justify the fish in my mind because it wasn't on a farm, in a small cage, being tortured. I would have a couple bites of the fish, eat the sides and no one knew the better. But I did, and my body did (and my body rebelled). I did this for a year or two and decided to stop the fish again.
A couple years ago I decided to occasionally (maybe once a month) eat fish. I am not sure what made me decide to do this. I have struggled with this and struggle with this decision each time I choose to eat fish. I can eat it as long as it doesn't look like fish or look like flesh. I struggle with the fact that I am eating another living creature. It was killed to be eaten by me or some other person. Sometimes I can simply get past this because the King Tuna Roll TASTES SO GOOD! My body still does not like it when I choose to have fish - it rebels the next day.
I struggle with what do I now label myself. I am a vegetarian that occasionally eats fish. So does that make me a hypocrite, how can I say I am a vegetarian when I eat fish. How do I explain to people when they invite us over for dinner that I only occasionally eat fish when "it feels right." it could feel right at 4pm when I buy the tuna but by 7pm when I go to cook it I cant. Does it matter? Why do we need the labels? Why do we have to complicate life and put people into categories. We limit our experiences with people by creating images of who they are and limit our own experiences by trying to fit into this mold that we say we are. If we can just stop and pause, just be who we are without this idea of who we were, who we are suppose to be life could be so much sweeter.
Today is my 1st day of the Anusara Teacher Training program. I am excited and nervous at the same time. I love to learn and be challenged. I have been out of college 14 years. Even though I know I have continued to study and learn new things during this time there is nothing that compares to the experience of learning with a group of people. The different experiences, beliefs and ideas each person brings to the learning arena creates a dynamic environment which helps me to challenge & question myself.
This is where the nervous comes in. To challenge myself to question what I think, what I thought was going to happen, what I have been told in the past, who I really am and who I want to be. It is very easy to go through our daily routine without asking these questions. We (I) get caught up in the daily things that need to be done - laundry, groceries, dishes, work, etc... without taking (making) the time to look at the other deeper more important parts of life. In this training program I will have to look at these questions and many more on a daily basis - which is both exciting and scary. I have no doubt that in the end I will be happy with who I have become during the discovery process.
It is all about the journey...
Next Door has a more casual atmosphere and service style than Blu. The food style is more homestyle (mashed potatos, meatloaf, burgers) while at the same time has a great mix with specialty and exotic dishes. Their prices are about 20%-25% less than Blue which can make a week night meal out more reasonable. They are also offering a great 3 course pric-fix for $20.
Scott started with an octopus, white bean and roasted red pepper salad that was out of this world. The octopus was carmalized perfectly and cooked just right. The slight hint of rosemary with the beans was just perfect and not overpowering as rosemary can sometimes be. The broth that was left was perfect for dipping some good peasant bread in (and their bread is good, worth dipping and eating.) I had a an arugula salad with goat cheese, roasted beets and walnuts. I thought the menu had said pecans but I must have misread. I am not a big walnut fan, they make my mouth itch. Even with the walnuts the salad was excellent. Just the right amount of dressing - nothing was swimming - and the goat cheese was fresh, creamy and delcious.
For our entrees Scott had penne with duck, white beans and hot peppers. Wow, were those peppers hot. I had linguine with wild mushrooms, garlic and oil which was faboulous. The portions were enormous, as so many restaurants are. By the time we were both finished we each had 1/2 a bowl of pasta left in the bowl. We had eaten all of the "stuff" with some pasta and then left the balance of pasta.
I know many people like the large portions. I personally prefer "right size" portions. I don't need (or want) a heaping bowl of pasta. I would prefer to have a small amount of pasta and heaping amounts of vegetables, beans, etc... I like to be able to eat 2 -3 courses and not feel like I need to be rolled out of a place. I know, I know, I can always stop eating so I can have the next course. The problem is I have very little willpower. If I have a dish in front of me that is delicious I will continue to eat and eat and eat. It takes all my effort to stop - even though I know I should, and know I will regret it if I dont. I have started resorting to other means to prevent myself from eating to much. I will put my fork in Scott's meat dish that way I no longer have utensils to eat with. Other times I have been known to dump tons of salt on top so it no longer is tasty. I would much prefer if restaurants served more "correct" size portions - do we really need 1/2 lb of pasta in one course.
We had a wonderful bottle of Rosenblum Aparicio Zinfandel with the meal. We love zins, and Rosenblum is one of our favorite vinters. This was the 1st time we had this particular Rosenblum zin. It was a nice combination of pepper, blackberry with a bit of chocolate.
All in all a wonderful Thursday evening in Monclair.
What a wonderful meal we had.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
This is a saying that we here all the time and wave away without another thought. It takes particular situations that occur to remind us - life is really short and precious. You never know what the next hour or day may bring so you need to make each moment count. Celebrate every aspect of your life from the mundane to the extraordinary. Put your energies into things that count and not waste them on the inconsequential things you can not change.
I was at a funeral for my husband's grandmother over the weekend. She lived a long, good and at times very hard life of 86 years. The last 4 years had been very difficult as she suffered with dimension and was not always present. As I sat through the service and the events of the day that followed I was reminded how short life is and that this was truly a time to celebrate her life.
Through out the day I listened to gripes from one family member to another - this person didn't contribute money for the lunch, how could that person show up dressed like that, this person never calls me back. This went on for hours and hours. It was exhausting and emotionally draining. No one knows when their time or a loved one's time is going to come. To focus energies in a negative way serves no purpose in my world. This day wasn't about the individuals, it was about celebrating her.
Life is short! Make every moment count! Celebrate life fully!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Fear is a paralyzing emotion. The fear of one thing doesn't just effect you in regards to that particular fearful item. A fear of one item can spread into other areas of your life. The fear can restrict you from being who you are, who you want to be and who you are meant to grow into. As we move through our daily life we need to do things to continually challenge our fears to help us grow as a whole person. Overcoming one fear is like a pebble being thrown into a still pond. That pebble creates a ripple effect across the surface of the water. Those ripples are changes in your life that you now are empowered to explore. If we don't challenge our fears we will never know what we truly our capable of and how far our ripple can go.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
This morning I woke at 5:15 with the plans of going to a 6:00 yoga class. My intention was to go to the early class that way I would be home to spend time with Scott. To get up at 5:15 is essentially sleeping in for me since on a normal Wednesday I would be up at 4:30. My alarm went off and I was awake and thought about getting out of bed. I then realized how truly comfortable and relaxed I was. I decided to stay in bed. I re-woke at 7:00 and felt revived, relaxed and peaceful - the same way I feel after an asana practice. It is so easy to put labels on things and rate one thing as being more beneficial than another. It simply comes down to the intention you put into something and being in the moment.
I can gain as much from doing an asana practice, sitting in meditation or on somedays getting an extra hour of sleep as long as my heart is in all of them.
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Wednesday, April 22, 2009
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Friday, April 17, 2009
Today as I drove past the sun was just starting to rise and there was a beautiful pink and purple hue to the sky. As I looked off to the left I saw a completely different scene. The broken windows were reflecting these gorgeous colors, the lights were reflecting in the water and everything was glistening. It looked as magical as the NY skyline can look.
Sometimes we just need to look at things with new eyes to find the beauty,
Saturday, April 11, 2009
As I left the store and continued on with other errands I kept going back to this simple act of kindness by a stranger. She was fully present in the moment and chose to give to someone else. How often are we wrapped up in the past or the future that we miss the present moment and an opportunity to shine out and brighten someone's elses day.
“I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
Friday, April 10, 2009
It is so important to pause, be in the present and appreciate what is in front of you. It all can change so quickly.