Thursday, December 25, 2008

Happy Holidays!

Wishing friends, old and new, joy and warmth this season - continuing into the new year.

Narragansett, RI
Sunrise, Christmas 2008

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Class# 283; AYC DC Mysore Class # 125: Balmy Weather Discoveries.

Woke up this morning to a heat wave of 35 degrees fahrenheit.
Now, this is what weather in DC is supposed to be like!

Slight chill, but nothing to chill a northern gal to the core.
None of this frigid weather that seized up each and every one of my muscles, especially attacking my hip-flexors, making many poses (including standing from UD) nearly impossible.

Back to a solid non-cranky practice this morning. On thing I did discover, if you stand you also have to drop back. Go figure. Apparently it's not cool to stand, then just sit yourself back down on your mat and set up for another Urdhva Dhanurasana, stand and repeat a couple of times.

The idea of dropping back, for some reason, just freaks me out.

It would really be nice to stop thinking - I think I think too much. I find myself in deep back bend and freak out. Gentle A called me out on this morning - told me just to let go. So I did - I was just about touch the ground with my fingertips, then... *THWAP* Full forward solid double knee plant - like the hammer of a mousetrap hitting the platform. Knees were forward, not hips. Assisted dropbacks, no problem. But I think of it this way, I've now fallen on my head and knees - maybe next time I'll find some middle ground.

At least I now know where the band-aids are kept in the shala.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Class# 282; AYC DC Mysore Class # 124: Winter.

Mornings like these I wonder if I'm going soft.

I'm a Yankee at heart - aren't I supposed to thrive in the cold?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Class# 280; AYC DC Mysore Class # 122: Follow-Up

The whole standing thing wasn't a fluke, I feared to say anything for fear of jinxing myself. I stood yesterday and again this morning.

Some observations.
  • number 1. As Tova has pointed out to me (on many multiple occasions), keeping heels down makes standing much easier.
  • number 2. Keeping my rib cage pulling up and head back with my eyes following up the wall in an arc creates an even distribution and transition of weight from hands to feet.
  • number 3. There's a subtle spiraling of the thighs inward - that creates an amazing amount of energy (see crash in my cartoon - I think I had lifted my head too soon)
  • number 4. "Practice and all is coming." Is a true statement - I would add patience, but I'll take the statement as it is - because patience is probably implied and adding it would be redundant.
IMHO, the most important observation is number 4 and this whole "standing thing" renews my confidence that my "art thing" (in whatever form it takes for me) will take off at some point. It just takes time and a willingness to work. As the SPY teacher asked me after I asked him in sheer frustration what I needed to do to stand, he asked me: "Why it is so important to stand?" I looked at him and realized the truth of number 4.

Sitting over tea with the Sophisticate
on Wednesday evening, with my cute 3.75" CK brown crocodile t-straps and she in her super cute black and white patent leather peeptoes, I realized there are so many things we feel we have to do, but hardly ever stop to consider why we do them. Once you accomplish one thing, there will always be something else. So really, there's no reason to become frustrated with the process - it will only make things more difficult. If anything, the process creates conditions conducive to Svādhyāya, in it's most basic sense of the word - be it study of the world, a higher force, or at the most fundamental level - the self.

So, I guess the moral of this story is sit back, enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Class# 278; AYC DC Mysore Class # 120: Eureka!

After fighting bronchitis and all of the stresses and commitments during the past couple months and not being able speculate the idea of standing (in earnest) from Urdhva Dhanurasana for well over 4 months now. After stopping at Supta Kurmasana today (even though I practice through Urdhva Muka Paschimottanasana) I went into backbends.

TYH. Total. Yoga. High.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

So I Went a Bit Internal Again.

It happens.

I experienced a bit of, what could best be described as, an existential crisis of sorts. Incurred by the theme for a joint 30th birthday party that I'll be attending in NYC this weekend - come as yourself in 10 years. That coupled with the meme, my 29th birthday
* and a airline credit that needed to be booked by today, really got me thinking; from my writing for this blog, to my practice, to my pursuits, to what is really important in my life, who I am and who I'd like to be.

I feel a bit like I'm standing on the edge of opportunity and time.
I quite like it.

Talking with the SecondBeatle about my costume, he asked me what I didn't want to be and then think of what the antithesis of that would be. What I don't want to be is sitting in front of a computer mucking through receipts and expense reports, well heeled and dressed in a tailored suit and silk blouse. The antithesis I immediately envisioned involved bare feet, t-shirt and jeans, a drafting dot stuck here and there, IndiaInk stained and sobo glued hands and a yurt.

I'm quite alright with my antithesis, save for the yurt.
I like indoor plumbing and my 600 thread count sheets too much.

To get anywhere, takes a lot of practice alongside patience,
discipline and crazily enough, having some fun along the way. A bit like an asana practice really. That all being said, today and this coming weekend, most certainly are not the time for "sensible" shoes...

...and maybe indulgence in a maple spice cupcake from B&W.

* Today. 2:09 pm - although the "official" paperwork says 2:11. I consider 29 still to be young - looming on old - but in my mind old is a looooooong way away. Maybe in another 90 years? Then I'll certainly be closer to old.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Travels: You know you're hooked when... find yourself planning your vacations around moon days and the shalas, studios, and teachers who will be at your disposal.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Meme: I'm It.

Over a year of blogging and I have finally been tagged by a member of Bauhaus! She who wears fabulous shoes (and liturgically correct ones at that) while in her Sunday best.

3 Joys:
  1. Lingering in conversation over a meal with my parents and/or friends.
  2. Driving solo through the back roads or coastal roads of New England, windows rolled down and the heat on high during a crisp late fall night.
  3. Tomato soup and homemade baked mac & cheese on a rainy day.

3 Fears:

  1. That something will happen to my parents and I will not be around/able to help them.
  2. Not waking if I have an asthma attack while sleeping at night.
  3. Cicadas and grasshoppers.

3 Obsessions/Collections:

  1. Yoga
  2. Shoes
  3. 1st Edition Books

3 Surprising facts:

  1. While in the Boston area I worked for a rare/used/first edition book seller and know something about book repair and binding.
  2. I have over 15 pairs of argyle socks.
  3. For Christmas one year, the Mathematician and the Artist gave me a beautiful set of African blackwood bagpipes.
* * *

In filling this out I got to thinking about how drastically these have changed for me over the last couple years - and how quickly the answers can change. I noticed it was hard for me to limit joys and obsessions/collections - do I go with my top 3? or do i pick the most interesting? I compromised between these two. Would it be cheating if I mentioned that reading a good children's book, watching cartoons, and art were top contenders for joys?

As for my fears and surprising facts, I had to really think about them. On the part of fear, because as a means to escape/survive our fears, our minds have been conditioned to rationalize them away or avoid them. Once I opened up to these three a host more flooded in. Upon reflection and unlike joys, the greater number seemed fairly selfish. On the part of surprising facts, I try to bring as much transparency to all of my relationships as possible, even within the "anonymity" of this blog - so I assume that most people know everything there is to know about me. Which is probably far from reality of the situation.

* * *

And so, I tag: Fluellen, LegalMama, and Nairam

Monday, September 8, 2008

Doodle: Floyd

I dug out my micron pens this morning before heading into work.
I was on a mission.

With the last $5 in my wallet (and of my "misc" budget for the next three weeks) I bought a sketch book.

Nothing fancy. In an effort to jump start my new Art practice, I've decided to spend some time at lunch doodling. Something I realized early on during my practice today, that I had forgotten how to do. I reached for a pencil, because there's an eraser and a mistake can be undone. No! I quickly stopped myself. This is a practice in fun, freedom and improvisation. Then I remembered my pens - which were sitting on my counter back in my apartment - not in my bag.

However, no excuses would be tolerated. I pulled out a simple black PilotRazor pen. And took charge of my sketching. As I was making my to-do list for work tomorrow and on my way out the door, I flipped to a new page in my book and started drawing lines and filling them in. I had some notion of making a "tribal" design.

I crammed myself on the first train.
Then, pressed up against a DC suit carrying a bunch of stargazer lilies and bordering on a fit of sneezes...

I saw Floyd.

Mantra Monday: Nothing Good is Easy; Nothing Easy is Good.

Why do I practice mysore style ashtanga yoga?

When I began practicing back in May, I thought it was just another asana practice. I didn't know what I was getting myself into, the first two weeks of practice nearly killed me from the aggravation that my body wouldn't do what it was supposed to and the early hour, chief among a laundry list of other general complaints that I could come up with at a moments notice. But I stayed with it. It was hard - some days I literally had to slog myself to the shala and each and every breath and muscle hurt (at least they were letting me know they were there).

Then it slowly became easier.

At some point I came to the realization that the vinyasas are actually asanas in and of themselves, how breath and energy can move through the body. On Sunday's practice, there was no resistance and fight from my body as D2 slipped my legs over my head and pulled my hands together to be bound in
Supta Kurmasana.

There was no fight. There was no struggle nor drama.
Just with ease. Just with peace.

What is the main and unexpected lesson I receiving from my practice?

Be it law, architecture, medicine, asana - to move forward takes discipline. The willingness to meet yourself again for the first time and drop any preconceived notions of who you are and where you
think you should be. I've learned that these two only limit your abilities and impede progress.

The same goes for Art. Sure, there are people who are naturally gifted, but it's really how you use that gift that makes the difference.

In any asana practice strength builds flexibility and flexibility builds strength. Yeah, I could be content to get my nose to just past my knees in
Paschimottanasana. To get your nose to your shin, you don't muscle your way there, hunching your shoulders forward and rounding your back. You engage your legs, engage the illusive mula bhanda, and pull your shoulders down your back. Soon your body has the flexibility so it doesn't fight itself into position.

If you put in the time and passion your practice (law, architecture, art, asana) it will evolve at a quicker rate than if you just sit and lackadaisically move through life.

This week, I begin discovering my Art practice.
Will it be back to jewelry/metalsmithing? or painting? or something else?

I don't know.

What I do know:
I need to put in the time and have that same discipline to meet myself on the drawing board.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

A Different Shade of Green

I'm coming to terms with the fact that I'm one of those people here in DC who have to get away from the city for at least a day once a month. Otherwise, I become cranky and slowly become embittered and curmudgeonly.

That coupled with not sleeping well, replaying the events of two years ago as I tried to sleep, trying to sit with the images and sensations, allowing them space to process, the two times I did make it to my mat last week, I was no better than lead weight attempting to move through molasses and some semblance of the asana sequence. Case in point: D had me stop at Mari-C last Thursday after I completely foo-barred the Janu sequence and to be honest, I'm almost positive I missed a couple earlier asanas.

Traveling, letting go, returning to New England, and seeing a different colored green was much needed.

* * *

Saturday morning I woke, bright and early - 4 am so I could catch my cab to National and be there promptly at 5am. Upon arrival, I look at the departure screen and I didn't see the departure time for my flight. I saw the flight number, it wasn't the correct time. I was just going to proceed to the gate, but thought better of it and went to the ticket counter to inquire as to the change. As I walked to the counter, SakaPinda mat bag on my back and small weekend tote in tow, I looked at my boarding pass and it didn't look quite right.

I figured I was just tired.
Then it dawned on me like a hammer falling from the sky.

I was currently supposed to be at TF Greene, in Rhode Island - flying to National. Ha! After
talking with the ticket agent and laying the blame of the ticketing snafu squarely on the shoulders of my secretary (never mind that I am a/the secretary) it would have cost $1,170 to correct this error.

Call me crazy, but I'm not interested in paying that amount of money for what would total, round trip, approx. 100 minutes in the air.

The Mathematician and the Artist checked the Amtrak schedule and there was a regional train leaving Union Station at 6:20am. I could just make it and did. I've always enjoyed traveling by train - save for the Columbia Law student who sat next to me and proceeded to have the same loud drama-filled phone conversation at least 10 times between New York Penn and Mystic, CT where I met up with the Mathematician and the Artist.

The whole plane debacle became a great lesson in flexibility and creativity, remembering that there are always multiple solutions and the initial error, set up for a wonderful weekend. Forcing me to relax on a train as it wound it's way up the eastern seaboard. The weekend was full of wonderful food, from local restaurants with fresh local ingredients and fresh baked goods, to practicing mat to mat at SPY, going to a new-to-me shala for a led full primary class, to catching up with close friends I hadn't seen in ages.

If I had to pick a single solitary highlight to my weekend, I would have to say the time spent with Lady Apollo.

We hadn't seen each other since the Parson's and my wedding in August 2006. Sure, we've talked on the phone but there's something to be said for seeing someone in person. It's an understatement to say that a lot has happened since then. Laying on our backs soaking in the late summer RI sun in the Sculpture Garden behind RISD admissions, she hadn't realized the scope of everything that had happened. Simultaneously, I came to some further realization of how much 5 months of my life, two years ago has affected me and my path.

This was the first time in a long while that I shed tears for Parson and outwardly and publicly showed my grief, my pain, and my passion for living all that life has to offer.

Om Namah Shivaya.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Off the Grid.

One of the best ways to remove a splinter from your fingertip is to coat your hand in vaseline and cover it with a white cotton sock overnight. In the morning the splinter will have either worked itself out or can easily be coaxed out.

So I'm off to RI for the weekend - catching a cab at 4:30am tomorrow morning to Regan National. (Yay for e-savers)

Currently I'm planning on catching up with Bro, Fluellen, Lady Apollo, and of course the Mathematician and the Artist. Maybe catch a class at SPY and make it to Ashtanga Yoga RI for a led class Monday morning.

I've been off the grid for a bit - floating on the waves of emotion. Trying to figure out how to navigate these paths, I was reminded by Tova, a wonderful shalamate of mine (who knows the value of a luscious cupcake), that one of the things this practice does is to bring up emotion.

On a daily basis we work to honestly face ourselves. Processing our fears and desires - allowing it all to work its way to the surface - trying to find some balance and flow among everything going on in life.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Mantra Monday: It's Good to be Good...but...

...Sometimes, It's Oh, So Good to be "Bad."

If you look in my fridge and pantry, there is very little that isn't that "healthy." I usually get 6.5-8 hours of sleep a night. I generally do a good job of taking care of myself, but sometimes...

I have been known to split a bottle (or two) of Cava with the Mathematician along with bagels and cream cheese, chased by 3 donuts each from DunkinDonuts - before 6 am. That's neither the Mathematician's nor my normal MO.

But, every once in a while, an occasion calls for a bit of indulgence.

* * *
Staying up late to connect with a friend or taking some time to lose myself in an epic cheesy girl movie marathon at night resulting me missing practice the next morning. And/Or indulging in GH's decadent homemade from scratch fudge brownies, topped with rich creamy vanilla ice cream resulting in a sluggish practice the following day.

I don't rebel, jumping to the opposite extreme from a brief stint of indulgence. Living on detox tea and some sort of green-super-juice, spending my week beating myself up in practice and countless hours on an erg, watching the calories from each drop of chocolate and cream slowly perspire from my body.

For me, it's about making conscious choices, and knowing that a treat is a treat for that very reason. I'm only human, I have desires and sometimes it's worth satiating those desires to take a little gluttonous pleasure or solace in life - as long as that doesn't become the standard practice.

Now, about that pint of Ben & Jerry's sitting in my fridge...

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Class# 207; AYC DC Mysore Class # 56: Just Relax

This morning's practice I felt as though I was, to borrow from a southern friend of mine, moving through cotton.

I was stiff. Really stiff.

I could easily blame it on those divine bourbon and gingers on Friday night or the 6 minute mile I ran paced by the MetroBus on Friday morning, but I think blaming either of those would be nothing more than excuses.

Today's practice just generally happened - 5 Sun As, 5 Sun Bs and just moved through my practice with general resistance of both my shoulders and hips. I felt moderately strong, just couldn't translate strength into flexibility. As I moved into Kurmasana, I could feel D beginning to hover. "Great," I thought, "I'm stiff, there's no way I'm getting Supta Kurmasana today. D is going to push and stuff me into position like an overstuffed pillow, doomed to dramatically spill out of my seams." I could feel a cry of agony already welling up in my throat.

Then I found myself at SK. Normally D or K will push my left shoulder under my left leg, right shoulder under right leg and cross my ankles. Then my arms will be pulled so that my fingertips just graze each other, I'll take one breath and my ankles will uncross but my hands will be clasped. They will recross my ankles and my hands will spring apart. On multiple occasions D has expressed that he thinks I theoretically have the flexibility for this pose - I'm inclined to agree with him.

D calmly walked over, got my legs into position, put his hand on the middle of my back and told me, "Relax. Stop fighting the pose." Grasped my hand pulled them together and I clasped them. I started to feel every limb spring apart. He returned his hand to my back lightly pressed and rocked me back and forth, "Relax." I think there was a little bit of pleased laughter there.

And he walked away.
Leaving me, relaxed, bound, and stunned.

We all have our tar-babies, whether they are poses or something else, when you stop fighting and relax, the solution appears and it's fairly simple to get unstuck. (And more often than not, the result is quite surprising .)

Moral of this story. Just relax.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Food Friday: Dark-Chocolate-Ginger-Biscotti

Yesterday the Mathematician inquired as to the difference between a bog post and a blog post. Tuesday was a long day. I was tired. I was stressed out. Did I mention it was a long day? She also asked about this dark-chocolate-ginger-biscotti I keep on mentioning in my blog.

Of late, baking biscotti seems to have become my I've had a bad practice / day at work or I'm stressed out quick comfort remedy. Instead of just sitting in stewing in my day, I've found it's great to turn that energy into something positive. Baking anything that involves the use of my hands, ginger, and chocolate and some level of messiness - is pretty much guaranteed to lighten my mood. How can you not laugh at yourself when you go to get ready for bed and notice a large smear of chocolate on your forehead?

Besides being lots of fun to make, the smell of the dark chocolate and ginger permeate every corner of my apartment for at least two days. Waking up to the smell of dark chocolate and ginger is absolutely amazing. Almost as good as a hot and spicy rooibos chai latte. I've found these biscotti are great enjoyed with any black tea, CoffeeShop girl with her coffee, and actually they are quite good when soaked in (rice) milk.

Dark-Chocolate-Ginger Biscotti

  • 1/2-2/3 cup crystallized ginger coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 cup coco powder
  • 1 1/2 cup bread machine flour
  • 2/3 cup evaporated cane sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking power
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 cup safflour oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until well combined; set aside. In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar until light and fluffy. The volume should about double in size and then beat in vanilla and oil until well combined.

Slowly add dry ingredient mixture. It will become really thick, sticky and goopy. I'll scrape down the sides of the bowl and the mixer attachment with a rubber spatula multiple times. Then with the mixer on the lowest setting I'll add the ginger allow that to fully incorporate and then fully incorporate the chopped dark chocolate chips.

Once incorporated remove bowl from mixer, set next to baking sheet. Moisten hands under faucet with lukewarm water
and scoop out half of the mixture with your hands.* Form dough into 2 logs about 9' long by 2 - 2.5 inches wide and lightly smooth out top surface with water.**

Move to oven and bake until set on top, about 20-25 minutes.

Remove pan from oven and move logs to cooling rack for 10 minutes. (Here I switch out the parchment paper for my sili-mat which really helps crisp up the cookies in the final bakings). Once 10 minutes have passed, move logs to cutting board and cut them on a diagonal with a serrated knife (those electric knives are great for this providing quick clean cuts) about 1/2 - 3/4 inch thick.

Place cookies back on baking sheet and return to oven for 8 - 10 minutes. Open oven and flip cookies over. Continue baking for 8 minutes. I've found that the cookies don't need to be cooked as long on the second side and are more likely to be bunt, so keeping an eye on them at this point is a good idea.

Remove from oven, move to wire rack and allow to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

According to most recipes, they will last up to a week in an airtight container. In my experience they've been consumed within 4 I cannot report on shelf life.

* I
n my first biscotti baking attempt, I didn't take the recipes I looked at seriously about dampening your hand with water. But no - it is actually quite helpful when forming the dough. Unless you want to be licking biscotti dough off of you hands for the rest of the evening - this is very useful.

** I prefer making two logs instead of one. You can also make one log, about 3 1/2 inches wide, but in the later baking steps, it's easier for me to manage the two small logs and results in crisper biscotti. Also, because there is more surface area they cool / can be enjoyed sooner.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

When the rough gets going on a Tuesday morning, this little ashtangi...

...wakes at 5:00am, rolls over and goes back to sleep, reluctantly waking at 7:30am.

...bakes double-dark-chocolate-ginger biscotti after a long day at the office.

...writes a bog post and promptly crashes into bed.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Food Friday: Not-Crab Crab Cakes

I grew up in RI and now live in DC, both areas are replete with a cornucopia of offerings from the sea. In RI it's quahogs and stuffies, here in DC it's the crab and the crab cakes.

My problem?

Severe allergies/anaphylactic reactions to nuts, shellfish, and mollusks.

Last summer, CoffeeShop Girl was kind enough to point me in the direction a recipe in the Washington Post that could fill the crab cake void within my DC existence and play to the abundance of zucchini this time of year. After experim
enting with the Post version, I tweaked it to where I'm more than pleased with the results. I can't say if they actually taste like crab cakes, but they certainly taste and have a similar texture to how I would imagine crab cakes to be.

Not-Crab Crab Cakes

  • 2 cups coarsely grated zucchini
  • salt
  • 1/2 cup plain panko
  • 1/2 cup plain whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1.5 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon stone ground mustard
  • 1.5 tablespoon 2% Fage Greek yogurt
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 12 julienned fresh basil leaves
  • safflower oil, for frying
  • lemon wedges for garnish

Place grated zucchini in a colander; sprinkle lightly with salt. Let zucchini sit for about 30 minutes, allowing it to drain. Squeeze and pat with a towel to remove additional liquid - zucchini should be fairly dry. (THIS IS REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT. If the zucchini is still fairly watery, the result looks something like oily zucchini mush, which really isn't that appetizing. Trust me.)

Place zucchini, panko, and bread crumbs in a large bowl and mix together with hands. (One cup of either panko or bread crumbs could be used, I just really like the texture that results from mixing the two)

Place egg, Old Bay, Dijon, yogurt, lemon juice, parsley and basil in a large bowl, same size or larger than the bowl with the zucchini and bread crumbs. Mix well.

Add zucchini-bread crumb mixture to egg mixture, and gently incorporate and thoroughly. Form into 8 patties. Heat a small amount of oil in a skillet, and cooking patties on both sides, browning well. Based on the size of my skillet, I've found that it's best if I bake two at a time. Moving them to a warmed oven once cooked.

This is not really a quick recipe and does involve some patience in the skillet cooking process. For the 8 cakes, from shredding the zucchini to finishing cooking the 8 cakes, it took me about 90 minutes. During the experimental phases, many a zucchini cake was burnt or fell apart. However, if any zucchini cakes fall apart in the cooking process, never fear, they are absolutely wonderful mixed in with some eggs, making a something along the lines of a scrambled egg-zucchini-frittata.

Now only to find a replacement for a stuffie*...

* A stuffie is defined by as:
Clam stuffing baked in a clam shell. Also known as a stuffed clam.
David Steinbrick, a producer at Cox Communications, sent us this tidbit: "Over the years, I have heard the best way to describe a 'stuffie' to an outsider. A stuffie is 'a clam meatloaf in an ashtray.' Succinct and to the point. Except the non-native may wonder why we cook food in ashtrays."

For those who have not studied Rhode-Islandeese, please see this valuable internet resource.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Of Asana, Knights, and Transparency

Well, I didn't make it to the shala this morning.
I woke around 6:30 this morning, 90 minutes behind schedule, quite surprised about being in my bedroom and not in California, but from a wonderful dream.

* * *

I was practicing by the the pool of Neutra's Desert House (1946), the sun was rising and illuminating the colors of the rock of the surrounding landscape. As I begun my practice, there was a light fall breeze gently fluttering the white linen thai fisherman pants I was wearing. I moved with ease though the transitions fully and gracefully binding Marichyasana-D and there was nothing but fluid movements from Bhuja Pindasana and into Supta Kirmasana. I didn't panic as I moved into UD and standing, only peace and a wonderful sense of calm. (These are all things I can only presently aspire to in waking life.)

As I rolled up my mat my college advisor and figure drawing professor walked out onto the patio with chai and fresh homemade dark-chocolate ginger biscotti. I leaned against a human scale knight chess piece as they began probing me about what I was doing with my life. They offered suggestions on my current artistic exploits/endeavors and extended nothing but encouragement for my idea of overhauling my portfolio and seeing where that takes me.

My dream came to a close as I was handed a letter with an Eames stamp on it, that was returned to me, address unknown.

* * *

At the Jivamukti workshop I went to back in July, at one point the teacher spoke about how we're all moving towards a collective consciousness and all connecting on higher planes. Let me say first and foremost, I'm not one to subscribe to the Timothy Leary "Turn on, tune in, drop out" idea in the least. However, I am starting to think, that simply, we're all more similar than we want to believe and it's cultivating an awareness of that which is truly important. Those around us act as mirrors of where we are within our present (or even where we might have seen ourselves in the past or in the future). That once we acknowledge our own True needs, "flaws", and "strengths," we gain a deeper understanding of those around us and effect a level of transparency and strength within ourselves.

Recently I've been noticing a lot of patterns amongst those in my shala, the cyber-shala, and really just in general. True that our species finds an amazing level of comfort in patterns, I'm starting to find comfort in discovery and stepping outside of my usual patterns (which is not such a bad pattern to have). Looking back on my dream I know where all of these pieces are coming from and it's really quite exciting and interesting to see how they fit together and create a beautifully collaged image. I commented on a shala-mate's blog with a mash-up of a bit of Shakespeare and Lewis Carroll with the underlying idea that the world is truly really nonsensical and the most random of elements can come together to provide clarity, to promote intrigue, and that everything that is meant to get done will and in the manner it is meant.

The end product isn't what's important at all.
It's that idea of the process, again, being the most important.

Maybe that's why I'm really not beating myself up about not making it to the shala this morning. After my dream I got a wonderful 30 minute meditation practice in, something that I haven't had the luxury of in a long time. And yes I've spent my day juggling file requests, writing motions and [proposed]orders, running between meetings, fully suited and wearing those georgeous BananaRepublic black pumps.

Quite the antithesis from my early morning waking...

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Class# 200; AYC DC Mysore Class # 49: Lead with your heart (and hips); Not your head.

Ok, so that major break-through I had last week?
My eureka moment?
I've been getting stuck again.

My feet are parallel with the edges of my mat and heels are down. Palms flat on the ground arms straight. Shoulder blades spiraling down my back. But I'm not really going anywhere.

Now, between you and me, I know I get my left and right confused (most of us southpaws actually do). In my last couple practices, I've been finding myself getting confused between up and down, inhale and exhale, and back and forth. I've also learned how to "cheat" in standing from UD, bouncing my way up a wall from the bench, which is quite fun, but not in the true spirit of standing from UD.

As I'm about to throw in the towel from standing today, D walks over faces me, smiles, shakes his head walks out of the room and returns with a blanket. I blink a couple times and he brings me over to the rope wall. He places the blanket around my hips asks me to hold it there, face the wall and slips one of the ropes down over the blanket and asks me lean back. "Ok drop-back, hang, and come back up to stand."

I actually do this, with quite a bit of grace - multiple times.
And then I thought I was done. Nope. Back to the bench.

I prep my hands for UD, he places his hands on either side of my hips tells me to stand. I stand. Then drop back and I get stuck again. After wriggling my way up, he looks at me. And very matter of factly states: "You're trying to use your head. Lead with your hips then chest the your head will come up. Tomorrow."

And he walks away, leaving me standing in front of the bench, my hands at prayer.

* * *

Walking back to my apartment, I realize he's right. Sometimes, I think, I think too much. Literally and metaphorically I've been using my head too much. From practice to painting ...

Strange how this practice works as a metaphor for many aspects of life.
Am I starting to live my yoga? Or is my yoga starting to live through me?
Or am I just over-thinking things again?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Mantra Monday: Walk to the Beat of My Own Drum

Hey everybody when you walk the walk
You gotta back it all up you gotta talk the talk
Hey everybody when I hear the knock
Don't wanna measure out my life to the tick of a clock

I'll be the first to admit, my days are fairly regimented and there's a high level of discipline (and can be somewhat daunting the outsider).

03:00 am: Wake and grab a quick hearty but light bite to eat, go back to sleep for two hours.
05:00 am: Wake, shower, get ready for practice.

05:30 am: iPod on and out door to walk to practice.*
05:45 am: Arrive Shala.
07:15 am: (approx) Finish practice.
07:30 am: Return to apartment, choose shoes, get ready for work.
08:00 am: Walk out apartment and on my way to Metro

09:00 am: Arrive work.
05:30 pm: Leave work.
06:15 pm: Return apartment.
06:45 pm: Dinner.
10:30 pm: Bed.

This is the skeleton of my weekdays, wash, rinse, dry and repeat. Sure, there is a little variation in how the days are dressed, but the base is still there.

Saturday night, sitting in my apartment with some Bach cello suites playing in the background, I called the Artist (who had another successful show this past weekend). We talked for a bit and he noted that I sounded a bit down. Yeah, I've been talking that talk for a bit too long now. I needed to paint something or do something Art related.

Sure. I started a painting at the beginning of July. It's now the beginning of August - had I touched it since that one glorious night?
No. Why?

Pure and simple.

I have been leading a left-brained existence. Six minutes by six minute intervals - it doesn't want to let go. I'm trying to get the right side of my brain functioning again - allowing the existence of a form of self-expression in a manner that I've always found ease, comfort, and solace.

I took action and placed my Dimitri of Paris cd** in my player, put on my scruffy jeans, an old thread-bare t-shirt and took off my shoes. The Artist had given me a bunch of canvas scraps from his work to play with. At the start of Saturday night I didn't even want to touch my painting for "fear of messing it up." Which in and of itself is crazy. Logically, I know that it's my first piece, there's not much hope that it will end up in the Tate or MOMA, let alone grace the walls of a struggling coffee house.

I pulled one strip of canvas from the roll and began to splash paint about. How hard could it be to splash paint about?** Apparently quite hard. But that's only because I can see 29 looming on the horizon and have been bombarded with the notion of what is "good" art and what is "bad" art.

In terms of ending up with something that catered to my clean-line-art-nouveau-modern-
sensual-architectural sensibilities, was I successful? Not in the least.

I did begin to learn how to load paintbrushes properly, how water thins acrylics, the speed at which I need to work, and gain a better understanding of how to mix colors. Result? Highly successful. Especially since I discovered how to mix a color that will prove to be useful in my still life.

I then found myself working on my still-life with out abandon - it still needs some work.
However, it's actually going somewhere.

Saturday night, before I knew it, it was 3:30 in the morning.
Saturday night, before I knew it, it was 3:30 in the morning.

Then suddenly you hear it it's the beat of your heart
And for the first time in your life you know your life is about to start

: Poe, Walk the Walk from Haunted, 2000.

* Keeping pace by the songs on my playlist. Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me - U2; Supermassive Black Hole - Muse; Believe - The Bravery; and should be just finishing Mercy - Duffy by the time I'm at the Shala and taking off my shoes.

**One of the 3 cds I played on repeat the during the summer of 1999 during my switch from Bio-Chem to Architecture in college.

*** Aside: The next time you walk into a museum and see a painting and say, "Oh, I could do that!" Try it. I challenge you. It's *a lot* harder than you think. I would also venture that you'd be closer to the truth if you said, "Oh, I couldn't, but a 5 year old could do that!"

Friday, August 1, 2008

Food Friday: An Introduction, Cool Summer Quinoa Salad.

A few months ago I alluded to the fact that I restructured my diet.
This restructuring has been a process of moving towards more organic, whole and hearty foods - usually with more nutritional bang for the buck. Contrary to what seems to be popular belief, at least within the law firm, I am not/nor have I become or ever been a vegan or vegetarian.

Due to severe food allergies, nutritionally it would be highly difficult and involve waaaaay too many laboratory manufactured powders, pills and tonics. I looked into it. It's just not what's best for my body. So, I am labeling myself a Conscious Omnivore - like Indiana Jones in The Last Crusade, it's important to choose, but choose wisely.

As any of the Cru will tell you, I love to cook and would almost always rather cook than go out for a meal. Some of my best times with Parson were pulling together meals for one another or for our friends who would descend upon Braveheart's manor on Fst. Fluellen solicited me for a couple recipes back in December of last year for our hometown magazine. When I'm in a funk or hitting the artist's block hard, the Mathematician and the Artist will goad me into trying to cook or bake something new - sometimes successfully, sometimes not so successfully - quite like my first attempt at cooking quinoa on Friday night last week (it was the "rinsing" that proved more of a difficulty than anything).

So, adding this feature only seemed natural.
Also, what better way to start the weekend?

So how do I cook?
Well, sure sometimes there's a recipe involved. Sometimes it's just what's on sale at WholeFoods or the results of scavenging in my kitchen. In my experience, the latter tends to produce more successful results - simplicity and austerity leading to creativity (not unlike the Niyama of Santosha, and this week's recipie).

Sometimes I'll take a couple of recipes and combine them together (sort of like either Jivamukti or Baptiste).
Sometimes I'll be ever faithful to a recipe that has stood the test of time (like Ashtanga or Iyengar).

For my first offering to the table and in honor of the heat of a late DC summer:

Cool Summer Quinoa Salad.
  • 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups water
  • red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches of green asparagus
  • corn kernels from 4 ears of corn (~ 4 cups)
  • 1 small diced red onion
  • 2 thinly sliced average scallions, both white & green parts
  • good quality olive oil
  • champagne vinegar
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup fresh French sheep feta
  • 1 cup julienned basil leaves

Quinoa: Preheat oven to 400F. Bring three cups of water (I used water but low sodium chicken broth or veggie stock could be substituted) to boil with 1 tbsp of olive oil and a teaspoon of red pepper flake. Add quinoa. Cover put with lid and place in oven 400F oven for 20 minutes. At the end of 20 minutes, pull quinoa from oven, fluff with a fork and recover to steam for another 5 - 10 minutes. Refrigerate.

Corn: Remove corn from the cob. Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add 3 tbsp olive oil. When oil is hot, add corn, salt, and pepper, and cook for 5 minutes (until no longer starchy, just at al dente). Move corn into a large bowl and stir in diced red onion, scallion, 2-3 tbsp champagne vinegar, and 2 more tbsp olive oil.

Reheat skillet with 2 tbsp of olive oil place washed and trimmed stalks of asparagus in skillet. Add hearty dash of salt and fresh ground pepper, searing the asparagus until all stalks are just al dente and bright green. Remove from heat and cut into 1" segments. Mix in with corn.

Refrigerate and allow to cool. Once cold, fold in cold quinoa.

Stir in fresh julienned basil and fresh sheep feta right before serving, adding salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature.
(Serves 6-8)


Notes: I cook the quinoa a day ahead, so I'm sure that it is cold when adding it to the corn and asparagus. For the feta, I use French b/c it tends to be a little creamier/less salty. Also, I'm sure it would be fantastic to use grilled asparagus and corn in this dish, however, my DC apartment doesn't afford that capability and the Egg is on the other side of town.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Class# 197; AYC DC Mysore Class # 46: Eureka!!!

- with an assist from the bench -

(and after taking two days to recenter myself from Monday's lackluster practice and slamming my chin on the hardwood floor in my transition out of Bhuja Pindasana earlier this morning)

It was so cool, everything just clicked into place. As I started to stand it felt a bit like I was toppling forward *yet again* to my knees and was about to give in and then I realized that I was standing.

Absolutely crazy man.

Also, I must give a shout out to Yogitect out in SF for posting his notes from a recent backbending workshop he attended. Something in there really just clicked in this morning's practice.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Mantra Monday: I know. I know. I know. Or, in other words...

...dedication, patience, and contrary to my belief I am only human.

Phone call with the Mathematician:
  • I know.
  • I know.
  • I know.

  • I know that I've quite possibly been running myself ragged these past few weeks between yoga, work, and "fun work."
  • I know that at some point, the human body needs some good solid sleep and downtime.
  • I know that when I'm overtired I can become a tad emotional, lack concentration, and will devour anything and everything in sight.

  • If you keep on hitting your hand with a hammer, it will continue to hurt. Recognition of the hammer is the first step.
  • Pleasure and enjoyment are found within the simplicity of the moment.
  • Act don't react.

  • Clear schedule.
  • Capture the play of the sun rising on the landscape with a SLR camera.
  • Bake dark-chocolate-ginger-biscotti.

Friday, July 25, 2008

One Year Markers; B-lated One Year Asana Practice Anniversary

I was all excited because, I *thought* today was my one year anniversary of attending my first-ever-yoga-class. However as I looked back at my blog during lunch (which I began the same day as my asana practice) apparently I missed it by a day.

It was yesterday!
I forgot my own anniversary!

So far to date (not including this morning's practice) I have attended:
193 classes in a studio/shala setting.
Which translates to attending classes for 53% of my first year.

This number does not include the various workshops spanning AcroYoga to Jivamukti to Baptiste to Forrest Yoga and Nada and Kirtan. Nor does it include the 4-day AcroYoga intensive in London.

Translated to hours on a yoga mat (hym), I'm estimating, approximately: 335.75 hym.
I think that's a respectable number. Not a small amount of asana.
But not wildly crazy for a first year.

I'm not including the hours reading about Yoga Philosophy/Techniques or watching demos on YouTube or general asana "play." There are some things that are hard to quantify, especially when the practice of Yoga, in a traditional sense, is an 8 limbed path.

I will also spare you the calculation of that amount of $$$ I have spent on classes/worshops out of my own general fear of seeing that number in print outside of the safety of my budget. Also, I would rather not open the can of worms that is the amount of business I have single handedly provided Lululemon,, YogiToes, BePresent, and Manduka on yoga related "stuff."

Here's to the start of the beginning of my second year!

Aside: Lawyers log their lives in 6 minute increments - m
aybe I should be applying some of this logging logic to drawing/painting and other artistic pursuits...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Class# 192; AYC DC Mysore Class # 41: Follow-Up

Ok. So I might have been "a little" pithy in my post earlier today.
It was one of those practices where nothing seemed to "work quite right."

Whether it was attempting to spring my "legs symmetrically and tightly around my arms like a snake" for Bhuja Pindasana or any speculation of standing from Urdhva Dhanurasana even with the assistance of the bench - I *might* have been becoming "a little" impetuous.

While at the bench, D walked over and commented that I was basically standing and placed some blocks on my mat so I'd be closer to "standing" when/if I came to my knees. I fully realize asanas take time and patience and that things will eventually will click. After further sundry attempts and glorious fiascos, D concluded that I might not be using enough of my lower back muscles. Seeing as though I landed square on my Polish nose during my solo drop-back attempts on Saturday and Sunday - I have a sneaking suspicion that he might be onto something. So, promptly he had me stand and move into a half drop back and just hang there, focusing on my back muscles.

If you've never hung with your head a foot or so from the ground, bent backwards for a good 30 seconds...three times in rapid succession...
Let me tell you.
It's an interesting experience - to say the least. Something like walking on the edge of panic - that moment before inking that first line on a pristine piece of 300lb hot press paper, it seems to take an eternity and is always a little awkward.

In retrospect, I quite liked it.

So. Tomorrow is a new day.
I will wake at 5 am. I will be at the shala at 5:45am.
Back to the drawing board, or mat, as you will.

Class# 192; AYC DC Mysore Class # 41: Question 3

Why am I doing this?

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Class# 185; AYC DC Mysore Class # 35: Do. Or do not. There is no try* & a Jedi Assist

According to the Mathematician and the Artist, I didn't crawl much when I was a baby. I'm almost positive my reasoning went something like this: Why am I going to crawl around on the ground, getting myself dirty when everyone else is upright moving so much more efficiently? Walking was pretty much where it was at. They are oft and quick to regale me with the story that I stood up unassisted in the URI quad, took two steps, paused, my eyes widened and then fell to the ground. And after that, there was certainly no going back.

Of late I've been "forgetting" to work on standing from
Urdhva Dhanurasana (UD) being "too tired" to attempt to stand. Yes, there's a 4" bench available to assist in standing and drop backs. I've tried it and have not gotten any closer to standing. Drop back, no problem either with or without the bench. Standing just wasn't happening. Besides, if I'm going to stand, I'm going to stand without the bench.

(I have noticed that I do have a slight proclivity to stubbornness.)

On my first
UD of the day, D walks by my mat and inquires, "Are you going to stand today?"
My response, "No." I return to the floor and reset for my second
UD. I go up for my second UD, and walk my hands closer into my heels. 15 breaths, I do a little rocking back and forth, return to the floor. My "final" UD, I go up walk my hands insanely close to my heels.

I see two feet enter my dristi, and they aren't mine. D, tells me "You're going to stand." I realize there is no other option as the feet disappear to my feet. As I let out a frustrated sigh, D presses two finger tips smack dab in the middle of my maunbrium (upper part of the sternum - yes I still somewhat remember anatomy from AP Bio all those years ago) and I stood up. I really stood!? Don't ask me how it happened but it did! I dropped back, his finger tips still there and back up again. D gave me some coaching on drop backs, and on my second drop back, I got a little hang time before my hands touched the floor, it was almost as if his finger tips were holding me off the floor. Crazy. From that point on, I felt like a character from a Pirandello play. Up and down, up and down.

But if I had known it would only take two finger tips!

*Yoda, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Class# 184; AYC DC Mysore Class # 34: Uno Mas.

Sunday I was going along grooving into Navasana and moved into Urdhva Dhanuarasana (UD). Hanging out while in my third, half way upside down, K comments that he should have added Bhuja Pindasana a few days ago and noted that I always seem to have started back bending when he heads over to add it. Yesterday, after finishing 4 or 5 repetitions of Navasana, I vinyasaed out and dutifully knelt on my mat patiently waiting for the mysterious Buja Pindasana to be revealed.

I had some inclination of what theoretically should happen. Yet again, theory and practice don't always meet true like a beautiful dovetail joint on the first attempt. I had no difficulty linking my feet, but I encountered some difficulty when it came to dropping my chin 5mm from the mat and lifting my toes from the mat. All in due time. *BUT* I managed to transition out and held a close approximation
Tittibhasana A resulting in my amazement, leading my collapse into a sweaty pile during my transition to Chaturanga Dandasana.

I regained my composure, thinking at least K doesn't know that D and J are trying to get me to stand from
UD (or at least he doesn't let on) and I move on to back bending and to finishing. Soon I found myself prepping for Sirasana A, aka headstand, without pausing for an assist. My first full on Shala solo attempt which ended up something likened to Viparita Dandasana.

K came over to my mat, smiling, motioning for me to repeat
Sirasana A. I was spent, between the Buja, Titti A, and UD, still, up I went for 20 breaths, with only a simple light assist. Of course this is easily likened to the times I've been out with CoffeeShop Girl and Vespa Boy and another Pisco Sour magically appeared in hand.

I knew I shouldn't but...why not?
Uno Mas.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

3.75 Inches & 1/2 of 2008

Last night I had decadent dinner in Georgetown, comprised of intoxicating conversation, spinach quiche in all of its buttery and cheesy goodness and split a bottle of champagne (thank goodness for moondays). I even pulled out the 3.75" Charles David heels expressly for the occasion.

During dinner I was asked, "So what makes your eyes sparkle with wide-eyed passion?" I totally fumbled my answer to that one. I could easily answer this a couple months ago, right? I wanted to give an honest answer but in the moment I didn't know how to respond. That really surprised me. Yes there's, Ashtanga, AcroYoga, Jivamukti, the Mathematician and the Artist, the Cru, the Attorneys I work for, others, and shoes - but what about me?

Towards the end of dinner, I couldn't help but overhear the conversation at a nearby table. Two men were discussing various firms. Initially I paid no mind until the older of the two mentioned HOK, which I immediately recognized as one of those monolithic Architectural Firms with 18 domestic offices and 37 internationally. My interest in their conversation heightened and I resituated myself so I could eavesdrop with greater ease. (I
think the older of the two found some humor in this as he smiled at me when I unintentionally made eye contact.) I remember looking at that firm when I was making my move to DC - I gave up my pursuit, when I realized it was what I thought I didn't want.

Sitting with a cup of lemon ginger tea and some ginger snaps tonight, I began writing out my 2, 5, and 10 year goals. (After all, we're at the half way point of 2008.) I started thinking over the conversations I've had over the past few months, blogs I've stumbled on, books I've read, and my recent dreams.

I vividly recalled a succinct conversation I had back in December. Soon thereafter, walking to yoga after work, I would notice the numerous boutique and medium sized Architecture firms surrounding my office. While in London for AcroYoga, I went to only one museum, Somerset House, with the express purpose of seeing their exhibition Skin and Bones (on fashion and architecture - I thought I would be most intrigued by the fashion but spent the majority of my time drooling over the architectural models). I recently received a mailing from the National Building Museum about their exhibition on Eero Saarinen - definitely in the top 5 of my top 10 for architects (because of 1 building).

No, I am not thinking of immediately up and leaving my wonderfully nuanced and passionate attorneys in the near future. This a really long term and rather involved goal that feels surprisingly liberating and at least makes some sense for this moment.

If you create your own reality, and if reality is perception...
Is everything already present and we only choose to notice those things that are of particular interest or timeliness?

Maybe, sometimes it's necessary to throw those 3.75" heels back on...

Monday, June 23, 2008

Mantra Monday: Sometimes You Just Have to Start From Scratch - and Begin Again.

The Mathematician and the Artist were shocked to discover that I don't have a toaster and use my oven when I see fit to have semi-toasted/warmed bread. With great alacrity, the Mathematician corrected this abhorrence and tomorrow I will be receiving a brandy dandy new to me KitchenAid toaster (to go along with all of the other kitchen gadgets I somehow accumulated). I rushed home from work as languidly as WMATA could possibly transport me.

Barreling though the door, quickly changed from my work clothes into (what else) yoga pants and a t-shirt ready to get baking. I pulled out my bread machine and began to pull together the ingredients for my honey-oat wheat bread. I only had 1.5 cups of wheat flour. No problem I could cut it with white bread flour, it wouldn't be the same, but it would be passable. THEN, just as the machine moved to the rising phase of production I momentarily lost power in my apartment.

Not more than 45 seconds.

The lights came back on and the sounds of XM's Ethel station filled my kitchen. And there was a lone beep from my bread machine, asking me if I was ready to start making bread. Yeah.

I lost a loaf of bread (and dropped the gooey mass of flour, honey, oats and gluten on my kitchen floor).

So, tomorrow I'll be making another loaf of bread, starting over - maybe trying my hand at some amaranth bread.

Kinda like this painting I began in in August 2004. I spent one afternoon sketching the structure and one afternoon painting what I would call the base. Have I touched it since? Nope. It has, however, moved to three different apartments since then. Looking at it, it really wasn't that bad. I just lost the idea somewhere along the line and can no longer connect with that original vision (nor can I find my notes and sketches).

Life gives this wonderful oppertunity to start fresh, whether it be a new day, a loaf of bread, or a painting - there has to be a willingness to accept and embrace that potential.

So tomorrow, I begin again.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Class# 174; AYC DC Mysore Class # 28: Savor.

It was one of those weeks, AGAIN.
My Monday began with some crazy allergic reaction puffing my eyes pretty much shut and treated with what could best be described as a Benedryl induced coma. I finally recovered enough to go to practice on Wednesday morning, but it was a moon day!

Practice on Thursday and Friday morning, it felt as though each remaining drop of Benedryl was being plucked out of my system drop by drop with needle nose pliers. Work was crazy busy - I don't know if it's the weather, but everything seems to be coming to a head at the same time. In my experience, during the summer work slows to the pace of New Hampshire maple syrup in late November in law - it has been more like ice cream outside on a DC midsummer

At work yesterday I had the oppertunity to meet the client of one of my attorneys, reviewing media and audio footage related to his case. While normally I would jump at the chance to watch and compile media, I must say that some of the images and audio really hit me hard.

Finally I left work, and getting to the Metro I realized that I left my wallet at my desk. Then the battery on my iPod died - not that I could find any music in it's ginormous library that I could tolerate for more than 10 seconds. After 5 minutes arduous contemplation, I just decided to just go home, it was 7:30 in the evening. It could wait. When I returned to my apartment, I was in no mood for anything, I just wanted to curl up on my couch in a blanket with a pint of Ben & Jerry's Half Baked. As I came to my apartment there was a package notice wedged in my door. I wasn't expecting anything, probably just some overflow. Curled up on my couch, with a cup of tea, (no Half Baked in the freezer, grrrrr) I was in a staring contest with the notice on my table. It was winning. I gave into its taunting. I reassembled myself and trudged heavily to the front desk to pick it up.

It was a package from Lady Apollo.
I opened it and smiled.
My first honest smile this week.

An unexpected and simple gesture of love, warmth, and friendship.

Practice this morning felt light and as though something had been lifted. Instead of loudly and sloppily plopping back during my SunSals I actually floated back landing quietly and with strength. I wasn't in a rush and savored each pose, deepening my twists, and opening with every backbend.

Every day is a new day and oppertunity to live. To observe and learn from the past, knowing that wounds heal and opportunities present themselves with patience, hard work, and time. Each day is really separate and independent from the one before and the next.

Most importantly, each day is best savored.*

* Although, sometimes, it does require a side of Half Baked...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Mantra Monday: The Secret is to Begin

A couple Saturday back I ventured out to the wilds of NE, with the local members of Bauhaus, to Artomatic. Begun in 1999, it was a way for local artists to come together and share with each other and the community at large. At Artomatic, two things are clear: the fun and the true passion that some of these Artists have for their work.

While walking through the floors I was stopped dead in my tracks by a single lithography piece. Simple white courier lettering on a plain black background:

The secret
is to begin.

In that solitary moment I realized that I've been talking the talk, without walking the walk. Talking about metalsmithing. Then saying that I'm "taking a break" (even though the last piece I completed was in May of 2007)
from that to concentrate on drawing and teach myself how to paint. Have I started back on drawing, honestly? Truly?


I chalk it up to fear of failure - beacuse if you don't start, you can't "fail," right?

It's absolutely amazing how easy it is for me to find something else to direct my energy into. It's astonishing how creative or desperate (as the case might be, my bathroom is now pretty much spotless) I can be when it comes down to avoiding taking action.
My recent favorites are spending time on YouTube looking up Ashtanga yoga demos or "cleaning" my apartment or trying out new recipes or reorganizing my tea.

So, last Thursday night I returned to the metalsmithing bench. Tomorrow night, I begin sitting with my drawing board from 7:00pm until at least 9:30pm. If I have the discipline to wake at 5am for Mysore, I should certainly have the discipline for something I have enjoyed for as long as I can remember.

Small yet determined steps, remembering that...

The secret is to begin.