Thursday, October 29, 2015

Fold / a solo trip to san francisco

Flying solo isn't something I default to. I am a closeted introvert, pretending to be an extravert. You know those people. This past weekend I gave myself the gift of a weekend in San Francisco alone to attend a two-day yoga workshop. It was a short weekend to wander around and spend some time getting back to the roots of me. I expected to feel a little more revived, I expected to be more tired upon my return, I expected it would take me a moment to get my footing, to find some solace in the time without anyone else around. But it was any of those things, I took to this weekend like a fish to water; sliding effortlessly into its deep cool waters without any ties to time, responsibility, roles, or deadlines. I just woke up Saturday morning, made my way onto the street with only my backpack strapped to my shoulders and I just started walking. I walked and walked and walked and walked some more. I stopped when something caught my attention, I meandered around the streets that felt busy and then made my way up and around to streets that seemed to stand still. I climbed over hills just to see the view, I walked to the middle of the Golden Gate bridge because when you are standing right under it, why would you not want to walk to it's center?

I filled my minutes, hours, and days with things that felt delightful. I full engaged with my food, my body, my desire, my preferences, my wishes, my wants, and my needs. This almost never happens in my real life, I rarely take the time to pause, ask myself what would truly feed my soul, and then listen to that call. Oh dearest ones, please please please do listen to that call.

This weekend felt like the biggest breath of air I've been able to take in so long, longer than I can remember or care to admit. The intention of this sacred trip was to study with one of my yoga mentors, Elena Brower. She is a mentor to many of us, but she has quietly been such a force in my life and my practice these past few years, and she doesn't even know it. I have come to soak in her teachings all over Los Angeles, and on the interwebs. She has informed my teaching, my practice, and my daily routine in such profound and life altering ways. I am so very honored to be her student. We need these teachers, mentors, friends, to guide us into the unknown; into territory we have yet to walk, yet to teach, and yet dared to encounter. Who inspires, moves, and challenges you? 

I spent the entirety of her six-hour workshop this weekend in a room with 150 other yogis. People who showed up from all over to be a part of that sacred space to breathe, sweat, and get uncomfortable with each other. It is a powerful vibration to sit on your mat in a bright, afternoon-lit room, feel a cool breeze coming off the ocean, hear the street below, take a huge intentional breath in and then release that sweet om with the collective voices of 150 other people. People all coming into the space with their most vulnerable open hearts, seeking to be confronted, awakened, challenged, and healed by their own work on their mats.

This weekend taught me that as teachers we have the beautiful capacity to teach from what we truly know. Our teachers offer us a way to access ourselves, because sometimes we need someone to show us another way of seeing so we can truly see ourselves anew. This is why we practice, why we show up day after day, why we find surrender and confrontation on a small rectangular space. We are all teachers here.

This weekend helped me see that we are nothing for others unless we can first feel moved, propelled, and fueled by those things that ignite our souls. When we allow ourselves the opportunity to truly fill up our own emotional buckets, we will then learn how to overflow into others without disengaging with our own needs. It's a profound truth to interact with, and one with which I am sure to continue to meld and maneuver all of my life.

Think about this...How are you igniting your soul, leaning into your solitude, making it to your mat? You are needed in this world, but first you must serve yourself, than you will burn brightly to light the way for others. This is our yoga. This is our practice. 

Thursday, October 22, 2015

POUR / dark chocolate gingersnaps

Since it doesn't seem to feel like at all like fall, I decided it was time to fake my way into fall, to think forward to the holidays ahead, and jumpstart that feeling of change in the air. I was drooling my way through the beautiful Mast Brother Chocolate cookbook this week and found this recipe among it's beautifully curated pages. Happy Fall to you and yours!

Note before you begin: The dough must be refrigerated for at least two hours before baking. 

From Mast Brothers Chocolate: A Family Cookbook

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup molasses
2 teaspoons water
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
7 1/2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup granulated sugar

1. In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream butter with brown sugar until fluffy.
2. Add molasses, water, and fresh ginger and combine.
3. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, ground ginger, cinnamon, and nutmeg and combine.
4. Add chocolate and mix just enough to blend into a dough.
5. Wrap dough into plastic and refrigerate for two hours [I refrigerated overnight].
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Shape the dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and roll them in granulated sugar.
8. Place cookies on a baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove from the oven, and let them cool before eating most of the pan, and then sharing them with friends. These pair beautifully with a cup of coffee, a cool fall breeze, and maybe flannel (actually, definitely a flannel!).

Saturday, October 17, 2015

GATHER / meeting your heroes

When the universe presents you with the opportunity to meet one of your heroes, take it. I was debating whether or not I was worth $30, whether or not I wanted to drive 1.5 hours in rush hour traffic, and in the end I am so glad that I just said, "It's Liz Gilbert, get your booty in that chair". Elizabeth Gilbert has been a part of my life since 2007 when my mom first picked up a copy of Eat Pray Love and said, "I'm getting this for you, it's sounds funny and you could use a laugh". I voraciously poured over every page of that book and have since then re-read it 3 times, rediscovering and uncovering new parts of myself on different pages. This book has meant so much to me. I even got my tattoo, an outline of India, to help me remember that we can always make the leap, take risks, let go, and find ourselves again.

I've been waiting in earnest for Liz's new book Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear  for a while now. I listened to every episode of her podcast, Magic Lessons, and discovered, while I had only experienced Liz through the written page, her voice over the air waves was light, passion-fueled, oozing with compassion and love, and really just plain lovely. I couldn't wait to meet her. Sometimes I know meeting your heroes can be a let down, sometimes we wish we hadn't met them so they can burn brightly in our minds as those people we imagined them to be. But let me tell you, if you ever get a chance to see Liz in person, JUST DO IT. She will light you up, leave you inspired, and darling, she will show you how much she truly loves those around her. 

It was such a pleasure to listen to her read the opening chapters of Big Magic and get a glimpse into her internal dialogue with creativity and fear as she tackled bringing this book into existence. The night ending with Liz laughing about her favorite words: fuck and lovely, and laughing as the rest of the evening was filled with expletives from everyone. Liz also shared with us her unabashed love for karaoke, Liz and her friends go to a country bar in their small town every week to work out their demons, struggles, joys, and pain through a microphone at the top of their lungs; so naturally, we all sang out the evening with John Denver's"Country Road".

 I just dove in, but here are my big ah ha moments from just the few opening chapters: 
  1. Creativity and Fear are conjoined twins. They arrived on this earth with you and will be with you for the rest of your life, so....make some room for them. Acknowledge them. Honor them. Then get to work. 
  2. We all have that little voice in our head that was planted firmly in place by a small comment, phrase, moment, or person from our past that has somehow become the guiding force in your present moment. Don't let this voice keep you from creating, living, breathing joy in your life and your work. Your destiny is firmly in your hands, and we have all the power to release these voices from there unnecessarily duty. 
  3. We are all CREATIVE. You, and you, and you, and you, and even ME. It's in our DNA to be inquisitive, curious, crafty, and intuitive. I even wrote down in my journal, "When did I tell myself I am creative", somewhere along the way I forgot to remind myself that I am powerfully creative, did you forget too? 
If you feel like your struggling, down on yourself, itching to start something but don't have a road map to get started, or just want to feel re-ignited by your work, get this book, just do it. You are worth $24.95, I promise you are.