reminiscing. missing.

I missed my grandfather today. I wished he could've been here in Barcelona with me. To show me the places he knew. That were his.


I've always felt that Barcelona was mine. Not mine in a possessive sense. In the way that a certain style is yours, or a habit. Barcelona was mine.


But today I had that sense that he was missing. This city where he had grown up. Where he had lived. That was his. Here I was just reminiscing about every day I'd spent here, without him.  Without him as a guide or a mentor. And now he was missing.

 La Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona  

La Rambla de Catalunya, Barcelona  

inspiration.

Sometimes it's good to remember that inspiration comes with preparation. When I have no inspiration, if I push myself to at least set up my space- whether that means setting up my easel and putting everything into place and mixing paint, or making tea and getting a notebook and my laptop ready for writing - the simple act of setting up my space creates the right mood for inspiration to come join me where I am.

Sometimes you just have to start. Light a candle. Make it special. Dress a certain way to prepare yourself for it. Put on music that inspires you. 

When I was younger, if I so much as painted  my nails I would get struck with ideas for a new painting. If I tried to do homework, simply holding a pen or pencil made me want to sketch. But I think as we get older and we get more responsibilities, we become less inspired because it feels like there isn't enough time for creativity. Of course that's not true. Creativity fuels you. Creating can give you energy to do everything else you do with just a  little bit more joy. 

Let inspiration hit you. And if it doesn't, seek it out. Create space for it. Tell the universe " I'm ready". And let inspiration meet you where you are  

 

set yourself free.

So humbled.


One of my students today shared with me after my chair yoga class that she cries in closing meditation every time. She lost her son to a car accident in January and she takes care of her sick husband at home. She has nowhere to cry. She hasn't been able to grieve.


I could see her pain. I could see her confusion. She almost wanted to stop coming so that she wouldn't cry.


Two other women noticed her crying and came over to comfort her. These are the two self appointed "chairmen" of the class (it's chair yoga, get it?). And it just made me realize what an amazing little tribe I have. They support each other, they laugh together, and for many of them that class is the highlight of their week. And the three of us just talked with her about what was going on and reminded her that it's okay to cry, and why it's healthy to cry.


We release things when we cry. When we bottle up emotions they cause tension in the body, and sometimes they can cause some very real harm.


Crying sets your pain free.


Human beings are not meant to carry the heaviness of emotions with us. We're meant to feel them. Process them. And then, let them go.


And in doing so, we set ourselves free.

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sacral chakra & creativity

I've been wanting to write a blog about each of the chakras for a long time now, but not anything formal or even informative.  I just wanted to write the first thing that comes to mind about each. What I've written below actually wrote itself yesterday. It's about creativity. Which is exactly what I think about when I think about the second chakra. 

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But first, a little about the second chakra.

The second chakra is the sacral chakra, or svadisthana. The element of the sacral chakra is water.

Flow. Movement. Emotion.

 Amorgos Island, Greece  

Amorgos Island, Greece  

Imbalances here can show up as bottling emotions, or being overly emotional, intimacy issues, repressed sexuality, or issues with addiction. It can also show up as writer's block, loss of creativity, or a loss of authenticity

My svadisthana mantra is "Creativity flows through me like water." And some days it's, "I feel, I'm in touch with my emotions, I'm in touch with my sensuality."

So below is what I wrote yesterday about living a creative life. I felt like it was appropriate to share along with this. Hope you dig. :)

Writing can me to tears.

Reading about writers writing gives me butterflies. It's something that I know is mine. I can feel it in my blood. It rushes through my veins like words rush onto a page. 

I feel this way about teaching yoga. Sometimes I feel this way about painting too. 

You don't have to stick to one calling. You can have all the callings you care to. I nourish my inner creator every time I step on a yoga mat, every time I pick up a paint brush, every time I write.

Sometimes I feel like I don't do it enough but the truth is, I just do it when I feel inspired. And sometimes that's five times in one day and other times it's five times in one year. 

The reason I'm writing this is because it asked to be written. But also because I want you to know that you have permission to create whatever your heart desires. 

You have permission to become anyone or anything that you choose. You do not have to stick to the path you're on.  As human beings we are truly blessed with the ability to create. And we do it every day. We create style when we get dressed. We create culinary art when we cook. We create so much more than we give ourselves credit for.

 And that inner artist in you is begging to be recognized. Just to be acknowledged. Then maybe inspiration will flow to you too. And if it doesn't, just play. There is nothing wrong with making art that isn't "good", whatever that means. It's the process that counts, the journey if you will. The act of making the thing, not the thing itself that is important. 

This is our gift. 

To create. To be inspired. To play. To connect with our divine. Our inner creator. 

This is the magic that exists within each and every one of us. 

Whether you choose to accept the gift, or not is your choice.

This is a public promise to myself that I will write when I feel inspired. That I will paint when I need colour. I will move when my body asks me to move. I will live creatively, because it's the only way I can. This is my soul pledge. 

This is a formal invitation to join the movement. There is enough room for all of us. There is enough inspiration to go around for everyone. Will you come create with us? 

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7 day meditation challenge.

So today is day two of my 7 day meditation challenge with myself! I have not been a good meditator in the past but I have always wanted to start a practice. Like anything, I am starting small. I just got the Mindbliss meditation app and my goal is to meditate twice a day. I am only halfway through day two so things are going well. I've been doing a chanting meditation in the morning or early afternoon, and a calming meditation before bed. These are short meditations, 20 minutes or less.

I am posting this to keep myself accountable. The Mindbliss app has meditation journeys, which are several meditation sessions that go together. I chose a 7 day journey, and I'm hoping that after the 7 days I will find another good journey to keep me meditating regularly. I tend to be constantly moving, striving, and doing. The only stillness I am really comfortable in is savasana and I honestly think that is because I worked for it in my practice. So my intention is to find comfort in stillness, and to learn acceptance. 

Today I woke up late so I didn't meditate first thing in the morning, I waited until I got home from teaching my first class. I am also experimenting with intermittent fasting (which I will post about once I've been doing it for a bit longer) so when I got home I was pretty ravenous and normally would have just eaten everything in the house. But instead I meditated. During my meditation I felt aware of the sensation of hunger but somehow detached from it. I was able to meditate with a clear, open mind. And then when I was finished I took my time preparing a meal rather than just devouring whatever was quickest. I'm not saying two whole days of meditation made that difference, but maybe it helped me to change my mindset. I'm definitely interested in seeing where the next seven days will take me. 

If you have a meditation practice or are interested in starting one tell me about it in the comments below! 

Namaste <3

the journey towards a vegan diet.

I’m about to disappoint a few people. And to be honest I’m a bit disappointed myself. But if I intend to live my yoga practice - I have to be authentic and share the pieces of me that I’m still working on.

Seven months ago I decided to make a lifestyle change and go vegan. It didn’t go so well. I really tried for awhile, I did. At first I was cooking a lot and meal prepping and finding tons of great vegan recipes. But as time went on, the busy-ness of life got in the way. I felt so overwhelmingly guilty every time I ate something with cheese, or something that probably had eggs or dairy in it. I was really hard on myself. And finally I realized that all of that self judgement and guilt was worse for me than my diet.

I’ve been vegetarian for seven years now and that has been a breeze. At this point I don’t even think that meat would taste good, nor would I want it anywhere near my plate. To me, it’s a carcass. Decaying flesh. And for me, that is totally unappetizing and I literally can’t stomach it. Not everyone feels this way and I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind, but it’s something that I feel very strongly about. My boyfriend and a good portion of my family are still omnivores and I love them regardless. It’s just something I can’t talk to them about. I’m so against eating meat, I don’t even like to bite my own tongue! ;)

When I decided to go vegan I was really hoping that with time, I would feel just as grossed out by cheese and eggs as I do by meat. That didn’t happen. I don’t think I gave it enough time. But to be honest, I didn’t have the time to meal prep. I didn’t have the time to check every label. I wasn’t willing to do the work. Someday I will be.

I feel that timing is everything. I tried to go vegetarian twice before it actually stuck. Technically three times if you count the time I declared to my mother at 12 years old that I was going vegetarian - she didn’t let me and I wasn’t equipped to grocery shop and cook for myself. My hope is that in the next year or two, I’ll create a schedule for myself that is less crazy but equally rewarding and that will be the right time.

At this point I still lean towards vegan. I still aspire to eat that way as much as possible.  When I get to choose the restaurant, it’s always a vegan restaurant. I love LA because practically everywhere has vegan options and there are so many good vegan spots. I think in the future it will be even easier everywhere else in the world. This is the direction we are moving towards. And I’m moving that way too - just not as quickly as I had hoped.

So there you have it. This is a big piece of my work. Someday I’d love to be vegan, gluten free, soy free, sugar free, and alcohol free. But this isn’t the moment for that. I’m pouring my heart and soul into different endeavors. And I love wine and cheese. I’m finding my balance and staying true to myself - without beating myself up. This is a journey, and not as easy of a journey as I thought it would be. But of course, nothing worthwhile is easy.


I’d love to hear about your journey and your experience with trying a vegan or vegetarian diet! Leave something in the comments if you feel so inclined! Namaste <3

 

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play. every damn day.

 Seven Magic Mountains

Seven Magic Mountains

Do whatever it is that you are meant to do here. If you're a mover, move. If you're a shaker, shake. Whether you create masterpieces out of clay, paint, food, photos, words, or fabric - create. Wherever your path leads you, go there with all of your heart. If you're a builder, build something that you can be proud of. If you're a chef, cook something that you wish you could share with the entire world. If you're a dancer, move people with your movement. And if you don't know what your path is yet, think back to when you were young. What did you love to do for play? When is the last time you did that? When is the last time you built a sandcastle or made a snow angel? Or finger painted? And why not? Your path may have nothing to do with building snow men, but I'd be willing to bet if you let yourself get lost in play, you'd find yourself, find your path, and find your purpose.

Most animals in the wild have been observed playing. If you have an animal, you know they love to play. They've actually done studies on baby rats to study the affects of play deprivation, versus normal play on the brain and the results are pretty incredible. There have been a few different studies done. To sum it up, rats who experienced play deprivation did not possess the social skills necessary to be a functional adult rat, they were unable to differentiate appropriate from inappropriate aggression (appropriate as in normal rough and tumble play), and in another study they found that the play deprived rats had a more immature pattern of neuronal connections in the medial prefrontal cortex - which would basically mean that they would have had trouble socializing and integrating. Of course, we're not rats and our brains may not respond the exact same way, but there's definitely a correlation between play and overall mental health. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. 

From my own experience, I've also found that if I am at work trying to force a good idea or if I've been sitting and trying really hard to write for too long, nothing comes. I solve problems better, write better, and think more clearly when my mind is relaxed. Luckily for me, in my current job I go back and forth between teaching classes and doing actual "work" (teaching is my job, but it doesn't feel like it - it feels like play!), I get to go "play" for an hour and then sit back down and work on my projects. After I've "played", I'm more relaxed, which also equates to more focus. Play is inspiring. So when I sit back down to work, my mind isn't jumping all over the place. I nail down one thing at a time. There are of course days when I go in to work specifically to work on things I haven't had time for, and those days I am usually not teaching a class. I can honestly say that it takes me longer, I tend to jump from one project to the next without getting much done, and my mind feels like a bull stuck in a room with brick walls just ramming into one wall, backing up and ramming into another wall without making a dent in any of them. Once I notice that, it's time to get up and move. Take some deep breaths, take a little walk, stretch, do something. When I come back, I am almost always more focused and ready to get things done. 

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There is a really great book out there by Brigid Schulte called Overwhelmed: How to Work, Love & Play When No One Has the Time. And if you want to learn more about the importance of play and of balance I highly recommend reading it. It has totally changed my idea of how work should be done and I love it. I plan on rereading it if I ever start to feel overwhelmed again. Which, let's be honest, I probably will. I have almost always worked multiple jobs, and I definitely used to be a workaholic. Just working multiple jobs that were not satisfying or rewarding in any way. Things that I didn't really like but I was good at. I would put in long hours, I would always offer to stay late. I have worked 23 hours straight, slept 3 hours, and went back to work for another 16. Even now, I find myself wanting to say yes to every work opportunity that comes up and agreeing to take on more projects than I can logistically complete given the amount of hours I want to put in. So this is kind of a constant battle for me. Now it's almost harder because I love most of my jobs. I love being there and it's rewarding - but I find I have less time for my practice, less time to write, and less time to play. And at the end of a week, that's draining. 

Lose yourself in play for the sake of play. And if you're not sure where to start, take a painting class, go to an acro yoga class, or go for a hike. We all need a little play. And with busy work schedules, house work, and endless errands, we need it even more. Make the time, Schedule it. Consider it necessary for your own health and well-being. Because it is. And when you're feeling overwhelmed with the to do list,  don't ram your head into a wall - go play! The list can wait.