Over the last few months I feel like I’ve seen quite a few stories online about body shaming, and a myriad of positive responses about how women are supposed to love their bodies, be comfortable in their own skin, and … Continue reading
This morning as I was heading to the shower I started to think about what sort of conversation I wanted to have today in my yoga class. I like to think of my classes as conversations more than anything else… because no matter what I plan in advance, I always come in and ask my students how they are feeling, what they want to work on, and we start the conversation there, and what develops each week is a little different. As I spent the first few moments in the shower trying to wake up and embrace the day, I was thinking a lot about feeling grounded, and as I let the ideas of balance and rootedness marinate in my pre-coffee brain I couldn’t help but think about Vrksasana. (tree pose) In that moment I started mentally reciting a few lines from a poem I wrote several years ago when I was applying to graduate school, and then re-wrote a few years later when I re-applied to graduate school… And there is was, my class, my conversation.
Of course, I was almost late to class, because when I went to find the poem I realized it was saved on my external hard drive, and as I pulled up to the studio there was a gathering of students waiting outside the door. And these amazing students of mine, were chatting in the sunshine, waiting patiently as I frantically waved at them as I circled the block trying to find a parking spot, and as I ran up to the door I told them this was all part of my class plan, spending a little time in nature, embracing the springtime, finding our breath. They all laughed as we filed into the studio, and I made a full confession… “I’m running late because of a poem… but it’s for you, because it’s April, and springtime, and a Wednesday… and don’t we all just need a poem today?” and really, I think all of them did.
And so we settled into class, talking about being grounded, about finding balance in our lives, in our bodies. We talked of trees and how their toes dig deep into the earth, how they stay grounded through so much change, season after season. We laid on our backs and felt the support of the mat beneath our spines and we visited our first tree pose of the day. I watched as they firmly flexed their feet, pressing them into nothingness, watched as their shoulders slid into alignment, encouraged them to engage every muscle, activate their core strength, and from this very supported place, to create a muscle memory. To feel the length in the spine, the support, and to grow from there.
We moved towards standing, played with balance, played with strength… then we warmed up our feet, talked about our roots and tried it all again… this time with a little more confidence, a little more stability, feet feeling alive, bodies feeling warm… I asked them to turn to face the wall, so they could shut out distractions, and we settled back into tree. “Listen to your bodies here” I said, “remember how this felt when we were on the mat, engage that muscle memory.”. And then I had them turn around, because in life there are always going to be distractions dancing in your peripheral vision. Because that is how life works, and the challenge is being able to stay rooted enough through it all. And you know what? We wobbled a little bit more this way… but we were just being authentic… because even the tallest and strongest trees sway in the breeze. And what more can we ask from ourselves than to be authentic?
From here, we gathered in the center of the room, for the pose we had been building towards… standing in a circle, touching hands, relying on our neighbors for strength and for support we traveled through our final version of tree pose. Allowing our arms to reach up over head, hands pressed into our neighbors, branches growing toward the sky, our own little oak grove. And I loved standing in that circle, watching the students laugh, watching them come out of their comfort zones, leaving behind fear, and blossoming into a cohesive group. Supporting each other, growing together… And they all got it… THIS is what our conversation is about today. This right here…
I knew that I liked the earth–dark brown and rich with life–
but I didn’t know that I loved it
until I bit into a carrot, freshly harvested,
the taste of soil still lingering
This is the flavor of life.
I knew that I liked falling asleep next to you
feeling your chest rise and fall with the rhythm of your breath
listening to your heart as I drifted off…
But I didn’t know I loved waking up in your arms
until our first night apart… the bitter sweetness of solitude.
I used to be impartial to the wind,
until I heard it whispering through the aspen trees
and suddenly I was home.
I always knew I loved trees and their quiet strength,
but I didn’t understand it until I started practicing Vrksasana,
and the strength of the tree, the rootedness,
became my own.
I just remembered the rain
walking with you, hand in hand down the busy street
the darkened asphalt peaking out beneath the bright
fallen leaves. Flashes of crimson and saffron, the wildest orange
the wet slick grey… we were happiest then,
in the autumn, falling in love on our way to the grocery store.
I knew I loved the sun, being solstice born,
we are kindred, forever…
but I forgot I loved the moon,
I didn’t appreciate its constant pull on my heartstrings
until the first night in the new house, I saw the moon rise over the garden,
her beams reaching around my curtains
and flooding into my bedroom in translucent waves…
how can anyone not be inspired by a moonrise over the garden?
My nocturnal muse.
I knew I liked the color red
and then I saw the wild bergamot
reaching its crimson petaled fingers towards the blue sky
and I fell in love
with the color
and the moment…
sitting under the olive tree sucking the nectar from the flowery digits.
And stillness… how could I not love it?
though I never gave it much thought
the utter content in the quiet
being left alone with nothing but breath
the inhales and the exhales.
I knew that I loved lists
tangible or mental
a glimpse of organization
in my ever-chaotic existence.
Perhaps –if I sit here with my thoughts–
this list of loves will become the world.
A few weeks before Christmas I randomly texted two of my college roommates and said “Do you want to go to Palm Springs in January?” The answer was an overwhelming yes. Though we all adore living in the Pacific Northwest (yes, we are the crazies who actually kind of like the rain) we were all ready for a little burst of sunshine and a break from reality. So we searched for some flights, booked ourselves a condo and headed south for a Vitamin D infused weekend.
Where to eat: Cheeky’s, Workshop, Birba, The Purple Palm, Greek Islands Cafe
I’ve never been in a relationship over Christmas, so I don’t really get the woe is me singleton holiday stuff…It’s the whole ignorance is bliss and I don’t know what I’m missing situation. But I do often wonder how a significant other might fit into the rigamarole of the holidays. Since my brother spends every other Christmas with his wife’s family, I am in the business of forging my own traditions with my parents that involve fancy French dinners, Christmas morning hot tub parties with mimosas, jigsaw puzzles, classic children’s books and hot buttered rum (and sometimes tequila shots. Sometimes) And in the midst of all the eating and the drinking, and the puzzling, I sometimes start to wonder “how will another person fit into all of this?” And the answer to that rhetorical question is “flawlessly” because who wouldn’t want to partake in a Christmas morning mimosa hot tub party? (if you just answered “well, I wouldn’t” we probably aren’t soul mates… sorry.) And then after I have this conversation with myself I start to wonder if my chronic singleness has maybe left me with an unrealistic ideal of who is actually still out there? (Per my friend’s mother, if we don’t get online immediately ALL the men are going to be gone.) I mean, I’m not exactly a hopeless romantic… but I think sometimes people easily confuse women with high standards, who are confident and know what they are looking for in a partner, with women who are delusional and way too picky with expectations that can never be met… It’s a fine line people, and although I’m pretty sure I’m on the high standards side of things, I do have a few moments when I start to think “well am I just being too picky?”
I’m grateful for :
I’ve been back from vacation almost a week and finally feeling like I’m getting back into a normal routine. I went for a long run today, finally cleaned out the fridge, cooked myself a real meal… all things I’ve pretty much been avoiding all week long. Not really on purpose, but sometimes life gets in the way, and even when you tell yourself when you run out the door in the morning that you are going to skip Wine Wednesday because you have too much cleaning to do, somehow you still end up going out and all the tasks that are lingering on your to-do list go mysteriously undone. (Because really who wants to skip Wine Wednesday? Right?) And usually I’m ok living in my own clutter for a period of time. Don’t get me wrong, I vacuum and clean every week… But I’m not the type of person who cannot go to sleep if there is one dirty dish left in the kitchen sink… However, there always comes a moment in which I absolutely cannot take it anymore and feel as though if everything isn’t magically deep cleaned that very instant my head is going to explode. Naturally, this moment usually happens sometime on my “Friday” morning when I’m running a tad bit late and have approximately nine-thousand other things that actually have to get accomplished before I walk out the door. Welcome to my life.
The alarm goes off, and you push snooze, because it’s early, and technically the weekend and while everyone else is sleeping in you are awake, because, life, and work, and you have to go let your brother’s dog out and you are really hoping that he hasn’t destroyed the house because its his first night staying home alone ever, and even though you let him out at like eleven-o-clock you are still worried that he is kind of a spaz and god only knows how many trash cans he broke into. The alarm goes off again, but you hit snooze for a second time, because you are just not quite ready. Only then you remember that your fridge is exploding with produce from the garden and things like leftover jars of maraschino cherries from your weekend of cocktail making and vacation, and if you don’t get up and try clean it out really really really bad things are going to happen in your life. Really. Bad. Things. So you get up, and try to decide if you really need to wake your dog up before going to go let out the other dog, but he is snoring pretty loudly, so you just leave him, and throw on a hoodie because your hair looks like an electrocuted rat terrier, and jump in the car and think about how its way too early to be out doing responsible things.
Your brother’s house is surprisingly intact and the dog only slightly pounces on you when you finally unlock the door… you contemplate why you haven’t purchased coffee in several weeks, and then remember, that, oh yeah, you also need to go and water your parents flowers since the whole family is on vacation together and you are at home care-taking all the things. This is fine though, because they have a fancy espresso machine, and all you can think about is the foamy latte you are going to be drinking as you water the plants in the back yard.
The latte is delicious, the plants are surprisingly not dead, and you are feeling pretty ok about your morning until you look at the clock and realize that you need to leave for work in a little over an hour… back home to the bulldog… who you can’t find right away, but you notice that your favorite sandal is lying in the middle of the living room looking slightly chewed on… you are 98% sure you didn’t leave it there, but the coffee hasn’t really kicked in yet, so everything is a little unclear. The dog comes trundling out of some unknown place and you scold him for the shoe and then he thinks it is kind of funny and just starts grumbling at you and does downward facing dog and then prances about the living room. You make him go outside and “think about what he has done” while you head for the shower. This is when it all starts to come back to you… you really need to do laundry, the bathroom counter needs a wipedown, and oh yeah, the thought of the fridge is making you a little twitchy… maybe that is just the coffee. Lathering up your hair you try to assess the wardrobe situation, do you need to shave your legs? Can you make it one more day? How much time do you have left anyway… not a ton since you are planning on walking to work… better shave the legs then. Damn it, a few more minutes gone.
You step out of the shower and decide that since you are walking to work you don’t need to dry your hair… it will magically dry in a cute effortless summer look on the way… this is of course very far from the truth, but you sometimes have to tell yourself lies to get out the door on time. Around this moment you realize that you are supposed to leave in about 15 minutes and you haven’t even packed yourself a lunch. Wait a minute, you haven’t even had breakfast. Shit. Because you are working by yourself today, and its probably going to be busy, and the only key to success here is to have lots of healthy snacks! And of course you are 100% out of almonds… shit. So you run to the kitchen and fling open the refrigerator only to realize that, oh yeah, the refrigerator… and then you sort of have this downward spiral moment and try to think if you maybe secretly have enough time to clean it, and then you remember that the trashcan is full, and oh yeah the dishwasher is broken and now you are supposed to leave in 13 minutes and you still aren’t wearing makeup. Ok, rally time. But not really because the fridge is the fridge, and so as you open it up to try and gain some sort of lunch time inspiration you get so defeated that you just shut the door and keep repeating to yourself “you are a grown up, you can do this.” So you open the fridge again, throw some salad greens into a tupperware, and then discover that the roasted beet that was going to be the rockstar of this salad is actually molding, and you can’t find the jar of capers, and in that moment it really is just TOO much, so you throw an apple and a diet coke into your bag and pray to everything that is pure an holy that you have some leftovers in the fridge at work. You then remember that you still haven’t eaten breakfast. Shit. One look towards the fridge and you reach for the secret stash of Lucky Charms, and all you can think in that moment is a sarcastic “winning.” You know within the first bite that you are going to have a sugar crash when you are approximately half of the way to work, but that still seems better than leaving the house without having anything but coffee. Breakfast. Of. Champions. You then run around like a madwoman, scrounging for foot-ware, hurriedly applying mascara.
And then in a brief moment of bliss and clarity you remember that you have all the ingredients to make an Old Fashioned tonight for your deep cleaning adventures. There is a teeny-tiny flask with one shot of whiskey left in your suitcase from the weekend, and everything else starts coming together. Victory. Only if you make one old fashioned you surely want to have the option for making more after that, even if making more will probably not help the evening of productivity you have planned. But really, one cocktail? (because if you give a mouse a cookie, or give a moose a muffin, or give a dog a doughnut… they will all want cocktails and you can’t make them any because you are out of whiskey) But you don’t have other whiskey and you are walking to work, so by the time you would walk home in the evening there will not be enough time to make it to the liquor store before they close, because its Small Town Oregon. You could always walk directly to the liquor store, but you don’t really want to be the girl who is walking through town with a fifth of whiskey, because again small town Oregon. And then you think “well if I drive to work instead I would have about 20 extra minutes here to take out the trash and get my life organized and then I could make it to the liquor store on time!” and then you remember that you are running a half marathon in 3 weeks that you are no-where near ready for, and you can’t run after work because you have nine million things to accomplish and your head will explode if you don’t get them done, and the very least you can do is walk the .8 miles to work in a slight attempt to move your person. And also you are pretty sure that every season of The Biggest Looser starts out with someone saying “oh I could have walked to work but I drove to the liquor store instead and now I weigh 500 pounds.”
You throw an apple in your bag for good measure, scratch the dogs ears on your way by and run out the door. Naturally, you cannot stop thinking about the fridge, so you call your mom for a pep-talk about staying motivated to do all the things, because for some reason, in your mind, your mom is always good at pep talks… she doesn’t answer the phone, and then the more you think about it, the more you can hear her voice saying things like “well if you just cleaned up a little bit every day, it wouldn’t get to this point” and then it starts to stress you out, and you are maybe glad she didn’t answer the phone, and then you vow right then and there (for maybe the millionth time) that you are going to clean your kitchen until it sparkles and it is going to stay that way and how you are going to turn into one of the anal people who cannot sleep unless all the dishes are put away. Yes. Just wait, it’s going to happen. Now that that is settled you feel less distracted by the idea of cleaning the fridge and start to focus more on what the work day has in store for you… only now you are realizing that you are half way to work and wearing a skirt and your thighs are starting to chafe from the walk and you wonder how the hell you are supposed to run 13.1 miles if you can’t even walk .8 miles without your thighs rubbing together. Then you are very glad that you didn’t drive to work, because you know, getting healthy and getting fit… oh wait, you actually packed a cucumber and a diet coke for lunch, ok scratch that… getting healthy when the fridge is cleaned out and your aren’t feeling like such a hot mess. Ugh, in a perfect world you would’ve had time to make a vat of kale juice before walking out the door… damn it… why didn’t you pack pickles for lunch? The hot farmer practically fed them to you with a chopstick at the farmer’s market this week, and pickles are your favorite food, and why the hell didn’t you just leave the jar of pickles at work for emergencies? (because pickle emergencies are a REAL thing.) Oh wait… actually there might be a tub of cottage cheese in the fridge at work. Sweet Jesus, at least you will have some protein…
Tayler is a blogger, boutique manager and yoga teacher thriving on awkward situations in McMinnville, Ore.
Here’s the other thing I find a little irksome…. that my computer cannot transcribe the first drafts of blogs that I write in my head (usually while doing something lame like Cleaning the kitchen.) I swear, I sit there being the multi-tasking queen and think of topics, anecdotes and experiences, and in my mind everything is witty and fabulous and the stories are funny, and the moments are memorable, and I think “writing this post is so effortless and fun” and then somehow by the time I finally get to my laptop what I actually write as a first draft ends up being something like “Its Summer, and Magical and I don’t have time for this.” (which is true… but not exactly inspiring by any means.) And the writer in me really struggles with this because I want to do each moment justice and take the time and really figure out exactly what it is I want to say about each experience, and tweak it and edit it and finally then push publish and have it be this epically beautiful and perfectly crafted post. But the thing about life is that it keeps happening around you, and then before you know it these incredibly great experiences are fading into the background and A) you haven’t been able to carve out the hours it takes to write something that does it justice, and B) you keep going out and living even more epic moments that deserve your attention, and just as much blog time, and so in the end sometimes you just put it all out there in the inevitable mess and jumble that fell out of your brain and onto the keyboard and hit publish anyway. Sometimes you just have to!
This past week has been filled with some pretty dreamy moments… beach adventures, river swims, wine tastings, seeing The Princess Bride in the movie theater… And I would love to be able to sit down and write and write and write about each little moment, how I felt, the texture of the light, the memories, the smells… but life keeps moving, and moments keep happening, and tonight I’m just going to embrace these moments in their entirety. I can’t wait to pour myself a glass of wine and get my hands in the garden soil. I’m ready to fling open the kitchen doors and make myself a lovely dinner, and grumble about having to clean the kitchen yet again….
But in the meantime, here are a few short glimpses into this past week. This is the good life folks!
You guys. It’s 100 degrees outside. My head tells me I should be writing, but my heart says that really I should be filling up Toby’s kiddie pool, making a giant icy cocktail and laying in front of the AC. I promise I will write about adventures and things like salsa verde in the upcoming days… But in the meantime, stay cool, get off your computer and, most importantly, make sure you have enough ice to make yourself a cocktail.
And this is where gratitude comes into play. Because how can you possibly expect to be living your life in forward motion without taking some moments to really stop and be grateful for the things in life that you already have? I just finished reading “The Tools” (I would highly recommend it) and one of the major themes throughout the book is combating your negative internal voice with little nuggets of gratitude. Because it’s amazingly difficult to live under a cloud of doom and negativity when you are constantly reminding yourself to be grateful for the weird, tiny, everyday things. Yes, it might feel a little “first world” to sit down and think “I’m so grateful for this cappuccino.” but in reality, if you can’t find joy in the everyday stuff, life is going to get boring. I say, embrace the joy, even if its coming from something trivial… And here is the thing about gratitude: it’s contagious. Even if you aren’t sharing out loud what small things you are grateful for, it radiates out of you and fills the space around you, it has an energy all its own… and I don’t know about you, but I’d rather be the type of person who has an aura of positivity than a Debbi Downer cloud of doom! (and trust me, I’ve been that girl… we all have… sometimes it happens. Sometimes negativity is just there, and frustrations abound, and misery loves company, and for whatever reason it is just easier to complain and be an ass-hole or pout and bitch and moan … sometimes. And sometimes people don’t want to be around you… and sometimes that is ok, because a lot of times you don’t want to be around people anyway… BUT in the long run as my mother or grandfather would say “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” )
Since real summer starts tomorrow, let me just give a quick shout out to this fake summer we’ve been having in Oregon. I’m still a little confused by what month it actually is, and why there has been this golden sphere hanging in the sky over the past few weeks producing 80-degree, but I will take it! We’ve had a few “typical” June-ish days this month and on one of them my mom was like “OH MY GOD IT FEELS LIKE WINTER!!!!” I stopped and said “no, actually, it feels like June.” Maybe just because the last few springs have felt a little extra long, or because as Oregonians we really are not used to any sort of consistent sunshine until after July…but either way, I’m not complaining! My tomato plants are happy, I have something resembling a tan, and I have been pretty much eating my body weight in watermelon. Tonight’s pre-dinner consisted of me leaning over the kitchen sink as I took a huge bite of melon and slurped the juice to keep it from running down my face and arms. It was pretty glorious. Thank you fake summer… you are kind of ok.
Back in October when I was researching which juicer I should buy, I was focused mainly on leafy greens. I had visions of juicing kale and spinach, and chard, and beets, and pretty much everything earthy (which I did.) but it wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I started to think about the summer juicing potential. Really, I wasn’t being narrow minded when I purchased my juicer, more ,I was living in the moment and trying to embrace the whole seasonal eating thing. =) (at least that is what I’m telling myself.) So last week when it finally dawned on me that watermelon + juicer= happiness and summer bliss, I was pretty stoked. And really, why had I not thought of it before? I know one of the dangers with at home juicing is sugar… you juice all the sugary fruits in all the land and then chug them, (because they are delicious) So I do appreciate that fruit juice should be consumed in moderation… but just stop for a minute and think about all the cocktail potential.
Even if cocktails aren’t your thing, Agua Fresca has already established itself as a seasonal staple on my back patio. Sort of…. Upon looking up Agua Fresca recipes I’ve found essentially ALL of them include super sweet fruits, sugar, and water… This is where I’m going to rant about sugar a little bit. No, I’m not one of those crazy no sugar in anything ever, people. In fact, I had a raspberry brownie for lunch today, I put sugar in my coffee every morning, and I think that there is a time and a place for sugar (like gumdrops, hello.) That being said, just about every time I try to bake something sweet I have to run to the store, because for some reason I never seem to have sugar in my pantry… I just don’t use it that often (Sugar scrub, mojitos, lemon curd… these are the only thing that I make on a semi-regular basis that actually require sugar.) I do try to read labels and make a conscious effort to try and cut back on sugar in processed foods… it just seems unnecessary a lot of the time, but I try not to get all nutty about it…BUT it absolutely boggles my mind as to why you need to add additional sugar to a refreshing summer fruit drink! When was the last time you sprinkled sugar over a slice of watermelon? The answer is never. (salt on the other hand… is there anything better at a picnic than I giant wedge of watermelon lightly sprinkled with Jacobsen Sea Salt? No, there isn’t. Seriously, try it with the pinot blanc salt… game changer!) Don’t even get me started with honeydew melon… I mean for reals… you add sugar to that? It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it.
SO I guess technically what I’ve been drinking on the patio is not Agua Fresca… it’s better. (I’m not about to call this here concoction sugar free agua fresca… doesn’t that just sound like an aspartame filled powdery diet drink mix or something? … Ok I’ll hop off the snarky train now… BUT really, if you even think about putting more sugar with your honeydew melon, just know that I am judging you.)
Lately I’ve been making a strawberry/watermelon “spritzer” sometimes there is vodka in it… sometimes not. (for example, when I take it to work… NO vodka. ) It’s not very often that Oregon strawberry season overlaps with watermelon season, and it’s a shame because this combo is fantastic. Throw some mint, lime, strawberries and 1/4 of a watermelon in your juicer or blender and out comes this sweet nectar of the gods. You can drink it straight, add some sparkling water, or one of my favorite things to do is mix it with a Cucumber Dry Soda (scrumptious.)
Other ideas/ variations
- Substitute Basil, cilantro, or lavender for the mint
- Try with a cucumber (or some other delicious thing) instead of strawberries
- Make into popsicles
- freeze in ice cube trays to add to sparkling water
- Add it to lemonade
- Mix with any variety of booze to come up with a delicious cocktail.
- blend it with coconut water