Wednesday, November 30, 2011

on gratitude

A week ago I had this grand plan. My plan, my master plan was to get all my big to-do's done before December. Then December would be one big month of leisure. I'd relish being a student and having Leeann Carey teach me. I'd travel and spend a week in California for work, play, and retreating. I'd teach my classes, keep up with day to day happenings. Spend time with the Tessandoris and celebrate Christmas with the grandness that they do.

I'm still doing all those things of course. Two days ago I realized that December was coming much quicker than I thought. Heck, I think I lost a whole week somewhere along the way. Needless to say, I'll be doing more that I was hoping this month. But that's totally ok. It's more than ok.

So here I sit. Thinking about this month's theme at the studio....gratitude. This is the last day of November. Craziness.

I have to much to be thankful for. Words fail to express the ways in which I am blessed. I imagine if you are reading this, you too are beyond blessed.

Blessed doesn't mean easy. Sometimes perhaps. Certainly not always. I've spilled more tears in the last four months than I ever have in my entire life. I've cursed. Yelled. Kicked. Screamed.

You name it and I've probably felt it and acted on it.

Yet I am blessed. The closeness, the tenderness that I'm feeling for my family and friends is unlike anything I've felt before. My heart and soul has always been tender. It became even more tender and vulnerable with my years of yoga. The last four months my heart feels like it's shattered into a million pieces, spanning near and far, wide and deep. I'm tenderly putting the pieces back together again. To say that I've been cracked open is putting it mildly.

I am blessed for this baby of mine, Barefoot Works. I am blessed to do work that I love. Work that I feel fierce about. Work that makes a difference. Work that changes my life in more ways than I know.

This work that I am blessed to do allows be the great honor, the great privilege to hear your stories. My heart is not the only one that's recently been breaking. I hear your stories too. I am moved by them. I stand in awe of you and your ability to be brave in the face of scary and uncertain times. I hold you and your stories with great care and great reverence. I relate to your joys and your challenges(and the tight hammies too ;). I am blessed.

I was telling dear dear Andy tonight at dinner, "I feel like the theme of this whole year in impermanence." This has been my reality. It is my reality. I'm reminded in more ways than one just how fragile life is and that nothing last forever.

So I'm reminding myself to appreciate it all.

The colors of the sunset tonight.
The feel of Andy's hand in mine.
The look of my students face.
Cuddle time with the dogs.
The warmth the treehouse exudes.
The presence of sensation when I stretch into down dog.
How the sound of my breath soothes me.
Fresh veggies to chop.
Juices that nourish me.
A warm cozy robe.
The sound of my parents voice.
Poetry that heals and fills my heart.
Teachers that show up in the most random places.
Hills to hike.
Mountains of magic.
In-laws I love.
Old records and rum and apple cider.
Opportunities to learn, grow, and travel.
A BFF that makes the call that I can't.
Students that trust me and trust themselves.
Even in the midst of a hurricane.

So. Much. Goodness.

Tonight I am bowing to you with a grateful and tender heart.
Near and far.
Far and wide.
Over and over.

Thank you.
Thank you.
Thank you.

with gratitude,

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

on the power of your thoughts

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

two healthy 10 minute meals

Beun dia amigos!

Last night I was driving home from teaching at the studio. I was so hungry I nearly ate my arm off at several stop lights.

I knew that I better get a quick dinner plan together or it was not gonna be good. For me or Andy. Not only was I more likely to eat something unhealthy but I was more likely to be a major miss cranky pants. Yep, that happens when I get realllly hungry.

I recalled the delicious looking sweet potatoes I bought at the grocery on Sunday. Usually I buy super big potatoes to slice and roast but I thought we might like to have some for baking. Perfect.

Then I remembered how much I love black beans with sweet potatoes and I was suddenly happy due to my uber quick dinner plan. Not even the traffic on Nicholasville Rd. made me a miss cranky pants. ;)

And this meal....ahhh so quick. We're talking less than 10 minutes.

I microwaved the sweet potato, taking about five minutes.
I sliced it apart and added salsa and black beans (rinsed a can of beans).
Put it back in for about another minute.
Added a touch more salsa and some spices (salt, pepper, and my kapha seasoning).

In less than 10 minutes I was sitting at the table, eating, and happy as a clam.

I finished eating and started to put the black beans in a container but felt inspired to make something with them so Andy and I could have the makings of lunch today.

I made another quick meal, a black bean and corn salad.

It was essentially black beans, corn, bell pepper, and garlic.
I added olive oil, lemon juice, cumin, cayenne, cilantro, salt and pepper.

This may have taken a touch more than ten minutes due to some slicing, but not more more.

What are your fave quick, easy, healthy and yummy things to make in a pinch?

Monday, November 28, 2011

leeann carey coming to lexington!

I'm so very delighted that Leeann Carey is coming back to Lexington December 9-11. Big yay! This weekend is a must for yoga teachers and students wanting to dive deeper into their yoga practice.

If you haven't experienced Leeann's awesomeness then you can get a small taste here with her videos. And you can read some really insightful articles here too.

Happy to say that the early bird registration has been extended until Dec. 1 Click here to register.
We've also added an option so that folks that can't commit to three days can still come get the yoga love. Come and enjoy a day or two for $150 per day. If you want to do this please let me know and bring cash or check (made to Leeann Carey Yoga) when you come. Easy peasy!

Below is the general outline although it may vary a bit depending on how the flow of the training is going:

Friday, 9am - 6pm: Intro to Yaapana Yoga, Purpose, Practice, DOING, BEING, STILL (Strong static and Relaxing poses held with support, and Savasana) Holding Patterns, Safe Alignment Skills, Key Positioning Skills

Saturday 9am - 6pm: Pose breakdowns/Modifications for therapeutic results, "DOING" standing poses, Pose breakdowns/Modifications for therapeutic results, "DOING" Backbend Poses, "DOING" Inverted Poses, "DOING" Seated Poses

Sunday, 9am - 6pm: Pose breakdowns/Modifications for therapeutic results, "BEING" Standing Poses, "BEING" Backbend Poses, "BEING" Inverted poses
Pose breakdowns/Modifications for therapeutic results, "BEING" Seated Poses, "BEING" Prone Poses, "STILL" Savasana, Yaapana sequencing and Class Mapping

*Manual not included if only taking a segment of the training.*

I'm so excited about stepping onto my yoga mat and being a student for three whole days. Whhheeee!

Local students, we won't be having class the 10th and 11th. Us yoga teachers need time to hone our teaching skills so we can be even better teachers to you. :)

Sunday, November 27, 2011

meet me here

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field. I'll meet you there.

I have a lot of favorite passages by Rumi. This is one of my favorites of my favorites.

This photo taken on our annual Thanksgiving hike. This particular area is halfway up the hill where an old family cemetery is located.

We chased the sun up the hill. Those that are familiar with hollers will know what I mean. You only get several short hours of actual sunlight at this time of year.

You can see the top of the hill basking in sunlight. If the climb weren't so steep we'd all have gotten there much quicker. This particular hike never felt this strenuous as a kid. Funny how things change.

Yet so much remains the same.

Like the magic that exists in these mountains. Of all the places I've traveled. All the beautiful and majestic mountains I've experienced, none of them speak to me quiet like these.

These mountains will take you in and fold you into their arms.

People like my parents are forever embraced by these hills. Even if they want to leave they find themselves back here, unable to break away.

People, like my brother went away and returned to live in these hills. He is more in love with these mountains than anyone else I know. He knows the names of the rivers, streams, and the trees. He knows the topography of these hills much like he knows the back of his hand. He is changed by these mountains I believe these mountains are changed by him.

People like me, have had a complicated relationship with these mountains. At times wanting to run away and at times wanting to run far and deep into the woods. With each visit to these hills I find much to celebrate. Much to learn. Much to love.

When I think of places where there are no ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing I think not of a meadow but these hills that I still call home.

We should all be so lucky to have such spaces.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

my future tiny cottage

Today Misty and I laundered the blankets at the studio. You can now snuggle your face into fresh blankets that enjoyed a day at the spa. :)

After loading the blankets into the gigantic washers we dashed over to Panera for a little treat (we were doing such a good deed afterall). Misty and I were having many lovely conversations.

One particularly juicy one was on living in another place. Misty asks me, "If you could live anywhere else, where would it be?"

I paused, and thought for at least three whole seconds before answering, "Tulum".

When Andy and I moved back to KY from Texas I used up my one time quit your job, sell your house, and move back across the US card. While I love travel, and change, and all things new my husband doesn't adapt as easily.

So we've compromised and said that one fine day we'd love to have a lil vacation home.

Fast forward a few hours. I've burned the spiced pumpkin seeds and Andy has ran around our house screaming in victory, celebrating a big UK win.

I go upstairs and open the door to my oh so sweet yoga room. Yep, at this time my yoga room gets the most amazing light. I spend an hour in a delicious slow flow. I had no intention of kicking my own yoga butt. Sweet. soothing, feel good movement and poses.

At the end I sat up and quietly sat for a few minutes. When I opened my eyes, I landed on my vision board in the corner. The phrase "practice in paradise" is there with a lovely cabin in the woods.

My mind immediately goes to the cottage I saw earlier this week on Kimberly's blog.
My heart immediately went pitter patter.
A tiny cottage in the woods.
A reallly tiny cottage in the woods.

Is that not the cutest thing in the world? Quick, look.
Cute, huh?

So yes, a tiny cottage such as this on the beach in Tulum (ok it will need some cement and certainly a thatch roof of some sort).

Or a tiny cottage in the woods, somewhere in KY where we could be there in a few hours drive. And close to a stream. Andy and I both need to see and hear a creek of some sort.

Yep, this tiny cottage will certainly find its way to my vision board.

If you could have a vacation home, where would it be?

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ode to thanksgiving

Oh happy day. I do love you Thanksgiving. And I love the days leading up till Thanksgiving. It finally hit me today.....

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, yay!!

I made a special Thanksgiving playlist for tomorrow's class. Here it is:

Harvest Moon - Neil Young
This Land is Your Land - Woody Guthrie
In My Life - the Beatles
Life is Beautiful - Keb Mo
Beautiful Day - U2
Thank You - Alanis Morrisette
Thanksgiving Day - Denise VAsquez
Home - Michael Buble
Let It Be - Jennifer Hudson
Everything - Michael Buble
Better Together - Jack Johnson
Shelter - Ray LaMontagne
Homeward Bound - Simon & Garfunkel
Diamonds in the Sun - Girish
Simple Gifts - Jewel
What a Wonderful World - Willie Nelson
Hallelujah - Justin Timberlake
Angel's Prayer - Ty Burhoe

After teaching my noon class today with shopping list in hand I made my way to Whole Foods. I was prepared to be overwhelmed by all the people. I was pleasantly surprised when I didn't get overwhelmed.

Perhaps it was my shopping list that focused mostly on the sweet treats I'm making and taking to the Beverly Thanksgiving tomorrow.

I came home, tied a pretty apron on, turned on the thanksgiving playlist and got to mixing, food processing, blending, stirring, and baking up a fury.

And I loved every moment of it.

I ended up with vegan chocolate peanut butter rice crispie treats, pecan pie, and a vegan chocolate pie. Yum.

There is much to be grateful for this holiday season. I'm not taking a single moment for granted.

May your body be nourished by delicious foods.
May you sing, dance, twirl, and swirl with loved ones.
May you enjoy hearty laughs
May your heart overflow with love.

Lots and lots of love.
Happy Thanksgiving Friends.


Saturday, November 19, 2011

treehouse lovelies

I had the great joy of spending two full hours at Greentree Tea with these lovelies. They make Barefoot Works such a special place and I'm oh so thankful for them!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

thankful for.....

thankful for
the 33rd treatment on 11.11.11
monkey dance parties
and the mask that will be made into art.

thankful for
brick walls and beautiful spaces
seats by the window
hillbilly tea
and triples shot soy lattes
cozy chairs by the fire
and city girl farm coffee

thankful for
candid conversation on competition
a challenge to think bigger
commitments to take care of body, mind, heart
and reframing the idea of contentment

thankful for
lyrics and rhythms that move me to tears
the ability to pause and repeat
sound of rain on a boxcar
and finding my voice again
over and over

thankful for
time to declutter and organize
the inner and the outer
colorful embroidery Mexico
an old pink lamp that is new to me
that lights my way in the early morning

thankful for
sincere, compassionate
thoughtful, grateful students
who inspire me
to learn more
do more
be more

thankful for
husband and wife secret language
a future thanksgiving gathering
mountain top sitting
possible moonshine sipping
in a hot tub
wedged deep in the heart of Appalachia
our very own hillbilly tea

Friday, November 11, 2011

more on change & suffering

I've gotten quit a bit of feedback about the posts from earlier this week on the three causes of suffering (which I love and appreciate the comments). I realized it would be helpful to continue the dialogue on this juicy yoga sutra I am referring to, which is sutra 2.15.

My fave translation of this sutra is presented by Desikachar. He says,

"Painful effects from any object or situation can be a result of one or more of the following: changes in the perceived object (parinama), the desire to repeat pleasurable experiences (tapa), and the strong effect of conditioning from the past (samskara). In addition changes within the individual can be contributing factors."

My dear friend Mia commented on the blog post, saying this:

"Parinama is interesting - but can't it also be a good thing? Can't a "change in a perceived person, place, or general object" be positive as well - for instance, I can be driving and perceive this person who cuts ahead of me to be a personal attack whereas I can change that perception to one that is more of "that person is probably a parent rushing from work to see his kid's show in school" (or something like that.) So perhaps in that sense it's not necessarily a cause for suffering? Or maybe that's just my misinterpretation?"

I agree with Mia that change can certainly be a positive thing. I'm quite the proponent of change. :)

I probably should have been more clear and noted that this sutra is speaking specifically to sorrow, suffering, which is noted as "dukham" in this sutra.

Clearly people are affected differently by change. Two people could have the exact same job, be presented with the same challenge... let's say a change in their job.

One could embrace the change in the job and respond in a positive way. The other person in the exact same situation could react in a very negative way. Perhaps they develop insomnia, withdraw from their family, engage in unhealthy behaviors and develop migraines as a result of the change (poor heart).

This is dukha, suffering as a result of change. Essentially the inability to deal with stress creates the suffering.

Yogis have advised us for thousands of years to get our shit together mentally or suffer as a result. Modern day science now validates this. Stress is killing lots of people today.

Ancient yogis told us that yoga is not the ability to turn, twist, bend, and fold our body. But the ability to keep our mind settled, calm, and clear while life turns, twists, bends, and folds around us.

Thoughts? Would love to hear....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

i am a light chaser

Sunlight fell upon the wall;
the wall received a borrowed splendor.
Why set your heart on a piece of earth,
O simple one? Seek out the source
which shines forever.

I am a light chaser.

When I work from home I have three spots that I love to work from:
In the early morning I work next to the window at the little white table in my kitchen. This space gets the most gorgeous morning sun.

In the afternoon I love to work upstairs in our office. A big desk situated in front of a big window. Outside there is a tree in which squirrels run amuck. The space gets the most gorgeous afternoon sun.

In the early evening I love to work from my bed. A bed with cozy blankets, propped up on pillows. Behind me is the biggest of all the windows. A whole wall of windows. This space gets the most gorgeous evening sun.

This morning at the studio she comes into class. I'm delighted to see her. Delighted to see her unroll her mat in the "sun spot". Bathed in light in front of the big window at the tree house.

Halfway through class she moves her mat over to chase the light that has now moved to her right. For savasana she makes one last move. Her yoga mat now lies at a diagonal across the floor.

She is a light chaser.

There is something magical about the sun. The moon. And the stars too.

The light they emit is captivating, spellbinding.

There are times when I tap into this inner light, this source energy that shines forever, that Rumi and the ancient yogis speak of. And when I do it's the most majestic of all moments.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

love letter to autumn in KY

Dear Autumn in Kentucky,

Thanks to you I've fallen in love with this great state all over again. You have provided a feast for my eyes each and every day since I returned home from Tulum and yoga teacher training.

Returning home from Tulum is usually really hard for me. Time in Tulum is the best medicine for my heart and soul. Upon returning home I am prone to emotional outbursts and general symptoms of crankiness and occasional brattiness. Not pretty. But true.

This fall season, as in the one I've gotten to revel in over the past week is simply beyond words.

Every day I see a new tree standing, donning the most amazing of colors. I try to capture the magic by snapping a photo. I find your beauty cannot be totally caught nor replicated in any picture.

I find myself doing things more slowly so I can enjoy you more fully. Driving and walking I look around in amazement. Amazed by the bluest of skies. Amazed by the colors I see, shades of orange, red, yellow, gold, and green. You are making it easy for me to walk slowly and savor the sights.

I've been amazed by the naked tree proudly standing, baring it's bones, it's limbs that grow in all directions. It stands next to the dazzling tree donning bright red leaves. Each equal seekers of light. Reminding me that beauty comes in a variety of sizes, shapes, and colors. Each deserving of the goodness that comes from simply being a participant in this earth party.

You, KY autumn have been the exact thing I needed in returning home. You have been medicine for my heart and soul. I love you as far as the moon and stars. I love you as close as the leaves of the trees in my yard I can touch.


Monday, November 07, 2011

on change & how it leads to suffering

The Yoga Sutras even tell us that suffering is a part of life. Even the wisest of the wise are subject to suffering simply because they too are in a body. Having a body and being a human being means that some things are out of our control or we have little control over. Some suffering is inevitable. We all experience hardships, trials, and tribulations.

Shit happens.

It is during these times that yoga provides us with the necessary tools to deal with and lessen suffering.

For thousands of years yogis studied the mind. They discovered that most of our suffering is a result of the workings of the mind. In the Yoga Sutras Patanjali tells us there are three reasons why we suffer:

1. Parinama – change in a perceived person, place, or general object.

2. Tapa – a thirst or a desire to repeat pleasurable experiences even when we suffer as a result.

3. Samskara – habits, patterns, effects of conditions from the past that continue to inform the present.

This information has provided me much relief and contemplation in the last month specifically in dealing with my Mom’s diagnosis and treatment of cancer and being in Mexico for our annual yoga teacher training (and eventually evacuating during said training).

I’ve been sitting, writing, and living with these three reasons for suffering. I love that one sutra, one thread, one little nugget from the sutras has provided with so much to contemplate and practice.

Of the three I've noticed that the first one, parinama has recently been my greatest source of struggle. Change is certainly the name of the game with parinama.

Interestingly enough, parinama is listed as one of the three cause of dis-ease in Ayurveda. In the Ayurvedic sense parinama is in reference to physical and mental change.

Even thousands of years ago the wise yogis were saying that if you can't get your mind under control, if you can't reign in the flow of your thoughts dis-ease will follow.

What do you think? Intriguing? Can you relate to any of the three?

Sunday, November 06, 2011

baby you were born to fly

“You were born with potential.
You were born with goodness and trust.
You were born with ideals and dreams.
You were born with greatness.
You were born with wings.
You are not meant for crawling, so don't.
You have wings, learn to use them, and fly.”

**photo taken in Valladolid, Mexico**

Friday, November 04, 2011

my Mexico adventure

Friends, I have missed you! I'm still in the process of "re-entry" after being in Mexico for 18 transformative, wild, fabulous days! At some point I want to pour my heart out with the hope that I can capture a tiny bit of the magic (and chaos!) I experienced while in Mexico. Yet that time has not come just yet. ;) This will have to do for now....

Magic happens in Tulum. Always. This time was no different in some ways. Yet oh so different in other ways. Thirteen of us gathered by the water's edge to live, breathe, and be yoga.

Look at this group, amazing? The most interesting, the most sincere, the most supportive, the most intelligent, the most talented, the most kind, the most beautiful people you can imagine. That was them. They are that, plus more.

Eleven days into the training and they were still bustin' a yoga move when I heard of a lil hurricane named Rina headed our way. "No problem", I thought...."This sorta stuff happens all the time here. It's just a category one."

The next day my friend Rina was a category three and it was high time to make some big decisions for me and my perfect group of yogis. In the beach jungle with pinktop in hand to research hotels and a hurricane how-to brochure Jacob (manager of La Luna) and I sat down to craft a plan. There was tequila involved. Hey, don't judge me. But I had no part of the Marlboros. Really, none.

The next day me, Sarah, my fellow yogis plus one brave hubby and babe set off on an adventure about two hours inland to Valladolid. Two big shuttles weighed down with the luggage of a small troop and equivalent of a yoga studio transported us to safer and dryer land. We made good use of the travel by studying Sanskrit for upcoming tests. Together we laughed, shared stories, and hopes for the future. It was sweet and I still can't believe how this group "rolled with the punches."

We arrived in Valladolid at a beautiful property right in the middle of town. There were many new sights, sounds, smells. New textures, new colors, new culture. We were no longer in our yoga bubble known as "Tulum", we were now mingling with many new people. I liked it. It was a whole new world and put a totally new spin on everything.

We had eight rooms booked together in our new yoga home. After scouring the place there wasn't any ideal place for yoga. I was able to get a hotel suite within our group of rooms. They moved all the furniture out of the living room space. It was just enough space for 12 yoga mats.

And enough space for dance parties of course.

When we weren't doing asana, but lecture/discussion instead we could open the doors in our hotel suite yoga studio and there was a beautiful view that overlooked the pool.

For our closing celebration Sarah and I had planned to use the rooftop terrace, but Mama Nature had other plans. It rained earlier in the day. So Sarah and I went out and bought flowers and candles and prettified our hotel suite yoga studio.

It worked out beautifully. I was reminded that it's more about the intention and energy than it is the space. And with everyone dressed in white, seated in a circle around flowers it was pretty perfect. Students received their certificates and got to sit and bask in their special-ness as their fellow students showered them with love.

It was a perfect ending to a trip, a training, and a time with these special people in which I can't imagine things happening differently. Everything was as it should have been. Nothing was wrong. Nothing was wasted.

They did more than learn to teach yoga. They learned what it's like to be yoga.

You can't even imagine how flexible, how strong, how courageous they were in every sense of the word.

My heart is forever grateful for the time I spent on the beach and in the city with these fine folk. I love each one of them.


**Bottom photo by © Constance Kilgore. Visit her here at Constance Kilgore