Blog

My family
  • On Love and Partnership

    It's all about the Metta.

    Lovers, are you still basking in the glow of the recent romantic holiday? Or recovering from the I'm-so-over-it mentality you so proudly protest? Depending upon how you view February 14th, Valentine's Day is either a hyped up "holiday" or a time to show gratitude and appreciation to the one that you love. This practice is called Metta (sanskrit), or loving kindness. Metta is a mindful or meditative state that grows our capacity for loving kindness, friendliness and goodwill. It is not only a selfless act making your loved feel special, it's reciprocal,  benefitting you as well. Metta opens your heart and draws the pull of benevolence and warmth in your direction. 

    Be a lover, not a fighter.

    One historic account of the holiday's namesake is from 3rd century Rome under the rule of Emperor Claudius II. He outlawed marraige for young men, believeing that they would make better soldiers without wives and families. Saint Valentine performed unions for young lovers in secret, but his rogue actions eventually caused the order of his death. A martyr for love, now THAT'S romantic.

    Ask the Universe for your Italian boyfriend.

    A day that used to hold no particular meaning for me is now one I hold quite dear. Three years ago on a wintery Valentine's evening, I held a special heart opening yoga class. This was just one of my regular Thursday night classes, but I themed in lessons on what it means to love yourself and to be a good partner. A man attended class that night that had drawn my attention before. In fact, every time he came to my class, my world stopped for a moment and I felt the entire energy of the room shift. I was keenly aware that something important was happening and I knew that he would be someone big in my life. Being respectful of teacher/student boundaries, I kept this curiousity to myself...and all of my cooworkers. I joked with my front desk girls that he was my Italian boyfriend, he just didn't know it yet. I put it out there, testing the waters of the Universe, to boldy bring to fruition what my intuition had already told me. I would find out later that Adam shared the same instant knowing and daydreaming. He told his friends he was in love with a woman, he just hadn't talked to her yet. On this evening of the 14th, many friends came to class with the plan to stay and hang out, have some wine and toast our singledom after-hours in the studio. After sharing our first real hello, I invited my future to stay and join us. He did. And in a warm, cozy room full of my dearest, the stars began to align.

    What a story, right?! So, in celebration of this day, I hold partner yoga workshops to share some of that love and create special moments for the taking. In guiding couples through acro yoga, the art of assisting, and thai yoga massage, we talk about what is needed for a solid partnership on and off the mat:

    1. LOVE YOURSELF: In order to be available for someone, you must nourish yourself and believe that you are deserving of the things you want. Sometimes, that takes practice and unlearning patterns that have caused hurt and doubt along the way. 

    2. STAY ATTUNED TO YOUR PARTNER'S NEEDS: Pay attention to your partner. Know their goals and dreams. Support them and help them to grow. Love them using their love languages and yours.

    3. GIVE 100%: Don't keep tabs. You will have constant awareness of the equality or lack thereof in your relationship if you are concerned with fair shares. Giving 50/50 is half the capacity that you both could be operating on, and that's hardly fair to one another. 

    4. BE A GOOD LISTENER AND CLEAR COMMUNICATOR: Seek to understand; seek to minimize miscommunications and find mutual resolve. Whether bestowed with the gifts of listening and communicating or not, it is your JOB to grow these skills and to be adept at both. 

    5. BUILD A FOUNDATION OF TRUST: We all need a safe place to explore who we are. We need a foundation of trust where our truth can flourish. We need to be strong and we need to be vulnerable in an environment of acceptance.

    Be a fighter for your lover.

    "Hold the line, love isn't always on time". Truth, Toto. Just like the roles in acro yoga, you will at times be the base- holding the line, making the foundation and serving as the grounding force. You will at times be the flyer- the bold and brave one, soaring into new territories, forging new paths of growth. Accept the peaks and valleys and the necessary role of both. Be with one another, hold the line, pull one another out of the trenches and raise one another up to new heights. Be proud of the partnership you have built and protect it.

    Then, celebrate your love with THIS PLAYLIST!

    Photo credit: In the Streets Photography, Duncan Littlefield at Charlotte Yoga.

  • Handmade Christmas Stockings Tutorial

    I love vintage fabrics. I delight in the sight of old rags that are forgotton and perhaps smell of mothballs. Prints that look like they are straight from your grandmother's couch. To make our "new" Christmas stockings look loved and worn in this year, I picked remnants of fabrics with former lives and purposes and got to creating. 

    Follow these steps to make your own holiday stockings to hang by the chimney with care. 

    Step One: Layer your fabrics and cut

    You'll need to have 4 layers of fabric (front side, back side, and two layers for the inside liner. Use a template of the shape and size stocking you want. I cut mine out of cardboard to use for all four stockings. Trace your template onto the fabric with a dotted line and use a rotary cutter to follow your dotted line allowing for 1.5-2 inches of extra fabric on all sides.

     

    Make sure to arrange your fabrics so that when sewn and turned right side in, they will be correct. Place the liner back and stocking fabric back together (i.e. back to back) and sandwich the front fabric and liner the same way. Place the two sandwiches together so the outsides of the stocking face one another. I used a white liner so it was easier to not make a mistake here. 

    Step Two: Pin your fabric and sew. 

    Sew just outside your dotted line (1/4-1/2 inch) all the way around leaving the top open. Reinforce your seam with a second zig zag seam (optional) and trim excess seam allowance but make sure to leave the extra fabric on your unfinished top. Turn stockings right side out.

    Step Three: Hem and finish the top with a fold-over trim.

    Fold over the extra fabric around the top opening and pin. Your "loop" fold over piece will cover this hem, so there is no need to make it pretty. Sew around the top hem of your stocking. Now, select the fabric for your fold over trim. I used the same fabric as the back of the stocking. Measure the diameter of the top of your stocking, muptiply it by two and add 1 inch. This will be the width of your hem piece. For a generous fold over trim, measure your fabric length at 11 inches. Fold your piece of trim fabric in half with the front faces of the fabric on the inside and sew together with 1/2 inch seam. Turn your fabric tube right side out. Take the ends and sew them together with your seam allowance and reinforce (optional) and now you have a loop. You will want to sit your loop down inside your stocking opening about 1-2 inches inside the stocking and make certain it fits properly. Fabrics with varying amounts of stretch may cause your original measurement to change slightly. Pin the loop inside your stocking and the seam of your loop should be facing out. Sew in the loop with a stitch line just under stocking hem stitch. Fold the loop over your stocking and this is your trim.

    Step Four: Make a fabric hook for hanging and decorate with additional trim.

    With scrap fabric, cut strips approximately 2.5x7 inches. Fold them and sew them into mini loops just like you did in Step Three. Scrunch the fabric over a pencil to assist you in turning the loop right side out. Sew your hook inside the top of your stocking so it hangs where you want it. Hint: Unfold the fabric of the trim to sew these few stitches directly to the back of the stocking so they will not be seen. If using a secondary trim, measure the diameter of the top of the stocking, multiply it by two and add 1 inch. Fold strip over with the faces of the fabric on the inside and sew the seam. Turn right side out and tack the trim on with a hand sewn stich. 

    Here is the reverse side of our stockings. Now every time I see these, I will think of the memories of these fabrics: The polyester pants I use to legitimately wear, the floral muumuu, the metallic quilted dress and my mother's plaid skirt. They will live on to be filled with a monsoon of cheap stuff, chapstick, peppermint patties and the obligatory tangerine in the toe.  Because....really, what else fits in the toe?

    Create yours and tell me about it!

  • Lentil and barley broth bowl

    After the gluttony of the holidays, treat yourself to this simple dish that is flavorful, earthy, and plentiful in fiber and protein. I was Inspired by Panera Bread's broth bowl, and you can add or subtract ingredients to your liking. For maximum flavor, I use the magical vegetarian trifecta of bouillon cubes, vegetable broth and flavor boost packets. If you don't know about these gems, you need to stock your pantry with them and use them. I'll buy low sodium versions when possible. Layering these flavors works so well and the convenient thing is, any of these can be used to make vegetable stock and don't take up much pantry space.  I cook a lot, but rarely write anything down. In an attempt to document my recipes, here we go!

    Lentil and Barley Broth Bowl

    1 c. dry lentils

    1/2 c. uncooked barley

    1/2 c. uncooked farro

    1 pkg. (10oz) spinach, chopped

    3/4 shelled edamame frozen

    3/4 black eyed peas frozen

    1/2 tsp. oregano

    1/2 tsp. dried basil

    1/2 tsp. rosemary

    1/2 tsp. dried minced garlic 

    1 veg bouillon cube

    3-4 c. vegetable broth, more if desired

    1 packet veg flavor boost

    hard boiled egg or grilled chicken strips

    lime wedges (optional)

    sriracha (optional)

    salt and pepper to taste (the trifecta gives you sodium and flavor, so beware of too much salt)

    Directions:

    Prepare the lentils according to the package directions. I used TruRoots sprouted lentil trio adding 1 cup dried lentils to 3 cups boiling water and simmering for 4 minutes.  Drain excess water. Do not over cook- you want these to have a little texture, al dente if you will.

    Prepare the barley and farro together in a large pot according to directions. For the Trader Joes brands I used, you will bring to a boil 1/2 cups of the barley and the farro mixed with 2 1/4 cups water and 1 vegetable bouillon cube, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. The bouillon melts with the heat.

    Add lentils to your barley and farro mixture in the large pot over medium heat and add your first round of vegetable stock, enough liquid to cover the grains. Add in the chopped spinach, stir and raise the heat to simmer and wilt the spinach. Add the flavor boost packet, oregano, basil, rosemary and minced garlic and simmer uncovered for 3-5 minutes. Add the frozen edamame and black eyed peas, lower heat and simmer until heated through.  Add additional broth to attain the consistency of soup you desire. Since it is a broth bowl, a thin, light body is nice. Have extra broth ready as the grains will continue to soak it up.

    Place sliced boiled egg on top. I added sliced grilled chicken to the meat eaters' soups. Squeeze a lime wedge over the served bowl for a little acidity. In a pinch, all I had was a lemon and it did the trick. For a little spice, drizzle sriracha or your favorite hot sauce on top.

    Enjoy! 

  • Snake goddess: Improvising breast cancer

    Today I sit beside my mother, hooked up to her chemotherapies. Tubes leading straight into her chest, into her veins, changing the chemistry of her blood and body. Drip drip drip.

    She sits peacefully in the medical recliner, scarf on her head, blankets, which were once warm, upon her legs. She alternates between closing her eyes, reading prayers, chatting with me and my sister, and diving into Pinterest for the simple pleasure of gazing upon beauty, having a laugh, and adorable puppies. Here is one of our favorites.

    I set up an altar on the little table that attaches to her chair. I set it up each time we come and she lets me, probably more so for me than her. She takes her favorite stone, Ruby Zoisite, and places it inside her shirt by her heart, its home for the next several hours. I stand the snake goddess up and place the other stones around her in a half moon. She is the renewal of life and that which transforms and embraces change. 

    In times of change learners inheret the earth; while the learned find themelseves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.     -Eric Hoffer

    My mom begins telling me about the technique that improvisational actors use called "Yes, and..." No matter what your acting partner says or presents to you, your mandatory response must begin "Yes, and..." You do not have the choice to negate, redirect, belittle or ignore. It is total acceptance. Your life, just as it is happening, not how you hoped or imagined it would happen. With this simple practice and in this moment, there exists the beauty of pure possibility.

    When presented with change, we resist and fight tooth and nail to keep wearing our old skin. It is our security blanket. It's all we know. Change happens whether we welcome it with open arms or not. So why not be the learners. The improvisors. Let's be beautifully equipped to deal with our reality and our ever changing worlds. Shed our skin, shed our hair.

    She is the renewal of life and that which transforms and embraces change.  She is my mother. 

  • Privilege is the new duty

    This week my new site is up and running and it is all thanks to jury duty.  On Tuesday I was summoned to appear at the Mecklenburg County Couthouse at 8am and plan to stay until 5pm or longer, should my services be required on a trial.  I am no stranger to jury duty. At three times serving, I feel I have done my fair share in the 16 years that I have been eligible.  But I would gladly welcome the chance again, and let me tell you why.  

    This was a PRIMO chunk of time to get things done, and I took advantage of it with fervor.  I planned what I would be doing, brought sustanance, and settled in for the long haul.  My planned could have been instantly foiled had my name been called to be a potential juror in one of The Honorables' courts. But when names were being called in the assembly room, I slumped down in my chair, put my proverbial hat down over my eyes...and it worked. I was off the hook time and time again. 

    Now, let's be honest. My life is kind of free time. I am lucky to have a lot of it. I teach yoga, work on my art, walk my dogs, run a household for my Italian and a set of twins (more about these loves of my life later). I busy myself all day long with the minutiae of everyday life: tasks and errands and to-do's. I find solace in that actually.  Being able to complete something and check it off a list  is satisfying to me and tackling a larger project that has no end in sight is downright anxiety producing. And although I own my business and my work ethic is directly responsible for it's success, I find it hard to buckle down with such open boundaries and loose return on gratification. That has to be some kind of syndrome, right?!  Anyway, I'm working on it.

    When jury orientation begins, a video plays cleverly reinterpreting jury "duty" into jury "service". We are being asked to view our time here as a contribution to the judicial system and a privilege to take part in upholding the rights and justice of our fellow citizens. Basically our court system, regulatory laws of society and therefore the world as we know it, would fall apart if it were not for us.  It was genius.  Spun beautifully. I sat up a little taller in my seat and I bought it all, every last bit of it. I started thinking, as I do,  "How can I use this witchcraft in my yoga class as a lesson?" 

    And so here it is. The areas of your life that you see as a duty/unwelcomed or unenjoyable responsibility/a challenge with no instant gratification--these are the areas in need of a little wizardry on your part. Actively begin to view them, talk about them and experience them as a privilege. As a lesson. As a service, not with a martyr complex, but with a humble, patient heart. Our minds and mindsets are powerful, but our choices are more powerful. Even if your new outlook feels a little forced or inauthentic at first, stick with it. Your shift will affect how you feel about your duty and your emotions connected with that are real. Your new understanding and new appreciation will be your new normal. 

    In summary, welcome to the blog. Visit often and thank you for reading. 

    New website- check.

    First blog post- check.

    Enviable work ethic and perfect time management- I'm working on it.