Tuesday, December 21, 2010


You can spend your life being afraid or you can choose to live in hope - you can choose to put all of your cards on the table and live honestly, passionately and without apology. You can choose to see yourself - truly see the depths of your being - or you can plod along, only skimming the surface of your vast internal world, always too afraid of what you might find were you to plunge deeper, never realizing that there is nothing to be afraid of at all.

Every moment - every breath - is an opportunity for choice: to choose to fully live this one life - the darkness and the light, the happiness and the sorrow... or to not live at all.

I've realized that it's not about being happy. It's not about feeling good. Happiness is always fleeting, and feeling good can be nothing more than an illusion. But the joy of life is always present - and hope is the eternal constant.

I know exactly what I want to manifest for my life in the next year, and yet I'm aware - very aware - that nothing is guaranteed except for this moment. And, at least right now, right now, I'm at peace with that.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Only 6% of rapists ever serve time. Ever.

I used to think Keith Olbermann was one of the good guys, and that Michael Moore was pretty sound in his thinking, for as dramatic as he might be. And maybe Keith is a good guy, and maybe Michael is pretty sound, but I think they both royally fucked up this week. I could repeat what has already been said over and over and over about this issue, or you could just read this, and then read this.

I'm serious. Please click and read. I'll wait.

All over the big, wide world of internets this week, I've seen people say, suggest or insinuate - in regards to this case - that continuing to penetrate a woman once she has withdrawn consent for any reason and/or having sex with a sleeping woman do not constitute rape. Let's be clear. Whether Assange committed these acts or not, YES, they DO constitute RAPE.

Sex without consent is rape. Get it? (I can't believe we still have to spell this out, especially to people who claim to be progressive like Moore and Olbermann. It is repugnant.)

Instead of getting all pissed off and angry about this situation (again) I'm heading over to RAINN to make a donation. You're welcome to join me. =)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Girl Who Cried Yoga

I'm not even apologizing for falling flat on my face in terms of blogging every day. I have spent the past three days SO SICK. Ridiculously so. Perhaps it was the culmination of a week of nausea followed by a week of a head cold, but WOW. Trust me, you don't want to know any details regarding the past few days. Gross.

But the good news is, I'm feeling a little bit better! I'm actually out of bed! I ate some saltines and chicken soup! I kept it down! Go me!!

I also just did a 30 minute pranayama practice followed by a 15 minute yin practice, both from yogaglo. And I'm now more convinced than ever that there is a yoga practice for every occasion. A few days stuck in bed left my hips feeling really tight, and this hip-opening yin practice was EXACTLY what I needed. Because I've been SO sick, and had (have) no intention of changing out of my pajamas or putting my contacts in, I chose basic level 1 classes. Even on very depleted energy these both felt amazing. I've been teaching yoga so much more often than being taught that I had almost forgotten how WONDERFUL it is to be the student. I'll also give a thumbs-up to yogaglo - I just signed up for their free trial, and I'm really impressed with what they are doing. If you live in a rural area without access to a solid yoga studio or a teacher you connect with, this could be the answer.

Jai Bhagwan!

Sunday, December 12, 2010


Yeah, I've completely dropped the ball on this blogging every day thing, haven't I?

Here is why, as far as I can figure out: whenever I sit down to write a blog, all I want to do is BITCH. Bitch about people who have hurt my feelings, who have broken promises, who have disappeared. Bitch about the difficulty of trying to find the time and space and privacy for my yoga practice. Bitch about money and car shopping. Bitch about how stressful it is to re-start your life from scratch. Bitch about...well, anything and everything you can imagine.

And really, that's not me. That's not who I think I am, and it's definitely not who I want to be. So publicly blogging from a place of negativity just isn't something I want to engage in. I don't think it serves any purpose. And it's not actually the perspective from which I function on a moment to moment basis, either. I'm actually in an incredibly positive, hopeful place right now - which is not to say it isn't a struggle sometimes, but I am. I truly see life as limitless possibility. I have actually finally been able to understand the mantra "so hum" to a point where I can always talk myself out of feeling really bad about myself. But when I sit down and see this big white box, waiting to be filled with text that I will subsequently publish for anyone to see, bitching is really all that comes to mind. And then I just feel frustrated and angry, and finally disappointed that I can't seem to find anything to write about that I feel is worth publishing on a blog. Ta-da! Ugh.

So in lieu of bitching I've just been NOT WRITING. However, I've come up with a solution. If all I want to do is bitch on my blog, instead, I'll share something that inspires me. Today it's a TED talk from the man I would marry (if he didn't already have a wife and two kids) - Jamie Oliver. I ADORE him. Even before he was an inspirational activist, I LOVED his cooking show. And now there is even MORE to love about him: his cause is one that I can really, really get behind, to the extent that I would LOVE to dedicate time and energy to helping, however I can. Find 20 minutes and watch this video. I believe so strongly in the power and importance of FOOD. I took for granted growing up in a home where my mom cooked healthy, nutritious meals every night. I took for granted learning to make whole wheat bread at five years old and eating all sorts of exotic vegetables all of the time. This isn't to say that I didn't subsequently struggle with my weight - I did, and I still do - but I feel so lucky to at least have the skills and knowledge to make good choices, and to teach my nieces how to cook and eat healthy, local, organic, sustainable food. It amazes and terrifies me that there are children (and probably adults) out there who can't identify a tomato, who live on fast food and Chef Boyardee meals and pizza. When I really consider the impact of what we eat on our health, well-being and success, it is truly awful that there is no real education offered in the school system in regards to food, nutrition and cooking. It needs to change. Go, Jamie Oliver, GO!

Friday, December 10, 2010

So hum

We give each other so much power. As though our worth depends upon what anyone else thinks of us.

As though we aren't already worthy. As though we aren't already whole. As though we aren't already real. As though we aren't already complete.

I am that I am.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


I miss Kripalu. I miss yoga teacher training. I miss getting up at 6am for 90 minutes of yoga before breakfast. I miss the people, the place, the food and the sauna. That is my blog for the day, albeit a day late - kind of. It has only been 24 hours since my last blog post, so date stamps aside, it's not too bad.

My energy is just really, really low. Ever since the car accident I've felt yucky... Wednesday just hasn't been a lucky day for me as of late. Two Wednesdays ago I hit the deer, last Wednesday I came down with a nasty stomach bug and now a week after that I've an awful cold. Boo hoo.

One foot in front of the other...


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The power of the Kokosing

So according to the time/date stamp on my blog, I've missed yet another day in my quest to blog every day for a month. HOWEVER, I haven't gone to bed yet, so it's sort of still Tuesday in my world. And 1:27am central time means it's still Tuesday - for REAL - on the west coast, and since some of my heart resides in SoCal anyway, that makes this totally and completely legit.

Or not.

In any event, it will have to do because despite my very best efforts, I just can't seem to turn back time. Bummer.

I'm coordinating the reunion for my college choral group again (I did it in 2007, too) and today I finished the letter that is going to go to all of the alumni in the next few weeks. It has me super excited for a weekend back on the Hill in May, singing with Doc Locke and the Chamber Singers again. The story I tell in the letter is one of my favorite memories from college, so I thought I'd share it here. I hope you enjoy, even if you've never heard of Kenyon College and you hate choral music. =) xoH

My junior year (1997-1998) we had a tour stop in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I remember distinctly that the average age of our audience was about 97. Most of the people there were half asleep, and there was a gentleman in the front row, right over Doc’s right shoulder in a wheelchair, whom I spent a large part of the concert worried about. He showed absolutely no sign of life whatsoever - his head was on his shoulder, his eyes closed and his mouth half-open. By intermission I was convinced that he had died during the Brahms.

We opened the concert that year with a hauntingly beautiful arrangement of ‘Shenandoah’, and every night Doc said the same thing right before we closed with, (of course), Kokosing Farewell: “We began our concert singing about a river in the south called the Shenandoah. We will close our concert tonight singing about a river up north, a river that runs right next to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, a river called…”

A voice cried out from the audience, interrupting Doc in mid-sentence.


Without warning, the man I had been convinced was, well, DEAD, seemed to spring to life – his head flew up, his eyes opened wide, his hands were gesturing. And as we sang our (honorary) alma mater, he sang HIS (honorary) alma mater right along with us. There were very few dry eyes to be found when we sang “fare thee well” to Old Kenyon that night.

Doc Locke told us on the bus after the concert that the gentleman was, indeed, an alum. And I was convinced that he had, in fact, died during the Brahms only to be revived by Doc Locke and the Chamber Singers and his memories of Kenyon.

As we all immediately started telling and retelling our own versions of the story, (some people had the man jumping from his wheelchair, miraculously regaining the use of his legs), I knew, even then, the magnitude of the moment. I knew, though I could not articulate it, the connection I had to this man,70 years my senior, because of our shared alma mater, and perhaps even more powerful, the connection we both had to the music. I knew then that the Kokosing Farewell and singing with the Chamber Singers would forever be touchstones for me to a time in my life full of love, joy, pain, hope and possibility; a time in my life where I was so open and ready to learn, to absorb, and to grow.

We will never be 18 to 22 again. We will never again be active members of the Kenyon College Chamber Singers: disciples of Doc Locke, memorizing pages and pages of music, learning translations in eleven different languages, rehearsing five days a week, touring for a full week all over the country. But we CAN go back, and maybe for just a brief moment reconnect to an amazing time, a beautiful place, and most importantly: with each other.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Oh no! I missed a day.

Of course I have an excuse.

I got a nasty little virus (or maybe it's technically a malware program or something like that) a on my computer yesterday afternoon.... from a yoga website!! I didn't even click anything or download anything or do ANYTHING but go to this website. How do I know I got it from said website? Because the same thing happened a week ago when I bought a yoga mat from this place. The yucky, icky, awful thing fronts as something called Action Antivirus, and it is a BITCH. The first time it happened, one of the recommended programs for fixing it was able to do so quickly. But this time, the same program that found and fixed it the first time isn't finding it, nor are the two other recommended prgrams. Ugh. So my computer is going to the doctor today. Boo hoo.

It's scary, though. Perhaps naively, I thought you had to actually CLICK on something to get a virus. I have McAfee and I'm really careful blah blah blah. But it turns out that even a legitimate website can get hacked by these meanies and just visiting can give the virus the split-second it needs to start infiltrating the computer. I mean, isn't that just AWESOME? (Awesome is one of my favorite words to use sarcastically, by the way.) As if there isn't enough to worry about all of the time.

I have a headache, a million things to do, and nothing specific to write about, so I'll cut this short. But just to make it worth your time, here is my current favorite breakfast:

2 slices of cinnamon raisin bread, toasted
1 oz. cream cheese (I use that 1/3 less fat cream cheese - I like it better then regular cream cheese.)
some sliced deli-ham (I dunno how much. However much you like on a sandwich.)

Microwave the ham for 30 to 45 seconds. Spread the cream cheese on the toasted bread. Top with the warm ham and the second piece of bread. Eat it. Drink a latte. Have a few raspberries on the side. It's yummy.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

philosophy and a math-a-thon

I consider myself a pretty low-maintenance kind of girl. It's not that I don't enjoy wearing them, but I have to remind myself to put on jewelry and accessories. Today when I taught yoga I forced myself to wear a Prana yoga dress with leggings and a flowy scarf only because I read a blog post on Spoiled Yogi about yoga teachers showing up to work in basic yoga pants and tops without giving any thought to fashion whatsoever (umm, yep) and how that is a big faux pas. The thing is, when it comes to clothes and fashion I'm mostly interested in comfort and not making a complete fool of myself. I absolutely despise shoes and have never, ever worn a pair of heels. (The platform shoe phase in the early 2000s doesn't count - they aren't heels.) There are a few ways, though, in which I'm a total and complete girly-girl. I love getting my nails done - in my perfect world I'd have a weekly mani/pedi, no questions asked. I love massages and really all spa-type services (I even enjoy having my eyebrows waxed. I'm so weird.)  And when it comes to skin-care I don't mess around. I adore philosophy, and have been a die-hard philosophy-girl for seven years now. I have to be honest - every time I get carded ordering a beer or a glass of wine I thank myself for making a really solid skin care decision seven years ago. Hope in a Jar, the iconic moisturizer (yes, it's been one of Oprah's Favorite Things a few times, including this year - the big ultimate Favorite Things blow-out,) is more effective than any facial I've ever had. I am lost without it (and/or my skin starts looking icky.) In fact, in a very un-Kripalu-like event, my Hope (my hope! my hope!) was stolen from the community bathroom sometime during week two and within a few days I could absolutely tell a difference in my skin, and it wasn't good situation. I use a LOT of philosophy products, but there a select few staples that I ALWAYS have on hand:

Purity Made Simple - the best cleanser/eye-makeup remover on the market. The end.
Hope in a Jar - the most miraculous of moisturizers. Makeup optional skin is incredibly convenient.
Amazing Grace - I really don't enjoy smelling like perfume. I REALLY enjoy smelling like Amazing Grace. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've been approached, in public, by strangers, who semi-awkwardly tell me "umm, you smell SO GOOD." It's happened at Trader Joe's, Starbucks, the airport, Kroger... and I mention this only because a perfume that inspires someone to actually walk up to a stranger to discuss the way they smell is pretty, well, AMAZING.

In other news, my beloved niece, Madeline, is raising money for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital by participating in a math-a-thon. Although I'm not entirely sure what a math-a-thon entails, it sounds about as fun as a root canal to me. Let's face it, though, outside of geometry, math was never my strong point. Anyway, it would be super lovely if you helped her reach her fund-raising goal of $300.00. She even said she wants to donate any prize for which she qualifies right back to sick kids at St. Jude, which I think is pretty spectacular (and mature) for a 7-year old. So click here and sponsor her, won't you? It would really mean the world to her, and helping sick kids is never a bad thing.

xox and happy day 4 of my blog-a-thon. =)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Teaching yoga two days after a car accident. Shanti, shanti, shanti.

I taught yoga on Saturday, just a couple of days after my car accident, and it made me realize that what Priti told us is so true - as a yoga teacher you are in the amazing position to use whatever is going on in your life to inform your classes. I had planned, pre-Wednesday evening, a vigorous vinyasa class for the Saturday after Thanksgiving (burn off the turkey and dressing and pumpkin pie! Woo!) but on Saturday morning, after two days of hot baths and tears, I was in no shape to do a vigorous practice myself, more or less lead one. So I sat down and took the first ten minutes to tell my class as much, and share with them about the accident and how it really hammered home this idea I've heard in yoga classes all of the time - the importance of honoring, living in and appreciating the present moment. I suppose I can only speak for myself (although I'm quite certain most feel this way) when I say that I take the future for granted every minute of every day. I'm constantly making plans for the next day, the next week, the next month, the next year. Coming within inches of severe injury or even death, I realize that every little thing I say I'm going to take care of at some point I need to take care of RIGHT. NOW. Nothing is promised except for this breath. And this one. And this one. And now this one. That's it. The next five minutes, five hours, five days and five years are a mystery, and in no way guaranteed.

At first the realization was overwhelming and terrifying, and in some ways it still is. How do I integrate this knowledge that it could all be taken away in a heart beat with being responsible and planning for the future? It's the same balancing act it always was, it just feels a lot more real and important now.

On Saturday I led a class that incorporated solid pranayama practice to start, some heat-building sun salutations and standing asana in the beginning, a lot of heart-opening backbends in the middle, and a good solid five minutes in child's pose before an extended relaxation in savasana at the end. And after savasana I led a heart-centered meditation, just to give everyone, including myself, a chance to really savor the moment and give thanks we were all on our mats, alive and healthy that Saturday morning. I have never closed a class without chanting "shanti, shanti, shanti" but this time I almost began to weep, so grateful for the unexpected peace I was able to find - the first peace I was able to experience after the accident - in sharing the beautiful practice of yoga. Priti was right - it was incredibly theraputic to realize that my JOB now isn't about pretending everything is okay and disconnecting from my personal life in order to be professional for eight hours a day. Yoga is about truly engaging in life exactly as it is, all of the time. And the things that happen in my life can be used as inspiration for classes and themes, which is such a wonderful integration of personal and professional identities. In my own personal practice this week I've been experimenting with twisting sequences, trying to use the physical integration a twist provides the spine to help me emotionally integrate all that is going on in my life, and I thought "my goodness, I could lead a whole retreat helping people to integrate traumatic experiences into their body, mind and spirit using asana and pranayama. Cool!" You see, I probably wouldn't have thought about it like that before. Find the beauty. Find the beauty. Find the beauty, Hilary. There it is.

Thursday, December 2, 2010


See? This is already difficult. Day two and I've no idea what I'm about to write. In fact, I've no idea why I should write at all. Blah blah blah etc etc etc angst angst angst. Oh, DEAR.

I've been perusing cars for sale on Craigslist and I'm just a tad overwhelmed. Maybe a tad and a half, to be honest. The last (and ONLY) time I bought a car I was fresh out of college and the world was my oyster. I was desperate to have a Honda Civic. I didn't look at any other type of car. My friend Kristi had a Honda Civic that I used to borrow when I was a student, and I just LOVED her car. I loved the way it drove, I thought it was absolutely adorable, and I knew (the way someone who really doesn't care much about cars, generally, as long as they get from point A to point B in one piece) that Hondas were supposed to be great, reliable, safe vehicles. I *wanted* a brand-new green Honda Civic, the same way I *wanted* to go to Kenyon, the same way I sometimes wake up *wanting* hot dogs and hot chocolate (okay, that happened once. But it's the same feeling.) This is the kind of want that is plain as day, easily identified, no gray area. You want something so, so much that you'll do whatever you have to do to GET IT. The END. So when I found out that all I needed to drive a new green Honda Civic off the lot was a college degree, $500.00, and a documented job offer, I was a woman on a mission. It was some recent college graduate special the Dublin, Ohio Honda dealership was running. So I spent the summer of 1999 waiting tables at Max & Erma's, sending my resume to any and every admissions posting in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and double checking that I had, in fact, received a college degree (hey, my diploma is in Latin, it could have said something along the lines of "nice try, but too bad" for all I knew!) By mid-July I had the cash, by late-July I had three job offers and on August 16, 1999 (I've no idea WHY I remember the date, actually) I drove my brand-spanking-new-bursting-at-the-seams-with-all-of-my-shit Honda Civic from Columbus to Chicago and started Life.

There's all this hoopla surrounding leaving home and going off to college - trust me, I worked in college admissions for ten years, I know - but I think the real hoopla, at least for those of us from a midwestern suburb who go to a cushy liberal-arts school, is when you leave school at start living as an adult. An adult who rents a place to live and sleep, buys groceries, gets up and goes to work, pays the cable/electric/water/telephone/insurance bill, etc. etc. etc. THAT is the REAL transition. When I first moved to Chicago and started working at Lake Forest College I stayed in the guest house on campus while I looked for an apartment, so for about two weeks, my car was my refuge. Living in a college guest house really doesn't offer the comforts of a home, so I found those comforts in my little Honda as we explored Chicago together. And really, my car was my refuge every day since, in each of the four states I've called home.

I'm actually starting to feel excited about getting a new (to me) car, though. It kind of fits the general trajectory my life has been taking for awhile now - clean breaks, fresh starts. new, new, new everything. New career, new home, new attitude, new perspective... and now a new car. In a lot of ways it's terrifying to be starting over on every single level, but it's also thrilling. I told someone the other day that I just have to look at life as limitless possibility, otherwise there is just no point. I'm hopeful. I'm so, so hopeful. And isn't hope the only thing that really matters?

My little green Honda served me well for eleven years, and when it was all said and done, it saved my life. Who knows what kind of relationship my next car and I will have, but I'm hopeful and excited about plenty of adventure.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blogging. Daily. Who knows what might happen.

I saw something recently about a blog version of National Novel Writing Month. NaNoWriMo is something I've always wanted to do, although you wouldn't know it based on my few feeble, short-lived attempts. I forget what the blog version is called (yes, I should google NaBloPoMo or something like that) but it's basically writing a blog post every day for a month, and I think I'm going to try it. It's December 1, 2010, so today is a good day to start, right? And there is always something to talk/write about during the holidays. I mean, if push comes to shove, I am absolutely capable of writing about cooking, baking, food or wine (/beer/scotch/gin) every single day, especially during the month of December when nothing is more satisfying than spending an entire day making challah and drinking hot chocolate (with cayenne pepper, whipped cream and sea salt, please), or making ten different types of Christmas cookies, or testing a new rub for the Christmas Day prime rib, or perfecting my Yorkshire pudding in anticipation of the annual "Yorkshire-Pudding-Off" during which my dad and I compete to make the most delicious, obscenely puffy Yorkshire pudding possible. (For the record, I've won for at least the past two years. He may have spent the first 30 years of his life in England, but I'm the current Yorkshire pudding CHAMPION, thankyouverymuch.) 

So, there it is. Hello, December, and hello Hilary committing to writing a blog every single day for the next 31 days. Maybe it will end up being therapeutic and fun, although I have to admit that I'm still kind of unsure what I want to share with anyone who happens upon my online presence and what I do not. There are a million and one things going on in my head every day that I could easily babble on about - but many of those things are just too personal for my comfort. I suppose writing a blog post every day will help me figure that line out, though. Maybe it will also force me to figure out how to use images from flickr like my super-cool friend Nina does on HER blog. Yeah. This will be a good thing.

Please check back frequently, please click that little follow button over there, and please comment often - blog comments make me feel happy and validated. And clearly my happiness and validation is of the utmost importance to you, right? Ha. I kid, I kid. Kind of. ;)

Oh, and if you've seen the cover of Bon Appetit this month, get excited - I've decided to attempt that over the top chocolate cake with white and dark chocolate ribbons for the holidays. I'm sure that will be at least two blog posts, because those ribbons are going to be a feat. You use a pasta machine to roll out the chocolate!! Whoa!!


ps - I'd be remiss to not mention, after my last blog post, that I'm feeling a bit better than I was the last time I wrote. It's been a really, really, REALLY rough week, to say the least. I'd never even been pulled over, more or less been in such a scary accident. Realizing that you take your life for granted is just not fun, and realizing that you need to cherish every moment can feel really overwhelming. But it's getting easier as time goes by. Time heals all, I'm told. Time will not, however, heal my poor Honda. I still haven't gotten word from my insurance company about what my total loss settlement will be, but I'm not holding my breath for much. 1999 Honda Civics don't have a particularly high blue book value, although the emotional worth of that car should put me in a new Mercedes. =) Oh, life.