Friday, November 11, 2011

yoga update.

I just updated my website and I have to say... I'm starting to feel like a real-deal YOGA TEACHER. It's extraordinarily exciting. I have twelve weekly classes on my schedule right now, at six locations, one of which is an eight-week course I'm teaching as part of the community education program at the local community college. Just call me Professor Lowbridge! (Or, wait, I think my dad already has that one...haha). I really am excited for the opportunity to actually teach a course that builds week by week, as opposed to the majority of my classes, which are all-levels classes and attract quite a few lovely one time, drop-in, brand new to yoga types. And that, by the way, is simply wonderful in and of itself - it's really rewarding to see how deeply people can be affected by just one yoga practice. (Don't get me wrong. I've had plenty - PLENTY - of people seem deeply unaffected by just one yoga practice, and I've never seen them again...and that's discouraging and invites second guessing of myself and my abilities. Boo. But part of the yin/yang of it all, right?) But there is a different reward in being able to teach in a way that allows people to actually LEARN as opposed to just having an EXPERIENCE that they may or may not try again for two or three weeks, if at all.

I'm feeling similarly good about my meditation class I offer at my home on Wednesday evenings. There is a core group of four who attend religiously, and then four other ladies who come sporadically, a couple of whom I'd never have had the opportunity to get to know if they hadn't somehow found out about my meditation class. To quote Amy Grant: "baby, I'm the lucky one." =) I feel as though I've been able to hone a skill, that of leading group meditation practice (mostly inspired by the Kripalu tradition of non-judgmental, compassionate self-awareness). It deeply informs the way I teach my twelve yoga classes that are decidedly more asana-based.

Since this is a yoga update, apparently, I'd be remiss not to mention that for as positive as I'm feeling about my TEACHING of yoga, and my abilities therein, I'm feeling less positive about my personal practice of yoga, which really needs a jump-start. Living in a location where there is not a true yoga studio less than forty-five minutes away, it's really discouraging to not have training-opportunities, or even the opportunity to sustain a studio-based practice. I have to admit that I've used YogaGlo as almost my own yoga graduate school - I don't just practice with YogaGlo, but I actually STUDY the classes, the teachers, the styles, the alignment workshop videos - because it's the only real outside voice I have to inform my practice and my teaching. THANK THE BABY GIRAFFES FOR YOGAGLO. Sheesh. Yes, of course I stay current with Yoga Journal and various yoga websites, etc., but truly - it's not the same. It's been a year since my ten days in California during which I was very inspired by practicing at Yoga Shakti twice a day. I desperately need another California Yoga Immersion. I'd absolutely LOVE to take a class with Kathryn Budig in person, after meeting her and taking her back-bend workshop in April. In any event - I'm struggling with the INQUIRY (high-five, Kripalu Kids!) of how to boost my personal practice and feel as fulfilled in that realm as I do in my teaching of yoga.

Breath, Relax, Feel, Watch, Allow. Take a sauna.

Oh! And make these pumpkin smoothies. I'm about to do so RIGHT NOW. Particularly healthy? Nah. Dreamy looking? Yep. =)

om, shanti, shanti, shanti - om, peace, peace, peace xo

Friday, October 28, 2011

The club can't even handle me right now.

I need to write a blog post. This is a blog post about writing a blog post.

It is a blog post about how I thought to write a blog post about doing a 30-day Ashtanga yoga challenge. But then I thought about how I didn't REALLY want to do a 30-day Ashtanga yoga challenge, so I'd inevitably write something really enthusiastic, sounding very committed, and then not write again for five years because I'd be embarrassed that I didn't complete my 30-day Ashtanga yoga challenge because I never wanted to do it in the first place.

This is a blog post about how it's Friday night and I'm sitting in the living room with QVC on mute, wearing my favorite way-too-big-for-me 2007 Relay for Life t-shirt (that I won at 5am during the 2008 Relay for Life after walking about 200 thousand times around a track and the only prizes they had left at 5am were 2X shirts they had left over from the year before) + black sweat pants + purple striped leg warmers. How I'm feeling very convinced by the QVC lady that this white pencil she's applying OUTSIDE of the lip-line (she keeps repeating that, like everyone watching QVC is really dumb and is going to draw a white line inside of their lip line, but actually, it's just as weird to draw a white line outside your lip line as it is to draw it inside, isn't it?) IS, in fact, making her lips and the model's lips look bigger. But I'm only feeling convinced because she keeps saying, with great gusto, "LOOK AT HOW MUCH BIGGER MY LIPS LOOK!! LOOK AT THAT!! OH MY GOODNESS, JUST LOOK!" because when I actually look, all I see is that it looks as though she has drawn on a thin white mustache right OUTSIDE of her lip-line. Who does that? And if you want your lips to look bigger because you want someone to kiss them, won't they be freaked out when they pull away from the kiss to look at you with passion and your lips have SHRUNK?

Which reminds me of the last hot and heavy make-out session I had (in my car. In the Kroger parking lot. Because being 30-something is no different from being 16-something) during which the dude I was making out with was slightly taken aback when he pulled back and saw my face all red and scratched up from his facial hair. I have really, REALLY sensitive skin, y'all. But, like, that's kind of hot, right? A white mustache that you consume is decidedly NOT hot, comparatively.

So this is a blog post about how I think I pulled my piriformis muscle on the right side. It's super deep in your butt, the piriformis muscle. So it's like your butt cheek hurts, but it's like, the depths of your butt cheek, which is just disturbing, you know, to imagine that your but cheek has depth. Pigeon pose feels like it helps stretch it, but it's not making it feel better any longer than I am in the pose, though. Damn yoga. Fix me, already.

It's a blog post about how I want to make homemade pasta this weekend, but I'm not going to, I'm going to use wonton wrappers instead for the butternut squash ravioli I'm making for the Halloween party/dinner my sister is having on Sunday with our friends Christi and Bruce. Christi is, incidentally, a far better blog-keeper than I am, but she has this life with a husband and two kids to document, and is mostly inspired, I think, to document their lives for her kids to look back on later, which is like, super cool. I should document my life for the kids I'll maybe one day have. That's why I'm writing. Look, kids! Mommy was at home on Friday night watching QVC and writing a slightly manic sounding blog post for the world to read! She's so funny, isn't she? Your mommy. She's FUNNY.

This is a blog post about how I had sushi two nights in a row - last night and tonight - and I could probably have sushi for two more nights and two more nights in a row after that and not be sad about it. I really love sushi. But, like, eating sushi two nights in a row means I had enough sodium via soy sauce (and probably wasabi, I bet wasabi has a LOT of sodium in it, and I like enough to make my nose burn and eyes water. Hello clear sinuses!) to stiff a horse and that's not healthy, and I really should be eating ONLY. HEALTHY. FOODS. ALL. OF. THE. TIME. because, FOR CHRIST'S SAKE, I work in WELLNESS, I'm a YOGA TEACHER, and I wear shirts that say YMCA STAFF on them.

It's also a blog post about how I could probably be a vegetarian if it wasn't for bacon, and how I have no problem eating healthy from the hours of 7am until 9pm, but if I don't go to bed at 9pm (and let's face it, I rarely go to bed before 2am, sometimes 4am) I lose all of my willpower and want to eat chocolate and bagels and hot dogs in the wee hours of the night. (And sometimes I do. Mostly I don't.)

This is a blog post about how I need to start spinning again, or maybe I need to go to Curves, because I'm going to be teaching yoga there, so they should probably let me work out for free, because the YMCA and Elements and Myers Martial Arts all let me work out for free as a perk of teaching yoga at their locations. And I take advantage of that, oh, maybe never. But I kinda dig that whole Curves circuit thing and the voice saying "change stations NOW" every 30 seconds or minute or whatever it is. Or maybe I need to get back on the Turbulence Training program, except every time I try to do it I hurt my back and hurting my back makes teaching yoga for a living a real bitch and a half. So I should probably just walk 5 miles a day, but walking 5 miles a day takes awhile and it's super boring, so that's why I should do a 30-day Ashtanga yoga challenge, because that's super physical and will be enough cardio, right? Right, totally. So did I just decide that I'm going to work-out by using the massage table and sauna at Elements where I have a free membership? I think I did.

So really this is a blog post about how my brain is kind of scattered right now, and so full of all of the things that I think I should do that I'm sort of paralyzed and sitting in front of the QVC more and more convinced that I need - NEED - this Christmas cookie body wash they are making big, luxurious bubbles with in a bowl of water. But I'm pretty sure that I could get a bowl of water, a poofy sponge thing, and some dish soap and make those same bubbles. But it's way better to wash your body with this fabulous moisturizing cookie body wash that costs hundreds of dollars, and totally worth it, and it's going to SAVE you money in the long run, because you won't have to make any Christmas cookies, you'll just smell yourself, and the ingredients for cookies aren't cheap. That's the rub, you know, making cookies isn't cheap, but it's considered an affordable gift. Not true!

Oh WAIT. See, this is a BUDDHIST blog post. It's a blog post about being precisely in the moment, not in the past, not in the future. I mean, if this isn't an IN THE MOMENT train of thought, I don't know what is. Speaking of this moment, I have a song in my head about how the club can't handle me right now. Because I'm OBSESSED - soooo painfully obsessed with the SING-OFF and I've been watching three specific performances over and over again from this weeks episode. One of them has all of these cute (SMART!) Darmouth boys in green singing about the club not handling them. And I think it's funny, because I looked at Dartmouth's admissions statistics today and damn if their average ACT isn't a 33 and like, every one of the 12 students they admit from the 2 million who apply has a 4.bazillion GPA - so I mean, come on Dartmouth boys, how much time are you spending in the club? Don't you really mean the LIBRARY can't handle you right now? (I went to the library drunk once when I was at Kenyon. I felt like a rebel. Yeah REBEL ME.) Anyway, here are my cute Dartmouth boys.

But actually, the best, best, BEST performance of the week was by this group Pentatonix. Watch. It's SO. AMAZING.

So, I'll leave you now. The blog can't even handle me right now.
Om, shanti, namaste, Jai, etc. etc. etc. Just breathe. I will, too. ;)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Trying to reconnect...

I have a confession to make. I have become very detached from my personal practice of yoga - detached from it as a sadhana, or a spiritual practice - but also detached from it generally. To be a little less vague, and a lot more honest - I haven't been practicing. Period.

I love yoga. I obsess about yoga. I teach yoga for a living, so it isn't that I've stopped doing yoga all-together - that's just not possible. I have to run through poses and sequences in order to plan my classes, and when I teach a class, I usually spend at least 50% of the time demonstrating as a I teach, so physically I've been DOING yoga. But my personal practice has been non-existent for about two weeks now.

I feel guilty, I feel anxious, I feel nervous about this - I really do - but as I told my yogini-friend Hannah, with whom I graduated from Kripalu, "I know I SHOULD be on my mat. But I just don't wanna. I don't know why. I don't want to do yoga." She responded, simply, "then don't." She reminded me to ride the wave and that my practice would always be there waiting for me.

My disconnect from personal practice is completely unrelated to my teaching, though. In fact, on Saturday I taught the best class I've EVER taught, at least from my perspective as the teacher. It felt PERFECT. It was challenging, woven together with a contemplation on intimacy (with self, with others), and I think I even saw a few tears being shed, and not from holding a pose for so long it hurt. =) So I'm wondering if backing off from my own practice has helped me focus more on the art and skill of TEACHING yoga. Maybe it's an ebb and flow - I need my personal practice to inform my teaching, but it doesn't have to be simultaneous, if that makes any sense at all.

This is a hard balance, this teaching yoga gig - having my personal passion so intimately tied to career. I feel like I can't possibly be the first yoga teacher to struggle in this way. I'd love some input from fellow yoga teachers. Or working musicians, artists, chefs... anyone who has tried to live in a way where what you do for YOURSELF is also what you offer to the world. Have you ever struggled in this way? A similar way? A different way? What do you do?

...and the weirdest thing just happened - having written this down, I suddenly have the urge to get on my mat and practice Danny's gentle audio class. Not sure if the urge is strong enough to actually DO it, and I have to teach in a couple of hours anyway, and need to get ready, but it's nice to feel the twinkling of a desire that means the world to me.

I based my (perfect! HA!) class on Saturday around a quote I first heard at Kripalu last year, that has deeply informed how I approach other people - even the people who drive me CRAZY. To be fair - I've actually felt this way since before I had a quote to go along with it. I remember telling a dear friend a long time ago that sometimes I would see a person sitting alone on their front porch, or make eye-contact with someone in the grocery store, and FEEL their loneliness/fear/joy/anger in such a profound way it made me want to weep. But this is the truest thing I know about relating to others. Look at anyone - ANYONE - and think:

Just like me, this person has known suffering.
Just like me, this person wants to be happy.
Just like me, this person is learning every day.
Just like me, this person wants to be loved.
Just like me, this person deserves compassion.
Just like me.
Just like me.

Intimacy - Into me I see.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Breakfast smoothies, Yoga Bitches and Sardicados!

Here are a few things that crossed my mind as I drove home from teaching today.

1) I was going to blog about my typical breakfast smoothie - I even took pictures as I made it early this morning - and then it turned this really repulsive color of brownish-green. Whoops. It sort of looked like something I think I saw in my 22-month old niece's diaper once. It's usually a really pretty color of green and tastes like bananas, but I added a handful of frozen berries, whereas I normally throw in a few strawberries and a handful of ice, so I guess that's what changed the color. It still tasted fine, but man, it was UGLY. The bare bones recipe is:
  • fill the blender with as much kale and collard greens as you can, then throw in a handful of shredded carrots. add 1 cup coconut water. blend it up for a long time, scrape down the sides of the blender, blend it up some more. 
  • add 1/2 a banana and 5 or 6 ice cubes, blend well.
  • add a scoop of your favorite protein powder, blend briefly to incorporate. 
  • pour and serve!
I have this smoothie every morning, and I think it's delicious. Sometimes I toss in a few strawberries to sweeten it up, but the carrot and banana add quite a bit of sweetness, and I use vanilla protein powder sweetened with stevia. It certainly doesn't taste like kale and collards! There is something SO REWARDING about downing a shit-ton of greens first thing in the morning. It's like you've accomplished something massive before 9am, and it forgives, in advance, a plethora of nutritional sins you may commit over the course of the day. =) 

2) I cannot WAIT to read Yoga Bitch. Suzanne Morrison has provided me with so much laughter this week that it's been better core work than navasana, both with this piece and this video. For as much as I completely love and respect the tradition of yoga, the reality is that I'm a goof-ball, and, in my humble opinion, there isn't much in life you can't laugh about. Most of the time my teaching style is pretty light-hearted and silly. Don't misunderstand, I can center a room with the best of them, and stay serious long enough to get you into a pretty kick-ass meditative place for savasana, but during the more active parts of practice, I kind of like to laugh. Especially when it's challenging.  Quads screaming in Vira II? Let's laugh!! Hip flexors weeping in the splits? Let's laugh MORE!

3) The Sardicado has taken over my brain. I'm coming off this strict 7-day detox, which I'm sort of extending for another seven days, except that I'm adding back Ezekiel bread, quinoa, and fish. Towards the sixth day of my detox I started craving SARDINES in the worst way. I never, ever, ever crave sardines. I dig them, but I don't CRAVE them. I think maybe I needed the calcium? In any event, on day six I googled sardine recipes and found this Alton Brown creation that took over my thoughts until day eight when I could finally eat it. (Okay, okay. If you stalk me excessively you know via my Twitter feed that day seven actually turned into a massive(ly fun) cheat day that included Mexican food, margaritas, wine, pizza and beer. FINE. Also, I kinda doubt anyone stalks me THAT excessively...) I finally made the Sardicado last night and OH. MY. GOD. It's the best thing ever. (Fine. It's NOT the best thing ever. But it's freakin' delicious, nonetheless!) You marinate the sardines in olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, salt, pepper and parsley for an hour and/or as long as you can stand to wait (last night that was about 10 minutes. Right now I have them marinating in the fridge and I'm blogging in order to stall another 30 minutes before I rush into the kitchen and devour them! Alton recommends an hour. Mine went into the fridge at 12:46pm. Tick, tock...) and then you pile them onto bread spread with avocado, generously squeeze a lemon over the whole thing, and enjoy. I replaced the sourdough bread he recommends with Sesame Ezekiel bread, which is actually a GREAT swap because it toasts up SO crispy, providing glorious contrast to the buttery avocado and the oily sardines. YUM. 

Actually, OMG, between taking a break to make a friend watch Suzanne's video with me and adding in all those damn links (I hope the three of you reading this actually click them so I didn't waste my time) I'm now thirteen minutes PAST when my sardines were ready! MUST GO EAT SARDICADO!!

Om, shanti, peace, etc. ;)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Well-being; Being-well. Random musings about life in August.

I'm fascinated by the control I have over my feeling of well-being. If I eat crappy foods, skip exercise, skimp on my personal practice of yoga and don't get enough sleep, I wake up feeling HORRIBLE - like my body is too big for my skin, my muscles are frozen like big blocks of ice and it's an effort to even move, more or less stretch. It takes me forever (and a lot of coffee) to feel remotely human. But when I make a point to flood my system with healthy, nutritious foods, get enough exercise and go to bed before midnight I wake up feeling light, alert and HAPPY. I'm a pleasure-seeker - a comfort-craver - and so I am pretty motivated when it comes to doing things that make me FEEL good.

After a few weeks of seeking pleasure and comfort in all the wrong places I decided to give my whole system a reset with another detox. But this one is completely different than the four day Ayurvedic cleanse I attempted in March. I found it via Tiffany Cruikshank, who is Nike's in-house yoga and holistic health guru. She's the newest teacher on YogaGlo, and I've found her classes very intense, challenging, and athletic. Her 7-day detox is actually not restrictive or scary (let's face it, drinking ghee is scary, and there is no ghee-drinking involved in this one!) - it's essentially seven days of a fruits, veggies, nuts and protein powder. It's incredibly nutritious and I've actually not been hungry at all. Granted, I already eat relatively healthy on a regular basis - I very rarely eat processed foods and stick mainly to fruits, veggies, whole grains, lean proteins, good fats, etc. So the biggest exclusion in this plan for me is not eating quinoa and other grains and not having any meat or dairy. Half an avocado with raw almonds is already my go-to snack of choice. But I've been having a BLAST with the smoothies at breakfast and dinner and I'm blown away by how much kale and collard greens I can get into my blender (and then my body) and what a relatively small amount of fruit it takes to completely disguise the flavor. The best part is that after one full day I already could tell a difference in how I felt. And after two full days I feel lighter, more alert, more comfortable in my skin. And I feel oddly motivated to get other stuff done that I've put off - like cleaning the bathroom or organizing my desk. That's a bonus, I guess!

Saturday was the full moon, and it was GORGEOUS. I took this picture on Sunday, so it was still pretty full. I've really been enjoying incorporating the cycles of the moon into both my own practice and my teaching. I taught three or four different moon-flow classes on the days leading up to and after the full moon, and it was really nice. I think my students enjoy it as well - I got a lot of positive feedback about the classes.

I combined a snack and a lunch today, generally following Tiffany's detox guidelines, and this was the result. DELICIOUS. I didn't realize you could get rice cakes made from organic brown rice, but now that I know, I'm in love. I mashed half and avocado with some sea salt and lemon, spread it on the rice cakes, and topped it with cucumber slices. SO TASTY. I'm a big fan of bagels with cream cheese and cucumber, and this was reminiscent of that, but almost better because the rice cake is so light it allows the flavor of the avocado to dominate. And I just love the flavor and lightness of cucumbers.

Last but not least, my current favorite human being - my niece, Lily. She is heading right into my very favorite baby age - two! I know they call them the terrible-twos, and I'm sure it must be for good reason, but most of the kids I've been around seem to get even more annoying when they are three, so who knows. I love this age so much - Lily is getting better at actually communicating with me - she's funny and witty and charming and resilient - and I just adore her. Here she is reminding me (and you!) to be creative and embrace your inner-artist. =)


Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Go-To Meals

I was thinking yesterday about how I actually eat on a day to day basis, the recipes I post on my blog and Facebook, and the reality of LIFE - balancing health and nutrition considerations with convenience with enjoying the romance of food with the occasional splurge. As I was contemplating this I was also making one of my go-to lunches, a poached egg salad, and as I sat down to eat it I thought "this is the kind of stupid-simple recipe I should post on my blog. It's not complicated or remotely gourmet, but it's super-yummy, full of decent nutrition and maybe not a totally obvious combination."

So without further ado, some of my Go-To recipes. Here's the truth - these are painfully simple, use a lot of healthy convenience foods (like pre-washed quinoa, boxes or bags of pre-washed spring mix, spinach and kale, canned beans, etc.) but are based in the reality of busy living, hour-long lunch breaks, and getting home at 5:30pm after a long day at work exhausted and in no mood for vege prep. Okay, and some of them are a little bit weird. =) And the photo? Well, that's just because the truth is, I could probably live on antipasti if necessary. Olives are my muse.

Steel-cut Oats with Flax, Blueberries and Cinnamon
It's hardly a recipe, but it's a combination I love, so I'll throw it out there. 
I've recently discovered that you can, indeed, use the quick cooking steel-cut oats and not sacrifice too much of the steel-cut oat experience. TIME SAVER. So make your oats, toss in 2 tbsp of ground flax meal, some cinnamon and serve with a huge pile of blueberries. SO GOOD.

The Poached Egg Salad
You can get really creative here, adding all sorts of veges and even some almonds, or you can keep it simple, like I do, and get in and out of the kitchen in ten minutes flat.

One slice of toasted Ezekiel bread (I prefer sesame)
Two poached eggs (bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, crack your eggs into a heat-proof glass, salt the water and/or the eggs, reduce the heat on the water to medium and bring it down to a gentle simmer. Gently lower the glass into the water so the eggs sit on the side and water can start to flow into the glass. After a few seconds, slowly release the eggs into the water. Set a timer for three minutes. After a minute or so, give the eggs a little nudge just so they aren't sticking to the bottom of the pan, and don't be alarmed if it appears your whites have gone haywire. Remove the eggs with a slotted spoon after the three minutes - ta-da, perfectly poached eggs.)
Spring mix or spinach
1/2 an avocado
sprinkle of red wine vinegar and a splash of olive oil
salt and pepper

On your toasted bread, pile the eggs, a few generous handfuls of spring mix and/or spinach and the avocado, broken or cut into bite-size pieces. Sprinkle with the vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. To eat, stab your fork through the greens, cut a bite of toast and egg (the best part is the runny egg going all over the place) and get a nice chunk of avocado. It's YUMMY!

Warm Bean and Rice Salad
A few years ago I was inspired by Stephanie from Top Chef when she made a green salad with hot rice in it, and explained it was something her mom used to make. I'm sure her recipe is super delicious and probably complicated, so I took the general idea and dumbed it down enough so that I could make something similar on my hour lunch break. And again, it's deceptively simple, and involves no prep-work other than rinsing beans and microwaving rice.

1 can of ready to eat beans - any type. (I used to use a can of organic 3-bean salad mix that I think had garbanzos, kidneys and navy beans in it.)
1 box of Annie's sprouted brown rice (or any leftover rice you have. I find this sticky sprouted brown rice works really well here, though.)
Spring mix
Sesame oil

Microwave your rice, drain and rinse the beans. Pour a teaspoon of sesame oil over the rice while it's still in the container and sprinkle with salt. Then toss everything together - the greens, the rice, the beans. Add more sesame oil to taste, or add a splash of lemon juice if you need some acidity. The spring mix will wilt just a little bit and the beans will pick up some of the heat from the rice - and it sounds crazy but it's super tasty and FAST.

Crispy Kale and Quinoa Salad 
Roast de-stemmed kale, tossed in olive oil, at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or so, checking on it/tossing it every ten minutes. You want it to get crispy but not too brown. Meanwhile, make some quinoa (you can buy pre-washed quinoa - I like to toast it in the hot pan before I add the water or vege stock, but you don't have to do that) adding any spices or herbs you have on hand. Toss the hot crispy kale with the quinoa, add a squeeze of lemon and a handful of raw almonds. Sesame oil works great here, too.

Roasted beets for Salads, Sandwiches, General Enjoyment
Cut the tops and bottoms off of the beets and scrub the skin clean. Place in a baking dish with an inch of water (if you like citrus, you can use a mix of water and orange juice or all orange juice instead) and cover with aluminum foil. Put in a 400 degree oven for an hour, flip over, check the tenderness with a fork, re-cover with the aluminum foil and put back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so (if your beets are really big!) until a fork pierces through the beets easily. As soon as they are out of the oven remove the skin - it's easier than you think it will be using the back of a spoon while they are still hot. You can eat them hot or roast a bunch and eat them right out of the refrigerator.

My current favorite roasted beet situation is a sandwich of pumpernickel bread, goat cheese, sliced roasted beets, spring mix or wilted spinach, toasted almonds and sliced avocado.

Roasted beets also make a great addition to the poached egg salad, as described above.

Super-Simple Cabbage
My sister LOVES this. I do, too. You can use any kind of cabbage, but I'm partial to Savoy.

1 head of cabbage
1 tbsp olive oil
chicken or vege stock

Chop up the cabbage into bite size pieces as you heat the olive oil in a big saute pan. Toss the cabbage into the olive oil, and stir-fry it for ten to fifteen minutes, until it has a nice golden brown color and is softened. Pour the stock over the cabbage (the measurements here are not precise - you just add enough stock to cover the cabbage) and, if you want a little more richness, add a teaspoon of butter. Cover and simmer the cabbage for as long as you like. I prefer my cabbage to still have a bit of firmness, so I usually like to eat it after about 10 to 15 minutes, but if you prefer really soft cabbage you can simmer it until the cows come home. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve. We had this instead of coleslaw with grilled chicken on the 4th of July, and it was GREAT. It also keeps remarkably well and heats up as a quick lunch or dinner like a dream.

Tuna and Almonds on Celery
I don't know why this works so well for me. I used to eat it for dinner all of the time, though, and I associate it with the winter Olympics of 2008. Weird, right? But I offer it in the same spirit as a dear friend who once confessed to me his penchant for peanut butter and blue cheese sandwiches. 

Mix a can or pouch of tuna with a little bit of mayonnaise. Add an ounce of raw almonds. Scoop it up with celery and enjoy. Yum.

All Vegetables Want to be Roasted
I make a big tray of sliced yellow onions, asparagus, carrots, tomatoes, red peppers, cauliflower and broccoli, cut them in pieces of similar thickness so they will cook evenly, toss them in some olive oil and salt and roast at 425 to 450 degrees for about 20 to 30 minutes, checking on them, tossing and turning them every ten minutes or so. If something is clearly DONE before something else, I just take it off the baking sheet and stick everything else back in. Mix a bit of Greek yogurt with Siracha (more if you like a lot of heat, less if you don't) and add a bit of water if you like a thinner dipping sauce. Dip your veges in the yogurt sauce and take a trip to vegetable heaven!!!

The No-I'm-Not-Pregnant Sandwich
Here you go. The truth. I have to have this at least twice a year. And no, I'm not pretending it's healthy.

3 slices of GOOD bacon, cooked crispy
Jiff peanut butter
sliced dill pickles
honey-wheat bread

Toast your bread, spread with peanut butter while the toast is still warm. The peanut butter will get all nice and melty. Top with the bacon and sliced pickles. If you are a sweet/salty fiend, like me, you'll understand that the peanut butter becomes the sweet, the bacon and pickles are the salty, and it's the same general concept as a Reese's Cup. Or you'll hate it.

Salmon for Dummies (and me)
Oven at 425, salmon rubbed with olive oil, lemon and salt (some dill if you're feeling frisky) and wrapped, pouch-like so it can steam, in aluminum foil. Bake for 25 minutes. The end. Two birds with one stone: put your pouches of salmon on one side of a baking sheet, asparagus tossed in olive oil on the other side - fish and veg done at the same time. Complete meal bonus: make some five minute cous-cous on the stove when the timer gets down to 8 minutes. You're a genius.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Angry? Me? Never!


Let's talk about anger.

I don't consider myself an angry person, but I'm starting to wonder if my self-awareness is a bit off-kilter, because I've been struggling with a lot of anger as of late - and been hearing from people in my life that I am angry - and screwing up relationships because of even though I don't CONSIDER myself angry, gosh, maybe I need to change my perspective.

It's confusing, though, because I really don't FEEL angry. Well, except for sometimes.

Which leads me to the practice of Osho Kundalini Meditation, because I think there is a connection between my experience with the practice and my current inability to SEE myself as angry, even though I'm hearing from a lot of people that I am, indeed, such. I had an experience with anger last August that didn't make a ton of sense to me at the time, but it's starting to make a little more sense to me now.

About halfway through Yoga Teacher Training at Kripalu, we did the Osho Kundalini Meditation practice. Instead of trying to summarize this meditation technique, allow me to quote the Osho website:

Many meditative techniques require one to sit still and silent. But for most of us accumulated stress in our bodymind makes that difficult. Before we can hope to access our inner powerhouse of consciousness, we need to let go of our tensions.
Osho Active Meditations have been scientifically designed by Osho over a period of time to enable us to consciously express and experience repressed feelings and emotions, and learn the knack of watching our habitual patterns in a new way. (from the Osho website
At Kripalu, we were guided in the Osho Kundalini Meditation one fine Sunday morning, and I am pretty sure I went into it with an open mind and heart. I was two weeks into my YTT experience, and I was probably the happiest I'd ever been in my whole life, save a few choice moments at Kenyon. I was eating amazingly well, practicing at least four hours of yoga a day, surrounded by like-minded human beings with the most incredibly kind and generous spirits, getting eight solid hours of sleep an night, spending an hour in the sauna and hot tub a day, in one of the most beautiful places on earth. And I was IN SCHOOL, working toward a goal, feeling completely in the right place at the right time. All of this to say that I was NOT. ANGRY. Not in the slightest.

In the Osho Kundalini Meditation, you go through four stages over the course of one hour, all to a very specific soundtrack of music. The first stage is shaking - just shaking to this pulsating music, trying to feel the shake originate from somewhere deep underneath you, feeling the energy bubble up through the soles of your feet and letting it move your body - pulsing and shaking while standing mainly in place. The music is rhythmic and loud and INTENSE. The second stage is dancing, again to very specific and intense music. You dance like there is no tomorrow, letting the dance emanate from deep inside of you instead of YOU dancing the body. You let the dance be organic and natural - it doesn't have to look like any dancing anyone has ever seen before - it's all YOURS. Dance like it's the last time in your life you'll feel this way, be able to express yourself this way. Dance. The third stage you either stand or sit, completely still, and just WATCH. After thirty minutes of movement, you simply stay completely still and watch the flow of energy that you created as it bubbles through you, noticing thoughts, feelings, emotions, physical sensations as they occur, without inviting them or pushing them away. Just being AWARE. There is a soundtrack for this, too, that facilitates stillness. Lastly, in the fourth stage, you lay in savasana posture and simply let go, relax. Breathe. You stay here for 15 minutes.

So the theory behind this makes sense to me - it's hard to just SIT in meditation without transition, without releasing any pent up energy in the body first. This is why I always start my meditation classes with about ten minutes of light yoga - mainly pratapana and movement. But Osho meditation takes it to another level, with thirty minutes of intense, purposeful, powerful movement. And then you sit (or stand) in stillness, and then you relax. And then? Well, I guess that depends on who you are.

We were encouraged, immediately following the four stages, to spend another fifteen minutes writing ourselves a letter. And for this specific practice, we were encouraged to open our letter "My Dearest ______".

I was aware I was FEELING something powerful bubbling up inside of me as I sat to begin writing this letter to myself, but it was undefinable. However, as soon as our guide added the caveat of writing from a place of love and compassion, I felt something inside of me break wide open and I was SEETHING. I felt as though I was in a blind rage, I was so totally and inexplicable furious. What I wrote in that letter is immensely personal and not something I'm sharing on a public blog, but suffice to say I was PISSED OFF. And I'm not someone who considers anger a dominant emotion in her life. Hmm.

Now the inquiry, yes?

In any event, I'm leading my meditation group tonight in the Osho Kundalini Meditation, and I'm already thinking in terms of holding space afterward for whatever people might need. This can definitely be an intense experience. After I did it, I skipped lunch and spent two hours in the hot tub, letting the scalding hot bubbles mirror the anger that was pouring out of me. Unfortunately for my meditation students, I don't have a hot tub. But a comfy couch, a shoulder to cry on, Skinny Girl margaritas, snacks and leftover Sweet & Salty cake? Yup, I've got them covered. =)

Monday, June 27, 2011

Reading List

I'm currently in the process of reading The Strand 80, having been inspired by my friend, Melissa. Some of these books I have already read at some point in my life, but I'm going to re-read the entire list.

Start date: June 13, 2011
Books read to date: 4/81 (as of June 27, 2011)

  1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  2. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  3. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  5. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
  6. The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand
  7. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein
  8. One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  9. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë
  10. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling (6/2011)
  11. Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  12. 1984 by George Orwell
  13. On the Road by Jack Kerouac
  14. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  15. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  16. The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  17. Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
  18. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
  19. Slaughter House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
  20. Ulysses by James Joyce
  21. Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  22. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
  23. Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
  24. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
  25. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway
  26. War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  27. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein
  28. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (6/2011)
  29. The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay by Michael Chabon
  30. Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
  31. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
  32. The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  33. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll
  34. The Stranger by Albert Camus 
  35. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
  36. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  37. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  38. Moby Dick, or the Whale by Herman Melville
  39. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
  40. Les Misérables by Victor Hugo
  41. A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
  42. Anthem by Ayn Rand
  43. The Wind-up Bird Chronicles by Haruki Murakami
  44. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  45. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
  46. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
  47. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  48. Le petit prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
  49. The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger
  50. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
  51. The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  52. The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  53. The World According to Garp by John Irving
  54. Middlemarch by George Elliot
  55. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
  56. The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingslover
  57. Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling (6/2011)
  58. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (6/2011)
  59. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  60. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  61. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
  62. Beloved by Toni Morrison
  63. Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
  64. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers
  65. Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk
  66. The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner
  67. Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
  68. The Giver by Lois Lowry
  69. Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov
  70. Blindness by Jose Saramago
  71. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
  72. Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
  73. Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
  74. The Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis
  75. The Odyssey by Homer
  76. The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown
  77. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
  78. A Wrinkle in Time by Madelein L'Engle
  79. Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer
  80. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
  81. The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood