When was the last time you sat down with someone and had a real, face to face conversation? One without the distraction of a computer screen, cell phone, or other wandering thoughts. In this day and age of social media and the glorification of busy, those genuine conversations seem to be harder to come by. I was reminded of this this past week. I get so caught up in text messaging that I forget sometimes the impact a deep conversation can have. Texting or communication through social media can be such an easy way to connect with someone else, but not on a deeper level. I love communicating in those forms so I can be able to quickly move on to the next task or activity, but I find myself sometimes wanting more. Those conversations tend to be more on the surface or superficial. I sat down with a close friend this past week and just chatted about life, love, work, everything and anything. It made me feel cleansed, renewed if you will. It reminded me of the importance of these moments. It clarified some unanswered questions I was having about my path and deepened my connection with this other person. It is such a simple thing to do, to stop what we are doing and really engage in conversation with another human being, and yet it seems to be more and more challenging to find the time and energy. Try putting away the cell phone and being fully present with another human being this weekend and then notice how you feel after the conversation. I have seen at parties or at the dinner table baskets where everyone has to leave their phones while at that house/event. I love that concept, free from distraction to focus on those around us. A definite simple pleasure of mine.
Below is an entry I wrote in my Wanderlust Festival notebook, Monday morning, the morning after we returned home:
How lucky we are to practice yoga.
I'm just coming back from a weekend at the Wanderlust Yoga Festival, and I have to share this. The night before we were scheduled to leave for the festival, my husband found a spot on his skin that looked exactly like melanoma. This is coming off of the heels of having lost a very dear friend friend of ours earlier in the week. We called a dermatologist and were able to get him an appointment for that upcoming Monday, the day after we were scheduled to return from the festival. We were both feeling resentful for the timing of everything, convinced we wouldn't be able to enjoy ourselves during this weekend we had been looking forward to for so long. We cried the night before, and left for the festival consumed by fear.
Fast forward 12 hours later, as we began our first yoga class of the 3-day weekend with Seane Corn, and my fear melted away. I was present, I was moving my body and nurturing my spirit, surrounded by a community of festival goers, doing the same. The fear quickly shifted to gratitude.
The weekend was so much fun, but also renewing and inspiring. I talked with my husband after our return about how he felt regarding the "cancer thing", and he said "I just left this weekend feeling grateful. Whatever happens, we'll deal with it when it comes. We are doing everything we can, and we don't have control over this".
Ironically, the Wanderlust Festival couldn't have come at a better time. We left for the weekend, consumed by fear, and returned feeling grateful and grounded. The circumstances hadn't changed. We had changed. As I write this my heart is full of gratitude for that thing called yoga, for the community that's evolved around this practice, and for the fact that I live a privileged enough life to have time and energy to devote to yoga. I feel grateful I somehow found this practice when nothing in my upbringing exposed me to it. I feel grateful my husband shares this love for yoga and that we can practice, grow, and evolve mind, body, and spirit together.
Chances are, if you've stumbled upon our blog, you love and practice yoga as well. Take a moment now to reflect on all the wonderful things yoga has drawn into your life: a connection between mind and body perhaps, elevated consciousness, improved eating habits, decreased anxiety, and improved mental clarity. Think of all the people you've met within the yoga community and the perspectives/concepts you've been exposed to because of your interest in yoga. Gosh, we are so lucky to have found this practice.
Life is a funny thing sometimes. It gives you what you need, even if what you need is not what you want. We won't get the results of my husband's skin biopsy for a few days, and you know what? I'm still scared, but I know we will deal with things as they come. We will do what we have control over, and continue to practice yoga regardless.
Update*** We received a phone call from the dermatologist later yesterday informing us that the biopsy was benign.!!! Phewww, what a whirlwind. We are feeling so relieved, and so grateful.
With summer in full swing here, the farmer's markets are chockerbock full of fresh, locally grown berries. Strawberries are always a treat, one I cherish during the summer months. They are delicious by themselves, semi-frozen, as dessert, on pancakes, atop ice cream or in pies. I have fond memories of strawberry shortcake before fireworks on the 4th of July, and strawberries atop waffles with whipped cream on lazy weekend mornings. It's always a treat to have berries after lunch at work. Plus, how beautifully iconic are strawberries piled high, as they peak above their green baskets?! We always buy organic berries, because strawberries are on the dirty dozen. Next time you're at a farmer's market, pick up a basket of fresh berries and enjoy this simple pleasure before the season is over.
This recipe came from my step-father who makes this on the regular for us in the summertime. It is a favorite of mine! As soon as watermelon is in season, I crave this drink. Add some tequila or vodka and you've got a fab cocktail. So simple, refreshing, tasty, and healthy.
- 1 small seedless watermelon cut into pieces
- 1-2 jalapeno pepper(s), depending on how spicy you like it
- 1 bunch chopped chives
- 2 limes
- 1/4 cup of either mint leaves (what we usually use), basil, or cilantro depending on taste preference
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- Sea salt and pepper, to taste
- Put the watermelon into a blender. Set aside some for garnish.
- Zest one lime onto the watermelon and squeeze in its juice. Use the other lime for garnish.
- Remove Jalapeno seeds, slice up, and add to watermelon.
- Add in half the chives and herb. Set aside the rest for garnish.
- Whip in a blender until creamy and smooth. We use a Vitamix, which makes the job so easy.
- Season with sea salt and pepper.
- Pour into glass.
- Sprinkle finely chopped chives and herb of choice on top and add a few small cubes of watermelon.
- Garnish the rim with whatever you have on hand - strawberries, herbs, and/or lime wedge.
- Best served cold so store in the fridge if not consumed right away.
Cold cold water in a hot hot yoga class might be one of the simple pleasures I get to enjoy the most. I'm always surprised how amazing a big gulp of ice-cold water is when you are in the middle of a hot yoga class. I know there's an entire movement towards going waterless in yoga, in order to minimize distractions and maximize your "moving meditation" experience, but I'm always moved when I drink my cold water in class and realize how grateful I feel for something so simple. I don't know if I want to take away that simple pleasure of cold cold water, because the gratitude I feel is something that makes me truly happy. I highly recommend the hydroflask bottle for enjoying this simple pleasure, but in my earlier days I froze 1/4 of my bottle so my water stayed cold throughout class. Give this simple pleasure a try next time you are in a hot yoga class.
Okay, I'm going to be honest, feeling overwhelmed is a natural part of being human. I don't know if these tips will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed, but it's my hope they will help when you do feel overwhelmed. Overwhelmed feelings can paralyze us, and prevent us from even getting started. Often people see only the entire journey, the entire project, or all of the work it will take to reach their goal, and fail to realize goals are reached by putting in small doses of energy, consistently, over time. Below are a few tips I use, and discuss with my clients to help when anxiety and goals are feeling too overwhelming.
- Set yourself small achievable goals within your large goal. Most people avoid beginning in the first place, because they feel too overwhelmed by the big picture. Setting small subgoals that feel achievable and doable are a trick for getting started, and thus one step closer to the goal. For example, if you have a large paper to write, just set yourself the daily goal to write one page of a crappy rough draft. Allow yourself to stop after you've written a page if you just aren't feeling it, and feel good about achieving your daily goal. Chances are, you'll write something better than a crappy rough draft, and you may even decide to keep going after you've completed the first page. Getting started is usually the hardest part.
- Identify what you have control over, what you don't, and focus energy accordingly. Much of the time we lament over the things we don't have control over, and thus our energy is wasted on situations we can't do anything about. We have control over our own actions, how we choose to react, and what we put energy towards. For example, if one is clinically depressed, changing your mood immediately is most likely out of your control. What you can do, however is put energy into behaviors that may get you closer to your goal of improving your mood (e.g. opening all the windows and blinds, getting out to walk everyday, showering). Sometimes, just acknowledging what we don't have control over and letting go of those things can free up energy for us to put towards what we want to change.
- Remind yourself that feeling overwhelmed is normal and take a deep breath. Often, we fight the feelings we don't want to feel. What we fight, we strengthen. Sometimes, just knowing that feeling overwhelmed is normal, accepting this feeling, and then refocusing our energy can help us to move on.
Hope these tips were helpful. These are tips I use throughout my life, tips I used to help get through graduate school, and tips I discuss with clients. Remember, large change is created, large goals are reached through small actions done on a consistent basis.
Whether surfing, playing, splashing, wading, or swimming, people seem to gravitate towards water, especially in the summertime. I was reminded this past weekend just how much fun the water can be. Seeing so many pictures on social media of friends and family enjoying the holiday by swimming in lakes, splashing in the ocean, and floating in pools made me think about how wonderful the water really is and what effects it has on our well being. On a sunny day here on the west coast people gravitate towards the beach, and on cold days the hot tub always seems like a good idea. People spend huge amounts of money to buy a house by the water, build a pool in their backyard or fly somewhere tropical just to step in the warm ocean. Being in water feels good. It can calm the busyness of the mind, bringing us into a more relaxed, meditative state. It can also rejuvenate, restore, and cleanse the body and mind. If I've had a long day at work, taking a bath or shower can wash away any stress and reenergize me. Additionally, being outside with the sun coming down can do wonders for a person's mood. People come together in these places to spend quality time with each other, leave the stress of everyday life behind, and find time to relax and be playful.
With July in full swing, I realized we are already halfway through summer, and if we aren't careful, it could slip by without us fully enjoying the season. Summers are special because, depending on where you live, it's typically a time where the days are longer, the nights are warmer, and the energy just seems a little big lighter. Perhaps it's emotional memories associated with our childhood days of lazy summer vacations, but I do think summers bring possibilities. Below are 10 things to do before the summer is over.
- Float in water, eyes closed, toes peeking above the surface, weightless
- Roast marshmallows over a bonfire
- Try out a new yoga class you've never done. I'm thinking Aerial or Ashtanga for myself
- Make smoothie bowls. Check out our dragon fruit recipe here
- Take a walk with a loved one at sunset
- Relax in a hammock...wine optional
- Hike in nature
- Eat alfresco
- Start a meditation practice. Try setting a goal of just 10 consecutive days
- Get lost in a really good book.
This year we're attending the Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Squaw Valley, Ca. I remember when Wanderlust was founded, and I've watched it grow into a brand that includes a book, youtube channel (which is amazing BTW), festivals in multiple locations, a blog, yoga teacher training program, and clothing/lifestyle products. Below are the top 10 essentials we are packing for the festival:
- Yoga mat. This may seem like a no-brainer, but a good mat really is an essential at a yoga festival. Our favorite brand is, of course, Manduka. The Prolite and the eKo lite are our personal favs. A yoga festival can be a good excuse to finally purchase yourself a nice mat that you will use and love for years to come.
- Yoga mat strap. These make it super easy to carry your mat around hands-free, 'nuff said, and this one is super cute!
- Flip Flops. You'll want flip flops that you can flop off as you begin a yoga class, and these come in a variety of colors, are super comfy, and can be washed off when they get muddy or dirty.
- Tennis shoes. Wanderlust fest has a variety of classes that include guided hikes. To get the most out of the experience, some cute and comfy tennis shoes like these are highly recommended.
- Fun leggings. Yoga festivals are the perfect time to rock some wild yoga leggings. These are my personal favorite, and they come in so many fun patterns/colors. The material is breathable and dries super fast after a sweaty class.
- Flash Tattoos. Festivals in general are a time to rock your bohemian style. We included flash tattoos in our list of essentials because we think they make the experience that much more fun!
- Journal. With all of the workshops, and world class yoga and meditation teachers, there is sure to be some wisdom dropping all weekend! We are bringing along a journal for taking notes.
- Sunblock. Gotta protect that beautiful skin you have! We are bringing along sunblock to reapply throughout the day. The sun is sure to be a blazin'! We are providing a few options depending on your preferences. This sunblock is only an spf 30 but smells heavenly and boasts a clean ingredient list. This option provides a higher spf but runs slightly dirtier with regards to ingredients. Both are good options, so choose according to your needs. If you haven't read our post on sunscreens check it out here.
- Oversized Sunglasses. The sun will be out no doubt and some big sunnies will not only protect your eyes from the sun's harmful rays, but also raise your cool factor. We love these for festivals because they are chic and super affordable.
- Backpack. Well, you need something to hold the rest of these items. This backpack is small enough to be carried around all day, and it comes with a hydration pack so you can leave your water bottle at home. We brought this backpack hiking with us along the Napali coast in Kauai, HI and it was awesome! Highly recommend for Wanderlust, and/or life in general.
Hope this list helps! We will be sure to document our trip with some pics and write all about the experience, so stay tuned for that upcoming post. If you are going, keep an eye out for us and say hi.