Tuesday, August 31, 2010

questions to think about

As I wrote in previous posts, I have been revisiting my journal from last year. I came across this list of questions that I reflected on when I was going through some major decision making. I wish I can tell you the original source, but unfortunately I did not cite the source when I haphazardly jotted down the questions.


  • How does this desire fit in with my greater priorities?
  • Is it beneficial to other people as well as to myself?
  • Will following this desire hurt me or others?
  • What will I have to give up if I follow this desire?
  • Does it take me closer to my higher Self, or will it create more barriers between my soul and myself?
  • What will I have to give up if I don't follow it?
  • What do I really want by getting what I want?
I thought these were great questions for thinking through decisions and transitions. (I left the Excel spreadsheet of pros and cons to my dad whose mind works well through numbers.)

How about you? What helps you make decisions? 

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

the four directions

I revisited an old journal and found this poem that I took note of from an art gallery on Main Street, in the Over-The-Rhine area of Cincinnati during one of their Final Friday art events in April 2009. Sigh. I miss Final Friday art events in Cincinnati.

And there's just something about prose and/or poetry that reminds me of how the telling of each other's "stories" is important... showing how connected we all are.

So I'm sending my thanks to this poet who shared the poem below:

the four directions

i believe there are not real divisions between us,
look closely.
all of our drawn boundaries are temporary,
they represent our fears.
the directions contain one another.
we may travel north, south, east or west.
we never truly leave a place behind
or arrive at a new place.
we are limitless in this way.
we cannot be contained.
the directions are in our hearts.
they may change circumstance from year to year.
the story lines change.
each story melts into the next.
this is my version of north, south,
east and west.
my four directions are sixty small
pieces of my heart.

-michelle lea red elk
member of the Indian Arts and Crafts Association

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

finding words of wisdom everywhere...

I recently visited this Thai restaurant, which has been a go-to restaurant for me to have pad thai -- and other Thai dishes -- without fish sauce. (not all restaurant kitchens may be willing to make the adjustment)

I have to admit I enjoy Asian restaurants for the fortune cookies. And amidst my inner struggle, I got a fortune cookie with this little slip of paper that reads:

"There is a way to everything you want."

Now one would argue that it's just a fortune cookie. And it is. But I think it's fun.

And maybe, there IS a way to everything I want. Not "want" in a material sense, but in terms of personal dreams.

 my collage from a retreat in August 2008

I have at least 2 friends who are either going through some life transitions, or thinking about a life transition. Thinking about what they want...and what they don't want. And what great things they envision for themselves. It's all so exciting, sitting in that place of possibility and potential. Even if it may mean putting a end to something, it also means that there is something new beginning. That seems to be what life is: endings and new beginnings. With each phase ending there is a lesson learned, with each new beginning there is an opportunity to take another step towards our highest self.

A dear friend and spiritual author, whose birthday is today, always talks about being open to this sense of "infinite power that enables us to fulfill our highest purpose." (Happy birthday, K.! Thank you for your words of wisdom.)

It's no wonder my body has been so attracted to heart-opening poses lately. Backbending has been feeling SO good in my recent yoga practice. Cobra pose, camel pose, full wheel. There's something about this feeling of openness, expansion, and largeness of heart in these poses. It never fails to amaze me how the body, mind, and spirit are so connected.

So when you're feeling stuck, try some backbends. Whether it's a gentle backbend like a low cobra or sphinx, or a more challenging backbend such as the full wheel... whatever is right for you and your body at any particular time. And even if you don't come to an answer just yet, you will at least have given your body a delicious stretch. I'd say there's wisdom in honoring your body.

Here's a thought I've been meditating on lately:

"Don't worry about what the world wants from you, worry about what makes you come more alive. Because what the world really needs are people who are more alive." - Howard Thurman

What is your source of power? And what makes you "come alive"? I'd love to hear...

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Friday, August 20, 2010

do what you love, love what you do.

"What you love is a sign from your higher self of what you are to do." - Sanaya Roman

This sounds all too easy, doesn't it?

But the truth is, there are many challenges involved. The voices that say, you shouldn't, the voice of the practical, the voice of self-doubt, the voice of the critic and inner saboteur. (Got that term from the book The 12 Secrets of Highly Creative Women by Gail McMeekin -- a present from this creative friend).

I still struggle with living an academic/professional life and living a creative life. How to have the best of both worlds?

What are your inner saboteurs?

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Saturday, August 14, 2010

food, yoga, and art

Today I'm going to treat myself to a little celebration, after an intense summer class, in which a semester's worth of information is crammed into 5 weeks. In addition to that, there was work/co-teaching, and planning for fall semester duties. This summer flew by at a hectic pace, but I'm giving myself permission to slow down and celebrate summer today.

This morning started with homemade chocolate chip pancakes, thanks to this recipe (I added the chocolate chips -- why not?).

A little later I will practice some yoga... maybe yin yoga? Then later this afternoon, I am preparing a picnic to bring to an outdoor concert, where A and I will sit on the lawn to watch a performance of the Silk Road Ensemble with Yo-Yo Ma at the Blossom Music Center. I can't play music to save my life, but I LOVE the cello. Especially by Yo-Yo Ma. And it will be my first time to see the Silk Road Ensemble.Watching the symphony gives me goosebumps and brings me to tears.  What is it about art and music that just speaks to your soul?

harpist in Grailville, spring 2008

The picnic is still to be deciced, but I'm thinking of red grapes with pecorino romano cheese, pita bread and hummus, a pasta salad with black olives, artichokes, and sun-dried tomato, then strawberries and Nutella, and iced jasmine green tea for me and some kind of wine for A. Yum. 

Food, yoga, and art... what could be better?

Happy weekend!

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Sunday, August 8, 2010

homemade salt scrub

I had another one of those sudden urges to get crafty.

I looked at what I had lying around in my kitchen and bathroom. Here's what I had:

sweet almond oil
sea salt and Himalayan pink salt (fine salt, not coarse!)
dried flowers, like lavender
essential oils: lavender, bergamot, peppermint.

So I thought... why not make a salt scrub?

Here's how to do it:

Start with a clean glass jar. I like reusing those mason jars or jam jars.... especially if they have pretty lids (without the food product label!)

Fill the jar halfway with sea salt. Or Himalayan pink salt, if you have it...


You can get Himalayan pink salt at a specialty foods store or online. I was lucky and chanced upon a great deal on it at TJ Max!

The little specks of pink make it look pretty, and it's got minerals, trace elements, and all that good stuff.

 Start filling up the jar with sweet almond oil. Use a stiff spoon to stir the oil into the salt, to allow the salt to absorb the oil. Add more salt and more oil, a little bit at the time, until the jar is about 3/4 full.

Add several drops of essential oil (until you can smell a subtle fragrance). I used lavender this time, because it's my favorite, but you can choose one you like. Stir it all together.

Then end with another thin layer of sweet almond oil to cover the salt. Close the lid tightly, and enjoy in your next bath... or give it to a friend!

Those are dried lavender flowers, floating at the surface of the oil. I thought they would mix well together with the salt and absorb some of the oil so it gets incorporated throughout... but it didn't. But that's ok...

* You know those little plastic tasting spoons that are used in sampling stations at grocery stores? I actually save those to use in my spice bottles. I also stuck one of those little spoons in the salt scrub jar, for stirring each time before using in the bath!

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