Wednesday, November 30, 2011

take flight

Cleveland Botanical Garden

"Some birds can't be caged. Their feathers are too bright."  

{The above quote is in my opinion one of the most memorable lines in one of my favorite movies, Shawshank Redemption. It was stated by Red, the character played by Morgan Freeman, to describe his fellow prison inmate Andy, played by Tim Robbins.}

I love this plant - I *think* it could be related to the "birds of paradise" flower, but I'm not sure. Whatever the case, I am just amazed by its form and beauty. Nature is truly is amazing in how it expresses itself most fully. 

It reminds me to take flight, towards the fullest expression of myself.

Whoever you are, whatever you do - I hope you, too, are taking flight.

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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

be thankful for your troubles

Big thanks to Sharon for this lovely notebook

Below was a Thanksgiving message from my advisor:

"Be thankful if you don't feel like you are living the dream today and don't already have everything you desire. If you did, what would there be to look forward to?

Be thankful when you don't know something, for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times your advisors generously provide you. During those times you grow.

Be thankful for your limitations, because they give you opportunities for improvement.

Be thankful for each new challenge, because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful when you're tired, because it means you've actually done something.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.

Take the time this week to spend time with family and find a way to be thankful for your troubles, and they can become your blessings."

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

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Monday, November 14, 2011

tribute to fall 2011

I say it every year: "There will never be another Fall [insert year]."

So here we go: There will never be another Fall 2011.

Year after year, the fall season is different. The timing in which the leaves turn. The transitions I go through in my own life as nature goes through its own transition. The stage I am in at that point in my life. The sights, the events, the flavors, the emotions I experience as I soak in the season. It's unique, every year.

 my parents, at the Cleveland Botanical Garden

my parents... such lovebirds!

A visit to Auburn Twin Oaks Winery, Chagrin Falls - a special place for A. and me
(I'm a lightweight when it comes to alcohol of any kind, but I absolutely LOVE this place - it's where A. and I got married, very quietly, with only 8 witnesses present.)

 The most amazing fennel and broccoli soup at Moxie, where we took my parents for dinner. 
I promptly tried to replicate this soup that same week.

Some thoughts to ponder on...

One of our favorite restaurants in Cleveland, where we also took my parents for dinner

 with my mom, outside Greenhouse Tavern
 picture of A. and me, taken by my dad as we were walking on East 4th in downtown Cleveland
(that's me walking ON the sidewalk so I can be as tall as A. is... just a joke between us)

 funny carvings on a tree trunk, found during one of our walks in North Chagrin Metropark

Thank you, A., for grounding me.
I can't do what I do without you.
 light. color. shadows.

 beautiful blue skies - always appreciated during the long season of gray days in Cleveland

 North Chagrin Metropark - we are blessed to have this wonderful gem less than 10 minutes from our home.

Product of a cozy day of baking at home: buttery, flaky biscuits thanks to our very own Cleveland author Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio. I'm not one to collect cookbooks, but in my (humble) opinion this is one of the best food-related books out there. In a nutshell, it's based on the premise that you're better off knowing a ratio than a recipe. If you know a ratio, you know exponentially more recipes.
Check out the flaky layers in the biscuit above - thanks to his technique of a few rounds of chilling the dough, then folding into thirds and rolling (for a total of 6x which, including chilling time, took a few hours). There are just no shortcuts to some of the finer things in life. :)
Biscuits were enjoyed fresh out of the oven, with my favorite Bonne Maman jam.
 vanilla bean ice cream churning in the ice cream maker
It may be getting cold, but I'll take good quality ice cream any day.
Check out those specks of vanilla!
There's just nothing like it.
(Pardon my poor kitchen lighting... it was nighttime)
 A fiery orange tree against the most unbelievably blue sky.
How lucky am I to have this tree outside our balcony?

Some grounding words as we live through the transitions and changes that are characteristic of this "vata" season. These tips, based on principles of Ayurveda, are especially helpful for someone like me with a predominant vata dosha, but can also be helpful to anyone.
("breathe in life" frame gifted by my uber-cool aunt, a proprietor of a B&B  and a yoga instructor; the gift tag was from a present given by this friend. I hung it over the side of the frame because it reminds me of a mandala. I have this displayed in my home office.)

As I mentioned earlier... there will never be another Fall 2011. Breathe it in...

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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Friday, November 4, 2011

random beauty - art in the everyday

"Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life." - Pablo Picasso

I was in a bad mood slump last week. At first I was blaming it on the gray, rainy, and dreary days we had here in Cleveland. Then I blamed it on poor sleeping habits. And then when I really thought about it, I realize I was missing art so badly. And truly, art does "wash away from the soul the dust of everyday life," as Picasso stated. My "everyday" is very cerebral, analytical, and academic. I needed the creative, the intuitive, the flow of energy that art gives me.

When I lived in Cincinnati, I soaked in the arts like there was no tomorrow. I was lucky that I lived in a part of town that was within 10-15 minutes of museums and galleries. It felt like I had art in my backyard. Add to that my Enjoy the Arts membership, which allowed me to get *heavily* discounted tickets to a variety of events around the city. Sometimes, I went on as many as 4 events in one weekend, especially with this fellow art junkie. I've even formed some amazing connections and friendships through art events.

I haven't quite discovered the art here in Cleveland. Sure, we have amazing museums, theaters, and even outdoor concerts. I've been to some of them. What I do miss, however, is the small, cozy art galleries, like this one I used to volunteer for. The "grassroots" feel of a community supporting local art. Street art exhibits. Indie musicians performing at coffee shops.

Granted, I haven't spent as much time exploring my new home city as much as I did Cincinnati. I'm sure it's out there. But in the meantime, I have decided to make art, in whatever form, a daily part of my life. Even if it's just simple, but beautiful things at home.

Whether it's happy yellow flowers (thank you, A.!) in a Mason jar, or a brightly-colored vase...

(what can I say... these yellow billy balls make me happy)

River stones...

 (A floating candle arrangement... the rest of the stones are to be placed in a vase later)

...and other objects from nature...

(and a card I gave A. for Diwali this year)

 (evidently, I have a thing for branches and twigs... and on the right, an original painting gifted by this friend and his wife, as a wedding present)

Displaying (and using!) my Ona pitcher instead of keeping it in a cupboard...

 (Seen on the left with my "fruit loop" fruit basket, by black+blum, gifted by a friend. Still trying to decide if I want 2 sculptural pieces side by side, or if I should let one stand out)

Using nice dinnerware, silver, and cloth napkins everyday (my mom always used to say, use the fine china and good silver, instead of using it only on Easter, Christmas, and New Year and storing it the other 362 days of the year)...

 (there's the Asian in me)

 (west elm's organic shaped dinnerware - each piece has subtly different curves... loving these low, wide bowls for weeknight pasta dinners... there's nothing quite like classic white china, a la Barefoot Contessa)

A book of poetry...

 ("a once courageous heart" by Kylie Johnson - a lucky find from Anthropologie. I'm not a very patient clothes shopper there, but I enjoy looking through their home goods or other odds and ends. And I LOVE how curated their store display looks.)
And some yoga art!

(actually a blank greeting card which I will mat and frame, to display in my yoga corner at home)

So why am I writing about all these material things on a so-called "yoga blog"? By posting these photos of "things", am I showing a life of excess? 

I beg to differ... I believe that things that are functional and used on a daily basis can also be artistic and beautiful. Because it feels good to be surrounded by beautiful and inspiring things. Because it's refreshing to come home to things that make me smile after a long day of work, or on days I work at home, it's energizing to see these things around me. Even if it's just river stones from the dollar store.

Happy Friday!

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