Thursday, September 27, 2012

shift in seasons... and in life

Tonight I subbed for another yoga teacher and had one person show up to class. While there is a certain energy in large classes, I do like having small groups, and every now and then, when only one person shows up, it creates an opportunity to really get to know someone in your class and tailor the class to his or her needs. The sweet lady (I will refer to her as M in the rest of this post) who came to class had just retired and was getting more and more into yoga. Fantastic!

Fall is such a time of transition - in nature, in our own schedules. Gone are the long, idyllic days of summer; they have now been replaced with this seemingly constant state of busyness.

Not that I even really had many of those long, idyllic summer days. Somehow this fall - and this semester - just started with a bang and my work seems to have quadrupled. And I feel my lack of focus as I am pulled in many different directions. My energy level seemed to change with every change in direction of the wind. I felt like my energy was all over the place, and yet at the same time, I felt exhausted.

M was in a time of transition herself, having just retired. I can't imagine what a challenge it must be to let go of something that has been part of your identity for years, even decades.

So we did a lot of grounding in our yoga practice. And during our opening meditation, I read this excerpt from one of my favorite bedside books, Transitions: Prayers and Declarations for a Changing Life by Julia Cameron:

"The natural world teaches us the power of change. As seasons shift, I see the purpose and beauty of life's cyclicality. I see the promise of spring, the ripening of summer, the bounty of harvest and the mysterious containment of winter. All seasons work for the good. So it is, too, with the changing cycles of my life. As I surrender to the wisdom of a higher plan, I discover in all circumstances the opportunity for growth and expansion. There is no season in my life that is without worth. There is no season in my life that does not unfold my highest good. Challenged by difficult times, I choose to affirm the goodness of life's timing. 

Today I commit myself to actively seeking the benefit hidden in adversity, the wisdom inherent in all timing."

This is one of my many dog-eared pages from my book. I love the universality of Julia Cameron's words.

At the end of class, M said to me: "That sounded like it was written just for me."

Truth be told, I felt the exact same way.

Pin It!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

one year later...

...and I grow more and more thankful each day.

September 24th, 2011

I never felt magic crazy as this
I never saw moons, knew the meaning of the sea
I never held emotion in the palm of my hand
Or felt sweet breezes in the top of the tree
But now you're here, brighten my northern sky

- Northern Sky by Nick Drake, 1948-1974
(the song for our first dance)

Every day I have with you as a gift.

Happy anniversary, A.
You brighten my sky.


All photos captured by a dear friend, Debra-Lynn Hook

Pin It!

Monday, September 17, 2012

finding a yoga home

After nearly three years of living in Northeast Ohio, I have found a yoga home:

morning light at Agni Studio

Aaaaahhhhh. Don't you feel relaxed already?

chakra banner

And about half a year or so after I started taking classes there regularly, I am now officially teaching there - yay!

I like having the time to feel centered before teaching, so I usually arrive at least a half hour before class to practice here. 

It took me a while to get to this point. Conversations with Anna, my first yoga teacher, as well as Sharon, another yoga teacher. Conversations with my husband, who always gives me that extra push that I need. Conversations with yet another teacher who also gave me an extra nudge. And conversations with myself (sounds strange, I know) that don't involve talking myself out of it. 

I still get nervous from time to time before class starts. I remember the first time I taught the entire class, I had so much pent-up energy before class that I felt like I could run around the block. Oh wait, who am I kidding... I don't run.

I just try to prepare as much as I can, reading, practicing, breathing, maybe writing up a plan or some ideas for that day's sequence... while at the same time being in the moment while teaching so that I can respond to the needs of those who are in class.

I'm teaching twice a week now, slowly finding my voice as a teacher while also working to recall and apply all that I learned from those who have mentored and nurtured the teacher in me.

So thankful for this experience... I look forward to growing in this new role, and hopefully encouraging and honoring others in their respective yoga journeys as well.

Educate, support, inspire. This is the studio's "mantra", and what I try my very best to work towards in every class.

Pin It!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

permission to rest

So I've written about my so-called "issues" about rest before, like in this post.

It couldn't have been any clearer to me how I don't give myself full permission to rest when I realized I had been putting off a FREE massage for months.

On Valentine's Day this year, A. gifted me with a gift card for a 90-minute massage at a nearby massage place. Ninety minutes, friends. He even included a tip for the massage therapist in the gift card amount so I wouldn't have to worry about anything. I set it aside, thinking, "Oh, I'll save it for when I'm really tired." Really? What's up with that?

I had been putting off ninety blissful minutes. For nearly seven months. And for what?

Last week A. finally said to me, "I don't understand why you're saving it. First of all, on the day you find yourself really tired, you probably won't be able to get an appointment on the same day. Second of all, when you're really tired again, go get another massage!"

Forgive me for my writing about all these first world "problems". But I laugh as I realized the absurdity of my thinking sometimes.

It's interesting to me how much I've invested in my professional growth, whether for my day job or my other part-time job. I've invested in yoga training and workshops. Perhaps because it has to do with "work". But when it comes to my own well-being and rest so that I can then do the work better, I haven't invested as much.

To me, massages are like a luxury. But they are also an investment in wellness. (That's me trying to convince myself.) 

So after that conversation with A., I finally called the massage place and booked my appointment. Whatever my definition of "tired" was for that day.

And last Friday, I went. Spent ninety minutes of bliss on that massage table as the therapist worked the many kinks and knots out of my upper back and shoulders.
I just might get used to this.

Because sometimes, you just need to let it all go...

Like this cute little baby right here.

Pin It!

Monday, September 10, 2012

when the going gets tough...

...the tough eat cake.

Cake for breakfast, that is.

So this happened over the weekend:

To be honest I'm not even quite sure how it happened. It was just a sudden pain that I felt and I couldn't recall where it even came from. I was completely fine teaching yoga the day before. I don't remember falling (and I would remember that, wouldn't I?).

My only suspicion is that I might have lifted something heavy and maybe held it the wrong way. Though I've always thought I had pretty strong wrists (thanks to yoga and daily cooking with heavy cast iron cookware), this is certainly a reminder for me to slow down.

Thankfully I can still type, because my day job requires lots of work on the computer. I can flex my wrist but not extend it or use it to apply pressure on things. Which means my cookie-selling is on hiatus for the next few days as I can't work a rolling pin (sorry Misty for the delay in your cookie order!). I also feel pain when doing any rotational type of movement like turning on a faucet or opening a jar. For someone who does a lot of "manual labor" (in the kitchen, at least), this is really slowing me down. But I'm definitely still thankful, because it could have been much worse.

I'm pretty sure it's just a muscular injury as I am not seeing any swelling. Just pain. I've done a few different remedies like slathering on arnica, and A. suggested soaking it in warm salt water and wrapping it with an adhesive bandage for extra support. And of course, as luck would have it, it's my right wrist that is injured, and I'm right-handed.

The good news is, I was able to do at least some weekend baking before all this wrist pain. Dessert is always the bright side of life in my book. I love starting the weekend with a slow and relaxed morning of baking while still in my pj's.

Olive Oil Vanilla Fig Cake

This is a really easy recipe that I adapted from Food and Wine's buttermilk cake. It's a pretty foolproof recipe. I love the simplicity of it, which allows the fruit to shine. I've actually made this buttermilk cake a few different times this past summer with different fruits - once with blackberries, another time with plums. This time I had figs that were on the verge of becoming too soft, so I thought it would be perfect for this cake.

I also thought some fruity olive oil might go well with figs, so I subbed olive oil in place of butter - and I've seen (and tried) quite a few Italian or Mediterranean-inspired cake recipes that used olive oil rather than butter, such as this one. And well, my main reason too is that I was short on butter, because I also made a big pan of brownies recently and I was reserving the remaining butter for the said cookie order. But I've made this cake before following the original butter-based recipe, and it produced a wonderful, light, and moist crumb. The simplicity of the recipe was also the perfect canvas for adding other flavors like fresh lemon zest (perfect when using blueberries!) and experimenting with different types of fruits.

For this particular fig cake, I wanted to do a few other things like maybe soak the figs in Grand Marnier but it turns out I didn't have any orange-flavored liqueur. Note to self: I really should re-stock my liqueur stash - for baking, that is (I don't drink, but I eat - and I'm pretty unapologetic about my dessert enjoyment. We all have our poison of choice, right?). Some fresh orange zest might have been nice in here too, but I didn't have that either. So I just kept things simple this time around. 

  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (or just use 1 cup all-purpose instead of my half-and-half combination)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda  
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt 
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2/3 cup sugar  
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 (scant) cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 12 fresh figs, chopped into small pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour a 9" cake pan, or line with parchment paper.

Then, it can't get any simpler:

Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in one bowl.
Mix all liquid ingredients in another bowl. Stir in the sugar.
Add the dry ingredients to the liquid ingredients.
Pour into the pan and spread it out evenly. It will look like a small amount of batter, but it will rise in the oven. Scatter the figs over top.
Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (some moist crumbs are ok).
Loosen the edges of the cake from the sides of the pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack. Once cool enough to handle, turn it over onto a board or large plate, then place another serving plate on top and turn it over again. 

This is a really moist cake thanks to the olive oil and buttermilk. A dozen fresh figs went a long way in this cake - as you can see it is quite studded with lots of fig goodness. It was perfect with my morning tea.

I may or may not have eaten more cake after lunch. Or for lunch.

Pin It!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

tribute to summer food

It's been a hot and muggy week here, and the cool rain this morning was a blessing. As much as I wanted to stay curled up under the covers, I got up to teach my 10 am Slow Flow yoga class. I've been teaching on Saturday mornings for a few weeks now, and I've been loving it. It truly was a "Slow Flow" kind of day. I actually felt a little chill in the air. Fall is coming...

But we are still being blessed with the late summer harvest. Thought I'd post some Instagram snaps here.

I love summertime produce... it's nature at its fullest expression: sweet, juicy, and colorful.

one of many, many tomato salads: heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

yellow heirloom tomato with purple basil, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper

more purple and yellow - color wheel contrast perfected by nature
a tabbouleh-inspired salad: Israeli couscous, cucumber, grape and yellow pear tomatoes, lentils, EVOO, lemon, parsley
shisito peppers, blistered in a searing-hot cast iron pan with olive oil and whole cloves of garlic, plus lime squeezed over top
green and purple basil - so pretty!
crunchy and peppery radishes, enjoyed simply with butter and coarse salt

And let's not forget the fruit, enjoyed in different ways...

Photo: Blackberry buttermilk cake about to go into the oven. Weekend baking no. 1
jewel-like blackberries in a simple cake, about to go into the oven

apricot jam - a hint of black pepper and lemon was just genius (recipe here)
the best thing about August: peaches!

can't get enough...

chilled canteloupe and basil soup

Pin It!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...