Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Photo of the Week- World's Tiniest Nativity

(click photo to enlarge)
One of my favorite ornaments, a teeny tiny nativity scene carved and painted inside a gourd, from Peru. Oakland, December 2010

Namaste and happy holidays, no matter what your faith tradition may be!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Femininity Experiment

Since I value honesty and openness, especially in the pro blog and yoga worlds where we are under a constant barrage of pressure to be exceptional, I have a confession to make: Often, I don't feel comfortable in my biologically female body and recently I've been feeling less and less connected to the feminine divine and even more resentful of this somewhat broken vessel than usual. To not be totally accepting of myself in all my fertility goddess glory makes me feel like a fraud. What am I doing with this blog? Wasn't my original goal to try to inspire other women to accept their curves and fight the sinewy yoga body ideal? Yoga and acceptance for all, right?

Somewhere I lost my way.

Every day over the past few months, I've looked in the mirror hating what I see, not seeing my soft fullness, cellulite and scars for what they've brought me through, but only sending bile back at myself for not being a feather-weight yoga guru. Let me tell you, self-hate is no way to inspire yourself to go to the gym or have a daily yoga practice. No. If you're anything like me, you'll just carbo-load your emotions, go back to bed and completely neglect all the little rituals that make you feel better. I didn't even realize my self-image had gotten so bad, since most American women share this angst to some degree, until I befriended two women who don't buy in to that bullshit. They actual dig their bodies. I can honestly say that they might be the first American women I've ever met who don't in some way hate their corporeal forms. They are not super models. They are just normal women who don't waste time with self-hate.

Meeting them put a rather harsh mirror up to my face.

But not the way you (I) might expect. For the first time it dawned on me how much of my life is spent on comparing myself to other women and constantly tearing myself down. It's a thought-pattern that's hard to avoid. Women in our culture are trained from a young age to hate each other and view each other as competition, in dating, fitness, employment and even among female family members. It's passed from mother to daughter, both in warnings of other women and cruel, damaging behavior to each other. But when every woman you meet is playing that same game, it becomes a matter of course, of survival. The rules of The Game require harsh self-judgment to ensure you'll be better than all other women in this twisted beauty pageant of life.

But what happens when you meet a lady who doesn't play The Game?

At the first, my own nastiness and pettiness was starkly highlighted for me, as was my lack of self-confidence. Without cause to turn the magnifying glass on them, I turned the magnifying glass on myself, trying to pick out exactly how I had become a nasty, petty, self-loathing creature, which, naturally, only leads to more self-loathing. Doesn't that sound like a party? When you're the only one in the room wasting all of that time and energy on a ridiculous game of Mean Girls, the utter futility of it all becomes really clear with the resounding question:

Why the fuck would anyone do this to herself or others?

Is it fun? Does it help anyone? Does it make the world a kinder place? Does it line up with yoga or Buddhism, the soul of my soul? I think you know the answer. So, today I'm starting over.

I vow to be kind to myself.
I vow to stand up for myself.
I vow to extend grace to myself and others in order to cause no harm.
I vow to stop consuming media that tells women we are worthless.
I vow to be vocal against the casual misogyny that fuels The Game.
I vow to never engage in The Game ever again.
I vow to spend time on myself and stop being a people-pleaser.
I vow to not be afraid of being hyper-aware of my body through Asana.
I vow to honor the Feminine Divine daily.
I vow to start giving myself twice-monthly pedicures, again.

No matter your gender identity, will you join me in these vows?
(Okay, maybe not the pedicures, but [insert your own ritual that makes you feel radiant here].)


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Holidays! (part 1)

Sorry for the major gap again. I went to England, then the election happened, then had Thanksgiving, and the blog just sort of got lost in all of that. Interesting things are afoot, though. Big adjustments and announcements ahead! For now, I'm going to fill out the Christmas survey I've seen floating around the blog world over the past few days, because even though I'm a Buddhist, I still love the wonder and beauty of all the winter holidays, Christmas in particular. It reminds me of the very best of the rare happy family memories from my childhood. Things were very difficult every year around that time, but my parents still managed to make the home sparkle, fill our stockings with the best candies, bake the most amazing cinnamon rolls for Christmas morning and instill in us the wonder of the Christ story, His acts of love despite poverty and the possibility of peace on Earth through humanity's potential for good.

1. Wrapping paper or gift bags? Wrapping paper. I'm kind of a master gift wrapper as I channel my inner Martha Stewart.

2. Real tree or Artificial? Artificial on account of California apartment living. Growing up in the country, though, my family would traipse out in the snow to cut down the yule tree every year.

3. When do you put up the tree? The day after Thanksgiving, another one of my family's traditions!

4. When do you take the tree down? Embarrassingly late. I like to keep it up as long as possible.

5. Do you like eggnog? Yes. The organic, non-alcoholic kind.

6. Favorite gift received as a child? My very first phone for my bedroom (a rite of passage!) at age 10. It was clear, to show all the rainbow-colored inner workings. It also lit up when it rang.

7. Hardest person to buy for? My brother-in-law. He's a polite, soft-spoken guy who never wants to request anything. Tell us what you want/need, silly!

8. Easiest person to buy for? My mom or my four-year-old nephew.

9. Do you have a nativity scene? Yes, the world's tiniest nativity scene carved from wood and arranged inside a gourd as an ornament, from Peru. I'll post a picture at some point this season.

10. Mail or email Christmas cards? Handmade cards, always. Again with the inner Martha Stewart.

11. Worst Christmas gift you ever received? Regarding a certain relative I am convinced hates me: So everyone who knows me knows that I am vehemently anti-fur and I was also going through militant vegan-goth phase at the time, around age 18. This relative got me a multi-neon-colored scarf, most likely designed for a child, complete with dyed rabbit fur poof balls. No joke.

12. Favorite Christmas Movie? Elf

13. When do you start shopping for Christmas? I am a weekend before kinda gal. I get that from my dad.

14. Have you ever recycled a Christmas present? Not that I recall

15. Favorite thing to eat at Christmas? My mom's special Christmas cinnamon rolls.

16. Lights on the tree (colored or clear)? White lights

17. Favorite Christmas song? Blue Christmas

18. Travel at Christmas or stay home? I live in the Bay Area! I do not require a white Christmas, LOL. We are very close to my husband's family here, so we always have a laid back Christmas Eve at my MIL's house and Christmas day at home, just the two of us.

19. Can you name all of Santa's reindeer's? Nope.

20. Angel, star or ribbon on top of tree? A beautiful punched copper star with lights

21. Open the presents Christmas Eve or morning? Christmas Eve with Ben's family.

22. Favorite children's Christmas song? Uh, are there child-specific Christmas songs?

23. Most annoying thing about this time of the year? People rushing around consuming and being jerks to each other instead of spreading holiday love and grace to each other. That's the best gift of all, don't you know?

24. Favorite ornament theme or color? Rustic/country. Mostly wooden and copper ornaments with glass embellishments to really bring out the sparkle.

25. Turkey or ham on Christmas day? Nothing needs to die for my holiday festivities. :)

26. What do you want for Christmas this year? I want to go to Monterey Bay Aquarium with my family, little nephew included. Also, new yoga pants. Always new yoga pants.

27. Does anyone in your family dress up as Santa? We're thinking about dressing my brother-in-law up like Santa to tickle my nephew.

28. Age you discovered who Santa was? We didn't do Santa in my family. I think my dad really wanted us to appreciate how hard he and mom worked to provide for us.

29. Eggnog, hot chocolate, or apple cider? I have to choose?!

30. Traditional colors (red and green) or other colors? Copper, green and burgundy. We like to keep it Old World understated.

31. Do you have any Christmas decorations on your roof? Apartment living precludes it. :(

32. How does Santa get into your house? Chimney or magic key? He apparently shrinks very small to squeeze through the radiator.

33. Do you prefer gifts or gift cards? I really like experiences, not stuff.

34. Favorite Christmas Cartoon? How the Grinch Stole Christmas

Now it's your turn! How do you like to celebrate?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Photo of the Week- Fried Bug Vendor in Bangkok

Sorry for the lack of posts! It's been very exciting over here. My husband landed an amazing new job that will afford us location independence once he transitions out of his current job. We're also going to the UK in about two weeks to visit his new employers/colleagues and to have our belated honeymoon. Life is pretty sweet. I can't wait to take this photo outfit on the road again!

Today's photo of the week is of a peculiar street vendor in Bangkok, Thailand. If you look closely, you can see that his wares are (presumably delicious) fried and spiced insects of many varieties. I didn't try any at the time, because my stomach was already unsettled, but next time I think I will nom on some crickets.

(click photo to enlarge)
Insect vendor in Bangkok, Thailand, June 2010

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Saying Good Riddance to September and HUZZAH! to October

To be perfectly honest, the last few months in my world have been arduous, a marathon of one challenge after an other. I tried to withstand them with the grace my name suggests, but I failed quite a bit. I even found myself in the childish thought-circle of "why me?" and "what have I done to deserve this?" It is only natural, only human, for us to seek order and reason during Samsara (cycle of earthly suffering), as if understanding the designs of our suffering would lessen the pain (hint: it doesn't.). The two most serious crises recently were health-related, reminding me the importance of caring for my body in times of bounty so the reserves can carry my mind through in times of famine.

At the very beginning of July, I tore a major muscle in my lower back. I was hoping it was only a bad strain and pushed myself to do my regular yoga practice, which had me in tears on the floor. By pushing to do my yoga instead of listening my body and resting, I further inflamed the injury and was functionally immobilized, in agony, for two months. All I could do was wait for the muscle to repair itself and do the most basic stretches when I could manage them. The muscle healed very well, but I lost a lot of strength and I am now slowly building up to 100%. I went two months without Asana (yoga postures), the longest I've ever been without it in the 13 years I've practiced. Suffice to say, it was extremely depressing and my joints still ache from the long Asana drought.

Just as I was regaining the use of my back, my husband was beset by a flare-up of the disease he suffers from, but rears its nasty head rarely, every 1.5 years or so. He suffers from cluster headaches, the grand poobah of all migraines. They are extremely rare and very little is understood about them, besides the expert belief that it may very well be, without exaggeration, the most painful condition known to medical science. When Ben gets them, he is knocked out of life for 4-6 weeks. No work, no friends, no loud noises, no lights, no conversation. Imagine living in dark, boring agony with nothing to distract from mind-breaking pain for a month at a time. I can only speak from my perspective, but as a care-giving wife during "headache season," it's frightening, lonely and sleepless. A deep helplessness and rage grows in me that does not happen when it's just me suffering. Cluster headaches are so strange and mysterious, causing so much terror with no explanation, and there is nothing I can do to make the demon go away. I can only hold his hand, hold down the fort and wait. As is always the case though, just as we both begin to fear that maybe this time the headache won't go away, it does. Tuesday, just as quickly as it came, the headache is gone and my husband is back. Tuesday was also his birthday, so we have many things to celebrate in the following weeks.

All is well and all will be well. I am full to overflowing with gratitude for an end to this particular season of suffering and gratitude also for the lessons taught by pain, like grace, endurance, selflessness and appreciation for victories great and small. In that joy, I feel comfortable setting real goals for October, goals mostly involving a return to joyful normalcy.

For October:
  1. Try ecstatic dance and if I like it, make it a weekly habit
  2. Work back up to an hour a day of Asana
  3. Re-establish a weekly date night with my husband
  4. Work back up to going to the gym 4 days a week
  5. Invest time in my friendships
  6. Become a morning person
Yes, those are a lot of goals, but I'm hungry for health, success and love.

What are your goals for October?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Photo of the Week- Vietnamese Mother

It's been far too warm where I live to write a real post yet this week (though I do have one brewing), so I give you the photo of the week.

(click photo to enlarge)
This is picture shows an impoverished Vietnamese mother speaking about her daughter's fight against Leukemia and her own struggle with untreated Hepatitis. After meeting her, 100 Friends decided to assist her in paying for cancer treatment for her daughter and Hepatitis treatment for herself, neither of which she could have afforded on her own. I am so proud to be a part of this organization. If you feel moved to donate to our life-saving efforts in Southeast Asia, please click here.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grace's Kickass Cauliflower Soup, a redux

Since many people in my life, myself included, are currently down for the count with colds, I feel like it's a good time to re-post my favorite medicinal food recipe. The change of seasons is hard on the body. The stress of dealing with weather changes, less sunshine and upcoming holiday obligations can weaken the immune system and leave us open to viral and bacterial onslaught. Give your body the upper hand by getting plenty of sleep, drinking enough water and tea (easy to forget when you're not sweating as much), utilizing a sun lamp to regulate your circadian rhythms and ward off Seasonal Affective Disorder, doing yoga and getting cardio daily, and, most importantly, feeding the body tasty, healthy food with medicinal benefits.


It is vegan, gluten-free and full of immune-boosting vitamins and cardio-pumping spices to kick the pants off whatever ails you. It takes about 45 minutes including prep time.

3 or 4 Tbls olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 inches of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound cauliflower florets
2-3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
1 tsp cumin or garam marsala
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp turmeric
2 pinches of cayenne
5 cups veggie broth

Saute onions, garlic, ginger and olive oil in the bottom of a big soup pot until lightly browned. Add the spices and let them bubble together for a minute or two. Add broth, cauliflower and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce to medium-low heat until the potatoes are tender (about 12 minutes). You can either eat it right away or let it sit for a while. It gets tastier and thicker the longer the spices are allowed to sink in.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Photo of the Week- Young Monk Between Rain Showers

Some days I miss working in print media and being a professional, mainstream photojournalist, but today I am very happy to have an outlet to publish whatever the heck I want. In that spirit, I think I have decided that each week I will choose a photo of mine I am particularly fond of and showcase it here. Please feel free to comment and critique.

(click photo to enlarge)
A young monk strolls behind a pagoda between rain showers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia
June, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

And Then He Died

I've been uncharacteristically silent this summer, both in my blog life and my personal life. I went to Southeast Asia for a month between May and June and it was such a deep, life-changing experience that, since then, I've had a hard time finding a voice to articulate this new space in which I have found myself. I wasn't expecting it to change me much. I was expecting an awesome, new experience where I would have the opportunity to see different countries and help some folks. I was expecting to try new food, be challenged in new ways, learn some languages and see exotic plants and animals. I was expecting to become maybe a little more compassionate and less afraid in the world, more comfortable in my own skin, but not much more. I wasn't expecting to have my heart wrenched open to feel so much so fast. I didn't know I could love and trust strangers implicitly. I didn't know I could cry with a grieving mother, with whom I shared no spoken language. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me first introduce you to Kien.

I am not generally a hugger. The reason for this is two-fold. On a superficial level, I am a bit of a germaphobe. I am extremely clean, and when I get too involved with myself, I avoid touching people, because I am afraid of their germs. How silly! On a deeper level though, I avoid physical closeness, because it suggests an intimacy I'm uncomfortable with. With intimacy comes attachment, and that attachment brings inevitable loss.

Before my trip to Southeast Asia, I recognized that my self-imposed isolation hurts myself and deprives the world of love that I do have the power to give. I felt like I was shaken out of a long slumber in February when someone I did not know well hugged me out of the pure joy of living. His heart is so overwhelmed by love of humanity that he hugged me upon meeting me, and it was infectious. Such an unexpected, genuine display of love felt really good and it surprised me. Very simply, it was so good to feel that way, I wanted to make other people feel like that, too. I also knew that much of my travels would be visiting sick and/or orphaned children who desperately need and deserve love. I made a decision the night before I left that during my travels I would hug any person who wanted it, no matter what their state. Jesus was on to something with that whole hugging the lepers business. That decision to reach outside myself and hug turned out to be one of the most transformational, sweet and painful things I've ever done.

My first real taste of touch and compassion came early in my trip while in Vietnam. There, the 100 Friends Project works with a few very impressive organizations and together, we do many great things, not the least of which is sponsoring medical care for children of impoverished families. My boss, our friends and I loaded a taxi van with five giant trash bags worth of stuffed animals, toy cars, and bean cakes and headed down to the children's hospital in Hanoi to visit the children we were sponsoring in the orthopedic surgery ward. It was happy a scene. These kids were all getting their desperately needed surgeries, so there were lots of happy families, lots of smiles, a joyful environment, because these kids they have a really good chance of being totally fine.

My boss meeting a happy dad in the orthopedic surgery ward

Then we went to the pediatric oncology ward, not such a happy place. Every kid was so sweet and every parent was happy to see us and happy to see their kids get toys. Some of them had good prognosises, but most of the cases were not so optimistic. I tried to remain detached, smiling at the babies, fluttering around at a distance with my camera. But then there was one little boy, Kien, who I really connected with and who stole and broke my heart. He was 2 years old with advanced brain cancer. He was a sweet, curious, active and an otherwise normal little kid, good natured and bright. He was in no obvious pain and completely oblivious to his plight. He sat on my lap for at least a half an hour, intensely interested in my camera, and he was tickled to push the big silver button and seeing the pictures appear on the back. That same day, his parents were told that there was nothing more the doctors could do for his cancer, and he was going to die within the month. We all took turns holding him and playing with him, indulging his every whim, kissing his downy hair and crying, because this sweet baby was not going to have many more chances to take pictures or play. It seemed like he could tell everyone was sad and he was actively trying to cheer us up with his silly toddler antics. As he sat on my lap, giggling and babbling away as toddlers do the world over, he entwined his soft little fingers around my hands, fearlessly exploring his world, fully accepting my existence as an entertaining stranger. His poor mother was the same age as me, possibly younger, and I sat with her for a long time, holding her and crying with her. She spoke no English and I speak no Vietnamese, but she held onto me and sobbed. In that moment, there was nothing anyone in the world could do for her but hug her and be kind to her son. I was blessed to be there for her in that moment and be taught the healing power of touch, in territory where language was superfluous.

Kien and his mother

A month or so later, soon after I arrived back in the Bay Area, I received an e-mail from our friends in Hanoi and they told us that yes, Kien had died. There were pictures of him attached to the e-mail documenting how bad the cancer was at the end, but I could never bring myself to look, because I want to always remember the happy little oblivious boy who played with my camera. I still cry every time I think of him, of the unfairness of life, our helplessness in the situation, and how the world is now missing the light of that sweet little boy. But I also cry from comfort in that my life was so blessed by that little guy, even for the extremely brief time I knew him. He changed me. I showered him with what love and affection I could in that moment, even knowing it was going to hurt to leave him. It was the right decision.

Kien and me

I am a quieter person now, a kinder, more understanding person. Part of that was from the experience with Kien (and other experiences on that trip I'll tell you about later). It's very hard, nee impossible, to close my heart again now that it's open. I joke with my husband that, to quote "Anchorman," "I'M IN A GLASS CASE OF EMOTION!" but it's true. I have all these feelings now, these warm feelings for my fellow humans (especially little humans), and I am often struck mute while dealing with them. As I work things out, I will share more of my heart with you, because I like you, and I hope my experiences are interesting to you, too.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Reintroducing Myself

As my husband and I fiddle with the blog and give it a fancy new makeover (with which we are about halfway done), I think it's a great time to reintroduce myself!

Here are 20 things you may not know about me:
  1. My name is Grace Breedlove, and yes that's my honest-to-blog name, not some hippie moniker I made up for myself. I dropped my given first name when I was 18, because I really never liked it and started going by my given middle name, Grace. Then I met and married a dude with the last name Breedlove. It's pretty awesome.
  2. My little brother is 8 years younger than me, and he is my favorite person. He's kind, funny and cooler than I'll ever be, and I would seriously do anything for him.
  3. I freaking love cherry pie and I order it whenever it's available. I think it's because that was the only pie my mom didn't make when I was a kid and so I'm not like, "Oh, my mom's is better," as is the case with every other pie.
  4. Also on the topic of pies, my pumpkin pie is actually better than my mom's and way better than any pumpkin pie I've ever had at a restaurant. When I get 150 followers, I will tell you my secret.
  5. I am really into having adventures, going orienteering, trying new food, getting lost on purpose and making every new step in life an exciting event worth celebrating. I also love watching adventure shows in the comfort of my warm home, whether it's in the fictional form of Lost or Firefly, or in the realm of reality TV like Man vs. Wild or Out of the Wild, though Survivorman is my favorite. Les Stroud is my hero, because he is so zen about everything. Even Giardia.
  6. I met my husband when I was miming at a carnival-themed party. He was the only person at the party who didn't try to talk with me, but mimed instead. When he called me the next day and left me a message, it was the first time I had heard his voice, though we had "talked" for hours the night before.
  7. I have two chronic, severe digestive disturbances that I let control my life for five years, but traveling to Asia and dealing with them abroad earlier this summer gave me the confidence to not let my diseases define my experiences. Getting sick while traveling was not the worse thing that has ever happened to me.
  8. I have three favorite books that I love equally: Love in the Time of Cholera, Life of Pi and The Name of the Rose. Those three books shaped my morality, faith, philosophy and my navigation of the world more than any other personal, religious or cultural influence.
  9. I have absolutely no desire to run a marathon.
  10. I also have absolutely no desire to give birth.
  11. Before this winter, I hope to hike across Lassen Volcanic National Park alone.
  12. Since I was in middle school, the number one place I wanted to visit was Angkor Wat. I finally got to fulfill that dream when I visited Cambodia in June and it was indescribably awesome.
  13. My new number one adventure goal is scaling Mt. Kilimanjaro. Followed at number two by prostrating myself the entire way around the base of Mt. Kailash in a traditional Buddhist pilgrimage.
  14. I love to sing, but I despise karaoke.
  15. I feel most at home in places where no one knows me and I don't speak the language.
  16. My husband and I have really exciting plans for starting an NGO. For now it's just an idea, but when it sprouts legs, you'll be the first to know.
  17. I have a photographic memory.
  18. I have a photojournalism degree from one of the best journalism programs in the country, and I used to get extremely discouraged by not having the investment capital to start a mainstream photojournalism career. Now I am so ridiculously thankful to be free to photograph what I want on my own terms and with my own ethical compass, to serve humanity, not the almighty dollar.
  19. I believe the true moral value of a society is judged by how it treats those who are weakest: animals and children. Tangential to that belief, I hyper-focus on protecting children and animals.
  20. I've been through some pretty brutal tragedy in my life, but I am so blessed to have this life and to be aware enough to recognize its blessings.

I am reminded of a story from the life of the Buddha. Soon after the Buddha attained enlightenment, a man came across him meditating under the tree, and the man asked him who he was. The Buddha answered, “Imagine a red lotus that had begun life underwater but grew and rose above the surface until it stood free. So I too have transcended the world, and attained the supreme enlightenment." "Who are you, then?" the man asked again.

The Buddha said:
"Remember me as the one who woke up."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Pardon My Dust

I am currently in the process of resurrecting this blog and giving it a fancy makeover. My hope is that, in a few days, it will be more interesting, interactive, useful and professional. I will also no longer be constraining myself to writing about just yoga, though yoga will be, as always, the main anchor in my life and will undoubtedly still inspire much of my writing.

Many exciting things are on the horizon for The Fat Yogini, so stay tuned!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Going on an adventure!

Well, dear readers (if I have any left, ha!), I'm about to go on the adventure I've worked towards my whole life. My boss and friend at The 100 Friends Project, Marc Gold, has given me the opportunity to spend a month with him, traveling around Southeast Asia helping dispense aid to the people we help. In 2 weeks from right now, I will be in Tokyo, on my way to Bangkok. From Bangkok, I will go to Vietnam for a week, then to Cambodia for at least week. After that, the details are a little sketchy, but I hope to also go to Indonesia while I'm in the neighborhood. Every step of the way, I'll be meeting people whose lives have been or will be touched by the 100 Friends Project. I am so thankful and excited! Already on the agenda is distributing wheelchairs in Hanoi, teaching orphans in Phnom Penh, visiting Ha Long Bay in Vietnam, doing yoga on a beach in Thailand, fulfilling a childhood dream of going to Angkor Wat and hopefully joining my friend Dwight at his program, In Search of Sanuk, helping street kids in Bangkok. I am stoked!

But I'm also pretty scared.

I've never left the United States before. I don't speak Thai, Vietnamese or Khmer. I have never been to a tropical climate. I have freaking malaria pills packed in carry-on. MALARIA PILLS! I never thought I'd ever go to place where I need would need malaria pills! And this is the point in my inner monologue where I begin to question my sanity. Who the hell am I to be doing this? I'm nobody. I'm just a little country girl from a tiny little Midwestern town nobody has ever heard of. I have health problems and no one else in my immediate family have ever traveled abroad. My dad died without ever having left the continental United States. People like me just don't get to do things like this.

And yet, here I am, with a ticket to Thailand, a Vietnamese visa and those malaria pills.

Somebody pinch me, ya'll, because this is just weird.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Holy Jeeze, BUSY

Namaste, loves! I'm so sorry it has been forever since my last transmission from bliss. There have been many exciting changes! Most notably, I got a wonderful new job. Were it not so wonderful, I would not have been away so long. I have joined up with Marc Gold, the founder of The 100 Friends Project to assist him in making the lives of countless people better through thousands of individual acts of charity. Please click on the link above to learn about the wonderful work Marc is doing and maybe even donate to the cause. I'm so excited to have the opportunity to not only help him hold down the fort while he is doing his important work abroad, but to also join him in Southeast Asia later this year.

If my posting continues to be erratic, it is because I am doing many things for this wonderful cause. It is my goal to not have long gaps like this anymore, though. More to come!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Sending My Love to You

Last night, I decided to add a site traffic widget to see just how many people check out my blog, and to my surprise, dozens of people from all over the world visit every day! So, for all you mystery visitors, please leave a quick comment telling me how you found my site and what topics you would like me to address in future posts. Namaste and thank you for stopping by.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Please Remember Haiti

The immediate response to the disaster in Haiti has been overwhelmingly powerful, a beautiful display of solidarity, action and empathy, but as time drags on, the situation will only get more desperate and complicated. In the coming days, weeks, months and years of rebuilding, please, don't forget them. The soul of Haiti is the soul of us all and we must take care of each other.

Here are some wonderful organizations doing great work for Haiti. Do whatever you can to support them:
  • Partners in Health have been on the ground in Haiti for over 20 years and right now they are in desperate need of assistance to answer the overwhelming need for medical attention in Port au Prince.
  • The easiest thing in the world to help is to send $10 to the Red Cross by texting "HAITI" to 90999. Please, just do it. There is no excuse not to.
  • The International Medical Corps is providing emergency medical assistance in Haiti and will be staying there to help rebuild their decimated health care system.
  • Fill a shoe box for a Haitian child through Million for Haiti. Fill the box with the following: 1 travel toothpaste, 1 toothbrush, 4 granola type bars, 1 bottled water (16 oz.). Mail your shoebox to:
Million for Haiti
3500 American Blvd. #685
Minneapolis, MN 55431

Along with these national and international organizations, keep an eye out for what's being organized in your own community. Look at churches, community centers, yoga studios, crafting circles, and music venues to support their efforts for Haiti.

As you do everything you can by giving money, putting aid packages together, going to benefit concerts, participating in benefit auctions, and encouraging your congressional representatives to support Haiti, also remember the power of meditation. In your daily yoga and meditation practice, take a moment to send your positive intentions to the healing of Haiti.

We're all in this together. Namaste.

Monday, January 11, 2010

I'm baaaaaaaaaaack!

WOW, the holidays were busy, busy, busy! We've been going non-stop over here since the week before Thanksgiving, so the blogging fell to the way-side. In the past two months, we had (and got over) H1N1, celebrated Thanksgiving, helped my father-in-law furnish his newly purchased home, baked a few hundred Christmas cookies, made a few dozen holiday cards by hand, celebrated Christmas, hosted out-of-town family and friends, and finally, planned and celebrated our wedding. Holy geeze, that's a lot! I was so blessed to be able to share the holidays with all of my family and celebrate my marriage to my best friend while they were in town, too. Better than me yammering on about recent events, here are some pictures!

My adorable nephew waiting patiently for Thanksgiving to begin

A plate of cookies made by yours truly

My nephew checking what Santa brought at my mother-in-law's house

Me, my husband, and my Christmas sweater

Christmas tree at my house

The path lit up at the Cathedral of Christ the Light for Midnight Mass

My brother, my mom and me at the Golden Gate Bridge

A candid moment at our wedding reception

The gorgeous (and delicious) wedding cake done by Torino Baking

The inscription: traditional vows in a coding language

My favorite picture of us at our reception

Thanks for hanging on with me. Next up: back to yoga blogging!

Blessings and happy new year to all of you!

Where I've Been!