4 Things I Love

  1.  Mommas Drunk With Love

I began a new 8-week session teaching yoga to my beloved students from CarMax Headquarters.  I see some new faces and my loyal’s.  One loyal’s face looked new.  She had fresh love all over it – I recalled that I hadn’t seen her in a session or two and she reminded me why.  Her 2nd daughter arrived and her face was stamped in the glow of Mom-love.  The kind that no matter the poop, the tantrums, the little no sleep, the sketchy decisions (theirs and yours), the hopes, the fails, the worries, the many nights waiting for teen drivers to get home and the unknowns – you would take that drug again and again for the high of their faces and oh, the places we all go. HAPPY Mother’s Day!

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My drugs angels

2.  My fastest Fifty

Not a trick I turned but miles I laid yesterday during the Cap2Cap Half Century Bike Ride.  I was hoping for under 3 hours and 2:59:10 it was!  At almost 50 years of age and a slowing run pace (as if that’s possible) I was super stoked to turn my legs over like that.  And it’s a good thing because Ironman Florida, here we come!

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I don’t love the trainer, but it works!

3.  My opportunity

I get to work alongside my sister.

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Love beyond words.  Purpose beyond measure.

If you are interested in mindfulness, listen to this Facebook Live recording.

4.  My Mom

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Seriously and unforgettably my very best gift.

I still am incredulous that my little soul landed in her almost 50 years ago.  I have missed her every single day for over 21 years.

Have a Happy Mother’s Day.

Mother Earth Counts!

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I got called out at yoga…

It wasn’t for anything good.  As a yoga teacher, I know it is disingenuous to rate the poses or practice as good, bad, or great. However I do not mind being told my down dog is the bomb or my camel, dancer, or pigeon pose is on point.

The middle little girl in me still likes a pat on the back, a nod, some attention that she is special. But not like this.

Last week I tried out a new yoga studio. It is posh, lovely, soothing, and smells good. It attracts the hipster millennials who live in its cool urban hood. When I noticed my teacher looked like Simone Biles, the gold medaling megastar gymnast and was about Simone’s age,  I thought I’d be in for a real athletic and dynamic workout. I had already started thinking how my practice would certainly stun her stunning self (so not yogic).

 

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Not my actual teacher, but the actual Simone Biles.

As is customary in many studios there were no mirrors. By my calculations, on the inside I am about 27. On the outside I am actually 48. Apparently without the help of mirrors, I forgot what the outside said.   Because the next thing happened.

In a new studio I never know how each teacher will incorporate the use of props in the sequence. I do not need them but I find them to be great tools to deepen a pose or provide spatial reference or just give my ASSana a soft place to land if I want to. So I gathered a few to have at-the-ready near my matspace. (I made that word up – like a millennial would)

After the usual centering activity Simone brought us up to (wait for it…) table top – to start our moving practice. I think she thought it might be too much for me.

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Actual Table Top

Simone then explained while looking AT ME that if our knees hurt we could roll our mat up a few times to provide some cushioning. Or, we could use a blanket underneath to soften the blow to our knees. She didn’t say it but she implied – like those of us with more advanced body parts. She even came over to me (only me) with said soft blanket to offer her geriatric follower some relief. I giggled like the school girl I think I still am and told her I was fine.

Some might call it a sweet gesture, others might call it ageism or profiling. Most would might call me petty.

But I couldn’t help it. What I wanted to say is: Look b*tch, I have been holding tabletop and plank longer than you’ve been alive. Have you seen my tattoo?

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My actual calf

I proceeded to put so much zest into a slow hatha yoga with meditation class that I made myself sore – serves me right.

I temporarily forgot that the face that chatted Simone up before class looked like this:

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My actual face

I had just had a number of skin cancers removed and am wearing new but healing scars. I can’t blame my yoga teacher that she may have thought that mostly happens to old people. Because it does.  Compared to my waiting room compatriots for the procedure, I am millennial.

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The actual waiting room

I am old. I am young. I am whatever. Age isn’t a thing – it’s me that made it so.

Maybe the gymnast in Simone look-alike saw the efforts my body made to be strong and vital and healthy and thought I could use a rest.

Maybe she felt a tug at her heartstrings that I may have been through something recently and could use some extra softness.

Whatever it was, it was just (what for it…) nice.

For the record, I would go back. Maybe my next teacher will be her:

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Jaysea DeVoe – The Youngest Yoga Teacher in the US

She’s 13. Like her:

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My actual daughter, Jane.

One Thing I Am Obsessed With and Why You Should Be Too

I have a bevy of beautiful girlfriends; smart, adventurous, fun, accomplished, driven queens of their kingdom who inspire me everyday. Of particular note, is my friend Jen who could and probably has been mistaken for Kelly Lynch or Michelle Pfieffer.

I was super excited when KellyMichelleJen came to a few of my yoga classes earlier this summer.

Jen gave me a book she thought I would enjoy, she was super-sized right.

Here’s the obsession

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I want to attain a level of fitness as I approach 50 that is currently stunted by the untrue mantra, ‘sucks getting old’.

No it doesn’t. It means you are here drawing new, never-been-done before inhales every single second. Makes me giddy to think of it and to read this book.

One excerpt:

Webb argues that exercise can improve our bodies at any age, hailing it as the most powerful tool we have to forestall aging and prevent and even treat just about every chronic disease that exists today. “If we had a drug that did what exercise did, it would be the biggest revolution ever and would be promoted all over the world. And all you have to do is go out for a run.”

I am staring at 50 with rose-colored glasses and this affirms my passion for exercise. I am not going down as age creeps up, unless it’s opposite day.

This book is filled to the brim with research-backed expert, nutritional advice and preaches from the Bible of Yoga and Cross Training – my own personal fitness scripture. Among other, I-love-you athletes and experts in their field, Webb went to see the world’s oldest yogi to glean sage advice for living with vitality to old age.

Tao Porchon-Lynch who turns 98 tomorrow.

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Happy 98th Birthday Tao! I love you.

Like the author:

I want to enter the second half of my life in the best shape of my life.

And I will get older, faster and stronger – a nice side bonus will be more energy, better quality, good moods, and a leaner frame. Good Lord, now I can’t wait to be fifty.

I bet this book is pretty good too:

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I  never said I wouldn’t have fun along the way. Margarita’s, anyone?? (only with fresh organic lime and Patron, please)

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How are YOU staring at the rest of your life?

Join me on my journey, please. Details to come.

 

5 Lessons From a Juice Cleanse

Recently some friends and I did a 3-day juice cleanse offered by the cool folks at Bikram Yoga Richmond where, besides offering mind-blowing, sweaty yoga, they sell amazing fresh made juices for post practice pick-up on a regular basis. From time to time they do a full-on cleansing program where the daily diet includes 3 juices, one shot of juiced ginger and one smoothie. All were fresh, marvelous, and packed with nutrition. Whereas I would totally do it again and look forward to it, here are some lessons from my first juice cleanse which  may make the next one even better. 

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  1. Hunger Games – If you are considering a juice cleanse, do it with friends – keep your phone nearby so you can text each other constantly. Let the quips fly.  It’s fun and funny to give your intestines a nice flush.

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On a cleanse, apparently hunger doesn’t build, it comes in waves. Have some good books on hand to occupy your mind when it does show up. I recommend each of these wholeheartedly.

2.  Beets still make me want to vomit – Each juice had a number of plants in them but there is one marquee item like carrot, spinach, or beets. All were to-die-for delicious unless you have an aversion to one of the main plants. When I was 19 I went on a 3-day diet that included a lot of beets. The evils of quick weight loss fads did not resonate with me back in college. I did lose 4 pounds in 3 days but mostly from having to plug my nose to swallow the beets. After a while, I gave up eating them altogether. That was back when a girl might take Dexatrim or a good diuretic to get rid of the beer bloat.  Ahhhh memories.

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3.  You don’t need as much food as you think. For some, hunger is associated with panic. Do your research ahead of time to keep your fear away. You can and will survive a juice cleanse and will likely feel better on the other side. There are many proponents of a limited calorie diet or occasional fasting program to encourage mental clarity, good digestion, and weight loss.  This study is convincing. I am thinking of making it part of my regular cycle of eating.

4.  There is a spiritual aspect to hunger. When a wave of hunger came I was forced to be in the moment, not react, have faith that the discomfort would pass and know that all is well. Deep breathing, reading and tea helps. Sounds a lot like yoga and mediation. If the practice was triggered by hunger, then hunger is good.

5.  Chewing is fun. I need to masticate everyday. Just a little. Raw almonds are perfect. Toss a few back and that impulse is satisfied.

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Afterwards I had more clarity, felt victorious and knew my pipes were clean and functioning well. And my 3-baby belly was flatter.

Can’t wait for the next cleanse. Cheers.

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Iron Maidens

On December 23 I drove 34 miles at 5:15am to swim 2,000 yards with my race team. On this day, Dave Murray – guitarist for Iron Maiden turned 59. I am not a fan of British heavy metal music but I am of events that inspire a good headline. This one is truth indeed.

Here they are:

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My teammates extraordinaire (plus one not pictured, here) – the best of the best in heart, tenacity and inspired purpose. It’s never easy for me to get up in the 4’s as I call it… but getting to see my own personal Iron Maidens makes me smile each and every time no matter the ungodly hour.

And so it’s a year of such. Lucky me. Two long distance triathlons when I haven’t done even one.

2016, I  have you by the fitness horns.

Led by a Coach and an angel, our team will blaze a trail 140.6 miles long and make a difference in the lives of those effected by depression and anxiety. We are  finishing the work of a beautiful maiden whose iron will and determination to live her truth and help others remains tattooed on our purpose.

One of the jewels of our training can be a regular yoga and mindfulness practice. I eat this up as a yoga teacher and new triathlete would. I will be serving it by the bucket loads to my team mates. Mostly, I think they are up for it. Just maybe not in the 4’s.

Athletes, do you incorporate yoga in your training?

Yogi’s, do you also love a good swim, bike, or run?

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Let’s finish this.

Good to Great Friday

It’s Good Friday.  Having grown up Catholic with 13 years of parochial school under my belt, I know how to have a good Good Friday.  Customs include:

  •  Fasting for the day
  • Adoration of the Cross
  • Worldwide silence at 3 PM (the noted time of death of Jesus)

As I have done for many of the past 40+ years, I will observe each.

This may be difficult as we are on Spring Break.  However, we are doing our best to keep the holy in Holy Week.

My son (right) is in Florida.  (Though some of have been called to be fishers of men, he is a fisher of fish.)

Normally a Holy Thursday tradition, My girls got their feet washed toes painted before we left for the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a heavenly and spiritual place) on Tuesday:

I held a beautiful baby boy – a joy Mary shares.

My daughter worked with clay and remembered an angel:

There she is in white:

I cried and remembered much.

I have not yet mentioned yoga or running.  I have done each many, many times this Holy Week.  With it, everything, including Good Friday went from Good to Great.  Always does. 

Happy Easter.

How’s your week been?

 

5 Ways to Stay Focused

Life is hard.  Life is busy and if you are like me you have about 590 things going on in your mind at once. This trait makes Yoga my perfect mate and hardest endeavor which is probably why I love it so.  Stillness is almost extinct in this day and age where multi-tasking is revered and doing more means we ARE MORE.  And yet I am convinced that in stillness we finally truly begin to live.  Savasana or Corpse Pose CAN BE the HARDEST YOGA POSE there is.

Doesn’t that look exhausting?  I once had a panic attack during Savasana – never mind that the room was 107 degrees.  There is so much vitality in ‘dead body’ pose, never mind the oxymoron.  Indira Gandhi said:

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And there you have it.  In the frenzy of modern life, stillness is the key to vitality.  In the repose of corpse pose we are vibrantly alive.  BUT HOW THE HELL DO WE GET THERE?

How do we become still and focused?

1.  Practice a crap load of yoga!

It is said that yoga is about peeling back the layers and finding the simple truth.  Your authenticity.  The place you are aligned and happy and not distracted and pulled in a thousand directions which is my usual state of mind.  Anything other than the truth is a lie.  So all the unrealistic expectations you have for yourself and the way-too-dense to-do list are lies.  So get back to your truth and your mat and maybe Savasana won’t feel so flippin’ hard.  It can be luscious.  We can remember the peace of the stillness and bring it to the great activity that is the truth of our lives.  Indira says it’s possible.

2.  Clean up your diet!

Get rid of crap you don’t need.

  • Your body will like it.
  • Your digestive processes can operate with efficiency and precision.
  • It is proven that some foods help brain function.

In Carol Sorgen’s article:   Eat Smart for a Healthier Brain.  It is said that if we add these ‘superfoods’ to your daily diet, you will increase your odds of maintaining a healthy brain for the rest of your life.

  • Blueberries
  • Wild Salmon
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Whole Grains
  • Avocadoes

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Dear God!  I think I just died and went to good-food-choices heaven.  I love all of these.  If they can help me focus and live better.  huge, huge SCORE!

They say eating a green pizza bigger than your head works too.

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3.  Find a ‘Focus Mantra’

This idea may sound a little vague and a lot woo-woo but hang with me.  Focus,  Dang it!

A mantra is:  any sacred word or syllable used as an object of concentration and embodying some aspect of spiritual power.  (Dictionary)  My personal one for personal reasons is:

Fight.  Finish.  Faith.

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Find something that grounds you.  It can be as simple as one word like ‘believe’.  It can be a little more lengthy like Indira’s quote above.  (Don’t say I never gave you anything.  You have your very own Focus Mantra now.)

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4.  De-clutter everything.

I am very very sentimental but I do not keep things I don’t need, love, or use.  Just because Great Aunt Ethel (whom you never met and passed on in 1965) touched a soup ladle (and you don’t even like soup) doesn’t mean you have to keep said ladle.  You are NOT are a sinner if you give it to Goodwill.  Others I am very close to probably disagree.

And keep your living and workspace clear of crap you don’t need, love, or use.  Clean lines and open spaces invite good thinking and calm minds.  Not like this:

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This is my current workspace.  It is an example of what NOT to do.  Because of a recent profound loss, I am giving my entire life a haircut.  No more dead-ends that take up space and serve no purpose.  This means my home, my calendar, my relationships, my to-do list and my commitments.  Lean and open is the new approach to everything including my body and mindspace.  Here we go!!!

5.  Be still

To cultivate stillness and focus you have to practice.  Do some of this:

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That is all.

I am in this quest with you.  I am still me.  I am still certifiably an adult with ADD.  I have:

  • 45 hobbies
  • 100 areas of interest
  • 755 goals for the year

And 1 life (as far as I know) with 24 hours in each of a finite number of days.  This is not easy for me but anything worthwhile never is.  There is magic and vitality in the stillness. I will focus on finding focus and perhaps Savasana won’t make me an actual corpse.

Do you have trouble focusing?

See above.

How to you right yourself in the waves of distraction?

See above.

Do you a saver or a purger?

Purger all the way!!

 

 

 

Yes, bartender I’ll have another!

Have you heard of Kombucha?  The Chinese call it the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.  (Source:  The Food Renegade)

I tried my first bottle this past week.

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The ingredient list includes ‘trace amounts of alcohol’.  No wonder I like it.

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Me (2nd from left) and my blogging buddies (which includes Beth from Shut Up and Run!, 2nd from right) are not afraid to leave a writing conference for libation nutrition.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a drink made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  My bottle said it had trace amounts of alcohol in it.  SCORE!

I drank the brand on the right in the blueberry flavor.  My children think it tastes like PAAS Easter Egg dye. (Not that they’ve ever ingested it.)

 

The beautifully gilded shells that encase the eggs are not edible once decorated with this potion.  The imagined taste of PAAS matched the real taste of Kombucha for Kathleen, thus explaining her forced smile as I forced her t hold the bottle of Kombucha.

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Kathleen did not love it.

(She is not old enough to drink.  No wonder.)

Here are the health benefits of the “Immortal Health Elixir” – Komubcha.  They include (in less detail than the source):

 #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention.

#2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamine, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis

#3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

#4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy level.

This and alcohol.  That’s good  great stuff.

I was compelled take a shot of Kombucha give Kombucha a shot, when an experienced vegetarian friend gave me and  my newly meatless American Sportsman husband (Digest that!!) advice on ways to sustain our new lifestyle.  We are No Meat Athletes (or we think we are!).  Collectively we have lost 16 pounds in one week.  For now I am happy to have my husband along for a ride I wanted to take for sometime.  Who knows where of if this vegan train stops?

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I don’t really care.  All we have is Now.  And that’s enough. Plus, I rode her for the first time today:

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Happiness.  And forever miss of my Cameron.  Fight.  Finish.  Faith.  That’s all I got.

Bartender, can I have another?

5 Things I will Do Forever

1.  Miss my niece, Cameron Kathleen Gallagher.  Cameron is the 16-year-old beauty and fledging runner who lost her life at the Finish Line of the Shamrock Half Marathon on March 16, 2014 which happens to be my daughter, Kathleen’s 14th birthday.  God can be clever that way.  March 16 or 3/16 or 3:16 is also this verse from the Book of John.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16

New International Version (NIV)

Cameron (left) and Kathleen 3 weeks before Cam went to heaven:

 

Cam and Kathleen

For God so loved the world, He called this angel home.  He has big plans for her.

If you somehow missed  this internationally covered story, I implore you to wake up and read it, wallow in it.  Make a commitment to stay your course, finish your race and keep the faith.  I commit to you, myself, my family and friends that I will live to promote this mantra.  In everything I do.  Including the Ironman I am planning.  (Did you hear that, Cameron??)

2.  Run

Back in college I started running so I could drink beer.  Now I run for wine – more of a 40-something female’s libation of choice.  When I turned forty I did my first half marathon.  Since then I have finished the race many times. (Did you hear that, Cameron??)  Injuries and bad attitudes notwithstanding, I love to run.  I will never stop.  I am dragging my family along.  (Actually they are very willing – my husband and I have done 4 half marathons together and a number of 10k’s)

Here are 4 of us after the Monument Ave. 10k on Saturday, March 29, 2014.  My youngest simply could not have missed her BFF’s sleepover.

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My Kathleen did it for Cameron:

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(Did you hear that, Cameron?)

 

3.  Try new things.

I am preparing for my first Triathlon.  I figured I needed a road bike.  Here we are:

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I love her.  Jack, my lab is certainly wondering:

a.  why I have my ear where my butt will go.

b.  when he can baptize the tire with this tinkle.

4.  Write.

I love words.  I am honing my craft and focusing in new directions.  I am thrilled to be  part of this amazing publication.

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Please stay tuned.

5.  Practice Yoga, Seek the Truth, Love you.

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Will you be with me forever??

(Did you hear that, Cameron??)

5 Favorite Things and My Weekend at an Ashram

The Ashram Experience – Yogaville

I am still in la-la land over my weekend with 10 powerhouse beauties at Yoga Camp – This term we coined to describe dorm life of the Om genre.  Complete with covert happy hours, coffee contraband and making fun of the die-hards we experienced:

“A little bit of weird and a whole lot of wonderful.” Jessica, Publisher of Natural Awakenings and Yoga Camper

Tucked away in rural Central Virginia, Yogaville is a retreat space for main-streamers and a monastic opportunity for folks desiring total withdrawal from ‘real life’.  The two mix in this austere setting seeking oneness with The One and to raise the loving vibration of the planet.  This is a little ‘woo-woo’ for many – our group included, educators, managers, mom’s, sports marketers, extreme adventure athletes, master gardeners, professional body builders, business owners, physical therapists, yoga teachers, writers, marketing specialists and publishers.  A mixed bag of real people from real walks of life.  The bond we hold is the light inside seeking spiritual expansion and a damn good time.  Each was attained in varying degrees.  Moment to moment.  We giggled and gasped for air at times (pranayama exercises anyone??) had gas (good Lord the food! – any more roughage and the yoga classes would NOT be silent.

Sinners and derelicts that we are, we escaped left willingly to find pizza and beer on night #2.  So fun.  I felt so Bad, in A Good Way.

Many programs can be found here.  Also renown facilitators and teachers from all over the world use the Yogaville space to hold their rich workshops.  Our program was for real ashram beginners.  Called the ‘Welcome Weekend’ the offerings showed the broad range of opportunities.  The result was kind of vanilla.  Unremarkable, except of course the head scratching concept of raising my family here.  Couldn’t do it.  Would I go back???  Perhaps for another more focused/intense program in a while after I’ve recovered from the little bit of weird and remember only the whole lot of wonderful.  I have not missed the little gnome that walks the halls at 5:00 AM ringing a bell and chanting:  Hari Om!  I prefer my own alarm clock.

The intention of the space is awesome and amazing and so worth a look.  Especially on a Groupon.  What a deal!!  $85 for all the vegan gas.  Yes!!

5 Favorite Things

1.  mag cover

This publication is an old love that has come back into my life with a vengeance.  Natural Awakenings is in 90 markets across the county – if you are lucky, in one near you.  It promotes a healthy life and healthy planet with real world opportunity to live as such with local resources within kickass and cool community and the most diverse and interesting advertising supporters around.  Check it out  or email me and I’ll send you a copy.

2.  Gaiam purse

My new purse from Gaiam.  I have never ordered from their catalog and I took a chance and purchased a cute dress, this purse and a hade made Fair Wage necklace all for 103.00 with free shipping.  This purse is perfect for my daily shenanigans.  Yoga, meetings, and all the jank.  I love the steel gray color too.

3. 

These ginger snaps.  I gave up sweets for Lent and I am  cheating with these.  Ginger is a spice, not sugar.  So there!!  Delicious, extra crunchy but not hard or gummy.  Love.

4. 

My yoga students and I love love love this fragrance both before and after class.  A little pricey ($30) but it lasts a very long time.  Your family will be nicer and more organized if you spray your home with it.

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5.  Back bending against the wall.  Spring is coming.  Can’t wait to unleash the beast in the spine.