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je danse

29 Jan

So, as I often do after a breakup, I started a new hobby. This time it’s ballet.

I’ve always wanted to try it. I had my first class on Monday and it was so much fun. And, the teacher said I did incredibly well for someone who has never done it before. I think all that yoga in my past helps some. I’m really excited about it and all of the muscles in my body hurt. I haven’t been this excited about something in a long time so I guess that means I’m doing pretty good. My second class is tomorrow and then I’m going to buy my ballet shoes.  <3

PS – I’m also addicted to Bunheads. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s really cute and clever and funny.

12.07.11

7 Dec

Just because everyone can’t do everything doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t do something.

– Joel Salatin on the importance of everyone doing a little bit to improve sustainability

mother earth news fair

27 Sep
Me with sheep

Me with sheep

I spent the weekend with my parents at the Mother Earth News Fair at the Seven Springs Resort in northwestern Pennsylvania. It was great! There were vendors and workshops related to anything a do-it-yourself homesteader could want to know about: keeping bees, spinning yarn, electric fencing, low-impact and organic ways to farm or garden, how to use herbs, butchering your own meat, soap making, composting, preserving food, and how to be an overall responsible consumer. I got some tips from one of the beekeeping presenters, so hopefully we’ll have a successful hive when I try it again this spring.  I also got to see a lot of really cute animals. I wanted to smuggle one of the alpacas home with me. I think I do finally have mom convinced that we should get some angora goats for fiber. She saw how much the handspun yarn was going for.

I heard many wonderful speakers, including Joel Salatin and Ed Begley, Jr. They inspired me to do more to become environmentally aware. I teared up at several points (not that it takes much to elicit that response these days).  It was also great to be around thousands of like-minded people who place a high value on quality food, low carbon footprint, and the satisfaction you can get from being able to make your own food, clothing, etc. If you are interested in any of these things I highly recommend Mother Earth News magazine. It’s a wealth of information.

Here a some more selected photos from the fair:

At a workshop about going packing with your llama

A llama all packed up

A llama all packed up

How to spin with a drop spindle

How to spin with a spinning wheel

Ed Begley, Jr. giving his keynote address

The fair grounds

In the ski lodge

Right before Bill gave me the finger for taking his picture

Alpacas!

My spoils

nature’s bounty

30 Aug

I bought a half-bushel of peaches yesterday at Way Fruit Farm. Today mom and I canned them. It was the first time I’ve ever canned anything.

I picked up my CSA veggies today as well.

Yum.

tipsy

21 Aug

I felt pretty good today. I’ve kept myself busy since yesterday evening, which helps to avoid obsessive over-analysis. According to the book I’ve been reading, staying busy can be helpful as long as it’s not a way of ignoring or denying your feelings. Yesterday after crying for a good bit, I started the massive clean up and organization of my bedroom that I had been planning. I managed to get almost all of it done yesterday. I rearranged the furniture and ordered new bedding. I’m feng shui-ing that bitch. And I’m attempting to make my bed The Most Comfortable Bed In Existence. I’m going to make this room my sanctuary.

During the day today I went canoeing with my parents on the Juniata River. It was pretty fun. We saw a bunch of fish and birds, including a bald eagle. I accidentally tipped the canoe. I thought it was funny. I don’t think my parents were amused. When we got back I started priming and painting my old desk and chair to go in my room so I have a work area in there. Then, tonight I had a phone call from a friend that I haven’t talked to in almost a year, which was much appreciated.

So, things could be worse.

there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in

18 Aug
Image by Lynn Park

Image by Lynn Park

Like many people, I’m turning to my spiritual side in a time of turmoil. I’ve called myself a Buddhist for a few years now. I’ve joined Zen centers and gone on retreats and practiced meditation on and off. Now, I’m committing myself to a regular meditation practice.

I’ve started reading a lovely book by Susan Piver called The Wisdom of a Broken Heart. It has been very helpful for me. It looks at dealing with a breakup from a Buddhist slant, but could be helpful to people of any faith as it is not overtly dogmatic or religious. This Buddhist viewpoint tells us that it is best to acknowledge and allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling. We should lean into the pain without grasping on to it or pushing it away. Piver gives suggestions for a meditation practice and useful exercises peppered with personal anecdotes and observations about love and the human heart. I’m not usually into anything too new-agey, but this book is just right. Piver brings the good news that with a broken heart comes the opportunity for total transformation. She writes:

Although it is tremendously disorienting on one hand, on another, you will never see so clearly as you do when your heart is broken. If you’ve ever wanted to get at the truth about your life, your character and destiny, the depth of your friendships, you can choose to see these things now.

Something else that she brings up that I wholeheartedly agree with is that when one has a broken heart one has a unique opportunity to feel emotions more intensely and to empathize with others more completely.

When your heart is broken, sadness begins to soften you whether you want it to or not. Your normal defenses are gone. When you think of the pain you feel, the tears come. A sad movie or song could make you cry, but so could a happy one; the poignancy of any genuine emotion is inescapably touching. When you see that others are in pain, you cry for them, too. The world actually seems alive in a way it never had before – every moment seems laden with meaning.

…Heart break presents a very important choice: you can either open to it and allow it to soften and strengthen you, or you can fight it tooth and nail and turn away from it, which is tantamount to giving it permission to harden your heart.

In my experience this is utterly and completely true, and I intend to take full advantage of it.

new year resolution

31 Dec

So, I hate New Year resolutions. I don’t think anyone ever follows them. And why do it now? This is just an arbitrary break in the calendar that we made up thousands of years ago. But, as humans we do like to organize things, so I guess it works for us.

But, there is something quantifiable I can do in my life to make it better: meditate more. Scientific studies have show that regular meditation rewires your brain, for the better. It even boosts your immune system. Now, I’m not suggesting that everyone should be Buddhist. It works for me, but it’s not for everyone. Meditation in some form, however, is included in all the major religions of the world. And, you don’t need to be religious to do it either. What I’m promoting here is self-awareness and growth, two things I think the world could use some more of.

But, no matter what your resolution is, it’s really hard to start a new habit. I have decided to take it a chunk at a time and I have started with the resolution to meditate every day in January. Here’s a section from a great article in Shambhala Sun about a new practice, but I think it can be generalized to any resolution. Good luck.

Here are “Ten Suggestions for Having a Regular Daily Practice Even if You Would Rather Be Thrown into a Shark-Infested Ocean”:

1. Be gentle on yourself. If you think you’re a failure and berate yourself for missing a day or a week, meditation then becomes another excuse for self-hatred. Look, meditation training is like swimming upstream, doable, but takes some effort. Be forgiving, yet keep at it.

2. Allow it to become a habit. Try to do it at the same time in the same place everyday. The way to cultivate a habit is to actually do it. The more consistent you can be, the easier it is for the new grooves to be worn into your brain.

3. Review your day and pick a time to do it that makes sense. If you are not a morning person, in fact can’t even look at yourself in the mirror until after you’ve had your coffee, wait till later in the day. If you come home exhausted every night, try the mornings.

4. Be willing to be flexible. If you miss your morning session, be creative. Take a mindful, silent walk at work; sit before you fall asleep. Don’t throw in the towel just because your daily routine got upended.

5. Prioritize. You need to somehow insert into your brain that meditation is just as important as brushing your teeth, showering, eating, Friends reruns, whatever it is. I think it’s amazing how much time we find to answer email but how strikingly little time there is to sit daily. Hmmmm.

6. Set your intention. Ask yourself as you sit down, why am I meditating today? See what emerges. Then ask yourself, what are my deepest reasons for practice? Return to these motivations when the going gets tough. A liberated mind takes work and reminders.

7. Pick a doable amount of time. Don’t strive for an hour unless it seems easy to you. Twenty minutes to a half hour can work fine. Up it, if that seems easy and fits in with your schedule. Even five minutes will activate those neural pathways, keep it going. And get a new groove forming.

8. If all else fails, get your sweet self on your cushion and take three breaths.

9. Sometimes sitting truly feels impossible. Then use your designated time for some kind of spiritually supportive practice: read a dharma book, listen to a tape, write in your journal.

10. When you screw up, be gentle on yourself. I already said this, but I’ll say it again, it’s key for developing a regular practice.

the habits of happiness

26 Dec

detox: update

12 Apr

First off, I would just like to quell any concerns. I will only be on the strict detox diet for two weeks, then I will be adding animal protein (in the form of eggs, dairy, and fish) back into my diet. Plus, I’m still eating a lot of plant protein, like hummus and quinoa. Since I’m already a vegetarian these changes haven’t been too much of a shock to my system.

Secondly, I am in good health with no underlying problems (except allergies) so I think my body can handle it. And I will discontinue the detox if at any time I become unwell, dizzy, weak, etc.

And no, I am not praying to the Gods of Good Health and dancing around in a feathered headdress. Western medicine has been less than effective, so I’m trying something different.

I’m only on day four but so far I feel great. I haven’t noticed a discernible difference in my allergy symptoms, but it will probably be a while before that happens, if at all. Oddly enough, the only craving I’ve had has been for bread. So I got myself some tortillas to eat with my hummus. Mmmmmm. Hummus.

detox: phase one

9 Apr

Spring is here; everything is blooming.

That means my allergies are back, with a vengence. So this year I’m going to do an experiment. I’ve decided I’m going to try the ayurvedic (holistic) approach to decongesting.

As of now I am officially on a two-week detoxifying diet. That means I can’t eat anything that contains:
– Wheat
– Sugar
– Gluten
– Caffeine
– Yeast
– Alcohol
– Meat
– Eggs
– Dairy (except lassi or goat’s milk)
– Preservatives
– Chocolate
– Anything high in fat

I’ve already cut some of these things out of my diet, so it shouldn’t be too terribly difficult. I will have a problem with no cheese or milk or yogurt. And I am most definitely going to go into sugar withdrawl. So be warned, you may have to listen to me bitch.

After those two weeks I will attempt to follow a diet for a kapha dosha. Luckily the diet for detox is much the same, but I’ll be able to add a few things back in, like eggs and gluten. And after the two-week detox period I will allow myself the occasional indulgence. But I want to try to stick to the experiment for at least three months to see if it really does help improve my allergy symptoms (along with yoga and herbal supplements).

Wish me luck. I’m going to need it.

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