In a few hours, Ben and I leave for our first vacation of the summer. Sure, it's a bit of a mini-vacation, but we're getting out of town for 4 full days, we're packing our swimsuits and yoga mats, and we're hitting the road. Wooohoooo! Where are we going? Stockbridge, MA, where his father has a place in the Berkshires. It will be just *slightly* cooler than DC (haha!) and has all the ingredients for a relaxing vacation: nature, water (a pool and a lake!), hiking trails, an adorable little town, a yoga retreat center just down the road, and comfortable beds :) As you can tell, I'm super-excited to get away, even if it is only for a few days!On my vacation wish list? The following luxurious items:
- Finish reading Poser and Bringing Yoga to Life...start reading The Color Purple (all on my summer reading list)
- Bask in the sun by the pool (wearing SPF 50 for Babies, of course)
- Take a nap at least once per day
- Play with watercolors and do some sketching
- Visit Kripalu (only a few minutes down the road from where we'll be!) and if possible, pop in for a quick community yoga class or two :)
- Sleep in. Every single day. And go to bed super-early.
- Eat good summer food (see here for my faves)
- Do yoga outside/in nature
- Try NOT to think about the fact that we're moving three days after we get home and still have tons of packing to do (hopefully by writing it, I can let it go...)
- Go on a hike (or two!) with Ben and recreate THIS amazing picture from a few years ago in Stockbridge, when life was "easier" (Ben hadn't yet started working yet and was still the wild, free, hippie version of himself)...
Hehe!!! If that isn't a free-spirit on vacation, I don't know what is ;)
So what's on your wish list for the holiday weekend? Even if you're staying home with lots of plans/to-dos, take some time to treat yourself. Don't set an alarm and sleep until you wake up. Have a picnic in the park or take a long walk in the woods. Bask i a bubble bath, go to the pool, or watch a movie you've been wanting to watch for months. Make some time for indulgence and just bask in doing nothing...
Have a wonderful and watermelon-filled 4th of July!
P.S. I'm not going to have internet access on this trip unless I take a jaunt down to the local coffee shop in town... since this definitely won't be happening every day, I won't be my normal, daily-posting self. I will, however, try to post a few updates and pics from time to time...I'll be back to normal next Wednesday...see you then!
Sigh. Last night was our very last class at CrossFit DC
before we move. It was really sad (yes, I did tear up a bit
! Are you surprised?), and I can't believe that Ben and I will no longer be making our weekly (or bi-weekly) trips up to Balance Gym in Dupont Circle. But, once we move to Arlington we'll have a new CrossFit gym (or "box" as they call it in CrossFit-world) right down the street, so we'll start going there instead of trekking back into DC to workout with our old crew. What lies ahead? CrossFit Potomac
and hopefully more CRAZY workouts like the one we did last night. What was it, you might ask? Oh, I'm happy to share because it was just that intense. Our farewell workout is below:-Run 800 meters -21 overhead squats (95lbs for men, 65lbs for women)-3 rounds: 5 burpees, 10 sit ups, 15 squats-15 overhead squats
-3 rounds: 5 burpees, 10 sit ups, 15 squats-9 overhead squats
-3 rounds: 5 burpees, 10 sit ups, 15 squats-Run 800 metersUm, yeah. I didn't even do the workout as prescribed because the women's weight was too much for me to do that many reps with--and it was still INSANE! It took everyone around 20-30 minutes, and it was literally exhausting. I'm still tired from it, and am already sore all over. This is why I love CrossFit!Besides being really sad about leaving CrossFit DC, I'm also very nervous about working out at a new "box." It's
always hard starting over somewhere new, whether it's a new city, new job, new yoga studio, or new gym, and it's going to be no different this time. I'm not a big fan of change, and in situations like these I always feel a little self-conscious and worried that I'll fit in (doesn't that always happen?), but I just have to keep telling myself that in a couple of months I'll look back at this post and smile...To commemorate our last class, here are a few shots of Ben and I at CrossFit DC over the past week or so:
Me doing "Good Mornings" during Sunday's workout. Note my Nike Frees
in the pic :)
Ben's CRAZY face he makes when he lifts heavy weights! He's doing a Thruster.
The remains of our last Tuesday night trip to BGR after CrossFit DC. Ben and I almost always went there after class on Tuesdays for some of their AMAZING sweet potato fries and shakes. Yum! Nothing tastes better when you're ravenously hungry after a crazy workout. Luckily, there's a BGR in Clarendon so we won't be without in our new 'hood!
So yeah, it's very bittersweet. We really will miss these peeps! I've learned so much from the coaches ,Tom & Chris, and truly appreciate their patience and guidance over the past 7 months or so. I will always remember them as the guys who got me to lift my first truly heavy weights! So wonderful.And there you have it. VA & Potomac CrossFit, here we come
(if you'll have us!)! CrossFit DC
, we'll miss you :(Namaste,Mary Catherine
Although I know this is not an original thought, I still have to say it--one of my favorite things about summer is the plethora of amazingly delicious fruits and veggies that are in season and ready to be eaten up by peeps like me. See? Not very original, but oh-so-true. As many of you already know, I'm a total fruits and veggies girl, so when I can enjoy my favorite summer treats while they're actually in season, I'm a pretty happy camper.
So, just because they make me so excited, I decided that today I had to share my top 5 favorite summer treats (in no particular order) and my 5 favorite health benefits associated with each of these treats. Read on for the scoop!
Avocados: OMG do I love avocados. Ben and I buy them by the bag-full, and have really been going through them over the past few weeks. He brings half an avocado to work every day with his lunch, but I like to eat them in the following ways...
Favorite ways to eat: Chopped up on a salad, on a sandwich or turkey/veggie burger, or as fresh, homemade guacamole (obviously!).
Favorite nutritional benefits: Eating avocado with a salad can help your body to absorb the other nutrients in the salad, for instance, the carotenoids found in other veggies. Also, avocados are the best "fruit" source of Vitamin E!
Watermelon: Although it can be messy, heavy, and hard to get home, watermelon is TOTALLY worth it. We've been buying them and hauling them back to our apartment just so that we can enjoy their juicy sweetness. Nothing like a fresh watermelon in the summer!
Favorite ways to eat: Fresh, off the rind, as a snack or side item to a summery meal. Making watermelon "icees" is also a fun way to indulge--just add watermelon and ice and blend! Yum :)
Favorite nutritional benefits: Packed with vitamins A, C, B6, and lycopene.
Corn on the Cob: We cooked some Sunday night and it was utterly amazing. I always forget how much I love fresh corn on the cob until I have it in the summertime...
Favorite ways to eat: Grilled, on the cob. Just add a spot of butter and salt :)
Favorite nutritional benefit: High in fiber and several vitamins, including C, niacin, and folic acid.
Summer Berries (especially Strawberries and Blueberries): Have I mentioned before that I like summer fruit? I know, I know, I am truly obsessed. But is there anything that says summer more than going blueberry or strawberry-picking? We went all the time when I was little, and I've been wanting to schedule a day trip to do it again soon. So. much. fun.
Favorite ways to eat: Fresh, right off of the bush or from the package (washed, of course), over a bowl of granola, or mixed in with steel-cut oatmeal and a dash of milk.
Favorite nutritional benefit: Both of these berries are packed with vitamin C, manganese, and antioxidants. Miracle foods!
Tomatoes: Remind me of when I was young! My mom used to grow fresh tomatoes in our backyard, and there was nothing like a fresh tomato on a hot, summer day in Atlanta. They were always warm from being in the sun...sigh.
Favorite ways to eat: Sliced, with salt, pepper, and olive oil drizzled on top (add mozzarella cheese for a real treat!), sliced in a cheddar and tomato sandwich, or chopped on top of a salad.
Favorite nutritional benefit: Filled with TONS of antioxidants which have been shown to fight cancer and other diseases.
So what are you waiting for? Pick up one of these summery treats ASAP! It's always so exciting for me when I realize that my favorites are also good for me...
Photo via yoganomics.net
After months of debating, last night I finally completed and turned in my application & deposit for the Advanced Teacher Training (ATT) program
at Tranquil Space
. This 500-hr. teacher training is 12 full weekends (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) over 1 year, but I've decided to spread it out over two years so as not to stress myself out *too* much in the next 12 months. But, this still feels like a big decision as both a teacher and a yogini. I am super-excited to get back in training and refill my teaching well, but there are also those nerves that come along with starting something new, and challenging myself in this way again. Why am I doing an advanced teacher training? Why would anyone take an advanced teacher training? There are so many reasons, but for me it boils down to a few things...
Ever thought of taking a teacher training but not sure if you're ready? I highly recommend starting out with a shorter, level 1 training to get your feet wet. It's a great way to see if you even enjoy teaching--if it's really something that you want to pursue--before you pour 200 hours of your life into a longer program. If you're a Tranquil Space student, feel free to chat with me about the teacher training program at the studio. I'll be helping to lead the TT1 in Arlington later this summer (yay! so excited!) and am happy to discuss it in more detail because I. love. trainings. Such a great way to grow!
- Growing as a teacher: I've now been teaching for a little over a year (my Tranquil Space 1 year anniversary was earlier this month!), and I feel that I'm comfortable in front of a class, that the nerves are gone and I'm truly able to teach, uninhibited. Because I have found this sense of comfort, I feel that I'm ready to take it to the next level, to learn more and begin to weave new information, ideas, poses, and assists into my classes.
- To learn more about the areas of yoga that I know least about: especially pranyama (breathing techniques), anatomy and physiology, psychology, energetics, and yoga philosophy. Seems like a lot, yes? That's why I'm doing ATT!
- Growing as a student of yoga: Each time that I learn something new in my own practice and in my own body, I am once again reminded of why I love yoga. Through taking more training, I hope to be able to grow my own practice, and in turn, share this with my students. What I want to learn more about as a student? Obviously, and most-importantly, the things listed above, but also arm-balancing and inversions ;)
- I love learning: I really, really, really love learning :) I always loved school, and miss being in a learning environment. The last teacher training that I took (200-hr) was SUCH a life-changing experience (quit my full-time job afterward!) and I grew so much during the training, that I know this one will be enriching, as well. I'm sure that those of you who have been through a teacher training--no matter what the level--can understand this.
I am truly looking forward to jumping into this new endeavor, and of course, will share my experiences along the way :)Namaste,Mary Catherine
There's not much that I can say about Stephen Dunn's
poem below, as it really speaks for itself. But I do have to comment on the title--doesn't the title "Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry"--just make you want to read the poem? I think it's absolutely great. This poem is obviously written for the modern audience--people who have too much to do, too much stimulus--people who have become constant consumers and who are always looking for more, more, more. For Dunn's readers, a simple poem is not enough. They need action, romance, violence, music, fireworks! His approach, and the way that he interacts with these people in his poem, is simply genius.
Poem For People That Are Understandably Too Busy To Read Poetry
Relax. This won't last long.
Or if it does, or if the lines
make you sleepy or bored,
give in to sleep, turn on
the T.V., deal the cards.
This poem is built to withstand
such things. Its feelings
cannot be hurt. They exist
somewhere in the poet,
and I am far away.
Pick it up anytime. Start it
in the middle if you wish.
It is as approachable as melodrama,
and can offer you violence
if it is violence you like. Look,
there's a man on a sidewalk;
the way his leg is quivering
he'll never be the same again.
This is your poem
and I know you're busy at the office
or the kids are into your last nerve.
Maybe it's sex you've always wanted.
Well, they lie together
like the party's unbuttoned coats,
slumped on the bed
waiting for drunken arms to move them.
I don't think you want me to go on;
everyone has his expectations, but this
is a poem for the entire family.
Right now, Budweiser
is dripping from a waterfall,
deodorants are hissing into armpits
of people you resemble,
and the two lovers are dressing now,
I don't know what music this poem
can come up with, but clearly
it's needed. For it's apparent
they will never see each other again
and we need music for this
because there was never music when he or she
left you standing on the corner.
You see, I want this poem to be nicer
than life. I want you to look at it
when anxiety zigzags your stomach
and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I'll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.
The poem is saying that to you now.
But don't give anything for this poem.
It doesn't expect much. It will never say more
than listening can explain.
Just keep it in your attache case
or in your house. And if you're not asleep
by now, or bored beyond sense,
the poem wants you to laugh. Laugh at
yourself, laugh at this poem, at all poetry.
Good. Now here's what poetry can do.
Imagine yourself a caterpillar.
There's an awful shrug and, suddenly,
You're beautiful for as long as you live.
Now that, my friends, is a pretty wild poem. But isn't it true? Doesn't it speak to the modern audience who bores easily and needs constant stimulation?
Take some time to slow down and appreciate the little things today...without all the extra stimulation that we've grown to expect in our daily lives :)
"Friday, Friday, gettin' down on Friday..." Here we are! And as always, my simple, sensory joys of the week are listed below. Enjoy!
"Lokah Samastah" by Sharon GannonAs I've mentioned before, I love this mantra/chant. A number of TS teachers play this version of the chant in class, so I finally realized that I had to download it and add it to my new playlist...and I've been loving it! For some reason, I find it be to very soothing, and I like this version because it is upbeat enough that it is still energizing. If you don't remember, Sharon Gannon is also one of the founders of Jivamukti Yoga School, the center that I visited in New York last month. I had no idea she was a singer, but I'm not surprised :) Take a listen to this version of the mantra below!
Taste: Tazo Awake Black TeaEver since I gave up my daily cup of coffee over a year ago, whenever I've needed a spot of caffeine in the morning
I've turned to green tea. But, in order to switch things up a bit, I bought this Tazo Awake Black Tea last weekend, and it's really good! Sometimes I find green tea to be a little weak, or subtle in the taste department, so this black tea has been a nice change because of it's strong, dark taste. Don't get me wrong, I still love a good cup of green tea, but it's been nice to turn to a different flavor to start off my extra-sleepy days. Plus, I just love Tazo's package design...so beautiful!
BagsMade by 3greenmoms,
LunchSkins are an environmentally friendly answer to the plastic baggie. They're green, adorable, and dishwasher friendly, and I'm completely sold on mine. I picked it up at the Container Store a few weeks ago (do not go there! You WILL NOT be able to leave without buying 1-5 things!), not sure if I would really use it or not, and I do! Plus, look at it, it has apples
on it!!! Plus they say that with "your purchase and use of LunchSkins, more than 12 million plastic baggies have been saved from the landfill." Yippee!
Touch: Built NY
Laptop CaseI've been needing a laptop case forever. Just ask Sara, my NY companion, who saw me bring my laptop
along wrapped up in two tote bags...unacceptable. So, I finally decided to purchase one, and am SO glad that I did! Look at this!? Isn't it adorable? Plus, I love the way it feels and it's nice and slim. It's made of neoprene, and is cushy enough to protect your laptop, but not too bulky to slip into your purse (haha, just one more thing to put in my bag
!). I've loved this brand ever since I came across their wine bottle totes
when I lived in NYC, and am so happy to have finally purchased one of their products for myself :)
Smell: Cardboard Moving Boxes :)
So I don't actually love the smell of cardboard, and I definitely don't love moving (it's kind of stressing me out!), but I do love the idea of finally living in a bigger apartment, right down the street from "work," and the fact that my life will be a lot less complicated once we move. So, this is my "smell" joy this week, take it or leave it. I absolutely hate paying for cardboard boxes (+ total waste and horrible thing to do to the world!), so I've been collecting used cardboard boxes and piling them up in the apartment for weeks now. Eyesore? Yes. But smart & green way to do things? Yes. Now we just need to start putting things IN these boxes...
And that's where I stand...what about you? What brought you simple, sensory joy this week?
Have a WONDERFUL Friday/weekend!
"Love in the Afternoon (1992)" by Andrew Wyeth
Today I wanted to share a passage that I've been reading in my classes lately. During a week where I feel like I am rushing from one class, meeting, or event to the next (all the while mentally preparing for a move, a trip next week, and wondering if we are EVER going to get a chance to pack!?!), it's a great reminder for me to enjoy each moment, each day, each event, and to be fully present in my life.
As is to be expected, the passage is from the oh-so-wise and enlightened Pema Chodron
:"The Navajo teach their children that every morning when the sun comes up, it's a brand-new sun. It's born each morning, it lives for the duration of one day, and in the evening it passes on, never to return again. As soon as the children are old enough to understand, the adults take them out at dawn and they say, 'The sun has only one day. You must live this day in a good way, so that the sun won't have wasted precious time.' Acknowledging the preciousness of each day is a good way to live, a good way to reconnect with our basic joy."-
Pema Chodron, The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving KindnessAre you living each day like you "have only one day?" I know
that I'm not, and that often I get SO caught up in checking things off of my to-do list that I forget I am even living--or experiencing--life. Each day is such a precious gift, why do we have so much trouble holding on to that notion? Take a moment or two to "live this day in a good way" today, so that you can enjoy this precious time we have :)Namaste,Mary Catherine
P.S. Isn't the painting at the top amazing? I simply LOVE Andrew Wyeth, and this painting is one of my favorites. To me, it perfectly represents the feeling of waking up in the morning on a gorgeous day with nothing to do...with the entire day in front of you and the chance to do whatever you want. Ahhhhh, complete relaxation.
Last month I shared my love for street and guerrilla art
, but since then I've come across two more remarkable street artists that are definitely worth sharing. There's just something that I love about creating art in a very public place, just to make people stop and look, or smile, or think twice about what they're doing. I think it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there in the world like that, and to create art just for art's sake (not for money, fame, or to please others). Sure, you could argue that many street artists do become famous eventually, but it's only the really talented, really out-there ones that actually reap any benefits besides a profile piece in an online journal. So check out these creative, out-of-the-box thinkers below!Artist #1: RoadsworthThis artist caught my attention because what he does is so simple, yet SO great. He is from Montreal, and
started making his art because he wanted to comment on the lack of bike paths in the city (and to "question the 'car culture'"), but then he "continued to develop a language around street markings and other elements of the urban landscape" using his cool, simple stencil technique. I think his work is fab and think that his messages are really great--even if he has been arrested for it multiple times :) Take a look below and check out more of his work on his website, here.
"Asphalt Fetish" by Roadsworth
"Wishful Thinking" by Roadsworth
"Tight Rope Walker" by Roadsworth
"Dandelions" by Roadsworth (my favorite because I absolutely LOVE dandelions!)
Artist #2: Ben WilsonRecently profiled on the New York Times website (where I learned about him)
, Ben Wilson has caught of lot of people's eyes because what he is doing is SO, SO unique. Basically, he does tiny, intricate paintings on squished pieces of gum on the sidewalk. That's right--the images below are on a pieces of old, smushed gum. Can you believe it? Incredible. He's based in London and has been creating these works for the past 5 years, and from what everyone has to say about him, it sounds like he's become a bit famous--partly because of the surface he chooses to paint on, and partly because of what he looks like when he's painting his works (see pic below). Either way, I'm amazed. You can read more about him and his incredible process in the New York Times
This is on a piece of gum! It's the size of a quarter!
Same goes for this one...
An image of a sidewalk that had LOTS of blank "canvases" for Wilson to work on. Beautiful, huh?
So are you impressed yet? I am! I only wish I was as creative, brave, and talented as these artists. What a way to make a statement!
Until my next "Love This!" post...
Photo credit: pathstohealth.com
Over the past couple of years, Headstand (Sirsasana) and I have had a rocky, love-hate relationship. Because I originally learned headstand against the wall, it took me a long time to move away from the wall when practicing this pose. Then, when I'd finally moved away from the wall and was feeling pretty comfortable in the pose in the middle of the room (and loving the pose), I fell out of it (happened when it always does--when my mind wandered and I stopped breathing & being present). Although I didn't hurt myself at all when I fell, I was freaked out enough to stay away from it for a while. Over time, I eventually came back to the pose and I am now in love with it again, but there are still moments when I come into the pose in a crowded class that I choke up a bit, the nerves come back, and I feel myself pulling away from the pose in a way that I don't do when I come into it on my own at home. So, when I came out of headstand and into child's pose at the end of class last night, I had this thought: I want to do headstand more. Not just when I practice in class, or when the mood strikes after a home practice, but much more, every day--enough so that the weird issues and mental blocks that I've now associated with this pose (a pose that I really, really love!) will come down. So what have I decided to do? What I always do when I want to make a change or incorporate something new into my life--I've scheduled it :) That's right, I'm going to put headstand on my calendar for the next 100 days. No exceptions--once it's scheduled, it's booked. Now, who's going to join me? Here are the parameters that I've decided on:
So if you'd like to join me, feel free to do so! If you're not yet ready to do headstand away from the wall, this could be a great way to work towards moving away from the wall (move a bit further away from the wall each day, and by the end you'll be in the middle of the room!). I definitely believe that doing 100 days of any pose will get rid of any hang-ups that you may have about the pose, and will teach you things about yourself--and about the pose--that you never knew. If you're new to headstand and would like to try it, there are great directions on how to come into the pose on Yoga Journal's site, here. For inspiration, check out the picture below:
- Can come into headstand anywhere, and at any time of day (can be in class, when I first wake up, at the end of the day, in public, at home, etc.)
- The headstand can be bound or tripod headstand (or, a hands-free headstand...in 100 years! See below, it's crazy and amazing!)
- Must take at least 10 breaths in headstand before coming out
- Can change leg variations, move around a bit in headstand if I'm in the mood
- Must do 1 headstand per day until Tuesday, September 29th (marks 100 days from today)
Dharma Mittra, known as the elder statesman of yoga in America, on Hudson Street in New York City for June’s Yoga Portfolio in Vanity Fair. Photograph by Michael O’Neill. Photo credit: www.jobriga.com,
And with that, I'm off to experience Day 1! I'll provide periodical updates on how it's going and how headstand has changed for me over the next 100 days...
Thanks for joining me in the journey (and it's the journey, not the destination...right, my fellow TS yogis?)!
Since most of my recent "Painting Update" posts
have shown paintings that have been in-progress for a while, I thought it would be fun to once again break down the process of starting a painting today.
Personally, I LOVE the painting process. I think there is nothing more exciting, fun, scary, and daunting than starting a new painting, as there is always such potential on a blank canvas (or panel, as I typically use for my painting surface). Similarly, once I've done my under-painting (step 1), I become absolutely giddy over the way that beginning to add color and depth instantly begins to animate the objects or shapes that were once just flat, linear sketches. It's wonderful and amazing to me that we can bring subject matter to life--to a completely different, painterly kind of life--with just some oil paint colors and a brush.
Don't really understand what I mean by this? Take a look at the process as it is broken down below...Step 1. Decide what you're going to paint and create a composition. For instance,
I've really been wanting to paint these tin coffee cans that Ben has been buying lately, so I have been stockpiling them one by one as he finishes them, and finally had enough to take them to the studio to paint last week. I decided that instead of painting them on a table in a normal way, I wanted to hang them on the wall (if you haven't noticed already, I love painting things hanging. I love the shadows that are produced on the white background...). I then began adding other accessories--the masking tape and twine I used to hang them, etc.
Step 2. Begin the underpainting. An underpainting is basically a sketch--you use it to figure out composition, handle any perspective or size issues, etc. My underpainting for the cans is below. Notice that you can also use your artistic license here to change the composition a bit, if you'd like. In this painting I decided to squish all of the cans closer together, or tighten the composition a bit, so that they weren't quite so separate.
Step 3. Begin to add color! I forgot to take a picture earlier on in the color-adding process (that's what happens when you're completely involved in what you're doing!), but you can see how much this begins to change things, and hopefully you can understand what I mean when I say that the color brings the objects to life on the surface...
Step 4. Continue to define the objects by adding depth to each item and completing the background (here you can see that in the stage above, the underpainting was still showing around a lot of the edges of the twine and jars, while in the painting below, I went in and filled in the background in these areas). So the picture below shows where I left off last week! There is still obviously a lot of work to be done on the painting, but it's fun to break down these important initial stages of a piece for others to see/better understand how the process works...
Next steps? There are many. Begin to better define each object (especially the twine ball on the far left--I have hardly touched this so far and it has NO depth or detail at all at this point) and fix shape/size issues. Then, I'm going to go in and add all of the writing and detail on the cans (which will definitely take a while). Other than that, lots of small changes and better-defined shadows on the wall. Whew! I think I've got my work cut out for me :)
Painting=my creative refuge. What's yours? How can you find more time for creativity in your own life? I know I'm always searching for ways to increase the amount of time set aside for creative endeavors in my own life...
So here's to a creative week!