Over the past couple of years, I've developed a deep love for candles. There's something extremely relaxing about having a lit candle burning nearby, and nothing helps to create more of an ambiance (if you will), than a dimly-lit room with lots of candles burning. So, since the holidays are around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share some creative candles today...some are even DIY (holiday gifts, anyone?). Take a look below...DIY Vintage Teacup Candles from Hey Gorgeous (directions on how to make them here!)
Recycled Starbucks Frappucino Bottle Soy Candle from WineWix on Etsy
(they also sell a bunch of really cute recycled wine bottle candles!):
And for those who are looking for something really out there, of course there are many candle options for you, too (even saw a poo-shaped candle on one site! Eek!)...two that I thought were *interesting* are below...
Cereal Candle from GreenerGrass Crafts on Etsy
(also makes Hostess Cupcake Candles, Gummy Worm Candles, Hot Dog Candles--it's crazy!)
PBR Candle from Scyth 3 on Etsy
(a big shout-out to all my hipsters out there!):
Who knew candles could be so interesting, right? So instead of giving your ordinary old candles this year, think outside the jar (hehe!) and get creative on someone...
Photo via hfboards.com.
It's that time again...time for a "moment with Pema
," or a segment that I should start calling"The Wisdom Corner"...basically, a chance for me to share another amazing reading from the all-knowing Pema Chodron
. Does it seem like I quote her a lot? Oh wait, that's because I do
. But really, how is she so wise? As a yoga teacher I should know better than to put a teacher on a pedestal, but I can't help to do so with her! So here goes, Pema on "seeing what is:"Holding on to beliefs limits our experience of life. That doesn’t mean that beliefs or opinions or ideas are a problem. It’s the stubborn attitude of having to have things be a particular way, grasping on to our beliefs and opinions, that cause the problems. Using your belief system this way creates a situation in which you choose to be blind instead of being able to see, to be deaf instead of being able to hear, to be dead rather than alive, asleep rather than awake. As people who want to live a good, full, restricted, adventurous, real kind of life, there is concrete instruction we can follow: see what is. When you catch yourself grasping at beliefs or thoughts, just see what is. Without calling your belief right or wrong, acknowledge it. See it clearly without judgment and let it go. Come back to the present moment. From now until the moment of your death, you could do this
.-From Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron (p. 122)
Now that should give us all something to think about today...just see what is
. Easy, right? ;)
And now, for my latest favorite artistic marvel that plays with this idea of "seeing what is" in a very different way...The following artist, Guido Daniele, paints hands (and bodies) to look like animals...and um, he is amazing. Take a look at some of his work below:
To view the artist's personal site with some of his advertising work (also amazing!), click here. Happy Tuesday and namaste!Mary Catherine
"In Bed 2" by Toulouse-Lautrec. Image via artilim.com
I know that I've written about my love of sleep
a number of times in the past (and of Ben's love of sleeping in total darkness
!), and no, this hasn't changed lately or anything, but what has changed is the amount of sleep that I need these days. I find that although it's been unseasonably warm here in the DC area this fall, my body still knows that both the time and leaves (and technically, the season) have changed--and it wants me to honor that. If this past weekend is any indication, we may be getting ready to go into hibernation over here...Friday, Saturday, and yes, even Sunday night (!) this past weekend, I got almost 9 hours of sleep. I literally went to bed around 10:30 or 11 every single night, and it was glorious. In the past, I would question this and judge myself a bit, thinking, "what's wrong with me? Am I lazy? Am I coming down with something? Why am I so tired?" But this time around, I'm accepting it as is. I honestly think that in the late fall and winter, our bodies begin to need some time to nest, to slow down, to hibernate, to store up energy for the spring and summer, and to recuperate from all of our go-go-going. But, in our culture we do exactly the opposite in the fall, we run ourselves ragged until the new year, and then jump on board for new year's resolutions and/or big changes in life, never stopping to slow down. Personally, I usually book myself up solid for a month or two
surrounding the holidays, and it's only a day or two here and there that I actually get to pause and catch my breath. Um, not. healthy
. So this year, although I cannot change all of the scheduling, events, holiday parties and commitments that I've already got noted in my planner, I can make a small change by honoring my body's sleep cycles. And that's just what I intend to do.
Dream bed! Photo via mackeymadness.blogspot.com
In order to truly stay in balance at this time of year, I think we should all pay a little more attention to our need for sleep (and self-care). When it's pitch black outside at 6pm and everything in your being tells you to go home and go to bed early instead of hitting the gym or joining friends for dinner, I say give in. Not every time you have this urge (because working out and socializing is also healthy, hehe!), but on those days when you can tell that you just need the sleep-- when you have no energy left and sleep is all that can cure it. If you need to skip your late-night email time and go to bed at 9:30 in order to wake up at 6:30 and still get 9 hours of sleep, do it. Your body will thank you. I promise :)
I have to admit up front that I'm not the best at this, and I can guarantee that I won't get 9 hours (!!) of sleep on any weeknight this week, but I will do my best to get around 8, and highly recommend getting as much sleep as possible whenever you can. If there's one thing you honor this season, I think it should be your seasonal sleep cycles. There's just nothing that rejuvenates the body like sleep.
And one more time for all my Type-A friends out there: No, it's not lazy! It's NOT! It's healthy and necessary. Sleep is your friend :)
The day after a holiday is always a weird day. Depending on where you are and what you're doing, it can be a "vacation day" or it can just go back to daily life. This year, since we stayed in town and enjoyed "friendsgiving," Ben and I are both back to a somewhat normal life today. He's at work (so sad!) and I'm off to teach and get some things done at the studio. But, no matter what you're doing, I find that there's still a magical, relaxing feeling in the air the day after a holiday, and if you're lucky, this feeling lasts right through the weekend. Continuing with the sense of gratitude and holiday cheer that I felt so strongly yesterday, read on to peruse my simple joys of the week--things that I feel extremely grateful to have experienced/come across during the hustle-and-bustle of the past 7 days...
What took you for a sensory ride this week?
Photo via AndThenSome etsy shop.
Deck the Halls by The RochesEver since I can remember, The Roches
Christmas album has been one of my favorite soundtracks for the holidays. Sure, there are a few others that are up there with The Roches, but I never feel like it's Christmas until I play their music, especially my favorite song, "Deck the Halls." Their version is super-fun and upbeat, and it makes me incredibly happy to hear it. I played it while we were cooking yesterday, and it was a blast. Take a listen below and get ready to sing along :)
This tote from India (and the friend who brought it back for me!)One of my dear friends came to visit this week--after spending the past year in India! Although we skyped throughout her time there, seeing her reminded me that there's nothing like catching up in person.
Also, she brought me some adorable gifts (so sweet!), including this beautiful tote bag that was handmade in the rural areas of Rajasthan. The best part? It was made by a woman artisan as a part of a fair trade organization focused on empowering women, called Sadhna
. Love it.
Taste: Um, Thanksgiving food! Obviously.
Look at this spread. It was amazing. We dined with some wonderful friends at their new place yesterday, and it was Thanksgiving-errific. They made a number of delicious (and gourmet!) dishes, and even made a little chart about when everything should go in the oven and at what temp it needed to cook (so cute! I love lists!). We had an insane amount of food for just 4 people, but luckily, we were able to take home tons of leftovers :) While waiting for our too-full bellies to make a little room for dessert, we drank mulled wine and played a competitive game of Cranium. It was the perfect friendsgiving.
Touch: Fall Leaves
All of the small, side-streets and sidewalks of DC are covered with these gorgeous piles of yellow leaves. Every time I walk anywhere I revel in the feel (and really, the sound!) of the fall leaves crunching under my feet. There's just something about these leaves--before the snow falls and covers them up and before they turn to wet, dirty piles of dirt--that is just magnificent. I stopped to take a few pics the other day when I was struck by the beauty...I'm sure I looked a little crazy, but it was worth it...
Smell: Pumpkin pies baking in the oven
Have I mentioned that I love pumpkin everything? I believe that I have. But what I haven't mentioned is that I love pumpkin pie most of all. As does Ben. Last year, I made 2 pies. The day after Thanksgiving, Ben sat down at the table with the second pie and a plate. He took a knife and cut the pie right down the middle. He then proceeded to pick up an ENTIRE half of the pie and place it on his plate. He ate it all.
So maybe Ben likes pumpkin pie just a bit more than I do. But either way, baking pumpkin pies=best. smell. ever.
I hope your week has been filled with equally amazing simple, sensory joys. Here's to a relaxing holiday weekend full of leftovers, gratitude, and loves ones!
The pumpkin pies I made last night :) Yay! I'm a baker!!!! Who knew?
Happy turkey/Tofurky day, one and all!
I started my Thanksgiving day out with a delicious yoga class a la one of my favorite teachers, Jodi, at TSA, and it was simply divine (as were the 48+ people who showed up for the sold out charity class to benefit SOME
!!)! I felt extra-grateful during class today, and had a hard time wiping the big, goofy smile off of my face as I practiced. Why? There was something really wonderful and magical about flowing in a room filled with so many other people on a holiday dedicated to giving thanks
. I was overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude for the yoga community that I belong to, for all of the amazing teachers and students who cross my path on a daily basis, and for the practice that brings all of us together. I also felt extremely thankful for my body, my breath, and the postures that help me connect to both. Wow, what an amazing practice! It took Thanksgiving to a whole different level. No matter how you fill your day today, I hope that you're able to connect to a great sense of gratitude, cherish some time with loved ones,
and enjoy a few delectable treats...Thank YOU for reading my blog and being a part of my life :)Namaste and gratitude,Mary Catherine
Photo via yogadork.com
Happy almost-Thanksgiving, one and all! Before we get carried off into the busy abyss of the holiday season, I wanted to share a few upcoming events that I'll be hosting, in case you want to join moi. The holidays are one of my favorite times of the year, but I think it's still so very important to be sure to take some time out for self-care during all of the hustle-and-bustle. No matter what it is, be sure to pencil-in some time to indulge in a bit of relaxation over the next month or two. An easy way to do so? Join me for one of my upcoming workshops...Upcoming Workshops at Tranquil Space Arlington:
Preparing for the Holidays with Restorative YogaSaturday, 12/10 from 5-7pm Photo via vi.sualize.us
Feeling stressed, exhausted, or depleted by the holidays? Replenish your mind, body, and spirit with a 45-minute slow flow vinyasa practice followed by 1.15 hours of restorative yoga, meditation, and savasana. We will spend time in poses meant to release emotions and stress, cleanse and heal the body, and calm the mind. Come prepared to let go and relax completely. Appropriate for all levels. $35, $30 if you register online here
Jump into Yoga 2Friday, 12/9 from 6:30-9pm Photo via siddhayatan.org
A workshop designed to assist students in finding their core strength, learning how to engage it and take their practice to a new level. We will focus on how to use this strength for chaturanga, headstand, and jumping into chaturanga and forward fold. There will be time to explore bakasana (crow) and the beginning of sirsasana (headstand). Please bring your own mat if you have one, a water bottle, hand towel and any questions you have. $40, $35 if you register online here
Reflect, Release, & RestoreSaturday, 12/31 from 2-4pm
Join Mary Catherine for an afternoon of reflection, release, and replenishment as we cleanse and restore the body in preparation for 2012. We will spend 75 minutes in a heated vinyasa practice meant to rinse the body and release the heavy emotions, stress, toxins, and tension that can build up over the busy holiday season. We will then close the workshop with 45 minutes spent reflecting on the past year through meditation, restorative poses, journaling, and of course, ending in savasana. Prepare the mind and body for a fresh start in the new year by letting go of 2011 and preparing the spirit for 2012. Bring your mat, water, a journal, and something to write with.$35; $30 if you register online here
Holiday Show at Studio 4903
Sunday, 12/11 from 12-5pm
Last but certainly not least, join me for a Holiday Art Show at my old studio in DC! There will be a number of extremely talented artists showing and selling their work (as you an see below), and it's a perfect chance to pick up any last-minute gifts for people on your list. Plus, it's a great chance to take in some creative inspiration as the days get fuller and the weeks get busier. What? How do you get there? It's right off of the Tenleytown Metro in DC; it's also very easy to find parking on the streets nearby :) Address and more info below!
Hope you'll join me for one of these upcoming events! If you have any questions, feel free to post to comments :)
Have a wonderful Wednesday--yay for the day before Thanksgiving!
Photo via remrunner.blogspot.com
One of the best parts of being a yoga instructor is the amazing and inspiring students that I get to work with on a daily basis. It's a strange situation at times, because often I'll see a student on their mat 2-3 times per week; I'll know their name, their body, their injuries, their practice, and a few tidbits about their daily life here and there, but sometimes it will take months before I find out what else they've got going on outside of the studio--and often, when I do finally find out, I'm completely inspired
. This happened most recently in the case of a Tranquil Space Arlington student named Julie Fylgare
. I knew Julie's name and her practice, I could tell she had a passion for yoga, and that she was a regular in our classes. But what I didn't know was that off of the mat, Julie was writing a memoir about her struggles with Narcolepsy, and that she was becoming a well-known, recognized spokesperson for the illness.
Julie was recently featured in Marie Claire
, and just last week, NBC Washington
did a piece on her. I wanted to share this segment today, because I'm truly inspired by the work that Julie is doing as she spreads the news and raises awareness of Narcolepsy. Something else that I love about her story? Yoga has played a great part in her journey, as has running. She's even shown practicing yoga at TSA at the beginning of the segment! Word on the street is that the piece that aired talked a bit more about her yoga practice (sad that I can't share the full version here!), but at least we still get a glimpse at it :)
Take a look at Julie's story below:
To read more about Julie and her journey, check out her personal blog, here. Also, since it is Thanksgiving week, after all, I wanted to give a BIG, special thank you to Julie and to all of my students for being such a constant source of inspiration in my life. This is why I love. my. job. Namaste,Mary Catherine
Image via healingwaysresearch.blogspot.com
This past weekend I once again spent (almost) every waking moment in Advanced Teacher Training at TS
. Of course, as always, my brain was filled with loads of amazing, interesting, and inspiring information all weekend--much of which I still need time to process, but, in our session on Ayurveda, the "sister science to yoga," I was completely enamored
, and now, I believe, completely hooked
My first real introduction to Ayurveda was during my first Teacher Training training in 2009, and I remember being extremely interested then, too. But, as often happens in life, I got busy, forgot about the importance of understanding my constitution (and the constitution of others, and of the season, and the time of day, etc.), and it simply dropped to the back of my mind. But yesterday, my interest was reignited and I've decided to start working on learning how to eat and live according to my dosha. No idea what I'm talking about? Here are the basics (my own summary from the workshop that I attended with the amazing Anne Thiel
- Ayurveda is concerned with the physical aspects of our bodies/life. It basically says that when you are in optimal health and optimal balance, you can enjoy your life to the fullest and give the most back to the world (again, extremely paraphrased and it's a lot more than that!).
- In order to find your way to your optimal state of health, you must be aware of your mind-body type (or dosha).
- There are three doshas; Vata, Pitta, and Kapha, and we all have a bit of all 3 in us, but typically one or two doshas will be predominant.
- In living ayurvedically (don't think that's a word...), we are trying to stay in balance--that is, return to our genetic dosha (or constitution) and remain there. However, life can often knock us off balance, in which case we will have a dosha imbalance and will need to balance that out before returning to our normal routine.
- I know, it sounds kind of confusing, but it's actually really amazing. There's tons to be learned online, through Ayurveda books and texts, and if you get really interested, you could take a workshop on it (highly recommend one with Anne!) or visit an Ayurveda Consultant to learn more about how to reach your optimal health.
The things that I love about Ayurveda? It recognizes that each person is naturally inclined to do certain things or to act a certain way--to talk fast, to crave salty foods, to need more sleep than others, to move a bit more slowly, to breathe more or less deeply--and that this is okay! It teaches us that you shouldn't resist your natural constitution, but should instead embrace it and learn to live in a way that keeps this constitution in balance so that you don't embody the negative traits of your dosha, but instead embody the positive ones. Here's are two helpful charts that break down the doshas a bit (neither is as detailed as I'd like them to be, but they're a good basic intro)...
the following one gives a few generic mind-body basics about each dosha:
Chart via heymonicab.com
And this one talks more about the physical attributes of the various doshas:
Chart via spicejourney.ca
Pretty interesting, huh? Since I'm fairly new to Ayurveda, I can't go on about it too much, but do want to say that if you have any interest in learning more about your dosha, it's crazy interesting
. I loved learning more about my constitution (no wonder I usually overbook myself---it's part of my dosha to expend more energy than I conserve!), and felt that it was really nice to know that I'm genetically predisposed to do some of the things that I do--but also to know that I act the way that I do sometimes because my dosha is out of balance, not because I'm crazy :) And no, it's not an excuse for negative behaviors, but rather, teaches us how to make changes so that we can keep some of these behaviors or feelings in check.
Another fun part of learning about the doshas is that you learn more about the people in your life. You recognize the possible doshas for some of your friends or family, your significant other, your coworkers, etc., and can begin to understand a bit more about how and why they function the way that they do. It's like the Myers-Briggs, only ancient-Indian and yoga-style (AND with diet and lifestyle prescriptions that go along with it!). Very cool.
Looking for a good survey/questionnaire that will help you determine your dosha? Click here
to check out the "Body Type Quiz" on LifeSpa.com. I found this one very helpful.I'll keep you updated as I begin to live and eat in accordance with my dosha...Namaste!Mary Catherine
You may have heard the phrase in this movie...
As often happens for me, this poem came into to my inbox from American Life in Poetry
last week, and I totally fell in love. Not only is it hysterical--pointing out the ridiculousness of the southern phrase "bless their hearts--" but it's also really, really clever and perfect to share this week (since Thanksgiving is just around the corner). Enjoy! I hope it makes you smile as much as it does me. You can read more about the poet, Richard Newman, here. Bless Their Hearts
At Steak ‘n Shake I learned that if you add
“Bless their hearts” after their names, you can say
whatever you want about them and it’s OK. My son, bless his heart, is an idiot,
she said. He rents storage space for his kids’
toys—they’re only one and three years old!
I said, my father, bless his heart, has turned
into a sentimental old fool. He gets
weepy when he hears my daughter’s greeting
on our voice mail.
Before our Steakburgers came
someone else blessed her office mate’s heart,
then, as an afterthought, the jealous hearts
of the entire anthropology department.
We bestowed blessings on many a heart
that day. I even blessed my ex-wife’s heart.
Our waiter, bless his heart, would not be getting
much tip, for which, no doubt, he’d bless our hearts.
In a week it would be Thanksgiving,
and we would each sit with our respective
families, counting our blessings and blessing
the hearts of family members as only family
does best. Oh, bless us all, yes, bless us, please
bless us and bless our crummy little hearts.Isn't that just great? At least for those of you from the South--you should definitely get it :)Thanks for checking in and pressing pause with me today!Namaste,Mary Catherine
As another week goes hurdling by at lightning speed, I'm glad to have a chance to stop, pause, and reflect on the simple joys that I was lucky enough to experience over the past 7 days. I'm trying to hold on to any spare moment that I have to slow down before the holidays hit (although they're kind of already here!), and encourage you to do the same...
What brought you happiness this week? My simple joys are below:
Hear: Jaia Ganesha by The Dum Dum Project
So I have to admit that I "stole" this song from another teacher's playlist, but I'm so glad that I did because I absolutely love practicing and teaching to it! Its a great song to play during the first half of the class, when you're warming up/building heat and looking to bring up the energy. It's great! Admitedly, I know nothing about the artist/band, but I sure do enjoy the song :) Take a listen below...
See: My wedding dress!
Yep, you read right, I got it last weekend! I'm THRILLED with the dress and it really was one of those magical moments that people tell you about...I didn't think that it happened that way, and really didn't think that I would "just know" when I'd found my dress, but I 100% did. I walked out of the dressing room and saw my friend Kelly's face--then I looked in the mirror--and that was it! After trying on what feels like hundreds of dresses, I've found the dress. I can't wait to wear it...in a year (isn't that weird?). Yippee!
I've always loved Edamame, and when I lived alone in NYC, used to make it a lot for a snack or with dinner. Well, last night I brought it back--and was so happy I did! Edamame is super-easy to make--you basically buy them frozen and boil for 5 mins, or you can even buy them unfrozen and microwave (!)-- and as long as you have some sea salt (another one of my faves!), they taste just like they do at a restaurant. I basically just had a bag for dinner last night, and it was delish + full of protein. Yum :)
Touch: Rain boots + snuggly fleece socks
I finally got a chance to wear my rain boots (a la Wal Mart!) and new snuggly fleece boot socks this past week...SO comfortable. I bought these boots for $20 in a desperate situation when all I had were flats and flip flops for 4 days at a cabin in the woods + constant rain, and they were one of the best $20 buys I've made in a long time. I've already gotten tons of use out of them, and then I found these socks a few weeks ago, and am excited to be able to take the boots into the winter with the help of these snuggly foot warmers! Great combo and my feet were happy, warm, and dry this week ;)
Vintage books/paperI know I've been raving about vintage paper goods this week, but they're really amazing! Ever since visiting a flea market on Saturday, I've been completely obsessed. The smell of old books and old paper is also really special--yes, it's a bit musty, but it also just screams out "I'm old and have seen many things."
It's so exciting to think about all of the people who have owned or touched these objects over the years. Want more details about why I'm inspired by these items? Read Monday's post or yesterday's post to see how I'm using these paper goods in my art. I'm also thinking about how I can use the books in a creative way in our wedding...
Well, now I'm off to a day of teaching and a weekend full of Advanced Teacher Training
...have a glorious Friday and wonderful weekend! Be mindful of the simple joys and don't forget to stop and appreciate them from time to time...Namaste,Mary Catherine