Eat local: Fresh goodness

Somsnows bende of my fondest memories of childhood are going to the farmers market with my mom.  There were rows of produce in baskets, bright colors, and lots of fresh foods.  I learned how to pick out melons, how to tell if vegetables were ready to eat, think about how much one place was charging vs another.  I  also have fond memories of eating food from family and friend’s gardens.  Floyd’s new potatoes and peas,  cooked in a white sauce,  remains a favorite but I could make an entire list of the foods and flavors I remember.  What do you remember?

I have been fortunate throughout my life to live in places that have wonderful selections of produce.   I lived in Grand Rapids nearly a decade and went to the wonderful market most Saturday mornings when the weather was nice.  Ann Arbor also had wonderful fresh produce available.  Since the addition of the Tuscaloosa River Market, the farmers market has been much better in Tuscaloosa.  I don’t always think about going this early in the year per my Michigan roots.  Saturday morning I saw a note on Facebook that my friend Hope was th20150330_125051 (2)ere and to come on by.  I was not sure what I would find this early in the spring but I was pleasantly surprised. Tables were full of greens, tomatoes, root vegetables and cheese. I tried a local tea shop that goes to markets and events.  My salad is Swiss chard, kale and tomatoes – all from different vendors at the market last Saturday.  I am going to be more attentive to what is available by season this year.

I’m looking forward to the market starting on campus in a few weektomatoess.  It provides a nice option during the week to pick up fruits and vegetables.

My challenge for you is to find a local market and explore the offerings.  Try something new.  I’m trying to figure out what to do with collards since there seem to be plenty available at the market.  Explore.  It’s a grand adventure.

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Voyages of discovery: Pursuing yoga practice

As I prepared to begin my yoga teacher training I decided that I wanted to document my Millie_Yoga_MG_1105-001practice and the progress over the next 9 months.  My recent posts have revealed my apprehension, questioning and excitement about this process.  What am I doing pursuing yoga teacher training?!?  All are normal feelings.  Although I practiced for many years, I did have quite a long break before returning to my yoga mat.  I have challenges with injuries that have occurred over the years and with a body that isn’t a perfectly flexible tiny body.  Still I practice and I come to the mat where I am now.  That is what is important and that is what I truly want to share in documenting this journey.

I found this quote that sums up some of what I am trying to convey here: “It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” (Seneca)  (Yes, I found this in Rolf Gates’ book of meditations.)  Yoga teacher training, like many of the things I have pursued is a daring challenge.  If I do not dare myself to pursue what is difficult though, then I am not truly living.   I will have challenges and doubts along the way but I will also grow spiritually, physically, and emotionally.   Even in the few months that I have worked with Kim Drye, I have seen improvements in my practice – in becoming consistent, in pushing myself as I know I need to and can,  in improvements in multiple ways.  This week I have practiced at Three Dog Yoga in Santa Rosa, California as well as on my own.  I attended two of Lucie’s restorative classes and a class called Deep led by Sara.  Don’t let the word restorative fool you.  While the practice is restful and rejuvanating, the poses require work.  In all of the classes I pushed myself to try poses that I had not or that I have been uncertain about.  There were new poses that have not been part of my regular practice that were deeply healing and stretched my body in ways that felt good.  I look forward to my next trip.  On my own I worked on standing poses and on chaturanga dandasana.   This has been a particularly challenging pose for me but I have figured out a way to practice so I can move towards being able to do it.

Part of my documentation is also a photo journal of where I am along the way of this journey.  Last summer I had the privilege of working with Sara Sanger on the photo shoot for Diabetic Living.  When I decided I wanted to begin documenting my practice,  I contacted her about shooting some photos since I was going to be in Sonoma County for a week.   She was very willing to arrange a time for some photos.  She also arranged for hair and make-up for me with Ashley Buescher at The Salon Method in Petaluma.  This was quite wonderful since I can never manipulate a round brush on my own and it is always nice to have a professional do my make-up.

Our photo shoot was on Sara’s in-laws property, a lovely little spot not far from Petaluma.  My poses are not perfect – but that is part of the point.  I’m not perfect yet but I still practice and work oMillie_Yoga_MG_1076n moving into the pose a bit deeper or in better alignment, even when standing on a yoga mat that has a hole in the ground under it.  I am practicing from where I am right now.

I am a great fan of the work of the Yoga and Body Image Coalition. Their mission reads:

We promote optimal well-being and healthy body relationships through a consistent yoga practice, including physical asana, meditation, and beyond. We are committed to creating safe spaces for bodies of all types, devoid of body shaming, while offering a comprehensive body image education for yoga teachers, community and media outlets.

I believe this is what we need to promote with yoga or any athletic practice.  Positive body Millie_Yoga_MG_0930 (1)image is difficult in a world of perfectly air-brushed model’s images.  I hope that my photos will help someone realize that your body does not have to be perfect to begin or to pursue a yoga practice or an exercise practice of your choice.  I continue to swim, lift weights and ride my bike.  I hope that I might get back to running some as well.   I will be sharing more along the way, thoughts and photos.

Don’t be afraid to go to your mat, whatever that may be for you, and practice what you love and what restores your body and soul.

 

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New seasons: Being present

As spring officially began, I was standing at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.  I realized that this was the third season that I have stood on the beach at Goat Rock.  My friend Douglas introduced me to Goat Rock last summer and I have returned each time I have been to Northern California since that first visit. It has become one of my favorite places.  Each season provides a different perspective and so does the place I stop or where I stand.  Much like life,  I notice something new each time I go to the beach.  Time of day, season, the angle I view the ocean or the rocks all change what  I notice and what I take away.

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Spring March 20, 2015

March 18, 2015

March 18, 2015

December 2014

December 2014

November 2014

November 2014

July 2014

July 2014

What remains constant is the ocean.  The sound of the waves remind me of what I love and where I am most at home.  I have been working on being present, enjoying each moment and each day.  It’s a work in progress as I try to let go of being anxious, especially when I can’t control what will happen.   I have one more day on the California coast before I have to return to Alabama.  My goal for tomorrow will be soaking up the day, observing what is around me, and enoying the moments before I have to drive to the airport and get on a plane.

 

 

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Choosing what is difficult: Reflections on yoga teacher training

“You’re stronger than you think you are.”  As Melissa guided us through our practice over the weekend, she repeated this phrase several times.  There were a number of poses that were difficult over the weekend.  I modified several as needed and gave up on a few. I’m not at the point of doing Crow or anything close to a headstand.   I am still working towards backbends and a full wheel.  In time.

11059508_10152870453763138_8941826037827671524_nMy readings today challenged my thoughts about what is difficult, however, and what I can and cannot do.  Judith Hanson Lasater’s A Year of Living Your Yoga challenged me to  choose a pose that I find impossible, get on my mat, do it anyway – no whining.  I chose Warrior 3, which I only held a few seconds but I did it.  Truthfully, I was rather shocked.  In the class I attended this evening,  I did several poses that have been difficult for me and held a number the full time or close to the full time the teacher asked us to.  I am becoming stronger in standing poses but other poses were not ones I had practiced for a while.

My reading in Rolf Gates’ book today discusses humility and the balance that we keep between playing small and not playing small.  It is a choice  While I can come up with every excuse under the sun about why I can’t do certain poses, and some are valid, I also play small and sell myself short sometimes by not trying because I am afraid I will fail.  We need fear, but we also need to try and push out of our comfort zones. “Our postures become the embodiment of this exquisite balance between holding on and letting go, action and nonaction, ambition and restraint” (Gates, 33).  I won’t do a pose that I am not ready for and might injure myself, but I need to push myself bit by bit into poses that I am working on and that I find difficult.

20150317_184040There are other aspects of teacher training that are difficult.  Working through the philosophy and teachings of yoga, working with my body, being in a room full of amazing women with stories about their own challenges all bring things up.  I was surprised over the weekend that memories of my mom were so strong after someone mentioned talking to her mother.  My mother died in 1983 and while I think about her, the strong memories that could bring me to tears in the first few years are mainly gone.   But there they were again.  I finally realized that the memory involved a number of things – she died 32 years ago last week and her funeral was on March 15.  I am once again doing something that she never would have imagined I would do.  I’ve done that a lot in my adult life, largely lived without my mother.  I’ve gone out and done the things I was afraid to do and have tried not to put things off until it was too late.

I will continue to choose difficult things that challenge me, physically, mentally and emotionally.  Some will be more difficult than others and some will take me by surprise. Some things will just come without a choice but I know that I am strong enough to meet the challenges. It’s all good.

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Chakras in the Modern World

I have been meaning to post about this e-book all week.  I was contacted almost two weeks ago asking if I might post about this e-book on my site: Chakras in the Modern World: A Guide to Open and Balance Each Energy Center.

chakra-embed-1024x810The e-book appears on the website Health Perch, an online health magazine. The visuals for the e-book were produced by Ghergich & Co.  and the book is authored by Lauren Saraswati Zavlunov, Stacy Michelle Slawitsk and Ruth Lera.

This e-book provides an overview of each chakra, including the color, symbol and mantra associated with it as well as the location and meaning.  Graphics show the reader examples of yoga poses that align with the chakra.  Finally, there is a list of  essential oils and healing foods that support the chakra. This is a useful resource for anyone looking for an overview of chakras.

Health Perch contains other useful information as well about several areas of health.

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Beginnings: The journey to a 200 hr RYT

This weekend we begin.  Eighteen beautiful souls gathered with our teacher, Melissa Scott,  to begin the journey to our 200 hour RYT.  It’s about far more than becoming a registered yoga teacher though and the more will unfold as the months progress.

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This weekend is about grounding, beginning, laying a foundation for the work ahead.  We have started to mesh as a class and started to get to know one another through a series of exercises and sharing our stories.  The time together is sacred and we hold a scared space together as we learn and practice.  The lectures have focused on the history and philosophy of yoga.  I love the connections I am making with my own background and education, not just in yoga practice, but more broadly.  Everything fits together in ways that I could not have imagined I would see.

Melissa’s style of yoga (Core Strength Vinyasa)  is different than what I normally practice.  I have been challenged by the practice and see where I will practice in the coming month and months.  I will have to practice compassion and patience with myself through this practice as I become accustomed to it.

We have another full day tomorrow so I need some sleep.

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A new adventure: Yoga teacher training

This Friday I will begin a nine month yoga teacher training.  I’ve mentioned this already, I think.  I am full of anticipation, excitement, fear, and wondering what I was thinking. I am told this is normal as one embarks upon teacher training.  This is one more thing that I never imagined I would do.  But here I am.

I was drawn back to yoga last fall.  It has been a wonderful journey so far.  Why am I embarking on teacher training?  The time felt right.  I hope to improve my own practice and knowledge about yoga.  I cannot yet say that I will definitely teach but I don’t think that is out of the realm of possibility.  This spring I am also planning on completing intensive workshops in Yin Yoga.  In Yin Yoga poses are held for a longer period of time than in some other styles of yoga.  I am also interested in Yoga Nidra, a restorative style of yoga that is sometimes called yoga sleep.

I’ll update along the journey.

yoga teacher

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