Creating my happy life on the other side of fear.

Monday, 31 August 2015

184 days

Tomorrow is my 6-month yogiversary. On March 1, 2015 I re-committed myself to a regular practice, and have been on my mat on average five-six days a week. That's about 143 workouts! Totally crazy.

Here is the thing: You all know how much I love it. The good days are beyond amazing, and it's incredible to achieve something I haven't been able to do before. But what I'm learning is that it's not about the good days. It's about showing up when you don't feel like it, when yesterday's practice sucked, when you are discouraged because you want to be further along in your journey. It's about learning to accept and honour your body's pace. I have had many conversations with my hips: "Come on, open up for me, you can do it!" Or with my core: "Be stronger! Be stronger now!" Or with my body as a whole when falling over from handstand for the thousandth time: "Balance, damn it!" (I'm not very zen when I work out sometimes.)
I wish I was kidding, but I'm not.

I want to push my body into the poses I want to do with the sheer power of my will.  Mind over matter, right? If you want it enough, it will happen!
Wrong. Or, to be more accurate: Not so fast. You cannot force your body to do something it's not ready for. If you do, it will result in an injury. In due course, it will happen - but it takes time.

What yoga is teaching me above all is patience. Which is a hard lesson to learn, but one that makes life so much easier! Just imagine: Being stuck in traffic, and not getting antsy. Having to listen to a long-winded older relative tell you the same story for the 100th time, and not rolling your eyes behind their back. Wanting to achieve something, and being willing to put in the long, tedious hours of work.
Patience is a nifty quality to have. 

Like every month, I want to share a few tidbits from my practice. To start, here are a few new poses I have learnt:

Spiderman pose - so much fun!
Floating camel pose
Funky flying lizard pose
Standing backbend - backbends are hard.

Then there is the old favourite: Crow pose. Nina is telling me a story while I fly.

Crow pose, always
Here are some progress shots - some more subtle than others: 

Trying to get my crotch to the ground, one millimeter at a time.
Side plank with lifted leg, aka Starfish plank
Fallen angel pose
Low lunge with backbend - one day I want to be able to grab my ankles. #goals

I also still work on my handstand game, which is testing my patience like nothing else does. I want to balance so badly, and it's taking sooooo long. My dream is to press up like Kino one day:


This is where I'm at:


Yeah, not quite the same haha!

Here is the flying pigeon I have been working on:

Hopefully, it will soon look like this (skip to 1:50 min if you don't want to see the prep):




Here's to the next 184 days of yoga! Thanks for letting me share my passion with you guys.

 



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Thursday, 27 August 2015

Outfit posts are back!

Guys, I took an unintentional three-month break from outfit blogging. Don't ask me why, because I don't really have an answer. No inspiration? A break from cute outfits due to the summer heat? A bit of both. Also, I put myself on a spending freeze for buying clothes over the summer, and didn't want to tempt myself by thinking too much about clothes. Actually, this made more sense before I wrote it down, but that's how my brain works.
  
Anyway, the break is over, because I missed it! It sort of felt like a beloved toy was missing - I distracted myself by playing with other toys for a while, but couldn't get the missing one out of my mind. Well, I found it again, yay!
Also, fall is just around the corner, my favourite season to dress for! It always sweetens the departure of summer for me.  


Let's talk about this dress, shall we? I bought at it at the beginning of summer (during a brief interruption of the spending freeze) for $15.00, one of the best purchases I have made this year. It is super comfortable, due to being 95% polyester and 5% elastane (cheap, I know, but it feels good on the skin, nice and soft), is form-fitting enough to have shot up into the top 3 of my husband's fave dresses on me, and it has stripes.  

If there has been one clothing-theme for this summer, it has been stripes. I have always been partial to them, but this year is extreme: Out of the three dresses I bought over the last little while (my spending freeze didn't go that well), 100% are sporting stripes.  

Which is a good thing, because stripes are a pattern, and pattern is the only pizzazz I'm adding to my outfits these days. (Can you call it "adding something" when it's already there? Probably not. So I'm not adding anything, just putting on clothes.) I have been on a real minimalist trip lately: Almost no jewelry whatsoever, besides my wedding ring (every day), simple necklace sometimes (a gift from my hubby), and mantrabands when I'm going out.  
No earrings! No extra bling! For whatever reason, I'm not into jewelry these days. Again, don't ask me why, I have no clue. Who understands a woman's fickle moods? Not me.  


Dress: Sirens; purse: Old Navy; sandals: Old Navy (old; similar); chambray shirt: Old Navy

Have an excellent weekend you guys! For once I'm off on the weekend, which makes me say wholeheartedly: TGIF!

Linking up with Fashion Should Be Fun and Passion for Fashion



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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Magic Hour

I don't want to forget how this summer feels: Full of golden light, wet kisses, love and subtle transformation. Finding peace, meaning and purpose. Experiencing gratitude and a sense of coming home. Letting things go. Making memories to treasure forever. Becoming someone I really like. 
This summer is magical.  






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Sunday, 23 August 2015

A couple walks into a dance temple

"Have you ever been to a dance temple?" he asked. We shook our heads in unison. "Would you like to go?"
Would we ever. 
So began a night I will never forget in my life. 

Before we get to it, let me paint you a picture: Successful, single, prosperous engineer in his forties wakes up one day and asks himself if this is it: Career, great house, travel, lots of friends, active dating life. Life is - well, what is it? He should be happy and fulfilled, but he isn't. Something is missing. So he embarks on a journey to find out what that is. 
Twenty years, a complete lifestyle change and many new experiences later, he lives on a small island in a little wood cabin. He drives an old, rusty car, has few belongings, and spends his days participating in a variety of workshops, volunteering in the community, and going to the dance temple on Thursdays. 

Last Thursday we went with him.

We arrived at a modest wood building in the middle of nowhere, nestled into a forest with a small meadow in front of it where kids where running around like little wood fairies. They were barefoot, with long braided hair, wearing bell-bottoms and pretty, flowy tops. We passed a couple of outhouses (there were no other washrooms) before we stepped inside. We were greeted by a sea of shoes on the floor, and our friend indicated for us to take ours off as well - the dancing was to be conducted barefoot. In front of us was a table with a basket overflowing with 10- and 20-dollar bills, and we paid our entry fee of $10. The friendly girl (her name was Naomi) who collected the money had a banner of Tibetan prayer flags draped around her shoulders, and indicated to the woman in front of me to step forward.  

Naomi held a bowl with incense in one hand, lit it and started to wave the smoke all over the woman with an eagle feather. 
source
I must have looked bewildered, because our friend leaned in and whispered in my ear: "She is being smudged. Have you ever been smudged before?" "Can't say I have" I whispered back. "What is it?"
Before he could respond, it was my turn. I hesitantly took my place in front of the smiling Naomi. 
"Welcome", she said in a musical voice, "is this your first time?" I nodded. "I will purify you" she explained, waving the smoke into my direction. "Now is a good time to think of all the things you want to let go off. Stress, unpleasantness, anything that happened today that you didn't like - let it all go. Turn around." She proceeded to tap me lightly with the feather on the head, moving down my body. 
"You are done. Enjoy!"

Smelling thoroughly of incense now, I moved on into the dance room. And stopped and stared. 
There were about 60 people present, and they were writhing. There is no other word for it. One girl was lying on the floor, short dress hiked up above her panties, waving her arms in the air and moving her body rhythmically back and forth. Other girls were stomping their feet wildly, arms up in the air, hair flying. Several of the guys had their shirts off, sweat glistening on their muscular backs. The music was surprisingly modern, an electronic pop-mix that was fast-paced and quite catchy. I stood with my back towards the wall, taking it all in, waiting for Rich and our friend to join me. "What do you think?" he asked gleefully. Without waiting for an answer, he took me by the arm and pulled me farther in. "Now, we dance!" he announced, and started to boogie.  
Rich and I exchanged a look. A half-naked bearded man with long hair, several pouches slung around his neck and baggy jeans hiked halfway up his impressivly large stomach, noticed our hesitation and approached us, burning stick in hand. He started to wave the stick in front of us, smiling manically and blowing the smoke in our faces. Another smudging? I felt purified enough, so I slowly backed away.

And then I started to dance.

The atmosphere was infectious: People lost in the music, eyes closed, whirling around the room, without any inhibitions. There was a small stage at one end, which seemed to be a make-shift yoga space: One girl was practicing handstand, another was stretching on the wall; a guy tried out some breakdance moves. There were also several little kids there, running around between the dancers and on the yoga stage.

In another corner was a small table piled with Tarot cards, crystals, incense, some books and candles. And above it all, the music kept on playing, and people kept on dancing, faster and faster. By now there were about 80 of us in there, and the room was packed. The smell became decidedly earthy; more clothes were shed. What the...? I didn't trust my eyes for a moment - were those bare breasts bouncing along in tact with the music? Sure enough, the first woman had lost her top and jumped happily around like a little elf, short hair sticking up, breasts freed from their usual confinement, wild and free. Before long, another one joined her, and then another. Soon there were five or six women dancing topless, completely unselfconscious. They were in the company of most of the men being shirtless, just wearing lose-fitting pants or shorts.

The light was dim, the air was hot and ripe, the whole tableau in front of me utterly mesmerizing and bizarre.
Suddenly, as if in response to an unheard signal, the dancers started to make sounds: Unintelligible, swelling in volume, getting louder and louder. Starting out as a clashing mishmash of chaotic noise, their voices united to turn into a harmonious melody of surprising clarity and beauty.

Towards the end Rich and I stepped outside for a while to get some fresh air and catch our breath. Through the open door we watched the crowd slowly calm down, guided by a girl leading a short meditation. The evening ended in a group hug, all 80 sweaty and smelly bodies smooshed together, minus two disinclined mainlanders.

It was an experience unlike anything I have ever been a part of. Strange yet liberating, I felt like I time-travelled to the 70s for a night. The world we live in is full of delightful surprises.

Have you ever been smudged before or danced topless? ;-)


  
      



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Saturday, 22 August 2015

Salt Spring Island Snapshots


Guys, I have so much to tell you. Rich and I came home last night from a quick trip to Salt Spring Island where we visited a friend. We stayed for only 26 hours, but boy oh boy, were those hours intense! As I said on Instagram: The time on the island was a patchouli-scented, soul-baring whirlwind of dancing with bare-breasted women, getting smudged, drinking green juices and talking about energies, sex and the matrix. This tale deserves to be told properly, which I will do as soon as I have gathered my thoughts. Update: Read about it >> here.
For now, just a few pics from beautiful Salt Spring Island!







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Thursday, 20 August 2015

Be secure in yourself and nobody can use it against you


I used to be hyper-aware of my faults. From everything that I perceived was wrong with my body to my character flaws, they haunted me. I hungrily devoured every magazine article with the word "make-over" in it, eager to learn how to become a better version of myself. On the outside, I tried to improve my perceived imperfections by hiding my round bum in baggy tops, plucked my thick eyebrows almost into oblivion, and dyed my mousy hair a more vibrant colour. I exercised with grim determination, hating every minute of it, but punishing myself for being too flabby, for eating too much yesterday, for not being slimmer and daintier.   

Hiding my character flaws was more difficult. In my mind, lots of things were wrong with me: I was too sarcastic. Too sharp-tongued. Too moody. Difficult. I complained too much when I had to do something I didn't want to.  I was impatient. 
All these were the labels that someone had given me at some point, usually a family member. Did I question them? No. I believed them, and felt like I must be a pretty horrible person. On the inside, I loathed myself; but on the outside, I was defensive. As soon as I felt like someone was criticizing me, I lashed out at them. It never occurred to me that 
a) these descriptions might be wrong, or
b) if they were right, that it was okay

I believed I had to better myself. So I kept trying to change my character. And I kept failing at it. The other alternative was to hide my true self in an effort to be more likeable. It worked better with friends than with family, because they didn't know me as well. But I was constantly afraid that they would discover my  flaws sooner or later, and would be horrified at what they saw, dropping me in an instant. 

What an existence. When you believe that nobody will like you when they find out who you really are, you are always afraid. Fear and self-loathing were never far away.
But being worried about what others are thinking of you isn't the worst of it - the worst is when you don't like yourself.  

I had an image in mind of how I should be: Always in control, slow to anger, patient, to never say something I might regret later, willingly doing as I was told, with a flawless complexion and a boyishly small butt. Basically, the opposite of what I was.

It took me years to learn to love myself. It seemed wrong somehow, almost frivolous - to have a high opinion of oneself was frowned upon when I grew up. Being modest was the ideal to strive towards, and there didn't seem to be a distinction between being boastful and self-assured. I was a hot mess of conflicting emotions, portraying a confidence I didn't feel, appearing full of myself when I was  in actuality feeling tiny and insecure.

But here is the good news: I did learn to love myself. And so can you! Here are the three steps that helped me transition from "I'm not that into you" to "You and I 4ever".
Let's call it the ABCs of self-love, okay? Okay.

The most important lesson is simple, like all great lessons are:

Acceptance.

Accept yourself for the way you were made. We all get different talents and gifts when we are born, and have to learn how to use them. Be grateful for them! Don't listen to the criticism of others - get to know yourself and accept everything that makes you, you. 

Look at the things you don't like about yourself in a new light, from a different perspective. Nothing is only good or bad, everything has two sides. Imagine how you would comfort a good friend bemoaning something they don't like about themselves. We always see the positive in the people we love - do the same for yourself!

Belief. 

Believe not only the negative comments, but also the positive ones. You know how we tend to focus on the one criticism amongst a multitude of praise? It's crazy, but we do. Break that cycle by stopping to feed into the negative self-talk. We all have believes about ourselves that are often not true. You may have been laughed at as a kid during PE for the way you run, and accepted that as the truth. Even years later you have never attempted to go for a run, because you have the conviction that you can't.
Question the limitations you set for yourself, and see if they are real - you may find that they aren't.

When I was in high school, I hated math with a passion. I believed I couldn't do it, so guess what? I couldn't do it.
Ten years later I decided I wanted to go to x-ray school, and in order to get in I needed to not only re-do Math 12, but also pass it with a B. I decided to start fresh, ignore my past, and see what the fuss with math was all about. While I will never love it (absolutely never, ever), I was surprised that I could actually wrap my mind around it if I had to. Huh, who would have thought? I did get my B, and in the process gained some self-respect for my brain - apparently I was more capable than I had given myself credit for.

Change the story.     

That negative voice in your head that has been keeping you small all these years? You can shut her up! And it's about time, too. I am very well acquainted with that voice, we go way back.

If you ask a child what they are really good at, they can tell you without hesitation. Without false modesty or self-deprecation, they will enthusiastically launch into how fast they can run, or how good they can ride, or easy math is for them.
Somewhere along the rocky path of growing up, we lose this confidence. But we can get it back! We already have it in us to be proud of our accomplishments, and why shouldn't we? There is nothing wrong with that.

The negative self-talk that is on an endless loop in many of our heads doesn't work. Has it improved our behaviour, or weight, or whatever else it is we are not happy with? Absolutely not. It is damaging to the soul, it makes us feel awful about ourselves, and it causes us to talk bad not only about ourselves, but about others as well. How about we try a different approach: Be kind to ourselves. Treat ourselves with love and respect. Give it a try, and see what happens!

Instead of berating myself for all the things I should have done or could have done, I have this little mantra that I repeat whenever necessary: I did the best I could. 
It helps me to accept the past, which I can't change, and to be at peace in the present. It also motivates me to do the best I can right now for the future.

Those six words have helped me more than you can imagine. They not only helped me be much kinder towards myself, but also towards other people.

Try it: Next time when you want to grumble yet again about something your parents did to you when you were younger, stop and consider this: They surely made mistakes, because we all do. But they did the best they could.
Accepting that as the truth will give you peace, understanding, and compassion.

There is a quote by Tina Lifford that I love:

"When you know yourself, you are empowered. When you accept yourself, you are invincible."    
Let's all work on becoming invincible! We can do it.







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Sunday, 16 August 2015

Grey: yay or nay?

There are two types of people in the world: The ones that are really good at keeping up with their beauty routine, and the ones that are not. My roots are about a foot long and I just got scolded by my hair dresser for not having had my split ends trimmed in six months - guess which side I'm on.
Last year I once again jumped on the hair-dye wagon. It's always the same: In the beginning I'm determined to stay on track. I swear to myself that this time, I will get my roots touched up every six weeks! I always show up for the first follow-up appointment, high-fiving myself for sticking to a hair dye regime. But as soon as they tell me how much it costs, I'm over it.
The money, time and effort that's required to keep up with dyed hair is just too much for me. I much rather spend my money on clothes or new dogs. (We all have our hobbies.)

So, I am currently growing my colour out. Thanks to the current trends of having multiple colours in your hair I don't actually have roots, but ombre, and can pretend that I'm not lazy, but fashion-forward. Love it!

But it begs the question: What to do about grey hair? I have a few greys that I am very aware of, even though kind people have assured me that they are invisible. People are liars! (Thanks so much for lying to me, despite my knowing exactly where the greys are and how many of them there are on my head - 17 at the moment.)

Like with all pressing questions, I asked the Internet for help, in particular Pinterest.
It did not disappoint.  

Let me introduce you to Annika von Holdt.
Annika von Holdt (source)

She is a writer, blogger, model, photographer, and all around fabulous. She is also proudly grey! Read her grey confession, it's awesome. If you want to see amazing pictures from the Caribbean (where she lives part-time), pretty interior design photos and adorable cats, check out her Instagram.
Annika von Holdt's Instagram

The second gorgeous silver-haired beauty I found online is Sarah Harris, the Fashion features Director of British Vogue.
Sarah Harris (source)

I'm totally crushing on her hair, it's such a pretty shade of silver! There are countless photos to be found of her online, here's another one I like:
source

These two ladies make me want silver hair right now! Oh, the power of Pinterest.
(Pst: My account is right here.) 

I hope I will be confident enough to rock grey hair when my 17 have multiplied to 17,000, but honestly? I'm not sure yet. Time will tell. 

How about you: Are you dying your hair, or will you once the grey takes over? Or are you confident enough to turn grey gracefully? 





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