Last weekend I met a friend for lunch and she told me I looked relaxed. The following day, I met with a client who I had not seen for a few weeks, and she commented I seemed refreshed. When I mentioned the conversations to my husband, he asked, "Are you?"
I had to agree that, yes, I am! In addition to being able to get away a few times recently, my summer schedule has reflected the lazy yawn that is August in DC. Clients have been on travel, leaving my early mornings and afternoons deliciously spacious. I have explored new running routes in the pre-dawn hours. I have seen two (!) movies IN THE THEATER. I have baked hand pies with fresh fruit from the farmers market. I have met friends for lunch. And last Saturday, feeling especially indulgent, I took a nap! In short, I have refreshed and renewed my spirit, and now I am ready to get back to work!
I love what I do and the people with whom I work. This year has been an adventure, but it grows more and more fulfilling as the days pass. As summer releases its final sigh, I am ready to transition back into the more defined structure and faster rhythm of fall, but I am glad to be doing so with renewed energy and a fresh perspective.
As we cross the threshold of this Labor Day weekend, can you take one last moment to rest, renew, and refresh? Here's to getting back to work!
When training new teachers, we try to convey the importance of speaking simply. Simultaneously remembering a sequence, describing alignment, providing physical assists, and keeping an eye out for potential injuries before they occur is challenging even when extra words don't get in the way.
I like to think of my own teaching style as light on verbiage. I try to give students just enough guidance to move from pose to pose and allow them the space to explore what happens in their bodies and minds on their own terms. But at the same time I love words - and I am as susceptible as the next person of falling into "teacher speak." Just last week while working with a private client I caught myself saying, "Open your heart to the sky and extend through your fingertips." I thought nothing of it until he stopped, looked up, and said, "What?!"
"Um... Lift your right hand off the ground, turn your chest to face the side wall, and look toward the ceiling?" And just like that, he was in the pose.
I realized that in my attempt to summon a specific image, I ignored the more critical act of explaining what needed to happen. For the rest of the hour, I lost the jargon and provided clear, concise instructions. My student followed the cues and - more importantly - experienced the poses in a way that resonated with him.
How often have we contributed to confusion - or escalated a tense situation - by not speaking clearly and with intention? Next time you need to share something important, can you pause, consider what you want to convey, and speak clearly? How might losing the jargon improve your ability to communicate?
A dear friend shared this quote with me and some fellow bookworms earlier this week with the encouragement to enjoy the remaining days of summer. In line with my recently declared pursuit of laziness, I intend to do just that!
Thanks to the thoughtful suggestions of readers who have recommended additions to the New Beginnings book list, I have a number of new titles to explore and am determined to carve out space on a lazy afternoon to make my way through the pile.
Before you are yanked back to the jam-packed, fast-paced tempo of fall, can you find time to sit quietly with a large cup of tea and a long book (or whatever brings you peace)?
Here's to enjoying summer while we can...
I am thrilled to announce the New Beginnings Blog has been nominated for the Liebster Blog Award by the intrepid cancer-conquering, mountain climbing adventurers behind the McShap Pacific Crest Trail Journal.
For those unfamiliar with Liebster award, it is a recognition shared within the blog community as a way to introduce readers to new writers and subjects. The award is simple: the honoree answers questions posed by the nominating blogger(s), and pays the award forward by highlighting voices they find inspiring, entertaining, or otherwise award worthy. Read on for my answers and nominee for the next round of Liebster awards!
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to escape from the city and spend several days in the mountains with dear friends. The vistas were breathtaking, the massive gourmet kitchen was ideal for four adults who love to cook, and the screened in porch was the perfect place to unwind. It was wonderful and relaxing and refreshing. But it was also messy. Very messy.
Toddlers (plural) are exponentially messier than their number would suggest. While I have mastered (almost) the art of real-time tidying for a single babe in a small home, I was no match for the crumbs and clutter generated by three kiddos under the age of four who managed to find every closet, fireplace, and other innovative repository for food, toys, and dirt. Broken crayons snuck into couch cushions and cupboard corners, stickers adhered to every flat surface in the home, and wooden blocks became a gauntlet to be faced every time we walked through the living room.
And then there was the kitchen. As four cooking enthusiasts with the luxury of time and space, preparations for the next meal or snack commenced almost immediately after finishing the last. Dishes were in constant need of washing, counters were desperate for a good wipe down, and the table begged to be freed from the chubby fingerprints of budding gourmands.
At first I tried to grab every crumb as it fell, wash every dish as it was used, and put away every toy as it was tossed aside, but I quickly recognized the futility of my efforts and decided instead to embrace the mess. I chose to take a vacation from my compulsion for order and organization, and in doing so I found relief. We learned how to circumnavigate the block fortresses, left the dishes for later in the day, and put our feet up. Much to my amazement, we not only survived, we had fun!
I know better than to think the easy rhythm of vacation will survive the routines and demands of real life, but I am emboldened by discovering that it is possible to relax in the absence of complete order. I am committed to sitting down for dinner even if all the pots and pans haven't been washed and dried. I will prioritize connecting with my husband over a glass of wine at the end of a long day rather than rushing around to clear the room of toys. I will embrace (some) mess and enjoy the fleeting moments of ease while I can.
Can you let go of your need for order and control and allow yourself to get messy? What might a little mess add to your life?
Over the past 17 months I have become rather adept at auditing and reorganizing the closet of one impossibly fast growing babe. It seems no sooner have I cycled out the too snug pajamas and pinchy shoes, she has moved up sizes again. The exercise has caused me to cast a more discriminating eye toward my own closet, kitchen drawers, and possessions in general. Living in a small space, I have been intentional about not accumulating too much, but inevitably, shelves fill, and it is again time to declutter and create space.
Last week I attacked the bookshelves. While I appreciate the convenience of e-readers, I much prefer to read real, tangible texts. Whether hardcover or paperback, I like to turn pages, feel the weight of the spine, and mark passages or phrases that stand out. Over the years we have amassed quite a collection - some riveting and influential, some unremarkable - and all retained for some combination of sentimentality and a long-held vision of a future dreamhome with a personally curated library.
While I have not lost all hope of a future in-home library, the reality of urban living and an ever expanding collection of books for the babe provided the impetus to sift through the shelves and determine what books were worth saving and which were ready for a new home. After two grueling hours, I identified FIVE giant shopping bags worth of the latter, and loaded them into the car for delivery.
The process required time and energy, but it was incredibly rewarding. As I considered each book, I recalled when and where I read it - or perhaps who had recommended it - or with what friends I discussed it. And with each book I decided not to keep, I was able to create space for future explorations and the memories they will bring.
Is there an area of your home (or life) you can declutter? Can you let go of something you no longer need to create space for future memories?
I recently met with a gifted new yoga teacher who wanted to talk about how to identify and secure private clients. I gave him the same answer I received when seeking similar guidance from mentors at the beginning of my own journey: make yourself available, and the opportunities will arise.
At the time, the answer was utterly unsatisfying. I wanted a formula to follow. I was looking for a matrix I could fill out and boxes I could check when steps were completed. And in the absence of something more concrete, I began to doubt my hopes and plans.
But in the intervening months, the guidance has proven true. While I am still early in my journey, I have been amazed by what happens when I let go of metrics and expectations and simply walk the path before me with open eyes. Opportunities continue to arise, and almost as soon as one door closes, another opens.
This holds true in the stories shared by the men and women who have been featured in the Trailblazers interview series. They have reinforced the idea that you can never be 100 percent certain about ANYTHING, and at some point you simply must decide whether or not you are willing to step out in faith and pursue your dream.
Is there a dream you have put on hold because of uncertainty? What destination could you reach if you took a leap of faith today?
Living in the city and raising a budding chatterbox make silence a rather rare experience these days. The babe's constant babbles; the horns, sirens, and screeches of nearly nonstop traffic; and the background buzz of a coffee shop work environment provide a consistent hum that is the soundtrack of my life. To be honest, I make decisions every day that contribute to the noise. Almost as soon as I enter the house, I turn on NPR; when I teach yoga, I employ a carefully crafted playlist; in the car, I sing with my daughter.
While retreating with friends last week, however, I had a rare opportunity to enjoy the sounds of silence. Tucked away in a mountain escape, we were far removed from radios, television, and traffic. The kiddos were as rambunctious as they wanted to be, but when they rested, we took advantage of the opportunity to enjoy the serene environment. Sitting on the screened in porch in the afternoon or relaxing in front of the fire at night, we listened to the wind in the trees, the rain on the roof, and the rustling of wildlife all around. We did our fair share of talking: reminiscing and planning, but we also sat quietly, simply enjoying one another's presence without the need for words.
While escaping to the mountains may not be part of your summer plans, and city living isn't exactly conducive to silence, I recommend setting aside even a few minutes this week to enjoy a quiet moment. Leave your earbuds at home while walking to work, turn the television off at night, and listen for the little things we so often miss: the ticking of a clock, the sleepy sigh of a loved one, drops of rain on the window. Welcome the sounds of silence into your life.
The theme at our yoga studio this month is peace, which seems perfectly appropriate for summer in our nation's capital, where all activity seemingly grinds to a halt for a few blissful weeks. While I always appreciate the stillness and slower pace of August, I am also reminded that our ability to experience peace shouldn't be limited to brief windows of circumstantial calm.
No matter who you are, life is messy. It is a loud and often rough reality, which has a nasty habit of unfolding quite differently from our best laid plans. But we have a choice in how we let the mess affect us. We can allow ourselves to be ruffled by the the chaos, or we can choose to find peace within.
Next time you find yourself stuck behind a motorcade, trapped in an uncomfortable workplace drama, or navigating a crowded grocery store with an unruly toddler in tow, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and channel the inner calm of your most blissful August afternoon. By doing so, you may begin to experience peace in the midst of your most hectic moment, and radiate that serenity to those around you. Go on - give it a try...
I have spoken of the benefits of flying solo and unplugging, but there is another form of escape I have found immensely transformative: retreating with friends. Based on the nature of this blog, you might expect me to make a pitch for a yoga retreat, and while I would highly recommend such an experience, the retreat I am dreaming of is a simple escape - without an agenda, without expectations, and with dear friends.
As an introvert, I love the idea of withdrawing from the world and spending time alone with a few books, a claw footed bathtub, and space to breathe, but there is something immensely restorative about setting out for a destination where all such things are possible - with the added benefit of sharing the experience with those who know and love you best.
Last year, the babe, the sposo, and I joined dear family friends for our first joint family vacation. We rented a home in the mountains just a few hours away, and enjoyed three nights and four days of cooking, laughing, exploring, and relaxing. To be honest, at the outset I wasn't sure how it would work. There were the logistical challenges of traveling with a five month old; the complications of coordinating packing lists, groceries, and cooking responsibilities; not to mention the fear of being separated by a routine from which I derive immense comfort, but away from the minute-to-minute demands of daily life, I was able to let go and simply enjoy the lazy afternoons, beautiful scenery, and late night conversations by the fire, made all the more rich by my fellow travelers.
This year, we decided to return to our previous destination for an even longer stretch, and we leave this week! Surrounded by beautiful vistas and safe from deadlines and the "must-dos" of life at home, I am looking forward to slowing down, focusing on connection, and being present for whatever arises, and I encourage you to find time to do the same.
You don't need to carve out a week to travel away from home; simply find the space to step out of your routine with someone you love and without an agenda. Take a day trip somewhere in your city you don't normally visit. Spend an afternoon at a museum. Schedule a movie and coffee date. Sit in the backyard with a glass of wine.
Take a break...and take someone with you.