Tuesday, July 31, 2012


Today's photo theme: Toothbrush

Yes, a toothbrush. I didn't write this list of photo prompts, though I've been faithfully following them for two months and it's been fun.

Next month, I won't be blogging the photos here, but I'll probably post them on Instagram. Give me a shout if you'd like to follow my Instagram feed and I'll add you.

Also: this blog will be going on a one-month hiatus while I carry out a top-secret blogging experiment.

Ask yourself these questions:
-Are we buddies?
-Does the secret code word 'Superfilter' mean anything to you?
-Do you know me in person, or have we followed each other's online shenanigans for a number of years?
-Would I share my sweet potato fries with you?
-Can I vouch for your identity through an established yoga blog or online presence?
-Are you dying to keep in touch with me and/or are willing to persuade me that you're not my secret stalker, posting as an Ashtangi loyalist?

If the answer to any of these questions is 'yes', please drop me a line. I'll hook you up.

As usual, I'm up to no good ;-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 30, 2012


...before the storm.

I shot this photo at 1:30 in the afternoon. For hours afterward, it rained, poured, thundered and flashed lightning. Princess Fur hid under the bed. I just watched in awe...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Last Thing I Bought

Today's photo theme: 'Last Thing I Bought'

The good news: I'm not buying those chocolate-covered almonds anymore.

The bad news? Well...lol...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 28, 2012


Photo theme: Cup

From the archives: A cup of herbal tea in classic Queen's Ware - this is a replica of eighteenth century Queen's Ware from George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate (I'm flying my 'archaeology geek' flag today).

I spent at least an hour composing a long diatribe about Astanga and aging and meditation. Then all the wind went out of my sails.

Looks like you guys will need to wait till I finish the Maehle book for an official review. Also, it appears that he's now writing a book on meditation.

My response to this news, in short: 'Yes, please!'

Check out this superawesome post on Maehle's FB page. I can't figure out a way to link to it, so I'm reposting here in its entirety:

I completed the 2nd draft of my new meditation book, called Yoga Meditation.

I will now start to here post content.

I got requests from a few students to write about how body and practice changes as one gets older as people seem to struggle to keep up practice. Important here is to realize that asana practice was designed to support practice of meditation and pranayama. As you get older you need to shift emphasis from asana practice to the higher limbs. Try to limit your asana practice to 90 minutes and spend the rest on higher yogic practices.

Physical problems often result from students not graduating on to the higher limbs. It’s the higher limbs that will give you the realization that you are not the body but the consciousness, the self. Once that has been attained the ambition to flog the body in asana practice, will disappear and with it many of the physical problems.
(passage from Yoga Meditation): If asana is understood on a deep level then we will, once in the posture, produce the counteraction that propelled us into the posture. When done on all levels of live this method leads to mastery, that it going with the flow, being in the zone or being in the Tao. Rather than manifesting an enormous force that breaks through the barriers of the world and must in the end produce our own un-doing we move through life without force but using existing forces. This way no counterforce is ever necessary to manifest against us.
This principle is beautifully expressed in Chuang Tzu’s “The Dexterous Butcher”. The story is a bit unsavoury for vegetarians but the message is deep nevertheless. Here, Lord Wen-hui watches and questions his cook who for 19 years uses the same blade to carve up thousands of oxen without sharpening it. The cook explains that rather than hacking through the oxen, he first pays respect in his heart, meets the oxen with his whole consciousness and he cares for the Way. He then moves with great subtlety, finds the right spot, almost effortlessly leans against the oxen and suddenly it is as if the whole oxen falls apart by itself. (end of quote)

Your body is that oxen. Rather than hacking through it with much energy and effort, first pay respect for it in your heart. It is not an animal that you need to conquer and beat into submission. Meet your body with your whole consciousness and treat it as an expression of the Divine creative force (prana). Do not think that you only want to get that backbend, that leg-behind-head or which ever posture it is. Understand that your body is the crystallized history of your past thoughts, emotions and actions. Its not just meat, but more than you think it is.

Move with great subtlety and find the right spots where you are holding on. Because it is you that is holding on, not somebody else. And now comes the secret: After with having identified with great subtlety the right spot, lean against it almost effortless and without ambition, just by shifting your body weight within your body. The result will be that your body will open almost effortless.

Important though is that you do not practice for the results, for the outcome. Do not practice goal-oriented as that will lead to more and more injury. As Lord Krishna says in the Gita, surrender the outcomes of your actions.
I found that it takes many years and decades to open to inner intelligence and intelligence of the body. Good news is that intelligence grows as one gets older. Years ago scientists thought that we get dumber as we get older but this has now been proven wrong. There is something called the neuroplasticity of the brain. It means that as long as you keep learning, your brain will become more and more powerful.

As I am getting older, I found that I am using less and less energy and time to achieve in my practice more and more. Recently I read a sign in a café’ saying, ‘Drink coffee. Do more stupid things, faster and with more energy.’ A was amazed that the sign expressed reciprocally what happened in my practice (without coffee). Using much less energy, I do less things in a smarter way but the outcome is much more profound. But like Lord Wen-hui’s butcher I first had to learn to listen to my body.

The good news is that yoga gets better as it goes on. I found the first 10 years tough. The second decade sort of happened by auto-pilot, meaning it required no additional effort. But only in the third decade the harvest began. Keep hanging in there. It will get better and better.

I had a fantastic time teaching in Manila. Heartfelt thanks to the people of the Philippines, who welcomed me so openly. I found them to be some of the friendliest people that I ever visited. I very much look forward to returning to Manila in the future.

I will stay in Perth for the next almost three months until we got to Bali to teach our 200-hour teacher training. Here we will present the essence of our 35 years of research and practice. If you are interested please request our prospectus at http://www.8limbs.com/teacher-training

If you are currently reading or have read my Pranayama book and found it helpful please do not hesitate to give it a review at your favourite online retailer. I put an enormous amount of work into my books and your reviews help to circulate the books and keep me going.

Hari OM

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 27, 2012

On the Road

Today's photo theme: On the Road

From the archives: A fragment of poetry written by bpNichol on the lane named in his honour (behind Coach House Books)

Because of the varied schedule at Shala South, I don't follow a 'traditional' weekly schedule anymore. Thursdays have become my 'day off' instead of the traditional Saturdays (and when I say 'day off' I mean 'a day for a led class'). Fridays are my Sundays. And Tuesdays are usually my Fridays (that's when I practice Primary Series).

I mixed things up a bit more this week, doing my regular practice on Tuesday and taking Primary Series at home on Wednesday morning.

It's been months since I did any home practice and I found it surreal. Oddly, after I finished (early in the morning), I kept forgetting I had practised and I went around all day thinking that I needed to get on the mat!

On Thursdays in the summer, I usually go to a led class in the east end of the city with one of my first teachers. It's an easy vinyasa class and I love the slower pace. It gets me back in touch with why I fell in love yoga in the first place. All of the hard work I do during the week seems to find a fruition in the practice of these basic postures; grace and mindfulness and joy.

Last night, I arrived at the studio early and unrolled my mat, grabbed a couple of blocks with a supine backbend in mind. But there was a glimmer of chaos in the air and I noticed a couple of the other students were eyeing me with mild curiosity. "She's in here!" someone called out, and I realised they meant me.

My teacher had an emergency and wasn't coming. The staff at the front desk asked if I could fill in and teach the class. The odd thing is (and I don't know how I knew this), I had a *feeling* I might be teaching that class! I even wore my 'teaching clothes' instead of the groddy clothes I usually wear to Mysore practice and I put on some jewelry and lipstick before I walked out the door.

So, yay for intuition! ;-)

As I pulled my mat to the front of the room, I tried to initiate that mental shift from 'student' to 'teacher'. And you know what? It's hard! It took me a few minutes to find my voice and to get a good grip on the thread of a sequence that would allow me to begin.

But once I got going, I had a lot of fun. In fact, it's the best class I taught all week - mainly because it was unexpected and funny and vaguely serendipitous. My sequencing was choppy because I was winging it, but sometimes flying by the seat of your pants is fun! :-) I nearly skipped a posture on one side. Then I had a few extra minutes so I added a fun arm balance.

The studio has bolsters (most of the places I teach don't), so I walked around during Savasana, offering bolsters around like a flight attendant handing out cocktails and blankets in the first class cabin (do they still do that, I wonder?).

Afterward, I rode home and did three sun salutations and though *that* was officially my practice, it was really so much more.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 26, 2012


Today's photo theme: Sunshine

From the archives: Princess Fur enjoys a sunbeam.

She's doing really well, fully recovered from her ordeal and back to her happy routine of napping, eating and tolerating my undivided attention when she isn't outright demanding it.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


Have you ever had a gut feeling that was so strong, so overhwhelming that it forced you to topple all your plans, to rethink a decision, to seek out a new solution?

A few months ago, my web-friend Summer was co-ordinating her family's move out of the big city and she found a great house to rent. But the minute she said 'Yes', she was struck with a feeling that this was the *wrong* house. Even though everything about the house was absolutely perfect, her gut was telling her 'NO!'.

She listened. She and her partner sought out another house.

A few days ago, while planning my travels, I contacted Princess Fur's longtime dogsitter - it didn't occur to me to consider any other option. She lives outside the city in a beautiful rural area on a farm that's been converted into a doggie-wonderland - the dogs have their own house, with boarders divided into 'rooms' based on breed/size/age. C is a bit of a 'doggie guru' and has been caring for Fur during my travels for more than 9 years. She's amazing and my dog adores her.

But as soon as I made that reservation, this horrible feeling started growing in my gut. It wasn't a whisper, it wasn't even speaking to me in a normal tone of voice. It was *screaming*.

It was screaming: "NOOOOO!"

This has never happened to me with such an intensity - it was absolutely surreal. I'm generally a calm, measured person, but I spent a day-and-a-bit literally in the throes of a borderline anxiety attack. Every time I thought about that dog care booking, I started hyperventilating, my chest felt tight, my gut began talking to me.

So I started exploring other options. The next morning, I was walking through the park, thinking about my dog and panicking about leaving her when I coincidentally ran into our old dog walker. We see G regularly, as she lives in the neighbourhood. I had a sudden epiphany.

"Do you ever board dogs?" I asked her. "Could you board Princess Fur?"

She boards selectively. We discussed it and the next day we ironed out some details. It's now confirmed: Princess Fur is going to go stay with G, with walks around her own familiar neighbourhood, easy access to her vet if there's an emergency, and she'll be cared for by someone who has known her since puppyhood.

It's the perfect solution. I still don't know what my gut was trying to tell me, but as soon as I made this decision, I was flooded with a sense of profound inner peace.

I'm beyond certain that I made the right decision. I'm kind of in awe of 'my gut' right now.

Today's photo theme: 'Heart'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Stranger

During practice yesterday, my main teacher wandered over during one of my poses and made a number of suggestions. Then he offered some specific guidance about the sequencing for a few preparation poses I've been doing. He also suggested some other preps for me to try.

He's been very hands-off lately, so I wasn't sure what brought on this flood of feedback. While assisting me in another pose, he mentioned all of this again - this time offering encouragement, reassuring me that I would see some changes in my practice if I continued the work. Basically, it was a little 'pep talk'.

I finally figured it out: he was giving me homework! It was his last day at Mysore for over a month - he'll be away, travelling and teaching abroad until mid-September.

Since I'll also be travelling at the end of the month, I'm considering expiring my Mysore pass and taking home practice for the rest of the summer. I enjoy the flexibility and ease of home practice. No commute, I can follow my own schedule. The more I roll this idea around in my brain, the more I like it!

Today's photo theme: 'A Stranger'

This one is from the archives. It was taken at the Tate Gallery in London, January 2005.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 23, 2012


For a few months now, I've been flirting around with the idea of making some travel plans near summer's end. And I've been procrastinating. I'm one of those people who loves the *reality* of travel, but becomes completely unhinged during the planning process.

Today, I booked the flight and, predictably, I totally lost my shit. There's really no reason for it. The timing of the flight is absolutely perfect. I've arranged for Princess Fur's care. My assistant will subbing my classes. Everything is in place.

And yet, I’m so very vata this evening, I can’t even sit still and read a book! So I'm chopping vegetables and cleaning the floors, trying to dissipate some of this nervous energy. A part of me very much wants to start packing, but my departure date is a month away.

This freakout will likely continue with ebbs and flows until the day I leave. Then, I'll get up, catch the bus to the airport, find my seat on the plane and be happy-as-a-clam and cool-as-a-cucumber for the duration of the flight, the trip and the return.

Then I'll get home again and freak out because I'm not travelling.

I'm so weird.

Photo theme of the day: 'Mirror'

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Upside Down

This is my favourite 'upside down' photo ever - the child in the photo is one of my long-time students. I started teaching her in Kindergarten, as part of a community aftercare programme I'm part of.

This past spring, she and her classmates moved on to middle school and 'aged out' of the programme. And then her family moved to Ottawa.

I would say that I missed her, but she's pesters me with emails pretty regularly ;-) I don't think this is a generation that will touch with people easily...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 21, 2012

9 o'clock

I'm having the best summer ever! The weather has been absolutely perfect and I have the time to enjoy it. My practice is crawling along - with the occasional leap of progress to keep me interested ;-) I've been connecting with friends, going to the beach, hanging out in the park.

And I've been reading. A lot.

There's a pile of books next to my reading chair - about 9 at the moment. Every day, I sit down and read. To motivate myself, I've set a daily reading goal for each book - much like I used to do in grad school, to get through the massive amounts of reading that were assigned. But these are books I *want* to read.

I know someone out there will ask, so here's the current pile:
-Yoga Sutras by Edwin Bryant (this is the second Sutras I've read this summer)
-What We Say Matters by Judith and Ike Lasater (a NVC book)
- Moola Bandha by Swami Buddhananda
- Hatha Yoga Pradipika (for Christine's book club)
- Wisdom of the Body Moving by Linda Hartley (a Mind-Body Centreing book)
- Pranayama by Gregor Maele
- Yoga Mind Body & Spirit by Donna Farhi
- The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (fiction)
- Comfortable with Uncertainty by Pema Chodron

On my very happiest mornings, I can be found outside on the balcony with a few books, some tea and a small, gray dog.

This photo was taken at 9am:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, July 20, 2012


I'm falling behind on these daily photos. To be honest, I'm a bit weary of the project and probably won't participate in August. I'm also trying to reduce the amount of time spent on the Internet in favour of more reading and 'being' in the world.

My hair is still growing out - rapidly, but it doesn't feel like it since it's also curling into spirals as it grows. On the good days, I let it all hang out in what one of my friends calls my 'beach hair-do'. On the bad days, I wear a bandana to cover up the worst of it.

The other day, I poked myself in the eye trying to brush a strand of hair out of my face. I'm out of practice for that sort of thing! lol

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 19, 2012


This is how Princess Fur asks to come up on the chair with me. She pats me gently with her paw - and pleads with her eyes. Could *you* say no to those eyes?

She's fully recovered from the surgery and enjoying the summer: lounging around on all the new dog beds I bought for her, bugging me for walks, and carrying all her toys out to the balcony one by one (every night, I bring them back in and the next morning she starts the process all over again...)

She'll never be able to eat hard food again - she's missing too many molars - so I've continued to soak her food to soften it.

When she grins up at me, her 'doggie smile' is all gums and one lone canine tooth. She looks for all the world like a tiny hockey player (maybe during playoffs, since she has a fuzzy beard).

I'm so grateful that she's feeling better and she's healthy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


More like a bowl.

My latest food-phase is Thai rice noodle soup with loads of freshly steamed veggies piled on top. I absolutely love this meal. It fills me up, hydrates me and also satisfies a salt craving which has intensified with the maddeningly hot weather we've been having.

I've also become sort of nuts over sea-salt-and-vinegar mini rice cakes. Crazy! I rarely crave salty snacks!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Addiction

I have a small problem...a whole bag of them, actually.

I've become quite addicted to chocolate covered almonds. I can buy them cheap at the supermarket near the studio I teach at. It soooo easy to pop in and buy a small bag. They come in bulk, so one scoop easily becomes two...

There! I've identified the problem!

The solution? Stop buying chocolate covered almonds, obviously. Perhaps I need to replace them with a healthier form of chocolate to satisfy my chocolate craving.

The final step: Accountability. I'm not buying them anymore and if I do, I have to write about it here.

Keep me honest, blogophere!

Thank you :-)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 16, 2012


Fill in the blank _________________.

Headstand? Leg-behind-head? Dropbacks? Pincha Mayurasana? Handstand?

One by one, the poses that once scared me are becoming routine parts of my practice, like monsters reduced to mice.

It makes me wonder if they were mice all along. And what other mice are lurking in my practice, disguised as scary beasts...

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The photo theme for today is 'Finger' and shame-on-me, but this is the first thing that came to mind...hee hee!

These are my high school friends from Grade 10. I went to a rough inner-city high school that year, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The summer before I started, a neighbour anxiously warned my father that the school was notoriously tough on 'haoles' - that's the derogatory local term for 'white people', who were a minority in the city.

She was right - it was rough. I was one of 10 white kids in that school. We all employed various strategies to survive (my strategy was to befriend a Samoan girl in my choir and use her as my personal bodyguard - it mostly worked, lol!).

But the most common strategy was simple: find the other white kids and hang out with them.

And that's how I found myself on the south steps of the English Building every day at lunchtime. We weren't all white, but we all felt misunderstood and mysteriously different from everyone else (just like typical teens everywhere). I made some true friends there.

Later on, I moved to the 'mainland' and attended high school in a homogenous wealthy suburb where nearly everyone was white. During lunch one day, a new friend complained that the few black students (there were five) always hung in a group. What was up with that?

I understood completely. "Don't judge them" I cautioned her, "until you've walked in their shoes."

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, July 14, 2012


This seems to be a summer for getting in touch with people from my past. This week, I wrote an email to one of my best friends from high school. I caught up with her via her brother, who I found on the internet (and frankly, I'm surprised that he relayed my message - we never liked each other very much...lol).

I was well into my third year of high school when I moved from Hawaii to Colorado. I felt like a fish out off water in this new/old school (I had spent a semester there in Grade 9, before moving to Hawaii). A few people recognised me and didn't realise I'd ever left, but I sure knew - everything about that school felt foreign to me. I hated it.

Music saved me. I discovered that I had a special knack: I could pick up practically any musical instrument and learn to play it, quickly. So I joined the band (they needed a tuba player so I spent a weekend teaching myself to play the sousaphone) and that's how I met D.

We were as different as two people could be. I was a worldly, jetsetting 17-year-old from a reasonably affluent family who had travelled and moved around the country/countries, via motorhome, motorcycle, sailboat.

D, 14 years old, was born and raised in a tiny mountain town and she'd never travelled outside of Colorado. I was a cynical and suspicious kid. D was warm and open and trusting. Looking back, I like her far better than I like my teenaged self.

She was a wonderful friend to me - we spent hours doing typical teenage stuff: writing notes, talking on the phone, eating lunch together, giggling on the lawn outside our school. I'll never forget our friendship and what it meant to me. She was my confidant and my biggest booster.

After graduation, I went on to university, then I moved on to the east coast for graduate school. D and I lost touch. The next time we connected, she was divorced with a young son, having just escaped an abusive relationship. We exchanged a few emails, then she stopped responding.

I was really excited to get in touch again. She now lives in a tiny town in the western US and she's remarried. I replied to her email immediately and for days, I biked around my city, hyper-aware of the bustle, the traffic, the people, the giant buildings, the mundane details of my life. I wondered what her life was like - her town, her friends.

I was hopeful that we might build a new connection, a new friendship on the foundations of our old one. But sadly, I haven't heard from her at all. And I'm wondering if there isn't enough common ground between us to bridge the years.

Maybe it's better to leave the past in the past

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Friday, July 13, 2012


Openness has become a theme in my practice lately.

In June, I took my practice to a new space. Mysore-style practice is offered there at a variety of different times (with different teachers) so I embraced the change, opting to practice in the afternoon a few times a week.

At first, I didn't notice any particular difference in my body or my practice - except for the buckets of sweat that poured off of me during the heat wave we've been having (turns out, morning practice has a distinct advantage in the summer months: it's *much* cooler at 6am).

But this week I practised twice in the morning and I noticed a *huge* difference between my morning and evening practices.

Let's start with the getting-up-at-5am part. *groan* I'm no longer used to it! In fact, during much of the week, I don't even wake to an alarm clock; I just sleep until I'm ready to roll out of bed.

During my two 'early days' this week, I woke groggy and rolled into the Mysore room sleepy and a tad bit cranky. How on earth did I do this for a year? Every day! At 4am?! *shakes head*

This week, for the first time, I really noticed how stiff my body was at that early hour. My flexibility was very limited when I first stepped on the mat (though my range deepened as my body warmed up). My hamstrings felt absolutely gummy!

Backbending was particularly tough - and Sarvangasana (due to a lingering shoulder injury). But inversions like Pincha Mayurasana and handstand were actually easier!

I returned to an afternoon practice yesterday and I was amazed by how good it felt, how open my body was. Everything felt more open - from the first Surya to the last lotus.

It's kind of awesome, but I'm aware that there's a danger in this openness - it's far easier to use my flexibility to come into postures, my warm body choosing the 'path of least resistance'. I've been cultivating strength to balance out the flexibility in my backbends and to enhance stability in my other postures.

In light of this, I'm choosing to see the openness of my afternoon practice as a big 'plus' since an open body allows no illusion of strength. In Pincha Mayurasana, I have to be engaged and aware because it's just as easy for me to flop over into a backbend like a wet noodle. *plop* And alignment becomes a mindfulness exercise in handstand.

The deep backbends of second series are deeper in the PM, so it's easier to fall into bad patterns. I need to work extra hard to find the support of my legs in backbends and extra *extra* hard to avoid bending into my lumbar spine. The lumbar is just easier. To move into my thoracic spine requires me to 'think' and 'engage' muscle groups that I don't intuitively connect with yet.

In a new space, with new teachers, at a new time of day, and with new openness, I'm approaching my practice with a 'beginners mind' and I'm learning something new every single practice.

I'm having a pretty spectacular summer!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, July 12, 2012


Today's photo theme: Texture. The tree trunk in this photo belongs to one of the oldest trees in my neighbourhood.

I follow a 'Vintage City' page on Facebook that features daily archival photos of my city. Knowing the downtown area as I do, it's been great fun to see the 'Then and Now' photos and recognise areas that have either changed a lot or changed very little.

The other day, I found a old photograph of my own neighbourhood on the page. The 'hood has changed so very little that I recognised that street corner immediately (Princess Fur and I walk past it every day). But the photograph was from 1920!

I've included it here - the 'then' and 'now'. The tree trunk pictured above belongs to the tree on the corner (behind the utility pole in the 1920 photograph).

Back then, it was a slender sapling. Now, it's so wide I can't wrap my arms around it.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012


It's no secret to anyone who knows me well - I'm not especially close to my family. In fact, I moved away from 'home' - and as far away from my family - as quickly as possible (I was 16). Eventually, I ended up in Canada and built my own life here, with a network of caring friends around me.

My father died when I was a teenager, a few years after I left home. This is how it played out: After my father's death, his wife (a stepmother I hardly knew) phoned my mother and my mother phoned me. I phoned my closest sister and the two of us phoned everyone else.

And that was that.

After his passing, I realised that I didn't know very much about him - he was estranged from his own family and the very little I knew about that side of my family was cloaked in myth.

He told me that his father had immigrated to San Francisco from northern Italy as a young man - for some reason I always thought he was from Genoa (I even named my childhood cat after the city). My father said that his mother, Marietta, was also Italian.

My father's secrets died with him. His children (me and my five older siblings) were not invited to his funeral. We were not mentioned in the will and none of us received family photographs or mementos.

In the mid-90s, I received a letter from a man who claimed to be my distant cousin, from my paternal grandmother's side of the family. He was a church minister with an interest in genealogy. He told me that my grandmother was not Italian, but Swiss German! I travelled to Pennsylvania to visit with him, and his wife (what lovely people they are - we're still in touch).

A few years ago, a woman with my same last name contacted me on Facebook, claiming to be my first cousin! I was intrigued and accepted her friend request. My new 'friend' was, in fact, my father's brother's daughter! We formed a friendship over Facebook, bonding over scrabble and Draw Something.

Recently, she remarked that my father resembled her father when he was young. Then, she sent me a letter with these photographs. The young man in the bottom photograph, far left, is my father at age 21 (the two toddlers in the middle photo are my two oldest sisters).

I'd never seen a photo of my father as a young man. I didn't know my great grandfather's name (but I do now!). Last week, I received a letter from my cousin's nephew, offering details of our family tree. I now know the exact town in Italy that my family comes from.

My cousin is digging up some childhood photos of my father. I'm looking forward to her next letter!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

My Favourite Colour

It's 'day lily season' here in Reluctant City. I thought it would be fun to offer a photograph of a day lily to represent my favourite colour, but a half-dozen other people on Instagram had the same idea - orange is popular.

Instead, I decided to capture images of all of the orange stuff I own and create a collage. I didn't have enough room to show everything, but here's a representative sample:

-Mat bag
-Mysore rug
-Princess Fur's toy
-Chakra shoulder bag
-Folding papasan chair
-Yoga strap
-Yoga strap bag
-'Jelly Bell' on my bicycle
-Silk 'pig scarf', a gift from a student

Not pictured: Two orange water bottles, an orange clickable heating pad, two orange yoga mats, an orange 'YogiToes' towel, an orange necklace, a piece of original artwork.

And probably half-a-dozen things that I haven't thought of yet.

I like orange!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, July 9, 2012


BIG plate of lightly steamed veggies and a side of quinoa salad (my dessert, not shown, was apple slices with tahini and sunflower butter for dipping).

That's my supper!

I'm posting this so Michelle doesn't drag me off to Saskatchewan and force-feed me meat and potatoes! ;-)

LOL! I've been a vegan for almost 20 years and I haven't wasted away...yet.

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Sunday, July 8, 2012


I dropped gluten from my diet in February with an occasional 'cheat day' and immediately experienced a shift in my physical well-being. A month or two after that, I dropped the 'cheat days' because I really noticed how bad they made me feel. I could literally feel the gluten moving through my GI tract like glue.

Since then, I've kept a very clean diet and yes, I'm still using my Vitamix to make daily green smoothies. I find that they help rein in my out-of-control sweet tooth and I haven't tired of them even though they've been my breakfast of choice for months.

It's no secret that I love chocolate. I don't know why it took me so long to give this is a try, but two months ago I started putting a tablespoon of organic cocoa in my smoothies. This makes them 'chocolate flavoured.' And OMG! I love them so much!!!

Since then, I've refined my 'recipe' so my smoothies literally taste like smooth chocolate shakes. I've also developed a recipe to make a smoothie that has the taste and consistency of chocolate pudding.

There's no sugar or dairy in these creations. Just kale, fruit, chia and protein powder (I also add flax oil).

It's been a particularly hot summer this year and the heat has affected my appetite, particularly in the day. I'm also doing my yoga practice in the afternoon or early evening so most days a big lunch is out of the question.

The solution? A mid-day smoothie! I usually opt for the 'chocolate pudding' style smoothie, along with a handful of nuts and sometimes half an apple. It's easy to digest, so I don't feel bogged down for practice and it feels so decadent to eat a bowl full of something I love as a meal!

I'll probably revert to a heartier lunch come winter, but for now, this is my perfect lunch:

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Saturday, July 7, 2012


One of my fondest memories in my years as a contract archaeologist came on a phase I survey of a property somewhere in the southern states.

One of my best friends was working an adjacent transect to me and we were hacking through dense, young regrowth with dull machetes. Every so often, we would shout out to each other, venting our frustration.

It was the most awful day - hot, dusty, still, stagnant air and oppressive humidity. We were tangled in brambles, sweating buckets, swathed in heavy clothing to protect against ticks and the ubiquitous poison ivy. Both of us were on our 'lady's holiday'.

Pure misery.

Almost simultaneously, we burst out of the regrowth forest into a clearing bathed in bright sunlight, glowing surreally. We stood there blinking, shielding our eyes with our hands.

We had stumbled into a large meadow completely carpeted with daisies! There must have been thousands of them.

J didn't hesitate. She plowed into the meadow and quickly began picking a bunch. I stood on the periphery, watching her in a heat-exhausted stupor. Then she walked over and presented me with a bouquet!

Back in my hotel room, I put them in water. I recall that they lasted for weeks and brought a smile to my face every time I saw them.

I still love daisies!

I recently got back in touch with my friend J. I think I'll send her this photo...

These are in my neighbourhood, from the garden of one of my students.

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Friday, July 6, 2012


We didn't have many chairs around as I was growing up. The boat had bunks and benches but they were awkward and uncomfortable. I prefered the floor. Watching movies on our tiny colour television, I would usually curl up on the floor of the galley (the kitchen area) with pillows and a blanket.

In the mornings, I sat on the deck, legs hanging off the bow as I wrote in my journal. Evenings, we usually laid outside in hammocks near the bow. Sometimes we would sit in the cockpit and my dad would play his guitar.

So I spent a lot of time sitting on the floor as a kid - something I attribute my relatively open hips to (along with endless squatting on archaeological sites later on).

When I moved into my first apartment, I could have cared less about chairs. I wanted a desk, for sure. We bought a dining room table too. When I moved to the city and my accommodations shrunk, I jettisoned what little furniture I had. For many years, I kept one folding chair (that I also used for yoga) and mostly sat on the floor or the futon.

But in my latest apartment reconfiguration, I was craving a place to sit and read that wasn't the bed or my window seat. So today I bought a chair - nothing fancy, just a simple seat from Ikea.

And you know what? I love it!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

On the Floor

The Universe has delivered once again!

When I bought the new bed, I realised that it was way too high for Princess Fur to jump up or down. She's tried a few times, but I've discouraged it because the jump down, especially, is a hard landing for a little dog.

The other day, it occurred to me that a simple ottoman would provide a 'step up' for Fur to jump to the bed. I resolved to keep a lookout for something like that on our daily walks (people frequently leave stuff out at the curb for give-away).

And that's how we found our Ikea footstool, in really great condition.

It took Princess Fur all of three seconds to discover the awesomeness of this footstool, her magic conduit to luxurious naps on the comfy memory-foam mattress. This dog is spoiled!!!

I realise that my 'yoga blog' seems to have transformed into a photography-and-schnauzer-daily-cute-a-thon. I supposed I could write about my practice, and there's certainly stuff to write about, but...

How do I put this? I just can't seem to write about my asana practice anymore. There's been a shift - writing about yoga practice doesn't feel comfortable to me anymore. I hesitate to say this because I don't hold any strong opinions about those who do choose to write about their practice - in fact, I *love* reading those blogs.

I just can't seem to find a way to write about my own practice. Whenever I write a post and prepare to hit the publish button, I suddenly feel like I'm standing on a street corner in my underwear singing Frère Jacques.

It's not even a the daily trauma of the-pose-that-shall-not-be-named that has made me so tentative. My practice just no longer feels blogable.

So I'm struggling with this virtual space, how to inhabit it in a vibrant and interesting way without falling back on practice reports and asana-ennui. I'm have a few ideas and (hopefully) you'll see some other posts pop up that don't include schnauzer ears peeking over a quilt.

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012


Nothing says 'fun' like an Amazon.com box waiting on your doorstep. Mine contained two books: Gregor Maehle's Pranayama book and Aranya's Yoga Sutras.

Let the summer reading commence! :-)

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Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Best Part of My Day

Also, best part of my month, my week, possibly my year!

When I came home from practice this morning, there was a message on my voicemail. It was the veterinarian, letting me know that Princess Fur's biopsy results came in.

The mass in her mouth was benign. Let me say that again: BENIGN!

In fact, there was no sign of cancer at all. The mass was formed from an gingival infection.

Fur officially has a clean bill of health!

She's feeling much better and her mouth is healing quickly. Yesterday, she ran around the park like a puppy. Today, she started playing with her toys. She still sleeps a lot, but that's to be expected in an older dog.

I'm under no illusions - I know that even in the best of health, my dog has five years left at most. But this 'scare' has given me a new appreciation for the unconditional love she gives me and her importance in my life.

I'm full of gratitude.

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Monday, July 2, 2012


First week of my 'summer holiday' and I'm adjusting to the free time and finding new ways to fill it.

I do a bit of cat-sitting in the summer. I never intended to turn this into a 'business', but it spread through word-of-mouth and now I usually have a couple of gigs per month. It's just enough to get in my 'cat quota' (I love cats, but don't have one because a dog *and* a cat in this tiny apartment would be a bit much...).

I've been looking after these two guys this week. They're the sweetest cuddle-bunnies and I adore them! I spent a good part of the afternoon keeping them company. The gray guy loves to have his belly rubbed. The brown guy (and I swear I'm not making this up!) enjoys being lifted up by his tail. They both love to play.

What they *don't* love is my camera. You wouldn't believe the effort it took to get them into the same frame!


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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Self Portrait

It's a brand new month! Once again, I'll be participating in Fat Mum Slim's Photo-a-Day Project. It's a good motivator to write daily, which I hope to do through the summer.

I finally came to a decision about where to practice in July. In the end, it was a no-brainer. I'm enjoying Shala South. I'm doing well there, learning a tonne and my practice is continuing to evolve. So I'm going to stay put.

July and August are quiet months for me. Many of my classes go on hiatus, so I have more free time, more 'breathing room'. I need to catch up on my accounting and business records (I tend to fall behind on that stuff when I'm teaching a lot).

There are a number of emails I need to reply to - if that's you, please be patient. I'm on it!

I also plan to do a lot of reading, outdoor whenever possible: outside on my balcony, at the beach, in the park. I've been reading the Hatha Yoga Pradipika along with the peeps over at Christine's, Facebook Page. To my surprise, I'm actually enjoying it! From time to time, I may share some choice slokas or quotes.

And, of course, I have a huge pile of yoga books to tackle, which I'll hopefully be reporting back on here.

I'm also planning to write posts about some of my favourite things - not necessarily 'sponsored posts', because I'm really bad at those, but things that I actually love and use. I'm especially keen to highlight products made by small companies that don't get a lot of exposure. So keep an eye out for some 'Stuff Kai Likes' posts coming in July.

Oh, and I'm still growing my hair, natch! ;-)

(This post is part of the Photo-a-Day July project)

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Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Friend

I totally didn't see it coming, but June was the 'Month of Princess Fur'.

Now, as I'm limping into July a couple thousand dollars poorer, feeling uncertain (the biopsy results won't be available until sometime next week), I'm also feeling determined: Regardless of what the coming week brings, I want to make what remains of this little dog's life absolutely wonderful.

As she recovers from the surgery, we're back to taking long walks together and sitting in the park so she can watch the squirrels. I give her cuddles whenever she'll let me, frequent treats of banana slices (her favourite and the great delivery system for the pills I need to give her) and she's even starting to play with her toys again.

Canada Day weekend is always rough for Princess Fur - she is frightened of the fireworks. Usually, she hides out in the closet and nothing I can say or do soothes her. But tonight she surprised me. She asked to come up on the bed and crawled into my arms.

I held her tightly, singing softly under my breath. She usually squiggles to get down right way, but tonight she stayed and I could feel her beginning to calm. Within minutes she had stopped shaking and we both fell asleep.

Princess Fur is a loving dog, but not always a cuddly one. I woke from our impromptu nap deep grateful for her trust - and the chance to hold her as she slept.

She really is my best friend.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Friday, June 29, 2012


A few days after Princess Fur was tentatively diagnosed and the surgery was scheduled, I stopped at a pet store on the way home from teaching a class and went on a spontaneous dog-bed-spending-spree. I bought a soft, fluffy new dog bed for Fur, upholstered in a durable, but luxuriously velvety fabric. I bought a soft, fuzzy sleeping pad for her crate.

I put it all on my credit card and strapped the new beds to my bicycle. All the way home, I had these visions of my dog happily sniffing her new dog bed, then joyfully snuggling into it. At each stoplight, I was practically hugging myself in happy anticipation. She had been in so much pain, it felt like a tangible relief to do something that might make her more comfortable.

But the joke was on me! When I got home, I proudly presented the new beds to Princess Fur. She sniffed the big fluffy one thoroughly, then turned on heel and disappeared under my bed - to sleep on the hard floor! She refused to even consider the new bed for a day or two, though she uses it now (and appears to enjoy it).

I also researched child-sized papasan chairs - you know, those big round rattan chairs that look like a bowl. I used to have one on the balcony and it was Fur's absolute favourite spot. It finally got so ratty - the bamboo held together with duct tape and the fabric of the cushion in tatters - that I threw it away.

After spending a couple hundred dollars on dog beds (not to mention the vet bills), I decided I couldn't afford a new Papasan too. And that's when the Universe delivered: Earlier in the week, as I was leaving to go to practice and I saw a brand-new, orange, child-sized papasan chair on the loading dock, with a sign that read "Free!" I grabbed it.

Princess Fur now has her very own, Fur-sized chair and her reaction was everything I could have hoped for. If a dog could be thrilled, she was thrilled. And she uses it every day!

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

On The Shelf

An eclectic threesome:

The Buddha: Bought at a new-agey store in my neighbourhood, carried with me during my corporate business travel days.
Chairman Mao: A gag gift from a friend. Mao's head is removable so you can hide a 'stash' in his body.
Statue of Liberty: Another gag gift. It's from Restoration Hardware, actually intended as a Christmas Ornament...

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Furry Stoner Dude

About a half-hour after Princess Fur emerged from anesthesia, they sent her home. When the vet tech brought her out to the waiting area, she was loopy and dazed. She weaved around the room, running into the furniture.

I couldn't walk her home like this, and I had my bicycle with me. So I packed her into the soft dog-carrier-bag I brought, strapped it across my back and rode home with my dog in a bag.

Before anyone calls animal control, you should know that Fur was perfectly content in there. The sides of the bag are mesh, so I could hear her grumbling contentedly to herself as we rolled along.

When we got home, Fur was a bit more alert. She was also stoned out of her little mind!

In case you've ever wondered what a miniature schnauzer looks like when she's stoned, here's a visual:


I had a fun hour watching her swagger around the apartment. Whenever she approached a piece of furniture, she would get up really close and say: 'woof!' After waiting for a moment (did she expect an answer?), she'd turn on heel and weave over to her next destination, another piece of furniture: 'woof!' You get the picture...it was hilarious!

When she was settled in (and the entertainment value of a stoned dog had exhausted itself), I put her to bed to sleep it off and rode down to Shala South for a quick practice. I was in and out of there in less than an hour: Half-Primary and modified finishing poses. It was a relief to stretch my body after all of that stress!

When I got home, the sedatives had worn off and Princess Fur was keening miserably. I knew it was going to be rough when those pain-killers wore off!

What follows is a more detailed health update for Princess Fur's fans, regarding the nitty-gritty of the surgery. If canine health issues are 'TMI' for you, please go ahead and skip this last part of the post.

I dropped Princess Fur off around 9am, picked her up at 2pm. Before the surgery, I was able to consult with her regular vet (who was back from holiday). I love this guy because he doesn't panic or jump to conclusions.

He looked at the mass in her mouth and said that there were a couple possible explanations, including abcess (swelling from tooth decay) or Epulis (a type of oral tumour, common in older dogs).

I authorised the removal of the mass and asked him to send it in for biopsy if it looked suspicious. While she was under anesthesia, they would also clean her teeth and extract a rotting canine tooth.

I'm an enthusiastic and diligent doggie dental hygienist: for the past 9-and-a-half years, I've brushed Fur's teeth regularly. Despite this, I've had to take her in for dental cleanings twice. After the last cleaning, I stepped it up: I started brushing daily.

So this surprised me: Although Fur's teeth were fairly clean, there was a substantial amount of tooth decay. The surgeon had to remove 8 teeth!!! Princess Fur now has only one lower canine tooth left in the front of her mouth - she looks like a hockey player! There are a few molars and premolars remaining. My toothbrushing duties have been substantially reduced!

The surgeon removed the mass and the two molars underneath. The mass has been sent in for analysis and I'll have news sometime next week (it's a big holiday weekend here, so all the labs are shutting down early).

Last night was rough - she was in a lot of pain. From past experience, I know that Fur loses control of her bladder while recovering from anesthesia, so I put a rubber sheet over the bed with a few towels (and sure enough! *sigh*). I comforted her throughout the night. Early this morning (4am and yes, I really need a nap!) she had her first pain pill/antibiotic dose and she's finally sleeping.

The great news is that she's eating enthusiastically with no vomiting and her energy levels are normal when she's awake. Now, the waiting begins. Next week, I'll know more about how to move forward.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Today's photo theme is 'bathroom'. Um, sure, okay...

A couple weeks ago, I shopped for new bed linens and found this crazy-looking bathmat on sale for $6.

I liked it because it reminded me of some kind of flat, alien creature with a kazillion tentacles. Princess Fur likes it because it's soft!

By the way, she's out of surgery and I'll post an update soon.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Where I Shop

I shop once a week, usually Thursday or Friday. I stopped going to the big supermarkets when I realised that the bulk of my shopping was fruit and veg. Produce is much cheaper at the numerous small markets dotting my city.

So I've become a regular customer at the produce stand down the street. It's quirky and disorganised. They don't always have what I want and often the prices are not listed. But I'm always floored by how much I can buy for so little.

About once a month, I go to the health food store nearby to stock up on dry goods and essentials.

There's something to be said for this system! For a start, it's really hard to pig out on processed foods when you buy your groceries at a produce stand. My diet is better for it. Also, I feel deeply connected to my neighbourhood through this weekly shopping ritual.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Monday, June 25, 2012

Something Cute

Continuing with the June photo project, here is a photo of 'Something Cute' and there's nothing cuter (at least in my world) than Princess Fur in her puppy days.

That little collar around her neck is now being used by my mother's new pup, Princess Astroturf (blog-named after the fabulous fake grass yard they built for her - it even has its own drainage system...oh, first world solutions!).

Two other family schnauzers have worn the red collar before her - it's become a bit of an heirloom, passed back and forth between my mother and I.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

On My Mind

There are heavy thoughts on my mind these days.

Princess Fur's surgery looms. It's scheduled for this coming Wednesday. I'm juggling my schedule so I can spend as much time as possible with her as she recovers. I've completely cleared Thursday of all classes (though I'm going to sneak off to practice in the morning if I can). I'll be at her beck-and-paw all day. I've stocked up on canned food and last night, I bought her a new, fluffy, deluxe, dog bed that she appears completely ambivalent about (a story for another blog post).

I'm also nearing my one month renewal date at Shala South and wondering where, if anyplace, I should go next. There's another 'self-practice space' in my neighbourhood that's tantalizingly close - a couple of minutes away by bicycle. I know the teacher there and the price is right.

Cost is becoming more important because with the summer decrease in my teaching schedule and with Princess Fur's mounting vet bills, money is getting very tight. Plus, the summer is only going to get hotter. That uphill ride home from Shala South feels like torture on days that my legs are already jelly-like from practice.

And yet...I'm feeling content and tempted to stay. I'm enjoying Shala South, gradually getting to know the teachers and feeling more at ease in those rooms. The main teacher is becoming more familiar with my practice and I feel the beginnings of a positive relationship. There's been some movement and direction in my practice, a few breakthroughs, an epiphany or two.

Plus, I'm practising every day and feeling really good about it, which is something to consider. I'd like to think that I could continue to practise with this level of dedication and intensity at home, but I'm not sure. I remember how much I struggled to get on the mat the last time I maintained a home practice. My heart sinks when I think about how difficult that was.

And there's this: I'm reminded of the old story about the farmer who digs many shallow wells and never finds water. What if I leave Shala South before I really benefit from my time there? Is this 'well' deep enough yet? I don't know. I'll admit that a part of me - the insecure part - is frightened and wants to exit this place on a happy note, before the teachers tire of me, or decide that I'm not worth teaching. My more optimistic side reminds me that I'm well-liked in the yoga community here and perhaps the Universe has led me to this particular place for a reason.

Irrational fears aside, I want to make the decision that's right for my practice. The more I explore Astanga, the more I realise that there really are no shortcuts, just hard work. Fact: I'm clumsy. I lack the natural strength and flexibility of other practitioners I know. I've been doing this yoga thing for longer than many, yet I struggle with some very basic stuff because my body is coming from such a different place.

But I have something else that keeps me going: I work hard - my courage and consistency has proven to be my greatest asset. If I keep trying and doing the work, I *will* make progress. It's as simple as that. Any environment - and teacher - that supports this is a plus.

So, I'm thinking about it.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Saturday, June 23, 2012


This is Princess Fur few years ago, exploring an island in the middle of Georgian Bay - one of our best adventures ever. She was tentative at first, but before long she was boldly crossing bridges and scrambling over boulders. She was constantly in motion!

Schnauzer gone wild!

She loved the freedom from the leash and the varied terrain to explore. I loved doing my practice on a big rock and swimming in the cold, cold water afterward. Nothing cools Tapas like the waters of Georgian Bay :-D

Good memories!

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Friday, June 22, 2012

From A High Angle

We've been having a heat wave here, which frankly, I love. I'm a big fan of hot days and softly warm evenings. I don't have air conditioning, but when you're not used to it, you really don't miss it.

But dogs *do* get hot, so Princess Fur has her own personal fan. When I set it on the floor, she immediately starts moving all of her toys in front of it so they can stay cool too!

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Where Princess Fur Slept

Okay, okay...*technically*, that's not the photo theme for today, but I couldn't resist posting a cute Princess Fur photo (she's doing okay, by the way. I'm taking her in for bloodwork tomorrow. The surgery is in six days.).

This is Fur's new favourite hiding place - underneath my new bed. It took some coaxing to get her to explore the space but once I did, she was hooked. She loves disappearing beneath the 'blue curtain' and cohabits peacefully with storage boxes, my meditation cushion, two guitars and a shruti box.

I have an odd history with beds. I grew up sleeping on absolutely horrible beds - everything from sofas to sofa-sleepers to slabs of foam to a sleeping bag on the floor. When I was five, my 'bed' was actually a storage compartment on the boat we lived on. When I grew out of that, it was a narrow foam platform in the main cabin. Later, I had my own 'stateroom' but my mattress was still four inches of cheap foam.

By the time I got to university, the beds in residence actually seemed luxurious. I cultivated an absurd pride in my ability to 'sleep anywhere'. On a ferry boat from Brindisi, Italy to Greece, I slept soundly on the main deck, oblivious to rain, rough seas and other passengers.

Hotel stays were revelatory. I was floored by the comfort of the beds!

I live in a tiny apartment, so storage potential is one reason I bought a new bed. The other was my back. A couple months ago, I had an episode of back spasms that left me incapacitated and terrified. Someone gently suggested that perhaps sleeping on a 13 year old futon mattress that was compressed as flat as a pancake might not contribute to my recovery. I hadn't really thought of that - bad beds have been part of my life for a long time.

But I agreed and headed down to the futon store to explore my options. I opted for an moderately priced and very solid Mennonite-made platform bed. I have to confess, the oodles of storage space underneath was a factor, but the platform also supports a premium futon mattress, which I topped with 2 inches of memory foam.

And OMG...it's fantastic! It's like having my very own hotel bed! I found some 400 thread count Egyptian Cotton sheets on sale and bought new pillows. My entire sleeping experience is completely unrecognizable!

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Favourite Photo I've Ever Taken

Fall 1987. I was a teenager on a high school 'literary tour' of New England. it was an awesome trip and I shot some of the best photos of my life. But this is the one I'm most proud of. Something about the quality of light in the museum, the figurehead looking wistfully out to sea. Memories...

(sorry about the watermark, but for my serious, non-Instagram photography, I've learned the hard way that you can't be too careful).

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012


The problem: No mat storage at Shala South. Last week, I realised that hauling my heavy Manduka around might be making my cranky shoulder sore(er).

The imperfect solution: Two bungees to strap the mat onto the back of my bicycle.

It's a solution because it gets the weight of the mat off my shoulder.

But it's an imperfect one because I'm *still* hauling that Manduka around town where I'm teaching. When you ride as many kilometres as I do in a day, the extra weight is a drag.

Still, for an investment of $3.29, I can't complain. Even imperfect solutions rarely come that cheap.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Something You Don't Know About Me

Here's something, and it's even yoga-related: I was a professional field archaeologist for six years. I have a Master's Degree in historical archaeology.

I loved doing field work, enjoyed the physical nature of it, getting my hands dirty and being outside. I couldn't imagine working in an office. But here's a dirty little secret...archaeology is physically rigorous, relying as much on shovels and brute strength as trowels and dental picks. Back in the 80s and 90s, it was a 'man's world'. Few women worked in the field and we were expected to keep up. It was tough.

There's a high rate of burn-out amongst professional field archaeologists. After a number of years digging, most people eventually move on to less strenuous management or lab positions - or leave the profession altogether.

I was excavating a19th century alleyway in downtown Washington D.C. (where the conference centre is now) when a back injury derailed my career. I took an extended leave and the doctors recommended 'bed rest'. In reality, I spent a lot of time walking around my neighbourhood and skulking around nearby malls.

I was sauntering around the Best Buy one day when I found 'Yoga For Beginners' in a discount bin. I remembered one of my colleagues mentioning that yoga had healed her mother's back. I took the video home and tried it out the next morning. I *hated* it. The following morning, I did it again (and hated it some more). And the next morning too.

I'm not sure when I stopped hating yoga, but I do remember how difficult the poses were. I loathed all of them, but downward dog particularly vexed me because I couldn't straighten my legs or get my heels to the floor. Virabhadrasana II hurt my knees and I couldn't even fathom doing Virabhadrasana I. My hamstrings were so tight, I couldn't touch the floor in Prasarita Padottanasana - I had to put my hands on a coffee table. I couldn't do child's pose at all.

I consider my current yoga practice somewhat of a miracle, given where I came from and the damage I had done to my body by the age of 25. My back was a mess, I had repetitive strain in both arms, Morton's Neuromas in both feet, bad knees...

And yet, every so often I think back on those archaeology years (and my now worthless-to-me degree) and I really miss it. It was fun telling people I was an archaeologist (often more fun talking about it than doing the actual work...lol!).

I'm still fascinated by history and archaeology, but I wouldn't trade my life now for anything!

By the way, that pile of books are all written by my professors and teachers. I met or studied with every one of those amazing scholars. I feel deeply fortunate to have had that experience.

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

In My Bag

Today's photo theme is the ever popular what's-in-your-purse meme, which I find tiresome because I don't actually carry a purse. In fact, during the summer months, I aim to carry as little with me as humanely possible.

But when I'm travelling around the city teaching (particularly when travelling via public transit), this is what I need to get by:

-My orange Bandha shoulderbag
-CreditDebit Cards/ID/Library Card
-Lip gloss and aspirin
-Small black bag that holds my Tibetan Singing Bowl and bluetooth stereo speaker for my Hatha classes
-Library book and my Kindle

Bonus awesomeness:
Deepak Chopra random nonsense quote generator, drawing on actual words from his Twitter feed: Wisdom of Chopra

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Out and About

I attended a kirtan tonight at the studio I've been practising at. Good fun!

The woman who was singing has been, at various times over the past 10 years, my Yoga Philosophy Teacher and my chanting teacher. These days, she's one of my asana teachers, along with her partner (who was playing the keyboards).

Girlfriend multi-tasks!! :-D

And by the way, you really haven't been adjusted in Kapotasana until you've had *two* people adjusting you at the same time. *groan* I felt like I was in a mosh pit!

(This post is part of the June photo project)

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Friday, June 15, 2012


24 hours 'post-dental-ordeal' and I'm still feeling a bit low.

Last night, on a buzz from the pain killers, I swooped around the neighbourhood running errands on my bicycle, then came home and managed to liberally splatter my entire kitchen with gluten-free-vegan-brownie batter while enthusiastically baking for the Shala North potluck.

I woke up to the disaster and it took a half-hour to clean it all up. Does an electric mixer count as 'heavy machinery'? If so, I shouldn't have been operating one! lol!

This morning, I was groggy and nauseous after 10 hours sleep, but by mid-morning I was well enough to get out of bed and take Princess Fur on one of our Epic Walks. Despite the time-crunch, I've been finding time for at least two of these per day.

While Princess Fur used her nose to seek out new smells, I used my eyes and digital camera to seek out the colour yellow - the photo theme for today. Amazing how much yellow is in the neighbourhood this time of year. I love June! :-)

(This post is part of the June photo project)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, June 14, 2012


(I received this watch for graduation. I've been wearing it almost every day for over 20 years. It has held up well!)


Mainly, I don't feel like I have enough of it right now.

Every spring, I look forward to the predictable schedule slow-down of June, but I always forget that there are a number of things I've *put off* until June. This week, it was dental appointments. Yuck!

And there's always some schedule overlap: spring classes and summer classes co-existing, sometime in close proximity (requiring marathon sprints on my bicycle, from one end of the city to the other).

Finally (and hilariously!), there are the errands that overlap with my classes. Today, I had some intensive dental work done, then I taught a class with my face half-frozen. Fun times!

I'm looking forward to July, when those little gold hands on my watch will take on less urgency. I might even stop wearing my watch! That would be something...

(This post is part of the June photo project)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad