Thursday, November 29

current book crush: a field guide to now

Christina Rosalie's gorgeous book, A Field Guide To Now, finally arrived at my doorstep yesterday. It's an object of deep beauty: both in terms of the lovely layout and illustrations, all of them original artwork by Rosalie, and in terms of the writing. I can tell that reading this book is going to be a deep, long, slow savor, like that first cup of coffee on a still and sunny morning, relishing every sip with the hope of making it last longer. Today I wanted to share two favorite passages with you: ones I've underlined, copied into my journal, and that are working themselves into the fabric of my life.

What might it mean to be at the heart of the ordinary moments that make up my life? What might it look like to document the nuances and traits of this time as it unfolds, with my heart blooming in quiet wonder again and again as I arrive right here?

What matters is simply this: your intent to claim the day with gusto and bravery and longing. What matters is waking up and asking, What can I be today?, and then devoting a small handful of moments to this task of wonderment. That is all.

Beautiful, yes? And profoundly meaningful. I am so grateful already for this book, this friend and this teacher, to have landed in my hands.

What book are you delighting over these days?

Monday, November 26

the yoga of motherhood

I am honored to be a contributor to the Kind Kindred series over at Kind Over Matter today. Here is an excerpt from my post, which is about how the lessons of softening and yielding in yin yoga are an excellent preparation for motherhood:

As we learn through yoga to welcome all elements of our experience into the embrace of awareness, something almost magical happens: we stop fighting against what we don’t want. We soften right into the middle of it. We welcome our tight hips and our self-doubt as part of our reality in the moment, and we come back to the ever-faithful steadiness of the breath. When we stop fighting we find peace.

Please pop on over to read the whole post! Thanks for having me, Amanda, it was such a pleasure to write for your awesome site!

Monday, November 19

3 practices for a sane and smooth Thanksgiving

I was waylaid by a stomach bug last week. It was nasty. I am so glad to be back amongst the upright, eating and blogging world. I missed you.

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We had our big family Thanksgiving meal yesterday, which is a bonus on several levels: we'll get to put our feet up and rest this coming Thursday, and enjoy the long weekend without the bustle and the holiday hangover, AND since I've just put out my big spread, I am full of fresh wisdom to share with you before you head into your big day of gathering, cooking and feasting. Without further ado, here are my top 3 best tips for hosting a big day of family and food that will actually be fun for you as well as for everybody else.

1. Start with a good breakfast.  This falls into the "do as I say, not as I do" category of advice. Inevitably, I get excited about what needs to get done, jump in, and all too soon find myself famished and spent, a state that can be hard to recover from. Next time I hold a big gathering at home, when I am planning my menu, I will also plan what yummy, sustaining thing I'll be having for breakfast that morning, to ensure that I start the day fueled up and ready for the long haul.

2. Begin with a clean kitchen. I can't stress this enough. The morning of the big day, my husband usually does all the dishes, as well as clears all the old, dead leftovers from the back of the fridge. (Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.) This ensures that a) we have a fresh and clean space to begin with; b) all our dishes are ready for prepping and serving food; c) we have adequate receptacles and space to hold those all-too-important leftovers. I'm always amazed what a big difference that makes, both to the smooth running of the day, and to help with a relatively painless clean-up after all is said and done.

3. Take a yoga break.  Usually, once either the stuffing or the roasted root vegetables are in the oven, I sneak away for 20-30 minutes to take a "yoga nap." This means either this pose or this pose, an eye pillow, and earplugs. Yesterday, since I am pregnant and a day in the kitchen inevitably takes its toll on my low back, I also did parts of this sequence (#17). This is the very best advice I can offer you: take some time out to rest and refill your well sometime in your big prepping day. Sure, you could fold napkins or iron linens or sweep the floor instead, but I promise you that your guests will notice your shining, rested countenance much, much more than they will your shining kitchen faucet. You will be able to be more present with your guests and actually enjoy their company, and isn't it what the big day is all about?

I'm curious: do you have any big-day tricks you can share? What are your plans for this Turkey Day? Are you inspired to incorporate a new self-care routine into your to-do list? I'd love for you to share how it went!

Thursday, November 8

big news!

So, dear friends, I have some big news that I have been eager to share with you: I am pregnant! I am twelve weeks today, and boy, you don't know how hard it's been to keep this quiet! I have so much to say about this pregnancy, already so different from my first, already as full of meaning and insights as my belly is big. (I tell you, this baby isn't messing around.)

This pregnancy feel magical somehow. An almost-surprise, this baby is due in late May, right around my husband's birthday, which means I won't be pregnant through the blasted heat of a Texas summer. But also, this pregnancy feels so easy, so wonderfully free of the anxiety of my first time, that I feel as though this baby has come to heal me.

Sure, I've felt like crap (but getting better everyday.) There has been the numbing exhaustion, the devastating hunger, made all the worse by a generalized disgust in food. What I thought was nausea, which was in fact profound dehydration. And just feeling so hot all the time. (Summer here won't quit. It's still 80 degrees out. Count your snowy blessings, northerner friends.) But none of this has been a problem. I know how to deal with it. I make my protein smoothies and I go to bed early. I take care of myself. Do prenatal yoga videos on YogaGlo. I know how to do this. And I don't have to fret and fuss over all of the baby stuff I need to get, since I already have all of it. I tell ya, this second pregnancy business is just sweet.

I do have a few worries. Will Silas like being an older brother? What will this birth be like? How on earth do you manage to get two kids in their car seats? (Mamas of more than one, perhaps you could weigh in?) But even these concerns feel light, in comparison to what they were the first time around. Because this time, I've been through it already, and I know what I couldn't possibly have known before: that, no matter what, it will all be okay. We feel ready, we feel excited, we feel like this baby already has its place, that it has come to complete our family. I have a brand-new wardrobe from GapMaternity (Seriously, have you seen my belly? No getting by with mostly regular clothes this time!)

Let's do this thing.

Tuesday, November 6

this land is your land

As a Canadian citizen and a permanent resident of the US, I do not have the privilege to vote in this, or any, election, and I find myself a little uneasy and anxious as my neighbors head to the polls today to decide the fate of the country I call home for the next four years. It isn't my intention to get political on you today--other than to say, please vote according to your deepest convictions, even if they aren't the same as mine. But since I cannot make my voice be heard by casting a ballot, I thought I'd share instead two of my favorite voices, that of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist of Over The Rhine, sing If A Song Could Be President from their 2007 album The Trumpet Child. Please take a moment to listen. For good or for ill, this will all be over tomorrow, and for that, truly. I am grateful.