Monday, December 30, 2013

This made me laugh, the most hipster things that have ever happened 

Favorite snacks of the best writers, I love Emily Dickinson's

Charlotte Church's voice is the most soothing sound in the world to me

I plan to try the New York City Ballet workout at some point this week

Important and fascinating read about the brain-gut connection 

Two new favorite Ted Talks: a stroke of insight and a life-changing game

Recently tried this Vetri restaurant and was not disappointed

How ridiculously cool are these stingray booties?

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Dad waxing nostalgic about the colored lights on Pop-pop's tree
Crazy gorgeous Christmas sky-on-fire sunset
A newly adopted Christmas tradition: watching the Sound of Music
My attitude in general towards the holiday season... meh

Hope yours was merry merry
xx, the Grinch

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

How to Breathe

My first yoga class was 8 years ago, in a small, sweltering 90 degree room next to a busy train station where sweat clung from the walls like morning dew. Men in speedos and women in sports bras and spandex shorts (with little else) filled the room, standing on multicolored mats as we all stared into the steamy mirrors at our own reflections. I felt awkward and out of place in my cotton tee shirt and gym shorts. I was hot, nervous, uncomfortable and could feel the warmth in my skin rising to the surface trying to escape. I wanted nothing more than to run out of the room and drink in the cool air of the lobby, but I was determined to make it through the entire length of the class, even if I had to – at the advice of the instructor – fold into child’s pose several times. My former lacrosse coach had just recently opened a Bikram yoga studio near my house and offered me and my high school teammates a free trial week of classes. My friend and I decided to do it together and what ensued was one of the most deeply influential experiences of my life and began a lifelong love of yoga. Despite my almost constant discomfort and awkwardness I left the class that night feeling widened – more aware of the crisp November air, and refreshed in a new way, as though I had been deeply cleansed.

The very first thing we learned in that class was, very simply, how to breathe. It sounds so artless, doesn't it? Breathing, like many other functions of the body (such as the heart pumping blood into the veins) is something that we unconsciously do without any mental effort at all. We just breathe. However, unlike the heart, breathing is something that we can also consciously control. When we focus our mind energy on breathing and where the breath physically is moving in the body, the result can be spiritually, mentally, energetically and emotionally transformative.

The breathing exercise that we did was called “pranayama.” Prana is the Sanskrit word for breath or life energy while yama means control; therefore, pranayama means breath control. Having suffered from rather severe asthma throughout my life, conscious breathing (in conjunction with the simple stretches around the neck/upper back/lung and shoulder area) felt like I was truly breathing for the first time.  Since that class I have been on a path to pay closer attention to my internal awareness of my body. I have studied Bikram, Hatha, and Classical yoga as well as various forms of meditation and without fail, they consistently lead me back to my breath practice and to conscious breathing techniques. Throughout my studying and my journey into my own breath, the single most important thing I have learned is this: begin with the body. In order to breath consciously, you must first become aware of your body in space and its posture or asana. Let’s take for example how you are sitting as you read this right now. Without changing anything, just notice what I call the “three H’s” – heels, hips, heart. Where are your heels and feet? Where are your hips and sits-bones? Where is your heart and chest? Where are all of these in relation to one another? Next, where is the breath? Is it in your stomach, upper chest, nose? Where do you feel it?

If you are sitting in a chair, first place your feet evenly on the ground. Feel all parts of your feet resting. Now, pay attention to your hips and sits-bones (they are the bones underneath your tush!) Is your upper body leaning forward over your hips, or leaning back against something behind you? Try to feel both sits-bones resting evenly on the chair or floor beneath you. Then try to “hover” or  balance your upper body on top of your hips. Automatically your heart and chest area should “lift” a few inches, expanding your rib cage and opening your whole stomach area. Can you feel how those small changes in awareness create more space in your body for the breath to move?  If so, great. If not, great. The point is to start being aware of your body in space and to start inhabiting it from the inside out, instead of the outside in.

There are many different ways to focus on your breathing, but a nice place to start is with the "three part breath.” Start by feeling the breath fill the belly like you are inflating a balloon, then move the breath up into to the lower lungs which will lightly expand the rib cage in all directions and finally lead the breath up into the upper lungs, clavicle or upper chest region. Be kind to yourself and try not to breath in too much or too little at once – be aware of whatever amount is right for you at this moment. When you exhale, release the breath gently from the clavicle and upper chest regions, the upper lungs, lower lungs and belly, lightly pulling the belly button back into the spine and engaging the teeny-tiny muscles below the belly. Another nice technique is to try and make the inhale and exhale “equal” which simply means making both the inhale and exhale last the same amount of time, roughly 5-8 seconds when you are first starting and eventually longer with more practice.

Breathing slowly and consciously has an immediately relaxing effect on the body and mind. In yoga they call the breath the “bridge” from the body to the mind because it connects the often disparate entities of our thinking brain and our sensory body into one whole being. When you deepen, still and slow the breathing, you are calming and massaging all of the thousands of nerve endings that reside in the intestines, the lungs and the tissues of the heart and chest. You might even notice that like a domino effect, the thinking mind starts to relax its grip as well, and you may notice the thoughts that usually race through the mind begin to slow down. The thoughts do not and will not “disappear” because that is the mind’s job (to think!), but the space between thoughts might expand. You might notice, perhaps, that there is more (so much more!) to you than your thinking mind and mental thoughts.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

1. For your fabulously talented interior design mom who could find something cool to do with these hand-painted winter laurels 

2. For your history-loving-Abraham-Lincoln-worshiping dad, a framed glicee print of "The Peacemakers" by George Healy for his office 

3. For your beautiful sister whose bravery and exquisite taste never cease to inspire you, a leather envelope clutch and a date for dinner and fun downtown - just you two 

4. For your sweet brother who will watch animated movies with you, listen to you when you are sad, and who doesn't complain when you use his razor, his very own Harry's Winston shave set 

5. For your whole family, a personalized calendar filled with pictures from your latest vacation

(post inspired by Joanna Goddard from A Cup of Jo)

Monday, December 16, 2013

This, That, These, Those

This is one of my better photographs (taken with Camera+)
That is perhaps the most ideal reading nook I've ever seen
These two colors (gold and blue) look beautiful on her
Those words are true (from my favorite book too!)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Lovely Links

Nelson Mandela, may he rest in the peace he provided

I hope you know, I feel this way too

What a year in pictures can make

This dress and this dress and this dress  - oh my

The global soap project that was inspired by a hotel in Philadelphia

Two Dutch guys feel what it is like to give birth (well, sort of)

Moving through grief to gratitude

Is creativity the birth-child of limitation?

A song for the weekend: no diggity remix


A poem inspired by Anthony Bourdain's Parts Unknown: Detroit

They say in Pompeii the ruins are of stone people
caught in their misery, preserved for eternity.
But here in a city of moldering slag, the ruins return
in ghost gardens that bloom in abandoned neighborhoods,
overgrown fire lilies and amaryllis that sway
in cadence in places where houses once stood.

He takes me driving through the wreckage, to see
what can be saved and when there is nothing we
escape down the necks of these smooth, glass bottles
into the sweet yeast, the carbonation burning my esophagus,
all the way down to the cracked sidewalks of neglected
city intestines, where green things still grow.

Alone I eat steamed buns with collards milled in pork fat
as a woman in a tall chef's hat serves me what is left
of this nation of nothing's diluted kindness.
From her yard I watch as children bicycle without feet
on pedals, balancing their bodies on thin frames, then
I remember this is where you were raised. You,

former janitor with milk-blue eyes, your voice
strong as fibroin silk. True hero in workman's clothes.
Here, they burn homes to keep sickness at bay,
to purge the decay which turns to mold anyway.
They come in with hoses and this is the dance that keeps them sane
from fire to water to life back to fire to set these wet ashes aflame.

Monday, December 2, 2013

I call that: one peel clementine art. 
 Favorite flowers (Persian buttercup ranunculus) in my kitchen
My dream bed . My dream man (Buddy Holly!)

This book. That outfit.
These girls. Those eyes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Normal Day

Photo by the extremely talented Carissa Gallo

Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are.  Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart.  Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow.  Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.

      - Mary Jean Iron

Friday, November 22, 2013

Lovely Links

A happier day in their history

Lady in red, eyewitness account of the assassination of JFK

One brave kid who dressed up as Harry Potter and went to Penn Station

A 30 second stretch for people who sit all day (similar to the yoga pose wild heart)

I'm kind of over getting told to throw my hands up in the air... so there

Complimentary recipe from Giada's new cookbook, Feel Good Food

The secret behind the Victoria Secret fashion show wings 

This post by Miss Natalie Jean about a recent New York documentary

How cute is this stone cold fox necklace by Fossil ?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Honest Tea 6 word memoirs
University of Pennsylvania Nanotechnology building
I met this character outside of the Academy of Natural Sciences
Fashion designs at Moore College of Art & Design (my mom's alma mater)

Monday, November 18, 2013

Dance, when you're broken open.
Dance, if you've torn the bandage off.
Dance in the middle of the fighting.
Dance in your blood.
Dance when you're perfectly free. 
- Rumi

Dancing, writing and yoga are my favorite means of expression without which I imagine I would implode from all of the emotional activity that courses through my veins each day. I have found that Zumba and Latin dance are the most joyful versions of dance for me, while hip-hop is the most powerful. A lot of times when I tell people that I dance or do yoga or write, their first reaction is "I can't do that." "I'm so uncoordinated." "My grammar is terrible." "I'm so inflexible!" or my favorite (and what literally every guy tells me) "I can't even touch my toes."  I always find their comments interesting. Why are we so quick to tell people what we cannot do? Especially when the thing itself is something that the other person seems to enjoy or is passionate about? I wish their responses were, "that's so cool! Do you know what I love to do? Math equations. In the bathtub." 

I think it is important to make time for your art, whatever that may be. It can be anything at all that gives you joy, peace, bliss - that feeling of time beginning to melt like in Dali's famous painting. I try to make time for dance, writing and yoga at least once a week. As a 25 year old woman who currently does not have children or is planning to have them soon, I have a vast amount of untapped biological creative energy stirring within me. I am sure that other women (and men too) within my age group have this same energy that they have yet to harness. Often we forget our God-given right to pursue our bliss. But as my friend Mastin Kipp, from the Daily Love reminded me on Friday, the Buddhist word ananda literally means "You are Bliss. Bliss is you." To return to whatever it is that gives you bliss, is to return to yourself. Spending time doing activities that make you happy is not frivolous or silly; in fact, these activities are life giving and life affirming. They are the fuel, if you will, that give us the energy to go about our every day lives, to work day in and day out and to arrive at our relationships as our best selves - renewed and refreshed. You would not forget to eat or drink before running a 10k marathon, would you? So why would you not feed yourself with bliss before having to do all of the work that is required of us these days to be a responsible human being? 

What I love most about my bliss activities is that they require really nothing at all  besides myself. Even though dancing sometimes requires music and a partner, and writing sometimes requires a pen and paper or electronic device, and yoga (ideally) requires some kind of comfortable floor and a supportive community to practice with, these activities are not reliant upon any external sources; they do not require another person, a pill, a drink, a piece of food or any other physical form of consumption at all. These activities remind me that I can be full of something else, myself and perhaps everything else at the same time. Because, it is not "myself" in the egoic sense that seems to be awakened during these activities, but rather, something deeper and something more beautiful. I become more than my limitations, more than my physical or mental or emotional body. I begin to access the spiritual and energetic aspects of myself that are often forced to lie dormant or subdued.  The purpose for all of these activities, if there is a purpose at all, is just to enjoy the process and each moment. Or, as Wayne Dyer put it "when you dance, your purpose is not to get to a place on the floor. It’s to enjoy each step along the way."  

Furthermore, we should not wait to make art, to feel our bliss, to dance. We should not wait until the bills are paid, until the house is clean, until the kids have gotten their baths. We should not wait until life is how we expected it to be. We must do it now. While we are jobless, or in that job that we don't like. While we are waiting for that "special someone" to enter our lives. While we "currently don't have access to liquid capital" (thanks again, Mastin.) While we are hurting. While we are lonely. While we are, as Rumi says, broken, bleeding, fighting, and tearing off the bandage. We must make our art not because we want to, but because we must. 

Friday, November 15, 2013

Lovely Links

The 'Stubborn Gladness' of Elizabeth Gilbert's Favorite Poet

Oh Elizabeth Gilbert, you delight me every time

Why "closets" are just difficult conversations

Tonight I am going to see Mastin Kipp from the Daily Love!

Yummy recipes I'd like to try (especially the ginger-lime shrimp quinoa!) 

I have been loving this song right now

How's your color acuity? (I got a 14!)

Make-a-Wish and the city of San Francisco made one child's dream to be batman come true! Check out the President's message to him... 

Beautifully creepy... a 13th century church in the English countryside filled with weeds and wildflowers

Monday, November 11, 2013

'The Man In the Arena' by Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Excerpt from the speech "Citizenship In A Republic" delivered at the Sorbonne, in Paris, France on 23 April, 1910 

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.*
*Fun fact: Miley Cyrus has the last sentence tattooed on her forearm. 
No one would ever accuse her of being timid...

Some more inspiration? Katniss. In the arena. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Book Thief

After reading this article in Elle about young actress Sophie NĂ©lisse, I became aware of the upcoming film adaptation of "The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak. The trailer for the film intrigued me enough to research the book, which of course I want to read now. Isn't that funny? An article led me to a trailer for a film which led me to a book; from words to images and back to (my first love) words. The main character, the young Liesel played by Sophie, reminds me of myself a bit because I have always been a lover of words and books. Sitting at the breakfast table, reading every word on the milk and orange juice cartons, letting my scrambled eggs to cold, I was intrigued by these tiny symbols called "letters." I loved the way these letters, arranged just so, for example, on a grey and flimsy page could captivate my dad's attention for so long while he read the Philadelphia Inquirer, folding the pages with masterful accuracy as though he were a seamstress, flipping and folding garments under a needle. 

According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge, ha) the book which was published in 2005, is narrated by Death and is set in Nazi Germany, a place and time when the narrator notes that he was very busy. The story is about a young girl and her relationship with her foster parents, neighbors and a Jewish fist-fighter who hides in her home during World War II. 

Check out the trailer below and let me know, does it make you want to read The Book Thief

 “Trust me, though, the words were on their way, and when they arrived, Liesel would hold them in her hands like the clouds, and she would wring them out like rain.

― Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Lovely Links

Vintage Audrey Hepburn photo, realistically colorized

Black and white photos realistically colorized make the past seem more real.

Kids reacting to gay marriage. Almost as good as, "I ate all of your Halloween candy..."

My new favorite beer, Washington's Porter by Williamsburg AleWerks.

Anthropologie's intimates section is killin' it. Especially with this little number.

Catching Fire trailer. 11.22. Get here now!

Get financial advice... from your pastor?

I was lucky enough to see  Birdie Busch perform live last night at L'Etage. Amazing!

I would love to see this documentary on water. P.S. remember this post?

Monday, November 4, 2013

I Love the 80s Weekend Recap: The Legwarmers

My take on Debbie Harry, aka Blondie, aka singer of  the first "Call Me" hit (sorry Carly Rae...)
The Legwarmers (I had a crush on the guitarist on the left. He and I were wearing the same  red wayfarers, so of course it was love at first... shaded sight)

This past weekend for a friend's birthday, I went with a big group of people to see The Legwarmers, an 80's cover band, at the Trocadero Theatre in South Philly. I had no idea what to expect since I had never heard of the band or been to the Troc venue before, but I was very pleasantly surprised. Almost all of the live performances I have been to in the past have either been large concerts for well-known artists and bands or small-ish gathering for trendy indie rock bands. The Legwarmers concert was nothing like either of those at all. In fact it was not comparable to anything I have experienced yet. Picture, if you will, a medium-sized vintage concert hall filled with people ranging from age 21 to 60 decked out in sparkly blazers, neon spandex, multi-colored crinoline tutus, legwarmers (of course),wayfarers, rocking faux mullet wigs and side ponytails all singing and banging their heads to hits like "Tainted Love," "Don't Stop Believin'," and "Like a Virgin."

Funny video by The Legwarmers

The night was exactly what my 13-year-old-80's-obsessed-anachronistic self would have loved. I was (and still am) one those people who assume that any other time period than the one I am currently living in was better in almost every possible way. My entire 8th grade year consisted of watching movies like St. Elmo's Fire, Teen Witch, Sixteen Candles, Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Weekend at Bernies (basically anything starring my onscreen boyfriend, Andrew McCarthy), listening to Queen, Van Halen, Journey, ZZ Top, John Mellencamp, Styx, The Clash, Guns 'n Roses, Cyndi Lauper, Whitesnake, Talking Heads, Madonna, U2, George Michael etc., etc., etc. and lamenting the fact that I was not born 15 years earlier. 

Take on Me music video by a-ha

I was convinced that the political climate of the 80's was the most fascinating and critical of American history and that almost everything about the "ME, ME, ME" generation revolution that occurred during those ten years set the stage for the current teenage American consumer culture. To me, the 80's made the strange and greedy technicolor world I was living in make more sense. It was a love/hate relationship that I still wrangle with today, and this past weekend reminded me of that torrid old flame I still have for useless plastic neon bracelets, sparkly excess, guys in pastel polo shirts with popped colors and music that could be coined as "heavy metal lite" otherwise known as heavy metal doused in sugar. If you have a chance, definitely try to see The Legwarmers at some point in your life. It was a fun, musical experience that was well worth the $15 ticket charge. (Rumor has it they are coming back to the Troc in February!) 

Below is the music video to one of my favorite 80's songs of all time, "We Didn't Start the Fire" (which taught me everything I ever needed to know about world history and which I can still remember listening to in my dad's car as young as about 5 years old) by Billy Joel. Surprisingly, the first time I saw this video was earlier this year when I had an unusually strong desire to hear the song at work and looked it up on you-tube. I was struck by its powerful visual message and how it cycles through important historical changes through the lens of the ever-evolving institution of marriage.  P.S., please note that the teenage girl in the video is the pink ranger from Power Rangers... 

"We Didn't Start the Fire" by Billy Joel

Thursday, October 24, 2013

'If you close the door to all errors, the truth shall remain outside'. Rabindranath Tagore

I stumbled on this quote while on the French women's website, Plein Vie, and instantly felt heartened by its message that if we are too afraid to take action because we are afraid to make a mistake, it is as if we are closing the door to truth itself. Often we are afraid to take action because we are afraid of what will happen on the other side of that action, and presuppose a negative outcome. In shielding ourselves and protecting ourselves from this predicted negative outcome, we stay trapped inside our home of stale habits and stagnant beliefs. I like the idea of imagining the truth as a small child, like the little girl in this photo, who comes to knock on our door. The trigger (the knock on the door) is our invitation to take action, to do something new, to answer the call and make a change. Our choice lies in whether we open that door or not. I know that sometimes I myself do not open that door out of fear. The fear stems from the thought/belief/story that what is on the other side is something negative, painful or "bad." And yet, I like this story better since it regards the truth or life as a small and innocent child who comes knocking, seeking the door to be opened to her, perhaps hoping to play. The child has no predispositions, no stories, no beliefs or agendas - just a joyful curiosity and a desire to engage.

I was so struck by the quote that I googled the person who is credited for it, Rabindranath Tagore. Apparently, he was a Bengali polymath who deeply influenced Bengali literature and music. He began writing poetry at 8-years old and published his first book of poetry at 16 and continued to publish novels and books of poetry for the remainder of his life. He won the Nobel Peace Prize for Literature in 1913 and fraternized with the likes of Einstein, Robert Frost, George Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells... you know, no big deal. When I read more of his work, I was wildly impressed by his gift of explaining metaphysical and atmospheric spiritual concepts with such linguistic fluency and accurate detail. I enjoy how his writing instructs the reader towards a moral interpretation of the world, via the channel of sharpened intellect and with an understanding of the contradictions of life. I also find that his work, while written almost exactly one hundred years ago, eloquently speaks to many issues today that we as a country and as humanity are facing, specifically with regard to the wizened global village we now live in with countries trending towards democracy, issues of human rights and international relations, climate changes, and our relationship to the natural world and its resources:

In “The Religion of the Forest,” Tagore wrote about the influence that the forest dwellers of ancient India had on classical Indian literature. The forests are sources of water and the storehouses of a biodiversity that can teach us the lessons of democracy—of leaving space for others while drawing sustenance from the common web of life. Tagore saw unity with nature as the highest stage of human evolution.

Here are some other fascinating quotes attributed to him:
  • Bigotry tries to keep truth safe in its hand
    With a grip that kills it.
    Wishing to hearten a timid lamp
    great night lights all her stars.
  • God seeks comrades and claims love,
    the Devil seeks slaves and claims obedience.
  • The child ever dwells in the mystery of ageless time,
    unobscured by the dust of history.
  • Of course man is useful to man, because his body is a marvelous machine and his mind an organ of wonderful efficiency. But he is a spirit as well, and this spirit is truly known only by love. When we define a man by the market value of the service we can expect of him, we know him imperfectly. With this limited knowledge of him it becomes easy for us to be unjust to him and to entertain feelings of triumphant self-congratulation when, on account of some cruel advantage on our side, we can get out of him much more than we have paid for. But when we know him as a spirit we know him as our own. We at once feel that cruelty to him is cruelty to ourselves, to make him small is stealing from our own humanity...
  • Man is not entirely an animal. He aspires to a spiritual vision, which is the vision of the whole truth. This gives him the highest delight, because it reveals to him the deepest harmony that exists between him and his surroundings. It is our desires that limit the scope of our self-realisation, hinder our extension of consciousness, and give rise to sin, which is the innermost barrier that keeps us apart from our God, setting up disunion and the arrogance of exclusiveness. For sin is not one mere action, but it is an attitude of life which takes for granted that our goal is finite, that our self is the ultimate truth, and that we are not all essentially one but exist each for his own separate individual existence.
  • We never can have a true view of man unless we have a love for him. Civilization must be judged and prized, not by the amount of power it has developed, but by how much it has evolved and given expression to, by its laws and institutions, the love of humanity. The first question and the last which it has to answer is, Whether and how far it recognizes man more as a spirit than a machine? Whenever some ancient civilization fell into decay and died, it was owing to causes which produced callousness of heart and led to the cheapening of man's worth; when either the state or some powerful group of men began to look upon the people as a mere instrument of their power; when, by compelling weaker races to slavery and trying to keep them down by every means, man struck at the foundation of his greatness, his own love of freedom and fair-play. Civilization can never sustain itself upon cannibalism of any form. For that by which alone man is true can only be nourished by love and justice.
  • In love all the contradictions of existence merge themselves and are lost. Only in love are unity and duality not at variance. Love must be one and two at the same time.
  • Only love is motion and rest in one. Our heart ever changes its place till it finds love, and then it has its rest. But this rest itself is an intense form of activity where utter quiescence and unceasing energy meet at the same point in love.
  • In love, loss and gain are harmonized  In its balance-sheet, credit and debit accounts are in the same column, and gifts are added to gains. In this wonderful festival of creation, this great ceremony of self-sacrifice of God, the lover constantly gives himself up to gain himself in love. Indeed, love is what brings together and inseparably connects both the act of abandoning and that of receiving.
  • In love, at one of its poles you find the personal, and at the other the impersonal. At one you have the positive assertion — Here I am; at the other the equally strong denial — I am not. Without this ego what is love? And again, with only this ego how can love be possible?
  • Bondage and liberation are not antagonistic in love. For love is most free and at the same time most bound. If God were absolutely free there would be no creation. The infinite being has assumed unto himself the mystery of finitude. And in him who is love the finite and the infinite are made one.
  • Compulsion is not indeed the final appeal to man, but joy is. And joy is everywhere; it is in the earth's green covering of grass; in the blue serenity of the sky; in the reckless exuberance of spring; in the severe abstinence of grey winter; in the living flesh that animates our bodily frame; in the perfect poise of the human figure, noble and upright; in living; in the exercise of all our powers; in the acquisition of knowledge; in fighting evils; in dying for gains we never can share. Joy is there everywhere; it is superfluous, unnecessary; nay, it very often contradicts the most peremptory behests of necessity. It exists to show that the bonds of law can only be explained by love; they are like body and soul. Joy is the realization of the truth of oneness, the oneness of our soul with the world and of the world-soul with the supreme lover.
But of course, my favorite is his poetry :

Who are you, reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.

Open your doors and look abroad.

From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of a hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across a hundred years.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Life Lately

Pinterest inspiration
Refridgerator essentials: Dom and Grey Poupon 
Toys for grownups: Pure Komachi 2 knives
A sign I want for my kitchen
Crazy sunset

Monday, October 14, 2013

Lovely Links

Next up on my reading list: a touching memoir about re-inhabiting your own body.

Fascinating article about the way female beauty is handled by male writers.

Mark my words, one day I will have an original by Janet Hill.

Ever wonder what living in space might be like?

Did you know there is an NPR app where you can listen to 5 minute newscasts?

Poem a day: Love Letter to a Stranger  and Only a Dad

Clever and classy Halloween costume ideas (I love the Babe-raham Lincoln!)

The story behind my second favorite apple (my first favorite is Pink Lady)

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew

Icarus, 1944, Henri Matisse

I know I am a writer and not a painter because when I first saw Henri Matisse's "Icarus," the words of Jack Gilbert's poem about the fated character in Greek mythology burned crimson in my chest and reverberate against the walls of my rib cage -- resembling that small red dot in the upper left-center of the figure (Icarus? Daedalus?) of Matisse's 1944 painting. But then, aren't writers painting with words and aren't painters writing with form and color? Sometimes there is not a word for things. At these times I feel an urge to throw whole cups of paint on large white canvases, the color of which might depend on the day. Sometimes there is no word to describe a feeling except that color of blue or that color of red and in throwing them onto something blank, together they create a cyanotic synergy -- as if in expelling the colors from my soul I have lost the breath inside and expunged the deep tumbling of word-thought-emotion from the depths of my belly to create something that someone else can look at and say, "yes, me too." Which causes me to wonder, do we express to create or do we express to expel or do we express to expel what is in us to create something to which another soul can connect?

Failing and Flying
by Jack Gilbert

Everyone forgets that Icarus also flew.
It's the same when love comes to an end,
or the marriage fails and people say
they knew it was a mistake, that everybody
said it would never work. That she was
old enough to know better. But anything
worth doing is worth doing badly.
Like being there by that summer ocean
on the other side of the island while
love was fading out of her, the stars
burning so extravagantly those nights that
anyone could tell you they would never last.
Every morning she was asleep in my bed
like a visitation, the gentleness in her
like antelope standing in the dawn mist.
Each afternoon I watched her coming back
through the hot stony field after swimming,
the sea light behind her and the huge sky
on the other side of that. Listened to her
while we ate lunch. How can they say
the marriage failed? Like the people who
came back from Provence (when it was Provence)
and said it was pretty but the food was greasy.
I believe Icarus was not failing as he fell,
but just coming to the end of his triumph.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

True Authenticity

"But true authenticity isn't telling your story to the anonymous masses. It’s living it with a few people. Two, or three, or maybe ten. Present, and in person, and with all of the embodied risk and reward honest encounters afford—the risk of personal rejection, of seeing that flash of disappointment in the eyes and on the face of this person whose acceptance means the world to you. The reward of a hug, of a light touch on the hand as you cry through confession … of being truly known by this person whose love means the world to you."
 - Roxanne Wieman, To Write Love on Her Arms

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A Brother's Story

"The dialectic between change and continuity is a painful but deeply instructive one, in personal life as in the life of a people. To "see the light" too often has meant rejecting the treasures found in darkness." ~ Adrienne Rich

Thursday, March 7, 2013

They're Almost Here...

... the daffodils! (Or, Jonquilles if you are French.) Daffodils are not only one of my favorite flowers, they also happen to be my birth flower. I love how they come up, all goofy and swaying, with their big yellow noses sticking out like Dodo birds.* (See image below.)

*Dodo Bird

Daffodils are funny little flowers; they are among the first to sprout in early spring along with crocus bulbs and tulips. In order to withstand the harsh winds of March they must be both strong and flexible. In fact, their strength lies in their ability to bend with the wind. They are the harbingers of spring, the mighty and triumphant trail blazers and yet they are made of such delicate fabric, wilting so soon after a brave bloom, their petals turning into crisp, copper-colored gossamer sheaths before you can even notice their subtle arrival, poking out here and there among the brown grey end of winter milieu. Below is a little note I wrote in my iPhone this time last year about the daffodils and their gorgeously stunning cousins, the tulips.

When you spot your first poker-hot red and stop-light yellow tulips of the season. Standing in a warm beam of a march sun, arrested in the sight of it. Crisp cool air biting at your arms, the smell of something stirring in the soil. The backdrop around you is covered in dusty browns and mud colored things with the occasional spots of soft yellows, dots of violet and baby pink puffs on thin grey branches. This brown, grey world seems to hide a secret. The browness, the bark on trees, the dead leaves hanging like bats in their skins are - in a certain sunlight - suddenly awash in watercolor pale pinks and muted purples. What do they know in their sleeping states? You can almost smell the world beginning to patch itself back again, can almost see the seedlings sprouting under the wet dirt. Little daffodils crooning their necks over a landscape of dead things. They know. They know about the will to live. About the will to love. The will to start over and over and over again and try something new each time. They never not bloom because they die everytime. They bloom anyway. They grow and live and give anyway. They love anyway. The daffodils never say to themselves "but why bloom? We died the last six million times? Why bother?" Bloom anyway. (And do Bloom in any way you choose, and any where that you are planted. )

Monday, February 4, 2013

It Bears Repeating...

I'm pretty sure I have shared these TED talks on the blog before, but I believe these videos are worth seeing twice, or three times... or every single day if you are like me and have a little trouble with that oh-so-tricky practice of acceptance.

Enjoy (in joy)

*P.S. Thank You for coming to my blog and for caring about the same issues I care about

Friday, February 1, 2013

To Produce a Pearl

"A pearl is a beautiful thing that is produced by an injured life. It is the tear [that results] from the injury of the oyster. The treasure of our being in this world is also produced by an injured life. If we had not been wounded, if we had not been injured, then we will not produce the pearl."

- Stephan Hoeller

Friday, January 18, 2013

Happy Birthday Cary Grant, You Sexy Stud You

I meeeeaaaannnn the eyes, the lips, the nose... the gaze. They just don't make 'em like they used to anymore. Am I right or am I right? Sa-woooooon

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Change Your Mind by Michelle May

"You become what you think. If you’re not getting the results you want, ask yourself what you were thinking first.

Whether you’re aware of it or not, you have a mental tape running constantly that affects your moods and ultimately, your behavior. When these thoughts are negative, outdated, or confining, they undermine the process of change. It stands to reason that without awareness of this mental chatter, you won’t really know why you do what you do.

Your thoughts are the primary creator of your emotions, which inspire your actions, and therefore lead to your results. This “thought > feeling > action > result” cycle is a “causal loop.” (In Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat, I call this cycle “TFAR.”)

In other words, when you think a certain thought, it causes you to feel a certain way, which causes you to act in a certain way, which causes certain results, which then “proves” that your original thoughts were correct.

This “thought > feeling > action > result” cycle applies to all of your thoughts, not just those surrounding food, eating, and weight. It applies to your thoughts about your relationships, your career, your finances, your habits, and your abilities—any area of your life within your sphere of influence.

These patterns of thinking become repetitive. Even when a thought pattern leads to poor results, you may stay locked in its trap because it feels familiar and comfortable. Thousands of repetitions of a particular experience create auto-pilot thoughts, feelings, and actions, and therefore, predictable results.
The first step to disrupting an undesirable cycle is to start monitoring your internal conversation and notice the results that it creates. If you recognize that your self-talk is inaccurate, ineffective, or limiting, you can choose to change it in order to change your outcome. Just as the repetition of negative mantras become ingrained, the repetition of new positive mantras will result in the rewiring of your brain.

Interestingly, you don’t even have to believe what you’re saying to yourself at first. There’s power in simply saying it. Your mind doesn’t tolerate incongruence; if your thoughts are saying something, your brain will find a way to make it true. In other words, “fake it until you make it.” When you act “as if” it were true, it often becomes true.

There are many thought patterns or self-talk that will keep you stuck in a rut. Let’s take a look at just one type of internal conversation that is common in people who struggle with their weight, the Inner Critic. This self-talk is harsh and hypercritical and says things like:

“You are weak-willed and you have no self-control.”

“You are too heavy to be attractive.”

“You are lazy and too undisciplined to exercise the way you should.”

Although you may think you’re keeping yourself in line, criticism is a poor long term motivator—even when you’re the one doing the criticizing. Instead this hypercritical self-talk causes feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. As a result, you won’t do your best or even try. The results only prove that the Inner Critic was right—and lead to more harsh criticism.

To change this pattern, begin to use an encouraging, gentle inner voice to motivate yourself toward the positive changes you want. For example:

“It is a challenge to turn down tempting food but you can always have it later when you are hungry.”

“You look really nice in this dress—especially when you smile!”

“You will feel so much better if you take even just a short walk. Everyone has to start somewhere.”

The next time you find yourself eating in a way that feels out of control, uncomfortable, or unsatisfying, ask yourself what you were thinking before you took the first bite of food. Remember that negative self-talk can lead to uncomfortable feelings and overeating. When you practice catching these negative thoughts before they lead to negative feelings and behaviors you can switch to a kinder, gentler, observing voice that coaches you toward the results you really want!

Your thoughts..."

- Michelle May, M.D. is the founder of the Am I Hungry?® Mindful Eating Workshops and Facilitator Training Program  that helps individuals learn to break free from mindless and emotional eating. She is the author of Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How to Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle. (Download chapter one free.)