Namast-yay: Finally tried yoga

Downward KB

I was a skeptic.  Pilates, sure.  Zumba, definitely.  But I still didn’t think yoga was something that was for me.  It seemed too serious for something that was supposed to be relaxing; a little too rigid for something that was supposed to help you loosen up and be more flexible; and a little too zzzzzz for something that was supposed to be considered exercise. Finally, late to the party, I’m discovering this fitness phenomenon for myself… and am realizing I’m kinda stoked about it. I had this friend who, just within the past few years, finally saw the movie “Titanic,” and was eager to talk about it with anyone who might share the same newfound enthusiasm. That’s how I feel about yoga right now.

I think one of the deterrents for any new, physical activity is the very thing that should peak your interest – the forum where you have to attempt this physicality in the presence of others.  So awkward.  And it doesn’t matter if it’s free.  You know what else is free and burns calories?  Anxiety over deciding to attend a class.  Even with the activities that I’m naturally prone to, like Hip-Hop or Zumba, where I’m highly likely to enjoy the experience.

Having not been in a workout routine since my wedding two years ago, and not finding a new exercise activity to sign up for since we moved from SF to Oakland in the past year or so, I was very aware I was in a rut.  I had to figure something out. No gym, no exercise classes, no gear… too many excuses.

Minimal requirements.  And if you’re yoga-ing at home, you don’t even need the mat.

The modern life-hack these days starts with an app. Oh, it’s a free app? Even better. I downloaded this app called Asana Rebel in an effort to give yoga a try. The features of the app, along with a cool aesthetic made it a hit with me. Not to mention the instructor’s voice is hip, slightly raspy, and strangely soothing, but not in a weird new-agey, eye-rolling kind of way. The music is also incredibly chill, and not some corny nature soundtrack.   All the poses are explained and demonstrated, including little blurbs about the benefits of each.  Excellent way to ease in a newbie.  Each work out is about 15 minutes long, including warm up, and my favorite ending to each session: savasana – a moment to lay there and do nothing but feel good and pat yourself on the back with your inner-gaze.

Puppy pose, I think

Even if I’m not doing it right (probably), I am totally feeling the benefits of yoga already. Not to mention the sheer benefit of doing yoga at home ; free from public witness, regular monetary expenses (if I wanted more challenging workouts from the app, there are paid subscriptions available), and free from the guilt I would otherwise still carry for not having found the right exercise gig to keep healthy, balanced, and fit.  The real benefit is knowing that I finally gave yoga a chance, and I’m actually enjoying it.

Savasana, yo.

The Wife: a Shout-out to My Bestie

Facebook reminded me the other day that it’s been 8 years since The Wife (aka my bestie) and I first friended. A compilation of tagged photo memories was generated, pulling some random hijinks of our hey day. The pics that didn’t make it into the compilation come to mind, surrounding the ones that did, filling in pieces of narrative of a time when we were younger, more spirited, and had all the time in the world for fun and friendship.  A lot of club and bar-lit selfies, goofy face-making, and evidence of hairstyles past. Looks like we had a lot of fun, spent a lot of money, and made some interesting choices. We were a power couple, so to speak. Showed up to parties together, duoed at clubs, and when one was invited, it was a given that the other was part of the deal. Inseparable to the point where one ex-boyfriend dubbed us “Wifies” to each other, and the endearment stuck, ever since.

In the 8 years of our FB friendship (we became friends IRL before my FB membership… when we were still on MySpace) we saw each other through our late 20s; the days of raging singledom, some challenges with heartbreak, career shifts and struggles, family dysfunction, accepting transition and growth with shared friends.  Now, in our mid 30s, having found our partners, and gotten married, we navigate our separate adult lives on our own.  Time together to consult and console each other on the random WTFs of the regular is few and far between, unfortunately. We don’t live close to each other, and we don’t work close, either, so it’s difficult to grab face-time and stay current.

But we manage to stay connected. The support, while not physically present, is always there.  We’re simply in a different era of our lives and in our friendship.  We’ve basically raised ourselves so we could be out there independently, on our own, no tandem-wife.  Sounds sad, and it is sometimes, when I think about it too much.  Ugh, the guilt!  The shame!  Does going months at a time just exchanging text messages and not being able to schedule dates make us less Wifies?  Some might argue yes, that we’re horrible wives, and that we shouldn’t be allowed to call ourselves besties.  The reality is just that active friendship as adults takes different shape, and it’s up to us to make sure that the connection and the meaning of being friends is still there.  Exchanging text messages with your bestie might sound lame on the friendship tip, but when the texts are hilarious, spirited, and supportive, you realize there’s still plenty of love there.  The same love that’s always been there, and stays a constant with the changes in our lives.  While not currently great at it, I don’t doubt that we will strive to find ways to  be present in each other’s lives, and make time for our friendship.

One day, at work, I texted the Wife with a desk-selfie to show that I was wearing the necklace she gifted me for my birthday.  Her response was her own desk-selfie to show that we were wearing similar outfits.  Text-giggles ensued, littered with LOLs, all-caps exclamations and emojies.  It was the highlight of my day to know my Wife and I were there together, connected, in our parallel lives.

Inspoasis: Joshua Tree National Park

“Deserts require a different pace.  They compel an adjustment on our part to understand and experience them.” (from the info board at the Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center)

The land and sky are laid out in front of me. Simple but massive. I am in awe. I feel just as magnificent as the landscape, just being. I have this realization that I’m related to it, and I instantly love it like family.

“Wow,” escapes my lips in a sigh.

 

blind date w/ the desert

 

It was an unexpected love. When you say “I’m going to the desert,” for the first time, you don’t have a richness of expectations. I mean, it’s the desert. Hot. Dry. Probably snakes. I was pleasantly surprised at what I found for myself: an oasis of inspiration! A sensory feast! The colors, the quiet, the vastness was a very different kind of euphoria that I never knew I always longed for.  My enthusiasm took a very different shape as well. The heat made it hard to react effervescently, but I could feel my heart swell; slowly and expansively, like a morning stretch.

It was early enough that Friday morning that there was no sound in the desert, and no one to be seen. No one.  Joshua Tree was mine, and only mine, it seemed. As far across the desert valley as my vision would allow. Only the brave desert vegetation, rocks descendant from the earth formations around them, and soft but mighty ridges of the surrounding mountain ranges along the far edges of sight, hazed by the heat and distance from where I stood… and me.  Joshua Tree and me.

Oh, yeah, and my husband, too.  Thanks for driving, Mike. 🙂

Nevertheless, I really feel like I came away from the desert with a quenched spirit, runneth over with the water and life that I have never associated with a dry, lifeless place.  Neither of those words describe the desert.  And I understand that now.  I’ve been drawing and dreaming of the desert ever since.

‘Til there was Hugh

*sigh

No need to admit that I love Hugh Grant. Don’t we all?  It’s kind of a given. In a recent podcast episode of Girl on Guy, it came up briefly in a conversation between Aisha Tyler and Chelsea Handler that there are only two English actors: Tom Hardy (we’ll save him for another post) and Hugh Grant.  Agreed and agreed!  How timely for me to hear this, especially as a non-sequitur comment, as there’s been a little Hugh Grant buzz in my life in the past week for some reason.  I feel like I’m being reminded of him in little ways lately; suddenly having the urge to watch “Notting Hill” my co-worker quoting something he said in an interview about “Dancing With The Stars” …  okay, maybe only those two things that have happened as reminders… but it’s enough to feel like I’m obsessed!  Is the universe trying to tell me something?  Does Hugh need me?

This isn’t news – Hugh Grant is a dream boat. I thought so when I was a child, and now, as an adult woman with… feelings, I look back on old rom-coms with fondness and confirmation.  Yes, he absolutely does something for me.  Not so much the witty, smirky, sometimes sleazy cad Hugh Grant (although I do enjoy when he’s witty – I still find myself charmed) from the Bridget Jones stuff and “About a Boy.”  No, I think my Hugh Grant is the lovelorn, hopeless, bumbling, floppy-haired version.  Before there was any idea that he would be the type of guy to solicit a prostitute, or be romantically involved with someone as obvious as Elizabeth Hurley.  The Hugh Grant that brings back feelings of being longed for by the poor guy who will always be in the friend-zone, except that you actually want him to get the girl, to win love in the end.  The William Thacker, or the Prime Minister, David from “Love Actually.”

Wait.  I think I answered my own question about why Hugh Grant has been on my mind.  Could it be the new Bridget Jones movie coming out?  Is the universe pulling a marketing ploy on me?  Am I a sucker for subliminal advertising?

Hm.

Well, anyway, all I know is I do love Hugh Grant… at least, my Hugh Grant, that is…  to the ironic dismay of those genius subliminal advertisers… mine which has nothing to do with the Bridget Jones movies.  Let’s just chalk it up to say I’m having a moment.  That it is a universe thing, and absolutely not a Bridget Jones thing.  This is a me and Hugh Grant thing, and I’m enjoying it.  Even finding some inspiration from it, as evidenced in the cubicle decor I set up for my co-worker’s birthday.  Whether or not my co-worker actually likes Hugh Grant is a non-issue.

 

HBD cubicle bombing is my new creative outlet

 

Stay Inspired, Pony Boy

Photographer Will Whipple takes advantage of the overcast lighting over the Alameda Skate Park

I was in an uninspired slump a couple months back when former-colleague-turned-fellow-dreamer-creative-comrade, Cecilia got a message from the universe that I was in need of some creative stimulation!  I got a text message from her that her production company, Indigo Sky Creative was holding a photo shoot in my neck of the woods. She thought it might be good for me to come check out set life and bring my creative (and supportive) energy to the mix!

Nothing like supporting other creatives and observing what they do to spark some inspiration!  I took the day off from work (sometimes it’s what you gotta do to take care of yourself — personal days are real!) to shadow Cecilia on this photo shoot.  Call time was 9:30am on a Friday at the Alameda Skate Park, located on the former naval base with a view of the Port of Oakland, and partial views of San Francisco just across the bay.

 

Cecilia (far left) giving direction to Will and model while stylist stands by

 

img_7984
Sun’s out – chance to capture the light on this model’s look against this amazing local backdrop

 

Me and Cecilia keeping creative company

 

 

 

Aside from being inspired by the oh-so-fabulous feeling of being a part of a real photo shoot on a killer location, I was really interested to witness all the moving parts and details.  Each person on the set had a very specific skill set; stylist, assistants, hair-and-makeup artist, photographer, director, coordinator, models.  Everyone worked as a team and relied on each other for their creative opinion and expertise.  There’s so much thought and intention poured into something that everyone hopes will be evident in the end result.  Beforehand, Cecilia shared the mood board and concept of the shoot; a carefully-crafted document to communicate a particular vision, including written descriptions, images — these can sometimes even include music to assist with mood immersion.  “I think you’d be good at putting something like this together,” Cecilia said to me.

Staying connected to and supporting other creatives is a big part of what this post is about.  People who have very different creative functions and skills than you still recognize you and your talents in a creative way.  This is helpful when you forget your creative self, or need the inspiration to remember, get your wheels turning again, revive your creative senses!  I was pretty grateful and flattered that Cecilia had my creativity in mind, and reached out to include me in a process she thought I might dig.  She reminded me that I do have a way at looking at things that I should exercise and put to use.  Plus, I got to spend a day kickin’ it with my friend and watching her in action in her cool-ass, creative job.

It really couldn’t have happened at a better time.  I try to be in the habit of being aware of what’s moving me.  I ask myself, usually while trying to zen out on my morning commute to work, “What inspires me?”  It keeps me hungry for inspiration, and helps me to seek it out.  Lately, though, I’ve been drawing a blank with this daily inquiry.  Or else I don’t feel like I know what to do with my answer.  I have a deep appreciation for inspiration and opportunity that just occurs — a connection or calling from the universe!  It’s a sign to me that I’m meant to stay inspired, stay motivated.  Even when I’m not looking for inspiration, or when my search for it seems fruitless, opportunities to find it will find me.  And then, hopefully, I’ll do something cool with it.  I’m part of a momentum, an inertia for inspiration and creativity.  Gotta keep finding inspiration and trying to do something with it, even to start with something little.

Same for You — hope you remember to keep that ball rolling.  Find ways to be creative, connect with and support other creatives – do something, and stay inspired!