La Vie Bohéme

Little Habits.

I am a Francophile. I love to read. So it’s no surprise I use French postcards as bookmarks.

This particular postcard was given to me by my daughter. She picked it up last time she was in Paris. (She loves the city almost as much as I do – maybe more, since her darling Max proposed to her there, at the top of the stairs of the Sacre Coeur).


When we visited Paris together a few years back, I introduced her to the ‘pharmacies’ that dot every other block and are stocked with all manner of remedies, perfumes, soaps, aromatherapy and herbal potions and quirky grooming supplies. Every time we saw a square, neon cross we were drawn like moths to a glowing flame.

So of course she included a pharmacie postcard in the mix. Right now this postcard is tucked into a book titled “A Year in the Merde”…about a Brit learning to live in the City of Lights.

Lucky bastard.

La Vie Bohéme

A Revived Hobby.

Back when I was in college and had access to a darkroom, I was a photography junkie. A very avant-gard friend of mine, Claire, and I would load up our backpacks with PB&J sandwiches, a couple of beers, our Djarums, some props and our cameras and hit the city of Portland (Oregon) for a day of taking photographs.

The next day, we’d head to the darkroom to see how they turned out. It was enormous fun. My daughter actually keeps an old photo of me that Claire took in a heart-shaped frame sitting on her bookshelf, nestled among other artifacts she’s collected over the years.

It’s been eons since I’ve used anything other than a disposable camera or my cellphone to take photos, and now everything has turned digital and the days of darkroom alchemy are all but gone. Still, for the last year or so, I’ve been wanting to pick up photography as a hobby again.

In the summer of ’16, for my road trip up the west coast, I purchased one of those cute little cameras that takes mini polaroids…but somehow mini photos don’t do justice when photographing the vast Pacific or the majestic redwoods. Polaroids are great for photos of humans or vignettes – but not as satisfying as the kind of photos only a professional camera can provide when documenting breathtaking vistas. (Although my iPhone did take some pretty nice shots).

13335657_10153825840338198_7556117991597080915_nLooking south down the Pacific Coastal Highway via my iPhone.

A couple of weeks ago I decided to take the plunge back into photography and began researching the best cameras for the novice who wants to take professional-grade photos, and I decided on the Canon T7i Rebel. It’s a little on the pricy side, especially if you buy the kit (two additional lenses, filters and a tripod), but hey. If you’re going to jump in, go all in with the best.

So my camera arrived a few days ago. I immediately ripped open the box, thinking I would just grab the camera and start shooting. Ummmm…not so much. Times have changed, and my new Rebel is VASTLY different from the Nikon film camera I used back in the day. Bells, whistles, video, special effects…and the instruction book is literally nearly 3 inches thick! It’s four days later and I’m still getting to know it.

But now, after my morning engagements, I’m going to make use of this beautiful, crisp fall day and do a photography walkabout, taking photos and getting to know my new camera. Hopefully I’ll be able to shoot some things worthy of the blogosphere and Pinterest.

We’ll see.

But there’s nothing more exciting than reviving a long lost hobby.

Bruja

Stingy Jack, and How to Keep the Devil at Bay.

Once upon a time, as creepy celtic legend has it, a drunk was at a bar with the devil and he made a wager which the devil lost (he wanted out of the beer tab, and he tricked the devil into paying).

Well, we all know when we make a deal with the devil, no good can come of it, and the drunk, known as Stingy Jack, was banned from both heaven and hell when his time came…doomed to wander in darkness with only a hollowed out turnip (used as a lantern) to light his way.

Screen shot 2017-10-14 at 3.07.33 PMPoor Stingy Jack.

And that, my dears, is why we all carve pumpkins at the time of year when the veil between the living and the dead is thinnest. Making the Lanterns of Jack keeps the devil at bay, and gives Stingy Jack props for getting the best of ol’ Lucifer while drinking at the bar.

But you can also use your carved turnips, gourds and pumpkins to bring luck, prosperity and health throughout the year as well, by sprinkling the insides of your carved lanterns with herbs and oils before setting them out to welcome little ghosts and goblins to your door.

Liberally rubbing allspice throughout your lantern will bring luck and prosperity.

Throwing in some cardamom seeds will perk up your lust/love life, or draw a new lover to your door.

Nutmeg will aid your intuition…and bring peaceful (and sometimes prophetic) dreams.

Orange peel will bring happiness and a sense of well being. It will also bring more beauty into your life.

Cloves will dispatch troublesome neighbors, stalkers, old boyfriends/girlfriends, and keep gossips and other ugly people away from you. They will also help you conquer bothersome habits.

Ginger will bring all kinds of good stuff to your way, from love to health to happiness.

And after carving, dressing and lighting your pumpkins, here is a FABULOUS recipe for eating those super addictive and healthy roasted pumpkin seeds (if you have the patience to clean them thoroughly of the pumpkin guts before popping them in the oven).

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Clean the seeds thoroughly, throw them into a pot of salted, boiling water, then reduce the water to a simmer and let the seeds cook for about 10 minutes. Next, drain the water, pat them fairly dry with a paper towel, then toss them with olive oil and sea salt. Spread them in a pan (don’t overlap them) and pop them into a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. Take them out, give them a stir and re-separate them…then pop them back into the oven for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the shells are JUST a golden color. When you remove them the first time to stir them, cool a seed and pop it open to make sure the insides aren’t getting too done, because the insides can burn even if the outsides look fine. When they’re finished roasting, just shake on a little more sea salt (or other flavorings) and enjoy!

As a side note, pumpkin seeds are packed with iron, magnesium, zinc, fiber, protein and that wonderful, natural drug tryptophan (the stuff in turkey meat that makes you sleepy)…so they’re great for a bedtime snack.

And that’s how to get the most from your Jack ‘o Lanterns this Samhain season!

 

 

Everyday Musings

A Dozen Reasons For Loving Yoga

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It relieves my GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder).

GAD is a bitch to live with…panic attacks, insomnia, worry…the list goes on. Yoga calms the demons and dramatically reduces my GAD symptoms. That, in and of itself, is enough for me.

I can turn my body into poetry.

When I was in my 20s, I participated in several semi-professional dance companies. But dancing was not my career, and it soon took a back-burner to the daily grind of earning a paycheck as a broadcast journalist. Then came the mortgage, the parent-teacher conferences, the soccer games, the divorce, the career change …and during all that I had no time to dwell on my weight, my posture, my breathing or whether or not I could do a perfect ‘brush’ or plié. My body lost it’s ‘poetry’…something that had always given me a great sense of joy and self esteem. Yoga has brought all that back. Now I’m aware, once more, of my posture, my alignment, my breathing…and the way my body moves – whether on the mat or pushing a cart down the grocery aisle.

The Happy Baby Asana

When was the last time you were in a room full of people, all of you laying on your backs, grabbing your feet and giggling?

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(Photograph from Pinterest)

NOT feeling terrified for an entire hour out of every day.

Face it, the world is a scary place right now. For the first time in a couple of decades, nuclear war is part of the geopolitical equation. Mass shootings have made going to concerts, the theater, to school and even to church risky business. We’re running out of resources, and natural disasters are headlining the news on a near-daily basis. When I’m in yoga class, however, there is no room for fear. In fact, sometimes in the middle of a particularly difficult asana, I will hear the universe whisper in my ear, “See, there is nothing to fear.”

My Yogis, and all their wonderful personalities.

One of my yogis is the very definition of serenity. Her voice is calm, her movements are fluid, and she has a nurturing quality that is incredibly soothing. Another of my yogis never goes anywhere without his scarf, he often chants or sings along to the music, is goofy funny, and he gently pushes everyone to their best limits. Another is athletic, enthusiastic and inspiring. Another exudes so much wisdom and compassion, I just want to stand next to him to bask in that glorious energy. Each one is a gift.

The sense of community.

When I walk into my yoga studio (or any yoga studio), I’m walking into a room full of friends, whether I know anyone or not. That’s just the way it works. I travel a lot, and I’ve been to dozens of different studios in different cities and towns – and they all feel like family when I unroll my mat on the floor.

Screen Shot 2017-10-08 at 8.24.31 PM.png(But this is where I usually practice).

The ritual.

Upon arriving, all the things needed for class are listed and provided by the studio: mats, bolsters, straps, blankets, et cetera. Some classes require only a mat, some require all the available equipment. The ritual of walking in, placing my shoes and belongings in a nook, grabbing my equipment, greeting my fellow yoga people and then rolling out my mat and waiting patiently and mindfully for class to begin is a daily ritual that I love.

My mind and body are working as a team, for the first time in three decades.

This is different than being able to create poetry…this is the very essence of being in touch with the vehicle that drives your soul around while you’re inhabiting this planet. I am so in tune with my body now that I can sometimes feel energy flowing through my meridians as distinctly as I can feel myself swallow a bite of food. In class, when we begin our asanas, I can feel what parts of my body are running at full capacity, and which parts aren’t…so I can adjust accordingly and give attention to whatever’s not working right.

I care a lot about what I eat, and I no longer crave unhealthy foods.

You are what you eat. Period.

Sometimes I cry.

Actually, I’d say I cry more often than not at the end of class when we are in Savasana. I’ll be staring up at the ceiling, looking at the twinkling lights or the raw wood, and I’ll feel a tear roll out of one or both eyes and run down the side of my cheek to my ear. Yoga is powerful, and sometimes a good session can connect you so deeply with your inner ‘divine’ that you cry. You are strong. You are loved. You are perfect in your imperfection. You are forgiven. You are the entire Universe, experiencing what it’s like to be a human. That’s big.

The power of OM.

Until you’ve made that beautiful, potent and sacred sound in unison with a dozen other voices, you haven’t truly lived, imho.

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(OM -artist unknown).

Namaste

At the end of every class we put our palms together in Sitting Prayer asana (hands level with our heart chakras, thumbs together and pointing toward the chest) and we bow to the divine in our instructor as he or she bows to the divine in us. There is something about the namaste that is so pure and good and grateful that it feels like a moment of sacred bliss. After that, you can roll up your mat, put on your shoes, and walk out into the world with the full knowledge that a). there is a divine plan, b). that you’re part of it, and c)…as a great poet once sang, “every little thing is going to be alright”.

 

 

Everyday Musings

Wake Up!

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I learned two really interesting things recently.

One: the earth’s water is part of the biosphere, which means not a drop escapes, nor has a single drop of water been added since the dawn of time.

So basically, your tears were once part of the ocean, part of the blood running through the veins of dinosaurs, and part of the dew on the grass where kings have walked.

The water you drink was once part of the Amazon River…it ran in gutters in Medieval Paris and it passed through the bodies of the Pharaohs.

This is a fact. Check it out. Science is fun.

Here’s fact number two: By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population will be in water crisis. Water use has been growing at more than the rate twice of population increase in the last century. By 2025, 1.8 Billion people will be living in countries or regions with ABSOLUTE water scarcity. Where will those people go?

2025. That’s only eight years from now.

Wake up humans! Wake up!

My Closet

Velvet Above Ground

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Ok…so…velvet.

My latest obsession. So much so that I just acquired this jacket today (from Anthropologie).

Also, before I left town, I went rummaging through my storage for my winter clothes that I hadn’t unpacked since my first Oklahoma winter a decade ago (I was 5 sizes smaller back then) and found a bunch of velvet stuff…some things dating back to the 90s and early 2000s.

Honestly, I never thought I’d unpack that box again except to reminisce…and it was like finding treasure. (I even found the bolo jacket from my Betsey Johnson raspberry crushed velvet wedding dress back in ’93).

Some things are still a little snug, but I’m only 7 pounds away from my Seattle weight (for the first time in a decade). I’m going to have to up my game a bit…but hey.

Velvet was BIIIIG in the 90’s, and happily it seems to be experiencing a pretty decent comeback this year. (It was everywhere in Anthro today…I even snagged a pair of dark olive, crushed velvet, wide-legged lounge pants that will look great with an oversized grey or black sweater when temperatures drop to snow-level this winter).

So now I have velvet dresses in minis, midis and maxis, long shirts, short shirts, blouses, blazers and pants (thanks to my velvet obsession more than a couple of decades back, and today’s double find). I’m going to be so soft and shiny this winter…(and I’ll be throwing in some tulle and brocade and satin and high waisted skinny jeans and cords — remember those? — just for variety).

Oh, and some old grunge t-shirts from my WAAAY-back past to go under the velvet jackets. Mmmm-hmmmm! A little original Alice In Chains paired with some taupe velvet, maybe?

Now, if it would just start chilling up a bit…

Everyday Musings

Buying the Table.

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Every woman should be able to live her life on her own terms. She should own her freedom…which means she has her own means to provide, financially, for herself and her loved ones if necessary (and if possible). The concept of ‘provider’ shouldn’t be a ‘male’ one…but a human one.

Then again, I’ve never been supported by a man, except for the four years between the birth of my children and when I began to raise them on my own. I’ve always bought the house, and I like that. And if I have it my way, that will never change.

I guess I value freedom over the need to depend on someone in order to be in a relationship, because many men don’t like to share the pants (especially at my age). I enjoy compromise. I don’t enjoy “I’m the man, so I’ll dictate the rules”. Maybe that’s a flaw of mine, and maybe I’ll never achieve so-called ‘domestic bliss’ because of my opinions on the matter…but some women aren’t meant to be bought, bridled and groomed like a horse.

Sex and the City fans will recall a scene exactly about that…when Carrie walks past a horse in Central Park who isn’t cooperating with having a bit stuck in its mouth, and thinks to herself “maybe some women aren’t meant to be tamed…maybe they just need to run free until they find someone just as wild to run with them”.

If the cost of domestic bliss is to give up my independence, then I’ll pass. I know how to compromise, form a partnership and share the reigns…but I do not know how to give up my financial freedom in order to make a man feel more comfortable.

Most of my women friends are the same. Some have chosen men who don’t need to dominate financially, and they are in satisfying relationships because they don’t have to contend with a fragile male ego.

Men who view women as equals are rarely bothered if their wives or girlfriends are financially independent. Does this make them any less ‘manly’? No. It makes them secure and attractive. (As a side note, I’m not talking about lazy-ass men who take advantage of their girlfriends or wives because they’re opportunists…I’m talking about actual ‘partners’).

And some of my friends are single because there aren’t an abundance of men out there than can handle a woman who can pay for her own high heels…her own car…her own house, (especially in ‘patriarchal’ states, where women should know ‘their place’). An independent woman is too intimidating for these types of men. After all, she could leave at any time if she’s not treated with love and respect.

I’ll buy the table…every time. That way I can choose who dines with me and who doesn’t. Harsh? Maybe. But there’s no greater freedom than being able to say “please excuse yourself” if the need arises.