a yoga playlist

IMG_1614I never used to play music in my classes. For the first five years of my teaching, I taught at the ocean. Who needed anything else besides the sound of waves, of palm trees rustling in the wind, or even silence?

Now that I teach in a studio, I’m loving the playlist. It sets the mood for class, and helps me remember what I want to focus on teaching.

Here’s the latest:

Heart Sutra Soulshine 4:54 Wah! Love Holding Love New Age 25 9/13/09 9:02 AM
Indian Motorcycles 5:33 Sonorous Star The Rough Guide To Indian Lounge World 3 9/13/09 9:08 AM
Maha Deva 4:56 Wah! Love Holding Love New Age 35 9/14/09 8:07 AM
Ma Chant (Kali) 4:21 Wah! Love Holding Love New Age 38 9/14/09 8:27 AM
Deus Suite – Ascension 6:56 Electric Skychurch Together Electronica/Dance 7 9/13/09 9:19 AM
Sacred Patterns 4:45 Wah! Love Holding Love New Age 31 9/12/09 6:56 PM
You’re My Flame 3:16 Zero 7 The Garden Electronica/Dance 7 9/12/09 10:39 AM
Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1 4:46 The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Alternative 26 9/12/09 5:34 PM
Endless Horizon (I Love Bob Mix) 3:13 Electric Skychurch Moog (Soundtrack from the Motion Picture) Soundtrack
Are You a Hypnotist?? 4:45 The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Alternative 8 9/12/09 5:53 PM
It’s Summertime 4:20 The Flaming Lips Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Alternative 20 9/12/09 5:57 PM
Unconditional 4:51 Wah! Love Holding Love New Age 25 9/12/09 7:12 PM
Ma Chant (Savasana) 2:48 Wah! Love Holding Love New Age 32 9/14/09 8:22 AM
Helpless 4:03 Patti Smith Twelve Alternative & Punk 32 9/12/09 9:54 PM
Protection 7:52 Massive Attack Protection Electronica/Dance 5 2/18/09 1:25 PM
Brand New World 5:31 Cowboy Junkies At The End Of Paths Taken Country 17 9/12/09 11:10 AM
Magpie to the Morning 2:44 Neko Case Middle Cyclone (Bonus Track Version) Alternative 48 9/12/09 9:43 PM

Heart Sutra Soulshine  Wah!

Indian Motorcycles Sonorous Star

Maha Deva Wah!

Ma Chant (Kali)  Wah!

Deus Suite – Ascension Electric Skychurch

Sacred Patterns Wah!

You’re My Flame  Zero 7

Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1  The Flaming Lips

Endless Horizon (I Love Bob Mix)  Electric Skychurch

Are You a Hypnotist??  The Flaming Lips

It’s Summertime  The Flaming Lips

Unconditional Wah!

Ma Chant (Savasana) Wah!

Helpless  Patti Smith

Brand New World  Cowboy Junkies

By Thy Grace  Snatam Kaur


Philippine Mung Beans in Coconut Milk, with David's dosas

Philippine Mung Beans in Coconut Milk, with David's dosas

When I was learning how to be a vegetarian, I bought a bunch of cookbooks. I tried so many recipes.  This one, from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant, was the first that made me believe I could not only be vegetarian, but vegan (which I am not anymore, but I try–sometimes). The secret is coconut milk, which makes a creamy, delicious, hearty meal, without relying on meat or butter or cream.

When my ex convinced me to help him open a vegetarian restaurant with him in Puerto Rico (a story for another day), this was the first thing I put on our menu. And at our opening night party, on my birthday (three years ago now!) I made a huge batch and served it to all our guests. We kept it on the menu every day after that because it’s that good.

I hadn’t made it in a long time, until today. My friend David brought over batter to make dosas, then sauteed some onions and potatoes, and layered in some coconut plum chutney. I made the mung beans, with the spicy sambal kechap that totally makes it sing.

(i hope you’re ok with this Moosewood!)

Prep: Soak 1 1/2 cup of mung beans for a few hours. Or even better, soak them, sprout them a few days, and then use them in the recipe. If you don’t have the luxury of time, cook the mung beans in a pot of water until they’re soft. It takes about an hour.

Finely dice a large onion

peel and grate and then mince two tablespoons of fresh ginger root

mince 1 jalapeno

mince 6 or more cloves of garlic

wash and chop 2 cups of bitter greens (kale, arugula, mustard, or even spinach)

also needed: salt, soy sauce, 1 can of coconut milk

Heat two teaspoons of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. When the onion is soft and translucent, add the ginger, garlic, and jalapeno pepper and simmer for several minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer for five minutes.

Add the mung beans, 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, and the greens and cook until the greens wilt.

Meanwhile, make the Sambal Kechap. It’s the key.

Sambal Kechap: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1 small clove of garlic, minced, 1 1/2 teaspoons of dried hot pepper flakes, and 1/2 teaspoon of molasses. Mix and let the flavors marry.

Serve the mung beans over rice, and add Sambal Kechap to taste.

I’ll have to ask David for the dosa recipe. It was super yummy.

Spicy hot, satisfying, and comforting enough to allow us to talk about all kinds of deep things that were painful, but in the end, I came away being grateful to be alive.

Yesterday I started writing this sappy syrupy sickly sad post called “Requiem for Love Lost.” Perhaps one day I will finish it. I was thinking about Gogo (who I saw last weekend!), T, and D. I am not a stranger to loss. And those are just the losses of the past six months. (Not really lost, in the case of the men… love lives on in friendship, but the loss of romantic love is something to mourn. sigh.)

Lately, I am really into living in the vibration that I want to be my reality. No use dwelling on what’s lost. What’s to come…. now that’s what I’m interested in at this very moment. And I just bought my ticket to Element 11!

What is Element 11? It’s Utah’s regional burn, the official regional Burning Man event ™, out at Seabase, somewhere on the Bonneville salt flats. It starts Thursday. I can’t get there until after my nephew’s wedding on Friday evening. Hmmph.

Looking over the description of the theme camps and events, I feel the rebirth already. There’s Camp Oasis of Transformation, with yoga and bodywork and even a “Transformation Testimony Meeting and Fashion Show.” These are my people!  Then there’s Anti-M’s Home for Wayward Art & the Artery, with an art station for creating stuff. The Black Rock City Canoe Club is setting up a communal kitchen for anyone to use, and is making grilled cheese and bacon every night (reminiscent of Bianca’s). The Giggle Collective is having banana splits and ice cream sundaes on Sunday. I’ll probably skip Viva Las Vegas camp’s banana blow job competition.

I first went to Burning Man in 2000 with some friends from San Francisco. I went again in 2002, which was a bit more challenging, as I was making the trip from New York (where i was living at the time). The 2003 burn was even more of a schlep. My ex and I (who i met at the 2002 burn) traveled all the way from Puerto Rico to Black Rock City, about two hours north of Reno.

So after six years, I’m easing back in, starting with Element 11. Compared to the 40,000 or so who attend Burning Man, there will be maybe 800 people at Element 11. I’m going to be in Pineapple camp, with my friends Mark and Kameron. I’m driving up with my friend Phidias, who I met via Twitter. I’ll teach yoga on Saturday and Sunday for anyone who wants to come. It’ll have to be spontaneous, because I can’t even imagine setting a schedule. I predict there will not be a lot of sleeping going on. Summer solstice is on Sunday — hallelujah!!! the longest night of the year!! — and there’s a solstice burn with offerings to Ra, the Sun god, at 3:45 a.m.

Tonight I pulled out my costume bin and started planning a mixture of old and new. I lost most of my burning man photos when my hard drive crashed five years ago, sadly. I wish I could share some of my creations. I spent two entire months in the summer of 2002 (visiting Utah while waiting for my nephew Logan to be born) going to Deseret Industries every day and making stuff. I found a coconut shell bra, and made a green fabric grass skirt to go with it. I made a lot of hats. My favorite was covered in moss and flowers. Paired with flowing green fabric wrapped into different styles, depending on my mood, I was an earth goddess. The year before, I dressed as the angel Moroni’s wayward sister. Gold body paint, gold spray-painted wig, gold lame fabric wrapped everywhere, and I carried a golden trumpet. That year, I drove out with a bunch of ex-mormons from Utah who created a temple and re-enacted certain ceremonies. But by then, I was connected to Asylum Village, where I stayed my last two years, with 300 or so amazing New Yorkers.

I usually changed costumes four times a day. I guess that was my contribution. At Burning Man, you are not a spectator. You are a participant. You can create whatever you can fathom. Friends from Brooklyn, part of the Madagascar Institute, created an Octopus on the far reaches of the playa. They welded the structure, 80 feet by 30 feet, covered it in fabric or fiberglass — i can’t remember. At the end of each tentacle, fire cannons erupted all night long. It was glorious.

People create beautiful art and burn it. And they make gifts they hand out. Or they just do random sweet things. My first year, at the end of the week, parched and dehydrated, I was walking along the esplanade (the first street in the series of concentric circles that make up the village) when a man offered me a tray of watermelon. Cold, crisp, perfectly cut into big cubes. I picked one cube. It was delicious. I kissed him and told him I loved him. It was such a random, perfect act. That to me is the essence of Burning Man. Unexpected kindness. Love. Vision. Creativity.

Last year, when I went to San Francisco for Heather and Stacy’s wedding, just after the ceremony, as the summer heat was overtaken by clouds, I handed them two fake fur coats. Heather told me later that it was a perfect Burning Man moment. They wore their coats the rest of the evening as protection against the cold.

There’s something about Burning Man. The sense of community — when you arrive at the entrance, greeters say, “Welcome home.” Just purchasing my ticket tonight, I feel like I’ve come home.

Yesterday I resisted moping around — and i had a lot to mope about. I was feeling sad over changes in my relationship especially.

My mom is back in town, meaning that I am under the microscope again. We are sharing the car while she is here, and thankfully I decided to drive her to my brother’s so that she could take care of my nephews while their parents were doing their church duties. I didn’t want to be depressed and isolated and car-less here in the basement on the side of the mountain.

I haven’t seen much of my family lately. Things have been strained since I resigned from the church in such a public way. They were so happy to see me, and full of so much love in my time of sadness. My littlest nephew, Logan, gave me the sweetest hug. They were all heading off to church, but my brother Ted suggested I go to their pool. They live in Saratoga Springs in a development with a pool fed from the natural hot springs. “It’s Sunday,” he said. “No one will be there.”

So Pooka and I drove home, got my bathing suit, and headed back. The sun was bright, the water was really warm, almost hot. From the first moment underwater, I felt the sadness melting away.  He was wrong — there were actually quite a few families there. At first I thought maybe being there wasn’t such a good idea, reminding me of what I thought I lost. It was a little cold to be in a bikini in the sun, at first, so I headed to the hot tub. Ah. So healing.

Back in the sun, lounging on a chaise next to a flowering bush, minding my own business, a wasp landed on my thumb and stung me.

But from there, it got better. I didn’t leave. I just moved away from the bush. It got warmer. I swam some more. After two hours of just sitting with my thoughts, kissed by the sun (ok, a little burnt, but it felt sooo good!) I went back to my brother’s. Logan gave me another big hug. He stuck with me all afternoon. We trampolined. I showed him Pooka’s trick that Tyler taught her (sit! shake!). We tried to teach it to Jack, his boston terrier. We trampolined some more, with Garrett. We played tag on the trampoline. It was impossible to not laugh, collapsing in giggles and out of breath. We brought out a bowl of popcorn and trampolined with that too. I thought of parents scolding for something like that, but thought, what is the harm? (and again thought of Tyler and how he let Elliott paint a robot and a sun and other designs on his bedroom wall, and also of how I had painted a heart on Harper’s wall before Tyler evened it out with the roller.) We tossed popcorn to Pooka and Jack, and finally let Pooka eat all the popcorn that had suspended midair and hadn’t fallen back into the bowl during the trampolining.

So much comfort and care. They really are beautiful — my nephews, my brother, my sister in law, my mother.

We stopped by my other brother’s on the way home to pick up his ipod so we could have Mad Men marathon (season 2). Again, though things have been strained, they were so loving. Jennifer gave me the sweetest hug. They had three desserts, and i decided to eat all three. A little sugar therapy.

So my mom and I watched four seasons of Mad Men.

I’m so grateful to be surrounded by family love. They have known me all their lives, most of them anyway. We have a history, yet it was still hard for them to come to terms with me and my “wearing my heart on my sleeve,” as my mom puts it. Tyler’s family, on the other hand, doesn’t know me well — mostly from the really nice thanksgiving weekend we spent visiting in Arizona. They have found my blog, the old one, at least, and are upset about it. More sadness. I am no longer a Mormon, and I have been critical. But that’s me. When talking about my experiences, I don’t mean to criticize others for something that brings them happiness.

I forgot to take my camera battery out of the charger at home, so I didn’t get to take pictures, but here’s one of a similar day last year, when Cooper was alive.

trampolining is such good medicine!

trampolining is such good medicine!

I think that I lost myself for a while in my relationship, something i always intend to avoid, but that always seems to happen when things aren’t going well. I can’t afford to do that. No one can. And if we truly can get back our friendship, that’s all that really matters. I was mourning the loss of a friend. I was needy. I was intense. And I’m sorry.

one year later

future cherries

future cherries

Though everything outside this morning was flocked heavier than any christmas tree, it feels like springtime for me.  (It helps that much of last night’s heavy snow has already melted!) Today marks my one year anniversary of leaving Puerto Rico and moving to Utah. It has been a very difficult year, chronicled in my old blog, A Series of Small Failures, which I am retiring today. The main goal in moving to Utah, into my parents’ basement (ouch–how i miss having a great job and a house of my own!), was to get out of the massive debt I was in, mostly due to opening and running my beautiful little organic vegetarian restaurant, Natural High. Rincon, the surfing mecca of the Caribbean, is gorgeous but sparsely populated when the tourists go home, making any business endeavor there impossibly challenging. A year later, I still don’t have a job and I’m still in debt, so when looking at the past year through that lens, I’m still failing. But it feels like time to change. I liked my old blog title originally because I felt like my life was truly a series of small failures. I wasn’t throwing a pity party — it was sort of tongue in cheek, trying to make light of the situation.  I was processing. But it got really depressing.  I like to think that failures are attempts at doing something grand, and I’d rather fail than not try at all. Still, it sounds so negative. And I am shedding that negative persona.

My parents convinced me to come home to Utah last year. Utah was never my home — i grew up in California — but Utah is where my brothers and their families live, as well as my mom and dad. And the offer to live rent free while i got back on my feet, something they’d offered for years, suddenly seemed like the only real option i had if I wanted to really move on. How easy it would have been to stay in Rincon, making the bare minimum to exist and having ample time to take my dogs to the beach every day… But I had depleted my entire life savings betting on myself and my restaurant (FAIL!). Now, that move seems almost prescient — if i was going to lose it anyway (and many people have lost most of their 401ks and other savings in the recent market madness), at least I got to spend it living on a tropical island and trying to build something of value that I owned. Worse than just losing everything I had saved, I actually took out loans to keep feeding the dream. You sort of have to drink your own Kool-aid when in business. If you don’t believe in yourself, who else will?  I needed to move away, however, to break the connection to my ex, who I owned the restaurant with (imagine working with your ex practically every minute of every day). Plus, I thought getting a job in the states would be easier.

I didn’t think the job would be a problem.  I was a staff writer for Fortune and the San Jose Mercury News. I had tons of experience. But no one would hire me!  Even though I wanted to keep teaching yoga, I didn’t believe i could make anywhere near enough money to pay down my debt by teaching, and eliminating the debt was my primary goal. So I looked for journalism and other writing jobs. I did lots of freelance at first, but the recession hit. I’d apply for jobs and get no response whatsoever. I finally got an interview at a natural foods store for a position in their produce department, but after a three month search, the job went to someone else. Talk about demoralizing. In one of the most surreal events, I applied to be a census worker. I drove to Springville in February to take the test (a Kafkaesque experience in itself). As they hire people based on their test scores, and I had aced the test, I was sure I’d be hired. But I found this out later: when they have a position, they start at the top of the list. They call. If you don’t answer, they don’t leave a message and move on to the next name. After a little digging, I found out that they had tried to call me three times when I was in Connecticut last month working as a personal chef/private yoga instructor for a family–a career that seemed promising for a month or so, but fizzled because I slacked on promoting myself. Alas, there was no cell phone coverage in the home where I was staying and working, so I didn’t even get a missed call notification. I was so hoping for the Census experience because I needed the money — plus I thought it might be fun to write about working for the government. I even thought about joining the Navy Reserve. No joke. I was that desperate. One bright spot during that time: I wrote three articles for Yoga Journal — fun and rewarding.

As if dealing with unemployment and being broke and in debt wasn’t bad enough, we had a family tragedy last summer that made everything else seem unimportant. When my nephew died, I sank into such a deep depression that I really didn’t care about finding a job or pitching freelance articles or anything for quite a long time. I am so grateful that I could be here with my family through that, and to this day.

It feels so good to be emerging from that black period. Good things happened, to be sure. Healing happens, slowly. Rededicating myself to my daily yoga and meditation practice has been the key. I also started a daily yoga blog, which i kept up for about two weeks. FAIL! but at least I’ve been practicing every day. Also, feeling loved and accepted by my amazing boyfriend — who stuck with me through all the darkness — as well as other friends I gradually met helped immensely. It’s challenging meeting like-minded souls here in Utah County, but it’s happening.

I am crossing my fingers and praying that i’ll get this really cool job next month that seems likely to be mine.  I’m practically counting the days until I can move out on my own again!  I am talking to yoga studios about teaching again — for love, not so much for money. I finally put a few things up on Etsy, and I’m learning lost wax casting to make unique pieces to incorporate into my jewelry. Despite the desperate state of journalism, I actually was given an assignment last week to write about Iowa and Vermont’s recent same-sex marriage laws for Salon. I can’t even remember the last time someone called me and asked me to write something. Okay, yes, I do: it was my story of resigning from the Mormon Church last November after Proposition 8 passed, nullifying same sex marriages. But before that? It had probably been years since I was asked. As a freelancer, it’s usually the other way around.

So things are looking up. Tight buds are opening, gradually.  I live near an orchard, and on my daily walks past it, I watch the trees blossom. Cherries, apples, apricots, peaches, plums, mulberries. I know them all, as I plundered them freely last summer and fall. I thought the orchard was abandoned, but it turns out that the man who owns it is old and wasn’t able to spray them last year — thank god for that! — so he didn’t bother harvesting them. It seemed such a shame to watch the fruit wither and fall. Those were the best cherries and apples I have ever eaten. Plus it was so beautiful to observe the fruit growing through the months. Perhaps the anticipation of its eventual ripeness made picking and eating it more enjoyable.

It’s still challenging living in my parents’ basement, not having a job, trying to create structure and motivate myself to keep writing and creating jewelry and making my credit card payments. My parents are constantly giving me advice: “Just get a job at a bookstore! Just get any job!” But I’m grateful for the time to cocoon, think and heal. Taking the wrong thing means not being available for the right thing. Which I think this thing is. I hope I hope I hope. Here’s to new beginnings. I miss Puerto Rico. I miss my friends, my yoga teaching, my restaurant, the beach, and the dogs I left behind with my ex. I brought two of them with me, but I only have Pooka left. Gogo seems to be adjusting pretty well to his new home. I still miss him every day.

It’s taken a while, but i finally feel I am blossoming.

This blog started out with the best intentions–practice daily and update daily. Happily, i have practiced daily since I started the blog in January. Sadly, I have been a slacker, not updating.

I’ve recently started a new blog: I Am Blossoming. I hope to see you there!



yoga and cleansing

I’m going to Connecticut next month to do my first private yoga/juice cleansing/lifestyle coaching gig. So excited. And so sleepy from day three of the master cleanse. Here’s to thinking and planning it.  Om shanti.