Women’s Watermen SUP

When my friend Julie told me about the Women’s Watermen SUP, I laughed and thought “I don’t know if I can do it but I’ll try.” My motto for my forties has been Tina Fey’s saying, “Just say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”

The day before the race was stressful… I had all these big events going on but if I could look forward to getting out on the water, I’d made it! It was a HUGE release that made me proud and a happy beginning to summer. Time can be like a secret weapon in handling whatever life throws at you that day and knowing that you’ll feel amazing after the event makes it worth the effort of getting out there. 

I’ve practiced SUP yoga many times and love the zen quality of outside yoga practice…the feel of the sun warming your body, the smell of sunscreen and the relaxation of the water. The paddle board 5K was more challenging because you keep moving…it’s still relaxing but I think more difficult to keep going. My toes started to feel tingly like they were falling asleep and I desperately wanted to dangle them in the water. 

Paddle boarding is a lot like bike racing…you can draft your friend and stick together. Julie and stuck it out the whole time. I can’t wait to do it again. 

This was an all women waterboard race. There were some pretty serious athletes up at the front that were shouting encouraging words and coaching as they passed us by… “Put your paddles deeper in the water.” Julie and I were more about having fun. We listened to Bob Marley blare on the speaker, enjoyed the wind in our hair and were relaxed enough to still make conversation. A paddle board 5K is probably the most relaxing race you will ever experience. 

SUP is all around. Find your local lake and I bet you’ll see that they offer SUP. Julie and I enjoyed our paddle boarding at Bluet SUP.  

P.S.

SUP with my girl

Peppermint brownies

Lingering candy canes still remain from the holidays and I can’t find it in me to toss them. A wintry rainy Sunday calls for peppermint brownies. My eleven-year-old gladly volunteered to smash the candy canes as long as she could occasionally sample several pieces. 

Chocolate and mint together are an amazing duo…really one of the most perfect dessert pairings. The freshness of the mint mixes so well with the sweet richness of the chocolate. We used two types of candy canes and two types of chocolate…really it’s about what you have left over from the holidays. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1  1/2 lb of chocolate (we used Hershey’s dark chocolate and left over Hershey’s candy cane kisses)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 candy canes (crushed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter your favorite brownie pan. 
  • In a double boiler, combine chocolate with the butter. Stir until melted. If you’re eleven-years-old, you’ll want to use your Gryffindor spatula to do this! 
  • Scrape the chocolate into another bowl and let cool slightly. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture until glossy and thick. 
  • Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until mixed. 
  • Spread the brownie batter in the prepared baking pan. 
  • Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and bake for 30 minutes.

The crunchy bits of candy canes and the gooey chocolate can’t be beat! 

P.S.

Roasting and Toasting with S’mores & a Hot Toddy

Pumpkin brulee cheesecake

 

The Four Agreements

Have you read The Four Agreements, by Don Miguel Ruiz? It should be on everyone’s bookshelf. It’s a perfect read to start off the new year.

Reading The Four Agreements helps us to understand how to distinguish between a tale and the truth. Ruiz writes about letting go of the attachments and beliefs that are in the way to a direct route to a happy and meaningful life. 

Don’t Take Anything Personally

‘Nothing others do is because of you. What others say is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering.’

Don’t sweat the small stuff…It’s easier said than done but helpful to know that when someone is unkind and yells, gossips or harms you that it’s not about you! It’s based on what that person believes in their personal fantasy. Once we agree with what others have said, we take things personally. If we didn’t agree, the things that others say would not affect us heartily.  If a decision can be consciously made to not take it personally then, words or behavior no longer affect the heart.



Always Do Your Best

‘Under any circumstance, always do your best, and you will avoid self-judgement, self-abuse, and regret.’

Give great effort in all that you do and enjoying that effort without expecting a reward. The pleasure comes from finding the fun in the effort and enjoying the moment…not expecting anything in return. When making the choice to “always do your best” this allows us to be fully alive in the moment and not worrying about the past or present. Transformation happens when we are taking action and living without regret. 

Don’t Make Assumptions

‘Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want. Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.’

It is so easy to get lost in our imagination and dream up what people are thinking, saying about us, doing… When we imagine these assumptions, we sometimes believe that they are true. This whole story that we’ve imagined may only be true to us but the mind believes it and one assumption leads to another…just like band, The Fixx sang:

Do what they say, say what you mean, and baby 
One thing leads to another 
You told me something wrong, I know I listen too long but then 
One thing leads to another

Instead of making assumptions, ask questions and say what you want. Communication solves the problem of assuming people know what’s in your head.

Be Impeccable With Your Word

‘Speak only with integrity. Say only what you mean.’

When love and gratitude goes out, those closest to you feel it and will return the same positive energy. If we tell someone, “I’ll be there” but we don’t mean it, your words have less value. Say only what you mean even if you have to say, “I’m sorry, I can’t make it.”

To be impeccable is to use your word in the direction of love and truth. When applying the practice “always do your best,” and “being impeccable with your word,” it has incredible rewards…allowing you to create your life as a magnum opus

This is a spiritual self-help book that can shift your life in the most positive way. I read The Four Agreements for my yoga teacher training and found it to be truly meaningful and it falls right into place with my yoga practice. 

Five ways to ensure a well written thank you note

 

A well written thank you note does not have to be complicated. It’s one of the warmest ways to show our appreciation to our friends and loved ones. Our grandmothers told us that it was necessary but once we write it, we know it’s the right thing to do and it makes the writer feel warm and cozy inside. A well written thank you note is just a small kindness, but they’re meaningful to those who receive them. 

  1. For notes to family and friends, strike through any formal part of the name at the top of the letter to keep things casual. This is what Princess Diana did because she didn’t want her notes to seem stuffy. Striking through name on formal stationery is a quick and easy way to make it a little more informal and a sign that you are a closer friend of that person.
  2. Always write out the date in the far right corner, opposite the salutation and begin the body of the note directly under the “r” in “Dear.”
  3. Use real stationary…it doesn’t have to be fancy but something neutral so that it can be used for many occasions and sturdy enough to be sent in the mail.
  4. A handwritten note is ALWAYS better than any electronic substitute. A handwritten note takes more time and effort than an email but it can become a keepsake. Some of my favorite notes become my bookmarks in my recipe books so I look at them often. 
  5. A punchy envelope liner acts as wrapping paper for your note. Make it even more personal by adding a picture…maybe include a picture from Christmas day opening the gift. 

All that said, don’t get too bogged down in the details. Any thoughtful note is a good one. Send a hug in the mailbox.

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A hand-written thank you note is a little treasure that won’t be forgotten

Handstand tips from Beach Yoga Girl

“Handstands are NOT yoga…we just put them in yoga. It’s acrobatics.” When Kerri Verna came to Dallas to teach a handstand workshop, I jumped at the chance to learn from her. Verna says, “If you want a handstand, you have to be on your hands everyday.” She recommends twenty minutes a day of handstand practice…it’s better than two hours on Saturday. 

When I’m vacationing at the beach, I always feel the need to do a handstand in the sand. After Kerri’s workshop, I find myself practicing handstands even in the winter. 

She suggests to keep your hands flat…no spider fingers and to prep yourself by holding Bakasana with STRAIGHT arms before going into your handstand. If you come up and don’t have balance, simply come back down. “Balance in the ball of the hand.” She says that this is key…”Don’t balance with your body, balance in the ball of the heel of the hand and keep your posterior tilt.” Try placing the tongue to the roof of your mouth so you don’t strain the neck and also point the feet because it engages more muscles. 

Every time you practice handstands, aim to do it in the middle of the room. The body is building a neurological pathway in the brain and if you set up this pathway on the wall, you won’t find it in the center of the room. Kerri says, “Don’t depend on the wall for balance.”

It was refreshing to see that she is authentic and easy to relate too. I noticed her tanktop right away…”No perfect people allowed.” She’s a mom in her forties, has ADD, lives with fibromyalgia, holds multiple teaching certifications: spinning, personal training, stand-up paddle board yoga, kickboxing, tai chi, Pilates, and yoga. She’s now offering a spirit led yoga 200 hour teacher training in Delray Beach, Florida. Kerri’s instagram account shows off her photography skills…with 1.1 million followers, she’s obviously hugely talented. 

Kerri Verna’s yoga sequencing goes something like this:

  • breath work
  • sun salutations (surya A)
  • standing postures (do the legs first…biggest muscle group)
  • balance postures
  • hip openers
  • core work-then twisting
  • backbends
  • twisting 
  • forward bends (always at the end)
  • inversion (blood is full of oxygen at the end…better for you)
  • heart opener
  • meditation

Kerri Verna is an inspirational yoga teacher and I’m so thrilled that I had the chance to learn from her.  Look to see when she’s in your area.

Happy handstands!!

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Ebelskivers (Danish Pancakes) perfect for a winter morning

My daughter made me promise, “Mommy, pinky promise that we can make ebelskivers in the morning?” It’s after the holidays, I still have leftover egg nog and it’s 24 degrees outside…the weather couldn’t be better for ebelskivers! I’ve had my ebelskiver pan for a while now and I use them to make these Danish pancakes but it’s also great for meatballs! Ebelskivers have a light, airy batter, and a sweet jam filling goes nicely in the middle. My son prefers Nutella in his. Serve them hot with a dusting of confectioners’ sugar on top. Turning them over can be tricky…try using chopsticks or shish kabob skewers.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (about 5 ounces) all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup milk (or egg nog if you make them during the holidays)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup jam or Nutella
  • confectioners sugar, for serving

Directions: 

  • In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together egg yolks, milk, vanilla and 2 tablespoons melted butter until combined. Stir in dry ingredients. Do not overmix.
  • In a small bowl, beat egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff but not dry peaks form, about 3 minutes. This is my daughter’s favorite part…who doesn’t love using an electric mixer! Fold egg whites into batter.
  • Put ebelskiver pan over medium high heat. Add 1/4 teaspoon butter to each well of the mold (sometimes I cheat and use Pam for baking), add 1 tablespoon of batter. Top each well with 1 teaspoon of jam or Nutella, then top with another 1 tablespoon batter. Let ebelskivers cook until bottoms are golden, about 4 minutes, then flip and continue to cook until tops are also golden, 3 minutes more. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil. Repeat with rest of batter, then serve immediately with powdered sugar on top.

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Meditation: a way of life

If I mention something about meditation and my daughter hears me, she’ll say, “Can I meditate with you?” We’ve been waking up on sleepy summer mornings and stepping out on the back porch to meditate together. It’s been a nice summer rhythm and so nice to share with her. I’ve been going through a 200 hour yoga training and one of the assignments was to keep a meditation journal. It’s made me aware of how important it is to find the best place and time to meditate.

I might sound strange but meditation makes me think of Julia Child. I think of Julia and Paul in their charming home in Provence…that is now a vacation rental, Le Peetch, where you can cook and practice yoga. I bet she would have been all for practicing meditation…probably in her kitchen while waiting for the pot to boil. I imagine her having a “what-the-hell attitude” and giving it a try because deep down (like most people) meditation truly is worthwhile. I tend to always come back to Julia for inspiration on life because she had it right. These are some of my favorite Julia quotes that I think can relate to meditation…

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
“Find something you’re passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it.”
“The measure of achievement is not winning awards. It’s doing something that you appreciate, something you believe is worthwhile.”

This summer, I’ve had two major events…moving into a new home and going through yoga teacher training. The move was stressful and meditation helped sort out the mess. I used an app called headspace but there are several others that my fellow teacher training friends recommend. Pick one and carve out a space and time and like Julia says, “keep tremendously interested in it.

Meditation teaches us how to recognize and respond to life in a meaningful and organized way . The benefits of meditation carry over into your day and hopefully the rest of your life. Awareness is key…welcoming thoughts but stepping back from them so that you get perspective on situations that pop up. This helps to create a spacial awareness and being content in the moment. The feeling of being open and grounded remains with you as you move back into your daily routine. There’s a healing and healthy feeling after you’ve meditated that helps you remember your connection to the universe and recover a sense of peace. You have to sit still, clear your mind and be silent…it’s an active exercise. It’s helpful to feel your body relax, imagine the shoulders softening…then it happens.

Meditation is changing the world. The Dallas Police take meditation breaks to clear the mind before going back to work. You might see a sign on the door that says, “”working on an elephant” to signal an officer is working on a big project…other officers know not to bother them unless it’s urgent. “It’s like getting an oil change or washing your car,” he said. “You feel like the car is new again. This is maintenance on you.”

Did you see Andy Puddicombe guide Jimmy Fallon through a two-minute meditation? Puddicombe is the co-founder and the voice of the meditation app Headspace. He is a former Buddhist monk and the author of three books and has the most calming British voice. He says this about Headspace, “No chanting, no sitting cross-legged but rather just a really a quick and easy way to de-stress, focus and improve your relationships, sleep and overall way of living.”

It’s challenging to have a daily meditation practice…it’s a commitment just like exercise, but if you miss practice for a day or longer, simply begin again. If you meditate daily you will come to experience noticeable benefits such as your health and happiness improving and finding an inner ease. Even if it’s for just a few moments out of your day, just having those moments to be quiet is a gift. It’s the most amazing tool…take care of your mind.

Come on baby light your Tapas!

The past four months for me have been spent in the yoga studio for teacher training. It’s been something that I’ve wanted to do now for a while so I took a yoga leap and have been immersed in practice, observation, teaching and studying…it’s been a welcome challenge. I keep hearing “trust the process” and it’s true…this process of learning over the last several months have left me with a deeper desire to live the best life and be my most authentic self. The best part has been that I’ve been sharing this wonderful experience with like-minded yogis. 

One of my latest assignments was to focus on one of the ten yamas and the niyamas (external and internal ethics). I was assigned “Tapas” which translates as a fiery discipline, staying focused, doing your best and having discipline.                

It’s the third of Patanjali’s Niyamas (positive duties and personal observances). The word Tapas comes from the Sanskrit verb tap, which means to burn and evokes a fiery discipline or passion. This fieriness is what gets our heart pumping and fuels our desire for personal growth in our yoga practice.

Think about the times you are faced with a challenge in yoga class or in life…when we practice facing up to it, that’s tapping into Tapas and learning to be strong. Tapas ‘burns’ away self-doubt and leads to self-trust and inner strength.

I think of my grandmother who started smoking at age fourteen…when she quit and age eighty, she was miserable but then she began to see benefits and enjoyed life more fully. The removal of impurities allowed her body to better function.

What lights your fire? When we turn up the internal heat, we ride the Tapas wave. Tapas is NOT comfort driven…it can be truly painful. It’s the rewards that come from sticking with the fiery discipline that are so sweet.

When we have this focused self-discipline, we purify the mind of impurities, habits and patterns that are no longer serving us. By burning through the negative, we become freer and more in touch with life because we’re burning brighter.

If practicing tapas is too intense, back out, but if you can take the challenge and allow your brain to sort itself out…use that energy to jump into the fire and see a change that lasts. It’s the unpleasantness in the beginning that tells you, “yep, this is Tapas…I’m doing it right!” If you’ve lit the fire, imagine yourself glowing with positive energy and your yoga mat becomes your “Field of Dreams”…if you build it (heat), Tapas will come.

Deep down, we know what’s good for us. So…Come on baby, light your fire!

Five poses to guaranteed to light that ‘Tapas’ fire: Hold these poses for five or more breaths: Utkatasana, plank, boat, dolphin plank, and jump switch.

Music with a fiery theme and help you stay inspired:

  • Doors- “Light my Fire”
  • Jimi Hendrix- “Let me stand next to your fire”
  • Johnny Cash- “Ring of Fire”
  • Billy Joel- “We didn’t start the Fire”
  • Talking Heads- “Burning down the house”
  • E Street Band- “I’m on Fire”
  • Grateful Dead- “Fire on the Mountain

I’m currently working on my testing teach out and I’m working on a Tapas themed class. Now if I can just teach “breath of fire” I will feel elated! Every day should have a little bit of Tapas

The history of Vail: the no-named mountain

The 10th Mountain Division during WWII

WWII veterans Pete Seibert and Earl Eaton established Vail Ski Resort. They discovered a peak with a good location and snow that they called, “no-name mountain.” We know it today as Vail which opened in 1962 with one tottering gondola and five dollar lift tickets.

In 1957, Eaton led his friend Seibert up a deserted mountain of treeless bowls of powdery snow and skiing terrain so beautiful that Seibert said, “We’ve climbed all the way to heaven.”

Seibert, who trained for alpine combat was in the 10th Mountain Division and fought on skis. The 10th Mountain Division was charged with driving the Germans from the Alps. Seibert was hit by mortar fire in the Alpine Mountains of northern Italy, and his right kneecap was badly damaged. He was evacuated from the front lines and after three days, doctors said he would never again walk. Two years later, Seibert was a ski instructor in Aspen. Eaton was an Army engineer. After the war, Eaton worked on the ski patrol in many slopes, including Aspen, where he met Seibert and he mentioned his secret no-name mountain. Eaton told Seibert that, “It was the damnedest ski mountain he had ever seen and that the only reason someone hadn’t already developed it was because no one could see the top slopes or the miraculous Back Bowls from the valley below.”

Seibert handled business affairs and Eaton played an important role in designing Vail’s layouts. Eaton was in charge of mapping and cutting ski trails and building the original lifts. Seibert said, “I’m the founder of Vail, but Earl is the finder of the mountain.” 

Founders of Vail, Eaton in the middle and Seibert on the left.

Today, Vail is full of first, second and third generation residents. It’s the playground for ski enthusiasts from all over the world. Vail quickly grew to become one of the biggest and most popular snow sports destinations in the United States.  

Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake in the morning to find that all was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous…for they may act on their dream…and make it possible.” ~Pete Seibert

Thank you Seibert and Eaton for making the best and most varied ski resort. Vail is the ski trip of our dreams…it’s like nothing on Earth!

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Robert Wyland…an artist inspiring future conservationists

Have you ever listened to a child critique art? They are the best…no filter, honest and very observant of things we might not see at their eye level. The conversations they have about art are priceless. One of my first grade students said while looking at a Wyland painting, “Look, I’m swimming with the turtle and I’m not even wet.” Every year during open house our elementary has a traveling art exhibit. This year we hosted Robert Wyland. Children could not pass by the beautiful art work without stopping to stare. We could only have the banners for one week but it gave children the chance to explore and hopefully recognize Wyland so that when they someday see one of his one-hundred Whaling Walls, they will remember studying Wyland.
Here are some questions, quotes and information about Robert Wyland to inspire you and your children…
 
Robert Wyland:

Wyland is a world-renowned marine life artist who celebrates art, science and conservation. He was the official USA artist for the Olympic games in England. Wyland has painted one-hundred Whaling Walls over twenty-seven years and he did them all for free. Did you know that he has used art and science education to inspire kids around America so they will take care the planet? He’s very passionate about teaching children and has painted with over one million kids in all fifty states and many countries around the world in the last twenty years. He wants to inspire children to protect, promote, and preserve our environment. Wyland’s paintings are a celebration of the wonder of our blue planet. His murals are designed to motivate environmental awareness and stewardship, particularly in children. Wyland says, “You can choose not to go into a gallery or a museum, but you can’t ignore a giant mural like this. If people see this beauty, I know they’ll want to get involved in protecting it.” 

Have you ever met a sea turtle face to face? How about a spinner dolphin or a blue whale? The ocean can be steps away, but their world couldn’t be more different from ours…dive in with Wyland without even getting wet. 
 
Wyland is all about educating children about conservation. Here’s some inspiration from him to help us teach our children to care for the planet…
 
Conservation tips:
When brushing your teeth, turn the water off while you are actually brushing. Use short bursts of water for cleaning your brush and this will save about 80% of the water normally used. 
A faucet that drips a drop a second is leaking 2,600 gallons of water a year…so fix the drip!
Did you know that it takes five-hundred years for one plastic water bottle to break down. Be certain your empty bottles head to recycling centers. Better yet, skip the plastic bottle and choose reusable water bottles filled from home!
Wyland quotes:
The ocean is an amazing, indescribable world filled with color, movement, emotion and light.
The only thing you can hope for is to enjoy every moment and try to keep the balance by giving something back.
Saving the planet is a cool thing to do!
If you happen to see a whale, it’s only because they want you to.
Water is life and we have to protect it.
 
Craving more? Here are a couple of little videos that I showed my class…

 

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