Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Explore. New. Music.

More music. Some is brand new to me (today), some is new in the past month, some is old music that has been revived in my playlists. Let's do this!

Macklemore x Ryan Lewis
Song: Vipassana
~I dig the simplicity of this unique blend of indie-hip hop. I am not an avid listener by any means - I found them on NPR, but I think I am going to dig further to see if I like more of their stuff. Like the article says, "It works".



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
The Head and the Heart
Song: Lost in my Mind
~Classic singer/songwriter sound. Catchy, mellow, and easy to get lost in. Summer road trip with the windows down kind of music.



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Kanye West
Song: Lost in the World
~ Sampling Bon Iver's "Woods", West makes a huge leap between the indie genre and hip hop. His entire album is brilliant, but this song makes me the happiest due to the sample. I really like where hip hop is going right now in terms of blending sounds and embracing other instruments. Choral and symphonic sounds are really popular right now. Some of the combination's just give me the chills. Oh, and don't get me started on the dialogue at the end. Seriously, give it a listen.



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Plastician
Song: Japan
~I have been getting into a little DubStep thanks to a certain friend from Holland. I am not much of an industrial music fan, but this genre catches my ear every few tracks. This one in particular has a beautiful melody on top of soul grinding bass. Love. It.



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N.E.R.D
Song: The Man
~ Again, a unique cross-over of genres. You take your pick of what they are though. I just like the line "All my muffins!!"



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Feist
Song: That's what I say, It's not what I mean
~ I acquired some not-so-popular Feist albums awhile back and just recently started to listen to them. This song is so freaking dead on. Classic emo female indie tune. Slow and mildly depressing.



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Olive
Song: Smile
~ Portishead meets Massive Attack. Epic swells, female vocals, and lyrics to tear at your heart strings. A reminder that sometimes if you just keep smiling and saying the right thing eventually you will feel ok again.




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End.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Emotion and Action

~Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior - Chapter 4: The Sword is Sharpening ~

"Nothing wrong with anger or any other emotion. Just pay attention to how you behave...Anger is a powerful tool to transform old habits...and replace them with new ones....Fear and sorrow inhibit action; anger generates it. When you learn to make proper use of your anger, you can change fear and sorrow to anger, then turn anger to action. That's the body's secret of internal alchemy."...


"How can I control my habits if I can't even seem to control my emotions?"

"You don't need to control emotions," he said, "Emotions are natural, like passing weather. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action."

We humans tend to live in a soap-opera existence, letting our emotions run the show. Believing that we have encountered problems, we seek ways to experience more positive emotions (like confidence and courage and compassion and motivation and passion) and to rid ourselves of so-called negative emotions (like fear and sorrow and anger) so that we can live well and behave better and accomplish more.

There are two basic methods to effect this change. Method One is quite popular: We quiet our minds and create empowering beliefs, practice positive self-talk, sharpen our focus, and affirm our power in order to free our emotions and visualize positive outcomes to develop self confidence and generate the courage to find the determination to make the commitment to feel sufficiently motivated to do whatever it is we need to do.
Method Two reflects the warrior's way: We just do it.

The caterpillar doesn't become a butterfly overnight. Some transformations take a little time.

Let's be gentle with ourselves as we turn from knowing into doing, and as we learn to use our emotions (instead of the other way around). As Mahatma Gandhi said, "As heat conserved becomes energy, our anger can become a power which can move the world."

~~~

While I didn't copy all of the passage, I tried to hit the main point. What a great rounding-out to my current train of thought these days. I embrace the thoughts given to me while sweating and shaking in various uncomfortable poses on the solitude of my yoga mat. "Embrace the stressful parts of your body. Breath through the tension. Take your practice into the rest of your life." I am slowly becoming more and more conscious and self-aware than ever before. Less judgment this time around.

As a recovering 'anger addict' I am coming to terms with the fact I use anger to manipulate those around me. A pattern I learned at an early age from parental figures (that are not longer in my life). Being upset at someone does not make them want to change - instead it instills fear and distrust. In the short term it creates strife, in the long run it pushes people away. Only the strong survive in my circle of friends. Only those who have stuck around long enough to realize (or care) that I am not an angry person...merely one who has allowed this emotion to run my life.

Being able to voice one's own opinion with grace, accept a change in plans, to allow life happen outside of expectations, are all decisions that are growing me into a much more content (happy) individual.

Red wine. Two bite brownies. Sade - Solider of Love. Life simply, is.





Monday, November 1, 2010

Snap! Crackle! Hop!

Highlights and reflections from this weekend...

My first real foray into teaching at a regional event since, oh say, 4 years and it was a great time. I must admit that I was bummed to be missing my Fearsome Threesome of Michelle and Mead, or the fun of downtown Decatur - but in the end I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
Here are my highlights.

~Dancing in an old brothel on Friday night. Creepy and intriguing.
~Reminding myself why I don't particularly enjoy blues dances.
~Teaching aerials with Sosh and being super sore afterwards.
~Awesome students willing to be awkward and silly to learn safety and partnership.
~Tasty breakfast food.
~Amazing host with themed rooms. I slept in the 'Disney Princess' room.
~Decorating the halloween shaped cookies with non-halloween designs ranging from dirty to other holidays.
~E-Sparkle!! We were missing JoSparkle - but we broke it down either way.
~Dressing up as "Zombie Day at the Races Girl". My first year as a 'scary person'. It was also very fun to randomly chase Evita around making zombie noises.
~Taking a hip hop lesson on Sunday afternoon from a professional dancer. He just started to lindy hop in March and is freaking amazing already. We traded knowledge, dance for dance. I am pumped. MJQ this weekend for sure.
~Discovering new music. Slum Village Radio is my new jam.
~Meeting more people from the region, and meeting up with old friends.
~Sugar Glider of awesome.
~Still having blood stains from my zombie wounds. Sigh...the cheap stuff is hard to scrub off.
~Costume contest instead of J&J to win passes to dance events. I think this should happen on a more regular basis. Travel Gnome ftw!

The entire team of Red Hot Lindy Hop put together a very well-run event. It was small, personal, and full of enthusiastic students. I have found that I enjoy those kind of events more and more these days. The huge ones have a great energy, but the intimacy of only seeing the same 70 people all weekend can have it's bonuses too.

It was fun and challenging to teach big classes again. I dig it and hopefully will be able to travel around the SE more often.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

of yoga, sweat, and tears

"The more you let go the more you will be supported"

"Look deep inside yourself and accept everything that you find without judgment or criticism"

"Embrace the areas that you feel resistance. Sink into them and flow through the physical strife"

There are a variety of reasons one might start to practice yoga. Flexibility. Lose weight. Tone up. Physical therapy from an injury. I am not sure why I started. Maybe because running is one of my least favorite activities and I don't have access to a gym at which I feel comfortable. I started/learned a little yoga last summer and have continued to practice when I have time. However, an introduction to Hot Yoga this summer has me hooked. I don't mean 'hit the studio on the weekends', like, I crave it. I think about it at work and have to space out my sessions due to soreness. Can you overdo yoga?

I suppose I love the feeling of a heart workout without doing cardio. I love the sweating. I love the tone it gives my legs, and the definition it increases in my upper body. I dig the flow of bodies moving together, and the calm messages my instructor gives the class as we struggle to stand in one spot with a simple lift of a leg. Leaving the studio I feel as though I could leap over the skyscrapers of midtown and keep on going. That in itself is a good reason to keep going back.

However, in the midst of all the physical benefits I am starting to feel the emotional and mental impacts. More often than not at the end of class we will hit a pose of great reflection, like rabbit. Or the instructor will read an excerpt from a text that speaks into my life in a very direct way. I am starting to be able to reflect in other areas of my life. Be able to embrace stress and move through it. Be able to handle the extreme ups and downs that I fluctuate between - and not allow them to overpower my life.

Today I went to the "West Coast Power Flow" class due to the time slot. I just didn't want to go before 6:30. Todd was on the roster, of whom I have not taken a class from. I had my doubts, but I knew it was going to be a good class when he started with "Hi, this is the West Coast Power Flow class because I am from the west coast. Therefore, I am kinda weird, so this class is going to be kinda weird. Let's have some fun." My first genuine smile of the day stretched across my face and so the next 90 minutes of pure intensity began. Multiple kinds of inversions, warrior pose flows, seemingly endless vinyasa flows, 5 min non-stop ab workout, and some delightful stretching. I have never smiled, laughed, or felt more elated during a class. The last stretch (of which name I cannot remember) was leg over leg with heels on hips and a forward fold. Boom, there it was, the internal reflection feeling. And the tears. We moved eventually into almost a fetal position on our sides. Again, the tears. To finish there was 5 minutes of corpse pose with guided reflection of chakra placement and use. Laying there in the dim light, with my body opened up and exhausted I could feel it all start to pour out. Todd went to every person and assisted with shoulder and neck placement - upon which it intensified. Thank goodness for towels and sweat because wiping away the leakage was not noticeable. I am not sure why I cry when I go to class. I don't know what is releasing inside of me or finally allowing itself to be felt, but it does, effortlessly.

At the end of class a new student mentioned to the teacher that he had watched me and another student because "We were really good". I told him that I had just started and was really not experienced at all. Todd said "That is 'cause she has good body awareness, she is just doing what she can do. She doesn't care what other people are doing. She doesn't do Shoga." Student replies, "Shoga?" Todd, "Yeah, Shoga...you know...the girls that come in here to 'look pretty'" demonstrating with his arms stretched wide, "I love to look at myself in the mirror". I humbly said thank you, and that I truly enjoyed the message and experience of his class; that it was exactly what I needed tonight. It put me in the right place =)

So thank you, Todd. Thank you, Yoga. I am connecting to myself and my consciousness in ways that are finally feeling authentic.

I am not going to be too serious.
I am not going to take things too lightly.
I am going to be completely honest.
I am going to respect.
I am going to require respect.

New mottos. New life. Same me.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Saturation

I swear this has been the first time I have seen a good soaking in weeks. Saturation. A thorough cleansing of the palate and soul. Such little entities of water create such a rush in a usually leisurely pace. The energy of the world slows down, and our speed to reach point A to point B increases all because of...rain.

When was the last time I simply stood in the rain? It has been awhile.

I feel as though I have reached my saturation point. Words splash out as my thoughts speed by, unchecked, due to an overflow of rushing emotion. My wipers of warrior calm are not enough to contain the scattered flood. And so? I just breathe...

I wrote a letter to my 'adopted' daughter in the Philippines. She is 7, and her name is Abbie. Her photo hangs on my fridge along with the letter she sent to me. I don't suppose I can afford the dollars per month, but it is a truly fulfilling sensation to know that my decision to stop for five minutes on the sidewalk in Seattle is now impacting another person half-way around the world. No, I don't want children right now - I have no desire for one actually - but the need to give back and be a global citizen is becoming more and more apparent. What have you done for the rest of the world lately? I don't think that everyone should adopt a child from a third-world country, but what if you made a conscious decision to do one thing for your community that was outside of your comfort zone?

Music for right now.

November by Max Richter

Smile by Olive

Saturday, September 11, 2010

When you know...you don't know

At 26 I should know. I should know who the one is. I should know I am doing the right thing. I should know where I am headed.

But, sometimes life flips the coin and suddenly you ask yourself, "Is this it?"

I know what I geek out on. I know what interests me - and I feel like I took the easy route down the job path. I could have taken the engineering courses in college, but I took the tech/ind arts path and then went into education. I don't really think that those who can't do teach. I know and work with some amazing teachers who are giving 100% of themselves everyday at their job. Changing lives, and growing the new generation of society. I love my job. I love the light bulb. But lately I am just wondering...

I would rather be building. Designing. Drawing. Inventing. Taking apart. Fixing. Using my brain and my hands for more than lessons plans, grading, and recording conduct cuts for children who cannot behave.

So I am looking at options. I would love to work in the alternative energy field - wind or solar specifically. I would love to get up and go to work with adults, putting knowledge to work for the good of the world. Calculate and create. Test, evaluate, and manufacture. I regret my decision to not take more challenging classes, or higher level math. I wish that I could put on my job application to a wind turbine company in Colorado that I have a degree in Mechanical Engineering and I would be the best pick for their CAD Engineer job opening. All my experience will not really add up to much against someone who has taken statics and structures, physics, and calculus 3. Sigh...

So options? Hmmm...I could go back to school? That would be interesting. I would want to apply for a Masters program, but I don't have the prerequisites. I could just 'take classes' until I had what I needed. Or, I could see if they would take me as a Master's student, and then take a shit ton of undergrad classes until I was caught up. Which would make everything take so much longer but might be the best option. I could be a research assistant, or teach classes to be able to be in school full time.

Bottom line? Something has to change. Seven lanes of traffic. 45 minute commute. Thirteen year olds that think they can talk to me with impatience. Grading worksheets that involve sentences like "Trains are good because they helped people move stuff and stuff". I am ready for some difficult brain work. I am ready to be hands on. I am ready to solve problems and work on a team of people that are working towards a similar goal. I am still on the path of 'world change' but I think that it might be a different one than education.

Other thoughts? Peace Corps. I have been thinking about re-applying. A few things hold me back, such as financial obligations, and my family - but the fact that it keeps floating to the forefront of my mind so often makes me think it might be a viable option in a year or so.

I have changed my life so often for other people. I moved to Atlanta for my friends. I went to Berea for my family. I went to App for the scholarship and the fact it was still close to home. When does life stop being about other people and about what the hell I want? I feel so old, yet I know I am so young. My entire life stretches out in front of me...what do I want to do?

IKEA This!!!!

I am completely addicted to the IKEA Hacker blog.

What better way to feed my nerdy design techie side than read about people who bought bad ass furniture from Sweden and then made it EVEN BETTER!!??

I can't imagine. Check it out and follow it. Be happy.

IKEA Hacker Blog

Friday, September 10, 2010

Into the Wild: 2010

In the tradition of writing posts about my adventures, I have titled my latest camping trip in the cheesiest manner possible. I don't suppose a canoeing trip that entails 3 coolers of beer as truly wild - but I like to think I was shirking the responsibilities usually associated with hygiene, food prep, and sleeping arrangements enough to feel as though I had stepped into a wild place.

After a calm Friday evening of packing, testing the tent in the kitchen, and a little grocery shopping the real adventure began around 6am on Saturday. We hit the road by 7:30ish and took 70 through the mountains. Although we were all a little grouchy and tired the caffeine and excitement kept us awake and singing through the 4 hour drive. Switching pilots about 3/4 of the way through helped too =) Michelle and I busied ourselves with stories about dancing and taking silly pictures.




Now that we were in the middle of bumblefuck Colorado, we were ready to go. We were shuttled up to a launch point of our choice, loaded up the gear and jumped into the canoes. Literally. The current was much stronger than we anticipated, there was a huge incline at the edge, and another camper had his huge freaking raft/boat tied up at the launch. So instead of calmly wading into the water it was more of a "jump in and try not to tip the canoe as it slams up against the raft". We succeeded in taking in about 5 gallons in our first three minutes. I have no idea how Michelle and David managed to stay dry. One quick stop with a dump fixed it quickly, and no gear was ruined.

One a communication sys
tem was set up we were good to go. Nothing like getting in a canoe with another person to learn your true nature - and theirs. I think Vinnie and I have enough Type A in us to not want to put up with any crap, so we worked it out after the first exciting "surprise you are are now paddling through rapids-around-a-curve" stretch. The only time we had to get out of the canoe in the first 13 miles was a stretch that was so low it was just pebbles and small rocks on the left of an island. It was either drag the loaded canoe for 5 minutes, or go over class 2 rapids. We decided on keeping our gear above the water and all in the boat. Good call. Wish I had some good water shoes. Keens or Chaco's?

The rest of day one was spent with our feet up, pa
ddles in when needed, and soaking in the views.

Left: View from the co-pilot seat.





Right: Michelle and David keeping it real in the other canoe.



Fun things we saw along the way: Big Horned Sheep, an old bridge, ducks, and other campers.

Pic is super blurry but it's not like I took a $1000 camera on the canoe.

I just dig old bridges and buildings.




The campsite was found about an hour before dark. We set up the tents as the sun was setting, and then commenced the cooking and fire-making. Tons of driftwood lined the river so we had a great blaze in no time. Dinner was bratwurst, baked potatoes, fruit, and roasted marshmallows. The sunset was not much to scream about since it was behind a cliff wall, but after the sun disappeared, the beautiful outline as dusk set in was very satisfying. I spent a lot of time just looking around me in awe.

The sunrise was very peaceful and clear. I had forgotten that sleeping outside makes waking up very easy. Cue inspirational music and scripture verses floating across the screen.



Breakfast w
as eggs, bacon, bread/toast, avocado, fruit, and roasted marshmallows. I mean, we brought so many why waste them? A quick dip in the river was very, ahem, refreshing, and then I brushed my teeth with some Jim Beam. Feel the burn. I can't say that it was good for the breath, but my teeth felt pretty darn smooth. After packing up and frolicing around for a bit we took off for the second day - only 13 more miles to go. The launch went smoothly and it was much less intimidating that day 1.




There were certainly more rapids during the second leg, but they were all right away. The rest was just smooth sailing. Michelle and David spent a great deal of time laying down in their canoe, with it floating sideways. I think it was very representative of their chill personalities. Vinnie and I kept our canoe going the 'right' way most of the time. Taking turns at steering or watching for rapids we got into some deep conversations and a few arguments. Always a good time. Mostly though our excitement over being on the water was over, and we just were quiet, soaking in the landscape and beauty that surrounded us.

Describing it will never do it justice. Nor will the 100 pictures that I took. Just take my word for it. It was like I was in a different country. Different world. The colors were so vivid they almost hurt. The silence was so calming. Only wind, water, and a few bugs were all we could hear.


So, why did I do this? So many people have looked at me with complete surprise when I tell them I flew to Colorado to go camping. Why not? My life is open to
whatever I decide I want to do. Options are endless. Adventure is optional. Living is not. I think that I am ready to be spontaneous as well as dependable. I am ready for the comfort of home, and to answer the call of the open road. I am so happy to have figured out what makes me happy - I only hope that for all of my friends.


You know what else makes me happy? My new Patagonia Refugio 28L day pack. Sigh....

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why not?

Music share time...

1) Stateless: Bloodstream

I have never seen Vampire Diaries, nor do I any desire to, but this song just happens to have been used for the show, hence the youtube video backdrop image. No real reason for posting. It just came up on my Pandora station and it stuck in my head. Beautiful, flowing, and introspective, this song makes me just want to write in my journal or practice yoga.



2)Pretty Lights: Finally Moving

A friend posted about liking this group so I had to check them out. Very chill and jam style music with a hint of groove. I am totally down. If I were still in college I would probably put them on to finish a research paper. Will be adding this to my Pandora stations shortly.



3) Ray LaMontagne: God Willin' and the Creek Don't Rise

I was counting the days until his new album, and once again Ray has not let me down. The latest installment is a bit more melancholy, almost every song is about a breakup, moving on, or lost love, so if you are not in that mood this might not be your favorite album of his. However, the title track grabbed me from the first note. He sings about the beautiful Carolina mountains and his girl back home. What is there not to like about that? Again, this is a slower, more introspective album with a distinctly old country twang, but Ray does not veer too far from his slightly 'weird indie americana' sound that makes him so accessible. Love it.



4) MGMT - Electric Feel

Michelle put this as the first track on her latest mixed cd, and it is still one of my favorites off of her random compilation of awesome. Vinnie played it in the car when I was there, not knowing my affinity or connection to the song, and from then on it is my direct soundline to Boulder. Enough said.




5) Greg Laswell: And Then You

I have no idea how I do not have this album. Paycheck this week = purchase asap. What a beautiful melody and underlying rhythm. The lyrics speak to me as well, but my initial attraction to the song is the piano. I dislike that some of my favorite artists are associated with tv shows that I have never even seen. But, seriously, worth a listen. His other albums are equally excellent.





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The past few weeks have been an exploration in the question of "Why not?". Some people might say, "Because I can." - which is a perfectly good reason. But, in my growing realization that I really can do whatever the hell I want, I am riding a sine wave of emotions.

It started with driving to ILHC last weekend on the encouragement of multiple friends and 4 shots of espresso. It was a great answer to my question and I regret...nothing about it. I stayed with two different hosts who were so gracious as to spare some space and a shower, and hung out with new and old friends. Although I missed the Friday main dance and comps, I caught the live jam band and hallway dancing. Win. Instant shenanigans started with Jo and we didn't stop all weekend. Pretty sure we were either planning fun, having fun, or recounting fun for 2 days straight. Just wait until Lindy Focus...just wait. The Glitter Ninja Sparkle Team will strike!!!
Although I didn't compete or attend any classes (which was a huge boo) I still basked in the enjoyment of all the kick-assery that was presented in each division. Everyone brought their A game and it was inspiring to see.
Andrew and I were able to cram in a couple hours of practice despite our sleep deprived, hungover state of being. I am really pumped to just run through the choreo until we can do it in our sleep. Fingers crossed we can catch up in October as planned.
The best quote ever "F*ck that shit. I brought mah rain boots" is part of a longer story that will have to wait until I see you in person. But just for the record, I still have my job ;)

Friday night was an impulsive decision of going to MJQ to enjoy the best hip hop dance night in the A. Again, I regret...nothing about it. I was surrounded by people, and didn't have to connect to anyone or anything besides the music. I found some cool people to dance with, had a couple drinks, and then found my way home when it was starting to thin out around 2:30. There is nothing like getting lost in the crowd of energy and excellent music. No judgment, so social status, just the rhythms and your body moving. Soul, 70s, 80s, 90s, reggae, current rap, east coast, west coast, chicago, dirty south - they play everything. Everyone is so happy at that club, it makes me want to go back with my best of friends.

The ability to ask myself "Why not?" stems from so much more than the newfound freedom of not being in a relationship. It comes from a past of control, expectations, and overcoming the belief that my desires and opinions did not matter. It isn't about rebellion or flipping the world off. It is a genuine look at myself and asking, "Why don't you do what truly makes you happy? Why hold back? Why worry about other people? Why not?"

It is an amazing feeling. Take it. Leave it. Judge it. Use it. I don't care. It is just the place I am in right now. Sometimes it slips away...but I am going to keep asking myself this question until I can really experience life to my fullest extent.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Summer Adventures 2010 - Boulder, CO

Wow. Where to begin? Where to end? Boulder greeted me in the dark of night and didn't let me go for ten days. I feel as though my heart and soul has not quite left, even though I have been home for 6 days. I cannot let the dream go. Cannot get the view of the mountains out of my head. My mind refuses to give in to the sensation of 'being home'.

So many adventures. So much laughter. Sunshine. Fresh air. Freezing creek water. Beer. Friends. Cookouts. Late night bike rides. Afternoon hikes. Wine. Fancy dinners. Tours. Wind turbines. Yoga. Dancing. Softball games. Surprises. Empty bank accounts. Group breakfasts. In-house chef. Underground bars. Pool. Jukeboxes. Tubing.

I feel as though making a list of activities would somehow lessen the impact of my memories. There are, however, a few notes that I would like to make.
1. Hot Yoga is by far my favorite physical workout.

2. Old friends mixed with new friends = epic fun.
3. Riding a skateboard while holding on to a bike might sound dangerous but is in fact quite easy - especially at 11pm in the cyclist lane.

4. Zucchini themed cookouts with are a fantastic mix of creative people and dishes. Especially when an old school boom box is rockin' some Led Zeppelin.

5. 50 degree water from the mountains is not so bad when it is 95 degrees outside.
6. Don't wear expensive sunglasses when tubing. You will lose them promptly. Luckily mine were only $2.

7. Invest in a camel pack for even a day hike. Red rocks and dry heat are not a nice combination. But the view is spectacular.

8. There are a lot of free things to do in CO, including Coors tour, wine tastings, the farmers market, hanging by the creek, and late night drum circles.

9. There is snow on the mountains in July.
10. There are more small farmers market grocery stores than regular ones - and they are significantly cheaper than Whole Foods or Earth Fare.

I loved Boulder so much that I extended my trip from Thursday to Sunday. I just had to scrape together the moolah to pay the ticket change fee. Other than that I was free to simply make my own decisions. Thanks to my generous friends I was able to eat and have a roof over my head. Thanks, Michelle =)

Refreshing. Uplifting. Soul-cleansing. All words that help describe how I felt while in the presence of the mountains. Being around people that share my mindset on health, food, life style, humor, and attitude. Bikes everywhere. Canvas grocery bags. Recycle bins. Easygoing laughter. Excellent beer. It was so comfortable - like I was already home. New friends and faces greeted me at a cookout and remained in my circle of companions for the rest of the week. It was like being in Boone but with more variety and a better view.
Michelle and I ventured out dancing a few times. Some venues were hits, some were misses. It was good to dance in a new scene, although it was hard to find a fun dance through all the people being cliques. Oh well...

As the last stop on my summer travels Boulder proved to be the most invigorating. I felt as though I was truly on vacation. My hosts were very generous, I spend a lot of time outside, did a few tourist attractions, and got to know some locals.
Labor day weekend is but four weeks away. My plane ticket is all but purchased. A two night, two day canoe trip is planned. Camping, marshmallows, stars, hiking, swimming, and adventure. Hello, Colorado, you are my new destination for life and laughter.


Friday, July 30, 2010

Attachment and Suffering

"If you don't get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don't want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you cant hold onto it forever. Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change, free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death. But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality."

"Socrates, you can really be depressing, you know that? If life is nothing but suffering, then why bother at all?"

"Life is not suffering; it's just that you will suffer it, rather than enjoy it, until you let go of your mind's attachments and just go for the ride"
~Wisdom of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman

Unpacking books that have been tucked away for over a year now, I ran across a text that has helped me refocus more than once. I opened it and began some serious meditation last night. Life with a sense of calmness and not urgency. Living with a peace and not strife. Breathe.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summer Adventures 2010 - Seattle

Another push pin on my map of new places, Seattle proved to be a destination worth noting. I stayed with Mike and Melanie on Capitol Hill, aka, hipster village. Surrounded by brick buildings, bikes, and coffee of epic delightfulness, I felt at home right away.

So much happened in six days that I will recount in typical list format to clarify my thoughts. My overall response to the city was that of 'comfort'. It was beautiful, clean, easy to navigate, and full of diversity. I spent a great deal of time alone, wandering around, or exploring with my handy iPhizzle maps.

1. Dancing at the ballroom was good times. We went, twice? Yes, only twice. I was pleasantly surprised at how friendly everyone was. I only sat out the first song and then could barely sit down for all the asking. Ranging from professional to excited first timer, it was nice to smile at new faces and discover new movement to a familiar dance. The music was comparable to home. With all the hype I expected to be blown away, but instead reassured that the DJ's are about on par.
I went to Tuesday night practice with the few people that remained in town. Working on a bit of my own choreo, I was inspired by the creativity that was in the room. How refreshing.

2. Exploring downtown consisted of maps, headphones, and Minus the Bear radio. I ventured to the space needle, and wandered around the park to see the other tourists looking quite parched and over exerted. Pike Street Market was full of flashing cameras and flying fish. About 10 minutes of such a spectacle and I was off down the crowded corridor to encounter more sights and smells to overwhelm the senses.

3. Live music. Mike had a gig with a gyspy jazz band on my last night in town. So we packed up his gear and took the bus down to 1st street. A tiny French Cafe crammed in a row of tables and one booth. Standing room only at the bar, and a corner for the band. During the first set I wandered down to the docks, navigating the steep hill and tiny alleys. Although it wasn't quite the ocean, it still boasted a beautiful sunset over the water. The boats were going to and fro, wind whipping my hair, and couples strolled hand-in-hand, reminding me of a vague unmemorable cliche.
Upon returning to the cafe I found dinner in the form of a cherry sausage sandwich complete with horseradish, and a glass of red wine. The music floated over the busy patrons, infiltrating the air with melodies from decades past. Mike rocked out on rhythm guitar, fitting in with the bass, violin, and lead guitar that completed the group. I took up conversation with the people I was sqeezed between on the long bench. It was delightfully un-american to be so close to strangers in a public venue. Elbow room? Not in your dreams. We all shared menu preferences, and a basket of fries.

4. Nuage the Ninchilla. Cutest freaking pet ever. Period. The resident pet practically ran the place with his adorableness. While depositing an impressive number of droppings, he still earned a place in my heart as newest furry creature of choice. He didn't make much noise, could climb and jump like a true mountain bad ass, and enjoyed being held. My favorite moment was when Melanie and I came home to Nuage chilling on Mike's stomach as he practiced his intervals on his iPad. If there were ever a musical chinchilla, it would be Nuage.

5. Cake-eoke. Not entirely certain how this was any different from regular karaoke, but apparently it was. I rocked out some Janis Joplin and Joan Jett. Joshua had other ideas. Elton John, and another song were his choices. It was a good time supplemented by Moose Drool Beer. Yes, true story.

6. Independent streak. I have always had one, but decided to personify it as a blonde section in my hair. Melanie took my idea and did a more kick ass job than I could ever have imagined. I am still enjoying it...think it will be around for awhile.

7. I was able to catch lunch with an old friend from college, Carrie Causey. She and her her husband were in a few classes with me at Berea, and although they were two years ahead, were always nice to my very unique, punk self. They recently moved to Seattle with their daughter, Abigail. It was great to catch up and see my friends thriving and doing what they love, where they love. Memories were shared, stories told, and I made friends with the 3 year old with a glass of ice. I love kids.

8. Speaking of kids I 'adopted' a child while in Seattle. Walking up to meet M&M for a movie I was stopped on the street by a Children's International rep. Armed with a clipboard, beard, and smile, he talked to me for a few minutes. This is something I have always wanted to do (I mean, come on, I was about to go into the Peace Corps) but this moment seemed like the perfect time. I mean, I could have walked away, really, but this was just a surreal day full of spontaneous experiences that I couldn't ignore. In a matter of minutes I signed up to sponsor a girl in the Philippines for $22 a month. I spent the next day feeling quite strange and questioning my decision. Now that I am home and have her picture on my fridge, and her story in my hands I am excited. She is 7 years old, her name is Abbie, and she has two parents and an older brother. I cannot wait to receive her first letter and write back. While not ready for child of my own, I am ready to live a life thinking outside of myself.

Overall Seattle was a nice respite. I did a lot of thinking, journaling, and time alone. The dancing was high quality, the hosting exceptional, and I made a few new friends. Upon leaving I put it at the top of my list of new home choices. We will see...

In-between Adventures - LV --> Seattle

"Is it possible to put this night to tune
And move it to you?"

Sometimes the best part of life is the journey and not just the destinations. We tend to remember in groups of collected events. But what happened between those moments? What occurred during the simple seconds? What did the drive look like? How did the wind feel during your stroll down the sidewalk? How comfortable, or uncomfortable, were the chairs in the airport? Patient enjoyment of the in-between moments make travel so much richer. So much more worthwhile.

The Vegas airport held a grandmother and her 7 year old grandson waiting to go to LA for a continuation of their own summer adventure. I attracted their friendship by plugging in the iPad and using it for a couple minutes. I demonstrated a few apps and then ended up sitting with them for the remainder of our wait. He attends a Montessori school in Dallas and travels the world with his grandma every summer. She, well, travels and is an artist of sorts. She was home schooled and so was her daughter/his mother. When I raised an eyebrow she said "well we were living in Brazil at the time and didn't have much of an option" Fair enough. My nomadic childhood did not provide for many options either, so I understood her more than she might have thought.
The three of sat together, watching a movie on his tiny DVD player, and conversing about education and travel. A very sharp 7 year old is a hilarious conversation. He was so earnest. I suppose I was looking forward to solitude, but this was a refreshing and eye-opening alternative.

On the plane a mother with a young son was concerned that they were seated separately, so I gave her my seat and moved one row forward. Causing aisle traffic and a lot of unnecessary movement, I felt as though her discomfort would affect the flight more than me giving up my window seat.
As fate would dictate I ended up with a great seat buddy. An entrepreneur from Shanghai living in Seattle and the father of two Ivy League daughters, the gentleman proved to be a fantastic conversationalist. We discussed the raising of children, public school, and the demise of the economy. So many people recognize the lack of quality in our schools, the missing component of applied learning, and the over-emphasis on higher education in lieu of a trade that strengthens the foundation of the economy. So why the hell has nothing changed? Why are 'non-academic classes' looked down on? Why are trade high schools and colleges not as respected? We talked about our frustrations with the lack of structure and direction at an early age in American schools. However, I did learn that our graduate schools are the best in the world in terms of creativity and accomplishments. The challenge we face as a nation is to close the gap between the very low performing and very high performing. Needless to say it was a long conversation. I also got some world travel tips. My resolve to get out of the country for a summer is getting even stronger.

I found my window seat at the back of the next flight. We were delayed a few minutes due to Biden arriving at LAX and taking his sweet time getting on his plane to depart. Within 24 hours I was in next door proximity to the Pres and Vice Pres. Snazzy.

Arriving in Seattle was easy. I was finally feeling the butterflies of excitement when I got on the light rail - or maybe it was caffeine jitters - either way it was finally sinking in that I was really here.

Don't underestimate the in between. Love the silence and the noise. Be aware. Be conscious. Wonder. Question. Accept.

I am here to dance. To meet people. To live outside the box. See new sights and soak in a city a world away from home. Another push pin on my map of "Been There. Done That. Loved It."

Oh, and Seattle has the best damn coffee. Period.

Summer Adventures 2010 - Vegas!

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, right? Sure...
Well this was a fairly laid back trip, punctuated by moments only found in Sin City. I don't know if I am in love though. I have no desire to gamble, and there are only so many people I can take before wanting quiet solitude. It was impressive, overwhelming, and very shiny.

1. Staying at the Palms was a great choice. Quieter than the strip. A bit more upscale and 'MTV generation' crowd. Almost no families - which means no screaming kids. Complete with multiple night clubs, movie theater, restaurants, and casino we didn't need to leave except for a show. The pool was swanky, with lots of eye candy, cabanas, and chilly water. Mmmmm... I spent too much time on Wed and got nice and crispy.

2. Lance Burton. Going from having never seen a live magic show (not counting Jonathan) to seeing Magician of the Year (11 years in a row) was a leap of quality. Everything from doves, scarves, fire, ladies, swords, disappearing, appearing, levitation, and skeletons. My favorite were the ducks. Especially when they started waddling around the stage in a line. Eeeee!!! I almost jumped out of my seat with childlike glee. As a person privy to a few secrets of magic due to a certain friend (ahem) I was still very entertained. Apparently he is retiring in September, so I am happy I got to see him live at least once =)

3. Cirque du Soleil - 'O'. I was told to see this particular show by a variety of people and i am glad i listened. What a display of visual and kinetic art. Because the 'floor' was a huge tank of water with moving platforms the depth of the performances were increased tenfold. Literally and visually. In dance you can only get so low - but with the freedom of the water the performers could simply disappear. With a splash or smooth slice, their instant removal from the stage freed up the choreography to move quickly. The audience's attention could be redirected with ease. I enjoyed the multicultural aspect; there were pieces with distinct themes from different parts of the world. I loved the diving piece with the three 'swings'. My biggest reaction was to the fire jugglers though. Using a warm element and a wet element at the same time was visually jarring. There were people dancing and splashing in the water while fire was being passed around in a most impressive and seemingly dangerous manner. Also, the tension created by a man being set on fire and simply walking off stage instead of jumping in the water - or being doused - was interesting.
Water evokes a sense of cold or coolness due to color and texture. Adding metal shapes in which the gymnasts were performing on added to the feeling of danger. We all know water is slippery. What a bold element to add to a show full of already the hight of technical dance and acrobatic ability. Summary? Loved it. See it if you can. Clowns can be hilarious and not scary.

4. To waste time on Thursday afternoon we went to the theater in the Palms and saw Twilight. Yes, you can laugh. I consider myself to be much deeper than those movies - and I did laugh at times that were not suppers to be funny - but they are entertaining and appeal to the hopeless romantic deep inside. However, the books are much more revealing of each character. I am not a fan of the actors to say the least. Oh yeah, and I am totally Team Jacob. Helloooo??? Sense of humor, fit, and expressive. Edward (as depicted on screen) needs to develop a personality. There is only so much strong sullen silence that can go on before I want to shake him.

5. Did a lot of walking around and gawking at the lights, people, and buildings. Damn, everything here is enormous. Shopping, streets, hotels, and boobs.

6. Playboy Club!!! Although Wednesday was a slow night we headed up to the fifty-something floor to the Bunny suite. It was very classy and 60s-esque. The dealers were dressed like bunnies, and so were the waitresses. I tried to get a pic with two girls but it was so dark that it didn't really show up. Boo iPhone! Either way we enjoyed the view, I had a couple drinks, and we watched the few people that were there with great amusement. Yeah, it was baller. Straight baller. I just wish I could have been able to grab one of the bunny tails...they were just so...inviting...and fluffy...

My last day here has been spent alone due to a flight booking mixup. Yes, silly me. However it is nice to get some solitude. I have been with people nonstop for the past couple weeks and am looking towards a new place for 6 days of new people. Yoga, pool, and some Starbucks (meh) have gotten me through the day. My flight leaves tonight for Seattle. I am ready to get out of Vegas and onto a place with less extravagant prices, clothing, tans, and noise. Adventure. Freedom. New city. Here I come.

Summer Adventures 2010 - Austin, TX

A new city to add to my list. Guessing from my travels as a child I have probably Been to Texas before - but not long enough to remember or think much of it. I think I will go back soon...

1. Dancing at the East Side Showroom was a highlight. Our first night and best night of lindy hop. The band was ridiculous hilarious, and energizing. I wish we had more weekly music in the ATL - or at least more hot jazz in general. Snagged a bunch of great dances and got to meet the local crowd.

2. Rent party/Jam session. I admit that i was hesitant to go to a party that was not for dancers and was going to be all jamming and beer drinking. Luckily I was totally wrong. The musicians were awesome and the variety of faces made it quite comfortable. Terrace picked up the jug and joined the band quite readily. After a few beers and words of encouragement i joined LG on vocals if i knew the song. A dance and conversation on the porch made it an evening that made me want to move to Austin. Not that i am going to any time soon - but it is an option.

3. Blacks BBQ!! I am not a big BBQ person but the 45 min drive and 20 min wait was worth it. I am a believer.

4. Game night and Karaoke. Once again we had a social evening with the local 'crew'. I think this is the first time I a long while that i actually enjoyed playing games. And what can be bad about 2am Karaoke?? Nothing.

Those were the high points. So much happened and it was all quite delightful. Ours hosts were fantastic - thanks Bp & J =) Despite the antics and allergies of Wingy I loved seeing them. I am going to make a concerted effort to visit sooner than later. Next time maybe with a car and more time to explore and visit other Texans.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

7/8/08

  • This is an old journal entry written on my flight home from Massachusetts. It is a reflection on gratefulness, and an interesting conversation I had with my Aunt.

    When you want to grumble about the woes of your finely picked life, the carefully sorted minutes that make you so safe and comfortable, realize that someone, somewhere is praying for rain.
    ----
    The elegant vanilla sky viewed from above does not speak of the disastrous storm below. Instead, an unexpected range of delicately spun water droplets. So easily sliced through. So dangerous to mere mortals beneath their cover. Effortless beauty.
    ---
    As with most things such as flavor or sock height, life boils down to perspective - or preference. Your reality of normal is just that, yours. Granted, it has probably been uneloquently placed upon your psyche with such a vengeance that you realize nothing else as acceptable.
    There is freedom in change. Freedom in finding a new viewpoint. So why do we stay in our comfortable little shells of reality? Exactly. It is comfortable, and we are creatures of comfort. We dare not to stop coloring our hair for fear of the discomfort it will cause those around us, and how that will reflect upon ourselves. How selfish. I suppose so. In other ways it keeps us connected. Emotionally dependent as a society. By caring about them we care about ourselves. So are we truly caring about others for the sake of them? No, it is a selfish care in which we seek the reflection of anthers friendship to fortify our ego.

    Not that coloring ones hair is the downfall of mankind. Rather, a manifestation of our endless vanity; the conflict of our self-seeking nature and communal dependency.

    So, create your own reality. Be in your world. Be a part of it. Serve your fellow humankind. Do not be enslaved by such petty realities. Be yourself in all your amazing and unbelievably honest unique self.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Summer Adventures 2010

So a slightly more clarified and updated calendar of when and where I will be during July.
Some of the later dates are a bit less firm, so I am open to suggestions.

July 1 - 6: Austin (Brooks and Jo!)

July 6 - 9: Las Vegas (for the loose slots, of course)

July 9 - 15: Seattle (why not??)

July 15 - 22: Boulder/Denver (Shizzle!! Rizzle!! Hippies!! Mountains!! Dancing!!)

After that I have no clue. I was planning on going to NOLA, but I am not so sure anymore. St. Louis is looking like a big question mark as well. Hell, maybe I will just come back to Atlanta. Or head to the Boston area. We will see...

As for now? I love my new condo. I feel so grateful for the space and amenities. Great location and although the whole 'mail and parking pass' fiasco was a bit stressful with my traveling they are all taken care of.

Growth so far? Hmmm...well, I am challenging myself within my teaching. I feel as though my experience in the class room has lent itself to being able to break down dance concepts into more manageable parts to better translate a complex concept. The few lessons I have been able to observe have taught me a lot. While in class more often than paying attention to the concept I am watching how the teachers teach it. Backwards I suppose, but the ability to teach anything is highly under appreciated. Sure, anyone can get up and say "one two, three and four..." but to actually have a group of people be able to assimilate the knowledge takes patience, a variety of methods, repetition, and the ability to tap into the students level of learning. I actually get serious stage fright while in the center of a circle of students...but with careful planning and an intense focus on the students it slowly subsides. My goal is to be able to plan coherent classes with concepts that align and build upon each other, culminating in movement/move that is applicable in a social situation. I like to think of it as 'layering'. Like a cake =)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Beautiful Mess of Life

Once again the Illuminated Mind has hit a perfect nerve for me and the time of life that I find myself pushing through.

We all have some part of ourselves that is not 'acceptable'. Not mainstream. Not with the current trends of 'what life is supposed to be like'. Instead of thinking of my desire to travel and always push for change as negative, I have chosen to accept and embrace them.

I learned a long time ago that anger is healthy. I allow myself to be frustrated or angry and just get it out. In the long run this lets off steam and I find my tempter to be much more calm and sustainable.

How does this sit with you?

How to Allow and Move Past Negative Patterns

Friday, April 23, 2010

Habits, Lifestyle, Changes

Great blog today on Illuminated Mind. I am constantly trying to outwit my habits in order to grow and change as a person. Being stagnate in work, dance, emotional well-being, and relationships drives me absolutely nuts. Now, don't get me wrong, the feeling of contentment is not be confused with stagnant. If I am never satisfied then I am simply wasting my time and not enjoying where I am or what I am doing. But, to settle is not an option.
Like cleaning out a closet, I enjoy the reflection and questioning of habits and beliefs that make up my person. Some I keep, some I ponder on, and some I make the decision to change (or throw out).

"Nothing is set in stone. Everything is open." One of my friends posted that as her status. Deep. Obvious. Very true. That is what I love about life. I could be at this school for another 5 or 20 years. I might take a job in Nebraska, or Philly, or Chicago, or Seattle next year. Who knows? I have options and I love that. In fact, a lack of options or freedom makes me nervous.

Anyway, I will stop rambling. The views in the blog are not ones in which I fully agree, but are definitely worth noting and digesting.

Seven Weird Habits that Will Change Your Life

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Lefty Views and an Article of Great Interest

Upon reading this and other opinions/articles that so aptly point out the craziness that is our right winged media, it makes me recall a certain era in Britain's history where church and state were not separate. A king ruled and God spoke through the King. Whatever he said was The word of God. A coincidence with Glenn Beck saying that God is telling him "The Plan"? Hmmmm... Let's just say that we all know from our history books that there was no middle class with a ruling system like that, and there was no leadership - only fear.

Now I am not a 'socialist' or a 'communist', but I do believe that when people are working together to support each other, and have compassion in a community sense, that a thriving society can be created. I read an article in the Worcester, MA Telegram about a group of High School students that studied cultures in Kenya that had incredibly low crime rates. There was a high percentage of compassion taught in the home and schools, and there was a sense of sharing responsibility among the members. Unfortunately I cannot find the article (darn!), but it stuck out in my memory as a lesson to our current attitude of entitlement. Now, I am all for working hard to earn your way, and everyone should have equal opportunity - but when it goes unbridled and unchecked a severe imbalance can occur - like we see today with banks that are too big to fail.

So, with my first blatant political views out in the open air I will let you read the article.

Huffington Post: Glenn Beck: the Televangelist Con Man Selling God's Plan for America

Monday, April 19, 2010

Anniversary

Can you hear that? It is the sound of silence. Of 2400 middle school students reading and filling in tiny bubbles to determine their level of learning for the 09-10 school year. Thank you board of Education for boiling it down to one week of pencil, paper, and hundreds of multiple choice questions. I am eternally grateful for my career as a non-academic teacher.

One year later I am sitting in the same seat, feeling a little bit the same and a whole lot different. It is CRCT week - which is Georgia's state-wide standardized test for children enrolled in the public school system. What this means is that for about 3 hours they sit in complete silence and read questions and fill in little bubbles. what it means for me is that I get to sit for those three hours on a bench and proctor the classes in case a teacher needs to be relieved or a student needs to go to the bathroom. Wooooo.... At least I get internet access and am able to complete a great deal of thinking and work. And lose almost all feeling in my behind. Ouch.

This time last year I was doing the master cleanse. I distinctly recall making my little drinks and having at least 3 beside me along with enough water to drown a hippo. Which is nearly impossible. Anyway, it was a very interesting experience and thinking back I realize how much has changed about my attitude at work and about my self in one year. Basically, since then, I have become extremely aware of what goes into my body in relation to what I want to come out. No, not in that gross way - but rather the energy levels that I am able to maintain, the lack of 'puffy face' syndrome, and the lack of sick days taken this year. (which btw, is ZERO) I feel so much healthier, am able to maintain a consistent weight, and don't wake up feeling like the walking dead. It is a nice change. No coffee, very very little dairy, almost no bread/pastries/biscuits baked things, and the addition of even more simple raw foods. Another change is my appreciation of my foods. I used to hate cooking or eating but now it is a joy to go shopping and prepare my meals. It is nice to take the time and create meals full of color and food groups that give me energy - not sap it. I digress.

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Work? Yes, that is coming along nicely. Finishing out my second year with a greater feeling of accomplishment. I have participated in more school/community activities, ran a Robotics Club, gotten more kids to sign up for Engineering electives in high school, and overall been on top of grades, discipline, and lesson plans more than ever.

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Rough outline of plans/goals for the rest of Spring and Summer...

That Rhythm Thing April 30- invited to the masters class. Also taking a private with Peter. Taking along a couple of leads that need to get some serious national level instruction. I love it when 'new' dancers take the initiative to further their education outside of the local scene =)

Nashville: June 4-9th - teaching local classes, and working on shtuff with Reuel.

St. Louis: June 10-15th - Terrace and I will take a trip to see the family out west.

Late June? Hang out in Atlanta unless something else comes up. Save my moolah and buy some tickets...Maybe hit a Braves game or two.

July = One way tickets and a small suitcase.
Boston, MA - Visit the New England Family
Austin, TX - Brooks and Jo!
Boulder/Denver, CO - Michelle! Andrew! Dancing!
Seattle, WA - Just because I want to and have never been before. Oh, and I was invited =)

August = Southern Belle - taking classes!!
Sept = Artist in Residence - Falty
ULHS in NOLA
Oct = Atlanta Varsity Showdown - teaching and performing
Knoxville Lindy Exchange
Teaching at Snap! Crackle! Pop in Memphis w/ Sosh
Nov = ??
Dec = Lindy Focus Time!!!
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So yeah, that about sums it up.