Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Wake Up.


I keep writing posts and then deleting them.

"No, that's too political," I tell myself. "Delete it. Too angry. People will bristle, feel alienated."

Backspace backspace backspace. My finger hovers over the "Publish" key and then backs off. Closes the tab. Sighs. Returns to scrolling Twitter and shaking my head in astonishment at the news coming out of hard-working political journalists' feeds right now.

But what I really want to to say is, friends: WE'VE GOTTA WAKE UP. There is SHIT going down. The world's on fire, and we're advertising the latest retreat to Tulum, and writing about how to get a bikini body. There's a constitutional crisis at hand. Our democracy's in freefall. And it's as much yoga as anything else. Because yoga = politics = life.

Last night it was 1am before I could pull myself away from the news and close my eyes. Every night, lately. What's happening right now ISN'T NORMAL. It's not partisan. And we can't turn our eyes from it, and pretend everything's just going to continue to be ok. History is not going to be kind to the people who shut the hell up and looked away.

Enlightenment is often compared to waking up. We do yoga to "wake up" to our habitual shit. Open our eyes to our patterns, and our socio-cultural and political patterns, and begin to shift them.

Yogis: we gotta wake up. There is no such thing as being apolitical these days. We gotta call this out. Remember when you spent that afternoon or two in your teacher training studying the Eight Limbs of Yoga? The ethical system underlying the practice itself? Ahimsa: non-harming. Satya: truth. What are we doing to speak it, to defend it, to embody it?

Now is the time for the yoga to begin. Atha.

What are we gonna do, together, to wake up?

Monday, May 8, 2017

Because you are not alone, and Mother's Day is around the corner.

 
I will post this article every year.

Because every year, some other new woman becomes a mother for the first time and is shattered by the world-rocking shift from fab autonomous independent dame to milk-leaking, diaper-toting, sleep-deprived source of life for a tiny living breathing being she loves more than anything and from whom she can barely grasp a moment alone to shower or eat or sleep. And she thinks she's the only one who's shellshocked by the whole shebang. And there isn't much space for her in perky-new-mama land to be real about all the wonderful and complicated and beautiful and wretched things she's thinking and feeling.

It took me two years to write this piece. I had anxiety for days before it was first published, even though my heart had been hungering to share it for what felt like ages. What surprised me most after it came out — and surprises me still — is the huge number of women who've read it and quietly reached out, saying "Thank you. I see myself in this. You spoke the truth I was afraid to speak. And it made me feel less alone."

May is Mental Health Month, and Mother's Day is around the corner. So share this with a new mama you know who might be struggling to make sense of this exhausting New Normal. Remind her it will get easier; that someday she'll shower and brush her teeth again; someday her kid will eat green beans and popcorn and won't need her body to make his food 24/7; and someday she'll sleep more than 45 minutes at a time. And she'll peek in at her napping toddler and her heart with pulse with indescribable love, even as she's glad she burned that goddamned breast pump in effigy the moment she was done with it.

Monday, April 24, 2017

On not teaching for a month


It's been almost six weeks since I've taught a yoga class. Longest break I've taken since the three months I stepped away to birth a human.

Feels kind of strange, and ok. It's good to take some time off. A sabbatical of sorts.

And I've realized a few things. Like: 

1. Sometimes it's nice to just shut up and listen.

There's so much chatter in the yoga world. Lots of woo-woo, sure, but also just lots of word salad. If I had a dollar for every newsletter or Instagram post I've ever read that left me shaking my head and asking WTF that yogi just said, I'd be a rich lady. There's a lotta whack shit out there. And sometimes we all benefit from just shutting the hell up and listening.

Also: we flew cross-country five times in March, which meant I got the chance to read five amazing books. Again, it felt quiet and nourishing to not be the one spewing content. To just sit back and listen to someone else's voice (be that Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Nadia Bolz Weber or Paul Kalanithi) and just get over myself.


2. Recalibrate. Get clear. What am I teaching, and why?

Not teaching, I feel more able to be real. Political, thoughtful, quiet, serious. There is an element of teaching yoga that is performative, super-extroverted, that is very much like being onstage in musical theater or holding court behind a bar. And it often requires us to be chirpy, perky, pastoral leaders. And it's one element that I'm increasingly disinterested in.

Not teaching, I feel less pressure to be perky, allowed to be more of a writer and less of a cheerleader. I never wanted to be an aerobics instructor, and in spite of its roots in meditation, there's something about teaching yoga that's uncomfortably parallel to that shit.

But to me, a yoga teacher is more a moving meditation teacher than anything else. So how can I share the practice I love without having to be a motivational speaker with a job-requirement tight ass? How can I be more authentic in my personal, online, and teaching presence? That's the question.


3. Yoga is often a social club. It doesn't have to be.

There are plenty of benefits to the social aspects of practicing at a studio, and my life is a testament to that. (Hello, I met my husband in a yoga studio! And most of my best friends are long-time yoga peeps.)

But my practice right now is meditative and quiet and simple. It's fast and butt-kicking and athletic, for sure, but it's not flashy. Not even public. It feels like the ultimate portable meditation device (I think credit goes to Sharon Salzberg for that line).

It goes anywhere I go. And it was a foundation in the midst of a month of living in hotels, out of suitcases, practicing on unfamiliar floors in strangely-lit rooms that were not mine. I love yoga's minimalist, almost monastic simplicity: just calling for your breath, your bare feet, comfortable old clothes you can move in, and a hotel room towel on the floor.


4. Definitely drink more when I don't have to be up at 6am to teach 8am classes.

"Oh, hey again, beer! Welcome to the New England cider tour. Haven't met a Sauvignon Blanc I didn't like lately. But why does my head hurt so much today?"


5. Living on beer and fries doesn't increase your prana.

We've had our own kitchen (and our own pots and pans) now again for about two weeks, and after a month of beer and fries, it feels like heaven. Just being able to make lentils and greens for lunch again has been huge. Greens are good. Greens are great. Let's get more of those on restaurant menus, please. Sidenote: Thai and Indian restaurants are especially great for cobbling together a delicious vegan(ish) dinner on the road.

That said, you can get by on 2 or 3 practices a week and still feel ok. The asana opportunities ebb and flow. The asana comes when it comes. And you survive when it doesn't.


6. Yogis can be (inadvertently) annoying. Hush up, already.

If you're going to be living above someone, start practicing your bandhas, because jumping to the top of your mat means you'd better float, bitch, or they're gonna hear a big "thud" every time you land.

(Luckily, we bought a first-floor flat, so I can continue to be a lazy yogi. Hooray for a beautiful tiny urban home, across from a park, coming at the end of May. We are delighted.)


7. Fuck the arm balances. 

Sometimes other things are more important. And the arm balances will come and go.


8. The yoga world feels open. In a nice way.

Starting over with finding/choosing a studio means I can really feel out what's the best fit. That's important. That's everything. Trying to teach the wrong style of yoga at the wrong kind of studio can be soul-sucking. So let the yoga studio speed-dating begin.


Photo by Liz Bottrell Photography

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Things I've Learned About Boston So Far

 
 
Hello from Boston!
 
We've been here a whole week and a half now, so I pretty much know jack shit. But here are the few things I've figured out so far:
 
1. Public spaces like parks and playgrounds and libraries are paramount. It's that urban vs rural contrast. In the city, life happens outside your 1000-sq-ft flat. And having kids just means you're out in community spaces more often, especially in the city where you don't have a yard. Dig it. Glad my tax dollars are going to support these things. Socialism rules, baby.

2. Great Italian food here. Not as much gluten-free as in hipster-foodie Portland, but French fries are GF, so I'll survive.

3. The accent is for real.
 
4. Cambridge is super-urban. It reminds me so much of Berkeley. Lots of that Shattuck and Telegraph Ave energy.
 
5. Welcome to big city traffic. Portland's "gentle urbanity" spoiled us on that. Grateful I've been hardened by SF traffic so it doesn't feel like such a shock.

6. People smoke here. Not used to that.

7. The sun comes out, and stays out!! Two, three days in a row!!

8. Diversity is epic and essential. International communities for the win. I love, love that we walk into the library and Duke hears a million different languages and witnesses a million different races and religions and ethnicities and family configurations and it's all just a part of the normal daily tableau.

9. Portland got us all soft on shit like parking and housing prices. Time to get back on the urban horse.

10. Lower your real estate expectations. Unless you're buying out in the burbs, you're buying a flat or a condo. The upside is most (all?) of the beautiful old homes around here are split into condos. It will take me awhile to get used to the idea that a nice 2br 1ba 900 sq ft condo runs $750k, though. And don't even think about two parking spots. (Someone told me one spot in Brookline went for $200k!!)

11. Walking is key. Public transport, too. Pahk the cah already.

12. The parents in Duke's little Waldorf parent-child class are super cool. One's a public health professor at Boston College; another has worked at Harvard for 15 years. Could get used to this. Smart people abound.
 
13. Walden Pond is a real place and we can go there to swim and pet small animals.

14. The moving truck may actually arrive...tomorrow.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Oh Shit, We Have Two Days Til The Movers Come


Two days.

This pic looks still.

I do not feel still.

Snapped it in an anxious moment of thinking, "Ohmigod, I only have two days left in this house. And look at everything we need to do. And oh hi, this is real. I need a drink. Let's remember this bathroom. Don't forget all the good times in this bathroom."

Sinking in.

We have a babysitter for two hours this morning and I'm supposed to be packing upstairs for our four-month sublet. Figuring out which clothes and books and pots and pans we'll need from now til July.

NBD.

Snuggling up with my laptop instead after a wonderful week of constant movement and very little alone time. Feels like medicine to just be quiet and hiding in the closet. (Writer's medicine, that is.) Need to knock out an offer letter as soon as I throw this quick post up.



We flew to Boston a week ago. Stayed at a lovely hotel right by Berklee School of Music and spent several days feeling out neighborhoods, opening bank accounts, touring a preschool, and the like.

It was so great.

The sun came out. Several days in a row.

I didn't realize how much I missed the sun until it decided to come out and stay out. Go figure.  

(Love you, Portland, but the rain's got me all "enough, already.")

You know what else I found, and had missed?

Diversity. So much diversity.

Languages and races and countries of origin and you name it.

So excited about Boston's urban, academic, international vibe.

Universities everywhere you turn.

Public transport up the wazoo.

Ethnic food every day.

Yesss.



Discovered Somerville and Cambridge and Brookline and you name it. Went to four different libraries in four days. The Meyer Family Library Tour.

But, shit. Ever tried to buy a house in Boston?

It was humbling. An SF-level real-estate wake-up call.

Never expected to see so many tiny shitty peeling-paint homes going for upwards of $800k. Like, 900 sq ft shitty peeling-paint holes-in-the-wall no-yard no-parking going for $50k-over-asking tiny flats.

It's crazy. Literally unbelievable, sometimes.

We were all over the board, driving from downtown to Lexington to the 'burbs and back. Even the burbs are outrageous. Tiny overpriced homes with lead paint and no closets. Kind of bleak.

We were like: should we just move to the beach and drive in for work? Buy a glistening home right there in Marblehead and walk the ocean every morning and suck it up with the daily commute so we don't have to live in a glorified closet from 1835?

Thought about it.

But when all was said and done, we ended up realizing we want to land right where we started: Cambridge and thereabouts.

Yesterday, right before we headed to the airport, we toured a sweet flat just north of Harvard Divinity School (7 minutes!) and First Unitarian of Cambridge (6 minutes!) and Cambridge Public Library (7 minutes!) with a fab park up one block and a delicious vegetarian Indian restaurant down the street and reclaimed-wood hipster breakfast spot around the corner and so much more within walking distance.

Super stoked. Reminds me so much of where I lived on Nob Hill in SF. Tall, hundred-year-old buildings with classic style.

So we'll put in an offer today and release all attachment because, damn, there are a lot of well-heeled people bidding on houses out there. We have a temporary place in Somerville (to give us space to land and close on something permanent), and I'm so glad that's where we sort of accidentally ended up. Robb shared an article with me that called Somerville "the Brooklyn of Boston," and that was so much the feel we got.

I dig it. So we'll give it a shot.

Who knows.



Back to the present moment.

We're here in Portland for just a few more days.

Today we throw some shit in boxes and try to eat what's left in the fridge. Tomorrow we return the 57 library books stashed throughout the house. Wednesday the packers come. Thursday the movers load the truck. Friday we paint and clean. Saturday we fly to Boston, and stay.

Two more sleeps in this sweet house of ours, pulsing with so many memories of the last couple of years.

Feeling all the feels. Joy. Grief. Mostly, just trying to be right here in this just-right moment.

Last week was like a big vacation-adventure in a beautiful old-school Boston hotel.

This week: it gets real.

Here we go.

Oh hey, impermanence. Nice to see you again. Let me just carry you around in my pocket for the next few days. We're gonna get to know each other reallll well. 

Love to you from these final few days in Pacific Standard Time.

(Now, where was that box again?)

Friday, March 24, 2017

How Not To Raise A Little Sh*t



I wrote this new article for The Washington Post, partly in response to the cray-cray elite competitive sport that parenting has become.

"I see no need for personal chauffeurs, overpriced tutors or hardcore chess tournaments. As a child of the heartland, it’s important to me that my son realize that not everybody’s family flies a private plane or uses 'summers' as a verb."

But I still want to raise a kid who's not a little shit. So here are five things I do every day to be an okay parent, without getting caught up in the curated-childhood craze.


Monday, March 13, 2017

Two Classes Left In Portland


Back in Portland, with two classes left before I go. See you tonight and Weds at YoYoYogi. 🌷

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Spring Newsletter


Just sent out my first newsletter in nine months. (Been a little distracted by politics and presidents and apocalypses, yo.) You can read it here, or click on the upper-left corner to subscribe.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Surprise! We're Moving To Boston


Surprise! We’re moving to Boston.


(Holy shit.)


What’s the story? Simple, really.


Robb got an epic job in Cambridge. A once-in-a-lifetime job. The kind of job that will take us to Europe. The kind of job for which you pick up and move your family 3000 miles across the country to a place where it snows — a lot — and people have strange accents and root for the Red Sox and use “wicked” as an adjective.


I am so proud of him. He’s knocked this one outta the park. Grand Slam. Papa Bear in the HOUSE.


So here we go.


Life comes at you in unexpected ways.


Who’d have thought, 15 years since either of us lived within spitting distance of I-95 and or cursed (erm, traversed) the New Jersey Turnpike on a regular basis, we’d be moving back to the Eastern Seaboard?


I mean, weren’t we West Coast/Best Coast people for life?


Gah! Life.


If there’s one thing I’ve learned from yoga, Buddhism, meditation: it’s that everything changes. Impermanence, baby. You try to cling to what is, and you’ll always, ever, be sadly disappointed.


The timing makes total sense, actually.


I’d been flush with this feeling of happiness lately, the kind of “profound okayness” Tara Brach talks about, looking around at my life and appreciating its sweet balance of work and family and school for Duke and hiking and libraries and favorite brunch spots and music class with cousins and you name it. Feeling really settled, really pleased, quietly content with our lives here.


But as the vinyasa reminds us: the dance that is life just keeps flowing. Just when you hit a really sweet spot, things change.


Whether you’re thrilled or tortured in a particular pose (read: moment of life), it always passes. You hold that Revolved Triangle for 5 breaths and are relieved when it’s over and you can exhale into a Chaturanga. You lift up into that deep backbend for five breaths and thrum with the vitality that comes with opening up and creating so much fearless space, and ease back down into a bittersweet sadness when it’s over. You fold forward into that comfortable old friend Janu Sirsasana and feel like you could stay there forever, it’s so right and good and familiar and effortless.


But then it passes.


So here we are. The vinyasa has shifted. We held the pose, we breathed into it, we were in it all the way, to the best of our abilities, knowing it wouldn’t last forever, and now we turn to the next.


This is life.


This is yoga.


My final class here in Portland will be Weds. March 15th. We’ll put our house on the market and squeeze in a week of East Coast house-hunting after that. The last week of March, the movers will load the truck, we’ll ship our cars 3000 miles, and board a one-way flight to Boston.


ALL THE FEELS, team.


ALL THE FEELS.


So much excitement. I am uber-stoked to live just a few minutes from Harvard Divinity School. To attend nerdy theology lectures and take Duke to libraries and explore the corners and crevices of Boston itself. To visit Cape Cod and Walden Pond and take kayaks up to New Hampshire. To have Duke's grandfather on the same coast so we can see him more often. To live close to Bernie Country and reconnect with old friends up and down the East Coast. And Google tells me the closest Unitarian church is parked right there on Harvard Square itself. How cool is that?


Perhaps most thrilling? Having feisty progressive truth-teller Elizabeth Warren as our hometown Senator.


My Bronx-born baseball-player Yankee-fan husband is stoked to hit up games together at Fenway Park. (We’ll arrive just in time for Opening Day.) We’ll take the train into New York City to catch Broadway shows, to see our dear friend and mentor Dorothy, and to visit old friends in Brooklyn. We’ll ride Amtrak to Delaware to reconnect with old college friends and kick it at Rehoboth Beach.


All of which translates to: JOY.


So much joy.


But on the flipside: Sadness. Grief. Of course, right? Nothing in life is ever black-and-white. Only so many varying shades of grey.


We imagined we’d live here in Portland for a good long time. Far beyond anything else, having to leave my sister, my brother-in-law, and our two nieces, whom we joined here in Oregon at the same time, is the ultimate in heartbreak. There’s no papering over that disappointment, that sense of loss. It has been the joy of my life watching our kids play together, laugh together, sing together, celebrate holidays together. It has been a revelation and a grace to have my sister and brother-in-law here to share meals and stories and snow chains. And I know we will ache for their absence for a long, long time. My heart is heavy even writing that.


Not to mention YoYoYogi. My marvelous YoYos: thank you for welcoming me into your home. Even though my chaturanga-filled California-style vinyasa may have felt different at first. ;) You made our family yours and I will be ever grateful for the sweaty breaths we shared. Students and colleagues, please join me for my last few classes before I say goodbye on the 15th.


Professionally, I’ll be postponing a few events we had planned for this spring and summer, given all the house-buying and stuff-moving and job-starting and school-finding action going on for the next few months.


But hear me out, West Coast: you’ll always be my first true love, and you won’t be able to shake me.


Stay tuned for a rescheduled Point Reyes yoga/hiking retreat sometime this fall, a special yoga class benefit for The Anata Project in SF, and maybe a few Oakland philosophy workshops, too. Details to come once we unpack our Vitamix and find the box with our toothbrushes and figure out how to get Duke to go to bed three hours earlier than he’s used to.


(Pacific Standard Time, I’m gonna miss you.)


Finally: I don’t know a goddamned thing about Boston, so those of you with history and/or family and/or experience there, please feel free to pour out your knowledge upon us. We’ll be leaning on you as we fumble our way through new accents, new neighborhoods, and new transit systems.


(Hang tight, Senator Warren. We’re on our way.)


Love to you. Love to this life. Love to the unexpected adventures it brings.


I am grateful you are along for the ride.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This Is 38.

Today I turned 38.

(Hellz yeah! I get another year in this bag of bones!)

In honor of getting old, last week I snapped a few quick asana photos with the stellar Liz Bottrell of Liz Bottrell Photography. Here are a few sneak peek initial proofs.

Three cheers for being alive.














Monday, February 13, 2017

9 Yoga & Mindfulness Podcasts That Will Feed Your Soul


New article out today. Check out these smart, thoughtful yoga & mindfulness podcasts.

Back in the day you used to have to travel for hours or days to learn from many of the world’s most studied experts. Nowadays all you have to do is turn on your phone. It’s pretty righteous.

Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Hillary's Toughest Yoga Pose

Street art by Pegasus


I wrote this new piece for YogaDork. It's been on my mind since the moment I saw Hillary step out of her town car to attend the inauguration. No matter who you voted for, holy shit: you've gotta admit what a gut-wrenching, shattering experience it must've been for any human being with a heart to have to sit up on that stage watching her opponent being inaugurated. Thanks to YogaDork for being brave enough to publish political schtuff. And thanks to Hillary Clinton for teaching me yoga. Because politics is yoga is life. 💕💪💋🙏
 
 
* * *

There's a long-running yoga teacher cliche that goes something like this: "The hardest yoga pose is savasana."

I beg to differ.

The hardest yoga pose is Hillary Clinton sitting silently onstage while her former opponent (a man whom she beat by 3 million votes in the popular vote and who was possibly/probably elected via illegitimate Russian means) is inaugurated as President of the United States.

I mean, can you imagine?

I stood in my kitchen Friday morning and scanned Twitter for inauguration updates. Slate tweeted a video of the Clintons stepping out of their town car and preparing to walk into the ceremony, Hillary clad in peaceful winter white. That's when it really hit me: My God, this poor human has the hardest job in the world today. She's gotta stride in and smile gracefully and sit on that platform with all the other former Presidents and their wives and pretend that she's not totally, wretchedly miserable. 


No matter where you stand on the election, you've gotta have sympathy for the agony of that experience for any human being.

What pure torture to walk onto that stage and know the world's eyes are upon you, just waiting for you to betray a glimpse of pain, and to have to stay calm and pleasant when your insides are screaming bloody murder.

This is also known as: yoga.

We walk into the yoga studio knowing, every single time, that at some point in the practice we'll feel uncomfortable, awkward, frustrated, inadequate, angry. It comes with the territory. You hold a pose long enough, all your unresolved issues flare up. But you unroll the mat and stay, taking a deep breath, knowing it's just a matter of time til everything complicated and ugly burbles to the surface and your mind screams, "Just give up and run outta here already!" But, no. Your job is to sit with the discomfort, watching it, noticing it, resisting the urge to run away or give up, and using the breath to remain tenderly with the pain until it passes.
 

It's a practice of choosing how to react; of learning to watch the mind and not get caught up in it, realizing it's not you; realizing you don't have to get swept away in all your big feelings.

Which is EXACTLY what Hillary had to do last Friday. 

Over the course of the campaign, much was made of her steely demeanor and untouchable poise, deliberately cultivated after years of living in the critical public eye. But this? This was a new high. A masterful performance. The ultimate yoga practice.

Hillary could've chosen differently. She could've — very understandably — bailed on attending the Inauguration. She could've bawled her eyes out mid-ceremony and run off the platform. (Which would, of course, have wrought a media shitstorm.) But to sit there onstage, listening, witnessing, the whole world watching, cameras trained on her face waiting for the slightest hint of a reaction, knowing she's no doubt deeply in pain, and to manage to remain graceful and equanimous?

That, my friends, is yoga.


That is Buddha-level mastery.

(Okay, yes: maybe it was Xanax, too.) 


She may not be the Commander In Chief. But she's the yogi-in-chief, for sure. 

Hillary: thanks for teaching me yoga. I am grateful. I hope you downed a cocktail the size of your head when that shit was finally over.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

King Pigeon Posture Clinic


Super stoked to be leading this King Pigeon posture clinic next month at YoYoYogi. Join us on Feb 12th as we break down this much-loved/loathed pose. We'll flirt with a few cousin poses like Natarajasana (Dancer's Pose), too.

Register here.

Monday, January 23, 2017

How To Survive Snow Days As An Introvert Parent


New article out today! I wrote this for introverted parents everywhere who die a little inside when school is cancelled. :) Thanks to The Huffington Post for publishing.



Thursday, January 19, 2017

10 Ways To Make Friends With Your Body During A Hot Yoga Class


Thanks to The Huffington Post for picking up my recent article about 10 ways to make friends with your body during a hot yoga class. You can read the full piece here.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Easy As F*#k Comfort Foods That Won't Leave You Feeling Like Sh*t The Next Day


Oh hey.

Here we are, January. Four days in. Have you blown your resolutions yet?

I know lots of folks aspire to "eat healthy" in the New Year. That's often easier said than done, right?

I've been meaning for awhile now to throw up some of the favorite easy (vegan & gluten-free) comfort foods that have been rocking my world for the last few months. These recipes are perfect for the lazy non-cook (speaking from experience). They're not fancy and they're definitely not gonna show up in some famous foodie blog (way too many shameless short-cuts involved here).

But most importantly, two things: 1) they're fucking DELISH, and 2) they're vegan and gluten-free.

Going gluten-free back in 2009 was pretty easy, because I immediately felt so much better that it wasn't worth the occasional tempting bagel. But I struggled for a decade to go full-on vegan and stick with it, in spite of being totally ethically and philosophically on-board, mostly because cheese and ice cream are SO DAMN DELICIOUS. Even though my mind knew I'd feel waaaaay better and be waaaaay kinder to the planet/my body without them, I couldn't resist the siren call of melty mac 'n cheese or chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. It took getting pregnant to really inspire me to go cold turkey.

(Seriously, folks. Shaking those drugs was like kicking heroin.)

What I learned is that the key to turning the vegan corner and never looking back is finding good comfort food substitutes that didn't make me feel like I'd be living the rest of my life deprived. It was no longer a matter of forever relinquishing melty goodness; it was just a matter of finding or creating versions of favorite foods that didn't leave me feeling like shit the next day.

And people, the great news is: it's totally possible! I've done it, and I'm a terrible cook!

So here's the first in what will become a semi-regular series, otherwise elegantly, succinctly known as

Easy As F*#k (Vegan + GF) Comfort Foods That Won't Leave You Feeling Like Shit The Next Day

For our first installment, you get:
 
Photo via Detoxinista
Homemade Vegan Mac 'N Cheese

I found this recipe on Detoxinista after trying out a few others from all over the place.

OMG, people: this one is so. friggin. easy. I really never thought it was possible to find an easy go-to homemade mac 'n cheese recipe. I mean, usually, what a pain in the butt, right? But this one you can get done in literally five minutes using only a Vitamix, and it's based on cashews, nutritional yeast, and a few spices. SOLD, bitch.

The first time we made it I already had some leftover naked noodles in the fridge, so I just warmed those up, added some quick broccoli and peas, and poured the cashew cheese sauce on top. Heaven. You can also add frozen chopped spinach or cauliflower, too. It's good however you do it.

All you have to do to make this recipe gluten-free is to use brown rice or quinoa-based noodles. My new favorite trick is to use the organic black bean spiral pasta at Trader Joe's, so my kid gets a ton of protein while thinking he's just scarfing down delicious mac 'n cheese. We even tried long spaghetti noodles last time, and those worked well, too. The original Detoxinista recipe calls for baking it, but we usually don't even bother with that, and just dive in.

This one's a big hit with both guys in my household. We make it at least once a week, and will be making it for years. Highly recommend introducing it to your rotation of regular hits.


Photo by Bowl of Delicious

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Ok, so this is another easy vegan substitute that will make you forget Ben and Jerry's ever existed. My little guy is two and he loves to help me make this. And I love the fact that he can eat "ice cream" without getting his insides glued-up by all that antibiotic-laced cow's milk junk that's really only meant for baby cows to eat.

I'm a firm believer in the whole "just throw shit in" approach to cooking, so apologies in advance for a not-very-specific recipe here. You really can't mess this one up. If you want more of an official recipe, check out this example over at Bowl of Delicious. But even that one is fancier than we usually go for.

Yesterday, for example, we just threw these ingredients in the Vitamix and voila!
Two fresh bananas
A couple tablespoons of baking cocoa powder
Hemp seeds
Chia seeds
Vegan protein powder (see how I'm sneaking in a ton of protein and my kid doesn't even realize it?)
A big scoop of almond, sunflower, or peanut butter
A strong pour of coconut or almond milk
Ice cubes
You're smart, you can figure out proportions. Experimenting with it is part of the fun. I like to add some coconut shavings, or peppermint extract, or frozen cherries, to play with different flavors. And if you REALLY want to re-create your beloved chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, buy a few Cookie Dough flavor Lara Bars, chop them up, and throw them in. Perfection.

We used this recipe to make sweet-ass chocolate robot popsicles the other day, too. Fill up your popsicle molds and you can enjoy chocolate treats that won't send your kids' blood sugar through the roof.



Ok, friends. That's your comfort food dose for today.

Look forward to a belly-friendly twist on your favorite Italian classic and killer pumpkin protein balls to come.

In the meantime, start noshing. And don't be surprised to find mac 'n cheese on the menu next time you roll over for dinner.

Food is medicine, yo. Hit it.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Things I've Learned In 2016



Staring down the ticking clock that will mark the end of 2016. What a year.

Here are a few things that've stuck. Stream-of-conciousness style, because, well, I'm sitting in a coffee shop cranking this out before my kid wakes up and that's what you get.


1. We may have left San Francisco, but we definitely still live in a blue bubble. Ahem. Never saw THAT coming. (Cue memories of Berkeley, 2004, and our total sense of joyful certainty that Dubya could never, ever, possibly, ever be re-elected. Same story, different election. 'Murica, I hardly knew ye.)

2. Library is king. We are so in love. Two libraries within striking distance, and we are there 3-4 times a week. My kid doesn't know what a mall is, but he knows where to find Franklin, Babar, Strega Nona, the Berenstain Bears, Moana, and Lightning McQueen. Thank you, God, for the ongoing divine revelation that is the public library. You give me hope.

3. Social media is great. Say what you want about it, especially in the mindfulness/yoga circles I traverse, where it's so easy to demonize as a time-suck, yada yada. But Twitter, FB, and Instagram bring such good things to my life. Twitter is ensconced as my go-to source for political news and commentary (although my relationship with it has changed dramatically in the last few months; now I mostly feel anxiety on opening it up, wondering "What did he do now?"). It's smart and, if you follow the right people, remarkably content-rich. FB keeps me connected to the many wonderful people from all corners of the country where I've lived. Everybody's busy and nobody has time to talk on the phone. I'm so grateful to get a glimpse of all your lives: your children, your work, your passions. Don't diss it. FB keeps us connected in a way we otherwise wouldn't be. And Instagram. New to me, but great. Another wonderfully-pleasant surprise, connecting me to new and old friends and colleagues all the time, and lending a window of beauty to my life. In spite of the detritus: I am grateful.

4. Speaking of: FB birthdays offer a sweet little opportunity to practice lovingkindness every day. Take the time to wish people a happy birthday. Send them a quiet breath or two of metta before you move on. It's such a sleeper of a tender, simple daily practice. And, you know what? It makes people feel seen. And isn't that so nice?

5. Dig in. Cultivate the relationships you have. Go deeper.

6. Simple is best. I read Simplicity Parenting earlier this year and it really reinforced this already-dear sentiment. My little family has a lovely, boring routine of hiking, library, school, church, and work. It feels just right. Nothing sexy. Nothing over-committed. Just right. (Routines matter. Especially when you have little kids.)

7. Cook at home. Crockpots are ideal for lazy cooks. You throw some shit in a pot, turn it on, and ignore it for five hours. WIN. Forks Over Knives continues to be my best friend. Check it out.

8. Vegan, gluten-free is still the way to be (for me). Turning 38 next year, and I've never felt so strong, healthy, and flexible in my life. That is not an accident. It can take hard work at first, but the GF thing is now eight years strong, and damn if those haven't been the best eight years of my life.

9. Having a small child gets easier. My kid is approaching three, and this is such a sweet spot. We are finally sleeping like humans (most of the time) and he naps two hours a day and plays harmonica and reads books and does badass puzzles and goes to a darling Waldorf preschool where he sings cute songs and learns puppet shows about jack-o-lanterns. I have time to do yoga and read and write again. Sure, most days it's tough to get him to wash his hair, and it can take 45 minutes to get out of the house. But we laugh as much as we grit our teeth, and he's so goddamn cool.

10. Life is fragile. Don't take it for granted. A couple of physics professors from Portland State were just killed in a car accident last weekend. Their 4-year-old son was in the car, and survived. That poor child. We were out that way driving to Mount Hood last weekend, too. Could've been us. Don't take a single moment for granted. Death comes quickly. You never know.

11. Living near family is incredible. Game-changer. (Now if we can just get my other siblings out here, too...)

12. Holy shit this year did not end up as I pictured it would. This country is much-divided. I'm not sure what to do with it all. Vacillating between political passion and existential disenchantment. Constantly resisting the urge to hold up my Bernie sticker and say I TOLD YOU SO!!

13. I'm gonna miss the hell outta the Obamas. (SAVE US MICHELLE)

14. Aim for 100 rejections a year. Or a week. (Dude, I can manage 20 a day.) Rejections mean you're 1) doing creative work, and 2) putting it out there. YOU ARE MAKING YOUR ART. You win whether it gets published or not.

15. Practice makes practice.

16. Do what you can with what you've got. This dumpy little blog is 10 years old now. She's practically a grandma, and totally outdated, and hasn't been updated since like 2009 (social media share buttons, whaaa?). But she's a comfortable old friend, and a literary practice mat, and a journal of sorts, and a record of my life this last decade, and she started as a humble little blog that nobody read, and turned into a freelance writing career that now includes bucket-list publications like The Washington Post and Tricycle. Don't underestimate the power of shitty first drafts that nobody ever reads. Sometimes they turn into much, much more.

17. Health is everything. I read this article in the NYT documenting the year-long process of two gastric bypass patients the other day while my sick little guy napped on my lap, and I can't stop thinking about it. Made me appreciate so much. Little things like being able to tie my shoes and touch my toes. My life may be quiet and humble but I am grateful for a body that is healthy and strong, and a labor-of-love kind of job that incorporates holistic wellness into my family's everyday life. You don't have anything if you don't have your health.

18. Listening is learning. Podcasts continue to teach me so much. I'm an introvert, so I've always preferred the learning process of sitting back and soaking up information as opposed to engaged group-work style conversation. I love so much the fact that every day I can dial up a podcast as I hit my mat or drive to work and learn, learn, learn. So grateful for a new crop of podcasts (Rich Roll, Yogaland Podcast, Yoga Revealed, Sounds True Insights from the Edge, Sharon Salzberg, etc.) that is teaching me so many lessons about life, meaning, and wellness.

19. Almost-3-year-olds do not like to wear pants. Working on this one.

20. The Bay Area is not far away. Grateful for the quick flight, and for a few trips back over the last year. Looking forward to being there more often to teach and play in the year to come.

21. I may never be able to forgive evangelical Christianity for electing Drumpf. That's another story.

22. Amazon Prime saves my life on the regular. Two-day shipping ftw.

23. Some of the best articles get written on the fly as you dictate on your iPhone Notes app. Don't disregard the creative potential of stolen moments. Making art is not something that can be logistically or linearly dictated.

24. Don't try to drive in Portland when it snows. #shitshow

25. Grating potatoes is not for weenies. I grated three big potatoes for the most delicious Christmas morning breakfast burrito bake and my arms were sore for two days after. Cross-train your rock climbing and your yoga with a little potato-grating and you'll be good to go.

Grace and space to you in 2017.

2016, don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Why Hot Yoga Isn't Punishment


My new article, out today: on why hot yoga isn't punishment, and a few tips for making friends with your body during a hot yoga class. This time of year especially, I want to shout this from the rooftops!!

Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.

Here's a little blurb:


Friends, friends: it’s that time of year.

I’ve taught Saturday and Sunday mornings for seven years now, and every December around this time folks roll into class ready to sweat out every canape and martini they half-drunkenly inhaled at the office holiday party the night before. Sometimes they’re wearing six layers of clothing in a 99-degree room so as to “detox” all the pinot and the feta and the gingerbread, armed with liters of coconut water and a couple of big towels for mopping up the evidence.

This always makes me a little bit sad.

I mean, I totally get it. I remember countless hazy, hungover twentysomething mornings spent rolling into Bikram classes feeling like I needed to do the same thing. Too many yoga practices that felt like atonement for the night before.

A decade later, as a hot yoga teacher myself, I cringe to think that my class could ever be complicit in my students’ self-abasement.

So here I am to remind you: hot yoga is not a punishment.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Do.


So great. Thanks to Lodro Rinzler for the morning laugh.

Monday, November 21, 2016

11 Things You Didn't Know About The History Of Yoga


New article out today!

Did you know old-school yogis used to expel their semen and then recall it? Um, yeah. This, and more, in the 11 Things You Didn't Know About the History of Yoga.
"If you’ve ever heard your teacher wax poetic about how early yogis were doing sun salutations on the banks of the Ganges River 5000 years ago, now you know: they’re full of crap. Nobody was doing Surya Namaskara A 5000 years ago."
Read the full piece here.

Thanks to Yoga Trade for publishing.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Why Colin Kaepernick Is The Yoga Teacher We Need Right Now


I wrote this new article on Colin Kaepernick, football, and yoga. It will no doubt piss some people off. (That's ok.) Thanks to YogaDork for publishing.


Why Colin Kaepernick Is The Yoga Teacher We Need Right Now

So Donald J. Trump is our President-elect.

In the week since Trump won the Electoral College, we’ve witnessed an uptick in hate crimes across America. Monday night, Trump appointed Steve Bannon, alt-right head of Breitbart News and a known white supremacist, as chief White House strategist. Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke has celebrated Trump’s win as a victory for his white nationalist movement. And swastikas are appearing all over churches, schools, and bathrooms walls across the country.

It’s already been hard to talk about the results of the election with our children. Now, with white supremacists at the helm, civil rights are in a bad way. As parents, we’re wondering: where can we look for progressive activist role models for our children?

The first thing I’m gonna do is buy my son a Colin Kaepernick jersey.

Kaepernick is a stealth yoga teacher. And it’s got nothing to do with his tight pants.

Kaepernick first declined to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the 49ers’ August 26th preseason game against the Green Bay Packers because, as he put it, he couldn’t “show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Kaepernick’s move has sparked outrage across the country, eliciting nationalist critiques, burned jerseys, and even death threats. Earlier this month, just prior to the election, Kaepernick quietly launched a Black Panthers-inspired “Know Your Rights” camp empowering black and Latino students in Oakland, CA to combat oppression.

A few weeks after Kaepernick kicked off his peaceful protest, I led a yoga philosophy training for current teachers. We covered philosophy basics from old school yoga texts like the Upanishads and the Bhagavad Gita, and revisited the often-murky history of yoga. Then we dragged yoga philosophy into the 21st century, brainstorming about where to find alternative texts—the kind of postmodern yoga teachers that hide out in unexpected places, like Ferdinand The Bull or Fight Club or (gasp) even Donald Trump.

One student raised her hand. She brought up Colin Kaepernick.

Brilliant, I thought. Yes; this is what yoga looks like in the real world....

Full article is here. Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Here's Something You Can Do Right Now



One of the many reasons that people are freaked out is that the new administration denies climate change. So here's a way you can protest peacefully with your body, right now: GO VEG. Stop eating meat.

A vegan diet is literally the most powerful thing you can do to help save the planet. And it doesn't require passing any bills or protesting any elections. So if the new EPA director is going to call climate change a hoax, you can counteract that in this very breath.

Start today. Watch the documentary FORKS OVER KNIVES. Check out their website. Get their app (hundreds of delicious plant-based recipes!) and then start cooking for yourself and your family. Listen to Rich Roll's podcasts. Read his books. Look up Neal Barnard and Dean Ornish. Google "John Robbins " and learn how the Baskin-Robbins heir left a fortune behind because he realized eating vegan was the only healthy, ethical way. Read Carol J. Adams's book "The Sexual Politics Of Meat." See the ways in which Trump's pussy-grabbing attitudes toward women and his obsession with valuing beauty queens for their looks are ingrained in American culture, and how they're related to the way we objectify animals as meat, and how you can resist (and show solidarity for the poor and the vulnerable and the underprivileged) by simply choosing to eat differently. Look up "ahimsa" and think about the ways in which your eating habits might create less suffering.

PETA says: "If you’re serious about protecting the environment, the most important thing that you can do is stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy. The fastest way to address climate change would be to dramatically reduce the amount of meat people eat.” Quitting meat can reduce your carbon footprint more quickly than quitting driving.

We cannot put this off 4 more years. We can't wait for someone else to do it. So start now. Here. RESIST. For your kids' and your grandkids' sake. Put your money where your mouth is — and stop eating meat.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Things That Give Me Hope #1


Things That Give Me Hope #1: 

Finding this beautiful children's book in the mail from Oakland author and badass illustrator Robert Liu-Trujillo last week amidst vast disappointment about the state of the world. Reading it to my boy as he sits on my lap and remembering how his little open mind is such a sponge for goodness right now. Recommitting to raising him aware that his reality is only one of many in the world and that the hard important holy work of his life as a human being is to see the divinity in every single fucking living creature and, knowing that, to celebrate and fight for and lift one another up. 💪

Read it, buy it, gift it for the holidays instead of some plastic shit.

Children's books are one of the few things giving me hope in this bleak moment.