Lunar New Year Intentions

For several years now, I've been experimenting with an extended New Year awareness.  I don't set a January 1st resolution (full disclosure - I haven't been up at midnight for several years now, but that has more to do with motherhood).   I've tied many of my daily rhythms to lunar cycle awareness, which includes celebrating the lunar new year.  Between Jan 1 and the next new moon I sit with ideas for intentions and let them percolate.  By the lunar new year, I’m ready to commit to a few ideas for shaking up my daily life.

It's taken me longer to settle on intentions this year.  But yesterday things clicked and I chose three lunar new year resolutions based on the theme of conscious living.

Pay Attention   I used to regularly set aside time to be tech free - nightly before bed and a weekly ritual silence for a few hours of family time with devices shut off.  As I slip further into motherhood, I've neglected this practice, spinning my wheels faster and faster to try and keep up and keep moving.  I try my best to say off computer and phone when my son is around, but am more hooked than ever in the time I have without him - eating breakfast alone, walking to and from appointments or meetings, sitting on the couch with my husband after our boy has gone to bed.  I'm equally disappointed with myself and addicted.  New year intention number one - conscious eating and walking.  I (re) commit, starting today, to just walk when I am walking and just eat when I am eating.  I will (try and) resist the urge to pick up my phone at the table alone and walking to and fro.  I commit to connecting with myself and the city around me. 

Moon Angels I love staying in tune with the lunar cycle through daily inspiration from Ryan Rebekah Erev's Moon Angels.  These cards provide thought provoking art and guiding descriptions for each day of the cycle from waxing to waning moon.  I've drifted from including these in my morning practice and have missed the ritual.  Today they are back and not a moment too soon.  Many of the systems in our country - political, corporate to name a couple - are dominated by a deeply ingrained patriarchy.  In itself, this solar powered energy we often associate with masculine qualities is not wrong.  But over centuries this way of living and governing has taken root to the exclusion of other ways of functioning and our systems are out of balance, serving only a few rather than all.  Lunar energy is linked to the feminine, to qualities of creativity, calm, and intuition.  Power is expressed in a very different way than we've come to know in our culture.  When we who live in a society dominated by the masculine/sun energy start to pay attention to the feminine/moon energy, we invite a shift towards balancing these two opposites.

Activism  Eight years ago I was inspired, like many, to go into public service following the election of Barack Obama.  I pursued a job with a councilmember at Seattle City Hall.  Two years later I left to pursue a Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems and, disillusioned with shortcomings, bureaucracy, and lack of creativity in government, never returned.  I stopped following local politics and grew complacent about (and took for granted) a national progressive agenda.  Eight years later I feel despair and anger at the election results and the decisions currently being made in Washington DC by mostly white, male political leaders.  I am inspired to activism, to an awake and conscious life that comes out of being and living according to a feminine, creative, compassionate rhythm.  

Conscious living - that's my motto for 2017.  Perhaps you'd like to join me?

Summer Practice

Sunny sky Much as I love summer in Seattle, I usually like to escape the city for a trip or two.  I always take along my yoga mat, but whether it actually gets used is a toss up.  Sometimes I find I just need a break from my routine, which is a lovely thing to give yourself permission to do.  Last summer I discovered that being away was a great chance to develop my own practice.  Morning yoga by the lake before a swim invited a new layer of calm into my being.  I'm looking forward to being back in in that place for a good long while this July and August.

Before the lake in Idaho though, there's always theater.  Last week I was in Southern Oregon for an annual trip to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.  Friends who are fellow yogis joined this time and they are both more adventurous about trying new studios than I am.  Emily even wrote about an experience for my blog last summer.  On this trip, she inspired me to walk a couple of blocks from our vacation rental to a beautiful studio on a quiet street in Ashland.  Rasa Yoga was the perfect place to spend the noon hour on a hot summer day.  The breeze teased the filmy curtains as I moved through reclined twists and watched a few high clouds skirt over the bright blue sky.  The teaching was familiar, spoke to the breath frequently, and promoted a balance of effort and ease--something I always appreciate in our over-asana-ized culture.  I get pretty attached to my studio and teachers in Seattle, and this experience was a nice reminder of the larger community of yoga and the benefits to trying something new.

So here's to summer, and a willingness to let go of our strict routines and embrace whatever comes along.


Light"Identity is both what we want to believe is true and what our actions show to be true about ourselves." (Meg Wheatley, Finding Our Way) My teacher embodies this quote.  Perhaps it's just another way of saying that you are how you act, not just what you say.  She is both.  I'm thinking a lot about her today, this whole week really.  A year ago this evening I took my very last formal class with her.  The next day she called me barely able to speak - laid out with a bad case of whooping cough.  This developed into viral pneumonia and in the blink of an eye a year has past and you still won't find her on any class schedules.  And yet, she still teaches.  Most people I know, including myself, would have given up by now.  Not my beloved teacher.  She moves through life with as much tenacity, grace and love as she ever did.  She shows up with people, allowing herself to be seen and heard when she isn't at her best.  Her courage amazes me.  She is also honest about when she can't show up and lets herself rest.  Her compassion inspires me.  She watched other teachers take over classes she'd taught for years and continually checks to review class plans, ask about students and support us without a hint of regret or jealousy.  Her selflessness humbles me.

Lisa has never stopped being my teacher and if anything I've learned more from her outside the studio this past year than I did in formal practice.  Every day she brings authenticity to that yogic cliché - practice off the mat.


A student of mine asked me to share the poem I read in class yesterday.  It's from my favorite reading assignment in grad school so far -- Soil and Soul by Alastair McIntosh.  I found it to be a beautiful tale that weaves together history, mythology and spirituality with modern political, economic and environmental issues.  For anyone wishing to disentangle themselves from our Western notion of individuality, linear time and progress, this book is an opportunity to better understand a European heritage while exploring a more fluid, communal and cyclical notion of life.  Pick up a copy at your local library or neighborhood bookstore! I'll set you up for the poem by beginning with the preceding paragraph:

Their music is said to come straight from faerie -- from the hollow hill on which the first of the MacCrimmons had slept.  He had answered wisely when a faerie woman had asked him, 'Which woulds't thou prefer, skill without success or success without skill?'  And in my imagination it feels like the spirit of the MacCrimmon is present with me here.  It's as if I'm being taught the music of Avalon, Tir nan Og, the Celtic otherworld.

'This is to fortify and give comfort,' a voice says in my mind's ear.  'It's easy to make the music.  Just watch nature and play what you see and hear.  Play the waterfall, play the birdsong, play the beat of the butterfly's wings.  That's the only score you need.  That's faerie.  That's the very creativity of God.  Holy, Holy, Holy.  Breeee-jah...Breeeee-jah, Breeeee-jah.'

                                    ...and this girl said

                                    the girl with love in her eyes

                                    'You will accept it'

                                     and I said

                                     'I will accept what?'

                                     and she said again in the same calm voice

                                     'You will accept it

                                     accept the flood

                                     accept the calmness

                                     accept the otherworld people

                                     accept human beings'

                                    -Maoilious Caimbeul, And So Somersault


i suppose most people take the opportunity on New Year's Eve to reflect back on the year. tonight i find myself flooded with memories reaching way back to when i was a little girl and at the same time i'm drawing inspiration from two amazing ladies in my life - my grandmothers. last winter i welcomed 2012 surrounded by family in the Bay Area as we celebrated my mother's mother's 80th birthday. my Gram is quite dear to me, more so the older i get and appreciate her love and wisdom. how does she inspire me? a few years back i discovered the secret of her vitality. every winter she goes into a determined hybernation. she slows down, drops some of her regular activities for a few months, sleeps a word, she rests. what a novel idea in our culture today! ever since she told me about this annual ritual, i have given myself permission to try and do the same, sans guilt.  it takes a special kind of strength to embrace stillness and i deeply admire Gram for modeling this way of life.

i'm welcoming 2013 on the beach of my childhood in la jolla. when i was young, my grandparents had all 10 of my cousins and 3 of my siblings and i for a few weeks in the summer to "Camp La Jolla." It was full of swimming, sun, sand and seaworld outings. i usually think fondly of my grandfather when i'm back here, but tonight i'm letting myself sit with a sense of admiration for my Baba. she was quietly behind the scenes those many years, making sure everything ran like clockwork - not an easy feat with 14 kids underfoot i'd imagine! she coordinated our much loved beach dinner parties, and so much more. i walked into our room this afternoon and there it was - the unmistakeable scent of La Jolla. i have just a drop of it at home, in the leather playing-card box my grandmother gave me a few years ago to remember this place by. when i'm feeling a bit blue, that earthy smell fills my body with sunshine and grand-love. my Baba has lived a full life. she inspires me to see the world, to live near the sea and to take care of myself.

tonight i'm raising my glass of champagne to my grandmothers -- to these strong women who guide me.  for inspiring me to live, as appropriate to seasons of life and of the year, both a bold and quiet life of love.