November Link Love: NaNoWriMo, Comedians & Routines

Introduction to the monthly Link Love column: One of my favorite blogs (and a total blogger role model of mine) is Gala Darling. Every month, Gala Darling publishes a link roundup in a narrative form of what she’s been reading. Lounging in bed on lazy Friday mornings (when I was in college) or Sunday mornings (now that I’m a working lady), I open up the links Gala posts like presents on Chanukah evenings. I want to create a similar experience for my readers…with the added bonus of documenting these reading gems so I no longer have 17 tabs open on Google Chrome. So, without further adieu, thank you Gala for the inspiration. Here is a delightful (Central Park) link carousel of my own.

Hello from Ada’s House of Technical Books, a fabulous cafe in Seattle’s Capitol Hill where I am spending the long Thanksgiving weekend! November has been a reading-heavy and writing-heavy month (the kind of month, which, you know, comes with Northwest winter hibernation – I’m a fan!). Here’s what I’ve been reading and loving on the interwebs this month…

* Doing NaNoWriMo (it’s hard to believe this intense month is almost over!) has made me want to read these books (two separate links) on this crazy endeavor.

* In the meantime, I’ve been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott on writing well.

* I turned 23 on the 18th and HOT DAMN, this HuffPo article struck my heartstrings rather seriously. These words in particular…

We work hard in jobs we aren’t sure we want to make those fancy degrees feel worth it, and we date people we aren’t sure we love to make everything feel less lonely.

We spend hours drinking wine on apartment floors, promising one another that those who broke our hearts will not own us forever. We zone out in grad school classrooms or type away in junior offices or teach English in Rwanda, all the while wondering if we are supposed to be somewhere else.

We are 23, and hangovers hurt now.

* Mean Girls celebrated their tenth anniversary this month and holy crap, I feel so old!

* Spoiler alert: I am sort of kind of basing a character in my NaNoWriMo novel on Tavi Gevinson and this interview with Bitch Magazine served as a character development guiding light.

* Also on Bitch Media, what we all learned from Growing Up On Om Rory Gilmore…thank goodness for this political take on my favorite part of popular culture!

It is this impact that makes Gilmore Girls stand the test of time. When it debuted in 2000, there weren’t enough Rorys and Lorelais on TV and there still aren’t. There are not enough single moms and dads shown successfully parenting their children while working and definitely not enough young female characters who do well in school and don’t spend all their time fighting with their parents. Most significantly, there are not enough female writers and directors like Amy Sherman-Palladino creating these characters.

* I really want to make this interesting twist on a coffee drink to warm myself up on rainy days!

* Roxane Gay talks to Lena Dunham about her new book, feminism, and the benefits of being criticized online.

* Fast Company provides a history of the blessed/cursed to-do list and how to make the most effective one.

* Speaking of, Elephant Journal has some tips on getting up early and getting sh*t done.

* What happens when Disney princesses have “real” (whatever the f*ck that means) waistlines? They look gorgeous. Duh!

* During a particularly busy month Krista Tippet’s (NPR) On Being calls always having something to do a dis-ease of our culture. This ex(?)-New Yorker agrees.

* Last month, Good Coffee opened up a few blocks away from me in Portland…and it’s great! (Sorry, I had to.)

* 1989 is such a freaking fantastic album (yay T-Swift!) and fellow Class of 2014 FGSS major Ella Dawson calls it inspirational for women writers!

When asked what she thinks of being accused of only writing about boyfriends, Taylor Swift is quick to call bullshit. “Frankly, I think that’s a very sexist angle to take. No one says that about Ed Sheeran. No one says that about Bruno Mars. They’re all writing songs about their exes, their current girlfriends, their love lives, and no one is raising a red flag there.”

* To hear it straight from the former country singer’s mouth, check out this article with Tay Tay herself.

* My article on creating a soundtrack for the everyday for was published!

* At some point in the middle of the month, I desperately needed to diversify my writing so I experimented with poetic forms. The Tanka was a fantastic way to do so!

* The inspiration for this monthly column Gala Darling blogged about 10 really easy ways to love yourself more today! She includes standing up for what you believe in, getting a good night’s sleep, filling your mind with positive media, and moving your body – essential for learning how to grow up on OM…at least I think so! Also from Gala Darling, 3 ways the present mOMment can help you manifest blessings.

* RESOURCE ALERT: Wondering what birth control you should go on? Know anyone wondering what birth control they should take? My doula/midwife-in-training friend recommends this fantastic website!

* Another resource, but this time in the land of education startups!

* One of my Teachers, Jasmine Tarkeshi, of Laughing Lotus SF, and the person I agree with most when it comes to the ideology behind Ayurveda, wrote about how the sister science of yoga reflects the four noble truths.

* NYWICI scholarship sister Taylor Trudon was interviewed on her wild successes post-college in the fabulous world of teenage journalism!

* Fellow yoga teacher named Shira was part of a startup team for Sonima, this down-to-earth viral wellness website (think MindBodyGreen with a Lotus Flow twist).

* As a yoga teacher, I am always on the hunt for more black leggings. Thanks, Chalkboard Mag for the guide!

* You know there is something deeply f*cked up when everyone is talking about one woman’s butt and hardly anyone is talking about agency. Thank all that is feminist and holy for Tina Fey.

* There is now a “realistic” Barbie doll, though I am still incredibly weary of calling it realistic because to do so is to reinforce norms and the idea that there is one way of appearing, one body type, even if it is more representative. (We have to challenge representation, people!)

* My original feminism role model, Jessica Valenti (referred to by me and my feminist friend M in high school as J-Val) wrote about the importance of telling all kinds of abortion stories at The Guardian.

* OMG OMG OMG, a sequel to Pitch Perfect!

* Bustle shares the 10 books to read if you loved the TV show Friends

* My personal style icon Zooey Deschanel is in a two-person band.

* I just wrote a novel (!!!) and here are some tips for the hardest part of doing so: ending it.

* The New York Times profiles a 13-year-old yoga teacher. Just goes to show that this practice is about being in the mOMent, independent of the number those moments add up to be. The Times published this right after they published a wise-beyond-their-years interview with Jaden and Willow Smith. The newspaper was clearly on a spirituality kick this month because they ALSO published a guide on getting a job in the mindfulness industry!

* I need to bake this wellness-focused pumpkin pie!

New York Magazine asks Manhattanite women what the dumbest things they spend their money on and I blush.

* Yoganonymous offers a DIY Yoga Props guide.

5 Practical Ways to Express Gratitude this Thanksgiving


Disclaimer: I am going to start this blog post off on a pessimistic note…but I PROMISE it’s about to get way more positive. 

Because of everything that has been going on in this country, celebrating a national holiday doesn’t feel so great on my heart. That said, a holiday where everyone simultaneously expresses what they are grateful for is pretty great. So, I will temporarily overcome my internal conflict to bring you this blog post on ways to express gratitude in tangible ways.

1. Start/join an email gratitude chain. For the past five years, I have been part of an email gratitude chain where daily, people share lists of what they are grateful for and email them out to the whole Google group. It is like being grateful oneself and multiplying it by ten, because reading what other people are grateful for and seeing their lives through the lens of gratitude is more than half the fun.

2. Write thank-you notes. I have this vivid memory of being five-years old and my mother kneeling down to talk to me to share two pieces of life wisdom: one, it’s not what you know it’s who you know and two, always, always write thank you notes. I am writing this from my aunt’s kitchen where I learned that even if you think people don’t pay attention of you write them a thank-you note or not, THEY DO.

3. Gratitude Journals. Last Monday, I had my students make their own very mini gratitude journals and presented it to them as a challenge to write three things they were grateful for until thanksgiving day and then they would share them. It gives them both the satisfaction of filling up an entire book and seeing it through from start to finish and learning the power of gratitude. I suggested they do their “three things” each night before they go to bed and I had one fourth-grade girl come up to me today to tell me that she finds it works best for her to do first thing in the morning. It kinda made my day.

4. Do/teach a gratitude yoga practice. Make a playlist by searching Spotify with words like “gratitude” and “thank you.” Choose a little nugget of a gratitude story to inspire the asanas and pranayama and…go for it!

5. Send thank-you texts to everyone you’ve ever lived with. Relationships between roommates are something fiercely precious. And hilarious. This morning, I woke up to texts from all my roommates from the past four years and am currently having Thanksgiving with my current ones. Share how grateful you are for them…with them…to get back in touch and start a conversation.

Saturday to Sunday

Written at Floyd’s Coffee Shop, NW Portland

I am having an amazing week (and you thought this post would be about only two days – ha!). My personal taste in blogs include bloggers that write about their daily routines, who find awesomeness in the mundane (a word, which comes from the Latin root mundos, to mean world – worldly bloggers!) and who share their own personal stories with the world. I also accidentally took a bit of a hiatus from Growing Up On OM so this post is intended to help me play catchup. Without further ado, the following is what made my week amazing:

Last Saturday, my roommates and I went to a lovely farmer’s market and Grocery Outlet (a winning combo) to stock up on goods for a combination of our housewarming and my 23rd birthday (all one event). The party was a total success and fused together college friends and Portland AmeriCorps friends. By the end of the night, I was thoroughly pleased that I have made a life here for myself, filled with really awesome people (most photos courtesy of roomie A).



We all went for a great brunch at Cup N Saucer, me and J’s new regular place now that we can’t pop over to Brew Bakers at the drop of a hat. Afterwards, I did some much-needed post-party vegging out at home on the couch. I broke out of my couch potato reign to explore a new part of Portland: Mississippi Avenue. Mississippi is home to adorable coffee shops, coffee specialty stores (where I was finally able to find the right filters for my Japanese pourover – yes, you can hate me after saying that), thrift shops, food carts, street art and the amazing Rebuilding Center where J is volunteering and with an outside of the above photo. I could not believe that I’ve lived in Portland for over three months and still hadn’t been.


via unfold website

via unfold website

The day started off with my new yoga class at Unfold Studios on Division St. The class ended up being a private because the studio was waiting to advertise it, but I was struck yet again by how – just like it says on their sign – “unconditionally welcoming” Unfold is. I am honored to be able to teach a weekly class there – it’s every week so if you’re reading this and are in Portland, COME TOMORROW!

So on Tuesday, I actually turned 23. And on this day where I worked extra hours at the school because of a parent’s meeting, I felt like the luckiest girl in the world. Like, I could – and did – cry at the generosity of everyone in my life on that day. I woke up bummed out that there wasn’t a Taylor Swift song for my new age and hit the pillow at night filled with unbounded gratitude.
My special day began at 7am with gifts from housemate J: a plethora of the things I swore off in my budget (for extremist budgeting, it is helpful to have friends who are excellent listeners): packs of gum, 85 percent dark chocolate, NuGo Dark protein bars, heaps of magazines and Taylor Swift’s album 1989 (wow, I am still in awe of this generosity; J, thank you!).
I then walked over to Starbucks to get my free birthday drink with my gold card.
At the school that day, I thought something was a bit suspicious. No one said happy birthday and I did not expect them to, but there was still an air of people keeping a secret from me (I liked the mystery!). At the parent group meeting that night, all the mamas that make my heart swell surprised me with flowers, cupcakes, a card they got what felt like everyone in the school to sign and more renditions of feliz cumpleaños than I knew existed. I teared up and unfortunately my subconscious chose that moment to have me lose my Spanish out of emotional overwhelm; I still do not know if my thank-you made sense, but I tried.

My birthday finished off with tacos and pomegranate margaritas with the roommates at Por Que No?, an amazing taqueria on Hawthorne. When I got home, I was about to hit the pillow (I thought this amazing day was over!) when my other housemate A knocked on my door to present me with this, a piece of home that she created having never visited it. I burst into tears for the second time that day. Hanging above my bed, I have a piece of my Laughing Lotus hOMe in PDX. It feels so right it too makes my heart swell.


Fast forward to today and I am sitting at Floyd’s Coffee Shop writing other things until I am pleasantly forced to write my novel at a NaNoWriMo “write-in” that will take place here shortly. I began my day early with a “Kick Your Asana” yoga class with the phenomenal Jessica Garay at People’s Yoga. Jessica is a teacher I discovered just yesterday and my body feels exhilarated with new challenges! I then went to a neck of the woods I so rarely am in: the Northwest. I walked in the rain to the place I first arrived in during my first trip to Portland a few years ago: the river. Next to the river, the Saturday Market was taking place (it occurs on Sundays too) and I looked around an artisan market that lasts all year long just after having a conversation with my sister about how I’ll be missing the Union Square Holiday Market this year. The thing with Portland, though, is that it is a city that doesn’t make me feel like I am “missing out” on urban life the way Middletown did. I don’t feel like I need to go back to New York for dire reasons besides the people I love there. NYC has a holiday market once a year…Portland has one year round. And it includes Ethiopian food trucks. So ha!

So Ham.

~ S

Ayurveda in the Garden

Last weekend, I completed a School Garden Coordinator Certificate Training with the fabulous organization Growing Gardens (I know, I’m all about these Portland nonprofits nowadays!). In order to receive our certificates, we were each responsible for giving a 3-7 minute presentation on a garden-related subject of our choice. Ever since I started this thing called higher education, I have also been doing various yoga teacher trainings. I am constantly looking for ways to weave the two together, to make it feel less like I am living a double life and more like I am living a complementary one. So, for my final presentation, I did a presentation of Ayurveda in the school garden and how learning about Ayurveda can provide a more holistic way to teach kids about nutrition. But enough preface; I will let the presentation speak for itself in hopes that it can be a resource. (To see theses like a slideshow, simply click on the individual photo to make it full-screen and scroll through!)

Further Resources/Photo Cred


The Six Tastes – Chopra Center

Knowledge is power – enjoy!


Living Yoga Gala

On Friday night, I went to my first gala. It was by far one of the most grown-up things I feel like I’ve done. Especially in Portland. I have been yoga networking my way into substitute-teaching jobs at studios in my neighborhood. One of those studios is Unfold, a lovely institution that believes deeply and holistically in partnerships between yoga service organizations. They offer their space to Living Yoga and as a result, Living Yoga offered up a table to them at their annual gigantic fundraiser of a gala.

And a gala it was!

Remember how last week I wrote a blog post about Portland nonprofits? Well, I can now consider myself pretty immersed in all three that I wrote about. I went from a day of school garden training with Growing Gardens to dressing and doing my makeup for an event with Portland’s wealthiest and fanciest. (Yes, I had a little bit of double-life syndrome come through.) When the MC at the event got on stage after the lavish cocktail hour, he said, “Welcome to the best-dressed yoga class of your life.”

These events, I learned, are a great opportunity to talk to others about their paths, overhear conversations on what different yoga service organizations have to offer and glean inspiration straight from the source. It is also a good opportunity to recognize that, well, yogis know how to party.

The above video is a true testament to the work that Living Yoga does and all that yoga service is capable of doing. It was a fabulous (and I do not use that adjective lightly) way to start off the weekend. Talk about nonprofits who know how to do and fund their service in style!

A New City: Relishing in Quiet

The subway sounds, the screeching of the brakes…it’s all part of the tapestry that creates the soundtrack to our lives.

my practice space

my practice space

In Portland, where I am doing fulfilling work and am happy exploring this new city, which really does have everything I love, I experience subtle forms of homesickness for my birth city. One way that homesickness manifests is in doing yoga class videos from my hOMe studio, Laughing Lotus. I do these yoga videos when I feel out of sorts because the grocery stores feel more like department stores and goodness knows there are hardly department stores let alone grocery stores that look that suburban in Manhattan. And then there is the slow putter of the rain, the absence of a rush and yoga classes with background music sans lyrics.

My teacher (or one of my many amazing ones, anyway) Ali Cramer said it best with her sheer poetry, inserted into an asana cue (she has a way with words that one). It is time to accept a new soundtrack. Rain instead of sirens. Puddles splashing rather than subways screeching. Quiet, then listening.

This is the music of a new city.

October Link Love: Fall Is Here!

From last month’s introduction to this kind of a post: One of my favorite blogs (and a total blogger role model of mine) is Gala Darling. Every month, Gala Darling publishes a link roundup in a narrative form of what she’s been reading. Lounging in bed on lazy Friday mornings (when I was in college) or Sunday mornings (now that I’m a working lady), I open up the links Gala posts like presents on Chanukah evenings. I want to create a similar experience for my readers…with the added bonus of documenting these reading gems so I no longer have 17 tabs open on Google Chrome. So, without further adieu, thank you Gala for the inspiration. Here is a delightful (Central Park) link carousel of my own.

Last time I saw Ella Dawson, we were about to graduate college. Now, she’s working For TEDx and has lots n lots of experience (sex-writing included) to share!

Alanna Kaivalya tells the yoga community (is that a thing writ large??) to stop talking about body size and image.

MyPlate teaches health and nutrition to kids.

Nicholas Sparks movies that are better than the notebook?!

Writers all over Facebook are ogling the 5 best writers sheds…and now that NaNoWriMo is here, I want one of my own!

My roommate J and I have been arguing over The Mindy Project and its feminist intentionality ever since it began. Turns out, The New Yorker was debating it too and I love what they came up with using input from the source herself.

You mean there are offices cooler than those of Facebook and Google?!

Oh, hay, my high school made the cut!

I already mentioned that I am doing NaNoWriMo this month and this and this and this is how I’m planning this crazy-ass month.

My stepmother is attempting to raise my littlest sister without Disney princesses.

Carly from The College Prepster essentially handed all bloggers a true mecca of a blog post: 50 Ideas for Blog Posts.

Through this article, I found out that my style uniform should probably consist of: “tank or cropped t-shirt + a high-waisted A-line skirt + boots.”

There is a lot of research surrounding the fact that we only have so much decision-making power alotted per day, and the more decisions you’re forced to make about trivial things (what am I going to have for breakfast/lunch/dinner? What am I going to wear? Should I work out today?), the less energy you have for creativity. It’s better to have your everyday life structured and organised, so that you can expend that energy on being innovative.

Also via Gala Darling, she tells us what to do when we’re burned out.

In the realm of my favorite bloggers, Kimberly Wilson gives some writerly inspiration.

This Portland writing group definitely sounds like something to check out!

Now that I am supposed to teach gardening to the kiddos, this idea sounds like a go-to.

A truly deeply hilarious and tragic well-written take on the book us New Yorkers grew up loving: Eloise (a take by none other than the New Yorker itself).

A plethora of synchronicities led me to this article again and again on teaching mindful studies to teens in Oregon public schools.

And finally, I spent many hours this month listening to Lena Dunham’s memoir on audiobook.

Now tell me, what did you read this last month?