December Link Love: Burritos, Heart + Justice

image via rachael taylor designs

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.

Warning: This month, brace yourself for some extra links. I’ve been at home with a broken leg, reminding myself of the face that the internet is a BFF of mine at times. There are links galore!

The son of one of my volunteers at the school I do my AmeriCorps service at started up the Burrito Brigade, an organization that fights food insecurity with vegan burritos in Oregon. Clearly, social justice runs in the family.

Speaking of social justice, this has been quite a month of fighting for it. Jezebel doesn’t know what to do with “good white people” and a student from my sister’s high school got arrested for walking under red tape at the protest he went to with his afterschool poetry club.

In case you haven’t gotten the picture already, the world needs changing. That change might lie in teenage girls.

Politicians and their machines need to pay attention to youth voters, and if they’re smart they’ll look to the internet to better understand the issues that are most important to them and — critically — how and where to talk to them about these issues.
We can’t assume loving a boy band prevents a girl from thinking critically about her experiences and the experiences of others. Don’t assume teenagers can’t understand complex social theory. Pay attention to teenage girls; they just might change the world.

And Michael Franti.

On a lighter note, these are apparently the best 15 cities for single women.

A beauty blogger reveals how she does her makeup every morning.

I claim the seat of a student with an injury as I seek guidance from my teachers.

Real Simple shared these DIY Christmas decorations.

So thrilled I get to start filling out my new daybook with this blog post on schedules by Kimberly herself in mind!

Gala Darling shares what it means to have a heart-centered business.

Being heart-centered means that you’re adding light to the world. Heart-centered or not, you are running a business. A business is a profit-making venture. Anything else is a hobby.You are only as powerful as you will allow yourself to be, so stop playing small! Don’t shrink down to make other people comfortable. Don’t water it down.Don’t be Diet You. BRING IT! We need you!
But in order to make the impact you seek, you have to step into your power fully. You have to own it.
Sometimes that can be scary. But if you really want to add to the world, you have to stand up and be heard.

What a f*cking FANTASTIC article. A feminist take on blogging. Truly inspirational.

A few months ago, I listened to Lena Dunham’s memoir as an audiobook. this article has me question if I can justifiably call it memoir. Though lately I doubt the valence of genres anyway…

Well & Good asked Daphne Oz how she stays healthy during the holidays. And they asked Alexis Jones what her tricks are for being a bada*s confident + inspiring woman. Oh, and I really want to start contributing to the I Am That Girl blog!

SoulCycle instructor from this Refrigerator Look Book started the Movemeant Foundation (not a typo) to inspire young women by helping them to feel confident about their bodies!

Guess who’s back? Back again? Mia’s back. Tell a friend! HOLY F*CKING SH*T. The most relatable princess on the planet is back! And better than ever. Reading this, with her voice still the strong and poignant feminist fictional role model that I had from middle school through high school would have made me cry…if it didn’t make me roar with laughter first. Goodness gracious, Mia Thermopolis, I’ve missed you. I cannot wait until June! Meg Cabot also wishes her readers a lovely happy holidays and I am so #thrilled that through this post I found out about this excerpt for the book I am anticipating most this year (Princess Diaries X…I didn’t know this day would come!!!) and a collection of Meg Cabot’s short stories!!! My sister and I were actually just having a conversation about how we are disappointed by the lack of three-dimensional female characters in young adult fiction. Mia Thermopolis, however, is proof to me that creating three-dimensional female characters with quirk, feminist inclinations, and sheer human awesomeness is totally possible. I am so grateful to have grown up with her!

J.K. Rowling made a Jewish wizard. L’Chaim!

I am really excited to see Still Alice when it comes out.

Tim Ferris tells us how to build a brand.

It’s been a year of T-Swift and neither me nor the NYT are complaining.

HerCampus reveals how life changes after graduation and they’re sad…and true…and sad because they’re true.

Whoot whoot to Cuban bloggers!

If you’ve ever struggled with body image, this Kickstarter is for you.

The Atlantic believes that there’s power in writing about yourself.

Here’s the history of one of my favorite bookstores in the world and the highlight of my trip to Paris.

Anne Lamott is one fierce spiritual lady.

A Curvy Yoga body gratitude printout…I’ll OM to that!

A 24-year-old author just broke J.K. Rowling’s sale record!

30 people under 30 who are following their passions.

What can I say? My generation is filled with “career jugglers.” I’m living proof.

The director of my kids yoga TT had a piece published on cross-country love lost.

Glamour Mag learned these 5 beauty lessons from Beyonce this year.

Love, love, love the movie Obvious Child.

New wellness site Sonima shares master teacher Raghunauth Cappo’s story.

The New York Times shares the best TV shows of 2014.

I am so glad that friends Z + N introduced me to the Happy Mindful People + their blog.

My high school writing mentor shares her year in books.

Ella tells us the parts of being 22 that T-Swift left out. Beautiful.

Tiny Buddha encourages us to be the best versions of ourselves a lot more often.

When I was studying abroad, a documentary filmmaker came to talk to us about the importance of the media – and just representation within it – in Cuba, a place where media is vastly more scarce than it is in this country. That was the first time I heard the name Assata Shakur – click for her open letter to the media – and I am hopeful that “restored” relations between countries will allow us to hear her name more often – on her terms – in this country where media is abundant and justice within it is scarce.

BONUS: This SNL GIRLS skit is a true gem.

The Holistic 20-Something on a Budget’s Winter Gift Guide

My junior year of college my friends and I created a tradition: order in Indian food and watch Love Actually the week before Christmas. Luckily, I am living with one of my friends from college and we are continuing the tradition across the country.

So there’s that and…I freaking love Christmas. And I refuse to miss out on any of the joy just because I have a broken leg. Which leaves me a lot of time to check my email, peruse other blogs and go cray cray on Pinterest. Because of this, I have been researching holiday gift guides like it’s my day job.

Here are some great ones:

Well & Good

YogaDork

Be You Media Group Books for Writers

MY OWN COMPILATION

However, some of the gifts in these guides I adore are on the expensive side. My list is a compilation of the cheapest gifts in those guides, combined with my own finds and personal preferences/ideas. I’m doing the budgeting work for you. Now, enjoy the holiday merriment with these Spotify playlists as you shop.

And without further adieu, here is my holiday gift guide for the holistic 20-something on a budget!

Yoga U: The College Student’s Tools for Balanced Living

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I would be remiss if I did not include my own e-book on this guide, but for real: the holidays are coming up real soon and this book is an inexpensive buy that gives immediate delivery. And that’s only one aspect of the practicality of it. My ex’s mom bought this book two years ago for her daughter for Christmas (I know, the relationships in that sentence are complicated), printed it out, and had it bound. All in one day. Remember that no matter how much you pay, there is nothing cheap about giving the gift of yoga!

Holiday Princess by Meg Cabot

I essentially swear by everything Meg Cabot writes. And this is a gem of a book filled with humor that describes what to do and when to go through the holiday season feeling like a princess rather than burnt out. Read a really helpful excerpt here.

Agent Cali Yoga Tank

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Fellow yoga teacher Maxine Kozler Koven’s awesome teenage stepson founded Agent Cali, a brand debuting their yoga tanks! You can even pick out the gift based on the recipient’s favorite pose!

Gratitude Journal

Create or buy a small journal (and even decorate it!). Provide instructions for how to use it and use the first page to tell the person how grateful you are for them!

Goddess Cards

These cards, gifted to me at the end of a yoga teacher training, have been a major game changer for my practice and my life. Plus, they make the best gift to wrap because they’re already pretty and come in a box and won’t cost more than $20. Here’s my favorite type.

Candles

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Candles are simple, inexpensive, can be DIY or purchased, and ignite spiritual fire.

Glitter

image via pinterest via laughing lotus nyc glitter bar

image via pinterest via laughing lotus nyc glitter bar

Buy an assortment of glitter – maybe even body glitter. The holidays are a great time to shine!

Yoga Sequence

This year, I am making my mom a personalized yoga sequence for her Hanukkah gift. Because I know her well and know her practice well, I am – diagrams and all – creating a gift for her that suits her body and her yogic desires.

DIY Packet

This holiday gift requires a gift to Rite Aid. Pick up a beautiful bag, tissue paper, washi tape, stickers, construction paper and markers. This is for the creative person on your list!

Homemade Granola

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Use this formula to create delicious granola. Bake. Put in mason jar. Tie a ribbon or two around it. A great gift for coworkers!

Kind or Lara Bar Holiday Gift Packs

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I adore these two food companies and their products. Kind has holiday packaging with a do-good message and Lara has holiday flavors. I know that at least I would love to receive this for Christmas and I’d bet many others would too!

Yoga Class Gift Card

Buy a friend one yoga class. Just one. But that hour, as you’d know if you’ve taken a yoga class, can mean so much.

Yoga + Social Change: Diary of a Training

Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.
Gloria SteinemRevolution from Within

Day One

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For the past four years, I “worked” my toosh off as a Feminist, Gender and Sexuality Studies major studying the theories behind social change. Gloria Steinem, bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldua, Cherrie Moraga – you name it, I’ve read it. But it is only now, half a year out of college, that I am doing what I studied. As a Community Involvement Specialist (I LOVE my position title!) at a Title I elementary school, I am doing so much of it that I forget what I studied. There is, I am realizing, a dire need for praxis in basic needs work: action and reflection working in constant dialogue with one another. This I learned from Paulo Freire.

But I today I learned from Molly, the director of the Samarya Center in Seattle and a pioneer in creating a field out of yoga therapy. Her words were praxis embodied. She gave us concrete things and actions to reflect upon as we discussed social change, our own biases, defined our terms rigorously and truly thought about what effective action means. With everything that has been going on in this country, I could not imagine a better time to do this training. But then again, sh*t is always happening. It is always a good time for a training like this.

Molly’s words felt like college. They felt like academia, but they also felt real. The “yoga” component of the training was hardly addressed; it was implicit (which was good because in case you forgot I attended this training with a broken leg. As it should be. This training reminded me that I want my yoga teaching and practice to mirror my overall philosophy on yoga: that it is a bridge and a way of life. Yoga is a technique for getting to higher practices…like doing the work and actually serving people and causes. Yoga is not a full time job; it is not its own “yoga world,” as many blogs and clothing stores and studios talk about. Yoga is fueled by real experiences. Experiences of social change and action and reflection. This is the work.

This is the time, as much as ever, to become engaged. Not surprised, not despairing, not unhinged. Engaged.

Participate in the everyday possibilities all around you. Gain and hone the practice and skills needed to co- create, to share a burden, to have your voice heard, to put your money where your values are, to let others’ voices be heard, to encourage inclusion and open mindedness and heartedness.

You can practice these things every single day. Become engaged.

Practice in the straight away what you’ll use in the curve. You say you want a revolution? The revolution begins within. – Molly Lannon Kenny

Day Two

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On the second and last day of this training, I thought a lot about the ripple effect of change. As Molly and others talked, I reflected in my notebook about how we see ourselves change gradually through these practices. When I first started going to Pure Yoga six years ago, for example, I would go to a yoga class every Tuesday night that made what Molly labeled yesterday as “boundless compassion.” When we chanted, I literally felt my heart physically expand. I dedicated every wheel pose to being of greater service in the world. Then, I owuld walk the five blocks home and start yelling at my mother for “messing up” dinner.

I was sixteen and angry. But a seed of mindfulness had been planted.

Fast forward five years and my mother grew so inspired by how, after more time of letting the yoga integrate itself in my mind and heart, I became actually more compassionate and tranquil at home and school. And with with my friends. And in the activist groups I became a part of. In short, I became less angry. But more importantly, my mom now goes to yoga every day. She feels better because of it. The irony of this whole ripple effect phenomenon that I am describing is that I thought I was so incredibly, utterly (I only half-apologize for the adverbs) selfish to be doing so much “for myself.” At my first yoga class with my skewed chatarangas, I had no freaking idea that I would become a yoga teacher. Or work in the service sector in such a hardcore way. Or teach hundreds of people. Or teach students their first wheel poses…students hwo would then go on to become yoga teachers themselves. I did not know then just how unselfish these practices become when we keep doing the work.

This, to me, is where yoga and social change come together as a natural pairing, lovers that birth revolution.

Svadhyaya (Self-Study) NaNoWriMo Edition

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

While I am hoarding my plot like the words in my seventh grade locked-up journal (remember when journals had a lock and key? Now, my six-year-old sister uses a voice-sensitive password to open hers; the times they are a-changing!), I am not hoarding all that I learned about the writing process from successfully completing National Novel Writing Month.

I have been interested in doing NaNoWriMo since high school, but knew that if I did this during the school year, while I had other demanding creative writing projects going on, I would be setting myself up for failure rather than for success. NaNoWriMo had to be purely a gift I would give myself during a time when creativity was sparse and writing was not as much a part of my day-to-day life.

So I approached November as a creative self-study in time management and caffeinated efficiency.

The following graphs (I shall work on updating this post with…prettier graphics – I am new at this, but aware that these are kind of horrendous) show where I worked based on efficiency measured using two different variables: time and word count. Both these variables were dependent on place and I thought it would be fun to make this post into a kind of coffee-shop tour of Portland.

Below is a more graphically pleasant representation of where I wrote according to coffee shop and word count amassed while drinking whatever yummy coffee beverage they had (usually just regular old coffee with almond milk). Click after the jump for the graphs.

Continue reading

The Injury

I did not think I would blog about this. When I think of myself on the internet, versus myself in reality, I tend to reserve the internet for expressing the broad positives of my life, as they would apply to others. I am wary of narcissism while blogging, of thinking that my life ultimately applies to everyone else’s. I am also an intensely private person…which is odd at times seeing as I am selectively private as well, sharing liberally about that which I deem can be public knowledge.

But enough jargon or preface. This post is about the decision I am making to share with you some private information.

Last Monday, I got hit by a car while biking home from the elementary school I am doing my AmeriCorps service at. I took a bike route I do not normally take and while I stayed in the bike lane the whole time, there was a dangerous intersection involved and the next thing I knew I was lying on the ground in the middle of the street, police officers on one side, the fire department on the other and an ambulance pulling up within sight.

photo courtesy of saint amy, my roommate

photo courtesy of saint amy, my roommate

When I came to, I was a whole lot of emotions (as my sister and I say, all of the feels), but the sentiment that overwhelms me the most while going through a complicated trauma with an outcome that is challenging, but by far the best one possible is this:

I AM GRATEFUL.

I am grateful for years of chataranga. My recovery involves a lot of physical therapy. A lot of moving around on one leg on a walker and lifting my whole body up through isolating muscles. The doctors at the hospital assured me that I would’ve been there a whole lot longer had my arms – specifically my triceps – not been as strong. When I inform my physical and occupational therapists hat I am a yoga teacher, understanding dawns on their faces and I am grateful for the ways in which learning to move my able body has prepared me for these moments when my body is less able.

I am grateful for friends and housemates and the families we choose. This is an understatement. No matter how I write this gratitude, it will always be an understatement. I currently live with my best friend from college; we decided to move to Portland together to pursue our passions (me in education and her in architecture). She is my rock, my North Star, the person who reminds me of who I was the last four years, a touchstone for who I am now, in a new city, across the country, without the stability of a college identity and with all the adventure to forge an identity of my own. She is also my emergency contact and the person the police called as the paramedics wheeled me into the ambulance and shot me up with pain medicine. She was at the hospital before I arrived there, withstood the gore of my dislocated leg more than I did, and did not leave until our other housemate – another AmeriCorps member – arrived with a packed hospital bag and stayed the night. Both got less than three hours of sleep that night. Both were there the following morning as the surgical team prepped me for the operating room, holding each of my hands, as I braced myself (pun intended) to have a metal rod inserted inside my bone). When you live in a new city and the closest family is three hours away minimum, the families we choose become hOMe, the ones that are there for us in the most unconditional way possible. All these gratitudes lead me back to them, to you J and A. Thank you.

saints j & a keeping me company in the hospital

saints j & a keeping me company in the hospital

I am grateful for that packed hospital bag. Speaking of the amazing-ness of my housemates (my dad now prefaces their names with “Saint” every time I tell them a new act of kindness they perform), the hospital bag that A made for me included the following:

  • my spiritual gangster yoga top – In order to leave the hospital, I had to pass lots of “tests” for my physical and occupational therapists, to show that I could take care of my basic needs without putting weight on the injured leg. The first test was my “dressing test;” could I dress myself? A packed my Spiritual Gangster tank top, which made me feel at once sexy and strong. Putting that on after wearing a hospital gown for four days that made me feel anything but was nothing short of a sheer miracle. I felt the blood rush to my face again. I felt like myself. Empowered. Like I could do thisThis being recover from a traumatic incident, provide space and loving time and patience for my body to heal. It takes strength – it takes being a spiritual gangster – to ask for help, sometimes.
  • snacks – Not gonna lie, I was in a great Level One Trauma Center hospital where the food was actually delicious. But there is nothing like one’s own food…especially during a time when pain medicines are high and cravings are particular. She packed my favorites: Bear Naked granola protein packs. a NuGo Dark bar, roasted seaweed and much more goodness all in my Craft Coffee box from the subscription service’s last delivery, a good reminder of how much I love coffee during a time when the narcotics outweighed any desire for extra stimulants or depressants.
  • magazines
  • a book – Word to the wise: there is no better book to read while lying in a hospital bed than Amy Poehler’s Yes Please. First off, holding that book in my hands as I lay horizontal reminded me to say “yes, please” to the nurses repeatedly; when in pain, it can be all-too-easy to forget simple manners and positive etiquette, but never is there a more crucial time than when so many people team up on your behalf. I felt like myself when I was polite with my recovery team and like an unfamiliar person when my pain overshadowed my ability to be so. It also does not hurt to read a book by one of the best comedians and empowering feminists while lying in a hospital bed after surviving a trauma.

It was perfect.

I am also grateful for my family of originWhile my family I choose was there for me pre-op, my aunt and mother (from different sides of a divorced family, which, for some reason, makes my heart swell even more at the anesthetized memory) were there wiping my forehead and handing me water. They were there each time I woke up during a day of confused recurrent sleep. My mom was on the first flight out of New York City and my aunt started driving to PDX from Seattle at five in the morning.

I am grateful for nurses. I am also grateful for my surgical team, but it is easier to be grateful for the faces I saw often, the faces who comforted me and told me that everything was healing on the right timeline, the faces who had unbounded patience in the face of my impatience.

I am grateful for my job and life in Portland, for all the people I’ve met these short few months. Outside of my families of choice and origin, my supervisors were the first to visit me after surgery (literally the night after I was operated on). The amount of care and thoughtfulness and appreciation that my AmeriCorps service has offered me is truly amazing. I am beginning to think that they – my supervisors, my fellow AmeriCorps members, the parents and students I work with at the elementary school – are part of my families of choice as well.

I am grateful my broken leg and for my helmet. Thank you for breaking my fall. Thank you for saving my life. Thank you for giving me the chance to heal fully. Thank you for protecting my back and neck. Thank you thank you thank you.

When it comes down to it, I know that injuries are great teachers. I know that I am lucky. Years ago, before yoga, before embracing a lifestyle rich with spirituality, I would have reacted by getting caught up in my own victimization. Instead, as the I woke up from the anesthesia and loved ones came in one by one, I cried out of gratitude for my life. I am sure that this recovery process will be long and challenging. So I wanted to write this post as a reminder when I am still in the thick of the drama of it. A reminder to myself and to all those who have helped and are helping, thank you.