Living the Portland Good Life

written from dapper & wise roasters, which recently opened on division st near unfold yoga studio

The past few weekends have been FULL. Full of goodness, of friendship, of work and of self-care. I feel like I’m beginning to find my footing in Portland (kinda literally). While I still feel like a New Yorker in Oregon (gardening is decidedly still a challenge – see below), there are many aspects of this relaxed, but still ultra meaningful way of life that I can get used to. The past two weekends are excellent representations of how Portland combines all of the above in its signature coffee-drinking, do-everything-in-the-rain lifestyle.

Garden Work Party

Part of my position for my service is to facilitate work in the school garden. School gardens are wonderful things (I wrote about my course on them here), but to be perfectly honest, I feel like a fish out of water when dealing with them (I’m a New Yorker, after all). I worked my toosh off on this event – acquiring volunteers, taking out tools and supplies, getting food donations. The most interesting part was that I wasn’t good at any of it…nor did I likemuch of it. But the feeling of loving it in the present moment – while I was doing it – and succeeding at something that I thought I was not good at or liked was so beyond worthwhile. Furthermore, it gave me permission – abundant, self-loving permission – to truly treat the rest of my weekend…as a weekend.

New Girl

Soaking wet, I returned home from the garden work party (did I not mention that Portland has had perfect weather for weeks…until I host a three-hour-long outdoor event?). I took the best shower of my life, got cozy, made some lunch and tea and sat down to crack up with New Girl, a sitcom I’ve always found myself relating to, with a protagonist who is as strong as she is quirky…and whose sense of style I idolize (gooooo Jessica Day!). Oh, and did I mention that the character is from Portland?!

AmeriCorps Yoga

I’d been planning this AmeriCorps Yoga workshop since about a month before I broke my leg. I enjoy teaching yoga to all populations and stages of life, but especially to the stage of life that I personally am in at the moment. For me, this means teaching yoga to other AmeriCorps volunteers and service professionals. We began the class with tea and a brainstorm and circle-share of how we take care of ourselves, followed by a vinyasa yoga practice, then partner poses we can do with the kids and teens we work with. We closed with some luscious restorative asana and a quote on systems theory, the overwhelming and beautiful idea that we can be the small shifts, drawing a direct link from mindfulness to the social change we are capable of.

Happy Hour Warriors

On Friday, knowing that Saturday would be the pinnacle of a crazy work month (spring at the school I serve at, it turns out, is cray cray), I planned a happy hour with my roommates at what just might be the best happy hour deal in Portland. This says a lot, seeing as Portland prioritizes happy hours like no other city I’ve traveled to or lived in (and that says a lot – I’ve been to lots of cities…and happy hours) – they even have two of them, an early one and a late one. Anyways, my dad and stepmom got me and my roommates a gift card to Southpark Seafood in downtown PDX, which has a $5 happy hour menu that includes full meals. We ordered burgers, wine and a roasted brussel sprouts with breakfast sausage dish that was absolutely divine. We toasted to celebrating, and the importance of celebrations in ritualizing life.

Brunch: Portlandia Style

My favorite episode of Portlandia is the one with the brunch line. Since I first visited Portland a fateful two years ago, I’ve always said that Portlandia is an understatement. I stand by that now, as evidenced by the fact that my roommates and I, on Sunday morning, traveled first in search of biscuits (we saw the line wind around the block). Then, we went to our favorite brunch spot on Hawthorne – Cup and Saucer – and the waiting list didn’t budge. We’re all busy ladies so we decided to go to a spot that we’d previously only seen on Portlandia: Waffle Window. We all got our bacon-y waffles from a hilarious hipster stand, scarfed them down and went on with our days.

Cafe Time

Deciding to get some work done later that Sunday, I went to Ford Food & Drink on 12th and Division. The ambiance was that of a bunch of freelancers working separately, but together: my favorite combination!

Goth Yoga 

Yes, this class was described as goth yoga, though the instructor was far from goth personality-wise. He was completely ebullient and a lovely fellow teacher, introducing me (who he just met) to the other students at the end of class as a fellow teacher, a colleague of sorts. The whole scenario made me beam. We flowed event though the music wasn’t what I would personally choose when teaching a yoga class.

Lunar Energy

written at ford food + drink on division st in portland, or

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When typing up a blog post for WordPress, in small gray letters appear the words “Share your story here…” My story, for today, is one of embracing lunar energy, the feminine side, the Shakti that is also the stillness (as always, this will all make sense in a mOMent, I promise!).

In December I, a New Yorker and vinyasa yoga teacher always on the move, was immobilized for the first time. Always Moving was the name of the memoir that my kids yoga teacher trainer wrote. That title always resonated with me, hung in the back of my mind like a reminder of my identity. As evidenced by the fact that I’ve spent time living in over five places over the past four years, states of inertia terrified me. In my yoga practice I grew hungry for surya namaskar: sun salutations. Then when doing my own practice I would skip the cooldown. In my first yoga teacher training we broke up the Ossener practice into two parts that took the shape of a bell curve. The first part of the bell curve was solar. The seller parts of this diagram encompass the warm-up sun salutations, vinyasas, warrior poses, standing and arm balances. The second part of the spell care of the slope downward with lunar energy which income best hip opening back bending, forward folds and all supine postures. I would often find myself is skipping the second part of this bell curve in my own practice. I would call it a day after the stuff that made me sweat was done and I used classes to balance out the practice. Restorative and yin, while I acknowledged that they were good for me made me uncomfortable.

All that said, I named my favorite stuffed animal as a child – a large cuddly soft gray cat – Luna. She represented comfort and sleep and relaxation. Sometimes, we stray from those vital elements of life as we get older.

So go figure that my big sign that I needed to embrace my lunar energy came in the form of a giant scar. On my lower right leg, I have a scar shaped like a crescent moon. I have a dream of getting a tattoo of a crescent moon around it, but then I also realize that scars are their own tattoos…and as my roommate likes to remind me, insurance paid for this one (which it most definitely didn’t for my other two). As a yoga teacher and alum of hippie camp, I try to not ignore signs…especially those that appear on the body.

It took – for me – the sheer force and impact of breaking a leg and recovering from surgery to embrace my moon self. It is only when we are on the way out that we realize all the learning possibilities that were there all along. That’s how my healing process worked anyway. And I would love to share what I learned.

How to embrace lunar energy:

  1. Ritualize ALL moon cycles. This means your own personal lunar cycle AND the new and full moons. Celebrate your body and the natural evolution of planetary cycles through rituals. Rituals can involve whatever feels most loving to you at any given mOMent: half a bar of really good dark chocolate and a glass of red wine, a yoga class self-love treat, a meditation you do during only those times of the month…remember, a ritual is anything that has meaning for you.
  2. Embrace some balanced kapha energy. Kapha gets a bad rap in discussions on Ayurveda and the doshas. Why? It’s the slower, larger, lunar dosha and unfortunately, our society fears stagnancy and taking up space. But who says we have to follow what society says? For a while, I’ve focused on balancing out my Kapha…acquiring less of it, but I have never once worried about doing that with my Pitta energy. Having a broken leg forced me to look at keeping my Kapha, indulging it a bit, letting that gentleness, that sweetness, that sukha.
  3. Practice restorative and yin. Those classes are everywhere. Just go. Or bring your knees wide and feet together and lie down in a DIY suptabaddhokonasana.
  4. Nadi Shodhana. Otherwise known as alternate nostril breathing, this specific form of pranayama channels the nadis, energy channels that run through both the solar and lunar sides of the body, thereby uniting the sun and moon – which is the goal of channeling lunar energy to begin with.
  5. Read about goddesses. The lunar is associated with the feminine – the Shakti side of the body. Lately, I’ve found myself drawn to goddess texts – these amazing Goddess Cards and Sally Kempton’s Awakening Shakti. I highly recommend both for getting in touch with the divine feminine.
  6. Be gentle. Do less. Don’t overthink it.

Setting Self-Care Goals

taken at powell's books

taken at powell’s books

There are some people that make one ask, Where did you come from and how did you enter my life at exactly the right time?! My roommate A is one of those people. In all of life’s transitions, we’re confronted with a myriad of choices: where to live, what to do, how to get from point A to point B. There is one choice that is the undercurrent for how we approach all our decision-making: self-care. I’ve often heard that change is the only constant. I would actually argue that change is the only guaranteed constant. Self-care, however, can be a constant that accompanies us – a floating device – in a sea of change.

Self-care is a less obvious choice and we tend to make it or not without even realizing it. This decision is a subconscious and insidious one and its consequences effect everything. That said, there are ways to make a choice in favor of self-care an active decision for the betterment of ourselves and our interactions with others.

So where does my roommate come in, in regards to self-care? Discussions of self-care pepper my home because of her. She has a tradition of setting monthly goals that she follows through on with deliberate intensity. She also talks about self-care, making the implicit explicit. When you live with someone, their habits tend to naturally rub off on you. It is luck and grace when those habits are those of health and wellness.

And why goals? Goals hold us accountable to our wellbeing. Here are my self-care goals for March:

* Meditate.

* Practice yoga and do my physical therapy exercises to break up the day.

* Take lunch breaks at work.

* Journal.

* Cultivate healthy boundaries in my relationships (goes with journaling because writing boundaries down holds us mega accountable).

* Wear a little makeup…make a joyful effort!

Now, please tell me: What are your self-care goals? They can be anything and utterly unique to you!

This post was written at St. Honoree Patisseriein Portland, OR

February Link Love: Beauty, Bodies + Books

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.

taken at powell's books in sw portland

taken at powell’s books in sw portland

`This month has been busy – I didn’t do as much online reading as I did in December and January (I think that means I’m healing – whoot!), but I did read a novel (The Vacationers by Emma Straub). That said, what I did read was what online communities can be really good for in February: L-O-V-E spelled out in the alphabet of acceptance. It makes sense, then that February holds space for both Valentine’s Day and National Eating Disorders Awareness Month. And I chose the image above because both could use lots and lots of…#feminism.

* BUST tells us 10 things we might not know about orgasms.

* Here are the six best web series that we all apparently need to watch, according to BUST.

* This woman learned to find body acceptance through a relationship…but the finger always points back around to that being her responsibility.

I will work to earn love from me, who is the person who will always play the hardest to get. I will flirt as hard as I can, and I will win myself back.

* Watch the video for a brief history of young adult books – it’s like seeing my own reading history from one decade develop over many.

* NPR’s Krista Tippet nails it again with articulating the myth of multitasking (so for all my friends who call me a terribly multitasker…I WIN).

* Here’s Spry Living’s guide to the nation’s best yoga studios.

* Good PT + yoga = preventive asana therapy, via Yoga International.

* I am a routines junkie…though I should likely call it a rituals junkie. I love reading about how people spend their time and so appreciate how The Chalkboard  asks style icons, like this blogger at The Tig how they spend their days particularly in light of their health + wellness habits. The best restaurant tip I came across?

Take your time. Order your starters and have a glass of wine, and then see how hungry you are before you order your next course. It’s a great way to enjoy dining in general… pacing yourself and enjoying your food without rushing through it and you’ll inadvertently eat less. Alternatively, I would say one of the best tips would be to put your phone away. It’s healthy to be present. Everything can wait.

And a recipe I want to try?

Roasted cauliflower with chickpeas and hot curry powder – it finds its way into my salads, or as a side dish that I constantly nibble.

* And (drumroll!) The Chalkboard has an app…which means I really need to find my iPad charger!

* This is how two fashion bloggers go on a friend date.

* A very Portland(ia) list of protein bars.

Smart Girls at the Party said Happy Galentines Day!

Gala Darling is encouraging zine-making this project season and Rookie Mag shows us how.

* Speaking of Gala Darling, I’m pulling some articles from her February Carousel for my own:

* JK Rowling reveals 11 “facts” about the Harry Potter books after-the-fact.

Your body is not a problem to be solved!

* It’s NED month and Instagram is helping with eating disorder recovery.

* Here are 35 essential habits of incredibly happy people.

* Carmen Farina, my old elementary school principal who’s moved up in the world of education, is changing the course of NYC public schools.

* What happens when you’re insured, but not covered? The New York Times reveals.

* The HuffPo reveals the 4 things us 20-somethings should know about money.

* Anna Kendrick – who after last month’s NYT Styles article – has become my beauty/self-care icon, shares tips for making showers faster in Self Mag.

* Yoga instructor was rated by CNN as a career with some of the largest growth, via YogaDork. I could also not agree with YogaDork more about killing off the yoga studio paradigm.

* Now, I’ll end this link love on the most positive of notes…a yoga body is EVERYbody (34 photos to dispel the myth of the “yoga body”), via Sonima!

A Guide to Portland Healers

Welcome to The Guide series of Growing Up on OM. This new monthly column supplements the Link Love column for when the natural ideas aren’t flowing as much. These guides will range from guides to cities to guides of yoga studios to guides of healers of all different sorts (today I will start us on the latter). if there are any guides that you know you would particularly like to see please let me know in the comments!

As you have been made well aware of on this blog, I am healing from a broken leg, an injury I came to by way of trauma. Through years of yoga and attempts to heal from non-physical injuries (breakups, moving, typical woes). One aspect of my injury and healing process that continues to fascinate me is that it happened when I was still new to Portland. As a result, much of my experience of this new city is through the lens of the healing process. I am so grateful for all the people, businesses and institutions I have met along the way. Here is a glimpse.

New Heights Physical Therapy

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I can’t say enough positive things about this place so I’ll keep it short. I’ve a lot of time these past few months at this PT practice. Not only is my PT beyond, beyond, beyond amazing (I don’t know what I would do without her), the whole space beams of a welcoming, caring, efficient and intelligent atmosphere. There’s music playing, the reception staff is fantastic and more than anything, I feel like everyone there – especially my PT – wants me to not just get better, but to aggressively get better.

Integrative Trauma Treatment Center

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I go here for EMDR therapy and some Reiki on the side, but this center in Northwest Portland in a gorgeous office that looks like it taken straight out of an Anthropologie catalogue, also offers acupuncture and massage.

Unfold Yoga Therapy Studio

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When I was on the hospital bed about to go into surgery, my roommates told me that is was a good thing I became affiliated with Unfold when I did…because this studio’s slogan/mantra is “unconditionally welcoming” and that applies wholeheartedly to doing the practice with an injury. It’s been a great way to ease back into the asana practice.

Yoga Shala Acupuncture

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I started seeing Fumi at Yoga Shala for acupuncture around my incisions and…wow. Also, the location of Yoga Shala on North Williams in a lovely complex is hard to beat.

Nourish Northwest

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When I first stepped into Nourish Northwest, located on 44th and Hawthorne (next to a Kure Juice Bar!), I felt immediately at home and inspired to live my best self. The decor and the staff were just so gentle. They made my heart swell and encouraged me to eat in a way that fuels Strength + an Abundant life.