4-Day Weekend: Livin’ it Up in this City

Last weekend was one of the most fabulous extended weekend stay-cations I’ve ever experienced. New York has so much to offer that it’s rare to feel as if one is fully taking advantage, but this weekend with a combination of friends coming into town, getting some movie-watching in before Oscars weekend, and the kickoff of Harlem Restaurant Week, it felt incredible to be one of many that chose to stay in NYC during a long weekend and do things to actively appreciate this unbelievably incredible city that has a multiplicity of greatness to it that I am humbled by.

Friday

Riverbank Run

Eager to see my guy who was in town for the weekend, I rushed home after work to join him for a run around the track at Riverbank State Park. The cold literally made my phone stop working and while I was at first severely disappointed to go on a music-free run, I eventually began to enjoy the meditative experience of running (jogging, really) in silence.

ROKC Ramen + Double Date

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 9.32.44 AM.pngI live in upper West Harlem, which is apparently the land of hidden gems. At the suggestion of my roommate, we went on a double date to ROKC, which has fabulous ramen, cocktails, and wait staff. I couldn’t recommend it more.

Saturday

Soulmates SoulCycle

This was unlike any other Soul Cycle class I’d ever experienced. It was led by Sue and Sean, a couple that met at SoulCycle, and are now both instructors. Between sharing their love story and playing cute 80s love songs, they led a sold-out class at W77.

I Am Not Your Negro Documentary

maxresdefault.jpgThis was by far the highlight of the entire weekend. I Am Not Your Negro should be required viewing for every American. I remember sitting in my high school English class, desks re-arranged in a circle, for the purpose of discussing Baldwin’s essay “If Black English Isn’t a Language, Then Tell Me What Is.” It is so rare that we get to contextualize change-makers on their own terms. At the end of the documentary, the credits Written by James Baldwin appeared on the screen and they seemed so appropriate; even though the documentary was made after his death, his words leave a legacy that this world – this country in particular – need so desperately right now. I am planning on doing a Baldwin author study group this summer – let me know if you want in!

Harlem Shake

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After we left the Magic Johnson Movie Theater, we walked the few blocks to Malcolm X, trying to process the film and yet unable to process it all at once. We arrived at Harlem Shake, got burgers and beers, and talked about the place of all of this in our world today.

Red Rooster

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We did not want to leave Malcolm X that night. It was bumpin. So, we walked into a totally crowded Red Rooster, ordered some drinks, and danced and talked some more. It was the perfect Harlem evening.

Sunday

Yoga at Laughing Lotus

Image result for laughing lotus nycWe woke up on Sunday because the boyf had a soccer game to go watch and I had some yoga to do. This Soul Sweat class was true to its name and by the time we reunited on 14th St, I needed some food.

Taim

Screen Shot 2017-02-26 at 9.38.09 AM.pngThe fact that Taim isn’t packed for how incredibly delicious it is baffles me. To me, my family, and everyone else I know that’s gone there, it is the best Israeli food in the city (I highly recommend the sabich – eggplant and egg – sandwich)!

Toilet Paper Exhibit at the Cadillac Showroom

We then took a walk to the Cadillac Showroom, a totally weird place with a fantastic Joe the Art of Coffee inside. I don’t completely understand what the exhibit was about, but it was definitely fun to walk through. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

Monday

Call Congress

I woke up on Not My President’s Day, put on my Nasty Woman t-shirt and started calling congress using 5calls.org, which now has an app that I highly recommend downloading.

Chelsea Market

We then went down to Chelsea Market, followed by Milk Bar, for some lunch and good company.

The Bachelor

In the evening, my roommates and I opened a bottle of wine and settled in to watch The Bachelor. These cozy moments of connection aren’t anything short of critical of our popular culture today, and I mean that in the most fun way.

Tuesday

Arts ‘n Crafts

IMG_4086.JPGMy stepmother dropped off my 9-year-old sister at 8:45am Tuesday morning. The first stop on our day together was to a pottery studio on the Upper West Side, Little Shop of Crafts.

Books of Wonder

I have found it tremendously comforting to spend time in bookstores lately. Being surrounded by literature that opens up new worlds and possibilities is deeply healing and inspiring. The sis and I each chose three books, found a bench, and began to sample them all by reading the first chapter of each, before choosing one to continue with.

Yoga at Laughing Lotus

I ended the day in one of my favorite ways – with a wonderful heart-opening Lotus Hour.

10 Ways to Practice Self-Love for Under $10

Happy Valentine’s Day! Happy belated Galentine’s Day! Happy Day of Revolutionary Love! With so much to celebrate involving one of my absolute favorite words – love – I started thinking about one of the goals of this blog: assisting millennials in practicing self-love in small, manageable and consistent ways so that they – we – can better serve the world we live in. This February 14th, I want to share 10 ways to practice self-love for under $10. Too often, the rhetoric of self-love overlaps with the rhetoric of advertising – getting us to be part of a “self-love” consumer base that makes us forget that self-love is something that is a right, not a privilege that should cause us to break the bank. Here are some inexpensive strategies for practicing self-love…

  1. Do a themed home yoga practice. This morning, I re-discovered a playlist I made for Valentine’s Day from back when I taught yoga consistently (you can find it here). At 5:40am, I lit three candles in my yoga room, turned the music on, and folded myself into a child’s pose. Starting my day off with yoga was definitely a lovely way to start the day off with self-love. To find out how to do a home practice of your own that is both safe and sustainable, check out my e-course here.
  2. Treat yourself to a fun coffee beverageMake it something you don’t get everyday. Make it a treat and allow it to infuse your morning with the feeling of specialness.
  3. Meditate. 
  4. Write a gratitude list.
  5. Get a change of polishThese often cost less than $10 (way less than a manicure, but for a similar effect).
  6.  Buy a new book for pleasure.
  7. Purchase a magazine and read it in bed!
  8. Get a mindful coloring book (or download mindful coloring pages off the interwebs) and get to it!
  9. Put on a face mask!
  10. Catch up on blogs.

Enjoy the day! And comment: how are you practicing self-love this February 14th?

Seva for Millennials

Seva is a Sanskrit term that means “service.” We are in a political time when we need full-on and present engagement in service. We need to be and stay woke. As I’ve mentioned before on the blog, we need to practice self-care in ways that serve others. For the purpose of this post, I want to focus on the latter part of that mission statement: serve others. What are some efficient ways to serve others, mobilize fellow 20-somethings, and contribute in effective ways while still holding down the one, two, or three jobs that most millennials have (plus, you know, grad school, yoga, and other hobbies)?

Call your representatives!

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My roommate got me hooked on 5calls.org, which makes it extremely easy and user-friendly to make targeted phone calls and to log your engagement. This website runs the gamut of sociopolitical issues from legislation regarding climate change to education to immigration.

Volunteer for one organization.

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In an effort not to spread yourself too thin to the point where you quit everything, choose just one organization that is involved in a cause you’re passionate about. Maybe that’s Planned Parenthood or the ACLU or a local tutoring program. Find out where they need volunteers the most, take out your planner or log onto GoogleCal, and schedule it in. Time is change-making currency, baby! (Pun intended.)

Donate when you can’t protest!

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Recently, I made a rule for myself: for every mass protest I don’t show up for, I will donate to an organization that does the kind of work that protest is fighting for. Two weeks ago, I was unable to show up to airports to protest the ban. As I shared my guilt with my friend on the subway back from yoga, I took out my phone and donated to the ACLU. It took me less than two minutes. I am not saying that donating is the same as protesting! I am also not saying that we shouldn’t do both if we can! But, there are so many ways to be involved and engaged, and to make a contribution. Time and money are both forms of currency. I am going to try to use one when I cannot use the other.

Practice positive reinforcement: write thank-you notes.

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This is my third year of teaching elementary school. In elementary school (and many of the classes I take in graduate school as well), we talk a lot about the idea of positive reinforcement. The psychology blog Very Well defines this age-old field-tested concept,

In operant conditioning, positive reinforcement involves the addition of a reinforcing stimulus following a behavior that makes it more likely that the behavior will occur again in the future. When a favorable outcome, event, or reward occurs after an action, that particular response or behavior will be strengthened.

Thank the people who are doing good work. Thank them genuinely – because you really appreciate what they’re doing – but also thank them because you want to encourage them to continue doing the good work that they’re doing. Finally (as if you need more reasons to intentionally say “thank you”), it shifts everyone’s mind to the positive, which is so important…especially if you’re making a lot of phone calls or going to a lot of protests to get legislation changed. My roommate is writing thank-you letters to her representatives that stick out to her as speaking out against the administration in productive ways. I wrote an email to my principal thanking her for broadcasting immigration stories on the announcements. The possibilities are varied, and bottom line: taking this action is refueling!

Which one of these are you going to do today? Let’s get to work!

How to Host Galentines

Last night, my roommates and I hosted a Galentines dinner…for ourselves.

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Leslie Knope (a.k.a. Amy Poehler on Parks & Rec) defines Galentine’s Day,

Basically, it’s like Valentine’s Day, only instead of celebrating the love you have for your significant other, you spend it with your best girlfriends, who are after all your soul mates, and therefore deserve a holiday all to themselves, too. Leslie chooses to observe the day of lady love with brunch (her other true love), but you can kick it back lady-style however you want. Since the episode aired in 2010, it’s become just as big a deal as its Valentine’s Day counterpart. Ovaries before brovaries, you know? – Bustle

It served as a truly lovely opportunity to celebrate one another, cook some delicious food, and engage in fantastic conversation. Connection is so deeply important in our world today – as is the celebration of fellow women. It’s not just important; it’s healing. So, I would love to use this blog as an opportunity to show you how to #treatyoself to a Galentines Day for you and your lady friends!

How to Host Galentines 

  1. Decide on a day + time. This is the biggest challenge. I live with three other graduate students. We all have various interests and commitments, and finding a day that worked for all of us took several tries.It doesn’t have to be the traditional February 13th; choose a day in February that works to you to reclaim February as a month of women supporting women! Once you decide on it, write it and sticker it into that beautiful planner of yours!
  2. Discuss a menuWhile watching The Bachelor last week, we discussed who was going to make what. One roommate made cocktails (rose slushies and red wine hot chocolate – haaay!), two roommates made the main course (cauliflower spinach mac and 4 cheeses and roasted asparagus), and I made dessert (candied rose and pistacio brownies). It’s important to divide up the kitchen based on when everything needs to be made.Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 8.48.11 PM.png
  3. Pick a playlist. I chose Spotify’s Bridget Jones Jams because Bridget Jones screams Galentines to me almost as much as Leslie Knope (yay to imperfectly perfect heroines!).
  4. Discuss what you want to discuss. I so appreciated the discussions leading up to Valentines Day about what we would talk about: what we can do to better the world, how we’re spreading activism in our own communities, encouraging girls to be kinder to one another; make it intentional!
  5. Dig in and enjoy the company!

written while watching the bachelor

What the World Needs Now

It’s been a harrowing few weeks. Among protests, marches, crying, comforting, writing, and calling, I have come to a realization, something I am only able to crystallize now, but that I have known all this time: this country has an empathy problem. I say this while knowing full well that so many of us – especially in wellness spaces – understand the need for advocacy. But even then, I am learning, we need to go deeper with our ability to not only speak out, but also to listen. We need to empathize with our ears and with our hearts with plights that we alone may not have personally faced. And, hardest of all, we need to develop the capacity to act from a place of empathy.

When I did my first yoga teacher training in 2011, I struggled with meditation big time. I was perfectly content doing vinyasa yoga all day, but when a meditation teacher came in and told us to sit still and focus on the breath, I felt all sorts of I think I’m doing this wrong. Then, a fellow student in the training who seemed to embody loving-kindness taught us Metta (loving-kindness meditation). There was something about Metta that stuck with me on a deep level. This week, as I’ve practiced it on the subway every day to work and led my third grade students in the practice as well, I realized that Metta develops empathy inside the heart space through its very structure.

Here is how to do it on your own.

  1. Find a comfortable seat. When I say that this seat can be anywhere as long as you’re comfortable and your feet are planted firmly into the ground, I mean it.
  2. Tune into the breath. Notice the inhales and the exhales. Allow for something that is typically so passive to become an active experience.
  3. Visualize yourself at a moment that you felt like your best. Now, repeat silently to yourself three times:

May I be safe.

May I be healthy.

May I be happy.

May I live a life of ease.

4. Visualize someone you love. Now, repeat silently to yourself three times:

May they be safe.

May they be healthy.

May they be happy.

May they live a life of ease.

5. Visualize a neutral person / a group of people. For this one, I find it helpful to choose a group of people in the world that I know is suffering because of the current political climate. Repeat silently to yourself three times:

May they be safe.

May they be healthy.

May they be happy.

May they live a life of ease.

6. Visualize a person / group of people you resent. Repeat silently to yourself three times:

May they be safe.

May they be healthy.

May they be happy.

May they live a life of ease.

7. Now, visualize a sea of all of those people coming together and more. Repeat silently to yourself three times:

May we be safe.

May we be healthy.

May we be happy.

May we live lives of ease.

8. Return to the self. Repeat three times:

May I be safe.

May I be healthy.

May I be happy.

May I live a life of ease.