Literary London Travel Guide

As you all will have recalled (because I expect you to memorize everything I write on this blog goshdarnit! — JK.), I set intentions for each leg of my travels this summer. My intention for England was to explore literature, as I was there to do a creative writing programme at the University of Cambridge. My three days in London allowed me to make the switch from writing to reading (to do a literary refuel if you will) by visiting copious amounts of bookstores and literary monuments…in other words, this is a post about why London is an English major’s heaven.

Daunt Books

Daunt Books is organized by country, which is insanely cool. I love a well-organized bookstore!

Persephone Books

Persephone Books is a publishing company with a storefront that sells books by Twentieth Century women writers. Their storefront also has an adorable section entitled “Books We Wish We Published.” (A feminist literary must!)

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Tea Time

Series Description: This new series of blog posts revolves around cultures of rest and what it means to take time out of the day – to pause and recharge – so that one can be their best self the rest of the time. I am not saying that the glorification of busy is unique to the United States. I am saying, rather, that being busy has been glorified in the United States and there are many cultures around the world that build rest into the day in a way that a 9 to 5 work schedule does not. They build rest into the day through culturally specific rituals. 

After my first trip to the UK, I wrote a post on this blog about just how much I love tea time. This second trip the UK did not disappoint and I fell in love all over again with this specific ritual of rest that happens from 2-5 (and according to this infographic, after as well).

Where to Tea Time in England

Fitzbillies (Cambridge)


Fortnum & Mason (London) 

Tea Time Checklist

  • tea
  • milk / cream
  • clotted cream
  • jam
  • scones or a baked good
  • a good book or good company

 

Cambridge, England Travel Guide


I got to know Cambridge pretty well this summer through doing the University of Cambridge’s two-week-long creative writing intensive. I fell in love with this manageable, yet extremely cosmopolitan city. The historic colleges, enchanting bookstores, expansive shopping centers, and excellent coffee culture drew me in. Here’s my guide if you ever find yourself in this lovely scholarly city.

CamYoga

It’s a yoga blog so I must begin with the yoga. I went to a Jivamukti class at CamYoga my second week there, and the lovely flow hit the spot!

Sweaty Betty

Sweaty Betty is a British yoga clothing brand and while they have amazing stores in NYC, they preview a lot of their clothing in their British stores, and also have an underground yoga studio where they offer free classes on Mondays.

Heffers Bookstore

I am obsessed with Heffers. They have a whole section of the classics with special beautifully-crafted covers. Sadly, my carry-on couldn’t fit two different gorgeously-covered Pride and Prejudices, but alas, I left with a beautiful copy of Villette by Charlotte Bronte.

Fitzbillies

It took less than 24 hours for me to become a regular at Fitzbillies: a restaurant + bakery + coffee and tea shop that is everything fantastic about Cambridge compressed into a lovely bustling cafe.

Outdoor Market in the Square

In the middle of the most urban area of Cambridge is a lovely outdoor market with incredible (and cheap!) dumplings, more books, jewelry, and crafts.

The Fitzwilliam Museum

This museum has a fantastic collection of Impressionist and Fauvist art. It’s under construction for the next year, but it’s still a must-do.

Where to Follow Growing Up On OM

I am not the greatest at promoting this blog and I’m writing this post as both a first step and as a way to ask you, dear readers, for some help. I love writing Growing Up on OM. It gives me such joy to put my passions into words and share them with the world. It is where I let my yoga nerd self run wild and it is my outlet for the yoga teacher aspect of my career and where I work out how that aspect fits into the larger picture of my life. I also love social media in a variety of forms, and the ways in which each medium has a unique offering. When it comes to the content of this blog, it does not only appear on WordPress. And, if you’re one of the busy 20-somethings that this blog is geared towards, you likely forget to check it often. Social media serves as both a reminder and bonus content for what this blog offers. Read on to see where to follow Growing Up on OM, and what you’ll get out of each site / app.

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FACEBOOK

Growing Up on OM has a fan page on Facebook. LIKE it! Invite friends to like it! On this page, you’ll find:

  • links to interesting articles from other blogs, as well as links to videos from other teachers (both yoga and in life)
  • notifications for when there’s a new blog post on Growing Up on OM
  • my yoga teaching schedule

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INSTAGRAM

love the Growing Up on OM Instagram. I love photography. I am looking forward to building the Instagram so that it can become a standalone medium. On it, you’ll find:

  • yoga how-to’s
  • travel photos
  • my NYC yoga schedule
  • photographs of yoga studios
  • documentation of my blogging process
  • notifications of new blog posts and the photos in them

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TWITTER

FOLLOW it. Twitter is fairly self-explanatory, but on @growinguponom you’ll find:

  • quotes from yoga classes I either teach or take
  • links to articles, videos, memes, etc.
  • retweets of my favorite poets and teachers
  • links to blog posts and tags of the people / brands / places I feature in them

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PINTEREST

On Pinterest, I basically pin whatever inspires me. I pin:

  • photographs that represent the different blog posts I write
  • blog posts from the Growing Up on OM archive
  • tips on blogging
  • tips on yoga

Please pin to your Pinterest if they inspire you.

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TUMBLR

Tumblr is my OG blogging experience. I still use it for

  • posting versions / previews of my Growing Up on OM blog posts,
  • reblogging other awesome posts & videos
  • making Growing Up on OM (the WordPress version) more visual

I hope to see you all over these lovely interwebs!

<3, Shira

 

The NYC Summer (Sand) Bucket List

As I write this, sitting at the airport about to board a flight to Nantucket for one of many getaways this summer, I semi-ironically decided to write a post about the city I tend to leave so often these hot few months. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know that I love New York with all my heart. I was born in Manhattan, raised in Manhattan, left to Connecticut for College, and then to Portland for AmeriCorps, and then I returned to the city that birthed me. I return, again and again, because wherever I go, I am a New Yorker through and through. I’ve been a New Yorker in Oregon, in California, in Cuba, in Florida, and all over the globe really. And while staying in NYC 24/7 is definitely unsustainable for me (hence the frequent getaways), there is so much the city that never sleeps has to offer…especially in the summer!

Here are my recommendations for what to do during a summer in NYC (all tried and true, I promise!).

Shakespeare in the Park

 

I miss the days of camping out in Central Park, getting kicked out when the park would close, and then ushered (pun intended) back into the outskirts of the Great Lawn. Shakespeare in the Park is one of my absolute favorite initiatives in NYC. Put on by the Public Theater and held at the Delacorte Theater smack dab in the middle of Central Park, the whole experience from waiting in line for hours for those FREE tickets to seeing the show itself is so, so special and worth it. A Midsummer Night’s Dream is headed into its third week!

Outdoor Yoga

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There are quite a few options for this one and I’ll list all of them below. All have rotating teachers. Click the links to find out more. Oh, and all except the Laughing Lotus one are fo free!

Smorgasburg

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Smorgasburg is this former Portlander’s dream. Series of the most gourmet and hipster food trucks line up in both Prospect Park and Williamsburg. There are plenty of picnic tables and small bites to enable trying out a wide variety of yummy-ness.

Wanderlust 108

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I ran the 5K and did the meditation + yoga in this mindful triathlon almost two years ago and it was such a highlight! Find out more by reading a former post here. It’s coming up in the beginning of September.

The Rockaways

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photo via nycgovparks.org

My mantra for beaching it up in the Rockaways is as follows: TAKE THE A TRAIN! Last summer, I seem to have forgotten that I am in fact a New Yorker and let the boyf drive and finding parking was one of the most miserable beach experiences of our lives. If you go, suck it up and take the A to the depths of Queens. Get off. Walk a few blocks to the boardwalk. Grab arepas and taro fries (a must!) at Caracas. Then, find a spot on the crowded beach and soak up the sensory overload…and the sun.

The Yoga Teach Recommends: How I Spent My 4th of July Weekend

I am rarely in the city on July 4th (and yes, I am one of those painfully self-aware obnoxious New Yorkers that refers to this one tiny city as the city). Yet this summer, I had so much travel planned before and after the holiday weekend that I knew I’d need to spend this holiday weekend at home…and it was just so fabulous! Walking around New York and simply living my life minus the massive crowds in the heinous humidity and work / giving myself the abundant permission to relax…it was just what I needed. I went in with very few solidified plans. It turned out that most of my friends were in town as well and equally excited to take advantage of the manageability of this usually chaotic urbanity. Being patriotic and therefore consuming media and doing activities that encourage critical thinking and deep questioning about the country we live in can – and, I think, should – be done all year round. Take what you like from this post and do it / consume it any time of year.

This Fourth of July weekend,

I ran…

The Rise Up 5K

I’d been training for this 5K for a few months now and am so humbled by and grateful for the process of steadily improving at something with a beginner’s mind (post on why I run forthcoming). I did it with my friend E and we accomplished our one goal: to run the whole way. As we exited Corona Park, we reflected on how great it felt to run for such a good cause (the proceeds / registration fees for the Rise Up 5K go to the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Center for Reproductive Rights, Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Immigration Law Center, the Trevor Project, and the Southern Poverty Law Center. I can only assume that they’ll continue happening across the country and cannot recommend it enough (lots of people walked the whole way as well – it’s a 5K that’ll meet you where you’re at)!

I did yoga at…

Laughing Lotus and taught yoga at Harlem Yoga Studio.

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the lovely Laughing Lotus welcome area

I lounged in…

Central Park’s Great Lawn.

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I ate at…

Community Food & Juice (for that post-run brunchy brunch) and Sweetgreen. I love the summer seasonal menus at both of these spots!

 

I listened to…

This OnBeing episode on the power of telling all of US history, especially the parts white supremacist culture has tried to hide all these years. It blew my heart and mind wide open all at once.

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image by Titus Kaphar / Jack Shainman Gallery, via OnBeing.org

The Hamilton Mixtape. Not gonna lie. I was pretty hardcore about having this playing the entire Fourth of July. The Hamilton Mixtape takes history – a complicated, convoluted, amazing, and often deeply problematic set of narratives – and breathes life and power into it so that we can use a recognition of history on our own terms to understand how to shape the future. BTW, “Helpless” by Ja Rule and Ashanti is my absolute favorite.

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Civics 101 (Podcast). This podcast is amazing! In short (10-15-minute long) episodes, Civics 101 is a podcast from NPR that explains the roles of various jobs in the White House and essentially, how our government functions (both in its intended ways and in the inadvertent roles it takes on).

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How did you spend your Fourth of July weekend? What are the ways in which you stay civically engaged? … What’s your favorite song on the Hamilton Mixtape?!

written at moss cafe while sipping my very first matcha latte

How to Slay Finals Without Losing Your Zen

Disclaimer: I write this as someone who already lost my zen during this lovely finals season (can you smell the sarcasm?). As a result, I’ve had to consciously find ways to reclaim my calm during the chaos. This is very much so similar to how I came to yoga. I was stressed out and the kind of person that needed yoga, not the kind of person who would seem to just naturally drift on into an asana / meditation combo. I tend to find that those are the people who get the most out of the practices.

  • Find an accountability buddy and commit study time to them. Text them when you are going to start studying and when you are going to finish studying. Research shows that accountability increases productivity and the likelihood that sh*t will get done.
  • Keep your spaces clean and de-cluttered. My boss makes sure that her desk is gorgeously decluttered before she leaves work every day. I admire that so much…the ability to leave with clarity and begin again with clarity. When it comes to any space, that’s what high-quality work demands, and it makes it that much more pleasurable.
  • Have an exercise plan (a challenge, even!) that is a #treatyoself for this period of time. I started doing SoulCycle’s Turn It Up 10 challenge when finals first started to hit. The endorphins help with the focus, calm and levity. The 45-minute classes make the timing doable and the lack of a commute makes the exercise totally conducive to studying. It’s a great release for the stress and I’m making the exercise work for me during this time, not the other way around.
  • Practice studying in a hygge way. As you know from the blog, I’ve been a big fan of hygge this year (who hasn’t, really?). This is all to say…get COZY when you study. Drape a blanket over you. Grab a cup of tea. Wear your comfiest PJ’s or yoga clothes.
  • Bask in how fun using a planner can be. I absolutely adore my planner. Lately, I’ve started using bullet journaling techniques in it. This allows me to schedule in time to have fun and practice self-care. In my planner for this weekend, for example, are all of my assignments, and a manicure / pedicure appointment.
  • Do at least one de-stressing activity a week; #treatyoself. Maybe this is said mani / pedi. Maybe this is a special restorative yoga class. Maybe this is a massage or a walk through the park. Whatever it is, schedule it as a way of making time for it. That way, when you return to your work, you’ll do so with a fresh and refreshed perspective.
  • Create a mise-en-place every time you sit down to work. A mise-en-place is a culinary strategy: laying out all the ingredients and tools so that it’s all within reach. I first learned about using the mise-en-place as a strategy for doing work from Gretchen Rubin’s Happier podcast. It’s by far the best strategy I’ve gleaned from that show. Having everything in one spot makes doing the work so much easier and the distractions much fewer.

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.

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.