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.

Exploring Cultures of Rest: Aperitivo

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. 

C08F2411-0D80-40D7-990D-27DA930F168E

As far as people go, I’m fairly low-maintenance. Scratch that; I would more readily refer to myself as middle-maintenance. But high-maintenance? I’m often too independent to a fault for that. That said, the one thing I get fairly high-maintenance about is being brought drinks. This refers to all sorts of drinks: coffee, tea, wine, beer, seltzer, you name it. I took a 5 Love Languages (Dr. Chapman) quiz about a year ago and one of the five – one I deeply appreciate – is “Acts of Service.”

Can vacuuming the floors really be an expression of love? Absolutely! Anything you do to ease the burden of responsibilities weighing on an “Acts of Service” person will speak volumes. The words he or she most want to hear: “Let me do that for you.” Laziness, broken commitments, and making more work for them tell speakers of this language their feelings don’t matter. Finding ways to serve speaks volumes to the recipient of these acts.

When I am brought a beverage, either in the morning or before dinner time (especially by a lover), I feel overwhelmed with a sense of deep ease. The ritual of coffee tells me that the day is beginning and there’s goodness to come, and the ritual of sitting down with a glass of wine or seltzer with some grapefruit juice squeezed in tells me that the day is over and there’s not much more I have to do except relax. That feeling – especially after a busy day – is a truly amazing one. The fact that it’s before dinner and the only expectation is to sit around and watch the sunset is and feels beautiful. That is aperitivo, the culture of rest we’re exploring today.

This article from HuffPo explains it phenomenally.

Aperitivo originates from the Latin verb aperire which means ‘to open’; the idea being that the drink opens (or stimulates) your appetite.

I have loved resting into the aperitivo ritual while in Tuscany. At 7:45pm every evening, we all pour ourselves a drink – alcoholic or non-alcoholic (it REALLY doesn’t matter!), sit around the sunset and enjoy one another’s company. It’s a daily ritual for slowing down nested into another ritual (dinner), which I so appreciate.

So pour yourself a drink, or demand that your partner does as an act of service. Lean back in a chair. And rest.

15 Ways to Re-start the Day (after it has already begun)

Image-1.jpg

I don’t know about you, but there are days that just don’t go as planned…or that just don’t go well. I find it a lot harder to do a mental re-start at, say, 3pm, than at 7am, yet the need to re-start, rejuvenate, and recharge can be just as necessary when the day is halfway through.

Okay, I’ll get less abstract here. As you all know, I went to Indiana over my spring break to spend time with my guy. The morning we were going to do our day trip to Indianapolis to go to this fantastic brunch place, I overslept…by three hours. The people who know and love me best were so proud of me when I told them this; balancing work, graduate school, and a side hustle has left me with a fairly high strung and generally early schedule that makes sleeping in a challenge. However, I did not see my morning of necessary rest in this light (heck, I didn’t even see the rest as anything resembling a necessity). Instead, I woke up totally freaked out that I wouldn’t have time to do yoga before being in a car for an hour and a half. I had an icky feeling all day, was a tad reactive to certain situations, and deeply craved a more grounded and yogic perspective. It wasn’t long before I realized what I needed to do: start my day over! So, to spread the love of the starting the day over in the middle of the day practice, I am sharing this list of ways how here.

  1. SUN SALUTATIONS – While they are meant for the morning, doing them in the middle of the day is a phenomenal way to channel that morning fresh start energy. My yoga teacher suggestion is to do five rounds of Sun Salutation A. If you’re feeling ambitious, three rounds of Sun A and three rounds of Sun B work great as well!
  2. MAKE A CUPPA coffee or tea – Allow the ritual of the beverage to re-set your brain, heart, and mind. Make it a mindfulness practice as you sip the beverage peacefully and maybe catch up on blogs, the paper, or magazines as you do so.
  3. WASH YOUR FACE – Splash cold water over your face and apply face wash and moisturizer. Breathe deeply as you massage your cheeks. This is especially good if one of the reasons you need to restart your day is because you need a bit of a wake up!
  4. SET AN INTENTION – Write down an intention for the rest of the day. How do you want to act? How do you want to perceive yourself? How do you want others to perceive you?
  5. INVERT THE BODY – Go upside down! This can be a downward facing dog, shoulderstand, headstand, or handstand (it can even be legs up the wall!).
  6. MEDITATE – Set a timer for ten minutes. Put your hands on your lap. Press your feet into the floor beneath you. Close your eyes or focus on one point in front of you. Breathe deeply. Namaste.
  7. 10 DEEP BREATHS + PRATAYAHARA – Pratayahara is one of my favorite niyamas (abstentions) of the yoga practice. It means to shut out some / most of the senses as a way of drawing inward. It can be incredibly rejuvenating, especially after a long day with a lot of external stimulation.
  8. SEX – Speaking of stimulation…with yourself or someone else sometimes it provides just the reset.
  9. 1-MINUTE DANCE PARTY – Blast some Beyonce. Turn off the lights. Rock out.
  10. PHONE A FRIEND – This 75-year-long Harvard study says it all: connection is the most important contributor to happiness. Feeling connected can be as attainable as a call to a long distance bestie.
  11. JOURNAL – Write about why you need to re-start the day, and how you can go about doing it. You might be surprised by what comes up!
  12. TAKE A NAP – Literally go asleep and wake up anew. This is something that I tell my students when they emerge from savasana: to stretch out like they’re waking up first thing in the morning…even if it’s 7pm. Start fresh!
  13. TAKE A WALK IN NATURE – Go outside and breathe in some fresh air. Fresh air, plus the lateral motion required in walking can do wonderful things to simply re-set the brain.
  14. SING IN THE SHOWER – Just do it. You’ll thank me later.
  15. STRETCH – Forward fold. Roll up vertebrae by vertebrae. Lift your arms up in the air and flex the palms like you’re doing a handstand on the ceiling. Take a big breath in. Really, it can be that simple sometimes.

Travelogue: My Week in Indiana

2017 is and will continue to be a year of travel for me! You can expect plenty more posts like these, inspired by both domestic and international travel, and can see them all in sequence by using the hashtag #travelogue2017. While this blog began as a yoga blog and you can be sure – like any daily practice – I will feature a yoga studio or two per city, I am deeply grateful for a yoga practice that seems to fit into my life naturally without dominating all my travel. There are only a few cities in the world that boast yoga as a main attraction (i.e. Portland and San Francisco). So, sit back, relax, and get ready for some well-rounded travel writing!

Oh, Indiana! The hoosier state! On a long walk to Upland Brewery with my boyf who recently moved back to his hometown of Bloomington, we talked about the people we became friends with in college, and the geographic diversity that attending a small liberal arts school in the middle of Connecticut miraculously gave us. While I grew up in Manhattan, I can count on one hand the number of New Yorkers I befriended in college. Instead, I have friends all over the country (some all over the world!) and that has opened up a myriad of opportunities for travel. That, and being in a long-distance relashe, make getting on a plane a monthly occurrence!

Without further ado, here’s what we did, and what I recommend to do, in the hoosier state!

Bloomington

Laughing Planet + Soma

Our first stop my first day in Bloomington was a familiar one. Laughing Planet is one of those quirky chains (two words that can tend to feel like oxymorons) that exist in both Bloomington, Indiana and Portland, Oregon. Their burrito bowls are innovative yet somehow simple and delish. They can also, if desired, provide a welcome break from all the (ethical and sustainable) meat eating that B-town has to offer. One of the great things about Laughing Planet is that it’s housed right above Soma – this lovely and adorable coffee shop that I so wish was in my college town.

Busman’s Holiday

Screen Shot 2017-04-08 at 1.00.07 PM.png

On Thursday, we went to see a local band perform. The band is composed of two brothers and some other musicians that chime in for various other songs. Both bros have great voices, though one is the lead vocalist and the other drums on a suitcase! It didn’t take long to realize that most people in the crowd knew them personally. I quickly downloaded their music on Spotify and couldn’t recommend it more!

Upland Brewery

Portland and Bloomington have more in common than Laughing Planet. Something I’ve missed from my time away from the East Coast is brew culture. Breweries have a whole ethos to them that is hard to replicate. They are relaxed, easygoing, and have prioritize quality with all that they serve. We went to Upland my second night there, and then I made us return three days later because I loved the vibe so much. The beer, too, is above par (oh, and all of their meat is locally and sustainably sourced – environment for the win!).

Know Yoga Know Peace

I went to a $5 class (those are offered once per day) at this studio tucked into a street in downtown Bloomington. I’m a sucker for the integration of yoga philosophy into the asana practice without being too over the top and I’d say that this beautiful dimly-lit studio accomplishes that. It was a welcOMe break from the more fast-paced vinyasa flow that my New Yorker self has become accustomed to, and left me feeling like I had breathed deeply which at the end of the day is the marker of a meaningful practice.

Hopscotch

The one coffee shop besides Soma that I passed through was Hopscotch (a walk away from Know Yoga Know Peace). This Café had a way more hipster-y vibe. I got a turmeric latte with espresso and was able to sit outside with a copy of the New York Times, which was lovely. Inside was a hub of laptops, working students and professionals.

Indianapolis

Milk Tooth

Usually, I tend to not feel like a foodie. Going to Milk Tooth, however, and the sheer enthusiasm I felt before, during, and after that meal, definitely made me cross over into foodie territory. We may or may not have planned this whole trip to Indianapolis to be able to go to this acclaimed restaurant on a weekday so that there wouldn’t be a weekend brunch rush. If we did…it was totally worth it. The layout of this restaurant was kind of tent-ish (there were no walls facing the outside seating area), allowing for tons of natural light to pour in on that sunny day. The silverware and napkins on each table was stored in Café Dumonde tins (way to my heart!).I ordered a blueberry buckwheat scone, chickpea frisée salad, and root vegetable latke. N ordered an escargot tartine and carrot cake waffle. We feasted!

Record Store

With full bellies and doggie bags, we walked along Mass Avenue to check out Indy. We came across a fantastic record store (that also had a cafe inside!). We perused and N even managed to find a few $3 ones to buy and play on his legit unreal custom-made speakers that we used for more than one dance party of two.

Columbus

Miller House Architectural Tour

We also took a day trip to Columbus, Indiana. Full disclosure of my New Yorker self here: I didn’t know Columbus, Indiana was a place. I am learning that the point of travel is to broaden horizons and to de-center the places we know to be home. This can only happen when bubbles get popped. It is a shame I didn’t know about Columbus, Indiana beforehand because dang, is it awesome! We went on an architectural tour of the Miller House, which is owned by the Indianapolis Museum of Art. From the website:

In 2000, the Miller House became the first National Historic Landmark to receive its designation while one of its designers, Dan Kiley, was still living and while still occupied by its original owners. The house showcases the work of leading 20th-century architects and designers: Eero Saarinen, Alexander Girard, and Dan Kiley.

What I particularly loved about the house was the conversation pit and Finnish suite-style minimalist bedroom – common area design. I was fascinated from start to finish and could not recommend this tour more as a way to gain context for so many architectural designs we take for granted today.

Anyways, that’s the story of this New Yorker’s time in the Midwest. So grateful for this trip, and all the discoveries along the way!

Edinburgh in Four Days

This post is part of my EuroTrip 2016 series on the blog.

What a phenomenal trip! Now that I’ve woken up at home in Harlem after a great flight back on Virgin Atlantic, I’m opening up the travel journal to reveal the best of the last leg of this trip: Edinburgh, where my sister, E, is studying abroad. She gave us a fabulous tour of this lovely city that doubles as a college town; it is special in that it is as much one as it is the other.

Here are the sights I saw, the art I experienced, the food I ate, and the libations I drank!

SIGHTS

 Royal Mile + The Castle – On our second day, we took a very long walk up Royal Mile to arrive at the Castle. After a fairly expensive admission fee, we explored the premises of the castle that seems to have maintained its original state except for the fact that the canons that decorate the periphery are likely modern replicas. That, and, many of the vast wings of the castle are now museums dedicated to battle and dress of the time. The highlight was getting to see the Scottish Crown Jewels. A large theme of this trip is that there is something to say for living history – history that is still in use today. The Crown Jewels are excellent examples of that phenomenon.

The University – The University of Edinburgh contains within its grounds the oldest student center in Europe! It even includes a library bar!

Calton Monument – This huge statue of pillars located a short climb up a many-stairs park looked practically two-dimensional because of the lines along it.

St Giles Cathedral – It wouldn’t be a EuroTrip without visiting quite a few breathtaking cathedrals. St Giles was a newish cathedral with some remnants of old times. Our lovely guide took us into the Thistle Chapel where royalty prayed. While the cathedral was made / renovated in 1911, though parts remain from the 15th Century.

Arthur’s Seat – On our third full day in Edinburgh, we hiked the famous Arthur’s Seat. The view from the top was absolutely breathtaking.

FOOD

  • Bread Meats Bread – It’s the Bareburger of Edinburgh for sure.
  • Checkpoint – We became regulars at this delicious establishment that has really good vegetable dishes.
  • Grey’s on Greenmarket – Delicious salad + salad boxes + wraps for under five pounds!
  • Farmer’s Market – You must visit the macaroon lady! And the record booth owned by a Beatles collector who bears a strong resemblance to Paul McCartney.
  • Loudons – The last food stop on this trip had the most delectable flat whites!

LIBATIONS

 

Lovecrumbs – I am legitimately obsessed with this cafe. It has amazing flat whites + teas. I went there for teatime, to write my postcards, and just to get the morning caffeinated libation.

 

Hula – This was the first cafe E introduced us to in Edinburgh. We all got flat whites, and their date-sweetened “Snickers” bar is delish.

 

Panda + Sons – Whiskey…because Scotland. I got a cocktail called the Birdcage. It was brought to me inside a huge glass cage and, as the bartender lifted the cage off the drink, smoke emanated from it.

Meadowlark Cafe – This cafe located to the left of the Meadowlark Yoga Studio (post forthcoming) and has freshly-pressed green juices.

 

Anteaques – E smartly made a reservation for us here as soon as it opened. It is tucked away in a very non-touristy neighborhood and hit the spot immediately after that big hike up and down Arthur’s Seat. It is what it seems: a spot for afternoon tea inside an antiques shop. It was super old-fashioned in the best possible way; no technology whatsoever, and it truly encouraged us to pause, sip our tea, out our unbelievable scones (with their signature rose petal jam!) and relax.

The Yoga + Coffee Guide to Portland

One of my most favorite pairings in the world is that of yoga + coffee. Caffeine takes on its ultimate effect after that natural buzz of a great yoga class. Portland – the home of Stumptown Roasters – is a city that is definitely known for its coffee culture. With the creation of YogiNation and the gentrification of all neighborhoods into yoga studio pods, Portland is also a haven + hub for the asana practice. One week away from transitioning out of Portland and back into New York City, I am starting to deem it time to finally publish the post that lingered in my mind eleven months ago, when I first moved here and started benefiting from incorporating my favorite pairing into my day to day. So, without further adieu, here is your yoga + coffee guide to this awesome city of roses. Oh, and this list is actually totally geographically based (a rarity for this directionally-challenged blogger), ranging from Southeast to Northwest Portland.

Yoga Union + Good Coffee

image via yelp

Yoga Union

  • Location: 50th + Lincoln
  • Vibe: Hard-Core (The fact that they have Paleo snacks upfront was of no surprise to me when I did my first new student special there last August.)
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chris Calarco + Annie Adamson
  • Asana Style: strength-building + muscle definition
  • Intention: Advancing the practice.

Good Coffee

  • Location: 48th + Division
  • Vibe: Uber Friendly + Young (A barista helps me carry a separate mini carafe of almond milk to my table.)
  • Style: Berlin-esque (The furniture is very un-American; think sloping leather chairs and geometric tables.)
  • Brew: extra strong
  • Intention: Kill ’em Keep them coming back with kindness.

People’s Yoga + Common Grounds

image via citysearch

People’s Yoga

  • Location: 44th + Belmont
  • Vibe: Dedicated + Full
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Jessica Garay + Audra Carmine
  • Asana Style: vinyasa with heart
  • Intention: Feel a sense of complete spiritual flow + fullness while practicing in a room filled to the brim with like-minded people.

Common Grounds

  • Location: 43rd + Hawthorne
  • Vibe: 80s Anonymous Hippie
  • Style: Living Room Cozy / Eclectic
  • Brew: cheap, but decent
  • Intention: Coffee and print media for the masses!

unfold + St. Honore

unfold

  • Location: 33rd + Division
  • Vibe: Slow + Steady
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Leigh Drake + Tony Roberts
  • Asana Style: yoga therapy
  • Intention: Unconditionally welcoming.

St. Honore

  • Location: 33rd + Division
  • Vibe: French Patisserie
  • Style: High-Quality European
  • Brew: strong (to be tempered with a delicate pastry)
  • Intention: Provide a large space for people to do with what they wish, be it mingle with one another, take their kids when they wake up too early on Saturday, have work meetings / first dates, or get work done.

Grinning Yogi + Dapper & Wise Coffee Roasters

image via portlandfresh.com

The Grinning Yogi

  • Location: 30th + Division
  • Vibe: Fierce + Kickasana
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chase Connolly + Tori Greising
  • Asana Style: lotus flow
  • Intention: Provide a dance-like flow that allows students to lose themselves in movement + the themes it’s paired with.

Dapper & Wise

  • Location: 31st + Division
  • Vibe: Up-and-Coming Relaxed Freelancer
  • Style: get sh*t done + relax while doing it
  • Brew: strong + chocolatey
  • Intention: Provide high-quality straight-up coffee in this roasting company’s first cafe, in a neighborhood that lacks straight-up artisanal coffee.

Bhaktishop + Little T Bakers

image via chocolate hippos

Bhaktishop

  • Location: 26th + Division
  • Vibe: Ooey Gooey Devotional
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Lisa Mae Osborn + Monicka Koneski
  • Asana Style: lunar vinyasa
  • Intention: From their website – a “celebration of the gifts of this deep, dynamic and divine tradition that is yoga to a wider community through integrated, intelligent practices, grounded and authentic spiritual study, therapeutic principles and in general, a deeper way to go about living life.

Little T Bakers

  • Location: 26th + Division
  • Vibe: Yummy
  • Style: educated + filling
  • Brew: medium roast
  • Intention: Eat delicious food on your way to work in the morning!

Art of Movement + Ford Food + Drink

logo

Art of Movement

  • Location: 12th + Division
  • Vibe: Weird
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Nick Mattos
  • Asana Style: grungey Ashtanga with a twist
  • Intention: Provide something for every counter-culture yogi.

Ford Food + Drink

  • Location: 12th + Division
  • Vibe: Spacious Freelancers
  • Style: passing time + working grind
  • Brew: medium roast
  • Intention: Get stuff done in good + anonymous company.

Yoga Bhoga + Water Avenue Coffee

Yoga Bhoga

  • Location: Water Avenue
  • Vibe: Holistic
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Emily Light + Kris Olson
  • Asana Style: vinyasa meets physical therapy
  • Intention: Care for body + soul with intention and attention to anatomy.

Water Avenue Coffee

  • Location: Water Ave (same building as YogaBhoga)
  • Vibe: Quick Coffee
  • Style: read a good book
  • Brew: Water Avenue Coffee Roasters
  • Intention: Pass the time in a place that smells deliciously of coffee.

Yoga Pearl + Prasad

Yoga Pearl

  • Location: 9th + NW Davis
  • Vibe: Fancy
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Chris Calarco + Sarah Lakey
  • Asana Style: power vinyasa
  • Intention: Get a holistic yoga experience with an intense amount of ambition on top!

Prasad

  • Location: inside Yoga Pearl
  • Vibe: up-scale hippie
  • Style: holistic yoga food + drink
  • Brew: unsure (they’re more known for their tea + smoothies, which I can attest to as being ah-mazing)
  • Intention: Do your own thang while having a bowl of sheer deliciousness or cookies made of agave + nut butters that will fuel your yoga practice.

YoYoYogi + Barista

image via endlesslyenraptured.com

 YoYoYogi

  • Location: 13th + NW Hoyt
  • Vibe: Sheer Awesomeness
  • Phenomenal Teachers: Alex + Kristi Cole (yes, they’re a father-daughter pair)
  • Asana Style: joyful flowing cathartic vinyasa flow (yes, I am being redundant on purpose – it’s just that good!)
  • Intention: Move so fast and with such flow that you forget what you’re feeling when you walk in the door and walk out with those feelings processed + feeling good!

Barista

  • Location: Same building as YoYoYogi (the smell of coffee wafts into those classes)
  • Vibe: a bar for coffee
  • Style: chill + efficient
  • Brew: strong
  • Intention: Get your work done or meet up with someone in their outdoor seating; equal measure take-to-go and stay and enjoy.

On Blogging, Portland + Vulnerability

0-3

This morning, I did something that reminded me of why I moved to Portland in the first place. I went to a positively chic and adorable blogger meet up brunch at a publishing headquarters in an industrial district of the city that was only 20 minutes away from my house. At ten past ten, I walked in with my DIY “business cards” (i.e. strips of paper where I wrote the URL to this blog), tinted Burt’s Bees on my lips, wide-rimmed glasses and WordPress pulled up on my iPhone. A fabulous food platter was out with New York bagels (oh, how worlds collide) and Black Rock coffee.

0-1

I filled up my plate, chatted with these fabulous bloggers and got down to the highly enjoyable business of speed networking (i.e. speed dating, but – I assume – way less awkward because there are set questions to help everyone identify and fine-tune their passions). I learned so much from this event in much more of a qualitative way than – and this was what I had initially expected to get out of it – a quantitative way. We didn’t discuss the information you could find online on how to boost numbers or ratings or followers. No, we discussed the heart of why we do what we do and what about what we do makes others’ hearts tick.

0

Here are five lessons I learned and realizations I had while in good company:

1. Vulnerability, which was the dharma talk theme of the yoga class I took yesterday, is what makes our messages powerful. One of the networking questions we were asked to answer was on which posts surprised us by being so successful. One woman shared that she didn’t expect her most successful blog post to be about depression yet it was. Another shared on writing about her struggles to find time. My answer was about all those blog posts about me and my broken leg. Vulnerability…it’s the connective tissue between all us humans.

2. Focus your time on where you get the most traffic. This little tip will, I believe, prove to be a large time-saver in the long run.

3. Networking – meeting people in person – is where the online work is done. It is all about that personal connection.

4. Instagram, baby.

5. The beautiful thing about blogging is that it encourages self-expression in an informal yet inspirational way.

This post was written at The Dragonfly Coffee House, an utterly blissful new find in NW Portland that has poems by Rumi on the wall, energy bars made with almond butter and no-sugar goodness and classical music playing in the background.

A Perfect New Haven Day

Last week, I spent the first day of my brief return east in New Haven, Connecticut, home of Yale and the last four seasons of Gilmore Girls and good pizza (yes, I have my priorities on straight). I was expecting it to be a chill day where I could get work done before heading to Wesleyan to teach oodles of yoga. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by the day’s chill fullness. Here’s my brief 24 hours guide because sometimes I like to imagine that I am (or can be) a New York Times travel writer.

Cedarhurst Cafe

There were three things that drew me to this coffeeshop:

  1. They use medicine/yoga therapy balls as chairs.
  2. They serve kale chips.
  3. It is located directly across the street from Fresh Yoga (see below).

I spent my Wednesday going in and out of Cedarhurst to get my AmeriCorps work done. My barometer for judging cafes usually has to do with how much my work feels like work while I’m there (the less it feels like work, the better). That’s what gives Cedarhurst a high rating in my book. That…and the unofficially free refills (a big thank you to the owner for that!).

Capture Salon Spa

photo via their website

photo via their website

Ever since the whole broken leg fiasco and being in a surgical boot for months on end, my feet have been lusting after a luxury of the past: a pedicure. That said, having still a recovering leg and ankle area, I wasn’t going to trust just anyone with my right foot. This place was the perfect choice (you know you have a good manicurist when they act like a bit like a therapist). The ambiance was lovely and it is located in a historic water production building, making every inch of it look elegant – it was an excellent welcome back to the east coast! I got the whole room to myself for my pedicure and the color that I chose was called yogi toes!

Fresh Yoga

This with another excellent example of why this day was great. I went into this Fresh Yoga class with low expectations. These expectations were irrationally low – I’d heard nothing about the teacher before and I haven’t been to the studio in years. But oh my goodness was this class amazing! While on the schedule it said that it was a beginners to intermediate flow, it definitely aired on the side of intermediate. I grew highly aware that I was back on the East Coast when the person on the mat next to me kept popping up into a handstand whenever she said she said chataranga (it is a coast of overachievers). My face was one big sweaty smile throughout the entire hour. It was exactly what I needed before teaching at Wesleyan. For the first time since I broke my leg I felt capable in my body. Kami’s focus for the class was on loving our bodies as they are. She kept reminding us of that focus in the context of maybe not taking a vinyasa when she offered it. But I, on my mat in the front of the class, took every single one because I was so grateful that I could do it.

Archie Moore’s

Known for the best wings in New Haven, this pub is a staple for Yale graduate students…and N’s coworkers when they go out together. The three best things about this place were definitely the company, the waiter that we had and the fact that they played 90s and 80s hits the whole time.

Well, folks that was my magical Wednesday in New Haven. And if I learned anything from my college experience it is that one of the reasons why Connecticut is so great is because you go in with low expectations and once you get to know the state, they are always exceeded.

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.

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