May 26, 2010
I’m very excited to introduce our new guest blogger, Audrey Brashich. Audrey is a writer, blogger, mother, and now a yogini. For the entire year, she’s challenged herself to a daily yoga practiceâ€”whatever that may look likeâ€”and will be documenting her experience and transformation for HL&S readers here. Look for Audrey’s posts every other week, and be sure to comment, or join in the experiment too. Time to roll out the yoga mat…
I do yoga everyday.
Iâ€™m not a yoga instructor or a fitness fanatic whoâ€™s trying to drop a few dress sizes (although yeah, a flatter tummy would be nice), and I donâ€™t live in an Ashram.Â Iâ€™m a crazy busy (or make that crazy and busy) mom of two small boys (ages 3 and 1), a writer, a blogger and former runner.Â Â Why is that last bitâ€”the part about how I used to runâ€”important?Â Well, let me explain.
Before I had kids, I ran a lot.Â I started in my early 30s with 10k races, worked up to half marathons and finally completed my first marathon a few weeks before my wedding in 2003.Â My time was 4:30, which made me not slow or fastâ€”just average. Which was fine by me.Â I just loved getting out there and getting in the zone.
Then I had trouble getting and staying pregnant, so I stopped running.Â Not because running was the problem (lots of runners continue safely into their third trimester) but because I wanted to weed out every little thing that might have been causing my body stress.Â Â After a few years of early intervention fertility treatments (meaning acupuncture, herbs etc) I got pregnant with my first child.Â And he was delivered after sixty hours of labor (yes, you read that right.Â From early labor to delivery was sixty hours) via high forceps.Â I was overjoyed about my son of course, until they took the catheter out three days later and I learned that I had no (I mean ZERO) bladder control.Â The pregnancy and delivery had done me in.
So instead of spending my free moments running, I headed to the physical therapist.Â And there I did more internal exams and souped-up kegels than I thought possible.Â And I kept doing them, until I got pregnant with my second child fifteen months later, that is. Fast forward through my planned C-section (to minimize any further possible stretching, tearing and nerve damage) and my recoveryâ€”and Iâ€™m still not running.Â Things just arenâ€™t the same down there.Â Plus Iâ€™ve got some back issues (oh, you know, scoliosis and a leg length discrepancy) and Iâ€™ve spent countless hours and dollars on everything from chiropractic and acupuncture to physical therapy and massages, all to no avail.Â Then thereâ€™s the (Iâ€™ll admit it) intense negativity and resentment that I harbor because of the changes having kids has wrought on my bodyâ€¦all of which of which left me wondering if there was anything out there that could get me mentally and physically back on track.
And somehow I came to yoga.Â Â Not totally out of the blue, I admit.Â In fact, Iâ€™d dabbled in it over the years (a 4 session intro course to Hatha course; a â€œYoga for Athletesâ€ class here and there where I discovered the joy of Happy Baby pose), but never really delved into it.Â Yet for some reason, things were pointing me to it now, right at this stage in my life, with this baggage. And I started to wonder if spending time on my body everyday in this way wouldâ€”couldâ€”help rehabilitate me in all the ways I need.Â Â I wondered if yoga actually has the power to strengthen my body all over in a holistic and gentle way. And if Iâ€™d become a calmer, saner, happier mother if I had 75 minutes a day to myself on the mat.Â And if my stomach would start to look the way it once did.
So now Iâ€™m on day 140 of my own personal yoga challenge.Â In other words, Iâ€™ve done some form of yoga (a class or home practice) every single day since January 1, 2010.Â Iâ€™m working on building awareness in all parts of my body, exploring different disciplines and seeing what works for me where I am right now.Â Â So far, Iâ€™ve learned that I can do High Plank pose (my arms are strong enough to hold me!) and that I just do.not.get. Eagle Pose.Â I also know that itâ€™s taken me almost 40 years to get where I am with my body, and that Iâ€™ve got to give it some time as we embark on this journey together.
In truth, I have no idea where Iâ€™ll end up with this yoga experiment, but itâ€™s pretty exciting to know that everyday is a new chapterâ€”and thatâ€™s what Iâ€™ll be guest posting about here.
You can find out more about Audrey and her yoga journey at www.audreybrashich.com
May 24, 2010
Much as my head would like to, my body hardly ever allows me to sleep past 6:30 or so in the morning. Today, however, I didnâ€™t wake up until a few minutes past 9 oâ€™clock. My husband had already been up for hours, carefully tiptoe-ing around the house so that I could get a little extra rest.
The two hummingbirds that nest in our yard, however, were completely annoyed at my laziness. We have to take our birdfeeders in each night because of a neighborhood bear (one of the challenges of having the National Forest be one of the borders of your yard), and I try to re-hang them in the mornings before our small resident bird and wildlife colony become too active. When I hurried onto the deck today, one feeder in each handâ€”and yes, still in my slippers and robeâ€”one of the hummingbirds was waiting outside the door, buzzing around at eye level, clearly not interested in hearing any excuses about why breakfast was late.
My husband, whoâ€™s already convinced Iâ€™m completely under the control of the chipmunks, birds, and squirrels who live in our yard, tried not to laugh as the tiny hummer danced around my hands while nectar dripped from the glass feeder as I hung it on its post. Perhaps heâ€™s rightâ€”but even if itâ€™s true, the pleasure I get from watching and listening as the natural world goes about its lovely business is absolutely worth being occasionally scolded by small, brightly feathered beings.
May 12, 2010
Itâ€™s not often that I go to costume exhibitions, but with all the buzz about the Metropolitan Museum of Artâ€™s (http://www.metmuseum.org/) new show, â€œAmerican Woman: Fashioning a National Identity,â€ not to mention the hoards of â€œAâ€ listers who showed up in all their finery including co-chairs from Oprah and Anna Wintour, I decided to play hooky, and check it out.Â The show explores perceptions of the modern American woman from the 1890s to the 1940s; in it, you will see 80 examples of jaw-gaping haute couture with every designer from Charles Frederick to Jean Patou.
For me, itâ€™s about much more than the clothesâ€“ itâ€™s about how we evolved and who we are now.Â Stroll through eight curved galleries, each with a hand-painted stage set evoking the ambience of that epoch. In the first gallery with its stage set evoking the ballroom of the â€œHEIRESSâ€ (1890s), I wondered what it would be like had I been a â€œtrustafarian,â€ raised to become a â€œconventional lady,â€ i.e., a â€œgood girl,â€ in which strict rules of etiquette governed behavior and appearance.Â Had I lived then, Iâ€™d have different outfits for morning, afternoon, and evening, all from the finest fashion houses in Europe. I think I could have taken that lifestyle for about 10 minutes.
The next galleryÂ â€œGIBSON GIRLâ€ (1890s), is a little more my style. The dresses here are long and white for tennis (hard to race to a ball that way), full-length black for riding horses (did they ride side-saddle?) and ankle-length brown suits for biking. (The first bifurcated skirt appeared at this time, so at least I would have been able to keep up with the guys). The Gibson girl was tall, slender, with long limbs, classical features, and thick dark hair in a chignon. She was the new woman, and the sports she played — golf, tennis, riding, cycling, and swimming –exemplified her increasing independence and self-determination. I could easily live with that.
Next is BOHEMIAN (early 1900s) that took it a step beyond the Gibson girl. The idea of a career for women did not yet exist, so the Bohemian collected art and organized museum exhibitions. The BEST thing about this decade is that she wore looser fitting clothes and ditched her corset (so why on earth did we create its iteration, Spanks?) The Bohemianâ€™s clothes were of gold and bright colors, strongly influenced by Orientalism â€“ think Opera coats and kimonos.
And then, all those sumptuous silks were put away for THE PATRIOT AND THE SUFFRAGIST 1910s, when the American woman demanded the right to vote. When the US entered World War I (April 6, 1917), patriots included more than 40,000 females. She marched in her tricolors of purple/white/and green â€“ her dress was part of her protest. On August 18, 1920, she earned the right to vote, only 80 years ago.
I loved THE FLAPPER (1920s) clothes. In this decade, American women transformed themselves from suffragist to flapper. She had her political freedom, now she rejected Victorian prudishness and became sexually free. She wore bright red lipstick, cut her hair short, drank bootleg gin, smoked Lucky Strikes, danced the Charleston, and was a flirt. She was slim, athletic, hipless, waistless, and flat-chested, a symbol of sleek modernity, just like the NYC skyline.
The 1930s was the Golden Age of Hollywood. I moved into THE SCREEN SIREN gallery and looked at old footage of the 30s screen stars. By now, the American woman was sensuous, assertive, self-confident, and completely independent, just like us.Â She was glamorous, especially in her evening attire, and I could have worn any one of those gorgeous draped, twisted, and wrapped costumes that were displayed.
I walked into the final gallery, a montage of faces of THE AMERICAN WOMAN from 1890s – 2010.Â Not much has changed for us in terms of attitude since the 20s â€“ weâ€™re still slim, even more athletic, and we can dance like the flapper, but weâ€™re also sleek, sensual, and glamorous like the screen sirens. Hard to believe that in just 120 years, weâ€™ve freed ourselves of corsets, girdles, and straps â€“ both physically and mentally. If youâ€™re in New York City, trust me â€“ get to the Met and see the exhibition â€“ from now through August 15th.
May 11, 2010
Denver, close to where I live, has been at the forefront of green initiatives for quite some time. Already ranked as one of the nationâ€™s top ten cities when it comes to sustainability, Denver International Airport is garnering national attention for its mammoth solar power installation. The newly installed system includes an extensive (and very beautiful) photovoltaic array thatâ€™s generating an estimated 3.5 million-kilowatt hours of clean electricity annuallyâ€”reducing airport carbon emissions on a scale of more than five million pounds each year.
More recently, the B-Cycle bike share program was launched in Denver. The first of its kind in the country, it allows residents and visitors to access glinting red Tetra three-speed bikes at one of 500 bike stations located throughout the city.Â Swiping a credit card gets you into the system, with a cost of $5.00 per 24 hours. The first 30 minutes of use is always free, and an hour costs just a dollar. Then, you grab a bike (outfitted with a basket for shopping), ride it to your destination, and leave it at the nearest station. When youâ€™re ready to move on, you simply pick up another bike and go. Starting in June, the bikes will also sport computer chips that track mileage, calorie consumption, and carbon offsets. A cleaner environment with a healthier populationâ€”whatâ€™s not to love? Hopefully, program success in Denver will lead to other cities quickly following suit.
May 6, 2010
My husband and I have a penchant for chaos it appears, even though I think I am a not-so-secretly type-A organizational freak. You see, we bought our last house sight-unseen, moving half-way across the country to an area we didn’t know because it had more sun and adventure than the locale we were in previously. Everything turned out wonderfully (I’m an optimist at heart).
So, when we found out I was expecting our second child, it seemed incredibly logical to sell our completely updated home and move to a house that needs a total overhaul. And, maybe while we’re at it, we’ll throw in a new job too. Three major life changes in one year? No problem. RIGHT??
So, in my fifth month of pregnancy, we’re embarking on a green remodel of our new abode. Starting from the ground up, we’ll be tearing out carpet, painting walls, putting in a new kitchen, and landscaping. (And, yes, this is what we hope to get done- by ourselves- by August.) I’ll be documenting our journey here, and also alerting you to any great green finds I encounter on my path. Any suggestions? (Other than a good yoga class?) Send ‘em my way!