The End?

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I began writing athayoganusasanam in January of 2011. I was brimming with excitement and inspiration. I had only been practicing Ashtanga for a few months and I was madly in love! I had recently moved back to my hometown with my new boyfriend. We lived in a beautiful (free!) apartment, a block away from the yoga shala. We had a tiny garden and were walking distance from just about everything we needed. My family lived close by and life was simple and easy. I didn’t have enough work at first and so I started this little blog. It kept me busy and was a wonderful outlet for creativity and for self-reflection.

I had so much to share. I felt deeply compelled to write all the time…about my love of cooking, my travels, my life, my new career in the healing arts, and of course most of all, about yoga – my practice and my teaching of it.

In the course of these three full-to-bursting years, Lila blog has chronicled the span of my early 20s into my late 20s. From a boyfriend, to a fiance to a husband. From teaching eight yoga classes a week down to only one. From a massage therapist to a florist with a huge wedding at the center of it all. From finding a teacher to losing him. From injuring myself to healing myself. From one home in Charlottesville to another in Denver, with two epic trips to India in between, plus countless weeks and weekends gallavanting all around this big old country. And that’s just the start of it!

Over these years, I have been surprised and thrilled by all the friendly support and enthusiastic readership. I’ve picked up a few blog sponsors along the way and contributed my writing to other venues as well. I also have occasionally received harsh criticisms and snarky comments, but that’s the internet, eh?

But let me be honest with you, dear readers, for months now this blog has felt like a heavy ball and chain dragging behind me. I only feel the spark of inspiration to write once every few weeks, if that. And even if I have an idea (like the nine pieces unfinished in my “drafts”), I don’t have the mental energy or time at the end of the workday to actually express my thoughts eloquently. Sigh…

I feel guilty that I don’t write as regularly as I used to and that my pieces are often lacking in pizazz. I also feel bad that the amount of yoga-related content has decreased so much. Although I never intended this to be a blog solely about yoga, it was always the topic that drew in the most readers. I am still an Ashtangi and a Kundalini yogini through and through, but my interest in writing (and reading for that matter) on yoga has diminished to nil.

More than anything, I dislike the amount of time (much of it wasted) that I spend in front of this screen and how it consumes hours that could be much better spent outside, playing with my husband, my friends, and my dog.

Writing a blog has altered the way I experience my daily life in a way that makes me a bit queasy. Instead of processing an emotional challenge brought to light by my yoga practice, or being present enjoying a fun afternoon in the mountains, or cooking spontaneously with vegetable peels thrown pell-mell all over my kitchen counter, I funnel my experiences visually and mentally through the lens of this blog and through social media. I ponder, “Should I try to write down this recipe for a post?”… “Maybe I should have Thad photograph me doing this?”…”How could I write about this personal difficulty without over-sharing too much.”… “What about my practice is inspiring/challenging right now and how can I turn this into something blog-worthy?”…. and on and on.

I want to live my life instead of blog about it. I want to just get on my mat every day and move through my practice without having to force it into being some profound teaching/learning experience. I want to spend my evenings sharing quality time with my loved ones instead of staring at a blank screen wondering what to write or how to attract more readers. I’m interested in being, living, creating, instead of documenting, analyzing and branding.

There are many wonderful bloggers out there, bloggers with so much more to share that I have right now. It’s a huge lovely interweb-world of fancy videos and sleek web design and I’m simply not up for it. Chalk it up to insecurity, but I’ve often doubted myself in this whole game of blogging. See, I am not a health coach, or a master healer, or registered nutritionist or “life coach”, I am not a celebri-yogi or a gifted photographer. I am simply a young woman on a journey.

We only have so much we can give and everything has its season. I guess you could say that I’m experiencing a predicament that all women face…I’m learning (with many bumps along the way) how to find balance in my home-work-family life. I’m discovering that difficult choices must be made in order to stay healthy and happy – questions regarding what to hold on to, what to nourish, what to simply put up with and what to release.

Managing a household, working five days a week, grocery shopping, cleaning, cooking healthy meals every day, caring for a pet, loving and supporting my husband while he is in school full-time, nurturing friendships and creative pursuits, writing this blog, dreaming up a new business to launch this year, all on top of a daily hour and a half yoga practice….well, it’s a lot to juggle!

Somedays this balancing act is harder than others, but I know, in my heart of hearts, that I will not/can not disregard my own self-care or sacrifice the activities that bring me joy in my attempts to “do it all”. And so, with this acknowledgement, I’ve had to make a choice about what can stay and what has to go.

After much deliberation and reflection, I am announcing today the closing of Lila blog. I write “The End” with a question mark because I know that nothing is permanent and I certainly do not know what the future will bring. But for now, I will not be writing any more on this platform. I plan to keep the site active online so that past posts are available for readers. The Facebook and Twitter accounts for Lila will be shut down in a few days.

I am not disappearing from the internet all together though. You can still find me on Instagram and on Pinterest. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be back at it again on Lila in a six months or a year. Or perhaps I’ll start a new blog with a whole new focus, maybe something more oriented in my field of business, floral design and styling.

But today, my dear readers, I bid adieu and offer my sincerest gratitude to you and to my gracious sponsors.

Thank you for your readership, your comments, your emails, your friendship and your presence.

The only thing that has kept this little bloggy going for so long has been you.

With oh so much love and many blessings,

Frances

 

 

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Link Love: Thoughts and Things

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Happy Wednesday friends!

Here are a few links you might enjoy browsing if you need a little break from the old grind…..

Guruji on yoga as therapy via Eddie Stern.

Fun vocabulary quiz – I love words.

One of the dreamier inspiration shoots I’ve seen in a while. Those flowers!! Swoon…

I want these for succulents – sweetly old fashioned, love the juxtaposition with the spiky dessert plants.

So inspiring – two floral designers on opposite coasts doing weekly all local designs.

Digging these funky yoga clothes. Nice break from the typical Lulu look.

This curry sounds tasty. I definitely need some new food inspiration right now.

I think I might need this dress in grey, if only because it shares a name with my dog.

Have you seen DG’s Second Series yoga dvd yet? Here’s the preview. 

 

What inspiring/entertaining you these days? 

Love and Blessings,

Frances

 

PS – Don’t forget to follow me on INSTAGRAM and PINTEREST. xo

 

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Top 13 Posts Of 2013

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Another year is drawing to a close. I am so grateful for your continued support and readership. Lila has grown and shifted over this year, just as I have. Even though I’m not posting as regularly as I once was, new readers are finding their way here and that is an exciting thing for me.

As I review the many posts from 2013, these are the top 13 that sparked commentary and heightened readership in no particular order….

 

1. This Is Why I Practice Yoga

2. Why I LOVE/HATE Pure Barre

3. Kitchari: Healthy and Nourishing Cleansing

4. Why Mysore Style Practice Is So Darn Special

5. Meditation For Prosperity and Abundance

6. I’d Rather Be Bad At Ashtanga Than Good At Something Else

7. On (Not) Losing Weight For My Wedding

8. My Magic Scar-Removing Oil Blend

9. Let’s Talk Yoga Clothes

10. Yoga Is Dangerous

11. Love Letter To My Leotard

12. How To Get Up In The AM Yogi-Style

13. Roller Coaster Of Love: Ashtanga Style

 

I hope you enjoy perusing these posts and I look forward to sharing more thoughts, reflections and photographs with you in the new year.

With Gratitude and Love,

Frances

 

 

image of me via Adonye Jaja

My Practice, My Blog, My Life: Cycles and Phases

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If you’ve been following Lila since the early days (remember when this blog was called “athayoganusasanam“?) perhaps you might have noticed that the number of yoga-centric posts has decreased. Of course I do still write about my personal yoga practice occasionally, or share meditation techniques etc., but in the majority of recent posts, “yoga” is not the center point of focus.

This doesn’t mean I’ve stopped caring or practicing for that matter, but it does reflect certain changes in my life and my relationship with yoga. When I began writing this blog, it was mostly an outlet for self-expression. I didn’t really care if people read it or not, I just enjoyed the process of writing. I never expected it to grow quite like it has (although in the grand scheme of bloggy things, Lila is merely an itty bitty speck of dust).

But, as it has grown, I’ve really come to cherish the opportunity it has given to me to connect with other practitioners, other creative folks, other women, wives and mothers, people from all around the world. I love seeing my readership grow. It makes my heart all tingly to receive comments and emails from readers. Knowing that, in someway or another, my blog has provided even a moment of inspiration, comfort or happiness to a reader brings me incredible joy.

But, to get back to the point, right now I’m feeling like it’s just better for me to practice yoga than to write about it.

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I’m Digging This…

Life is way more fun if you get psyched about it. Sure, some days are hard, but there are way more awesome things about each day than not-awesome.

Here’s what I’m digging on today….

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Doing dropbacks again! When there is no pain involved, these little sprinkles on top of the Ashtanga sundae are just plain fun. Wheee!!!

Lana Del Rey. I’m absolutely obsessed with the first two songs, Ride and American off her most recent EP. Constant playback in my brain right now. Dreamy and languid, seriously soulful.

These sparkly Wizard of Oz-green studs. I’m totally in love with all of Alexis Russell’s jewelry these days.

Masala Dosas. I don’t care if the dosas are apparently better in Mysore – I still love me some spicy crispy South Indian breakfast after a good hard yoga sesh here in Kovalam.

Loving up on Love. This e.e. cummings poem shared on Fete is making me smile today.

I’m finally getting near the end of the epic journey that has been reading Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. This book is so engrossing and also sometimes crazy boring. It makes me want to go to Paris right now, but I’m still mystified how that musical emerged out of this insanely long and twisted tome.

This blog – NaturallyElla. Such an encyclopedia of healthy, delicious, seasonal vegetarian recipes.

Flowers flowers everywhere! I am so excited about starting floral design school when I get back to the States. I’ve been collecting images of my favorite arrangements on this board. 

This seed and nut bread recipe.  It’s flourless, super healthy and looks amazingly tasty. Can’t wait to make this!

 

That’s just a spattering of things that are getting me going these days.

What’s inspiring and enchanting you today?

 

Love Frances

 

 

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Introducing: Roots and Wings Jewelry

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I am absolutely thrilled to present Lila’s first sponsor, Roots and Wings Jewelry!

Over the next few weeks, I will be introducing you to the wonderful, creative women and their companies who are so kindly sponsoring Lila. Each of these companies offers products that I personally love and respect. These are companies that care about health, creativity, beauty, wellness and individuality – the kind of values that Lila is all about.

I hope you will get to know my sponsors, check out their websites and support their work. Thanks so much for helping Lila grow!

Roots and Wings Jewelry is lovingly handcrafted in picturesque coastal Oregon by Ashley Mersereau.

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Ashley is one of my dear friends from college and is seriously one of the most creative people I know. When we traveled together after graduation  in Australia and Thailand with a few other girl friends, she always had her sketchbook, journal and camera handy to capture images and write reflections of our adventures.

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Ashley is a nature girl. She was raised by the ocean in a small town in Oregon. She loves to hike in the woods, walk on the beach, grow flowers and fresh vegetables in her family garden and then cook delicious, nourishing food with this bounty – she’s a bombshell in the kitchen, I can attest to this. Her love of the land, the ocean and the whole energy of thePacific Northwest shows through in her artwork.

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Ashley is one of those people I can turn to when I need a reminder to view the world with an open heart and a sense of wonder. Her art – jewelry, paintings, photographs – are instilled with a gentle optimism and appreciation of the “good things” – the hot cups of tea on a rainy afternoon, the giggly potlucks with friends, the salty ocean breeze in your hair and the happiness of being present each day for a creative and healthy life.

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To catch a glimpse into her world stop her her personal blog at Roots&Wings.

To browse her lovely creations, please visit her Etsy shop Roots and Wings Jewelry.

And then be sure to look at the dreamy photography blog, Soggy Roots, she co-creates with her partner, professional photographer Justin Bailie.

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I’ve posed a few questions for Ashley to help you get to know her and her beautiful artwork better.

 Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A.:  I am inspired by so many things all the time.  The natural world, the shapes and patterns I see in my daily forays into the forest and beaches of my home on the Oregon coast are a constant source of inspiration.  Patterns and designs in fabric, tribal jewelry, photography, and even something as simple as the slant of light through my kitchen window in the evening, might spark an idea or creative moment.

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Q:  What are your favorite materials?
A:  I love working with metals, especially copper, there is something really satisfying and exciting about the different shapes that metals take when hammered and worked with.  I work as much as possible with semi precious stones and am really partial to turquoise, chrysoprase, amethyst and peruvian opals.  I love incorporating found objects when possible, as well as leather and wood.

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Q:  How does your art reflect your philosophy on life?
A:  I love this question!!  For me, making art and being creative is so much more than just a job or a hobby.  I believe that the best way we can contribute to the world is to be the most true, authentic, happy version of ourselves, and for me this means creating art and bringing beauty into the world.  My jewelry is bright, dramatic, and hopefully will make the wearer smile.  I personally think you can’t discount the importance of beautiful things in the world.

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Q:  What’s your number one personal tip for health and happiness?
A:  Simple; find what it is that you love to do, what makes your soul sing and your heart feel fulfilled, and pursue it.  Sometimes this can feel hard and complicated, but keep doing it anyways.

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How great are these answers? Can you see why I love this gal!

Thank you Ashley for your support and taking the time to share your work with us.

Thank you dear readers for being here and making Lila happen!

Blessings and Love

Frances

Photographs by Justin Bailie and Socheat. Thanks!

January Snapshots.

I just bought myself a new camera as a little blog inspiration self-gift (that’s legit, right?). I’m super excited about this because I was getting kind of lazy about takin quality photographs. My old DSLR was just too big for me to want to carry around all the time so I relied too much on the itty bitty iphone. It was a great camera for sure (a Nikon D5000) but I’m a simple kind of gal and I wanted something a bit more petite. My new camera is an Olympus E-PL3 in a very retro white. I’m quite smitten by it.

The real reason I felt inclined to switch to a smaller camera (with a manual option) is that I’ve decided to make a goal for myself to post every single day we are in India. We leave in 2 weeks! I want to share with you all pictures of our time in Kerala and reflections of our Ashtanga Yoga intensive with David Garrigues. 

I’ve been up in Aspen the past few days visiting my sister and skiing with my husband. I’ve used this time to play around with my new camera and get to know it. It’s quite different from my old DSLR and I feel like a bit of a neophyte, but here are a few snapshots of my weekend. I played with some different settings as well as practicing manually setting it up. Aspen is a really picturesque town so it was a pleasure to fiddle around with my camera here because there is just so much beauty and charm to capture.

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This is Zara, my sister’s hilarious yellow Lab. She is a rescue dog for the Snowmass ski patrol.

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Zara can run and chase her “bumper” for hours. We took an evening stroll through Snowmass yesterday to give her a little play time.

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My sister is a wedding and event planner. I helped her with some crafty projects over the weekend to get things ready for an inspiration shoot she is organizing. We painted glitter on pine cones, glued sparkly stars on swizzle sticks and spray-painted her old ice skates neon pink!

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And two iphone shots from up on the hill. Such a breathtaking place to ski!

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I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.

I’m feeling so grateful to be in Colorado this winter.

Stay tuned for a lengthy yoga piece tomorrow.

Love and Blessings,

Frances

PS – What do you think of the new theme? Lila is getting spruced up for the new year!

Lila’s Holiday.

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Hello dear friends and readers.

As this wonderful, exciting and challenging year is quickly drawing to a close, I want to extend my gratitude to each and every one of you for reading my blog, offering your commentary and supporting this little project of mine. I am honored that amongst the myriad of options for entertainment and information on the vast interweb you have chosen to frequent my humble offering. Thank you.

My life and personal yoga practice are in a state of transition. Growth, transformation and self-discovery are all occurring, but in ways that I am not yet able to articulate to the public. I’m still trying to get a grasp on it all personally.

Honestly, I’m just really darn tired right now. Tired from the biggest project of my life (planning and pulling off my dreamy but very DIY wedding), packing and moving across the country, soul-searching about what I want to do when I “grow up” and tired from making a new home with my husband without professional help (OMG my forearms are in lactic acid shock from lifting and moving so many cardboard boxes and pieces of furniture in the past 2 weeks).

I’m tired creatively too. I’ve been pouring all my creative energy into decorating and arranging my new house, making Christmas presents and even just cooking that I have little left to invest in Lila.

I have a list a mile long of intended posts to write, but whenever I sit down to give it a go, I lack the focus and inspiration to finish them properly. Somehow Pinterest/Facebook/HuffPo/NYTimes/Refinery29/Anthropologie/numerous wedding blogs win the fight for my scattered attention (ok – I’m embarrassed now that I just shared that with you…oh well…).

So….I’m taking a little break. My mother is in town. We are heading up to the mountains to ski and I am going to give myself a break from blogging and a respite from the guilt I self-impose when I fail to post anything.

For the next few weeks, I will focus on taking really good care of myself, reading fun and inspiring books, journaling, meditating, skiing, cooking, snuggling, sleeping, doing jigsaw puzzles, practicing yoga, dreaming and brainstorming about the future and most importantly, sharing positive and meaningful time with the people that I love the most in all the world – my husband, mother and siblings.

I hope to return from this break with a refreshed vision about what I want to do here on the pages on Lila and how I want to grow and expand as person in my life and career. I’m excited to share this with you in 2013.

I thank you in advance for your patience and support.

May your holiday be relaxing, inspiring and filled with love, joy and peace.

Blessings.

Merry Merry!

❤ Frances ❤

 

 

(image is the magnetic poetry on my new fridge…one expression of my unfocused creativity that occurred in a distracted state a few days ago while trying to organize my new closet! hehe.)

A Lila Blog GIVEAWAY in GRATITUDE.

HEY YOU!

You are really awesome. Thanks so much for reading my humble little blog and liking my page on Facebook.

I’m very grateful and honored that you choose to spend a few minutes of your day looking at what I have to share.

To thank you and to spread the love, I want to offer a gift to

TWO READERS!

These (randomly-chosen) winners will receive one of our organic cotton and bamboo yoga-inspired T-shirts (you get to choice what design and size)  and a custom bhakti-full Vinyasa yoga playlist CD and of course, my overwhelming gratitude!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To enter into the GIVEAWAY just follow these 3 simple steps.

 

1. LIKE Lila Blog on Facebook if you haven’t already!

2. SHARE one of your favorite Lila posts on your preferred form of social media – whether it’s on your Facebook wall, Twitter or just sending a personal email to one of your friends encouraging him/her to read the post of your choice.

3. POST a comment on this giveaway post to let me know that you’ve liked/shared and want to be included in the giveway.

 

Two winners will be picked in two weeks on Wednesday September 26th.

(The email which you share when you post a comment will be the email that I will use to contact you and let you know that you’ve won, okay?)

 

Thanks for all the love.  And thanks for continuing to spread it!

Blessings!

Radhe Radhe!

Frances P Harjeet.

Blogs, Blogging Culture, Wedding Planning and Cyber-Jealousy.

I read this article today from Bitch magazine called “Better Homes and Bloggers: Are lifestyle blogs a new way for women to compare themselves and come up short?“.  I found it totally fascinating and it really got me to thinking about blogs and why I’m a “blogger” (as if! Seriously, I can’t come to call myself by that moniker yet when I’m really just an odd little bird with a computer and too much free time!).

I really see now that blogs can be an extension of the Social Media culture we live in in which everyone is trying to “brand” or market themselves.  Admit it, you’ve taken photos before just for the purpose of posting them on FB so everyone can see what interesting/beautiful/cool/fun things you are doing.  Yeah?  Me too.

Before I started athayoganusasanam, now Lila, I never spent a lot of time on blogs.  I would read EJ sometimes and occasionally peruse the internet looking at a blog or two if someone recommended a link on Facebook, but that’s about it.  To this day, I don’t “follow” any blogs with email subscriptions or twitter or anything like that.

But even so, when I started writing my own little blog I started getting sucked into a big wide world of yoga and lifestyle blogs all across the web.  It’s really fun and I learn a lot…but I also waste a lot of time.  I personally try to use blogs for the best of their advantage (for example – I haven’t opened a cookbook for 2 years because blogs offer me amazing culinary inspiration).

Here’s me being honest: I don’t read a lot of yoga-only blogs. I think many of them are quite boring and they don’t often pertain to me, or the posts are waaaay too long so I get distracted and move on.  Occasionally I find one and dive in and read a bunch of posts but then I sort of forget to go back and keep checking up on it. There are a few I look at regularly like Confluence Countdown and Nobel’s blog and some of the other ones on my blogroll.  But other than that I go for days without looking at yoga blogs.

Why? Well, I’m planning my wedding and honestly I would rather look at dreamy photos of chic, vintage weddings than read about how much your dropbacks hurt this morning or why you are giving up coffee.  Because my dropbacks hurt too.  Big deal.

Wedding blogs have been like a gateway drug for me into the world of “style” blogs. Then Pinterest took my addictions and obsessions to a new level.  Wow – how amazing is Pinterest?!  You can follow my boards! Hahaha~  No, seriously, I mean it, you really can…just click here.

Pinterest is like epic window-shopping mixed in with some voyeurism, fantasizing and lots of longing for a gorgeous, perfect, DIY-tastic life.

Looking at a lot of other blogs I find myself thinking at times superficial and negative thoughts like “wow, I hope my baby is that cute one day and that I look that damn good after giving birth”….”she has really great legs, I wish I had more reasons to dress up and look super cute like that.“….”she is such a great baker….how come the muffins I make always sink down!”…”her life looks so glam and picture-perfect, I wish I was more photogenic, I hate my skin right now”….”they look like they have lots of really cool friends, why aren’t we more social?” (oh yea, I practice Ashtanga, I don’t drink and my partner is an introverted yogi-philosopher Hare Krishna – duh!)….”her food photographs are so much better than mine, why do mine look so yucky?”….. blah blah blah…you get the idea, right?  Exactly what that article says – women love looking at other women’s lives and comparing themselves!  (They never told me that high school doesn’t end after graduation! aaaaah!!!!)

Anyways, I’m rambling.  Just read the article.  It brings up some totally spot-on points about the whole movement of new DIY and nostalgic, stylized domesticity and how that relates to previous feminist movements.

After thinking about all this all day, I’ve come to the conclusion that I will never be a darling and perfect lifestyle blogger.  At least I can’t imagine that happening as that would require me to develop loads of new skills and much more sunny attitude.  Sometimes people say things on my Facebook albums like “I want your life!” and it sort of makes me cringe.  I’m way too much of a cynic to present my life as a precious Feist song.

My life was always a bit too “Running with Scissors” and “Franny and Zooey” for me to now offer myself up as an exemplar of positive affirmations and domestic bliss.  So, I may post recipes, DIY ideas and pictures of my weekends with my tattooed punk boyfriend, but I can’t imagine that Lila will ever be a site for girls to look at and covet something they can’t have (gosh I hope not!).

I don’t fold my clothes and you should see the state of my laundry room!  Atrocious.  I break my food rules and I can’t follow a recipe to save my life.  I can’t do anything interesting with my hair and I totally blow at painting my nails – an 8 year old could do them better than I.  I don’t wear lots of cute high heels or headbands or change my jewelry everyday and wear “statement pieces”.

No,  not at all and that’s okay. Because as I look around at my spacious and clean apartment which is so tidy only because I grew up in a household that was always so freakin’ perfect that I’ve been conditioned now that if my place starts to get messy I will have a panic attack (thanks Mum! Hopefully one day I’ll be able to afford a cleaning lady 5 days a week too, but for now, I’ll just keep the visible places tidy and allow the cabinets and closets to go to seed), I count my blessings.

I have a lot to be grateful for.  I’m young, debt-free, mostly self-employed, healthy, and well-educated. I have an awesome partner who cleans up the messes I make in the kitchen and is appreciative of every dish I prepare him (whether it looks pretty or not).  I am supported by his love and his presence as we practice Ashtanga every morning together and meditate every evening side by side.  I’m privileged enough to have the flexibility to work jobs of my choosing, with an open flexible schedule that allow me to travel and explore.

So, who am I kidding? There’s no reason I should harbor any jealousy to the picture-perfect lifestyle bloggers out there, because I’m the lucky one.  Thank you very much!

Moral of the story: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbor’s Instagram!

To reward you for getting to the bottom of this ramble, here’s a link to a blog – Barbarazzi – that precisely captures everything one can make fun of in the yoga scene today (and yet at the core of their writing you can tell they love and honor the power and practice of yoga).  Check it out!  I lost my FY to this site for a full day.  He literally sat in front of his computer and laughed and laughed all afternoon.

Blessings,

F.