Resolutions – Why? Why Not?

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Well hello everyone, it’s a “new year.”

That means the vast majority of people have been making and breaking new year’s resolutions…to lose weight, eat less sugar, exercise more, be more financially responsible, be more organized, yada yada, you know the deal.

Some of these folks might actually follow through and succeed with these goals, but many will not. Perhaps they will feel really down on themselves for having “failed.” Maybe they will keep trying, or maybe simply toss the whole idea all together and resort back to old habits, hoping for better luck next year.

Personally, I’ve never made a big deal around new year’s eve or resolutions. In years past, I went to big concerts and would wake up the next day, hungover, ready for breakfast not powerful life changes. Even then, I hated the whole countdown-to-midnight-kiss thing. Too corny for my taste.

In recent years, I’ve fallen asleep long before midnight, enjoying the extra downtime with my sweetie before the holidays ended.

This year, as we were falling asleep I asked Thaddeus if he had any resolutions for the new year. He glibly responded in typical fashion something like, “new year’s resolutions are silly, there’s nothing that makes tomorrow “new” other than a man-made construction of a calendar and, in all honesty, I am quite content with my life and have very little I would like to change.” To which I responded, in typical fashion, “That’s nice, but don’t you have goals and hopes for your life? Aren’t there certain things you want to spend more time doing? How can you possibly not want to grow and change?”

So we chatted for a bit and both came up with a few goals and thoughts, although we never expressed these outright as “resolutions.”

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Fifteen Fun Things To Do This Fall

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I love autumn. I find the change of seasons to be so invigorating.

Fall is such a great time to play outside. It passes all too quickly though, so I always try to make the most of this beautiful time of year.

Autumnal food tastes so satisfying and nourishing. Fall fashion is much more interesting than summer because of the opportunities for more texture and layering. And Halloween is pretty much the most awesome holiday ever. Caramel apples, fun costumes, ghost stories, what’s not to love?

So many reasons to relish this season…..

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Simple Luxuries

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Life can be rocky, unglamorous and exhausting sometimes. Simply put, daily living is not all breezy linens and pastel macarons, despite what we might see on Pinterest. For those of us without maids, assistants, cooks and the ability for impromptu five-star gettaways, finding sweetness, softness and happiness in the day-to-day must be done by indulging in the simple luxuries. Those little things that make a world of difference, that bring a sense of gentle ease and contentment and, most importantly, encourage a remembrance of the beauty and brilliance of one’s own unique path.

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A Walk In The Woods

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The past two months have been totally packed with school work and new jobs. Because of this, we haven’t had the chance to get up to the mountains at all and that’s a crying shame because we live in Colorado for goodness sake!

Today, after Thad taught Mysore, we had the whole day free to play. We headed up to the mountains with Artemis to take her on her first real hike. We did a three mile loop in a beautiful area near Conifer. The hike started out in an open meadow and then wound its way up through stands of Aspens and Lodgepoles and Ponderosas.

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On (Not) Losing Weight For My Wedding

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When I excitedly began planning my own wedding at the end of 2011, I had a dirty little secret: I was thrilled that I finally had the perfect excuse to get really skinny again.

I don’t think I’m alone here; many women work very hard to lose weight for their wedding, it’s almost expected that you do nowadays. Why?

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Baby Boggle

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When my husband Thaddeus looks at puppies, his eyes overflow with the sort of love and longing that fills mine when I look at babies.

Well, we’ve got a little time to wait before the babies, so Thad’s longing won.

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And I couldn’t be happier. I’m madly in love with this new addition to our family!

Meet Artemis! Two and half months old and absolute perfection.

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She’s a Boggle, a mix of a Boston Terrier and a Beagle.

She sleeps in bed with us at night (we decided long ago to be a co-sleeping family) and she’s an expert snuggler.

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Voila! Little Miss Artie Harjeet! Puppy cuteness extraordinaire!

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Love and Blessings,

Frances

 

 

PS – My teacher David Garrigues’ new pranayama DVD and book is out! Click here!

PPS – Enter the Kharma Khare giveaway for an awesome free yoga mat.Click here!

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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Intentions and Goals for 2013.

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Happy New Year dear readers!

 

So, I love making lists. It’s a family trait. You should see my sister’s lists….wow.

Making lists helps clarify for me what it is that is most important for me to do first; it prioritizes the activities I need to attend to. Writing down all the myriads of reminders, thoughts and worries that are flitting about my brain makes its easier for me to calm down, stop fretting and start doing.

Making lists with meaning is even better! As I was thinking last night about my hopes and dreams for this new year, I realized that I was being ambitious (as always) and that it was timing to stop thinking and start writing. I don’t necessarily love the idea of New Year’s “resolutions”, especially if they come steeped in self-judgement about your previous behavior. But, I do resonate with the activity of setting positive goals, conscious intentions (sankalpa is the word for this in Sanskrit) and dreaming big.

When it comes to manifesting what you want in life, the most crucial step is first knowing what you want. Last year I went through many months of feeling kind of aimless. I didn’t know what to do with myself, how best to use my gifts, how to make a career out of what I love to do, how to be more productive, how to come out of my shell and be more social and out-going, etc.,.

The wedding and the move came and went. When that busyness  subsided I once again found myself wondering what do I do now?? At the end of the year, the universe started giving me some signs – Hallelujah!

I feel like I’m starting 2013 on a good note. I spend some solid time in tears yesterday, for no apparent reason, but obviously some kind of release was happening, some important letting-go. I woke up today feeling fresh. I had a great  yoga practice this morning; my body felt light and receptive to Primary Series.

Tonight I want to share with you my goals and intentions for the new year. In this way, by putting them out there for the world to see, I hope I can be resolute to follow these dreams and make 2013 my best year yet.

 

In 2013 I will……

Meditate every single day. Recently (but inconsistently) I’ve been practicing an 11 minute Kundalini meditation called Indra Nittri followed by 3 minutes of chanting for abundance. This year I am committing to doing this meditation practice for 365 days straight. I’ve never done the same meditation practice for that many days in a row, but I’m going on 9 years of Kundalini Yoga so I think it’s time to take it up a notch!

Practice more consistent and conscious organization in my household and finances. I’m still figuring out this whole being a grown-up thing. Sometimes I get totally overwhelmed by all the paper work , household chores, taxes and bills. This year I want to get more organized with my own personal management and budgeting systems. This is all quite a snore, but I know that a more comprehensive and easy system will reduce the anxiety I sometimes feel with this stuff. That way I can focus on the more important things in life!

Be more mindful about my refined sugar consumption. I have quite the sweet tooth, there’s no denying it. At home I only use unrefined, natural sweeteners, but over the past few months of going to lots of restaurants and being on the road, I’ve been eating more cane sugar and my body hasn’t been too thrilled about it. I want to practice my healthiest eating habits this year as a way of honoring and respecting the temple that is my body.

Become more computer savvy and give my blog the love it needs to grow. I need to learn more about formatting, editing photos on Photoshop, making photo collages, gathering my media kit and more. I love this little blog and I believe it has the potential to shine and offer information and joy to lots of people. I’m still finding Lila’s “voice” but I am enthusiastic about the future. Although I am not very good at self-promotion, I am going to rev it up and start sharing my blog in a bigger way. This year I am going to approach a few carefully selected companies to see if they might be interested in sponsoring Lila. If you run a business that has values in line with my blog and would like to help me launch this thing with some very affordable advertising, please give a shout!

Explore my new hometown and engage in community activities. Before our move to Denver I had never lived in a real city before for more than a month. I am loving getting to know this place. This year I want to take full advantage of what this city has to offer. I want to go to all the museums, eat at great restaurants, pop into cute shops, scavenge around antique shops, meander through art galleries, go to inspiring and educational lectures, take workshops, do walking history tours, visit all the parks, see shows at the many theaters and take Thad to a concert at Red Rocks. I want to take French classes at the Alliance Francaise and maybe some dance classes too. I want to meet my local farmer’s at the summer farmer’s markets and get a plot in a community garden. I want to ride my bike all over this cool city and meet new friends. I plan to put myself out there this year! It can take a little work to try new things and explore a new community (especially if you get in the routine of being a little homebody like me) but it is so rewarding and fun when you actually do it!

Go to flower school and get a job at a flower shop. This is, hands down, what I am most excited about in 2013. At the end of the last year (as in, a few weeks ago) I had the realization that I do not want to be teaching yoga and doing bodywork full time. It’s not sustainable for my body, nor is it totally fulfilling for me. I absolutely love practicing yoga and I do gain joy and benefit from teaching, but I know that to be a successful yoga teacher (financially) I would have to brand myself, obsessively promote myself and work my body to a pulp. I’m not interested in that. Especially because vinyasa yoga, my main style of teaching, is not my actual practice. I enjoy it, it can be fun, but it’s not my passion. I am not qualified to teach Ashtanga, which is my practice, so for now I am going to put vinyasa on the backburner and just teach a few donation Kundalini Yoga here in Denver. So why flowers? Well, I grew up surrounded by flowers in the home and in our garden. Doing my own flowers for my wedding sparked something in me. I loved the creativity of it, the puzzle of arranging and the meditative quality of working with flowers. I want to eventually work with event design or maybe even run my own flower shop one day. I love the idea of having a job outside of yoga and healing work. This way I can keep these important parts of my life as what they really are – practice, service and healing – and have my career be separate from that. I love the thought of working in the floral design business because flowers simply make people happy – and whatever I do for a job, I want to make sure that a big part of it is offering joy and beauty to others.

 

Thsse are my big ones for this big year.

What about you? What are your wildest hopes and dreams for this beautiful new year?

 

Love and Gratitude,

Frances

Cleaning House and Practicing Aparigraha.

Let me be frank with you – I kind of love stuff (especially pretty stuff). I am not a light packer and I never have been!

I hold on to old ribbons and wrapping paper, dresses  and hats from years ago, countless postcards and letters, books and beads. I love making collages and I often engage in spontaneous crafty projects, but this is a poor justification for all my stashing of randomness.

I have this fantasy in which I only own enough stuff to fit in 4 boxes. One for clothes. One for books. One for memories and art and one for shoes, jewelry and accessories. But seriously, even that’s a bit excessive. Basically – I would be a terrible ascetic! But, no harm in trying to pare it down a bit now and again.

And yesterday was a day for deaccessioning! My father took advantage of the rare opportunity of having all 3 kiddos in town to get us up in the attic sorting out old stuff. It was quite an ordeal.  30+ years worth of dusty treasures! We combed through furniture, books, children’s toys and costumes, games, crafts, pictures, artwork, suitcases and a lot of clothes.

The biggest project of all was deconstructing the “memory boxes” that my mother has been compiling for us individually since birth. These boxes were full of pictures, favorite clothes, videos, cds, school papers and grades, newspaper clippings and more! My brother found some pretty hilarious stuff in his like the apology letter he wrote in elementary school to a neighbor kid that he beat up. By the end of sorting, my 3 overflowing boxes were down to a single small box only half-full with a few pictures, cards and clothes.

I also had to pull down 4 huge cedar hanging bags of my vintage clothes collection to be shipped to CO. I have decided that the time has come to let go of this collection so one of my big projects for the winter will be organizing and photographing these pieces for a new etsy shop!

Anyways, all this attic-cleansing got me to thinking about attachment to material stuff. Each of these items in the attic had personal memories and real strong emotions connected with them. I realized that in truth, I didn’t actually want to be in possession of all these things, but the thought of not having them made me feel sad. I guess I thought they would always be there, safely tucked away in the rafters for whenever the time came that I might actually “need” or want them.

But without them, I am the same. The things that were mine do not make “me”. There’s not a massive gap in my heart just because I gave away some sweet things from my childhood, because my heart is already full to the brim with the intangible joyful memories of those times.

This past year I’ve been whittling down my closet too. I’ve probably given away/consigned a quarter of what was there in the beginning of the year. Because I’ve literally been this same size since I was 14 and even as a kid I loved fashion, I still have dresses that I wore in 9th grade. I love a lot of these funky clothes, but rarely wear them. My lifestyle these days doesn’t call for a lot of outrageous dresses like it used to in high school and college. So, I’ve been slowly liberating these items, and thus, feeling more liberated myself.

It’s so easy to get too attached to material objects to the point of letting them define us. I remember I had a fantastic huge citrine necklace that I wore in college every day. Then, near the end of my senior year, it was stolen/disappeared. I was devastated! I called my mother and just sobbed to her. I couldn’t imagine myself without that pendant around my neck. She soothed me and told me that if it is meant to turn up, it will, but if not, life would go on and I would still be “me” without my signature piece. She reminded me that we are not what we own but what we do. This was an important lesson to learn.

Aparigraha is a Sanskirt term that means “non-grasping” or “non-hoarding”. It is the final of the five yamas laid out in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.

For me, practicing aparigraha means to let things be, to appreciate the material world for what it is, but not cling to it. All things must pass and by possessively holding on to material things (the body is included in this as it is just a material thing too) you are only causing yourself more suffering and pain.

Understanding and practicing aparigraha is one of the most essential tools for happiness in today’s world I believe.

It’s so easy to get distracted by all the shiny glitzy things out there, to crave and covet, to be greedy and hoard what you possess. But we all know this doesn’t actually bring happiness, right? I think most of us have had the experience that we receive more joy giving a present than getting one. This is symbolic of so much in life.

It is through service and sharing our gifts with others that we find the most fulfillment and peace in our lives.

So as I deaccessioned yesterday these material things, I thought a bit more about what else in my life I could “give away”. What false identities, what stories, what grudges or resentments could I let go of? What bad memories or feelings of unworthiness or inadequacy can I release?

There is no need to grasp and hoard those things  either, the citta “mind-stuff” that we falsely identify with (yogically speaking, thoughts are technically just as material as an old dress).

Without these stories, I can still be me; actually, I can be even more me without all that baggage that was actually a distraction from the core of me, the spirit-soul of my heart.

So I offer this to you today as a challenge….

What can you let go of? What can you release? Where can you make space? What can you clean up in your home, your car, your office, your heart and your head?  

And then after you’ve done a little scrubbing and sorting, ask yourself,

Who am I without this thing/story/identification?

Let me know what emerges….

Love and Blessings!

Frances

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