Gratuitous Gratitude for Grey

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“Who would believe such pleasure from a wee ball o’ fur?”
– Irish Saying

This is my cat, Grey. She’s pretty fuzzy and pretty wonderful. She constantly brings me joy and a lightness of spirit, for which I am grateful. I constantly bring her meat and scritches, for which I believe she is grateful. Though, I try not to put expectation on such things. In some ways, our relationship is pretty ideal. We are individuals doing our things in the world, yet when we come together, there is much appreciation felt in the heart and nuzzling to be had in the flesh.

So, here is some gratuitous gratitude for you, Grey. If only you could read.

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Yoga Stratum

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My brainspace this week has been chaotic. I’ve been thinking too much and feeling too little.

At least, that’s what I think.

You see, I want to teach yoga. I want to enable others to feel the wellness and peace that I feel through practicing yoga. But, I also want to cultivate a deep internal practice, which feels a little more personal. And right now the contrasting sides feel a bit like oil and water. Seven layer taco dip. Yoga stratum, if you will.

These days, there are many types of yoga. There are many yoga teachers. There are many yoga teacher training programs. I feel overwhelmed at the thought of choosing my path towards a 200-hour certification. My path towards greater understanding and growth. I want to learn everything from yoga’s history and its roots, to anatomy and alignment, poses and transitions, meditation and chants. I want to learn the historical, physical and spiritual aspects of yoga. And, I want to learn how to teach yoga. I want practice.

Ironically, overthinking my yogi path brings the exact opposite effect to my body that yoga brings. Overthinking brings me restlessness, obsessive thinking, anxiety, feeling overwhelmed and in a constant roller-coaster of emotions. Yoga brings me balance. Through yoga I feel centered and grounded. More confident. Compassionate. Joyful.

Today I realize that I need to take a step back. Slow down. Take my time. Feel. I can’t control or force this process. I must simply open myself up to new experiences and trust my gut.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

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Chickpea Flour Pancakes

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I’ve been eating mostly gluten free for the past few months. And you know what? I’ve missed pancakes! Mmm… the ole trusty flapjack.

When I lived in NYC, blueberry pancakes from Stage Restaurant, a tiny Ukrainian/Polish deli, were a weekend staple. The deli was about twice as wide as the plump, gruff yet soft on the edges cook who made the greasy magic happen. It was always entertaining to watch the waitresses wiggle and weave their way delicately between the cook, hot grill and counter where we pancake and borchst lovers eagerly awaited the arrival if our orders. Those mornings were good mornings.

Today I am thrilled, in palette and spirit, to announce that I have eaten a pancake once again! There was no endearingly gruff cook at the grill, nor the lingering scent of hot butter in the air. But there was one cat, one cup of chickpea flour, two happy eaters and the essence of wam coconut oil in the air.

I topped my chickpea pancakes with a homemade tahini miso sauce (recipe below), fresh spinach, tomato, micro greens and black sesame seeds. It was so delicious! The pancakes would be wonderful with any number of sauces, dips, curries, pâtés, eggs, etc. I’m also excited about experimenting with different seasonings in the batter. Curry, cumin, paprika? Yes please!

Here’s to eating nourishing foods and feeling good!

xo

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Chickpea Flour Pancakes

1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
3 Tbsp olive oil
Salt, pepper and garlic to taste

Mix ingredients in a bowl, whisking to remove any lumps in the flour. Cook in a pan. They cook up pretty quickly, so keep an eye on them and flip when needed. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil in the pan and scooped a little less than 1/4 cup per pancake. This made 6-8 pancakes that were about 4″ wide.

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Creamy Tahini Miso Sauce

1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp miso paste (white)
2 Tbsp tahini
grated ginger, to taste
garlic, to taste
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
pepper, to taste

Mix in food processor and enjoy! Great on salads or as a sauce.

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We Are All One

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I found this quote through someone I follow on Instagram, though I don’t remember who, nor do I remember to whom the quote should be credited. Alas. Nonetheless:

“Repeat after me: I matter. The world would not be the same without me. I am loved. I give love. Because of my existence, love exists. Because of love, I am. It is important that I am here, doing exactly this, right now. I am where I need to be. The center of the universe is in me, just as much as I am in the center of the universe. I am, because we are. We are, because I am. We are all one.”
- Unknown

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Achieving Goals & Defining Passions

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When 2012 became 2013, I made some physical goals for the upcoming year. 1: to do an armstand (via yoga) without assistance; 2: to lead The Guillotine (a climbing route at Echo Cliffs) without falling; 3: to alternate lead in multi-pitch trad climbing.

I’m pleased as pickles to report that I achieved all three goals as of July 2013!

I’m still working on stability and stamina in armstands, handstands and headstands, but I can hold myself up with no assistance for a stint. It feels so wonderful. The photo above is me doing a simple tripod headstand, one of the easier inversions on my path towards a stronger core and more challenging poses.

In July and again today, I led The Guillotine without resting on the rope. I felt giddy with accomplishment and delight after both successful leads. Here is a photo of me on the route last year, and a photo from today’s sunny journey to Echo Cliffs.

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A few months ago I went to the ever-awesome Tahquitz, a wonderful multi-pitch trad climbing area. I successfully led a few pitches on our route. My friend and climbing partner that day, Casey, always has an encouraging, confidence-enducing way of suggesting that I try things in climbing that I’m initially hesitant about about. It fosters growth in me, and I appreciate that. Here is a photograph of Casey and Andrew atop Tahquitz earlier this year:

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I truly believe that achieving all three of my physical goals was due in large part to my recent dedicated yoga practice.

Several months ago, I started practicing yoga every Friday at a class with an empowering and energetic teacher, Petra. I always left her classes feeling more grounded and centered, stronger in mind, spirit and body, and with more peacefulness in my being. Fridays were always good days.

A few months into that weekly practice, Petra invited me to a Swiss meetup (though I am not Swiss). At that event we got to chat beyond the yoga studio. Petra asked me about my passion. For her, it was yoga. For me, I didn’t have an answer. I don’t know if not having an answer was because of my tendency to be indecisive, or because of fears: fear of labeling myself with “just one thing”; fear of putting my eggs in one box and potentially failing at it; or maybe the fear of starting down a path and realizing it wasn’t a passion of mine after all, and having to start over. Fear.

Feeling, finding or defining “my passion” has been a continual struggle for me. I love doing lots of different things: art, photography and making things; nutrition, health and making food; fitness, yoga, hiking and climbing; helping people, teaching and empowering others; feeling like a successful freelance designer… But, what is “my passion”?

I believe that a person can have multiple passions and that those passions may change over time, as humans DO change over time. We grow, are introduced to new things, meet new people, feel differently from day to day. So answering the question “What is your passion?” doesn’t necessarily mean sealing yourself into only one box. It doesn’t mean that your answer needs to be final and absolute. Perhaps defining one’s passion can simply mean that right here, right now, this thing, whatever it may be, feels really good to do, and it feels good to pursue it. And if it changes some day, or not, just maybe that is okay.

So at the Swiss event, the seed was planted that perhaps yoga was something I wanted to pursue at a greater depth. I knew I felt so wonderful and centered after every class, why wouldn’t I want to feel that wonderful more often? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a greater understanding of yoga, from poses and alignment to the history and spiritual side of it? And, what about helping other people to feel that sense of empowerment and wellness through yoga? Did I want to teach yoga??

A few months ago I started a daily yoga practice at Namaste Highland Park. And a few weeks into practicing daily, I knew I had found a passion. I felt more mindful, more conscious in my day to day, more centered and balanced, lean and limber, empowered and with more confidence. I felt connected to something greater, and thereby more connected to myself. I felt excited about going to class every day. I felt excited about how both my body and mind grew as the compounding effect of daily practice set in. I felt bliss.

I started receiving positive feedback from teachers, friends, family. I felt positivity all around me. The Universe said yes.

And I say yes. Yes, yoga IS something I want to pursue. Yes, yoga IS a passion of mine.

Yes, Hollye. Yes, Universe. Let’s do this.

Namaste.

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