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Dear Cruise Travelers, You might remember that our agency, Hibiscus Travel / Kerstin’s Travel Inc. is working hard to provide the best service for our clients. That includes our continued communication with the cruise lines to make sure that sign language interpreters are provided

Yoga Class in the Car

On my way to yoga class, I’m not sure which way to go. The road splits, and my instinct says left but Mapquest says right. I ignore my gut and follow the computer’s instructions.

Oops.

Turing around in the greater Washington DC area is nearly impossible. One road leads to a twisted mass of other roads and within 10 minutes I’ve crossed three borders, hitting Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. There are cars everywhere. Jammed along the freeway. Weaving in front of me as they merge. And my mind races with them.

In my head I’m caught up in the emotional turmoil of living in a new city. I want to move back to our original home in California where I know the streets like the back of my hand and can walk to yoga class. The clock is inching forward. By the time I figure out where I am it’s too late. I’ve missed the class.

I’m waiting at a stop sign when a woman in a minivan bumps the rear of my car.

Argh!” I yell (okay technically I yell a cuss word, but this is a G-rated blog).

As I pull over into a parking lot my instinct says stop and breathe. This time I listen. Just because I’m not in yoga class doesn’t mean I can’t practice yoga. I have my body, mind, and soul right here in the car with me — I don’t need a mat, a blanket, or the wood floor of a studio.

In inhale deeply and lengthen my spine. I meditate on my breath and seek inner stillness. By the time I step out of the car I feel a hundred times better. The woman in the minivan is apologetic and wants to make sure I’m okay and my car’s okay.

There is only a small scrape on the back bumper.

“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “This car is 10 years old.”

We wave goodbye to each other and drive our separate ways. On the way home I continue to practice my breathing. My blue mat is still rolled up on the passenger’s seat. And the roads are still packed with cars and noisy construction and confusing twisting turns. But inside, I’m slowly finding silence.

Open My Heart

How many times have I been in Dandasana (Staff Pose) during a yoga class and listened to the teacher say, Open your chest? Same with Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) and many, many other poses.

My friend and fellow blogger Michelle of Full Soul Ahead was in a guided meditation when she heard the teacher say, “We often hunch our shoulders as a way to protect our hearts.” Michelle blogged about the symbolic meaning of that tendency over here: Open Heart. A beautiful post and well worth checking out.

Not that long ago I was reading Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and came across the passage where a recovering addict had prayed continuously that God would open his heart. When the man was rushed to the hospital for surgery, he remembered thinking, God, I didn’t mean literally! (The story goes something like that – I don’t have the book with me to look it up).

Anyway. Open my heart, God. What a great prayer. I realized today that it’s so much easier to “open my heart” when things are going well. When life is good, my work is being published, my husband and I are laughing together, and the sun is shining, it’s so easy to take a big breath and stand up tall and let my chest expand and be graceful and appreciative and joyful towards others and towards the world.

But when dark times come…oh, those are the moments where I tend to get frustrated or angry and want to quit. But I think maybe it’s during those times when the heart needs to open up and grow most of all.

Downhill

I carefully set out my outfit.

Organized my purse.

Planned breakfast.

Gathered the leash to walk the dog.

And then, finally, set my alarm clock.

As a writer, I’ve been working out of the home for a couple years, but Monday morning I was due in a company’s corporate offices for a six-week, on-site editorial gig. I’m not a morning person at all, so the night before, I needed to prepare.

Food-wise, the first day went okay. I ate fruit and oatmeal for breakfast, had a tuna sandwich in the office’s cafeteria for lunch, and, back home, had enough energy left over to cook a healthy vegetable-based dinner. That was Day 1. The rest of week I watched myself slide downhill. (I’d forgotten how corporate jobs suck every second of your time away – making it hard to prepare fresh meals. Oh, and the sugar. Being Valentine’s week, the chocolate overload running through that office – Oy! I ate too much of it.) By Friday, my fridge was bare (no breakfast fruit), I was still eating tuna for lunch (hello – mercury overload?), and dinner was refined pasta at a restaurant.

My throat felt a little . . . sore. OMG, was I getting a cold? Dang it. I didn’t have a single cold in 2007, and I suspect it was because my immune system was stronger due to better eating habits.

“I haven’t eaten one vegetable today,” I said to Ron Friday night. (I’m not counting a wilted piece of lettuce and green tomato slice on my tuna sandwich as real vegetables).

Saturday morning, as my sinuses clogged and my throat felt worse, I rushed my husband out the door with a grocery list. I juiced vegetables and drank the concoction down in a few gulps. I ate an orange. For lunch, I made a homemade bean soup. I ate another orange. For dinner I made a veggie omelet.

Too late. I officially had a cold. I knew the best thing I could do for myself was rest. I cancelled all weekend plans, and I slept and drank hot tea. In bed Sunday night, I figured I’d be calling in sick the next day. But miraculously, I woke up cured. Again, I blame the vegetables for the quick recovery.

This week I’m doing better (not great, but better) managing the “office” life. Our home fridge is stocked with healthy foods to choose from in the morning, I’m packing my lunch (dark leafy green salad with cranberries, walnuts, and a little goat cheese), and dinner is mapped out (today we’re having a brown rice risotto with asparagus and a mixed greens salad).

I’ll be sure to toast to good health.

Sunday Crowds

I don’t know what I was thinking. Hmm. I guess I was thinking that I had a few free hours, so why not sketch out a menu for the week and stock up with ingredients at the grocery store? Off I went – the Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend – and as soon as I walked in the door I realized my mistake.

What a zoo.

I tried to practice my yoga breaths as carts jammed the aisles and children blocked my path as they played handheld video games in front of the eggs while their parents taste-tested the artichoke dip. I tried to remember I had just come from church and I should be patient and kind and gentle and not cave into my mounting frustration. Breathe. Breathe. BREATHE!

Egad.

I do not do well in crowds.

The trick to grocery shopping (at least the one I go to in my town) is to hit the store early Monday morning. It’s empty and open and I can take my time reviewing my list and making sure I have everything I need for the week. When I had an office job with less flexible hours, I’d go to the store late at night. I’d have to step around boxes of fresh shipments, but it was better than being piled in an enclosed space with too many people. My goal is to get away from stores almost entirely – next season I’m signing up for a CSA subscription. And I’m continuing to explore year-round farmers’ markets (for some reason crowds don’t bother me as much when I’m outside) and buying local food through other direct methods. But I’m in transition, so for awhile I’ll be heading to the store at least once a week. On Monday mornings. Š

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