Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Falafel Frenzy

My falafel obsession began about two years ago when a friend from work told me she was making falafel waffles for dinner. Falafel waffles? Aside from being fun to say, I learned falafel is what happens when you take the really healthy food of chickpeas and you fry it up. It's delicious!

Shortly after my falafel introduction, I made my first trip to Los Angeles, epicenter of healthy living. Admittedly a little star struck with the whole LA scene, I convinced a fellow aspiring yogi to drive me up to take class with the amazing Steve Ross of Maha Yoga.

After, we walked in the rain and splashed in puddles along the Venice Beach boardwalk as I soaked in the counter culture only found out there. Eventually we found a little corner cafe and ducked inside to dry off and grab a bite to eat. My friend ordered a cheeseburger and fries and thought I was a little over the top for being so excited that they had falafel and hummus on the menu.

Those crazy Californian's just don't get it! 1 - the rain outside is not a hurricane, it's just some rain. 2 - falafel and hummus can't be found everywhere the way it can out here on the West Coast. and 3 - it's OK that you eat your murdered meat burger while I eat my falafel, we yogi's don't judge.

The falafel was great, the hummus was OK and the rainy afternoon at the cafe was absolutely perfect.

Fast forward eleven months and I'm sitting in a delightful little vegetarian cafe for lunch with my mom after her latest radiation treatment. We don't know it at the time, but she'll be gone in less than three months. But today, she's feeling good and we are having a girls lunch.

She also laughs at me a little because as a transplanted Southerner I don't have as many vegetarian options and I have to ask the waitress what some of the menu items are. I decide, once again, on the falafel and a lovely tomato soup. But I tell the waitress nothing with eggplant because it's the one vegetable I just don't like.

The whole time we are talking I'm chowing down on my falafel and dipping into some sauce that I'm absolutely digging! When the waitress came over to refill our crystal wineglasses with water and fresh sliced lemon, I asked her what this was on the side of my plate.

"Oh, that's baba ghanoush."

"What is it," I ask like the dumb Southern baby vegetarian.

"It's basically eggplant."

Oh, well what do you know? I guess I do like eggplant!

Here we are a year later and my attempts at home-made falafel have been failures. My dear friend and fellow Southern vegetarian Diane Z told me the problem is I've been using canned beans instead of dried.

Well what do I do with dried beans? A google search says to soak them overnight. Is it really that easy? At 11pm I post to Twitter my dried bean ignorance and get lots of responses that yes, it really is that easy. Put them in some water and go to sleep.

The next day I embark on a wild goose chase through two surrounding Memphis counties in search of falafel mix. If it exists it can't be found in the Memphis metro area. But no worries, I'll just cook these old school with the recipe Diane Z passed along to me. And my driving from store to store did pay off in that I found a small tub of baba ghanoush!

I carefully measured, mixed and blended everything together exactly according to the recipe. I got nervous when it came time to fry them because I fry food so rarely that I wasn't sure how much oil to use or how long to keep them in.

I got even more nervous when they didn't look like the falafel I'd had before. But, trying to stay optimistic I put them on the table for dinner.

They were....just OK.

They tasted like falafel, mostly. But they just weren't as good as I'd remembered.

Was it because I wasn't sitting on the beach or because I wasn't with my mom? Definitely a little bit.

Was it because I really have no idea how to fry foods? Definitely a little bit of that too.

I'm not sure if I'll attempt home made falafel again. I would like another chance to sit in a cafe at Venice Beach and enjoy the scenery, the company and the falafel. For now though, I'll hope some of my local friends who are better cooks than I am will take falafel pity on me and bring me some for lunch one day.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Yoga Blue Playlist

It's been a long time since I made a new yoga playlist. In fact my class has been asking me and making suggestions for awhile now. I guess they were getting bored with the same old same old.

A few times either my Ipod wasn't working or there was a sound system issue, so we practiced yoga without music. I actually like it that way. I'm able to hear better who is breathing properly or who is struggling.

But this week I finally sat down and put together a new playlist. Everyone seems to like it and keeps asking about the 12th song on the list.

The song is titled Blue from the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Apparently Buffy has quite a following of loyal watchers. I admit I've never sat down to watch, I much prefer vampire porn - I mean True Blood.

But I heard the song, loved it, and knew it had to be on a yoga playlist.

So here is what I call the Yoga Blue playlist:
  1. Meditation - Winter Hill Records
  2. Come Away With Me - Norah Jones
  3. White Flag - Dido
  4. Someone Like You  - Adele
  5. You Are The Best Thing - Ray LaMontagne
  6. Underneath It All - No Doubt & Lady Saw
  7. Silly Love Songs - Wings
  8. Baby, I Love Your Way (Live) - Frampton Comes Alive
  9. Levon - Elton John Greatest Hits
  10. You Are Not Alone - Mavis Staples
  11. Daydreamer - Adele
  12. Blue - BTVS Various Artists
  13. Christos - Yoga Meditation Garden
  14. Coolness - Yoga Meditation Garden

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Yoga Book Club

I've written a few posts on here about my Twitter Yoga Book Club, #YOBC. I've met the most interesting people who all are reading the same book and I've been very fortunate to have corresponded with a few of the authors as well.

Out little #YOBC is growing with more and more members with each book we read. We have no joining requirements, you just comment on what you are reading when you feel like it. People will quote their favorite parts, discuss the authors point of view, or share similar experiences.

Yes, it's social media, but like I wrote in Not Your Momma's Book Club, it's a new era of book clubs. But I guarantee we get just as much, if not more, from this new technology. When in the days of living room book clubs would I have been able to speak directly to the author?

If you are on Twitter and want to join us, jump in anytime. Comment using #YOBC. Even if you aren't on Twitter, I think you'll enjoy these yoga books:

  1. Yoga School Dropout - Lucy Edge
  2. Poser, My Life In 23 Yoga Poses - Claire Dederer 
  3. Holy Coy - Sarah MacDonald (read my review here)
  4. A Life Worth Breathing - Max Strom ( read my review here)
  5. Yoga Bitch - Suzanne Morrison - review to be posted soon
Have a book you think our #YOBC would really like? Please put the title and author in the comments section. I'm always looking for good books to read. And yes, I also read lots of non-yoga books too!

Monday, August 22, 2011

One Moment In A Life's Journey

I spend a lot of time thinking about what I want.

I want to be there. I don’t want to be here.
I want that. I don’t want this
I want to be that. I don’t want to be this.

It’s taken a lot to get myself where I am now.  But I don’t allow myself time to appreciate it.

I know that each step I take today is placing me on a path to a journey that I don’t know the destination of. And that scares me sometimes.

If I knew the outcome would I take a different step now? What if this is the wrong step? Can I change the outcome by doing something different now? What do I need to do today to get me there and get me that tomorrow?

I get so caught up inside my head of looking ahead that I forget to just be where I am right now.

When in truth, where I am at any given moment is exactly where I am supposed to be.

Then, very rarely, a moment occurs that I feel something. I feel something is right. To call it a peaceful feeling is too simplistic. It’s more of a knowing.

A knowing that it’s OK to just be.  Not looking back, not looking ahead. Just here and now.

That feeling, that knowing, is so strong that when it first hits me it takes my breath away. Then it makes me want to weep. Then, and then, I laugh. Because right now I'm here and for that brief moment in time it's all that matters.

I'm walking my path. My choices. My decisions. My journey. 

"No one can save us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. 
We ourselves must walk the path."
--- Buddha

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm Difficult - But In A Good Way

Do you remember the scene in When Harry Met Sally where Sally finds out her ex-boyfriend is getting married and Harry tries to console her?

You don't?

OK, well I've seen the movie enough times I can quote it for you:

Sally: What's the matter with me?
Harry: Nothing.
Sally: I'm difficult.
Harry: You're challenging.
Sally: I'm too structured, I'm completely closed off.
Harry: But in a good way.

It's time I admit it, I am a Sally Albright. I'm difficult, challenging and structured.

But, see, I get Sally. I understand her. She can't help herself. Neither can I.

And as I delve deeper into my yoga studies and learn more about Ayurveda, I realize it's true. I really can't help myself. I was born this way.

I'm a pitta dosha and we pittas can be difficult and challenging. But we're also the ones you want in charge because we get things done.

What's a pitta? What's a dosha?

Well I'm not going to give it all away here!  PLEASE click over to my Elephant Journal page to read my latest post Trying Not To Be Such A Pain In The Ass: An Ayurvedic Newbie Attempts to Balance the Doshas.

And if you like that, check out my other Elephant Posts. Just follow the links under the Elephant logo over here on the right ------------------------------------------>

The most popular posts (so far) are How Yoga & Janis Joplin Convinced Me Not To Buy A Bunny and Does My Inner Goddess Look Fat In These Jeans?

Thank you for reading here at YogaLifeWay and over at Elephant Journal!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

I've Got This: Memories of Mom & Trips to the ER

"Momma, it's a real emergency", said kid number 4 with not a lot of concern in her voice.

I'm fortunate that at a couple places I work I can bring my kids with me. But, they know do not interrupt class while I'm teaching for any reason except a real emergency.

Even so, when she walked into my Tuesday night yoga class, I wasn't immediately concerned. She wasn't crying and there was no blood on her. In fact I think my first response was "this better be a real emergency."

I'm not an uncaring or blase mom. But I am a mom with six kids and have been through my fair share of kid emergencies. In fact, I'm completely confident I can set a broken bone or diagnose general maladies all by myself.

So when I heard that kid number 5 had cut his leg my first response was oh just tell him to come here.

"No, he can't. The lifeguard has him laying down and is trying to stop the bleeding."


So with the love and well wishes of my class who were still holding Utthita Trikonasana, I ran out to the pool deck. Oh yeah, sure enough, his leg was cut pretty deep and the lifeguard was trying to stop the bleeding.

As I scooped him up into my arms to get him to the car and begin our trek to the hospital, the lifeguard asked if I wanted him to carry my son out. One of the other lifeguards, one who has watched my kids grow up and knows that this isn't our first time heading off to the ER, stopped him and said "She's got this."

Oh yeah, I've got this.

I'm very grateful for the nursery workers, fitness staff, teachers and friends who have helped me raise six good kids. But sometimes no one else can take the place of mom.

As I sat in the ER with him waiting on his stitches, I told him the story of when I had to get 54 stitches in my hand. This is absolutely a true story with no embellishment.

I was about 14 years old and "in charge" while my mom was at work. However, my disobedient younger sister wouldn't respect my authority as the older, wiser sibling. So when she refused to pick up her banana peel off the front lawn I tried to follow her inside to reason with her non-violently. Instead she slammed the door in my face and my hand went through the glass window causing me 54 stitches just weeks before my twirling debut in marching band.

It was all very traumatic at the time.

As I shared this memory with my sister, we both remembered our neighbor putting a dirty washcloth over my hand to stop the bleeding. Just at the time this neighbor was suggesting we pour peroxide into my open gaping wound, my mom's car flew onto our street and she ran up to the house.

"I've got this," she said as she gathered me up and into the car on the way to the ER.

How odd to be thinking about my mom as I sit with my son in the emergency room. Although, really, I guess I'm remembering the times when I was scared and hurt and by simply saying "I've got this" mom was able to calm me down and convince me it was going to be OK.

The next day my oldest daughter, kid #4 who first reported the real emergency and is all of 10 years old herself, asked me if I was freaked out when I saw how deep his cut was. No, I told her. It's a moms job to stay calm in an emergency.

And someday- in a long, long time from now, it will be her turn to scoop up her child and whisper in his ear "I've got this."

This picture is about 5 years old, but it's still
my favorite of me and my bunch.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's Not Geeky, It's a Book Club Kula

It's back - the return of Twitter Yoga Book Club!

I've written lots of posts about my love of and for yoga. And there have been more than a few posts about my love of reading and books. So how great that I get to combine those two passions in one great book club.

This is not the stereotypical, stuffy, meet in the living room kind of book club. No, we are a cool kula of yogi's and book nerds who take advantage of social media and tweet our discussion using #YOBC. By using Twitter, I get to share the books with people from literally all over the world. And, sometimes the author even joins our Twitter discussion which takes it to an all new level.

The group had taken an unofficial summer break, but with some prompting from me and the need for a new good read from Meredith LeBlanc, we will begin reading again August 20 with the release of the much awaited Yoga Bitch by Suzanne Morrison.

And.. I tweeted Ms. Morrison and she said she will definitely be a part of our discussion group!

So, if you are looking for a good book to read, or a cool group of yogi book geeks, check us out on Twitter. There's no timeline for reading and you can tweet your thoughts at any time.

Update: The book is officially released August 16. But you can pre-order now on Amazon and it will delivered either to your door or your Kindle on that day. But even if you don't get it right away, just join in the discussion when you can!