You know those days where you wake up refreshed and alert and feel like you’re ready to tackle the day? That’s how I feel right now.
Which is odd. I’m normally not a morning person. The first 15-30 minutes are tough. I hit the snooze button multiple times. I set 3-4 alarms, about 5-10 minutes apart, and I know which one is the last one, the one that I can’t ignore and still be on time. Once I get going though I’m fine. I don’t even need a morning dose of coffee. That’s reserved for the afternoon.
Anyway, this breakfast is pretty much an awesome breakfast of champions. It’s super easy and healthy. Quark, fresh blackberries, grape nuts (I haven’t made a batch of granola yet, something that’s on the agenda), honey, flax seed oil and mint. You feel healthy as you’re eating it.
To top off the start of this morning, here’s a lovely good morning song – my favorite. It’s an oldie but goodie, with Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds and Donald O’Connor. You can’t help but smile when you hear the song:
The first weekend of teacher training is over, and wow! My brain is exploding. Ok, maybe not going, but that was a lot of input. Teacher training will be a great experience but it will also challenge me on all kinds of level. Oh boy. But I will definitely come out of this experience knowing and understanding a lot more about yoga.
So let’s recap:
Class One: What to expect, what kind of classes, how we will be challenged, recommendations, rules, and of course the all important introductions. That sounds pretty easy but we all definitely had a “Oh sh*t” moment. And apparently we will experience a whole lot more of those moments.
Class Two: Anatomy, particularly anatomy of the appendicular skeleton. At this point your probably thinking “That’s nice, but I have no idea what you’re talking about, and I really don’t need technical jargon.” The appendicular skeleton is the arms and legs. And we learned a lot about the bones, joints, muscles, tendons, to the point that I felt that my brain was exploding. I came home thinking that I’m in over my head and that this will be a LOT of work. Yeah.
Class Three: More anatomy, this time of the spine. This class was also intense but I felt that I had much more of a handle on what was going on. That’s because we also implemented a lot of the knowledge, learning more about how this all applies to our own posture and how it affects our yoga practice. There was a lot more work with poses and you could really tell the difference all this information made. We had some guest students – people coming for a spine workshop – which meant that we were 60(!!!) people crammed into a room. There really wasn’t much space left.
So what’s the summary? Well, I’m (still) really really excited about this teacher training. I know I’ll learn a lot about yoga, and I think I’ll also learn a lot about myself. At the same time I’m a lot clearer on how much work will be coming my way. I will definitely have to be very organized to make sure I’m on top of all the reading and other requirements. (Yes, there are exams). I’ll also have my own practice to work on, and class observations. Darren, our primary teacher, recommended that we do a class observation a week as we move through the training and I’m planning on doing just that. I’m sure my expanding knowledge will affect what I see and learn attending those classes.
I already feel benefits from this weekend’s classes. I was applying some of the knowledge from Sunday’s spine class to my own practice today and which helped me maintain proper form in my lower back (which was to keep a curve in my lower back even though bent over, or lying on my back). I feel like a butterfly emerging from its cocoon that now faces the great wide world. So much to learn and explore, and what a great way to leave old burdens behind. Let’s see what experiences will come my way next weekend!
So. I have decided to something really really good for myself. I have signed up for yoga teacher training – the basic 200 hours certification. I am so excited! We start on Friday, and it’ll be three and a half months of yoga training every weekend, plus my own practice. I’m expecting I’ll come out of it healthier and much more self-aware.
I used to make New Year’s Resolutions. Every time I’d set goals with the intention of developing good habits. Some I managed to maintain, while other goals just weren’t realistic. I tend to set really high goals that are hard to achieve and even harder to keep up with, so the last couple of years I didn’t even bother with making resolutions. It’s also quite silly to say that you’ll start a habit only on that one specific day. It’s like my uncle who has decided to quit smoking but went out to buy his last pack of cigarettes. Not that I don’t understand, but ultimately you’re better of just starting when you actually make the decision that you want to change something. A new beginning can happen any time, January 1st or February 12th.
I think the harder part is to actually establish a habit. I’ve heard people say that it takes about three weeks of doing something consistently to develop a habit. I know that for the first couple of weeks that I went to work out at 5:30am (!), it was very hard to drag myself out of bed that early. But once my body (and my mind) got used to being up early, it was normal to go work out, and by 7:30am I’d be done with my morning routine and ready to tackle the world. It’s pretty amazing what all you can get done in the morning when you get up so early. (I do have to say that the people who went to personal training sessions at 4am – well, I don’t know about that. It was a 24-hour gym, and one of the personal trainers actually worked from midnight to 9am. He said that he was pretty much booked most of the time).
So, this year, I didn’t set any goals for the New Year, nor am I planning to fast or give up chocolate or something like that for Lent etc. I’m not planning to do 100 pushups a day like my cousin who then sent us a multiple page treatise about how and why to do them. They’re all good goals, but I really want to do something else. I want to go through life more aware of myself and others around me: I want to be more mindful.
In some ways, mindfulness has become a hip word. You’ll find it bandied around in all kinds of articles, comments and blog posts. Search on Pinterest for mindful or mindfulness and you’ll find lots of pins and boards on the topic. Ultimately it’s something that any and all of us can apply to ourselves. For me, it means that I want to concentrate more on being in the moment, of enjoying lives little pleasures – and face the challenges as they happen. It’s so easy to waste a lot of time on anticipating and worrying what lies ahead that it’s easy to miss what’s going around you.
It’s funny, if I know ahead of time that a stressful decision or event is coming up I can worry and fret and completely psych myself out. I think through all the possibilities and it’s just so easy to focus on all the negative consequences, which can then almost paralyze the decision-making process. I tend to do better when decisions have to be made on a short notice – I’m more focused on what needs to be done right now, and I just do it. No chance to overthink things.
So, what am I planning to do? Well, the yoga teacher training is going to be huge benefit. It’ll really help me to be in the moment and listen to my body. I’ll end up being more aware of what I can and can’t do and how to push my boundaries without overextending myself. I’ve also started up singing which is another thing I love. In that moment, you’re concentrating on what you’re doing and all those cares and worries fall away. You’re in harmony with all those around you. There are all kinds of studies on how singing is good for you and how singers’ heartbeats align. I’ll try to dig up that article and write a blog post on it.
And apart from that, I want to make sure to really spend some quality time with friends and family that are near and dear to me. It’s been a rough year (more on that another time), and it’s really driven home how important it is to appreciate the people you love and to tell them that you care. You never know how life turns out, and you don’t want life to be full of regrets and what-ifs. It’s so common nowadays to meet up with friends and then everyone is checking their phones or taking time away. Family evenings where everyone is glued to their computer and/or the TV – well, let’s just say that this is not real quality time.
So I’ll end my comments on lifestyle and digital distractions with this simple summary: I want to be good to myself and others. I think that’s a really good goal, and it’s something that I can always – always – work on. It’s not one that I can just accomplish. By its very nature it’s aspirational and will remain aspirational and so I don’t have to be frustrated with myself that I didn’t make it. Let’s see how it goes.
Honestly, I just have to roll my eyes at the ignorance displayed. The ones that made me laugh were the ones that equaled the “disaster” of her win with the loss of their favorite sports team. Really? If someone you think someone is a terrorist, a loss of the Yankees, Cowboys, or whatever favorite sports team is as bad or worse? I mean, really????
Miss America’s response has been thoughtful and level-headed, which I would imagine is a necessary quality for her role. I’m pretty excited that she was chosen, since Indian-Americans are a part of the melting pot that is America. Oh, and Nina Davuluri wasn’t the only Indian American in the running for Miss America – there was also Bindhu Parmathi, Miss DC. I do know first hand how frustrating and painful racism and ignorance can be. I feel especially bad for Sikh friends who so often are automatically thought of to be terrorist. Does dark skin, dark hair or a turban automatically mean that you’re a terrorist? Plus, who looks at a beauty pageant and thinks terrorism?
By the way, if you’re interested in more non-intelligent Twitter rants, check out some of the comments on Kenichi Ebina’s win of America’s Got Talent, which includes comparisons to Pearl Harbor, and racial slurs like chink and jap. I don’t follow that show at all, and had no idea that a winner had been chosen, but I love checking out Public Shaming to reassure my faith in the human race – and then I’m reminded that some people seem to be terminally ignorant. Well, they could always expand their horizon. But that kind of idiocy is one of the reason I’m rarely on Twitter…
Hazelnuts are seriously under appreciated. I’ve found a lot more baking recipes that use almonds instead of hazelnuts. But hazelnuts make for really delicious desserts, too. For example, as hazelnut macaroons or as a lovely nut cake. Then there all those ice cream versions that include hazelnuts – incl. gianduia – and of course best of all, Nutella. Oh Nutella, how I love thee… Btw, there are also savory recipes that include hazelnuts, such as Mario Batali‘s gnocchi in salsa di nocciole. Or they may be used as a nutty component of salads.
But really, this is supposed to be a post about my love for hazelnut cakes. You’ll find a lot of cakes containing hazelnuts in Germany. Hazelnuts are also a classic in Christmas cookies. But a good, moist nut cake is always appreciated here, especially when coated with chocolate ganache. So deliciously good!
This is one of my favorite cake recipes. It uses milk to make sure the cake stays moist, which is really important since nut cakes can easily become dry. If you’re not sure about the chocolate ‘icing’ – it does help to keep the cake from drying out. Here’s the recipe:
a pinch of salt
4 tsp of baking powder (for you Germans, that’s 1 package of Backpulver)
250g ground hazelnuts (you can substitute almonds)
1/8 liter of milk
~ 350g dark chocolate
1 cup of cream
Beat sugar and butter until fluffy, then add eggs and sugar until entire mix is fluffy, too. Mix flour with baking powder and sift the mix, then add to sugar-butter-egg mix. Then add hazelnuts and milk alternatingly, starting and ending with the hazelnuts. Pour the finished dough into a buttered and floured loaf pan, and bake at 350 degrees for approx. 60 minutes.
Let the cake cool, then glaze with chocolate ganache: Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Heat cream seperately, until it’s almost boiling. Remove chocolate from double boiler, add cream and beat mix until you have a glossy mix. Let the mix cool, then cover the cake to glaze it. Depending on how much the ganache has cooled you’ll have a thicker glaze. Once the chocolate has set completely, feel free to cut a slice and enjoy!
This gorgeous Cedar Leaf Shawlette is, I think, my fastest shawl project to date. I got the idea for a last minute gift – and it had to be ready within 5 days. While I was still busy with everyday life. And I made my own life harder by deciding to knit it up in lace instead of worsted weight, as the pattern suggests. The construction is quite nifty – you knit the main part of the shawl and shape it through short rows. Once the main part is completed, you add the leaf pattern by knitting along the side, from one end to the other.
I finished this spring shawlette in time, and quickly steamblocked it. It took just over half a skein – 282 yds – of Malabrigo lace, wow. It was a gorgeous gift – I liked it so much, I was tempted to keep it for myself. But I know it went to a good home.