saucha: the one-minute rule of tidiness

I truly cannot work if my bed is not made. It the first thing I do when I come home from teaching and prepare to sit down at my computer. My ‘office’ is in my bedroom, which is great for Russell Clive because he can snuggle on my pillow and watch me type from across the room. But it’s also not great, because if my bed isn’t made, my work space feels messy, untidy and overwhelming.

I recently read Gretchen Rubin’The Happiness Project; I highly recommend it. In her experiment to generate more happiness in her life, Rubin adopted the “one-minute rule.” Which means: if it takes one minute or less to do it– do it now. File the paper, put the plate in the dishwasher, make the bed, wipe up the salt your snow boots tracked in. She found that this “one-minute rule” significantly decreased clutter, increased her sense of ease and helped her focus when it was time to work. I adopted this “one-minute rule” in January and found that it truly helped me appreciate and practice saucha (cleanliness and self-care), which is the first niyama (personal consideration) of the Yoga Philosophy.

I also adopted her “ten-minute tidy rule” (that’s the cutest name for cleaning ever invented). I often experience a moment of anxiety when I come home and my house is cluttered– instead of actually working during the workday, I feel like I’m just walking around my house putting things away. The “ten-minute tidy rule” means I take ten minutes to put the house to bed before I go to bed myself. I’m not up at midnight deep cleaning, I’m just turning off Netflix ten minutes earlier each night to tidy up my living space and practice saucha as a way of caring for myself and my belongings with greater tenderness.

Saucha asks us to look at all our little “one-minute” actions throughout the day and ask: is this an action of self-care? Does it contribute to my health and happiness?

Cleanliness is a perfect entry point to this: do you feel happier and healthier when your home is dirty and cluttered? Or do you feel happier and healthier when your home is tidy, clean and fresh? What contributes to a greater sense of ease?

This month as we study saucha, ask yourself: “How can I make this one-minute action an action of self-care?” And whatever you are doing in that one minute– showering, trimming your fingernails, cleaning the oven, organizing papers, wiping snow and sleet off dogpaws, eating a snack or rolling up your yoga mat– do it with greater tenderness and self-care.

Happy One Minute,

-lisa

“When the body is cleansed, the mind purified and the senses controlled, joyful awareness needed to realize the inner self, also comes.” -Yoga Sutras

5 ways to beat the winter blues.

5 ways to beat the winter blues.

If I had it my way, it would be sunny and 72 degrees every day of year. (Except during October, when it should be 55 and cloudy for Harry Potter watching parties. Oh, and also, it should snow on Christmas. Oh, and temps should hover between 86 and 88 with partly cloudy skies June through July for optimal relax-by-the-pool time.) But we have four full seasons in good ol’ KCMO (how we love you, 64112) including winter.

And I’m one of those poor souls who is extremely, uncannily affected by dreary. I am a plant: the moment the sun shines I fling open my arms with wild abandon and the moment the gloomy weather arrives I shrivel into a grumpy lady and try to shrink into pseudo-hibernation. Every winter I vow: this winter will be different. I will not let Seasonal Affective Disorder disorder my day! I will be happy, gosh darnit.

But the sun still hides and I still snap at my husband and shrink into the couch and say things like: “I just can’t be happy…it’s winter!” At those pivotal moments when all could be lost, or when I could manifest cheery by bolstering neurotransmitters, I sigh (loudly, ardently) and try to cheer myself up with these 5 ways to beat the winter blues.

  1. Drink lemon and raw honey with hot water. Seriously, it works. I add a splash of apple cider vinegar to mine as well. The lemon helps balance your blood alkaline levels and stimulate your senses.  Drinking this throughout the day may also help you decrease your stimulant (coffee and caffeinated tea) intake, while still feeling cozy with a mug of hot drink.
  2. Dance to Justin Timberlake Music Videos. This just in: music videos are specifically made to get you up, moving, and smiling. Research also shows that dancing eases SAD symptoms, stress and anxiety. I’m a fan of VEVO, but the YouTube works, too.
  3. Adopt a new favorite sugar-free baked goodie. In the winter time, all I want is to bake comfort foods. But sugar reeks havoc on your immune system, your intestines where feel-good neurotransmitters like dopamine are produced, and your mood.  My favorite sugar-free baked goodie is a flax-pumpkin-muffin in a mug. It takes about 90 seconds to make and is super cozy.  (Recipe below.)
  4. Lend a loan on Kiva. Kiva is an international non-profit that bridges the gap between lender, loan and entrepreneur. On it, you become a lender and help a borrower grow a business, go to school, access clean energy or realize their potential. Loans are usually $25 and have a 97% return rate. Sharing and practicing gratitude for what you have through generosity is an instant mood-lifter. I usually have two loans active at any given time, supporting women entrepreneurs and students make their dreams a reality.
  5. Meditate on light and love. Sometimes our mind can change our mind.  A few moments of blissful guided meditation focused on our own Light and Love absolutely beats the winter blues. Try my Guided Meditation called “Own Your Light.” (Real talk: I even listen to this myself!)

I hope these little tips help you as much as they help me. Let me know which you try (or try all 5 in one day).

Happy Shining, even in the gloom.

-lisa

Flax-pumpkin-muffin in a mug Recipe.

In a microwavable mug combine:

  • 1/4 cup flax meal
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp canned pumpkin
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1- 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 egg
  • Optional honey if you need something super sweet

Stir ingredients well. Then microwave for 50 seconds. Allow the mug cool once removed from microwave. Eat with a tiny spoon so it lasts longer. So easy and nutritious!

mug-muffin

show up for yourself.

show up for yourself, apples

I couldn’t figure out why my scarf smelled so good. It smelled fresh, crisp, and satisfyingly sweet around my face. I had just stuffed myself into an extra pair of fleece-lined pants, adorned myself with my hat and gloves, zipped-up two coats and (Ralphy-style) bent over to grab my purse when I was caught off guard by how heavy it still was. (I only carry a large purse in the winter; it’s storage for my many, many layers and winter-time extras… my hope is that one year I will make it through the winter without losing a glove.)  There I was, a performance-gear snowball, ready to roll down the stairs and out into 18 degree weather, so my purse was empty… and still heavy?

I found three apples rolling around the bottom of my purse. Seriously? Along with two books, a yoga mala, a lint roller, three camping forks, sunglasses (sunglasses!? it hadn’t been sunny in two months!), four pens and a zip-loc full of tea bags. No wallet. But, three apples!  I mean, I could survive on apples and almonds (and successfully have before), but carrying around three apples instead of my wallet in my purse seemed ill-advised.

Apparently, I stowed an apple in my purse each morning that week… and never got around to eating it.  I’m sure I intended to mow down on my favorite snack in between teaching my classes but instead I wound up with an apple-scented scarf.

Intentions are slippery, complex creatures.  So often, I set a remarkable, wise, intention in the morning and it slips away, unnoticed, by the 3 o’clock slump. I’ll set an invigorated, enthusiastic intention at the beginning of the year and it runs away three weeks into February.  Or, sometimes I do remember my intention …I just never get around to doing it.

But here’s the thing: life is too long to live without intention.  I’m not talking about ‘the great and humbling mystery and meaning of life;’ your life is already meaningful simply because you are living it.  What I’m talking about are the aspirations, the wishes, the yearnings, even the feeble wants that we spend so much time thinking about and planning, but never get around to doing.

Do you intend to do something but ‘never get around to it’?  (Remember this post: what you would do if nothing stood in your way?)  Hopefully, this ‘something’ is more important and inspiring than eating an apple that’s been in your purse for three days, but it definitely doesn’t have to be life changing.

Could it be: Call a dear friend?  Mail a card to your grandma? Clean out your closet?  Update your resume?  Invite your mom to a yoga class?  Begin a meditation practice?  Sit and breathe for 5 minutes daily, learning to de-stress?  Engage amicably with a co-worker who you find difficult to appreciate?  Go for a walk over your lunch break and actually take a ‘break’? Cut out sugar from your diet?  Donate your spare change to your favorite animal shelter?

Whatever your intention is: Do it.

Your challenge is this: today, do that SOMETHING that ‘you never get around to doing.’  Actualize your intention.  Make your idea into solid MATTER.  No one else is going to do it.

As modern poet cleo wade says: “Show up for yourself and do not wait a second longer.”

Looking for a good intention for your yoga class?  Check out this article I published a few years ago: intention.  Looking for a Meditation to help you uncover your intention?  Try this one: what is my deep, driving desire?

Happy Doing,

-lisa

show up for yourself, apples

 

Lucky St. Patrick’s Day Smoothie, Green Smoothie Recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

smoothie in mugSo… do you need to detox after your St. Patrick’s Day Pint?  (I’m pretty sure everyone and their mom… except for me and my mom… were at the Kansas City St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Westport this year.  Traffic was horrendous!)  We’ve been blessed with sunshine and warm spring weather this year, so it’s time to celebrate the season with something yummy and green!

Here’s my new and improved Special St. Patrick’s Day Green Smoothie recipe.  (Highly recommended for detoxing if you had one too many pints of something else on St. Patty’s Day.)

green st partricks smoothie

Ingredients:

  • Juice from 1/2 Lime
  • 3 Celery Stalks  (cut into pieces)
  • 1/2 Cup Honeydew Melon Pieces
  • 4 Cups Spinach
  • 12 oz Coconut Water

Method:

Nothing to it!  Throw the greens into the blender (I use my Vittamix for smoothies and juices), followed by celery, melon, spinach and lime juice.  Pour in 12 oz coconut water, blend on high for a minute.  Pour into a frosty mug and enjoy!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

-lisa

If you have extra celery, try my yummy pear-and-celery slaw recipe.

 

incredibly healthy! carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread recipe.

We bought a post-apocalypse-pack of canned pumpkin from Costco.  That fact alone should explain my fixation with everything pumpkin this winter.  I truly think if it’s below 40 degrees outside, something should be in the oven baking.  It’s been interesting finding, tweaking and inventing recipes using pumpkin, which is low in calories and ultra-nutritious. I’ve made pumpkin quiche, pumpkin scones, pumpkin curry, pumpkin soup, pumpkin pancakes and now this, my new specialty: carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread (vegan!).

Feel free to add your special touches to this recipe: fold in pecans, cranberries, or raisins carrot pumpkin bread ingredfor extra crunch and flavor.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 C oat flour
  • 1/2 C oats
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 C shredded carrots
  • 3 tbsp milled flax mixed with 3 tbsp cold water (or you can use 3 eggs for a non-vegan version)
  • 3/4 C light brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 3/4 C packed pumpkin
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1/2 C non-sweetened soy milk
  • 1/2 C walnuts

Procedure:

1.  Preheat oven to 325 and oil a 9 inch loaf pan with coconut oil.  (Place pan in oven as it heats to melt coconut oil so it will spread evenly across bottom and sides of pan.)

2. In a large bowl, stir together oat flour, oats, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, and nutmeg.

3.  Mix in wet ingredients: carrots, flax, sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and milk.  Gently stir until well mixed and pour into prepared pan.

4.  Press walnuts on top of loaf.

5.  Bake until the top is golden brown, about 50 to 55 minutes.  Let stand (it’s really delicious when it’s hot!) and enjoy a bite.  Save the rest for breakfast!

carrot pumpkin bread

vegan carrot pumpkin oat breakfast bread. you’ll eat the whole loaf in one sitting…

 

You will love it!  Super moist, hearty, and filling.

Let me know what you think,

-lisa

yummy vegan celery-pear-jicama slaw recipe

vegan celery-pear-jicama slaw recipe. (easy! healthy! yummy!)

 

 

 

 

photo 2 (3)

celery-pear-jicama slaw with sesame seeds and raisins.. yum!

 

Raise your hand if this has happened to you:  you grab the Tupperware of celery from the fridge and throw it in your bag for a quick and easy ‘between yoga class’ snack… only to discover hours later that your celery has been in the fridge too long!  It’s bitter and wimpy and not at all worth munching on.  <hands up!>

This seemed to happen to me almost every Saturday. The fix?  Shred that stuff up!  I’m a huge fan of ‘Root to Stalk Cooking,’ where the entirety of the food item is used.  Nothing to waste!  I’m always saving the colorless ends of the celery root when I cut up celery sticks for snacking.  I usually throw them in the next batch of quinoa or soup in the crock pot (even this soup could always use more fiber), but now I’ve got a new favorite way to honor the entire vegetable.  Introducing my newest recipe:  vegan celery-pear- jicama slaw recipe. (easy! healthy! yummy!)  

photo 1 (3)Ingredients:

  • 1 pear
  • 4 or 5 celery stalks
  • left over ends of celery root
  • 1/2 jicama
  • 1/2 C raisins
  • sesame seeds (for garnish)
  • 2 small clementines (juice and fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • optional salt and pepper to taste

 

 

Preparation 

1.  Peel the jicama, and shred it, the pear and celery (salad shooter or food processor recommended). Combine with raisins in a medium bowl.

2.  Squeeze clementine juice into celery-pear mixture.  Add slices of clementine fruit (optional).

3.  Whisk dressing in a separate bowl:  grapeseed oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt + pepper.

4. Pour dressing over the celery-pear mixture.  Stir.  Sprinkle sesame seeds on top.  Chill to allow the flavors to blend.

5.  Pack your snack and head out the door.  You are ready to go!

It’s super delicious!  Let me know what other variations you try: carrots? apple?

Happy shredding!

-lisa

 

 

Tiny Peruvian Pilgrimage part one: the essence of learning.

Tiny Peruvian Pilgrimage, part one: the essence of learning.

At least a hundred of you asked: “How was Peru?!  Was it fun?” when I returned from a seventeen day pilgrimage to Peru in August. It was difficult for me to answer with integrity: I felt, for the majority of the trip, ‘one step away from miserable.’ 

I underestimated the rage of altitude sickness (getting off the plane at nearly 12,000 feet above sea-level for the first stop on our itinerary at the legendary Lake Titicaca may not have been the wisest of choices).  I underestimated the magnitude of the Salkantay Mountain Pass Trek, which took my poor little legs three days to cover 40+ miles and 15,000 feet of altitude gain (and descent).  I underestimated the number of stairs in the sacred ruins of Macchu Picchu, the last Incan stronghold in the Cusco Region (last because the Spanish horses couldn’t manage to walk up the steep mountain switchbacks to find this gem of a palace city.  Smart horses.).  I underestimated the inevitability of traveler’s GI unpleasantness, the chill of the South American winter (no buildings have heat and windows don’t close) and how tiring it can be to pack and re-pack my one little backpack  every morning at 4:30 am to catch our next bus/plane/tour.  Saying the physicality of the trip was difficult is like saying Justin Bieber is a little bit popular.  But in the end (hindsight is reassuringly forgiving, isn’t it?) the trip was an invaluable learning experience and a cathartic spiritual pilgrimage. 

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photo cred: ME!

And I discovered something new about myself, about my connection (read: awe) of the earth and its sacredness, about the quality of my personal relationships, and about how I really want to spend my time in this life.  I learned.  And I was changed.  And, of course, I’ve got stories.  And some sweet pictures.  I read in a guide book that Peru will make a professional photographer out of anyone.

I only used my iPhone to snap pictures and they are incredible.  Maybe not as incredibly focused or detailed as Mr. Travel-guy with his 8-pocket vest, zip off pants, and water-proofed-four-lensed-nine pound-camera; but my little digital shots are fairly epic.  And certainly good enough for my travel-asana slideshow (go here!)

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my Ironman

My adventure trip to Peru was planned with my favorite person, my Ironman, who has set the lofty goal of taking an international trip every year.  He wants the total number of countries he’s visited to always be greater than his age.  So far, so good.  A year ago we started saving (read: selling lots of clothes on eBay, Aparigraha at its finest) for this trip to Peru.

Why?  I used to work for an anti-poverty, sustainable community development organization called Outreach International.  Outreach International (my friend Josh is their brand manager, check out their website!) has several promising reforestation projects in Bolivia; the pictures of the highlands and the communities who are involved in these development projects captured my heart.  I need to go there, I thought.  And see the intricately colored textiles and meet these hardworking people and eat their quinoa.  And also pet llamas.  But then I remembered that it’s ridiculously cold and windy and barren (there’s a reason Bolivians literally wear blankets)… so my thoughts shifted to Peru, Bolivia’s next door neighbor.  Where I knew I could step foot in my fairytale of a heaven: The Amazon Rainforest. 

lisa in kindergarten

little lisa in kindergarten

As an educator, my favorite definition of ‘learning’ is a change in an individual caused by experience.”  My most formative learning experience? I’m six years old, my hair is not yet permed, I’m wearing a black polka dot party dress and jellies, sitting next to my friend Bekah in circle time, and my kindergarten teacher pulls out a Big Book about The Rainforest.  I’m hooked.  Our kindergarten class created the rainforest within our classroom confines: covering the walls with trees, hand-painted animal portraits, tissue paper flowers, and creepy-crawly bugs.  We listened to cassette tapes called ‘Sounds of the Rainforest,’ we read books about the ecology of water cycles and life cycles of the flora and fauna, we watched video tapes featuring panoramics of the Amazon Rainforest, and we even researched our favorite rainforest animal (hello, Mr. Three-Toed Sloth, your smile is gorgeous!).

Then.  The truth came out: thousands of miles of this rich ecosystem, which harbors countless unique species and plants were and are being destroyed by logging, mining, and agriculture companies.  Little kindergarten Lisa?  Devastated.  (I’m sure I cried.  I cry pretty easily.  Remember this post?).  What I learned about the destruction of the rainforest changed me for life:  I spent my elementary career organizing penny fundraisers to buy parcels of rainforest in Bolivia for protection, I contributed my allowance to the World Wildlife Fund, I even started the first neighborhood environmentalist club.  Some called me a nerd.  I called myself an environmentalist.  (Pause: do you have time for the BEST part about this story?  I wrote a monthly newsletter for our club, E.K.A.D. “Earth Kids All Day” and totally misspelled the word “environment” in all of the issues.  Where was spell-check when I needed it?  Wait… where was my professional proof-reading dad?  Looking back, that spelling mistake is honestly the only part of this episode that I’m embarrassed by.  Not the hilarious pictures of me posing by the pile of trash that my ‘club’ picked up in our neighborhood one summer day.  No, definitely not those.)

Today, I’m still influenced by the experience of learning about the rainforest.  I try to live gracefully, so that my actions have little negative impact on the Earth.  I eat vegetarian to reduce the demand for more ‘wild’ land to be converted to meat-producing-agriculture.  I reduce my waste by recycling, reducing, and reusing as much as possible and I practice aparigraha (non-hoarding) of the Earth’s resources in countless ways.  If you are interested, check out my April Aparigraga Series which offers advice on how you can also live more gently on this Sacred Earth.

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photo cred MAD

My learning experience in kindergarten (thanks, Mrs. Moore) set me on a path that clarified my life’s choices into adulthood.  And stirred within my soul a longing that inspired this pilgrimage to South America.  To the sacred sites of Peru.  To the heart of the rainforest.  To the base of a tree where a three-toed sloth stealthily made its way to its morning napping hammock, grinning at two ogling Americans and their silly little iPhones.

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If you ask me “How was Peru?”  I will tell you: It was not a vacation, it was a learning experience.  I learned about the traditional cultures of the Peruvian highlanders, about the medicinal potions of the rainforest shamans, about the sacred ceremonies of the Incan travelers on their pilgrimages to Macchu Piccu, about the Andean religion and the customs of the Guinea Pig delicacy, and about travelling with the person you love (and how to still love them when the travelling experiences are less-than-ideal.)  But more importantly, what I learned was this:

If you have a dream, follow it.  Focus, commit, choose a badass travel partner, and make it a reality.

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the walls in our Eco-lodge room were open to the Rainforest!

What learning experience has caused you to change as an individual?   Can you think of one specific ‘learning’ that changed your attitude, your perspective or your habits?  I’m so interested: tell me about it!

Stay tuned for Tiny Peruvian Pilgrimage Part Two (just a few days away!).  Thanks for your interest, support, and hunger to learn.

-lisa

 

sugar-free pumpkin power bars (vegan! gluten-free! deliciousrecipe!)

sugar-free pumpkin power bars: recipe

It’s autumn again!  Time for everything cozy and pumpkin flavored.  Last fall I was really into vegan/gluten free baking (see this recipe for vegan pumpkin bread) and THIS year, I’m totally into sugar-free baked goods.   Pumpkin flavored baked goods are my favorite, I honestly can’t get enough.  After a few fun attempts (read: crumbly failures) at making my own power bars, I’ve finally perfected this recipe.  Cut them into small squares– you will want to eat a dozen.  :)

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp Grapeseed Oil
  • 1 Ripe Banana
  • 1/2 can Pumpkin (about 120 g)
  • 1 C Almond Flour
  • 1 C Oat Flour
  • 1/4 C ground flax seed mixed with 1/4 C water
  • 1/2 C Raw Rolled Oats
  • 1/8 C Maple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/2 C Golden Raisins
photo (8)

sugar free AND gluten free AND full of protein.

 

Procedure

Grease 9 x13 inch baking pan with grapeseed oil. Set aside.

Peel ripe banana and mush with a fork (or use a food processor.)  In a large bowl.

Stir in all ingredients, adding the rolled oats last.  You may need to adjust the quantity of oats according to how dry or moist your batter is.  Batter should be thick, easily turned over with a rubber scraper.

Using a rubber scraper or wax paper on your hand, press batter into baking pan.  Thick or thin– that’s up to you.

Bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes.  (I don’t pre-heat my oven because I try to save energy and electricity.  You can read about this in my April Aparigraha Challenge: Save your Energy.)  Cut into small squares.  Yield: approx 24. Enjoy!

Make them this weekend and enjoy with your morning tea!  They are a great ‘pick me up’ on your way out the door to your evening yoga class.

Enjoy!

-lisa