5 things to try in 2017.

Happy New Year!

Time to make all sorts of New Year’s Resolutions … and work on them for a hot minute before promptly moving on to something else!  Just kidding (hopefully).  I know that “Resolutions” conjures feelings of stealthy anxiety, so I’m not going to suggest you make any brash commitments this year… but I will happily suggest 5 things that make my life happier, healthy, and more whole. Lisa’s tried and true: 5 things to try in 2017.

CalenGoo App

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It’s not free, but the CalenGoo app is worth its weight in gold. This alternative to the ubiquitously incomplete and unhelpful iPhone calendar app is a life saver. It shows you the whole month’s calendar at first glance with a blessed white box for every day filled with your events. You know exactly what’s on your schedule and can toggle between month mode, week mode, day mode, or list mode. My life became infinitely more organized the day I downloaded this app.  Find it on iTunes.

 

Rawxies Smoked Paprika Crunch

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Gluten Free, Soy Free, Dairy Free and full of flavor, these awesome Raw snacks are a must!  Smoked to perfection and spicy enough to satisfy by salsa-cravings, these little babies come in handy when I need something to crunch in the afternoon. They are seed based, so not a low-calorie snack, but pack 7 grams a protein per serving and are actually delicious. Plus, creator Callie Edwards is a KC Girl, so you are supporting local entrepreneurs and our growing health-food scene! Find them at grocery stores in KC like Whole Foods and Hy-Vee.

Guided Meditation with Lisa

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It’s the most productive and refreshing five-minute break you’ll ever take. On days when the clock is travelling at breakneck speed and your brain is complete mush from laboriously checking off your to-do list, pop on your headphones and listen to a guided meditation. It’s easier to stay focused when you have someone else telling you what to think about, how to breathe, and what to imagine. Listening to an audio file is indiscreet: you can do a guided meditation in your car, at your desk or on a walk around the office. Find them on my website: lisaashyoga.com/guided-meditations and on the Free downloadable App ‘Insight Timer.’

Human Planet Documentary Series

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These beautiful documentaries are “Planet Earth meets This American Life.” Each episode features humans living in the harshest environments on earth and their struggle to survive in the unpredictable and often dangerous environments.  You’ll follow a young Brazilian boy learning to kill spiders for snacks in the Amazon Rainforest, an Ethiopian farmer protecting his grains from invading monkeys and Polar Bear Police protecting the residents of a Canadian town in arctic conditions. Don’t be surprised if your daily stresses seem like mere annoyances compared to snake fishers in Indonesia and cow herders in Nigeria. The footage is absolutely spell-binding and you’ll want to watch a few episodes at a time, so grab some snacks and take a night in with your family. Find it on Netflix.

Restorative Yoga

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If you’re “the active Yogi” who considers your yoga class part of your daily Fit Bit movement quota, then I implore you to take a gamble on Restorative Yoga. Restorative Yoga is a gentle, contemplative, relaxing style of yoga that takes all the pressure off you to perform, do, or be the best.  It’s low-to-the-ground and looks a lot like ‘enforced nap-time’ with its myriad of blankets, pillows, straps, and heavy sandbags. You’ll experience more keenly the effects of the breathing techniques in yoga which calm and renew the nervous system.  There is nothing more beneficial for you and your stress level than taking a moment to slow down, enjoy life, and emerge refreshed. Try it at Westport Yoga Wednesdays at 6 pm and Saturdays at noon.

Ok, readers go for it: Happy, Healthy and Wholesome Living for 2017.  Love!

yoga pants on a honeymoon.

Hey readers, no yoga posts or meditation challenges for you today or next Monday– I’m heading on my honeymoon!

After 1.5 years of engagement, my IronMan and I tied the knot on Saturday October 1st at a venue in the Crossroads District of Kansas City. (In the same neighborhood as our first blind date! Did you know we met each other at a yoga class!?)

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So happy to marry this incredible man and seek adventure with him every day!

I’ll still be practicing my yoga on my honeymoon, of course, and I know you will enjoy the substitute teachers covering my classes. We are heading to the Northeast during peak fall foliage for a tour of the White Mountains. It’ll be fun to explore a new corner of the country; we are staying at huts on the Appalachian Trail that are ‘hike-in only’ and then travelling to Burlington, Vermont on Lake Champlain. We are looking forward to lots of adventuring, hiking up some gnarly peaks, and hopefully some epic yoga pics!  The fun thing is that my friends at Lululemon CCP store gifted me white yoga clothes and new white baseball cap so even while I’m hiking I’ll look like a bride!

Remember, even if you aren’t planning a trip right now, you can engage in a Micro-adventure and even travel Nowhere.

While I’m gone, please enjoy my audio Guided Meditations. Try this new one: “So Hum Meditation”, which brings you closer to the unity with the sound of your breath.

Much love, I’ll catch you when I get back– as Mrs. Lisa Ash Drackert!

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

 

what does it mean to ‘travel lightly’?

What does it mean to travel lightly? 

One backpack.  One.  One backpack for 2+ weeks in Peru, where I will be on the sun-scorched beach and in the snow-covered peaks of the Andes, sprawling in the humid rainforest in an open air cabin, huddling in tents and sleeping in un-air-conditioned hostels…. an one is all I get.  How do I pack for that?!  It doesn’t make sense to pack a bikini and my winter gloves, but somehow I need to be prepared for both extremes.  What do I pack?  What do I leave behind?  What will I take with me, only to realize after 36+ hours of cars, planes and buses, that I can’t carry the weight of it?

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one bag. are you kidding me?

I just read the novel Wild, by Cheryl Strayed, about her trek up the Pacific Coast Trail from the Mojave Desert to the Bridge of the Gods in Washington State.  She named her hiking backpack Monster.  She quickly realized she could not walk 19 miles a day in the mountains under its weight, and spent the first few weeks of her journey ditching items that weren’t 100% necessary for survival.  Near the end of her journey, Cheryl realized what else she carried with her – unresolved grief over the passing of her mother – doubled the weight she carried with every step.  When she let that go, her traveling became lighter.

I found this picture featuring a quote from Yogi Bajan a few months ago, and it has consumed my thoughts since then.  It says: “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”  (Yes, English Grammar Nerds will notice that it should say: ‘travel lightly’ and ‘live lightly’ but I actually really like the play-on-words that results from mis-using the word ‘light’ as an adverb.  ‘Live Light’ and ‘Live Lightly…’ they are both excellent pieces of advice.)

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Anyway, back to packing my bag for the trip of a lifetime:  it’s excruciating.  I want to be prepared for EVERYTHING.  I keep asking questions like: but what if I NEED a cute top and skinny jeans because we stumble across a nice restaurant?  But what if I NEED my hair straightener and blow dryer (never mind that we don’t have electricity in the Amazon rainforest) and what if I NEED extra supplies in my first aid kit, 6 pairs of gloves, 4 novels, 2 extra towels and 1 yoga mat?  I mean, I need to be prepared for anything, right?  Otherwise, won’t I feel anxious?  Unprepared?  Stupid for not packing the ‘right’ gear for this epic adventure in Peru?  I DON’T KNOW WHAT WILL HAPPEN!!  How do I prepare for THAT??  Reality Check: We NEVER know exactly what will happen in our future.  That’s the thing about life and creation—it is constantly in motion, and it is constantly changing.  We get one day…. We may get one million days. 

Then I see this again:

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Hmm…my job is not to be consumed with collecting all the items that will protect me from uncertainty.  This only adds to my anxiety.  My job is EVERY DAY, to “Travel light, live light, spread the light, be the light.”

Boy, that sure takes the pressure off.  I don’t have to be prepared for everything, I just have to be prepared to Live Light.  And travel lightly on this Earth, leaving only soft imprints (which means, I guess… not carrying around a 40lb backpack, complaining with every step.  But yes, I will be packing my first aid kit.)

Stay tuned for Peru updates and pictures; my Ironman and I are super excited for our adventure-vacation.  (For those of you who are concerned, Russell Clive will be staying with his grandparents.)

-lisa

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p.s. it totally fit. i’m a pro at packing this bag!