September 28, 2011

My New Succulent Garden

The "split rock" one just bloomed this evening. I wonder if ot blooms every night?

Sunol Water Temple

I am taking an unfamiliar route back to Oakland and stumbled upon this temple that I first read about last year.

Succulent Gardens

I finally made it to the Succulent Gardens in Castroville. Check out these vertical planters.

Self Portrait on the Beach

I love how the waves almost got me in this shot.

Email from the Paramotor. Expert I Photographed Yesterday

Hi Amy,
Thanks for the pictures, those are awesome! I appreciate you taking the time to send them.  My name is Dell Schanze.  I'm the current WPPGA paramotor world champion and the wing in the picture is the EOS which is the very latest technology.  Its the only one in the country.  Just in case you wanted any info if you were going to post about it.  Fun stuff!! Let's go flying!!
Dell Schanze
U-Turn USA

September 26, 2011

Belly Dancing Photos

Here are some of the fun photos that Laura Turbow took at Rachel's Belly Dancing Birthday Party in August.

September 24, 2011

Thoughts on Recovering from Divorce

Being married, even if you are in an unhealthy relationship, becomes familiar. Knowing your routine, and how your partner fits into your daily patterns, even if painfully, is reassuring. Going through divorce is a process of stepping out of this familiar dance and taking on new behaviors, choices and actions. This takes bravery.

As you are newly divorced and moving into the world of dating, there is a desire to step immediately into a committed relationship, one that provides the same familiarity of what marriage had to offer. This feels safe because you know the routine. However, I believe that you need time to really fall in love with yourself before you fall in love with someone new. New divorcees are often on a fall-in-love mission and will take whatever steps they can to make love happen.

It has taken me three years to recognize that no person is going to make my life safe, complete and satisfying. Yes, that is the ideal of love and no, I do not want to come across as a skeptic. But, defaulting into love is skipping over the most important steps of recovering from divorce; knowing, loving and accepting yourself.

Interacting with divorcees, I am now able to recognize the love-intention that I am sure I displayed immediately after being divorced. Divorcees are needy, and it makes sense. We gave up familiarity and we want reassurance and stability. The good news is that it can be found, within ourselves. Take the time to pamper yourself, recognize that you are gorgeous inside and out, and that you are worth your own love.

September 22, 2011

The Tao of Breathing

I'm blissed. This sounds very California, but it is a feeling I experienced this morning, between wake and sleep. It was a deep, calm, warm, energy I felt at my body's center and I was weightless and bodiless. My breath was even and I was emotionless.

The book The Tao of Breathing by Dennis Lewis, is the assigned reading in the breathing awareness sessions I am taking with Gay White's as part of the Yoga Advanced Studies Program. Gay has us focusing on our natural breath and Lewis talks about the diaphragm being an emotional area of our body as we breath in and out. Now I understand the description.

Gay asked us to identify cues during the day that would be points when we pay attention to twelve breaths. It may seem easy to observe twelve ins-and-outs of your breath, but it is nearly impossible to not change your breath while you are observing. Yesterday I determined that every time my mind wandered to a painful subject, groping in my mind for affirmation of insecurities, I would practice the twelve breaths, not judging. If distracted from this practice, I would begin again. There were dozens of times during the day that I followed my cue.

Over the past few months I have been exploring the opportunity to pull energy from within myself, something that Extroverts derive externally. Now, this morning while I lay in bed, that practice filled me with calmness. I was passively observing my breath and letting it flow deep and radiate easily through my body. The feeling was absolutely like floating or flying as I was effortlessly and weightlessly just "being". Perhaps this is the path to my Year of Balance.

September 21, 2011

Puerto Rican Magic

Deanne and I had the privilege of seeing Rita Moreno tonight at Berkeley Rep in her biographical show Life Without Makeup. Is this woman really 80? Watching her strut across the stage, and casually talk with us about her life of finding herself amongst all she has lost, was inspirational.

She painted a picture of Puerto Ricans and their passion for the drama of life. I tasted that deliciousness and am forever changed.

September 20, 2011

Permission to Practice

Last night was my second evening of classes in the Berkeley Yoga Room's Advanced Studies Program. What I am immediately recognizing is the generosity with which the yoga teacher practitioners are sharing their practices. Both Sandy Blaine and Gay White, who teach the very first classes in the program, are openly sharing their knowledge, challenges and learnings with us, their students.

Being a student with open-hearted teachers helps me reflect on my own teaching. When, last night, Sandy asked us to "go ahead and practice" the sequence we had designed for ourselves, I nearly cried. This was the first time I had been asked to implement my own yoga practice. It was a moment of permission to trust myself and be public about my intention. In reflection, this is what I do with my students when I ask them to prepare and present a class lesson to their classmates.

This is finals week at my school and I am in the process of updating my syllabi for next quarter's classes. My experience with the yoga program is helping me to recognize what goes through a student's mind when they are to be a teacher for a class session. There is a moment of anticipation and even panic when you get up and lead the class. Next quarter, to help my students prepare, I am going to present the first week's lesson and have them grade me - turn the tables. They will have my grading rubric and will use it to evaluate how well I hit the points. This way, when they take their turn as teacher, they will have already been in my role as evaluator.

It is always my intention to empower my students by giving them permission to practice.

September 18, 2011

Three Types of Bay Area Californians

Now that I've lived in California for nearly 20 years, I am recognizing that there are three types of people in the Bay Area. There are the people who live in the Bay Area because industry brought them here and the cultural scene, loosely defined, fills their lives. These people take excursions out of the Bay Area to the wine country, Tahoe and perhaps south to LA and possibly Monterey.

Then there are the people who have a greater awareness of being a Californian and are engaged beyond the Bay Area. These folks are less San Francisco-focused and spend time exploring the less popular excursions, really getting to know the state's communities, natural wonders, its history and diverse cultural offerings.

I definitely fall into category two and as I interact with more people I am finding that I really enjoy those who savor the "greater" California. The tell-tale sign of meeting folks like me is that we want to talk about the local and sometimes obscure hikes we have trekked, state parks we have traversed, small towns we have visited, and of course visiting my beloved Missions.

Then there is a third type of Bay Area person and these are the folks who are afraid of Oakland. Some of the fearful even live in Oakland, which is a perception barrier this wonderful city has to help them overcome. When I tell people I live in Oakland I immediately have to listen to a joke about how it is unsafe. If these people actually visit me they always state concerns about their car getting stolen or their being mugged on the streets. I'm compelled to convert these people. This is my Oakland Mission.

How do you evolve into a Californian? You connect with your local community, are open to meeting folks who live outside of the Bay Area, and really settle into the state as your home. This has taken me nearly twenty years but I do believe I am now officially a Californian.

September 17, 2011

Getting Jumped in Oakland

My car battery died, because I was sitting in the car, chatting on the phone and accidentally left the lights on. A man walking buy said, I can jump your battery if you like, just as I was pulling out my AAA car. He pulled over his car, hooked up my cables and worked magic. Thank you, Justin. It was a quick, efficient jump and I felt the spark when we shook hands.

How's that for a metaphor?

September 16, 2011

Pugs are Cute

But not in this photo from my yahoo sign-in page. Are these pugs? Take off the silly hats.

September 12, 2011

42.5 Confluence

On Thursday, September 8, I felt like I was riding a wave, more like a tsunami of emotions. As the day progressed I developed a throbbing headache and then a dizzying stomach ache. This was happening in class so I focused on helping my students with their lab work while barely being able to hold my head up. On the BART ride home, we had another protest which resulted in an overcrowded, hot, slow train. The perfect mix for feeling even worse. Thankfully, I knew that my friend Hisun would be meeting me on the other side of this long river ride.

What was going on? It felt like all my emotions were crashing into each other. Hisun listened to me thoughtfully as I relayed a litany of extreme challenges of "Amy" from the previous few days. We talked about how being strong, independent women takes a lot of work. Does it mean constantly having to deal with confrontation and conflict at every turn? That's what was on my mind - setting my parameters and taking care of myself.

At 42.5, I am constantly course correcting my journey, learning from interactions and building up a travel journal of lessons. This is hard work, but necessary. The stomach and head ache double-hit was the confluence of all these learning streams.

Today I have reached a calm point in my travels. It was a noticeable moment when this storm was over as I sat peacefully in a circle amongst the teachers and new students embarking on the Berkeley Yoga Room's Advanced Studies Program. There I sat, relaxed with a straight spine, amongst people who are also charting their own courses. We all exuded excited, nervous energy as we shared our inspirations for joining the program. Many of those inspirations were teachers who were sitting in the room. We were deepening our Community of Practice. It was a fitting way to commemorate 9-11. A ten year journey has resulted in my taking the rudder and riding with the wind.

September 9, 2011

Friday Cake Fest

Yet another two delicious cakes from the culinary students. I had two slices of the raspberry cake for today's breakfast-lunch and since I didn't have dinner last night it counted for three meals.

September 7, 2011

Who is Responsible, Teacher or Student?

This evening I attended an interesting discussion with my teaching colleagues where we, once again, got into the hot topic of how "students these days are so different from when we were in college." I am beginning to think that this is the same urban legend as, "when we went to school we had to walk up hill  in two feet of snow."

If students are not engaged in class lessons, who is responsible, teacher or student? It is my belief that it is the teacher who is responsible for engaging the student in a way that is appropriate for where the student "is at". Meaning, you have to adjust your teaching techniques to how students prefer to learn. Perhaps, once you reach them, you can introduce them to other ways of learning and even teach them to be teachers - which is my secret agenda.

Ultimately, you can't teach them if you can't reach them. What I do know is that pure lecturing, without asking questions and or offering listening, does not work.

September 6, 2011

Back in Oakland

The best feature of my JetBlue flight was watching the first episode of the latest season of Sons of Anarchy on FX. My boys are back!

Get Help Visualizing Old S.F.

Check out this fantastic new website, Old S.F., that is a map of San Francisco filled with historic images from 1850  to 2000. I love seeing the evolution of an urbanized location.

September 4, 2011

An Interesting MLK Memorial Image

Dozens of people were taking photos of this man. The vibe at the memorial was very positive. This man epitomizes the empowerment I felt being expressed by African Americans at the Memorial. People were smiling, rejoicing, standing tall, and proud.

MLK Memorial

So many people here and the national park ranger is reciting speeches.

Monarch Butterfly

Fluttering on the zinnia flower.

Kinetic Sculpture

Matt, Sam and I are building a Tinkertoy Kinetic sculpture. We have a future patent in the making.

September 3, 2011

Party Time!

Matt, Rachel, baby Ida Mae and I are on a field trip to the local Mt. Rainier liquor store called Party Time.

Visiting DC

Took the redeye last night and arrived in DC this morning. Dad and Marlene picked me up, took me to Virginia and then I slept for another six hours. The Oakland-DC flight is so short, only 4 hours and 15 minutes, that I hardly had time to get sleep on the flight. Feeling very well rested.

September 1, 2011

I Was Broken - Lyrics by Marcus Foster

I was tied, but now unbound
My head is off the ground
For a long time I was so weary
Tired of the sound, I've heard before,
The gnawing of the night time at the door,
Haunted by the things I've made
Stuck between the burning light and the dust shade.
I said now I used to think the past was dead and gone,
But I was wrong, so wrong, whatever makes you blind
Must make you strong, make you strong,

In my time I've melted into many forms
From the day that I was born, I know that there's no place to hide
Stuck between the burning shade and the fading light,
I was broken, For a long time, but It's over now.

Yes and you, and you,
well you walk these lonely streets that people send, People send.
There are some wounds that just can't mend, I do pretend, pretend,
I am free from all the things that take my friends
But I will stand hear till the end, I know that I can take the moon,
In between the burning shade and the fading light
I was broken, for a long time, but It's over now
I was broken, for a long time, but It's over now

Marcus Foster