November 28, 2012

November 27, 2012

Sing Me a Shoe Shine

While in Valle de Bravo we came across this amusing scene of a man getting his shoes shined in a rickshaw contraption while being serenaded by Mariachis.

Thinking in Spanish

After spending five days with a Spanish-speaking family in Mexico I am actually finding myself thinking in Spanish...just a little bit. Gracias, Tesy.

November 24, 2012

iPad Makes International Life Easy

I have to say that I was skeptical about the iPad but ever since winning one at MAGIC in Las Vegas on Valentine's Day, I am in love. Visiting Mexico I've been able to be just-connected-enough with the iPad in terms of texting and emailing, without ever taking my iPhone off of airplane mode. I even regret getting the iPhone international texting plan for the month.

Jicama and Coconut with Salt and Lime

An afternoon snack by the pool in Valle de Bravo.

November 23, 2012

Taught My First Yoga Class

Today I taught my first yoga class. Tesy rented a studio for us at the Iyengar yoga center in Mexico City and I gave her, Eduardo, Dalia and Susan a private class. Three of us are in teacher training programs - in Chicago, Berkeley and Mexico City and one is already a practicing teacher here in Mexico City.

The class was 90 minutes and it was based on all my learnings from Mary Lou Weprin at the Yoga Room in Berkeley. I was amazed at how I could make the class flow. The focus was on Tadasana, foundations and equal and opposite extension. The participants said I did a good job, that I have a calming voice and gave clear directions.

This trip to Mexico City is turning into a culinary and yoga adventure. I would love to come here for a three month sabbatical.

Here I am in a restorative pose after teaching. I felt quite calm and relaxed.

Thanksgiving Dinner from the Sea

Eduardo and Tesy took me to Lampuga Bistro in Mexico City for Thanksgiving dinner and our entire meal was seafood. We started with a crispy corn tortilla layered with avocado, thinly sliced raw tuna and topped with crispy sliced leeks. This was followed by octopus salami, pictured here, and we finished with baked seabass on top of mushrooms and asparagus with a garnish of crisp roasted peppers.

For dessert we headed across the street to one of Tesy's restaurants and shared a crepe with carmel sauce, pecans, vanilla ice cream (made from goat's milk), and pecans. I see a new tradition developing.

November 22, 2012

Riding a Bike Through Mexico City

Eduardo rode his folding bike and I was on a pick-up, drop-off ecobici share as he guided me around the streets of Roma and Condesa where both he and Tesy are co-owners of numerous restaurants and bookstores. I was surprisingly fearless in the seemingly lawless streets of traffic free-for-alls. If only Ike the Bike were here. 

This ranks as one of the best days of my life - up there with whale watching in 2010 and riding on the back of Jeff's motorcycle in September of this year. The magic recipe is physicality and exploration which lead to exhilaration. All these adventures were in my stretch zone - pushing me past comfort but not to panic. I need to make time for these experiences!

I was also inspired by Tesy and Eduardo - my two entrepreneurial friends who are searching for life-work balance in their personal and creative endeavors. It appears to be a constant negotiation but it seems to me that they are pursuing their dreams. 

Arrived in Mexico City!

Tesy's balcony.

November 13, 2012

Learning A New Dance

This Autumn I am reallying feeling the crisp air, the warm sunshine and the freedom of being unattached to anyone romantically. Perhaps that sounds lonely, but it is the first time in decades that I am crush-free. This is like starting a new dance, no worries about what, when, why, or how someone is or is not going to get in touch with me. I was always waiting, hoping and being reactive, which resulted in disappointment.

For now, I am practicing the release of anticipation and enjoying the final weeks of the Year of Being Present.

We Are The Ones We've Been Waiting For

Maureen Dowd's November 10 Op-Ed column, Romney is President captures the American gestalt that re-elected President Obama.

Compelling statements from the column:

"If 2008 was about exalting the One, 2012 was about the disenchanted Democratic base deciding: 'We are the Ones we've been waiting for.'

Last time, Obama lifted up the base with his message of hope and change; this time the base lifted up Obama, with the hope he will change. He has not led the Obama army to leverage power, so now the army is leading Obama.

Romney was still running in an illusory country where husbands told wives how to vote, and the wives who worked had better get home in time to cook dinner. But in the real country, many wives were urging husbands not to vote for a Brylcreemed boss out of a '50s boardroom whose party was helping to revive a 50-year-old debate over contraception."

November 9, 2012

Coast Guard Ship

Decided to take a long walk down to Jack London Square on this crisp and sunny Friday morning. Had the opportunity to see a Coast Guard ship heading out to the Bay via the Oakland Estuary. I am craving an ocean adventure.

Michael Chabon's Telegraph Avenue is Hella Oakland

Since I live half a block away from Telegraph Avenue in Oakland I had to read Michael Chabon's newest book Telegraph Avenue. As always with his writing, it took me 200 pages to get into the flow of the story which is dense with its own vernacular, characters and details.

By the conclusion it was like reading about neighbors that I have yet to meet. Now, when I drive along Telegraph, I find myself looking for the people and landmarks so creatively depicted in the story. With so many references to Oakland-specific landmarks and colloquialisms I kept wondering how anyone who does not live on Telegraph could ever understand this book. Perhaps it is a secret read for Oak-Landers?

November 6, 2012

Thank You, America!

I can breath easier knowing that Obama will still be President.

November 5, 2012

Connecting Through I Contact

Standing in front of class, I am always aware of eye contact. Am I reaching every student? Perhaps I am looking at only selective students and not others? Are students looking at me? If their eyes are on me, what is the expression I am reading - interest, confusion, understanding, blankness?

I use to "ping" off of eye contact when I first started teaching. If a student looked skeptical or confused - with a furrowed brow - I would stop mid-stream and try to clarify what I was saying. As an extrovert, I was extremely aware of my audience and adapted my actions based on immediate feedback.

Now that I'm somewhat more experienced as a teacher, I recognize that each person has their own unique facial expression when they are looking up at a speaker. Instead of drawing immediate conclusions - that I need to change my presentation in real-time - I now know that the person sitting there is coming to the "moment" with their own experiences and set of lenses.

There were a couple of occasions this week when the nuances of eye contact became very clear to me. The first was when I was watching Dancing with the Stars. Professional dancer Karina Smirnoff fell during in a Hip Hop dance with Olympian Apolo Anton Ohno. Following the performance she was completely distraught that she had "ruined the dance" and could not make eye contact with either Apolo or the judges. I realized that she was ashamed and could not look anyone in the eyes. You rarely see someone vulnerable and real on television.

On Saturday night I went to see one of my favorite performers Don Reed at The Marsh in Berkeley. Her performs a one person show called The Kipling Hotel. I've seen Don perform three times and the second time I went, a few months ago, I talked to him after the show to say that I loved his work. He said, "you look familiar, I know you." This Saturday, feeling like I was seeing a friend on stage I sat in the front row. During Don's performance we made eye contact a few times. I was so engaged in his performance and felt like I was giving him feedback by being an active and attentive audience member. This was especially important because the audience member to my left kept yawning loudly and checking his phone for the time. I found this so disrespectful and if you ask my students, they will tell you that distracted students are my biggest irritation. Don, however, is a true professional and even if he noticed the distracted man, he did not let it show in his performance.

After the show Don, as always, came down into the audience. Again, he came up to me and said, "do I know you?" I told him my name and that I had attended before. He gave me a hug, as he does to many audience members and thanked me for coming. The interaction made me feel welcome and included in the intimate world he creates in the small theater environment. I felt recognized and respected.

That famous saying, "the eyes are the window to the soul" seems so true to me. I have met plenty of people who are absent in their expression. They can not look at you, or do not see you, or hide away from you. Have these people learned to put away their emotions? Perhaps they have been vulnerable and did not find it to be a good experience, or were reprimanded. I admire bravery - even if you have to look away because you are vulnerable, at least emotions are real, normal and natural. Hiding them is a loss.