Meet Toby

I was recently asked to write a blog post for the dog site: Mattie & Margot (www.mattieandmargot.com). I have written about Toby before, my trusty Vizsla with a huge personality.  But I thought it was worth putting him on the blog again. Enjoy meeting Toby (again!). 

Toby is our 4-year-old Vizsla who I am convinced is more boy than dog.  Toby arrived into our lives shortly after we lost our beloved Golden Retriever, Biggles.  I am convinced that Biggles chose Toby for us.  Biggles was my soul mate dog who stayed by my side through many dark times.  Four months after he died and I was still doing the ugly cry. My hubby threw me in the car one day and took me to a rescue.  Toby came home with us and has been one of the centers of my life ever since.

Here's Toby. Those eyes are deep and full of wisdom. 

He is a very active and playful dog.  He just loves the snow! 

We have a grown son who lives in New Hampshire and Toby’s favorite thing to do when we visit is to hike a mountain. When he gets to the top there is much celebrating. 

Toby loves, loves, loves to have an ice cream. God help anyone - man or dog who comes between him and his ice cream. He is famous for the silent snarl, but the show of teeth leaves no one in doubt about his intention, “You touch my ice cream, I'll get you!"

We are a British family living in the States, came here 24 years ago for Hubby’s job.  We love living state side, we have had so much fun living here and in many ways I feel much more America than I do British.  Except on July 4th, then my patriotism for the UK comes out strong.  Apparently, Toby feels the same way

My standard phrase on July 4th is: "We could have won you know, we only sent 10,000 soldiers." Apparently this does not go down very well, but the neighbors understand that the house and the dog will be all decked out with Union Jacks on Independence Day!

Toby also has a special relationship with my youngest son, Elliot. When they are together they are really stuck like glue.  Neither of them seem to mind this predicament.

Toby is such a sensitive dog who has a special relationship with his dog owners. This can cause some serious separation anxiety and he can be a little, let’s say, defensive if he feels an approaching dog may not be friendly. He does not really give them a chance…does that good ole silent snarl for good luck.  He is so sensitive I thought we would train together as a service dog and partner.  All was going well until he did his famous silent snarl to all the participating dogs and we were asked (very kindly) to leave.  Being expelled from class, not our proudest moment.

So, this is my Toby, he is my shadow, my Velcro dog with all his faults and nuances.  I cannot imagine life without him, he brings joy, love and many doggie messes, like sticks in the house, the odd dead squirrel (not kidding!) and an abundance of energy.

We would not have it any other way!

I Really Like Flowers

I am not much or a horticulturist. I consider myself a keen beginner because I rarely know the name of a plant. Instead, I know a plant based off its color, shape and its ability not to be eaten by deer. This is a big problem in my neighborhood and I swear those deer think there is a buffet waiting for them at our house!

We had a very, very rainy May but now we are in June and the sun is shining. I have been able to get outside and put the finishing touches on my pots and flower beds.

This is what my front door looks like - I am particularly pleased with it this year. Marigolds are always a great choice, they are relatively cheap and withstand the heat well.

I do have a decent number of star gazer lilies around and the deer love to munch on them, but if I spray them with something called Guard Off, which is the delightful mixture of coyote and cat urine (yum) they seem to survive.

There is a famous poem by A. A. Milne (of Winnie The Pooh fame) called Delphinium Blue and Geranium Red.

There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums blue and geraniums red,
And all the day long he'd a wonderful view.

So, I felt the need to replicate.

Could not find a dormouse but Gnorman the Gnome will be a good replacement for right now!

And last but not least, a pot of fragrant lavender is always a huge win. This is my sanctuary where I sit and reflect, meditate and enjoy tea.

I hope you all are blessed to have a special place of beauty, too. 

Until next time, 

Angie 

 

Food and Festivals

It’s been pretty quiet around here.  Hubby had a 3-week business adventure in Paris (I know, feel bad for him) and as a result, unintentionally, I stayed close to home.  But things have gotten a little more interesting since hubby got back stateside.

During the weekend, we decided to check out a Chinese Lantern Festival in Philly.  A couple of years ago we were in Seoul, Korea and their lantern festival was amazing so we were eager to get the experience again.

It was pretty cool, but a little small so I think we felt somewhat cheated for our $17 entrance fee, especially as the one in Korea was so much more elaborate. It was a nice night to be out and wander around China Town.

Shifting gears - Interesting fact, still doing the raw food thing and normally this time of year I am severely afflicted with Springtime allergies, but this year not so much as a moist eye.  The only difference I can think of is that I am eating so much raw local fruits and veggies, which is desensitizing my usual malady.

This time of year, there are so many yummy seasonal fruits and veggies it is not hard to get variety in my diet.

The rest of my life seems to be yoga, teaching yoga, teaching nurse education and if I have time, reading and cooking, not such a bad way to spend my time!

Until next time, 

Angie 

My Week of Yoga Classes

Every week I look at my schedule and my first priority is seeing where and when I can fit in a yoga class.  May had been crazy due to many preschool classes, sometimes up to 10 a week that left my own personal yoga practice…well lacking to say the least.

This week I feel like my summer vacation started early as my only commitment was teaching one preschool class.  Heaven!

Here is what my yoga week looked like:

Sunday:  Vinyasa flow class taught by a particularly gifted and experienced teacher.  I try hard to get to her Sunday morning class as she teaches alignment based yoga and I always come away feeling like I have been to an intense but very good workshop.

Monday:  Mixed Level Yoga with a really, really good yoga sister who has become my friend.  She was a theatre major at NYU and so the banter and elevated entertaining chatter makes this ambitious class (well for me it always is!) just much more fun. And that 75 minutes always speeds by!

Tuesday:  I recently found a 5.30pm Power Yoga Class that I would have thought a few months ago was beyond me. However, even though this class is a humbling experience. I love the pace, the challenging new poses, the art of breathing and positioning to reach the pose. I love how it makes me realize that yoga is not about achieving the perfect position, it’s about the breath and finding that space within yourself that was not there before.

Wednesday:  Teaching assistant for a Restorative Reiki Class.  If you ever have a chance to take a restorative class, I highly recommend it.  The prerequisites are if you can breathe and lie down!  As the title of the class suggests it is designed to restore your soul through several compassionate, non-impact poses and with the added energy of Reiki, this class is just a joy to take and to assist in.  This is when I get blissed out with my yoga.

Thursday:  Teaching a very challenging but ever so fun family yoga class.  This week there was a grand total of 3 kids! A 10-month-old, a 1 year old and a 3-year-old, and none of them had any intention of doing any yoga! So, I did Very Hungry Caterpillar to myself, sang I’m A Little Teapot to myself 5 times and read the yoga book Rachel In the Garden all to myself….out loud.  Sometimes you just have to roll and know that working with preschoolers is like herding cats.

Friday: A very lovely beginners class, which is not so much beginner in its pace but maybe in its poses.  It’s always good to go back to the basics and this is a class I look forward to and enjoy.

So that was my week.  Yoga every darn day!  How much better and grounded and peaceful I feel after a frenetic April and May.  Time to rest and restore and get back on my mat. 

Hope you're having a great week.

Life After Graduating as a Yoga Teacher

So, it’s been a few months since I graduated as a yoga teacher, starting to get in the flow.  I’ve had some awesome classes where I came out energized and really pumped. And I've had some other classes where I came out ready for the psychiatrist couch. But there are some key things I did in the process of becoming a teacher that may be useful to other new grads. 

Here's my list:

  • I got liability insurance.  The practice of yoga is very mindful, but it is a workout and as such, people have the potential of getting injured.  Therefore, you want to protect yourself in case a client screams blame.  Liability insurance is relatively cheap and I feel comforted by the fact that if the worst happened and I am sued, no one is going to get the house.
  • As soon as I started teaching, I started a 3-ring binder. In there I keep a copy of all my classes with comments on what worked and what did not. I also have the contact information of the different studios I work for.  Also, I am logging my teaching hours as when I get up to 1000 hours of teaching I can market myself as an Expert Yoga Teacher (EYRT).  This is also a place where I keep a record of all my expenses so I can do that dreaded spreadsheet every 3 months and pay my taxes like a good citizen (groan). 
  • Continue updating and creating new classes so they are on hand if I get that last-minute call.  YouTube is the champion of all resources for yoga sequences.  I have found this particularly useful for planning my kid’s classes.  In my future repertoire: Hungry Caterpillar Yoga, Harry Potter Yoga and Fairy Yoga.  It keeps the variety fresh and helps me not teach the same class over and over again, which can get quite monotonous.
  • Offer to be a teaching assistance.  I have done this several times now and it is invaluable for not only gaining my own confidence but watching how an experienced teacher creates that blissed out atmosphere in a yoga class and techniques and sequences they use for success.
  • Look ahead for future trainings to enhance your teaching.  I am already looking forward to a couple of trainings I would like to do, maybe yoga therapy, maybe a nutrition certificate which would help make me the complete health package.  This is a little in the future as for right now I am trying to get compensated for my teaching to recoup the cost of my teacher training before I commit any more money to more qualifications.
  • Maybe take some private classes with a yogi you respect and aspire to be.  I did this in April and it literally changed my practice.  To have a one on one to tell me put your foot here, your shoulders like this, your feet grounded etc. was beyond helpful in how I will develop my own practice and help others.

I see my initial qualification of Registered Yoga Teacher just the beginning of my journey, it’s fun, it's challenging, it's growth in progress and I think always will be.

Hope you found this helpful. Any other yogis out there who have some helpful hints?

 

No One Showed Up

My worst nightmare happened.  I was scheduled to teach an adult yoga class and no one showed up.  I felt like I was having my own personal birthday party and nobody showed. I may have cried a little on the inside!

I had been asked to run some classes for a corporate office in New Jersey, about 45 minutes away from home.  So, off I went with plenty of time to spare, with my mat, my class notes and my carefully put together playlist on my Bluetooth speaker.

Sat in the assigned spot (the office cafeteria), got my notes out, reviewed them and waited and waited and waited. 

When I finally came to terms with the fact that nobody was coming, my first thought was “wow they must have really hated me last week”.  But it happens, especially in corporate yoga when the employee is not paying for the class. There can be less motivation to attend.

So, I did a few sun salutations on my own and then made the trek back home.  A two-hour round trip, in traffic! Not bitter, really.

 

But I have to assure myself that as a newbie yoga teacher I may not captivate my students all (or none) of the time.  There is room for growth and humility.  My adult classes have been small numbers and in a way that is good, it’s not so intimidating and I can really read the room and teach to the level and enjoyment of each person.

So, what did I learn through this event?

  • Do not focus on the negative, it’s easy to have your own little pity party but just pull up your big girl pants and be there for the next class.  Fresh start, fresh faces!
  • Don’t give up, keep coming up with new sequences, throw out what does not work and enhance what makes you sing, evaluate evaluate evaluate!
  • Follow your intuition.  I happen to think that all those doing yoga are particularly intuitive, when I am putting a meditation together for the beginning of class it sounds and feels divine but then when I present it to a group I can feel a little self-conscious.  I assume, maybe incorrectly if I am blown away by it then everyone else will be too…. not an awful place to be but be brave and do it anyways.
  • Not everyone will like my style and presentation and that’s ok.  I need to remind myself to be myself for myself and then my authentic voice will come through.
  • Keep up my own practice. 

After my no-show class, all I wanted to do was go and do a yoga class for myself to feel more grounded and connected to myself and at peace.  It worked, I got my mojo back pretty quickly!

Thanksgiving in May

Thanksgiving is hands down our family's favorite holiday. We start talking about it in August. I start planning the menu and testing recipes in September.  However, last year we were all together in Thailand for Thanksgiving.  Even though this was the trip of a lifetime for all six of us, we did rather miss the turkey dinner.  I promised a full-on Thanksgiving dinner when everyone got back from their world travels.  That turned out to be May.

I had a good size turkey in the freezer, prepped all the sides, Joe and Chelsea arrived from New England, Elliot and Jenny are back from Indonesia and off we went.

It started with our traditional thanksgiving breakfast of smoked salmon and bagels.

Then we had to play Catan, a game of trading and strategy that we all nuts and very competitive about.  Winning scores were - Chelsea: 2 and Jenny: 1. 

Then it was time for the feast. There was no Catan playing after that, everyone had a food coma. All 3 dogs were very happy to be together.  Toby is ours, Lulu is Jenny and Elliot’s and Coco is Joe and Chelsea’s.  They asked if they could dress up for the occasion.

All too soon it was time to say goodbye.  We may not be all together again for a while due to world travelers and work schedules, but I’ll take what I can get with these people - my most favorite people in the world!

Does your family celebrate any special traditions or have any favorite holidays? 

Until next time, 

Angie 

Being a Yoga Teacher

So now that the spring semester is coming to an end, my schedule looks like it may be changing and I have some exciting prospects for the summer.

This spring has been increasingly busy with my yoga teaching commitments and although it has been a wonderful experience there have been some pros and cons:

  • Negative: I have had much less time to attend a yoga class for my own practice and I really, really miss it.  I know it’s important to keep up with my personal practice but when I have weeks where I have 10 classes, it’s just hard to fit in.  I have always found it hard to practice at home as there are too many distractions, folding laundry, emptying the dishwasher, stopping the dogs from jumping on my head! But I am going to have to get disciplined and work on this. There are a thousand YouTube videos out there, I just have to do it when I have a quiet half hour.
  • Negative: Teaching yoga is not always fun.  I know, shocker! I thought I would always be inspired and blissed out.  But teaching yoga to kids can be rough, especially when they are not listening and throwing things at me or you get a group of 20 one year olds (one year olds don’t do yoga!). Also, I have taught a few adult classes where the class gave me nothing… just cold straight faces.  They were immune to all my fragile attempts at humor, not a great feeling.
  • Positive: the more I teach, the more my confidence builds.  I am beginning to find my yoga voice and do not have to follow my notes quite as closely as I did when I first started.  Sequences are becoming familiar and fun.
  • Negative: I have no intention of teaching yoga full time but if I were it would be super tough to make a living doing this job.  No one got rich teaching yoga!
  • Positive: A big plus is meeting some super nice people who are very much on my wave length.  It is challenging, yet refreshing to meet new people and it certainly has widened my world.

I am currently teaching 6 plus preschool classes a week but in a couple of weeks those sessions will end.  For the summer, I am already booked to run a fairy yoga class, this has the potential of being so much fun and I already have my wings in preparation.

I also intend to market myself more as a teacher of adult yoga, I really think that will build my skills.

Looking back, I definitely over committed since graduating as a yoga teacher. I wanted to prove to myself that I could do it and gain experience and confidence.  But this came at a price and really if I am overwhelmed and losing the enjoyment of teaching, then what is the point?  I continue to strive for balance in all areas, but especially in the realm of yoga and teaching.

Until next time, 

Angie 

My House is Full

So, this happened, these two kids came home!

Elliot and his lovely girlfriend Jenny have been traveling around Southeast Asia (in particular, Thailand and Indonesia) for 8 months…well because they can. We spoke often while they were away but it’s always better to have them in the flesh. We picked them up from JFK and the laughter, endless making of food and laundry line began and I could not be happier!

We have been babysitting Jenny’s dog, Lulu, for 8 months while they were away.  This sweet girl.

She was so happy to see her mommy at the airport. And she showed her love by pooping and throwing up on Jenny on the way home!

 

Since they have been home there has been a lot of this...

This is a crazy week where I am teaching 10 yoga classes - my most to date! Eight classes for children and two adult classes. I am both excited and overwhelmed by the prospect.  One thing I am noticing is that it is hard to get to a yoga class for my own mental health benefit.  I know this is a common problem for yoga teachers as the week is consumed with class planning and teaching.  I am trying to get out of my comfort zone and go to classes at other studios who have classes at odd times but that fit my schedule.  This is a little daunting for me as I am not known for doing well going into a room with a whole load of people I do not know, but I am just going to put my big girl panties on and deal with it.

I am also in the final week of teaching a BSN (nursing class) which is always crazy because I have to grade super long final projects and make sure my grade book is up to date.

It's a bit chaotic, but all really good stuff with a house full of kids and dogs, belly laughs and joy. 

I wish the same for you! 

Xo, Angie

Leaving Las Vegas

So, the best time I had in Vegas was when we got out of Vegas.  I decided that there is an over saturated supply in Vegas of casinos, alcohol, shopping and shows.  They are all aggressively trying to get your attention and dollars, and to be honest, I am not particularly interested in any of those things.

So, by Day 2, hubby decided to play hooky from his conference and we rented a car and headed for the hills. Red Rock Canyon to be exact.  A valley of volcanic rock, showing many layers of sediment, no doubt thousands and thousands of years old.  It was surprisingly very lush and green for desert land.  Little known fact, the valley is over run with tortoises, wild horses and burros (a donkey type of mule).  Many desert flowers were in full bloom, which was a real treat.

The valley is surrounded by a range of mountains which are quite spectacular. I felt like I could be on the set of a Western, where apaches were going to come out of the pass and ambush me.

Then, on our last day in Vegas, we decided to get out of town again. We signed up for a tour of the Hoover Dam. What an amazing feet of engineering! Built in the 1930s, this endeavor came in before the deadline and under budget.  I wonder - if a job so vast was undertaken today, would those two things would still happen? A beautiful day to wander around, under and above the dam.

One side of the dam is Arizona and the other side is Nevada.  The Nevada side has developed the largest man-made lake in the country, Lake Mead, and it was very lovely.

Finally, we stopped off at a Cactus Botanical Garden.  A lover of plants but not especially cacti, nevertheless it was still very interesting to wander around.

After that all that, we headed back to pack and it was time to hop on the plane and come home.  It does not matter where I travel in the world or how amazing of a time I have had, I'm always, always ready to come home to my bed, my puppies and my regular ordinary precious life.  I’m a bit like Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz in that regard!

Have any of you been to Vegas?  What were your experiences, the good, the bad and the ugly? Would love to hear your comments!

Xo, 

Angie