It's a damn fine loaf!
Since I only have three days remaining at 90 Degres, the guilt over leaving my darlings is heavy. I'm going to miss them very much. To show my love and appreciation, I baked them vegan gingerbread cookies (in the pic) and toasted coconut shortbreads.
- More yoga teaching. A return to tango.
- Returning bravely to the freelance world.
- Curious about the evolution of yoga? Go visit Roseanne on It's all yoga, baby. Not only does she write thoughtful commentary on how yoga is being interpreted today, but she also has links to the hottest yoga bloggers on the Web today.
- For those of you exploring your role as a yoga teacher, you may also want to pay Brooks Hall a visit.
- Waxing & waning is written by a young woman in Toronto. She doesn't publish very often - but when she does, it's usually heart-wrenching poetry that strikes chords in me every time.
- If you read French, check out Nicolas Ritoux's blog. He's currently travelling across Asia and publishes plenty o' photos.
- ShitMyDadSays and ClientsFromHell are ongoing favourites. If you're not on Twitter yet, follows like this might convince you.
- If you like listening to stories, subscribe to the This American Life podcast. Every week, host Ira Glass brings a series of stories told be real people revolving around the same theme. Last week they had this excellent segment on supernatural experiences with birds. Entertaining stuff.
Even if she throws out the occasional brilliant comment like - "Is it that you don't want a boyfriend?" or "Wouldn't it be great if you moved back home?" - she's still my mommy.
Yesterday night we were on the phone.
Ma: I was speaking to your Aunt Franca (in the photo) last Sunday . She was asking about you.
Me: That's nice. What did you say?
Ma: That you were busy at work, as usual. That's it!
That's when it hit me. My mother knows very little about my life. She knows the general outlines, but things that are important to me aren't important to her.
For my mother, highlights are health, employment, real estate, marital status, having children.
If I was to sum up my life, there would be a lot more to say:
- I write stuff. I make up stories in my head and I write them down and they're good.
- I really love teaching yoga and it's becoming an important part of my life.
- I have vast community of friends, fellow artists and colleagues who support, inspire and love me every day.
- I'm a good copywriter but am excited about transitioning into online community management.
- I love movies and music and dance - especially ballet, tango and contemporary.
- If I could do stuff over and pick a new career, I would be a dancer and dance for Hofesh Schecter.
- Nothing makes me heart beat faster than a smart boy with a nice pair of glasses.
- I'm becoming a fabbo vegetarian cook.
Wild at the thought of possibly making venn diagrams, I dropped everything to draw my own community.
I started out by defining the main areas of activity in my life where I met/meet people. Plotting out the different communities was fun - but not as fun as drawing arrows between communities to indicate multiple links. I have one writing buddy - Alexis - who was originally a school buddy, who is now also a work buddy and a neighbourhood buddy. And she's starting tango soon. And she's done yoga in the past.
If you don't see where you fit in this diagram, let me know so I can revise it. I want to keep this on my fridge so that if I'm having a pity party one day, I can look at it and put things back in perspective.
Niecelet: Adri, what song is this? I like it.
Me: It's Misstress Barbara.
Me: Misstress Barbara, my kittens, is a popular DJ. But not only just any DJ. You see, most DJs are men, so it's pretty extraordinary that she's one of the few women to have made a mark as a DJ.
Also she's from the homeland, kiddies. She's *real* Italian. You have two reasons to like Mistress Barbara.
[silence from the back seat]
Me: She gets to travel all over the world making music. Cool, huh?
Neph: I like the song too.
- The play of late morning light in my kitchen or early afternoon light in the bedroom.
- Watching kindergarten children have a leaf fight outside a local school, their educators showing them how to gather and throw the piles.
- Reading a good novel on the terrasse of Olimpico, the sun warm on my face and coffee-flavoured froth warming my lips.
- Discovering that the corner café I thought was permanently closed is actually open on weekdays.
- Seeing what my mailman looks like.
I repotted a plant that was slowly being eroded by nutrient-poor earth. Now she's standing tall and green. Doesn't she look happy?
I ate some really delicious Lindt chocolate.
One of our project managers came back from vacation with nice new glasses. Perks up the office, you know?
That's just some of the stuff that put a smile on my face lately. An accumulation of good things - no matter how small they may seem - definitely amounts to a positive day, no?
I've spent a lifetime comparing myself to others and it has only made me miserable. It's time to stop. Anyone else willing to take on the challenge with me?
- Talking things out. Writers tend to be a superstitious lot. Sometimes we don't want to talk about what we're working on because we're (a) worried about scaring off inspiration, (b) already worrying about being judged, or (c) paranoid about ideas being stolen. But as the Space Captain pointed out, you don't write for the ego - that's what therapy is for. You write for art's sake, so give yourself the tools to make the best possible art. Not sure why you're stuck? Can't make a storyline work? Ask another writer - someone whose work and opinion you respect.
- Checking in. Be open to having the writer friend call in to check on you every now and again. Some writers hate the pressure of being asked how the writing is progressing, but once again, writing is not about the ego. It's hard work and diligence and discipline. Having a fellow writer call and ask how things are is no different than having an office colleague check on the progress of a project you're both working on, i.e. just part of the process.
- Accepting criticism. And sometimes we don't like having our writing judged either (see comment about ego above). Writing is a process. Almost no one can write a publication-worthy story on the first draft and if you don't have a subjective pair of eyes look over - and comment - your text, it never will be publication-worthy.
- Creating space. Thanks to my commitment to the writing, my new work schedule and the yoga practice, I finally feel as if I have space enough for writing. I can't remember what busy and distracting thoughts were filling up so much of my time previously, but I have finally made enough space in my head to accommodate the writing process. I'm going to have to work hard to keep it open, but without that ego-free space, I wouldn't have been able to finish that story on time.
I like to think that I'm a capable person with resources enough to resolve most situations and smarts enough to call for help when I need it. I rarely lose things or have a *really* messy house. I'm good with navigation, a trustworthy person to loan stuff too, and fairly punctual.
I do okay, you know?
But every time the Palancas gather, I end up feeling like the village idiot. I'm late, I forget stuff... and end up giving my parents and brother more fodder for teasing me.
On Saturday, I was late to the big family dinner. When I slipped behind the wheel, I was "delighted" to discover that my car wasn't starting. I called my brother and he picked me up on the way to the resto.
After dinner, we all went back to my house. My father and brother wanted to see if they could boost the car. That's when the laughter began:
- In my haste, I had left the car keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. Who cares if no one could make off with it, "Adria! Did you leave the keys in here to save time?"
- My mother, while in my house, noticed that my fridge was empty-ish. Who cares if Sunday is grocery day, "Adria! Why don't you have food? You ate enough at dinner - is that supposed to last you all week?
- Minimalist, preferably with a white background to draw out the colours of any fotos
- Room for growth
What to do? What to do?
Lately, I've heard from several friends who are freelancers and who are dealing with clients who consistently show no respect for the expertise and talents of the person they hired.
It's a situation I know all too well from my freelance days.
In almost every case, the client is demanding changes that do not jive with the original briefing, the overall purpose of the page, and/or the existing content.
It's like wanting to add the large image of a purple poodle to a Web page that addresses how to plant bulbs for spring. It may complement the overall look of the page, but it dilutes the quality content, it detracts from the user experience and it could ultimately deter the site user from returning.
In situations such as these, you follow the usual protocols:
- Reviewing documentation to make sure you didn't miss anything about purple poodles
- Offering alternative suggestions that bridge the gap between their demands and your professional prerogative
- Sending all recommendations by email, so that there's proof of your efforts
Clients are not obliged to take every piece of advice that you give them of course, but if you're starting to feel like a monkey rather than a valued collaborator, what do you do?
Jeffrey Tang suggests asking the following question: If all my clients were like this, could I still run a successful business?” If the answer is no, it may be time to cut that client loose – even if it hurts to do so. It’ll be worth it in the long run.
For a freelancer, cutting the client loose is an especially scary step because of how precarious the freelance life can oftentimes be. But if your professional pride is suffering as a result of this client relationship - if how you view yourself is changing because of this situation - then a hard decision needs to be made.
Bref: Getting new clients is all about selling yourself and your abilities. Consequently, clients that cut down your confidence may in fact be preventing you from gaining new clients.
So when do you draw the line?
Today's meme comes from Bram @ Connect to the Sky, who got the idea from Perez Hilton. The idea is not only to reflect on how the intervening years have shaped who you are, but also to see if any of the advice you offer your teenage self could be relevant to you right now.
Dear Adriana, age 16,
It's probably making you a little nervous to be reading this, but don't worry, I won't reveal any of the events that filled the 20-year gap between us. That would defeat the purpose of experiencing it all firsthand, no?
Rest assured that many things have happened. Some wonderful. Some terrible. But all important. All yours. You may be tempted to want to erase things from your mind, to pretend they never happened, but just let them be. They have no real power over you.
First of all, you have turned into an extraordinary woman. Don't lift your eyebrows at me, missy, I wouldn't lie to you about these things. You may not feel extraordinary right now, but be patient, you'll find your way, I promise. Just remember these words when the going gets tough.
Some words of comfort from me to you:
- You're swimming against the current. You're making decisions that are unpopular with your parents and friends. You will continue to do this for many years to come, so don't turn back - just become a better swimmer.
- That feeling you have of always being a late bloomer, of always being behind? You're a slow burning flame, baby. Don't rush what can't be rushed and just savour the journey.
- There will be plenty of boys, stop worrying.
- Stop the comparisons. No one has it better than you, or worse. We're all in this beautiful mess together.
- Let yourself be surprised. I know it's not a strength of yours, but it's a lovely experience that you don't want to miss out on.
- One day, you will love your body. It won't be perfect, but you're going to love it nonetheless.
- Your mother isn't going to change. Love her anyway.
- And lastly, words words words words words.
Or should I say, we're here, let's make the best of it...
Love, Adriana, age 36
Foto from flickr.com/photos/postcardsfromhome
* if injured
* if menstruating (opt for a gentle restorative practice instead)
* if you have a head cold
* if suffering from disabilities, severe, acute or chronic medical conditions (unless your doc says okay)
But I would also add:
*when your body and mind do not want it
Let me explain.
Yes, it's true that left to its own devices, your body will always opt for another hour in bed or one more episode of Twin Peaks on DVD.
And yes, yoga (as does most exercise) will give you a lift to get past your anger, stress, etc.
But if you have a fairly disciplined practice already, you probably also have a very intuitive understanding of your body and its cues. And there are moments, when the messages coming from your body are asking you to not practice yoga.
Maybe you're sleep deprived.
Maybe a cold or migraine is coming on.
Maybe you feel mentally tired from all the demands put on you recently.
In such cases, I'm all for taking a day off. Sleep. Or meditate instead to quiet your mind. Spend a quiet afternoon on the couch with a good book. Have a good, healthy meal.
Although it does not happen often, I have moments like that. Had one this past Saturday. In the past, on such days, I dragged myself to yoga, only to muscle my way through the practice and end up feeling even more disconnected from my body.
I find, however, on those days when I make the conscious decision to feed some other need, I return to the practice with a little more joy and a little more focus because the foundation of my practice - my body - is more stable.
Lack of sleep and poor nutrition is just as disabling as an injury. Despite its many lauded benefits, yoga is not the cure to all maladies - it is merely one tool towards greater well-being.
Throwing yourself into the practice when you are not physically open to it could even lead to injury. So if your body and mind are saying "not today", maybe you should give it some attention before slipping on those yoga pants.
Photo by Jacques.
And other days, I'm downloading new desktop tools, grovelling for a GoogleWave invite and troubleshooting basic html.
As much as I love negotiating language and playing with words all day, I'm exhausted by the constant stream of activity and information. Between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and the other social media I come across at work, I feel as if I never have a moment to myself. Someone is always talking and like the compulsive communicator that I am, I am always answering.
This is a hard feeling to deal with because the Web has allowed me to connect with people and communities. I have found (and been found) by yogis, tangueras, bloggers, artists and writers of all varieties. For this, I am truly grateful. But I'm still ambivalent about some aspects.
What I love about Facebook: the dialogues launched by great status lines, birthday reminders, photo albums
I've been limiting my Facebook time over the last two weeks because the "What type of monkey/era/sandwich/cartoon shoe are you?" quizzes are driving me crazy. I don't take quizzes anymore, I don't add applications, I don't join causes, and I don't want any puppy plants on my page. It's not because I'm a mean-spirited person. I just don't like clutter and excessive busyness.
Also, I don't need to know everything about my friends all the time. I like to leave some fodder for discussion when I actually see you. Crazy, I know!
What I love about blogging: It allows me to be a writer of creative non-fiction
Stretching that part of my brain helps me be a better copywriter and a better fiction writer. However, in order to be a successful blogger, you must have a niche or an angle that sets you apart from the rest.
The only thing that's special about my blog is my worldview. I don't want to be a famous yogi or a famous tango dancer or even a top book critic. I just want to have experiences and write about them. This, understandably, is a hard thing to sell.
What I *like* about Twitter: sharing articles and links of interest, letting my friends help me make discoveries, none of the upkeep of Facebook
Why I haven't progressed to "love" with Twitter: I haven't entirely figured out how it can be of use to me. Of course the big irony is, I'll probably be posting this link on Twitter/Facebook to incite you all to read and comment on this post. Does this make me a hypcrite? Or a masochist?
Mostly, it makes me curious and determined. The Web is an undeniable part of our present - and our future. And as I truly am a compulsive communicator, I will continue to experiment/play with these platforms until I find a happy medium between my needs and how they can benefit those needs.
The folk-inspired songs are thoughtfully written, earnestly played and easy on the ears. A lovely addition to my collection of talented ladies.
Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts
Á ciel ouvert by Nelly Arcan
I thought the situation might be too forced for productivity - that ideas wouldn't come. But they did. What helped?
It may sound like glorified "goofing off", but when you goof off with mindfulness, it's an entirely different state of mind that prevails. Let me explain.
Instead of doing a word association game or stream of consciousness exercise, I merely took half an hour to just absorb the perceptions flowing in. I drew in the words and images with my eyes. I let the music pour into my ears. I felt the cool plastic of the pen pressing into my fingers.
...to be playful is not to be trivial or frivolous, or to act as if nothing of consequence will happen.
On the contrary, when we are playful with each other we relate as free persons, and the relationship is open to to surprise; everything that happens is of consequence, for seriousness is a dread of the unpredictable outcome of open possibility.
To be serious is to press for a specified conclusion. To be playful is to allow for possibility whatever the cost to oneself.To keep it short and sweet, What role does play have in your life? What's your favourite way to play?
And if you don't have an answer to these questions, think about it. It's important.
After a heartfelt conversation with my boss and a mini-brainstorm with our production director, it has been decided that I will soon begin working a 3-day week at the agency.
- Finish revising the novel and start shopping it around.
- Get working on a few short story ideas I have banging about.
- Refine my yoga practice.
- Teach yoga.
- Expenses must be cut! cut! cut!
- This means less eating out in restos. The silver lining? More entertaining at home. I've already had two luscious group of ladies come over for eats this weekend and it was dreamy. Can't wait to see your face at the door sometime soon :)
*Pic of Valencia, Spain borrowed from http://snipurl.com/pic-dkbooks
Carefully Chosen Words by Molly McCloskey
The Irish Times Magazine, June 15, 2002
Picture this. We’re standing in a word shop, somewhere outside the city. It’s a Sunday, most likely, a day for such indulgences. We’re picking up words and putting them down again, feeling the weight of them, the heft, whispering them to one another. Sometimes we raise our eyebrows, tilt our heads to one side, admiringly. For these are words we don’t use lightly, or on any old occasion. Words like incantata, oblique, billow, woe, susurration, svelte, mote, mink, ilk. Geography, topography, taxonomy. Antediluvian. Prelapsarian. Halcyon. Some people in here are really buying, others only murmuring.
On our way home, we pull outside a convenience store, one of those orange plastic jobs attached to a petrol station. On the outside of the shop, the sign says: Words are cheap! And here, they are. I wait in the car while you go in — and come out with a short list, just a few staples to get us through our respective weeks: greetings, white lies, a bit of phone manner.
As we turn onto Baggot Street, you say unhappily: “Tomorrow, I must go to the retract shop and return those words.” You had a row with your mother the other day and there are things you wish you hadn’t said. (I think you should bring the words to slaughter instead, take them to where they’ll carve them into syllables and letters, mince them to mere dots and strokes. The motto hanging over the door: Better Dead than Said.)
The retract shop is called Give Me Your Word. (Word shop proprietors, like the owners of hair salons, are prone to terrible punning.) A subliminal shame, an apathetic discretion hangs over the place, as in an early house or a porn shop, anything that caters to the more reluctant needs. You’ll join then Said in Anger queue, rather than the Said While Drunk, Dead Wrong, or That of Which You are Simply Ashamed. (They don’t handle words uttered out of excessive or injudicious affection. “They’re like coppers,” they say. “People seem to want to hoard them.”)
You won’t get a refund on your words: it doesn’t work that way. They’re donated, in a sense. Someone else will use them. And so it goes. But they’ll give you a docket entitling you to a discount at the House of Meaning. They’re good like that, those in the reparations business, the way they’ve streamlined operations.
At the House of Meaning, you will head for the Classics Section, searching for words age-old and tested by time, to mend the breach. The staff there drift about like angels and are as wise. You’ll tell them you need something clear and true and good to say, and they will help you to find it.
But the HOM is like no other place in the city. Sometimes there’s practically nothing for sale, and the otherworldly employees just smile enigmatically when we ask. It’s the nearest thing we’ve got to a Zen master, and it’s difficult to know some days whether we’re leaving enlightened or bewildered.
People wonder how the HOM doesn’t go bankrupt. Some say it has and is now a front for something else entirely. Black market word processors, perhaps. But we still shop there, you and I, despite its arbitrary hours – 2 to 4 a.m., sometimes – and the way we never come out with what we went in for. Its reticence strikes us as an invitation to the long haul.
The following weekend, we’re messing in the aisles of Wordplay, the joke shop. This one specializes in malapropisms, which you love. And there are piles of curios: acronyms, homonyms, palindromes, things onomatopoeic. (“Ricochet!” you say, delighted. “Ooze…”) We could spend out lives here – victims of a Saturday, waylaid by agreeable distractions – and never get a thing said.
But it’s time to expand our vocabulary. We need to do some shopping, though we aren’t sure where. We just know we feel limited by the words at our disposal. (Storage space is not an issue here; this is purely a matter of time.)
You say, “Remember that little place we went one Sunday? Incantata? Susurration?”
“What about Truth?” I say.
You shake your head, thinking. “I don’t know where you can get Truth now. Even the shop way out in Swords has closed.”
You’re right, of course. Used to be loads of places that sold Truth but, one by one, they’ve been shutting up shop, and everyone is secretly relieved. You can still find it, but you have to know where to look, and it’s never in the places you’d think.
There is a shop actually called Truth, for instance, but it’s staffed entirely by aspiring MTV presenters and all they sell is irony. What Truth outlets have survived have retreated from their original mission and reinvented themselves. The Word has re-opened as In Other Words, and its proprietor looks perpetually undermined. He sells knick-knacks now, cold comfort and fool’s gold and backhanded compliments.
“No,” I say. “Forget the Truth.”
Instead, we go to the flea market. Much of what we find there is damaged, threadbare, easily overlooked and underestimated. (I plunge my hand into a tub of spare parts: loose Scrabble letters.) But this is where it all began for us, in a benign disorder we didn’t know the value of.
Long before the days of mass production and choosing from a catalogue at Argot. We came here years ago and used these words. We still can.
- Three nice deeps OMs at the beginning and end. Shantis might be asking too much, but a namaste is almost expected.
- Welcome students to join me or sit quietly if they wish.
- No chanting to bring them out of savasana - yet.
Although I like Lily Allen's breakup style, I will try to keep this clean. Mostly.
So here are some for the ladies:
- Lily says, "Next, suivant!..."
- Lily is amazed! This one runs on batteries but it does the job better! Twice even!
- Lily would miss you, but I have to wash my hair tonight.
- Lily: Man washed out my hair? Check! New lingerie for new boyfriend? CHECK!
- Lily: "Hey [name], now that we've broken up, do you want your balls back?"
- Allen says: "Hey [name], your fat butt makes your butt look big!"
- Allen looks forward to filling the hole you left in my heart with beer, rock'n'roll and sexy girls.
- Allen used to love [name] like crazy - until I discovered she was crazy.
- Allen knows two ways to heal a broken heart: Beer and girls.
- Allen would just like [name] to know that he was lying. About everything. Yes, everry-thing.
What I miss about tango: The way some partners will sway you from side to side when the music starts. Almost as if they were weighing your contents to better understand how to move you on the floor.
If you missed my previous adventures, get a taste here, here and here.
This morning, I noticed that the "helpful" message on the English results page differs from the message on the French page.
You've all seen this:
But have you seen this?
Did you mean? vs. Try this spelling:
Is it just me or does the English version sound a little snarky? Not that it matters to me really - since I love having my spelling corrected - but how did that lacuna happen, d'ya think?
Ladies – does this sound familiar?
* A project/situation/person at work is frustrating you.
* It drags on. You begin to doubt your abilities.
* You start eating a little sugar in the afternoon. Maybe add (more) coffee.
* You live alone so you don’t get a chance to vent in the evenings.
* You’re suffering from man confusion.
* As you mull over the absurdity of it all, your calorie count gets upped in the evenings too (how many calories in a gin/tonic?).
* You’re so busy going in circles, you miss a workout or two. Or six.
* You survive weekend. However, frustration/man-fusion resumes on Monday.
* Repeat everything.
* You start feeling fat.
* You start dressing down a little, so you can lie in bed and mull more.
* The girls on So You Think You Can Dance Canada have exquisite thighs. Sigh.
* You start feeling *really* fat.
* Everyone else seems to be dating the nicest, most attentive, most sexually ravenous man ever.
* Your friend gets a promotion. Much rolling in money ensues.
* You start feeling like an ogre. And a teensy bit of a failure.
* A little more sugar. A little less exercise.
Emotional snowballing has been the downfall of many a fine, strong woman. Over the years – on more than one occasion - I’ve suddenly snapped to attention, dazed to find myself rolled up in a snowball of my own making. The factors, having accumulated so gradually and without pomp, overwhelmed me before I even recognized what was happening.
I also used to think that – at some point in my life – I would achieve such a comfortable state of being – that I would stop getting caught in the emotional snowball.
The emotional snowball happened to the weak, no?
The best thing that yoga has taught me is that the snowballing will probably never stop, so you had better learn how to roll and come out with a flourish.
I’m halfway through an emotional snowball right now, but I’m trying not to let it become too much of a distraction.
The trick is, now I see it coming.
So I’m eating with a little more mindfulness.
I returned to my yoga practice after a too-long hiatus.
I’m taking time for myself when I need it.
I’m thinking more before I speak.
Any other suggestions? What do you do to escape your emotional snowball?Fotos: Waupoos Estates Winery, Prince Edward County, Ontario
I never would have imagined that one day I would find these friends again. That we would have common interests and experiences, common musical tastes and a common sense of humour.
It seemed vast and endless as a child. White lines delineating the territory according to grade. The seemingly long distance to cover while playing British Bulldog. It used to be this huge universe that scared us and thrilled us, and now it could be crossed with just a few long strides.
It was easy to do because Pearl, my horse, was the sweetest, most docile creature ever born.
Seconds after being lifted into the saddle, I found myself being transported quickly to a pile of hay. Pearl ate voraciously while the other horses were being saddled, even using her hind quarters to block any other horses that wanted to share in the yum. Once on the trail, the cream-coloured dame stopped whenever the other horses stopped, picked up the pace when the other horses did, and only strayed off the trail if it was too wet and puddly for her taste.
The only time she went (mildly) rogue is when we stopped in a field of clover and she made a beeline for her favourite sweet patch.
Not that the horse's behaviour in any way reflects the character of her (oft hungry) rider. Ahem.