New blog!

If you want to read more by Adriana Palanca, visit the new blog at adrianapalanca.com.

The subjects and observations are the same - just the platform that's changed.

See you over there!


My life in 12 photos, Five

Words. Always words.

This was the most difficult aspect to capture. Words are so much a part of who I am. Always have been. They were my first friends, accompanying me from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. They whisper me to sleep at night and sing in my ears first thing in the morning. The last thing I'll see before I die is a word.

There is no part of my life where the words are silent.

Finally, I decided to capture a pile of all the words currently lying around my house. Reference books for work. Art books. Travel guides for Spain. Yoga books. Fiction titles. Notepad where I jot down ideas. Magazines. Letters and postcards sent by a friend. Even a printed copy of my own personal project.

My heart beats faster to think all these words are mine.


April is the cruelest month

Never have T.S. Eliot's words resonated more with me.

April has been a long, trying month and I'm glad it's (almost) over. Hip adjustment. Nerve malfunction in my hand (four physio appointments later). Nasty head cold. Hormonal freak-outs. Creakier-than-normal joints. Wonky sleep patterns.

I feel about 107 years old this morning.

And because I've been beholden to the whims of my oft-uncooperative body this month, it means that I've barely been able to practice yoga.

Generally, yoga is my cure-all. No matter how stressful my day is, once I step on the mat, all is seen under a different light. Deeper breathing allows my reactions to soften, my compassion to balloon.

So going through a physically difficult period without my Number One Coping Tool has been a learning experience in itself, because I've had to summon compassion and softness all by myself. No shortcuts. No instant release. No crutch.

It hasn't been pretty, but fighting these waves of frustration has taught me a few things about how I've structured my support system in general. For example, my number one issue is asking for help. I'm terrible at asking for help. My parents trained me to be as self-sufficient as possible and from that, a fierce independence has developed over time.

There are people that I rely on for support, but it's only just occurred to me that I chose the wrong people - that they are rarely there for me when I need them.

Maybe I need to love those people for different reasons.
Maybe I need to choose other people to rely on.

Like I said, it's been a looong month. Here's hoping I make it through the last day without getting into any more trouble.


Working from home, Tip #47

The greatest advantage - and the greatest pitfall - of working at home is not keeping a regular 9-5 schedule. It means that if I want to take a yoga class on Wednesday morning, I can catch up by simply working a few extra hours on Tuesday night.

The pitfall is that, sometimes my brain gets so tired from a full day of working with words, that it isn't as sharp after 6pm.

My solution? Doing something manual to help my brain reboot.

To rest the intellectual-wordy part of my brain, I made pizza. From scratch. I kneaded the dough and let it rise twice. I made tomato AND pesto sauce from fresh ingredients. And then while my pizza bubbled in the oven, I washed all the dishes.

I returned to my keyboard a few minutes ago feeling clear-headed and fresh - ready to tackle the short translation and revision that awaits.

Heck, I even squeezed out a blog post. With photo!


Becoming a better yoga teacher

I've been teaching an Introduction to Yoga enrollment class at AYM for the last 5 weeks - we wrap up next Saturday. Big news, right? The honour of being asked to teach at the school that trained me. The immense confidence being placed in me by the people I respect most...

You can understand why I didn't mention it until now. I was worried that if it didn't go well, I would have to admit failure.

The good news is - the whole experience has been nothing short of great!

Up until March, I've been teaching multi-level and level 2 classes. The challenge has always been how to keep the students motivated and challenged. Although there are always a few beginners that I have to keep an eye on, my classes mostly comprise students with a basic knowledge of yoga and basic body consciousness.

I worried about how I would connect with students with almost no knowledge of yoga and even less body awareness. Not only did I have to slow down my instructions - but I also had to find a new language, new words.
  • Simplify physical instructions - say "lengthen" rather than "extend"
  • Avoid anatomical terms - most people don't know where their femur is
  • Make prop use mandatory
  • Focus on proper breathing techniques
I had to reprogram my thought patterns, dialing back from Advanced(ish)-brain to Beginner-brain. The trick that helped me make this transition?

Breathing and staying calm to open up the necessary brain space.

I certainly went over my notes and practiced instructions in the silence of my room, but it was the ability - in the moment - to not panic that allowed the skills and knowledge I possess to float effortlessly to the surface.

It's in me - and it's been inside me the entire time. What else can I unlock if I take this grace into other aspects of my life? What about you?

NB. A big thanks to my teachers Allison, Eugene and Jessie, for preparing me these last two years, and to Jeanne for her continued guidance. Their support has helped me to find grace.


My life in 12 photos, Four

My life has a soundtrack.

Reading is a touchstone for your humanity, but music is the touchstone for your soul.

I tend not to trust people who tell me, 'I don't care much for music'. I assume that they're afraid of facing something. Listening to music is a very physical experience for me. I feel the bass in my belly, the piano up my spice, and each lyric is a taste in my mouth.

No other stimulus can make me feel so thoroughly. I'm that person you see walking down the street, quietly singing along to her iPod, her shoulders swinging with the music. I can (quite contentedly) listen to the same song 7-8 times in a row if it's tweaking a particular feeling.

I've even proclaimed that I could fall deep in love with a man who makes me a mixed tape.

Music can draw me inwards but it can also pull me out into the world. That's why I had the words 'You're my best friend' on the back of my iPod when I purchased it online.

While reading Ian McEwan's "Saturday", I came across this passage:
There are these rare moments when musicians together touch something sweeter than they've ever found before in rehearsals or performance, beyond the merely collaborative or technically proficient, when their expression becomes as easy and graceful as friendship or love. This is when they give us a glimpse of what we might be, of our best selves, and of an impossible world in which you give everything you have to others, but lose nothing of yourself.

Yes, Mr. McEwan. Exactly.

See photos One, Two and Three.


My life in 12 photos, Three

Food, delicious food.

Yes, I'm Italian and yes, this may seem stereotypical, but I love food. I consider it to be one of the greatest pleasures of life. I love buying ingredients and preparing it. At a restaurant, I love the anticipation that sets in after you've ordered your food, and then the thrill of seeing the server approach the table with your dish.

The first bite. The rush of flavour that floods your tastebuds.

Food is health and well-being, but also pleasure and comfort. It feeds my body, but it feeds my mental well-being as well. Especially when shared with friends.

Artistic direction and photography: Despina P.


Tango, progress

Just because I've been neglecting the blog - that doesn't mean that I've stopped tango lessons. In fact, I have finally graduated to Intermediate 1 - and we're halfway through the session already.

Now that the steps are more-or-less understood, the challenge at this stage is refinement. That is, making the movements seem fluid, adding the extra decoration that elevates the step, and learning how to improvise.

It's a challenge indeed - but now that I've located my confidence, I'm beginning to relish the extra effort it demands. I can't imagine stopping my lessons now.

Funny story from the last lesson:

My partner, Henri, is 6'2", while I am 5'4" and a bit. As he's taller than I - and because his legs are so much longer than mine - I sometimes find myself leaning back a bit or standing to one side of his shoulders when we should be squared. Regardless, we have been dancing for months and it's been fine.

This week, when we changed partners, I danced with Martin a few times. Martin is just a few inches taller than I - and somehow the tango changed. Alignment was easier, ganchos were more precise and I felt very grounded. We both expressed such joy after our dances together.

And because these things sometime slip out, I exclaimed, "It's so nice to dance with someone my own size!"

But it's true! Has anyone else had a similar experience?


My life in 12 photos, Two

Cables, cables, cables.

iPhone cable. Earphones. Camera cable. iPod cable. Macbook power source. Without them, work - and play - would not be the same. Especially now that I'm a freelancer, I would be lost without these cables.

Don't ask about the time I couldn't tell two cables apart.


Fifty people, one question... and the present moment

Fifty People, One Question: London from Fifty People, One Question on Vimeo.

I feel as if I should watch this video every day.

When I started watching, I thought, "Oh, everyone is going to say Hawaii or the like." As the first Brit hemmed and hawed, I nearly stopped watching - "Okay guy, you need to wake up in a place with better hairstylists."

But then he said the loveliest thing and my heart melted.

And kept melting with each new face. I just never expected the variety of answers this question would provoke.

In my sometimes-cynical way, I reckoned that this question was really about how happy you are in your life. I knew that unhappy people would certainly want to escape their life, but I hadn't thought about what the happy people would say. So when I heard, "In my own bed", I was left speechless. And not just from one person either - numerous people answered the exact same thing.

Because it's not only about happiness - it's also about being in the present moment. That video caught me while I was floating - ungrounded - and then it brought me back to the beauty of now. I am grateful to have found it.

On a final note, I too would like to live on a planet of cheese.


My life in 12 photos, One

I observe a lot. I take in everything - like someone who's afraid that she won't remember anything if she goes blind tomorrow. I can sometimes render what I see in words, but some moments - or feelings - cannot be encapsulated in a few short sentences.

So I've given myself a new challenge - to describe my life in 12 photos. To better capture the visual moments that fill me with happiness, but also to make me ever more present in the moments that happen each day.

I only have one photo at the moment - but I will attempt to publish one photo every week for the next 11 weeks. Here goes:

Feet. Yoga mat.

The most persistent image my eyes see

See Two!


Sign of life

Yes, yes, I am alive and well - simply busy beyond all expectation. Setting up a new business involves a lot of legwork at the beginning - plus yoga, plus tango, plus seeing friends.

But I'm here now - and I have a list of topics as long as my arm to write about. Stay tuned - some delicious new content coming shortly.



Meeting your fictional characters

Remember that yoga workshop I told you about?

Something else remarkable happened that day but I only realized it yesterday. There was someone in the room whose face and way of speaking kept drawing my attention. I can't even say that it was sexual - there was just something very familiar about this man's face.

I was riding the metro yesterday when I realized.

This man is close to what I imagine Cedric to be, both physically and emotionally. Who's Cedric? A character in the novel I'm working on, of course.

The relationship between writer and fictional character is very intimate. You have created this person with feelings, motives and ambitions, someone with a history and a future. Although you understand that this character is fictional, you know this person in a profound way that cannot often be replicated in real human relationships.

I often have to remind myself that Reggie did not exist, that Cedric is not real. If I am walking in the old financial district, I have to curb my brain from blurting out, "Mr. Campbell probably worked in this building."

So, understandably, meeting an actual person who fully embodies your image of a fictional character causes a very real ripple in your emotional day. On the one hand, it's exhilarating to "meet" your fictional character. On the other hand, it could interfere with your ability to go back and write him with authenticity. I don't want to have this person in my head when I'm writing Cedric, because I don't want to inadvertently start writing this other person. I want to keep Cedric true to Cedric.

Let me end with this, some words from a letter written by Jane Austen to her sister Cassandra in 1813:

"Henry and I went to the exhibition in Spring Gardens. It is not thought a good collection, but I was very well pleased, particularly (pray tell Fanny) with a small portrait of Mrs. Bingley, excessively like her.I went in hopes of seeing one of her sister, but there was no Mrs. Darcy. Perhaps, however, I may find her in the great exhibition, which we shall go to if we have time . . . Mrs. Bingley's is exactly herself -- size, shaped face, features, and sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her. I dare say Mrs. D. will be in yellow."

The portrait Austen refers to (left) is actually of a Mrs. Quentin, painted by Huet Villiers, but any Austenian will tell you - she's the spitting image of Jane Bingley.


Why do you practice yoga

I went to a yoga-meditation-study workshop at naada today with Michael Stone. It was refreshing to hear words that reflected my own perspective on yoga, and even more encouraging to meet other people who share my opinions.

Whenever I attend any kind of class or workshop, I like to come away with one stand-out moment or one new idea that inspired me.

Today's idea arrived rather late in the afternoon - with barely 30 minutes left in the workshop. A yogini asked Michael how we can possibly practice yoga in a culture ruled by materialism, greed and egotism? She talked about how North American culture doesn't offer the ideal conditions for the practice of yoga.

I couldn't disagree with that sentiment more.

First, that question would imply that somewhere, the perfect conditions for the practice of yoga exists. There is no such place. There are no such "perfect conditions". Yoga, as Michael Stone puts it, is not an other-worldly experience, rather it's a this-worldly experience. Yoga is now, here. Yoga was designed for an imperfect world.

For me, yoga has always provided two things - (1) better coping mechanisms for dealing with the vagaries of the world, and (2) more space in my head for productive, creative thinking (which, ultimately, helps to combat the vagaries of the world, yes?).

I know that people have different reasons for practicing yoga, but I never directly questioned what those motives could be - because I was too busy exploring my own. It was a surprise to hear some participants reveal that they practice yoga to escape the world.

This view could not be more antithetical to my own, but it's still equally valid. If anything, it's the perception of this gap that's allowed me to better understand that every reason is valid because it's part of the path. Even if your motives are divorced from the principles that yoga is based on, the motives are still valid because they have brought you to the mat. What you do with what you learn is up to you.

This workshop also made me realize that I'm on the cusp of taking what I've learned on the mat... off the mat.

So why do you practice yoga? What was your reason for beginning a practice? How has it changed?


Tango - changing partners

At Tango Fabrika, the instructors always encourage us to change partners every few songs so that we can develop better dancing skills. Not only does it hone my ability to recognize cues, but it's also a real pleasure to feel how each partner has been improving over the last six weeks.

The students are pretty game - except for one couple that stoutly refused to be separated every time it was time to switch.

And then last week, just like that, they changed partners.

When it was my turn to dance with the man, he immediately began apologizing for his lack of skill. I just smiled and reassured him that I'd be patient, and within a few minutes he began to relax. It had never occurred to me that fear was preventing them from switching. But I don't suppose it ever occurred to him how liberating it might be to change partners.

Turns out, he was a very pleasant partner. Didn't step on my feet once. Had a nice touch on my back.

So to push the spirit of courageous improvement a little further, I went to Friday practica with fellow tanguera Jennifer. My goal was to have one partner and to not make a fantastic fool of myself. I got two partners - one was my teacher - and I think I did alright, but here comes a complaint!

Not enough male beginners at practica!

Most of the men in the room were far too advanced to dance with me - choosing instead to dance with more advanced and flambuoyant women. I would love to attend practica but if there are no male beginners to dance with, how will I improve? Although I was left breathless by some of the dancing on the floor, it was a little frustrating to be left sitting so long.



The Double Nod

Have you ever noticed that when two men spot each other on the sidewalk, say, they do this double nod of the head as a non-verbal 'hey'?

I have only ever seen men do this little gesture of recognition.

Do you know what I'm taking about? And more importantly, does anyone know of a documented case of a female successfully pulling off the Double Nod?

I've tried, but it feels clunky and weird. Is there a gene I'm missing?


That feeling

...you know the one? When you feel like you're not good at anything and that everyone is just being nice?

That's the feeling I have today.

Except I'm wary about saying it out loud - if it's true, I don't necessarily want everyone to stop.


Yoga adjustments... yes, please!

I love being adjusted in a yoga class.

Whether it's a refinement of the pose or help in going deeper, I get excited when I hear the teacher padding closer. I'm addicted to the feeling that an adjustment gives. With a refinement, there's the rush of finally achieving a more perfect alignment. With an assist, there's the release of muscular tension that washes over me like a warm wave.

For example, as I have (frequently) tight hips, one of my favourite postures is baddha konasana. The also-called "butterfly" pose always brings a little more space into my body, but the best is on Monday mornings, when I practice mysore at AYM, Jessie will sometimes sit behind me and weigh down my legs with her thighs.

And sometimes, she'll even lay her torso across my back so that I can fold even further through the breath. One morning, I opened my eyes to see that the tip of my nose was some three or four inches from my feet - a feat I cannot accomplish on my own steam.

I resurface feeling blissed out, my eyes open stickily. It's just too good.

That being said, a lot of people really don't like adjustments in yoga class. If one of those people is you, let me know why - I'd love to know.


The small pleasures of winter

*the smell of a cigarette being lit in the deep cold

*taking a short cut to the metro and hearing piano music from inside the Les Grands Ballets

*sliding my feet into already warm slippers

*watching the squirrels nibble on nuts I left in the backyard

*fur-lined hoods

What else?


The 27-28 theory

I have a theory about women between the ages of 27-28. This theory was born of my own experiences at that age, and it was further confirmed with the experiences of almost every woman I know. Not exaggerating here.

So here it is:

Women ages 27-28 undergo a massive shift from the angst-ridden and messy uncertainty of their 20s in preparation for the more focussed and confident 30s. On the inside, it feels like insanity, but if you don't weaken, you begin to discover important realizations bubbling up through the noise.
  • What you really want to do.
  • What you really don't want to do.
  • Who you want to be with.
  • Who your real friends are.
  • How to make your ideal life happen.
  • What's happiness?
  • And how you intend to find it.
As a result: friendships and relationships may morph or come to end, career paths change, attitudes towards your environment are transformed, plans for marriage and children are hatched, bodies begin to reshape, etc.

It's kind of like a second adolescence - but you have better shoes and a little more money.

It's an awful period but it's important work that needs to be done -- survived. As I approach 37, I'm beginning to wonder if there's another shift ahead and what it will mean for who I eventually become in my 40s. Whatever happens, I'll keep you posted.


Feeling tango

When I first started practicing yoga, I mechanically dragged myself through the postures. I was just trying to keep up. Then one day, the practice moved from "surface, automatic" to "interior, organic".

When "the practice" became "my practice", I truly fell in love with yoga.

It's the same thing with tango, yes?

When I first started dancing, there was a lot of intellectualization happening. Since then, I've been trying to shift tango down from my brain and up from my feet to my heart. I've been trying to "feel" tango and I think I'm beginning to approach that line between Like and Love.

Rebote and gancho probably have a lot to do with it. I've never had so much fun learning!

*Photo borrowed from: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pforret/


Ballet, oh ballet!

I visited the offices of Les Grands Ballet Canadiens this morning to see an old friend. My mouth was absolutely dry with excitement - many of you know my love of bodies and dance.

As I mounted the stairs towards his office, on the second floor, I saw a flurry of little girls in blue satin body suits and white tights scurrying into their practice hall.

On the third floor, we walked by mirrored rooms where men and women with densely packed thighs bound into the air with pointed toes and arched arms. The beauty of it brought my own legs to a standstill.

OD works in a space just down the hall from the dancers. In fact, while we stood talking outside his office, a male dancer wandered in, looking for someone. I don't think I even registered the dancer's face - I was too enchanted by the rippling of his back muscles as he walked.

There is no point to this post, really. I just wanted to say this: Today, I saw more beauty and it was good. That's all.


Book list for 2010

For 2010, I've decided to keep a list of the books I read. Ed did it, and so did Steve. I like the thought of recording what I've read - to remember which titles I liked, to share favourites with friends and to spark new discussions. I have to remember to add an asterisk to those I really like.

So far, I've read:

*Vincent Lam, Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures
*Joseph Boyden, Through Black Spruce
*Markys Zusak, The Book Thief
*Claire Holden Rothman, The Heart Specialist

That none of them are deserving of an asterisk is not a surprise. I'm a very demanding reader, so there probably won't be many by year's end. To get an asterisk, the book will have to be stellar from beginning to end.

What is remarkable is that there are already two books that were so boring, I didn't finish them.

When I was younger, I slogged through books - no matter how bad. These days, I've decided that time is too precious to be wasted on books that don't catch my attention within the first 100 pages. To ensure a better reading experience, this week I picked up some sure-to-please writers at the library - Alice Munro and Barbara Kingsolver. Here's hoping for an asterisk soon!



Good class tonight. The women had it easy - we practiced the cross system, so the men were doing most of the work.

And I got praise!

In tango, I do not as yet have a way to know if I am dancing correctly because I can't see myself as I move. I can usually tell if a yoga posture is correct because of my inner alignment, but I haven't learned those cues yet for tango.

Due to a lack of male partners, I danced once with the teacher, Jean-Philippe. I was a little nervous, but I just let myself be carried by the breath. We danced down one length of the room at one speed and then he slowed it down along the second length to see how I reacted to his cues.

The nerves came back as we slowed to a stop, but when he said, "Trés bien" - or very well - my heart soared. As silly as it may seem, getting praise from the teacher helps me to gauge my performance and inspires me to keep going. It helps me to feel hopeful about my improvement.

Even if I'm terrible at accepting compliments, when it comes to taking praise from my teachers, I hungrily eat up their words. Wanting and accepting praise is part of the learning process for me, as much as lectures, constructive criticism, and correction. Given in appropriate doses, it is an essential ingredient for motivation.

So if it's wrong to love praise, then let me be wrong, wrong, wrong!


Tango, propulsion and confidence

One of the aspects that I'm enjoying this time around is learning about propulsion - or more precisely, the way that the energy emanating from my partner propels me into the dance.

We did an exercise this week in which my partner kept his arms open and I held on to his arms just below the biceps ("squeeze it like you were checking the ripeness of a tomato"). He then had to move forward as if he were dancing alone - not touching me at all - as if I were not there.

The exercise was designed to teach the ladies how to flow into the natural forward movement of the male partner. It also helped to create a better connection between H. and I, in that we had to conceive of ourselves as being one core of energy moving to the music - rather than two separate entities.

It was very, very helpful and on so many different levels.

I can really feel my partner's energy now - partly because I am more attuned to it, but also because my partner is more confident. The more confidence that my partner shows in the dance, the more fluid my own movements become in response to that confidence. So proper propulsion results from an increase in confidence, but propulsion also creates more confidence.

We all know this.

Isn't it generally true that in most aspects of your life, when you are confident, it increases your productivity and success? And doesn't more productivity and success only lead to more confidence? To learn this lesson again in tango is no big surprise.

The real pleasure comes in realizing that I am finally beginning to feel the dance, rather than just trying to step my way through it.

Next week? Gancho!

*J'aime Tango Shoes, available for purchase online


Pushy grandmothers

There's a radio ad running on CJAD that cracks me up every time. It's for a local podiatrist and it consists of two women talking. It begins like this:

"I know I'm only her grandmother, but I noticed that Allison's foot turns in when she walks..."

Perhaps this is a stupid question, but where does one find non-meddling grandmothers like this? Do tactful grandmothers exist? Does anyone have proof?

My Italian grandmothers thought it was their God-given right to meddle in pretty much everything. They had an opinion about... well, everything... and they gave it to you whether you asked for it or not . Also, they didn't believe in personal space.

Need examples?

My paternal grandmother, Adelia, when I was a teenager, regularly liked to gauge the development of my breasts herself. I leaned over to kiss her hello, she lifted her hand to cop a feel. No one thought this was weird. You certainly didn't put up a fight.

My maternal grandmother, Ida, when I was teenger, decided that my favourite pair of khaki shorts made my back end look too wide. She aired her opinion but when I insisted on wearing them anyway, she just dumped bleach on them in the wash. The family thought this was cute. And funny.

If it were my grandmother in the radio ad, she would be yelling - and probably take the opportunity to note that my mother obviously wasn't feeding me enough either.

Thanks nonnas!


Not selling yourself short

In his Free Will horoscope for Pisces this week, Rob Brezsny notes, "...I believe you should err of the side of being somewhat self-promotional to compensate for your self-deprecating tendencies."

I don't like to think of myself as easily classifiable, but in this case, I fall squarely into Rob's Piscean portrait. My ability to self-deprecate is a long-standing talent of mine - my mother unwittingly spoon fed it to me during my youth and today, it's a tiger I get to tame every day.

For example, it's not unlike me to point out something missing in the food I've just prepared. Or to apologise for the state of my coat.

It's not that I'm digging for compliments. In fact, I have a terrible time accepting compliments (but that's a whole other bowl of fish). It's more that I'm constantly expecting criticism, and so, in a pre-emptive strike, I speak the criticisms first so that the words of others can't hurt me.

As in, I'm just saying what (I think) the rest of you are thinking. And if I can be funny at the same time, all the better! In general, it's all very tiring and I don't recommend it. There are far more entertaining hang-ups to have, I'm sure.

What I love about the return to freelance, is that the drive to earn a living is helping me to overcome the self-deprecation reflex. Lately, I'm all about presenting myself as a confident and experienced writer who has a lot to offer her clients. Because I am! My tone is positive and enthusiastic. I'm meticulous about my work and put a lot of forethought into every sentence I write.

The thing is, it's working. I'm developing strong relationships with my new clients. The mandates I'm entrusted with are challenging, and new opportunities are coming my way. There's no fake-it-until-I-make-it... I'm really making it this time.

So why am I maintaining this self-deprecating tendency in other aspects of my life? If you have a few minutes today, take a poke through your own life and see if you can't find some aspect where self-deprecation is dragging you down. Do you really deserve such harsh judgment from yourself?

What might change about the situation if you took a different attitude?


Tango, the return

To say that I was excited about my first tango class in over seven months is an understatement. I wore my super sexy dress from Etsy, did up my eyes with mascara and eye shadow, and styled my hair just so. I wanted to step on that dance floor feeling as good as I looked - especially since I knew our first few steps would be clunky.

Due to a mix-up with the dates, we turned up for the second to last session of Beginner I, instead of the first session of Beginner II. The new instructors suggested that we finish level one with the rest of the group, and H and I quickly agreed, both thrilled at the opportunity for more brush-ups.

Those first steps were clunky, but the joy that bubbles up whenever I tango was still there. In the familiar touch of my partner's hands. In the flare of my skirt as I ocho-ed. In the long line of my calf as I extended my heel backwards. My heart was floating on the music.

And guess who didn't look at her feet? Not even once? ME!

Tonight was just a jumble of emotions, but I already have ideas for future posts. Not only do I get to tango - but I get to write about it too. Looking forward to sharing it with you in the weeks to come.


Random notes from this week

  • Why do I feel compelled to apply full make-up before going to MAC? I'm afraid that if I go there with nothing on my face, they'll deem me unworthy of the Lucky Green eye shadow I want. "No eyeshadow for you!"
  • I love getting my eyebrows threaded. It's the whole experience. Lovely young Indian woman leaning over you, quietly humming some Hindu love song, her hair smelling of coconut oil. I often get a little sleepy on the bed...
  • Why are compliments so important? Yes, it's important to love yourself first and best etc., but have you noticed that when you don't get any compliments from the opposite/desired sex for a period of time, it's sometimes harder to pick yourself up? You feel all *moche* and look for ways to make yourself feel more attractive (see points 1 and 2). I used to think that compliments are frivolous, but then I read this:
Compliments exert enormous influence in the exchange of good will between people. They generate mutual feelings of happiness and joy between the givers and recipients. Compliments to others are like small gifts we give ourselves when we pay attention to how we appreciate those around us. Paying a sincere compliment to someone makes you very attractive.


January update

When I was first a freelancer (between 1999-2006), I was living in Montreal West. I was isolated and lonely, and even the simplest errand involved getting in my car and driving. I was miserable. That's why I accepted the full-time job at 90 degrés.

Now that I've returned to freelancing, I feel more free and less harried. My days are varied and most shops I need are a short walk away. There are numerous cafés for me to choose from should I need a change of scenery - there's even a co-working space nearby. Also, I have wonderful friends in the neighbourhood who work from home too.

It's a whole different experience. And there's been plenty of movement:
I may have even cracked Chapter 7, dammit! So all is well friends. I'll keep you posted when more interesting stuff develops.


How yoga humbled me. Again.

I had a run-in with my ego yesterday. Not sure who won.

Here's the situation:
Twice a week I take a Level 2-3 class at AYM with Allison. This intermediate class adds more challenging postures from the first and second series into the practice. As a dancer, Allison also likes to experiment with movements that explore how the body moves.

For the last few months however, the energy high that I usually leave the class with has slowly turned into post-practice bouts of anxiety, frustration and anger.

What I only admitted to myself yesterday is that the class is too advanced for me.

Structurally, my arms are short and my hips are tight, so many of the arm balances and bends we do are physically uncomfortable. And then there's the issue of my back end with its layer of extra insulation (ahem).

For example, buhjapidasana may be fun for some, but the only way I could get into it was if my legs were dislocated. I can inch my way into the preliminary posture, but as with many other postures we are encouraged to learn, my body will not cooperate beyond a certain point.

I'm just not there yet. I may never get there.

On Tuesday night, at the end of another frustrating practice, I wasted my whole savasana away wondering how I was going to lose 10lbs so that I could get into those perfect poses.

"Hello?" I interrupted my stream of thought, "Don't you practice yoga to reduce the monkey brain chatter? This practice isn't cutting citta vritti, it's feeding it."

So I think I need to take a break from Allison's classes for a while - at least until I can restore my pool of loving kindness. I will miss her and her methods, but here's the big problem:
  • How to tell my teacher - a woman I respect and admire - that I can't take her class anymore without feeling like a failure? Like I didn't try hard enough?
Allison will understand why, I know that much, but it's still going to be hard. I was loathe to mention this problem to anyone because I'm a yoga teacher so I should have already learned these lessons, right?

But what two kind, beautiful ladies reminded me of today is that the lesson (whatever it may be) will continue to be re-learned throughout life. What's important is my heart's openness to recognizing that feeling and then letting it go (with compassion) each and every time.


Knowing your writing process

I've been talking about writing a lot lately.

Not only because people want to know what I'll be doing over the next few months, but also because I want to know more about my writing process.

I intend to make this new venture a success, so I need to know as much as I can about my process. Having this information will help me to:
  • create a fair balance between freelance writing and creative writing
  • make optimal use of the time dedicated to creative writing
  • not put undue pressure on myself about creative output (or lack thereof)
When it comes to the creative process, I don't do outlines and I can't tell you how any story will end. I simply begin with a moment or character, and start writing from there. I make decisions as the story develops, usually by asking myself specific questions.
  • What would Character A do in this situation?
  • How would Character B react to this statement?
  • What happens next?
I trust in the process. If I let the questions sit for a few days, the answer will always appear. In the rare case that it doesn't, it usually means that the idea is not worth pursuing after all. This applies to the blog writing as well.

I'm also planning the writing according to my most creative hours of the day. That's why most afternoons between 2-5pm are dedicated to errand-running, email answering and napping.

So far it's been rolling along smoothly enough. My big struggle? Being patient when I want the answers to my questions and they're not finished brewing yet.

I'm really curious about your writing process. What works for you? What are you struggling with? I've started writing with another talented writer friend - have you attempted it? Did it help or hinder the process?