Birthday!

Whether it’s mine or someone else’s, I love birthdays. Always have. It’s such a great reason to see all your family and friends at the same time and celebrate. I’m all about that. It’s sad for me to hear others trying to hide or poopoo their birthday, because deep down I think everyone wants to be acknowledged as the birthday girl or boy. (Thank God for Facebook. Now no birthday child is left behind!)

I turned 108 today! It was a great day.  But alas, I have a confession: no sun salutations… I had every intention of practicing my annual 108. However, a wonderful and late party with friends last night lead to leisurely lounging in bed until noon this morning followed by brunch, a walk up the mountain, and early dinner for 25 people at my parent’s house celebrating four November birthdays, so I had little opportunity to sun salute. It’s also a full moon, and traditionally, we’re not supposed to practice at this time. Anyway, excuses aside, I figured I’d take it easy and ‘go with the flow’.  After all, it’s one day a year I can do whatever I want “because it’s my birthday.”

It’s was a really lovely weekend and I was really spoiled. Friday, Craig and I went to the Centaur Theatre to see the stage adaptation of Don Quixote, which incredibly creative and highly entertaining. Last night, we had some friends over for homemade pizza. Great conversation and great spontaneous live piano music performed by Nico and Andrew. And tonight, it was nice to be with family.

Ok, it’s late. I’ve been officially 29– I mean 108 for 53 minutes! I think it’s time for bed.

Happy Birthday Voltaire, Rene Magritte, Goldie Hawn, Björk, and Cousin Manela!

🙂

Day 71 -G20 protests


I was going to write about The Montreal Jazz Festival, which started on Friday, but with all the chaos that’s going on in Toronto this weekend, I feel I must switch focus and discuss the peaceful protests and the violence.

In case you don’t pay attention to the news, Toronto is currently hosting the G20 Summit, a meeting of the world’s leading financial rulers. According to Wikipedia, 19 countries plus the European Union are represented in this forum, which was established in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis in 1997. Together, the economies of the G20 comprise 85% of the global gross national product, 80% of international trade and two-thirds of the world’s population. It’s been publicized that this Summit cost $1.1 billion and is the most expensive security operation in Canadian history. Toronto has literally been shut down from June 25th to the 27th, the duration of the conference. A boundary was erected around the Toronto Convention Centre (where I taught at the Yoga Show in March) and as reported by the Globe & Mail, 10,000 uniformed police officers, 1,000 security guards, and several Canadian military forces were deployed enforce the rule of law over thousands of protesters.

A lot of people are upset by the cost of the Summit and are particularly infuriated by Prime Minister Stephen Haper’s now infamous ‘fake lake’ that was built inside the Convention Centre as decor and had a price tag of $57,000. But that’s just the tip of the iceburg, the real frustration boils down to concerns over how the world leaders are dealing with the Gulf Oil Catastrophe, world poverty, the ongoing environmental destruction, and all the other human and ecological rights violations that plague on planet.

Personally, I think protests are really ineffective means of instituting change, because in every major protest there is inevitably a small group of assholes who toss Molotov cocktails, smash windows, throw rocks at police, burn police cars. Unfortunately, these misguided individuals soak up all the media attention and ruin the credibility of all protesters. So far, there has more than 500 arrests this weekend in Toronto. There are hundreds of videos circulating online of the violence. Craig’s been following the news closely, so I watched one or two. It made me angry.

To me, protests are really useless. I know this is a controversial statement, but I don’t retract it. I grew up marching in protests from the age of 6 months. My mom is an activist, so she would bring me along. Although I don’t discredit my mother’s efforts nor am I denouncing other peaceful protests, but surely there is a better way to inspire change than to hold a placard scream “No.”

My last protest was ten years ago in April 2000 at the Free Trade Agreement of the Americas Summit in Quebec City. There were approximately 100,000 demonstrators. I, at 18, was among them with my Pentax film camera. My intention was to document the protest for the Canadian University Press. From what I witnessed, the protest was 99% peaceful. I took pictures of beautiful puppets and mothers nursing there babies, but the main stream media only focused on the aggressive Anarchists at the fence around the Summit. I saw them too. Curious, I walked around Vieux Quebec with my other student journalist friends. I remember the tear gas being so thick, we couldn’t see across the street. At one point, I got separated from my group and found myself alone. I was completely disoriented and so I tried to approach a group of riot police. They must have felt threatened or something, because they fired round of rubber bullets at me. I ran full throttle down the cobble stone street and ducked behind a parked car, only to hear its wind shield shatter from the impact of a stray bullet. I was pretty frightened and mostly disappointed by the whole experience. What’s the point of demonstrations, if most people don’t take them seriously?

Since then, I have committed myself and my work to changing the world in a different way. I only work for what I believe in and I devout my energy towards inspiring others to live healthy and conscientiously. I’m still activist, but you won’t find me at any mass protest. I’ll be here, everlastingly soapboxing the way to heal the outer world is to heal our inner world first.

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As for today’s 108, I’m still working out my left shoulder tensions. My neighbor Anthea reminded me of a posture our teacher shared with us that helps alleviate shoulder and neck tensions. Fittingly, it’s called the Banker’s Pose.

Day 66 – Keeping things simple


My friend Miranda has challenged me to write just one paragraph tonight… so here goes…

I think I’m a pretty slow person, kind of kaphic, in a way. I take my time doing a lot of things, because I like details. I don’t think I’m actually a perfectionist of sorts, but I really immerse myself in a task and it’s then hard for me to pull myself out and stop what I’m doing. Take this blog example, sure, sometimes I feel belaboured by it, but other times I get sucked in and can’t stop writing. But tonight I’m tired and it’s already 11:15 pm, which is why Miranda suggested I keep things super short and simple tonight. Her and I practiced this evening together outside in the park. It was a nice and simple surya namaskar A flow. Once again, we focused on different areas of the body and threw in few of Paul’s virtual sun salutations, which I’ve really been enjoying lately. Probably because those virtual ones are much less strenuous on my left shoulder, which is still a little sensitive, but getting better.

Ok that’s all folks, one paragraph. Now it’s bedtime…

Day 51 – Practicing the art of saying “no”

I’m a little frazzled this evening. I am trying to juggle laundry, blogging, email responding and studying for an exam I have tomorrow at the ayurvedic school. I’m not very good at pulling all-nighters, so I’m not sure how I’m going to get things finished. It’s nearly midnight and my eye lids already feel heavy and my brain feels like molasses in January. BUT, I made some good progress today. I turned down two interesting opportunities: a modeling gig that sounded fun and a new client who wanted private yoga.

Saying no is entirely out of character for me. I like challenges and I like new projects, which is why I often find myself trading lunch to sub a class for someone or simultaneously planning six events. However, this weekend, I made a conscious decision to avoid taking on anything new before my 108 mission is complete. I think it might finally be starting to sink in that perhaps I can’t do everything I want to do at once. This might seem like a no-brainer, but I’m used to having lots on the go at once and I kind of like that. The problem is that now, every conceivable space in my schedule is so full, I almost never have time to hang out with my friends, my family or with Craig and I’m starting to miss that. Plus, I fear I’m starting to become more forgetful and less dependable, because I can barely return emails or phone calls.

Anyway, things are starting to work themselves out. Several people have volunteered to help me with the less obvious tasks of my campaign like following up with studios, posting stuff on Facebook, and communicating with the charities I’m supporting. This is starting to make time management easier, so I can focus on my practice. (On a side note, I often think about how nice it would be able to live as a monk in a Himalayan ashram, just meditating, practicing, and doing simple work.)

Today is Monday, so I do my 108 as an open practice at my studio. Kathy, a really nice woman, who helped us organize the Yoga Stretch event for CNIB, joined me for the first 54 along with her every energetic five-year-old daughter. The little girl could hardly sit still and thought climbing all over her mother in updog, downdog and plank was absolutely hilarious. It was pretty funny, but maybe not to Kathy.

(Unfortunately, the photos we took of them turned, so instead, here is a photo of me in chaturanga after Kathy and her daughter left.)

Day 35 – long weekend in Bancroft, Ont


(Ok we’ll see if this works. I’m attempting to blog from Craig’s iphone.)

I am in Bancroft, Ont with bunch of friends. Craig, Jamie, and Jeanine and I made a road-trip out here to visit our good friends Kat and Vito and their two and half year old daughter Gioia Ruby. They just bought a 100 acres outside of town and are in the process of doing major renovations on the house, which was actually a big grow-op before the previous owner was discovered and imprisoned. Kat and Vito are amazingly wonderful modern hippies, (who had no connection to the former grow-op, by the way). Kat is incredibly artistic and a former pilates teacher turned raw food and vegan chef. Vito is a talented and creative handyman, who, along with Kat’s dad is basically rebuilding their entire house. Their plans are to turn the place into a retreat center eventually. This is the first time we are visiting.

We arrived at about 10pm and I still had 108 sun salutations to do. I managed to get through them, despite having to share my mat with dog Zenia and Gioia, who, when she wasn’t doing her variation of dog pose behind me or on me, was running around in circles screaming “The Wheels on the Bus” at the top of her lungs. It was certainly entertaining.

This morning, we took a drive into town and I made a little video of our tour, which I will edit and post as soon as I have a proper internet connection. It’s actually a pretty cool place. There are lots of the little independent shop and cafés, and the people are really friendly.

I feel so relaxed out here, so much more at ease than I did yesterday. It’s so nice do be away from the city and be with good friends. I practiced outside (again with Gioia hanging out on my mat for most of it, which was funny) this afternoon overlooking the forest. It was so nice to breathe fresh country air and be in the trees. The only issue is the bugs, but for some reason they left me alone while I was Sun Saluting.

I have a delicious soup recipe to share with you from Kat’s kitchen, but I am being a little anti-social, so I’m going to post later.