la futura es verde

Yesterday was rough.

Rough like ‘oh, so that’s exactly what the exchange of energy output v money in to pay the bills currently looks like.’

(It looks like this: 😳, in case you were wondering.)

I was bummed. I was really freaking bummed. I thought about just dwelling in my pissiness all evening. Instead, I exhausted myself with hot yoga, a big ol’ carb-filled sub, and I went to bed early.

I woke up at 3:54am today. Feeling like Leslie Knope after Ron locks her in her b&b room to sleep when she can’t come up with her next great idea after the harvest festival, and she comes out of the room the next day with a million new ideas written on doilies.

Yesterday blew. But this next phase- sorting through all these new opportunities for growth & change? It’s going to be fun as shit.

reset button meditation

a five minute meditation for those days you need to hit the reset button.

let it go, and go on with your day.

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our Belgian beer holiday

in October, eighteen of us took a Balance & Brews beer holiday to Belgium. we practiced yoga, we drank beer, we found a strong unity in our travel pack, and we allowed our experiences to change us as we explored an evolution of Belgian beer and culture.

this is my highlight reel of the moments and experiences I’ll always remember. a link to our full holiday album is below.

photo: Shelby Kulick • wanderlust at Brussels Beer Project

 

was this Brussels Beer Project glassware made just for us?!


our travel began in Bruges. we stayed at a simple, charming eco-hostel with a great Belgian beer bar and plenty of chill space for the group to get to know each other.

every day of our adventure was filled with blue skies and delicious beer, but what made me even happier was watching some fast friendships develop.

Bruges is shockingly beautiful. we learned a lot about the town during one of our brewery tours, like how it was spared the destruction that most other cities in the region fared during the world wars, allowing it to still stand beautifully in it’s old world glory.

from Bruges, a group of us took a bike ride through the Belgian countryside to visit Damme, a small town to the north. we saw all the standards you’d want to see on a trip like this: the autumn leaves falling, a Dutch windmill, the black sheep rebelling from his herd to be in our group photo.

our first yoga and beer practice in Belgium was at Brouwerij de Halve Maan (Half Moon). still a really proud moment in my career: from following through on a bold idea, this became our reality.

our practice at Halve Maan was in the morning. that afternoon, we noticed the half moon in the sky. this wasn’t arranged- my mission in scheduling this day was just to collaborate with a brewery in Bruges, on a day they could host our group. the literal aligning of the lunar cycle with our itinerary just proved the strength that is doing things with pure intention.

photo: a kind stranger. • our entire B&B group with our Halve Maan tour guide (front row, to my left)

from Bruges, we also visited a Trappist brewery! we ventured to Westvleteren to taste the brews direct from the source. it was another beautiful day and a once-in-a-lifetime cultural experience.

the second leg of our beer holiday took us to Brussels. our first group outing was a Belgian beer tour. we ranked beers, learned even more about the local beer culture, and practiced perfect pours.

our yoga practice and tour in Brussels was with Brussels Beer Project- a full shift in evolution from the old world brewery roots we experienced in Bruges. BBP brews in an experimental fashion, similar to American craft brewing styles. staying true to their mission of growing forward, brewmaster Dimitri practiced yoga in his brewery with us, and hung out with a few of us who stayed in Brussels an extra day after the retreat. I had asked him to take us to one of his favorite local places - he suggested we hang out at the local BrewDog- another revolutionary international brewery!

the vision of this trip was to explore evolution via a path of Belgian beer.

‘become who you are’ was the final takeaway from the ode to exploration that was the decor of our hostel in Bruges. I think you find who you are when you explore. when you are open to change. when you have enough trust in the support of others to get out of your comfort zone. when you are open to connecting to anyone, anywhere.

through all these shared experiences, you become who are you.

need to see more than the highlights? our full holiday album is below- from Bruges to Brussels and everywhere between.

want to be a part of the next adventure? be the first to find out when the 2019 holiday is announced. get on the Balance & Brews list below.

chakra pop!

red space. july 18, 2018.

i hope you were there. we'll do it again, and we'll learn and grow and evolve together, as we bring this chakra magic to everyone, everywhere. 

but there's something about being part of something as it's juuuust born. thank you to every soul who made it what it was. until next time, keep working on your balance, from root to crown. 

never miss an awesome event! get on the list.

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chakra pop yoga: the color warrior roster!

chakra pop yoga is THE don't-miss-experience of summer 2018. in it's inaugural year as a stand alone yoga event, chakra pop will be hosted by red space on july 18, 2018. registration for this event includes a 90 minute yoga and meditation experience like no other- you'll be surrounded by color before, during, and after the event. post practice will include beverages (must be 21 with valid ID) by dogfish head, and a color packet of your choice to take part in our outdoor color party (the photo op of the year!)

what's our color delivery system? when you check in, you'll get your own package of color for the outdoor celebration, and our team of color warriors can help decorate you pre practice, if you wish. they'll also be supporting you during practice with colorful assists. 

is your favorite local teacher a part of chakra pop yoga? check out the list here, then reach out to them for their discount code to save $5 on registration. looking for a new face to add to your list of teachers? check out the bios and links to the studio homes of these yogis via our FB event, then reach out to them for that code! 

muladhara | root - Kaley Tocco and Jennifer Young

svadhisthana | sacral - Katie Anderson and Felicia Hilscher

manipura | core - Alyssa Gustwiller and Nick Cerri

anahata | heart - Ally Grubba and Alicia Hansen

visshudha | throat - Danielle Krimer and Tanja Odorcic Bartulovic

ajna | third eye - Nikki Lang (formerly Costa) and Carissa Moon

sahasrara | crown - MKM and Erika Whites, co-teachers of event

 

 

a horse named nacho libre.

the best of the best: the photos that tell the story of being on yoga retreat on the pacific coast of costa rica. 


the highlight of this adventure- my first horse ride. an almost five-hour trek, from beach to mountainside. from scalding sun to intense downpour. from a lazy, rebelliously slow pace to sudden gallops down steep paths.

all on the back of a horse named nacho libre. 


arrivals and transportation: too-tiny planes and riding in trucks with friends


where i slept and who meditated with me


water and hiking. hashtag, best life. 


tide pools, cacao and pool parties


caballos (that means horses.)


the vibrant costa rica skies, as captured by oriana grubisic


until we meet for time number 12 , latin lands. i'll see you very soon again. 

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six travel tips for responsible roaming.

living like a yogi doesn't end when you roll up your mat. follow these six tips to incorporate your yogic lifestyle into your travels. 

off the mat yogi tip #1 | be present.

no matter where you go, it’s impossible to see it all and do it all. the only option? surrender to that reality! don’t cram. don’t make inaccessibly huge 'must-see' demands on yourself. set and control expectations within your financial and time budgets, then be completely present in every land, with every person, place, and thing.

off the mat yogi tip #2 | be flexible.

things change, even the most carefully executed travel arrangements. remember that you can only control the things you can control - but you have the power to let go of the rest. when plans change, be flexible, and find trust. trust that you’ll end up somewhere equally (or even more) awesome.

off the mat yogi tip #3 | be open. 

you say you want to travel for the cultural experience. now that you’ve said it, you need to do it. 

do your homework before you go. educate yourself. and when you get there, engage with all your senses. start conversations. ask questions, and truly listen to the responses. educate yourself with first hand accounts. promise, you'll fill all that open space with more experiences, connections, emotions, and knowledge than you dreamed possible.

(want a first-hand account of the magic of traveling with an open mind and heart? glimpse into my once-in-a-lifetime cultural travel experience in cuba.

off the mat yogi tip #4 | be your intention.

intentions aren't just the words your instructor offers at the start of your lunchtime power flow. intentions should be going everywhere with you. especially when you commit to travel. do you know why you're going where you're going? there's no right or wrong, but it's a question you need to be able to answer. 

after you set your why, set your budgets, and make sure you allow space and money for spontaneity. because the things that fit your true intention are going to find you. and you’re not going to want to miss them.

off the mat yogi tip #5 | be responsible.

we’ve roughed up this world, friend. and we collectively have to take responsibility. the small changes add up, including learning to travel with care and respect. travel lightly. literally. don't travel with crap you don't need. every excess pound of 'stuff' uses precious resources to haul around. and every creature comfort you leave behind provides you an opportunity to grow- and remember, it's all only temporary, anyway! 

exploring group travel is another way way to save resources AND money - while gaining all the amazing personal growth benefits. when you travel with a group you can share rooms, transportation, AND experiences - those priceless souvenirs that don't add any weight to your luggage!

off the mat yogi tip #6 | be worth it. 

that's not an ego statement, it's root chakra basics: your right to be. you're worth the experiences you dream of having. measure your worth in the intangible things you value. consider your investments. and when you commit, COMMIT. go all in. because, you’re worth it. you have the right to be. 

wanna roam responsibly? hit the google. find a trip that makes the butterflies in your belly start to flutter, then reach out to the organizer and ask all the questions to make sure it fits your needs and is worth it for you. 

wanna travel with me? check out my upcoming travels here, then ask me all those questions, too! hit me up via email or with a comment below. 

my mom is the reason i became a yoga teacher. 

my yoga practice started casually at home, with a dvd set i found on amazon. it took a couple of years for a friend to convince me to make it to a studio. clearly, it was a good fit. 

around that same time, my mom ended up with a life-changing blood clot. over the next few years, it created many complications for her, eventually leaving her on oxygen support 24/7 for the rest of her too short life. 

as i was working regularly towards finding a deeper connection to my own breath, i was witnessing my mom lose her connection to hers. when she lost her breath completely in 2011, it was the pivotal moment that led me into my first yoga teacher training program.

with mother’s day coming up this sunday, she’s of course on my mind a lot this week. and there’s no neat resolution to that situation. any day of the year, this hole can be tough to handle. it’s extra tough when the calendar throws it in your face. 

so this year, i’m choosing to travel back. about 150 years back, to the roots of mom’s day:

holla, 1870 and julia ward howe. julia wrote the ‘mother’s day proclamation,’ a call for peace, and for all citizens of the world to own the responsibility of taking care of each other.

well, shit, current day 2018. that level of mothering is a NECESSITY in the world we live in.

if you have- or are- a mom, may 13 is for you. you deserve the honor for all you do, and continuing to do it is what will make a difference in the world. 

but for those of us that can’t physically hug our mom this or any sunday, maybe this is our call to respond to. our mom-less boat is dumb. it’s dumb, and it’s not fair. but not fair compared to what? we’re not entitled to anything. so let's think bigger than ourselves, and let's own our responsibility to take care of the world. 

but that sounds huge and exhausting, right? so think of it this way: if you had a million pound cookie, you could not eat that cookie by yourself. but if you took a bite, and you asked your friends and peers to take a bite, and they told all their friends who told all their friends, then together, hell yes, you can take care of that cookie.

on this sunday, may 13, let's eat that cookie. in whatever size bite your hunger is craving. if you’re looking for inspiration on how to take action, share this post with a friend, buy someone a cookie, or check out a current favorite of mine: http://thecompassioncollective.org/

bruges, brussels, and a whole lot of belgian beer.

hey, wanna go to europe? 

i’m heading to belgium this october for a balance & brews beer holiday, and you’re invited! you’ll get all the beer. yoga in cool spaces. and once in a lifetime experiences, from crossing a border on a bicycle to visiting an abbey for trappist beer right from the source. 

it’s gonna be all that, plus a belgian truffle.

i’ve been planning our next group travel adventure for awhile, but nothing i was putting together was clicking. then i fell into a strange alignment of random references and circumstances, and all of a sudden…the signs were pointing to ‘YES! you must go to europe for a yoga and beer holiday!’ 

and it’s finally- and absolutely- the right trip. my gut told me so. the way the trip themes and group experiences came together told me so. the dismantling of the roadblocks that have a way of popping up during project planning phases told me so.

and so, we’re going to belgium this october for a balance & brews beer holiday. if you’re hungering for change and growth via a new environment, this is for you. (also, if you’re hungering for belgian truffles.) 

if you’re inspired by diversity and how cultures and worlds CAN work together and support each other (reference: the amazing longevity of these yoga and beer pairings, right?!), this is for you. 

so, what do you think? might we soon be hanging out, enjoying french fries and belgian beer under the shadow of a thirteenth century bell tower?

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hope so!

find out more about our beer holiday here. this is a limited space experience (double occupancy currently sold out), so contact me, or leave a comment below asap if you have any questions before committing! 


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the one mistake a yoga teacher can't afford to make

here it is: 

so, hey. you gotta remember, every time you teach, that IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU.

if that’s all you have time to read, that’s it. store that in long term, define it in a way that fits your style, and get on with your day. 

our responsibility as teachers is to empower our students. to acknowledge that we are just the facilitators for them to do their work. our student’s experience is not about our killer sequence. or our amazing playlist. or our sweet new pants. or the cheesy yoga teacher joke that popped into our head while we were flowing that we really hope we remember to throw in while we're teaching live. all that stuff matters, because it means we care enough to prepare, and our goal IS to create a powerful and gracefully choreographed series of moments that align and empower. 

so, do that. care about the creation, but then...detach. because it’s not always what the experience is about. save for those sweet new pants you're wearing to teach, you should to be ready to drop ANY aspect of your plan, and have the smarts and skills to improvise on the spot.

because when you keep a sequence that doesn’t serve your audience- no matter how kickass great it is- you’re only demonstrating how good you are at sequencing. you’re not honoring your commitment to be present, to serve those who show up. and those yogis who show up? they’re keeping you on the teaching roster.

HONOR THEM. IT’S ABOUT THEM.  


want to chat about your teaching? or how to grow those improvisational smarts and skills? leave me a comment below and i'll get back to you asap.

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3 things i learned in mexico

a mexican travel photo journal.

a mess of photos from our spring trip to tulum. but first, a few quick things we learned in mexico:

1. mezcal tastes best from a bar swing. probably, anything does, and when pulling a swing up to the bar is an option, you take that, every time.

2. when seeking directions, if a local tells you to look for a gate, trust that he means 'look for a gate, guys' not 'look for a couple of ropes tied to some tree trunks, guys.' (see photos in sian ka'an gallery below.)

we first thought it was mildly entertaining how lost we got in the mexican seaside jungle. later, we left town and found out from some locals in merida, a larger (and super pleasant) town in the upper yucatan state, how unruly quintana roo is. no one owns it. and everyone wants to control it. and it will be fought over until the guns or drugs win. 

lesson: until next time...don't go wandering unmarked property.

3. you may travel somewhere, and the tsa signs may tell you you CAN carry on duty-free liquor. and so, you may buy three bottles of mezcal.

but these signs are only half-true. properly sealed, and packaged in clear glass, you can carry on as much as you want. but if you want stoneware bottles of mezcal, no. no, those aren't making it through on your carry on. those will sit there at the tsa checkpoint looking all innocent as you yell and carry on to the agent, but he'll just blame mexico.

then, eventually, he'll soften. he'll say it happens all the time and he hates it every time. and when you say 'cool, but what about this time, and right now, and us and, like, our only souvenir?,' he'll say 'i think you have time to check the liquor and make it back through.' we'll argue that no, no we don't, and the only thing worse than losing three bottles of alcohol would be missing our connecting flight.

he'll soften even more, and walk us back to the ticket counter so we can check our liquor. he'll wait for us while we sit on the floor like damn harry and lloyd, bitching and definitely making a scene while trying to figure out how to fit three fragile bottles of liquid into a bag that was never designed to be checked. we'll eventually figure it out. he'll walk us back to the front of the security line and be like 'dumb and dumber were in my line and had to check a bag and i need them back at the front so they don't miss their flight.' 

we'll thank him profusely. he seriously rocked his job. we'll make our flight. but i'll miss a meal, and i'll be a raging beast on the plane because of it. 

lesson: joke was actually on us. that mezcal we fought so hard for is super smoky, and not our favorite. so, if someone wants to build me a bar swing in my kitchen, there's a bottle (or two!) of smoky mezcal in it for you...


gallery #1 | tulum. beaches and bicycles. tourists and...more tourists. that cenote life, though...a girl could get used to that. 

gallery #2 | sian ka'an. a magical biosphere reserve, just a short hitched ride from tulum pueblo. here, there are no crowds at the ruin sites. the locals speak spanish. you take matters into your own hands when you climb the extremely rickety mirador AND when you assume a couple of ropes tied to some trees must be the 'gate' you've been directed to look for to get to the boats that take you to free-float through natural canals... #worthit (seriously. if you're in the vicinity, this is a 100% must do. wear that life vest like a diaper. do it.)

gallery #3 | merida. land of private swimming pools, and lots of alcohol. 

we left tulum in the pursuit of pink lagoons and pink flamingos. you'll find none of the such in this gallery, but it was still a damn splendid good ol' time. 

calm the sh*t down. you got this.

once upon many years ago, i developed a massage balm line.

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calm balm was born of a rhyme (seriously) and a love of sandalwood. heal balm was by request of a yoga pal who wanted something to help his aching back.

calm was my baby. i was teaching a lot of yoga when it was born, including a weekly gentle class. if i'm honest, i was always cranky to have to wake up early on a sunday. but i was always chill by the end of that ninety minutes. my hands and dozens of upper torsos would leave the studio covered in calm, ready to spread our mellow.

and for years, that was about as far as calm got. a few local studios picked up the balm, but it never really got the love it deserved, while it's bold balm sister heal got rave reviews.

but this isn't about you, heal.

this is about how calm met a brand new market this winter, and ended up being my sell out product for a holiday craft show. 

calm's brand new crowd? EVERYBODY.

'everybody in america needs calm!' i was told this on repeat by happy customers for two days straight. the tester tin i left out on my table was as empty as my calm balm stock by the end of the weekend. 

and that crowd, they were right. we all badly need some calm in our lives. so, permission granted. get your peace. find that scent that induces the mellow for you. carry it with you in an accessible formula. inhale, and inhale often. 

 

interested in my formula? i use lavender, mandarin, juniper berry, sandalwood, and ylang ylang to create a blend that's a little bit sweet, a little bit grounding, and a lot bit calming, and you can find it HERE

want to find your own custom calming scent? experiment with more essential oils known to relieve anxiety or stress (try chamomile, clary sage, patchouli, rose, or vetiver) and maybe balance it with a mood-lifting oil (basil, rosemary, citrus) as a subtle aromatic reminder to 'calm the sh*t down. you got this.' 

natural beauty | clay facial mask

let's make stuff!

the issue |  uhh...my skin's getting old.

i try my best, but i probably don't get enough rest. sometimes i eat healthy, and sometimes, pizza wins. i drink. i don't smoke, but i DID have some cuban cigars recently. and when i'm not on an airplane escaping it, i live in a harsh climate; my skin has to adapt on a daily basis between dried stuffy forced heat air and frozen tundra lake winds.

the game plan |  to create a diy clay mask to tone skin that's getting old and is sometimes fed beer and pizza. must also shrink pores and counter the effects of all that tundra wind. 

the players |  rhassoul clay, chia botanical extract, helichrysum hydrosol 

rhassoul clay

moroccan rhassoul clay | first, all clays are good to draw out toxins. i color my soaps with clays, so i've played with many over the years, but i was always buying clays as colorants, not necessarily for their properties beyond making my soaps pretty without using lab colors. i recently purchased rhassoul specifically for it's abilities to deeply draw out dirt, reduce dryness, and improve skin texture and elasticity.

peruvian chia botanical extract | provides an optimal ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 essential fatty acids. translation: perfection in skin nourishment. reduces appearance of pores, lines and wrinkles and creates a balanced glow. yes, please. 

helichrysum hydrosol | you could easily mix the clay/powder with fresh water (and maybe a few drops of essential oils) but i'm into hydrosols lately. hydrosols are products of distilled plant, flower, or fruit material with therapeutic properties similar to their sister essential oils. helichrysum was my choice for my 'uh oh, it's getting old' skin with it's cell regenerative and anti-inflammatory properties. 

the recipe | 1 tbsp rhassoul clay to up to 1 tsp chia powder. mix/whisk together, and add hydrosol or water to desired consistency. if adding essential oils, use 3-5 drops of a quality oil. you're pasting this on your face, so choose a scent that's pleasant for you, but do your homework: choose a skin safe oil with beneficial properties.

application | i have a basic soft bristle paint brush (find at an art supply store) dedicated to mask use only. you can use anything to apply, even just clean fingers, but if you're treating yourself, it feels damn luxurious to paint a soft clay mask on. keep the mask on 7-10 mins, allowing the mask to almost dry- if it dries too quick, spritz with hydrosol or water. 

rhassoul clay mask application
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results | maybe not super dramatic as seen through iphone bathroom selfies, but hey, anytime is a good time to promote makeup-free photos, yeah? i definitely notice immediate pore shrinkage and lasting softness, firming, and toning after using this mask. i use it weekly.

so, ready to go make your own? for any question on alternate clays, additives, or essential oils, leave me a comment below.

want to try this exact formula? purchase a 2.5 oz dry clay + powder base mix, or a fully blended 4 oz formula of my exact mask via terraverdehandmade.com

small batch rhassoul clay products

this week's to do list

no. 1: act. just do your it.

(repeat this step as many times as needed, with an appropriate amount of breaks between acts.)

no. 2: at the end of the day, look back and say ‘whoa. i did all of that. hooray, me.’

(be amazed at how much you actually got done.)

it's not easy. it might mean fewer productivity apps. fewer to do lists or other organizational tools. less bullet journaling. less social media. less focusing on what others are doing. because, hey, if we were all 'doing it right,' WE'D ALL JUST BE DOING OUR IT. PERIOD. 

so, no. probably not easy.

but it can be that simple.

that place i hired a mariachi band off the street

we've been back stateside since november 12. almost two months.

i am not exaggerating when i say never has planning a trip been so stressful. and, it's true what they say. it pays off:

never has a journey been so rewarding. 

there are some feelings/places/people/things/experiences of which i feel no words can do justice. this is one of them. it doesn't matter what i say or show, the only way to experience cuba is to experience cuba. in person. and, by the way, my american friends, yes, you still can.

i'm a little biased, but i'm pretty sure our trip was extra extraordinary. the timing was maddening. in 2016, obama made it possible for u.s. citizens to legally experience cuba. our group trip was booked in march 2017. in june, our current administration announced it would be partially rolling back obama's changes. never for a second did this actually directly affect us, but...you know the damage media coverage and tweeting elected officials can do. then, in august, that 'sonic attack' thing started. 

but wait, there's more. 

in september, a month before our trip, hurricane irma touched the exact part of the country we were set to visit. interestingly, we found out that though the hurricane mildly trashed the town, it actually made the shoreline way more beautiful. also in september, the us state department put out travel alerts to cuba, telling its citizens not to travel there. that warning was downgraded just yesterday. (hint of lessons to follow: NOTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE THE INITIAL 'ALERT.' NOTHING.)

and finally, on our second to last day IN cuba, we were told by locals it was a 'very important day' for us to be visiting the cuban start-up business we were with: it had been broadly announced that morning that u.s. travel to cuba was once again going to come with more restrictions. 

this trip was a bold step into the unknown. it wasn't a physical yoga retreat. cuba isn't a place you get to regularly roam freely at will; we certainly were not going to spend our time in country practicing handstands for hours. this was about off the mat evolution. it fed a need to explore beyond geographical and mental borders. to practice coexistence. to be responsible citizens of the world. to willingly learn. 

and it impacted. since returning home almost two months ago, i have processed every bit of information i've been given differently. i learn as a necessity. there is no complacency. i assume i know nothing, and then i figure it out. and when it changes, like everything does, i figure it out again.

we were a dozen americans who successfully navigated through a socialist/communist society. we lived together in the suburbs of havana for a week, in a sprawling home that was centrally focused on an outdoor breakfast table set for twelve and a swimming pool. we got to know each other on our first afternoon there, sitting around that swimming pool and sharing who we were as told through our travel habits and dreams. i planned nothing for that first half day there, assuming we'd all be exhausted and need some quiet rest time to reset and process.

right out the gates, cue that 'you know nothing. keep learning.' spirit. we were wired. we wandered our town. we managed to find the shittiest rum in all of cuba, and i think we stayed up until past when the clock struck the next day drinking it. that day, we had a scheduled walking tour of havana. by the end of that first full day, we had seen/learned/felt so much already; it was like we had been in country for a week plus. and we wanted more.  

when you travel to cuba as a us citizen, you commit to an itinerary of engaging with and supporting the cuban people. highlights of our plans included exploration of the city and visiting an independent magazine and local farm. (organic, like all cuban farms.) at finca tungasuk, we toured the land and ate an amazingly prepared, completely fresh meal. (helps when one of the owners is a french chef!) we got dirty in the fields, learning just how humbling it is to respectfully work the land- especially when that work is clean up and replanting post hurricane. 

at vistar, we saw the urban side of a cuban career, visiting the offices, studio, (and, accidentally, home) of some of the owners/executives of cuba's first independent magazine. hear their story: how they started an internet business in a country with super limited internet resources, and you will never bitch about a power outage or shitty phone or net service again.  

we successfully made it through our week not supporting a single government-owned paladar or business. all of our group money went directly to individual cubans. our use of the tourist pesos gave these individuals the monetary resources needed to purchase fresh food and other items normally reserved for foreign visitors. one day, upon discovering an orphanage in our neighborhood, we asked how we could help, and a few of us were able to pool extra money together and buy art supplies for the kids. (pool like $60 to buy about 8 crayons and some printer paper in cuba, and you will never bitch about a marked up luxury item again. and yes, colored pencils are a luxury.) 

as much as i truly hope we made a positive impact on everyone we met in cuba, they got the raw end of the deal. i think they taught us so much more.

cuba taught us to focus on the positive: those evening bugs are eating you alive as you practice yoga outside, but ohmygod look at those stars. you've never seen a sky like this. 

cuba taught us that you should 'work to live, not live to work': literally, those words were spoken to us by a farmer. figuratively, they were whispered every time anyone in the group with a stressful stateside job had to wrestle with not having the internet or resources to check in. 

cuba taught us that being present DOES create more time: truly. to detach from being available to the 74k apps on your phone is real. when there are no distractions, your only option is what's in front of you. and OHMYGOD IN CAPITAL LETTERS, it's true. time moves slower when you do one thing at a time. you live more fully when you do one thing at a time. you notice everything and everyone around you when you look up and look out. when you look up and look out, you recognize what you need, and just as importantly, what you don't. 

cuba taught me that yes, in the same way i felt a sense of urgency to do this trip and do it NOW around a year ago from writing this, you should always follow those things you're called to do. those are the things you never forget. 

on our final night in cuba, we had one last group dinner in town scheduled. after we got settled at our table, i had to run out to grab two of our girls who were coming from a different location. i never actually found them (they found us, don't worry)  but instead i found myself walking up on a full-on mariachi band. i'm absolutely not one to randomly talk to strangers. but when's the last time you fell in pace with a mariachi band? i struck up a conversation in spanish, and, long story short, five minutes later we shook on a price, and i had hired my first mariachi band. they turned their direction to follow me back to our restaurant to sing 'happy birthday' to hollie, who would be celebrating hers the following day. 

it started lightly raining as we chatted and walked to the paladar. and then it started downpouring. i will never, ever forget running down the sidewalk, dashing for cover in the rain, with this mariachi band in the streets of cuba.  

cuba also taught us some good old simple things, like: yes, there ARE tarantulas in cuba. yes, mice DO fall into swimming pools, and assisting them may require some well-thought out plans; they don't care how much rum you've already had. yes, roosters DO cock-a-doodle-doo at all hours of the day. and yes, yes you should expect that if you're a dude with a beard traveling to cuba, you're gonna be called che or hemingway for a week.

i think, to support everything we are taught when we travel, our role is to understand the responsibility that comes with that experience.

i share my experience in cuba to share what i learned. i learned to not waste. (and, uhh, before november, i had thought i was kinda good at that already.) i was given affirmation that evolution is an amazing value to live by, and that ego in excess is a violent destroyer. yoga and me go back ten years now. and to date, nothing has changed my practice more than the che guevara/revolution studies i've given a good chunk of my free time to these past few months. 

i obviously learned much more than that brief list. i have a lot more to say about cuba. about how it's people- as a cultural generalization- come across as hopeful, positive, resourceful as f*ck, and responsible for their own actions. i have a lot more to say about america's relationship with cuba, and the revolution, and cigars and rum and old cars, and 'that whole sonic attack thing.' if you're interested, hit me up. i'll trade you a lager and/or a taco for tales of travel. but whether you want to know more or not, PLEASE know that, unless you see it with your own eyes and hear it with your own ears, you can't take it for ultimate truth. KEEP. LEARNING.

now, here's a photo journey of this adventure. (*see desktop version for photo descriptions.) 

do it. or not. and here's some reasons why you should(n't)

the 2018 firefly trips to latin america are rolling up quick- and with the 2017 cuba excursion being only a month away now- i was thinking about how we make these big decisions. decisions to boldly say yes to this kind of life-changing travel. i bet the questions and answers that rolled through my mind in the planning and committing phases of these 2018 trips were similar to the ones that might be rolling around in your brain now, so let me share 3 reasons TO go on a yoga retreat and 3 reasons NOT TO go on a yoga retreat.

3 reasons to go on a yoga retreat

1. to find clarity. the answers to all your crazy life questions are already there. and you'll be amazed at how quickly they start appearing when you step away from distractions and put yourself in a whole new corner of the world, where you see the inner and outer view through a new lens. 

2. to find yourself in nature. nature invites that inner wisdom we just chatted about. adult recess is key to your vitality, soul, qi, prana, whatever you choose to call it. it also instantly boosts your mood and erases fatigue. and, it kinda does all of that about 6000% more when you take daily recess on group yoga travel to an exotic location...  

3. to find connections. it all starts when we can connect to who we really are. we build that strong root, and then we grow connections to everyone and everything around us. this is truly where you find your purpose.

3 reasons to NOT go on a yoga retreat (answered by a yoga retreat) 

1. you can't afford it. yoga retreat's response: perhaps, right now, you truly can't. and that's ok. but in the grander scheme, living life with money as the only currency of your existence is what you can't afford. travel and experiences cost a chunk of change, but the return is priceless. for an adventure now, or just for the future, sketch out a list of things that take your money but don't give that type of priceless value. i promise they're there. you just have to want to see them. 

2. you might be a little afraid of this. yoga retreat's response: GOOD! if you didn't sense that something huge could shift from an adventure like a yoga retreat...it probably isn't for you. this is the kind of fear that you look in the face and walk towards, because deep down you know it brings evolution and opportunity. it's the stuff that makes you really strong and ready for everything else.   

3. the time isn't right. yoga retreat's response: time is a glorious luxury. it has finally claimed tops over money as the most important thing for so many of us. we can't make up for losses of it, but with the right perspective, we can control how we relate to it, how we spend it, and, with good choices, we kind of can make more of it. what if your mind has spent your whole life just telling you that the time isn't right? that's a fear. see reason number two not to go. and you can't change that history, so let that thought go NOW, and claim your time. weigh your values. it's your life, it's your decision. 

inspired? find your glow: 

about yesterday...

So the list was what I expected. 'In one year I will have _______' (fill in about a million blanks.) I had done some of the things. Most were started, and are ongoing projects that can't be just neatly crossed off a silly list. I'm not mad about it. I'm not sad about it. It just is. It's what I though I wanted a year ago. More of the more. 

What my brain feels now is that these expectations and lists are just clutter. I've already gotten rid of all my excess stuff, and am pretty content with my bohemian minimalist lifestyle and home. And if we knock down any more walls to create space in our bohemian minimalist home, it will no longer be structurally sound. But with all the cleared physical space, I still feel like there's too much- that there's more I can get rid of. 

Maybe, this is the shit I can get rid of. The hoarding of ideas and lists and expectations. Sometimes, clarity on the inside clears the outside. And sometimes, clearing the outside is the only way to turn in and realize just how much junk is in there, ready to let go. 

 a fun experiment, but what a waste of an envelope. 

a fun experiment, but what a waste of an envelope. 

walking away from the hustle.

Tomorrow, I get to open an envelope marked ‘don’t open until September 14, 2017.’ I vaguely remember writing it. I spent 5 weeks last summer on the road as half of the Beer Yogis. I had an absolute blast. No regrets. Even as I’m still paying off the debt of taking a huge risk while living a lifestyle I absolutely could not afford for 5 weeks. I was on a huge high. And I was maybe just starting to feel a little bit of cringing at the word hustle— though I think only because it was such a buzzword and I’m a rebel— because I was still very much doing it. 

So again, I vaguely remember writing whatever is in this envelope marked tomorrow. I give it like a 2% chance that it was a sweet list of accomplishments. Things to look back on and smile and go ‘oh shit, I did that. Nice job, MKM.’ Me today wants it to be something like this.

But I’m pretty sure it’s going to be more like a list (with demanding undertones) from summer 2016 me, that silly hustler. A bananas list of things that I wrote as a prediction of what I would have accomplished within 365- because I had 'done so much' in 2016. Surely I would do more in 2017. Of course. 

I think I’ll be okay when I open it and see that it’s (so very likely) the latter of the two. Release of the sheer curiosity in my brain will be enough reward, even if it’ll likely be a little painful to read whatever it says-- because I've cheerfully evolved since then. 

I’ll share what’s in this envelope after I open it tomorrow. And I’ll put right here, right in this moment, that I predict today, I am likely doing the exact opposite of what hustling 2016 summer me thought I wanted: SLOWING WAY THE FUCK DOWN. (More on that to follow…) 

 walking away from the hustle, peggy olson style. 

walking away from the hustle, peggy olson style. 

leave the goats alone.

guys. 

enough with the judgements. 

if your practice of a yogic life is so pure that you are connected to it’s very core roots and life lessons, than you would know this. and you wouldn’t judge. 

we all do it. i’m not innocent. but i’d like to think that i’ve evolved to a point in my own yogic life that when i catch myself doing it, i stop and work to detach from it. when it gets really tough, i have a very small support team who gives me ears and lets me rant privately until one of us shuts it down with a harsh ’STOP. JUDGING.’

as i work on this myself, i also have to accept that my choices are widely judged. likely privately, but also, kinda painfully, publicly. i was one of the pioneers of the yoga and beer scene. you could (judgmentally) say i’m part of the ‘problem’ with yoga. i understand my vision and that of this new niche is not for everyone, and that’s cool. it was never meant to be. it’s intention was to reach a very specific crowd. it speaks to brand new yogis, as an entry into the practice. to seasoned yogis who (perhaps as a result of the black hole of judging and/or being judged) need to evolve their practice by taking a step back.

it does not speak to current or recovering addicts of alcohol or yoga. nor to anyone who has managed to evolve their practice to a place far higher than most of us living in this american culture with never ending responsibilities could ever dream to. 

and those groups have their things that speak true to them. i have mine. you have yours. so, why, for the love of god, do we need to keep judging everyone else’s things?

if you are a true student of yoga- especially one who is also a teacher- you should just want to spread yoga any way you can. there is an absolute need for dedicated studio spaces and home practices. there is also an absolute responsibility to seek ways to bring people to a place of presence with their breath in any creative form a brain can dream up. you can judge my yoga and beer events, but i fall asleep fine every night knowing that i absolutely have brought people to their presence by giving them an opportunity to unroll a yoga mat on a brewery floor. they tell me this, as we connect off the mat, in a social setting, after our yoga practice.  

but this writing isn't really about yoga and beer, it was inspired by some goat yoga bashing i just saw on social media. needless to say, it got my goat. [insert giggle or pun-induced groan.] goat yoga is not my thing. but for those who enjoy it, why are we collectively struggling to leave it alone and just let them enjoy it? it’s adorable goats, man. and it’s likely attracting a brand new set of curious yogis, or super serious yogis who need permission to remember to laugh at themselves a little. 

goat yogis, do your thing. have an amazing time. 

goats, 

beer yogis, i’ll see you at the brewery. 

puns over, out. 

when no means yes.

i’m getting kind of good at saying no. 

i even frequently omit elaborating on my whys, because one should not have to explain every decision. 

if saying ‘yes’ to you means saying ‘no’ to my own truth, then, nope, you’re not getting my ‘yes.’ 

i felt really bitchy at first doing this. and i know there are still people who might not yet understand where i’m coming from or why i don’t say ‘yes’ as often to them anymore. and to them, i say, seriously, it’s not you, it’s me. i said ‘no’ so i could say ‘yes’ to me. 

it’s hard. it’s really freaking hard to say no. until…until the day comes that it becomes really freaking empowering to say no. next comes the day when someone truly needs you- maybe not life or death, but like non drama, true emotional breakdown needs you- and it becomes really freaking amazing that you can say yes at any moment to that person. because you have claimed back your time and your space and your life balance.

its good, guys. if you’re not there yet, keep working. it’s hard. it could take a bunch more yeses until you know it’s time for the no. but one day, it’s gonna click, and no will mean yes.  

 
 celebrating beer at brewdog usa. i think those guys would appreciate the art of saying no...

celebrating beer at brewdog usa. i think those guys would appreciate the art of saying no...