Trashing Stupidity is Ok

Emptying the trashI remember the times growing up when not wearing a seatbelt was pretty common, gravel running with a 2-4 was a Friday night gig, smoking in a vehicle with the windows up or in an office and bar was acceptable, and throwing one’s garbage out the window was a recurring sight. Times have certainly changed, and for the better, in my opinion. People and their health are ‘better’ protected, the environment is being considered, and all around, such changes have left a marked impact on many lives.

All these thoughts are trailing through my mind this morning, as I’m marvelling at the gorgeous Autumn weather being blessed on us as I pole-vault into my daily walk. Sadly, a few minutes in, I stumble across an empty Tim’s cup {with the non-biodegradable plastic lid intact} haphazardly thrown from the window onto the road. And I think, REALLY?

What kind of person still throws their garbage out the window? I am truly mystified. Delinquency indeed comes in all shapes and sizes. Moreover, I think said actions stems from a combination of laziness, self-centred stubbornness and climate change denial. Ignorance about one’s own actions, in this case, is certainly not an excuse. Such careless and disrespectful actions leave me sad and a little bit seething. Just because it’s convenient certainly doesn’t make it right!

I try to think compassionate thoughts, but my no-nonsense environmentalist brain won’t stretch that far today. All I can do is roar an inner growl, pick up the offending rubbish and make a small prayer to Mother Earth for our transgressions. If only our Politicians were as thoughtful and caring in the roles that they fill, cleaning up the garbage and mess that they’re leaving behind instead of stomping all over terra firma and the law-abiding thoughtful citizens of our planet (most of whom are tax-payers supplementing government incomes).

roadstretch-cleanPerhaps if everyone in this world had a daily duty to clean up a mile-long stretch of an Adopt-A-Highway, and/or had the moral obligation to show compassion in some form to Mother Earth, we could literally bag all the offenders and realize that the tiniest of self-imposed actions can all make a difference. The snowball effect would be incredible!

Now if only we could clean up all the political trash, turning the wasteful actions of the delinquent into something positive to help those less fortunate and able.

/rant. Full-stop.

envirothief

Leaving the Bubble

ocean greetingpacific oceanFor the first time in 3 weeks, we left the Mount Madonna retreat to go in to town. What a revelation! Life all of a sudden became hectic, and the beauty of nature discovered in the Redwoods felt extremely distant. However, acclimatizing myself to life off the mountain is good thing. I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Santa Cruz, stocking up on yummy organic chocolate from Trader Joe’s while also stocking up on Kombucha (I have a love affair with GT Dave’s Kombucha). We then made a glorious visit to the beach, following in our tradition to touch the ocean whenever possible. But alas our return to MMC and the Redwood Forest was even more splendid. A homecoming of sorts to the ideals, values and nature we have grown to cherish.

redwood

The Rain’s Entrance

rainfallThe rain has finally come. Two months of no rain had cultivated a sense of worry regarding the water table levels . Conservation of the precious H2O here on the mountain has been a fervent plea expressed through the weekly web newsletter and with educational signs postered everywhere water is used (whether it be in the bathrooms, kitchen, dining halls, garden, etc), available to all those living and retreating here. For me, conservation at MMC is no different than living in an rV, where limited water stores is very much an issue (especially when boondocking). I’m grateful to have this rV experience behind me, as this helps me to be super conscious of my own usage, assisting and educating others, if the opportunity arises. The Mount Madonna Center (MMC) moves towards its sustainability goals by implementing improvements in water conservation by asking those on the mountain to:

  • Limit showers to 3 minutes
  • Turn faucets off in between tasks
  • Flush toilets only when necessary
  • Use the outhouses whenever possible

Additionally,

  • All water used comes from the property.
  • Rainwater runoff is collected seasonally in three lakes for firefighting, agriculture, and recreation.
  • On-site wells provide for drinking water and domestic water use.
  • All toilets and showers heads are low flow.
  • Treated grey water from the Conference Center and Mount Madonna School is re-used for watering of the garden and landscape plants.
  • Grey water from many of our other buildings is returned back to the ecosystem after treatment via septic systems and leach fields.

morning gloryI am thoroughly impressed and in awe at the environmental policy steps that MMC has set in place to encourage and practice resource conservation. Clean  water is so precious, and not available to all on our planet. The Mount Madonna Center provides an amazing model as to what a community can achieve with thoughtful diligence and proactive steps towards a healthier better planet.

Reap What You Sew

reap what you sewSowing in the garden MMCI’m not certain when it happened but I have always loved to sew. Perhaps I developed the love in high school home economics? Not really certain, but what I do know is that, if I ever have access to a sewing machine (not very often with travelling so much), I find a project or two or four to work on. Today was such a day. Several weeks ago, I found 2 pairs of yoga pants in the ‘Free Box’ outside of our Community Building. It’s a really cool feature here at the Center with often times really cool finds and discoveries. The pants I stumbled upon were way too big but I made do by using elastic bands at the waist to cinch them up. I was tired of the bands bulking up everything I wore so I discovered a sewing machine here in the Costume Department. Giraji, the owner of said machine, was generous to offer it to me at any time that I sew chose. Very cool! For 3 hours I spent cutting and sewing (I even tightened up my favourite old pair of Lululemon pants which meant cutting them after my mending job — eek!), getting lost in my projects and almost missing dinner. Prior to that I went for an amazing hour walk getting lost in the Redwood Forest followed by a haunt through the garden in search of some lovely flowers. What an amazingly creative and beautiful day. One of my best here on the property yet!

In the Garden of Plenty

MMC gardenToday was a day filled with wonder, weariness and a certain emotional level of self-discovery and challenge. A family member went in for a surgical procedure that had my senses wound up and on the brink of tears and worry. I was wishing that I could have physically been there to support them through their process. Thankfully though, they have a huge life and love-force there to guide them through the next difficult few months whilst I am here with my beloved husband at MMC.

In my work service today, I spent several hours weeding through the magical garden that exists here at the Center. It is filled with vibrant yields of organic produce and flowers that, although off-season, still amaze me at their splendour and plenty (such a foreign concept: growing vegetables + flowers through the winter — outside of a greenhouse). With todays crew of 7 individuals, we were able to clear away a weed laden area that would be re-purposed as an additional growing area. Within a two hour time span, a large plot of wild overgrowth was cleared and opened, transforming it in to an enchanting new space of fertile availability. Interwoven in the mix were some herbs that I had never seen before beyond a herb book: mullein, foxglove, wild chamomile and milk thistle. I am not very proficient with learning names, especially that of the botanical kind (sort of like trying to learn the Sanskrit names of people within this community — foreign with no real context to relate them to). But I will take it slow and learn what I can, even if it means pestering people to repeat the names over and over again.

Within my 4 hour kitchen shift, I learned some interesting tidbits. One being that they use neither garlic nor onions in the kitchen. I can’t imagine eliminating those items from my vegetarian cooking diet as they’re usually a big part of my regiment in food prep. But as it happens here, those types of foods are suited to a specific Ayurvedic dosha, so the food preppers eliminate these items from the community diet. Same goes for spices or hot sauces. However the latter are provided as additional condiments. Garlic and onions are not. I actually miss them, to be honest! Secondly, I learned a neat tasty trick for preparing delicious mashed potatoes without Dairy. When mixing the potatoes, add Quinoa to thicken and intensify the protein and nutritional content of the mash. It is an incredibly yummy vegan option that I intend to try once I get back to cooking for us on a regular basic. Yummy! All in all a lovely day intermixed with the strong influence of meditative practices to bring an easier equilibrium to my internally wound emotions and senses. Life here on the mountain is proving to slowly bring evolving positive changes. Me likey …

Our Lululemon Photo Shoot

It’s been a while since feeling this excited at wanting to pounce out of bed and start my day (our wedding day and Skydiving in to the Blue Hole were both similar in depth and sentiment). An incredible surge of emotion welled within me from the time I opened my eyes … exaggerated and self-indulgent feelings of intrigue, excitement, nervousness, giddiness, blissful happiness, and worry (doubt as to the level of skill and/or connection Lululemon might be hoping or expecting from us) energized my spirit. I felt as if every nerve-ending within my body was electric and on fire. This incredible flowing life-force helped me embrace a sense of complete presence, savouring each and every moment of the day that unfolded. I didn’t want to miss a beat in this day of wonder and adventure.

We both felt incredibly rested … the comfortably sublime bed was a much-needed haven before the ‘storm’. And with some time to spare, we made our way down to the Business Centre to practice some of our more complicated mounts. Unfortunately, when trying a tricky knee balance, that I usually have a spotter for, I fell quite solidly on my wrists, jolting my shoulder. Lesson learned … better to approach the day with a bit more caution and grounding. I was literally flying too high!

The taxi ride to the UBC Boathouse (our location shoot for 8 hours today) was in an ultra-modern Prius. How appropriate! Never one to take taxis, I felt much more comfortable being ferried within an enviro-friendly vehicle. The weather was rather dreary and dark. Typical Vancouver winter weather. However, nothing could dampen my mood, truly! Upon arrival at the UBC Boathouse, I was in awe by the sheer beauty of the space that we were to call our play-space. A gorgeous synergy of wood, aluminum and big bold windows created a fabulous place to be creative in. The beauty of this day … the professionals looked to us for direction and catered to our every need, allowing us to feel at home from the moment we walked through the door. I savoured the camaraderie of our team. The crew was so talented with their individual skills and vision. I could get used to this! 🙂 Yet, I felt completely humbled by the experience. Who was I to be the centre of such attention? It felt surreal and almost out-of-place in my world of self-imposed introversion.

 

Through this whole experience, I’ve learned that everyone deserves the sort of opportunity that we’ve had today. A chance to be recognized, appreciated, pampered, connected with other like-minded souls while doing something that we truly love. That last point is wherein the magic lies. Loving life and what you do can only provide endless amounts of happiness, opportunity and gratitude. Offering our skills and passions to the world is where we excel and find the most gratitude and satisfaction. Care to join us on our next yogaFLIGHT adventure??!

Autumn Falls Upon Us


Today is the first day of Fall / Autumn, a time for inner change and harvest. Think ~ colours-of-the-sunset harvest vegetables, abundant earthy goodness and sturdy flowers (sunflowers!!!). Where Summer is about spontaneity and letting loose, Autumn, for me, is a time to reflect and do some deep inner housekeeping. Routines start to take shape as I consider doing more yoga and maybe check out a women’s networking group (check and check btw). I start to look at my goals from the Spring and begin a new plan for Winter. Possibly even make a plan for a vacation somewhere hot. I love the vibrant colors of Autumn, the fresh foods at the market and also the cooler evenings and gorgeous sunsets. I also love the rain. This to me signifies that it’s time for cleansing, yet again. Autumn feels very masculine to me, therefore I look to my partner for support, snuggles and warmth. Stews and soups begin to make their way to our dining table where we become thankful and vibrantly aware of our abundance and health. Here I am eternally grateful for our Vitamix. The perfect appliance for making rich hearty healthy soups.

Hope you enjoy this recipe from the  Minimalist Baker


Sweet Potato Coconut Curry Soup
A sweet and spicy Vegan soup with sweet potato, coconut milk, and yellow curry powder. Plenty creamy with a slight crunch
and heartiness from spicy baked chickpeas
Serves: 4


Ingredients:

{Soup}
  • 1 medium white onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2 Tbsp yellow curry powder
  • ½ tsp chipotle (or cayenne) powder
  • ¾ tsp sea salt + ½ tsp pepper
  • 3 cups coconut milk (either light coconut milk or plain coconut beverage)
  • chickpeas

{Spicy baked chickpeas}

  • 1 can chickpeas (2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ tsp yellow curry powder
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp ginger powder
  • pinch chipotle (or cayenne) powder


Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 (for chickpeas).
  2. Then start the soup by sweating the onions in a large pot over medium heat in ½ Tbsp coconut (or olive/canola) oil. Cook
    for a few minutes and then add garlic and stir.
  3. Season with ¼ tsp each salt and pepper and stir. Add sweet potatoes, curry powder, chipotle (or cayenne) and stir.
  4. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
  5. Add ¼ tsp more salt and pepper, coconut milk and cover.
  6. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 25 minutes more.
  7. In the meantime, prep your chickpeas by tossing them in olive oil and spices and spreading evenly on a baking sheet. Bake
    for 25-30 minutes or until crispy on the outside and slightly soft on the inside. Remove and set aside for serving.
  8. At the end of 25 minutes, taste and adjust seasonings as needed. I added about ¼ tsp more salt and a pinch more chipotle.
    Then puree using an immersion blender, food processor or blender (we use our Vitamix). Transfer back to the pot if needed and keep heat on low
    until ready to serve.
  9. Will keep in the fridge for several days and the freezer for a month or so.

Yoga + Slacklining in Montreal

After a quick visit to check out the Skyventure windtunnel in Montreal (which is pretty impressive in its design compared to the other tunnels), we made our way to ‘Parc du Mont Royal’ to pursue a new-to-us type of play. Slacklining is very similar to walking on a tight rope. A 1 inch flat tubular length of webbing (similar to what rock climbers use) is anchored between two stable and solid points (often trees are used). Add the concepts of yoga with intense focus and breath, and you enter the company of the Yogaslackers. US based Chelsey Gribbon and Jason Magness define their version of slacklining (aka ‘slackasana’) as “distilling the art of yogic concentration. A very unique practice that totally redefined my idea of what balance and breath was all about. Intensity in mental focus and sustained full breathes are mandatory, similar to meditation in motion. In fact, the success to remaining on the slackline is fourfold:

  1. Commitment
  2. Core
  3. Breath
  4. Focus (‘Drishti’ is the sanskrit word for gaze, which in yoga, helps with balance.)

I went in to the workshop literally stating: “my balance really sucks and I’m not certain if this will be accessible to me.” Talk about putting my limitations out there for all to see! However, within the 2 hour workshop, I was amazed at my tremendous steps of bravery and progress. I’ll be honest … walking on a 1 inch piece of tensioned webbing is a tricky intimidating process, especially with my tendency towards klutz-dom. But with gentle persistence, encouragement and a big helping of patience, I was able to balance in ways that were unexpected and incredibly rewarding. So enamoured was I in the process, slaDE and I invested in our own slackline kit (a special line and simple tensioning system)! Expect to see us slacklining at a dropzone near you.

Here’s what the Yogaslackers website has to say about yoga on the slackline:

Despite the seemingly impossible nature of the act, it is achievable by almost anyone with a little bit of perseverance and patience.  The practice has many layers, simultaneously developing focus, dynamic balance, power, breath, core integration, flexibility, and confidence.  Utilizing standing postures, sitting postures, arm balances, kneeling postures, inversions and unique vinyasa, a skilled slackline yogi is able to create a flowing yoga practice without ever falling from the line.  Once certain skills have been mastered the line can be set up longer – making it much harder to balance on.  For a comprehensive listing of asana (poses) that have been done on the line please visit team member Adi Carter’s page.

Elora

Elora is spectacular. Our current home away from home, where the village is perched on the edge of a dramatic gorge. Elora Gorge is a conservation area where the Grande and Irvine Rivers nestle the rugged terrain and rolling hills, making this area a magical and picturesque dream hideaway. The perfect spot for us to decompress after our crazy past month. And with the generosity of our friend’s 35 foot driveway, we were able to squeak our trailer snugly into a precise fitting refuge meant just for us, savouring in this moment. Yay for kind neighbours and a township that allows for driveway parking.

My favourite memories of our week in Elora? There are SO many … may the photos accompanying my thoughts create a wonderful picture of the beauty found here.

Having Jennifer read her 1.5 hour one-woman play to us in an Irish accent throughout.


Walking with Jen, Roger and their animals.


Savouring the freshly blooming flowers and transcendant in Lilac heaven

Escaping for walks along the Gorge.

Enthralled by the beauty of Nature and evening campfires

Spending an evening with Silver family friends in their gorgeous Elora home, sharing yogaFLIGHT and talking in to the wee hours.

Loads of quiet time to contemplate, take photos and read.