One winter afternoon in Vancouver, I sat at a cafe, drinking tea and writing in my notebook. Occasionally I’d open the novel I was reading, check my iPhone, or gaze out the window. After a while, my friend arrived. Amid our conversation, I noticed a … Continue reading How to eat an almond croissant
“You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do.” If Carl Jung is right (and he probably is), I haven’t been a blogger lately. I had high hopes to post frequently in August. After all, I had a few weeks’ break from yoga teaching. (In contrast, last summer in Pune I was immersed and extra alert (first time at RIMYI, first time in India). But I averaged a mind-boggling (for me) three posts per week. Then and there, I was compelled to write.) When I don’t write and my blog stagnates, I feel a bit guilty—as I do when some of my New Year’s resolutions remain undone. With only four months … Continue reading Four months left in 2015: What will you do with it?
In late February, I got the green light to go to Pune in August. (Among Iyengar yogis, “going to Pune” means going to study at the Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute.) Five months to prepare. To me, this meant buying Lonely Planet India, finding an apartment in Pune, booking flights, getting vaccinations, avoiding injury, and reading up on India. Five months is enough time to do it all–except the reading. While I’m going to Pune primarily for yoga, I have a hunch that the Pune experience encompasses more than classes at the institute. I’ve never traveled to India, and I suspect that my yogic challenges will go beyond … Continue reading Reading list: India
Last month I found myself at YVR, awaiting a flight, oddly without anything to read. I skimmed the magazines and books, noting the jacked-up Canadian prices. Will Schwalbe’s The End of Your Life Book Club, which I recognized from a review, caught my eye. Flipping through the book, I saw a reference to Somerset Maugham’s The Painted Veil, which I’d read in June. He’s one of my favorite authors so, on a whim, I bought Schwalbe’s memoir. It turned out to be a gem (definitely worth my $20). Schwalbe’s plot is driven by his mother’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, but the … Continue reading Reading, doing yoga, and other “essential” activities
If a yoga teacher refers to your psoas, do you know what she’s talking about? The Iyengar method of teaching yoga is precise and detailed. Instructions are conveyed visually (through demos) and verbally (through words). Teachers sometimes discuss whether specific anatomical terms should be used. Is it better to say “hamstrings” or “back thighs”? Can students identify “psoas,” “sacrum,” and even “big-toe mound”? The common wisdom is that teachers should not bombard beginners with overly specific terminology (which the average layperson would need to look up in an anatomy textbook). Having practiced law for a nanosecond myself, I can relate … Continue reading Where’s your psoas? Your sacrum? Your big-toe mound?
Whether New Year’s Day is a big deal or just another day to you, it probably prods us all to take stock of the past year. Imagine one of those “Major Events of 2012” articles written not about world news, but about your life. What would that list include? Of course, life comprises not only major events, but day-to-day work, relationships, activities, chores, and habits. The stuff we do most of the time. Maybe it’s the little things that really color our years. I keep a list of books I read for fun. In some years, the list is regrettably … Continue reading Taking stock of the year
Since I write for Lonely Planet, people assume that I’m constantly traveling. I’m often asked about where I’m going, where I’ve been. Actually, I take only family and work trips nowadays. This year my destinations were familiar ones: Hawaii, San Francisco, Berkeley, and Santa Cruz. For required work meetings, I also flew to Atlanta, my first view of the Deep South. I haven’t had an open-ended journey in eons. I’m currently more focused on Iyengar yoga training and teaching in Vancouver. And, truth be told, I’m somewhat of a homebody. Even homebound, however, I could relate to a Japanese proverb … Continue reading In traveling, a companion; in life, compassion
Hilo rains are unpredictable. So my parents and I took advantage of a sunny day and headed toward Volcano. Before reaching Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, we stopped at my dad’s farm lot, a lifetime “project” that stocked our household with bananas, pineapples, jaboticaba, and much more. We then visited a sightseeing attraction among Japanese tourists, Akatsuka Orchids since my dad knows Moriyasu Akatsuka, who founded the company in the 1970s and grows gorgeous orchids for sale worldwide. I read this sign near a display. It brought to mind the potted orchids I see in random garden shops and corner grocers. Most of low-priced … Continue reading Bloom where you’re planted?
Vancouver’s indie Book Warehouse is closing its West Broadway location (sigh). All stock is discounted 25%. I was tempted by 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die*, a 960-page reference edited by Peter Boxall, English professor, University of Sussex. But the sheer number put me off. It’s probably impossible to read all 1,001 selections, but I crunched the numbers anyway. If I read 25 books a year, it would take 40 years. If I rack up a staggering 50 books a year, it would take 20 years. Actually, popular blogger Steve Pavlina made a compelling argument for this very goal, Read … Continue reading So many books, so little time
Years ago I discovered Lydia Davis‘s fragmentary short stories. While extremely brief and lacking standard beginning-middle-end structure, they were strangely compelling. Recently I was reminded of her: the title of my last post, “The End of the Story,” is the title of her only novel. For fun I Googled her name and found an interesting 2008 interview in The Believer. When asked about how Samuel Beckett‘s writing influenced her, she responded: I came to Beckett very early on and was startled by his pared-down style. As I practiced writing (in my early twenties), I actively studied his way of putting sentences … Continue reading The challenge to my intelligence
Whenever I visit my little niece, I end up reading children’s stories that delight me as much as they do her. My favorite of the moment is The Fire Cat by Esther Averill. It’s a 1960 classic, with drawings that capture the essence of Pickles, a stray kitty with big paws and big dreams. In the three-part story, Pickles faces the universal challenges of life: Search for one’s purpose. Adrift in the wrong environment. Choosing purpose over privilege. Being both good and bad. Being paralyzed by fear. Getting into a fine mess. Getting a second chance. Working hard to improve … Continue reading Philosophy from a children’s book: The Fire Cat
I stumbled upon this YouTube video, “Don’t Take Anything Personally,” through elephant journal. It’s unbearably New Age-y and self help-y, yet strangely compelling. It highlights one chapter of a book, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz, that keeps popping into my life. I’ve never owned or even read the book, but last year it caught my eye near the yoga section at the wonderful Green Apple Books in San Francisco. Reading the title, I suddenly recalled someone (a guy sitting next to me on a plane?) highly recommending it ages ago. I skimmed the entire book, short and sweet, with just four … Continue reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz