Friday, November 30, 2012

Gratitude Day 30 - Grateful for the Cold

Today I'm grateful for the cold air. When I step outside and breathe it in I feel like my entire body is being energized and stimulated. It wakes me up. 

Cold weather is not my favorite but it certainly has some benefits! And by being grateful for it I can realize those benefits.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Gratitude Day 29 - Thankful for Homemade Veggie Soup

Today I'm thankful that I took the time last night to make homemade veggie soup. This stuff is seriously soup of the gods. I feel nourished and healed when I eat it. And I'm grateful that it yields a ton of leftovers!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Gratitude Day 28 - Grateful for Facebook

So after a few days of not logging onto to Facebook in order to not procrastinate all the work I need to get done, I logged on this evening to find amazing posts of gratitude, inspiration and positivity. Wow is all I can say. And thank you Facebook for providing a way for me to be connected to all this goodness.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gratitude Day 27 - Thankful for Tuna Salad

Tonight I'm thankful for my quick and easy dinner of tuna salad. And the wonderful dude that made it for me.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Gratitude Day 26 - Grateful for Monday

Today I'm grateful for Monday. Mondays can suck. The weekend is over. Back to the grind. I didn't say that I necessarily look forward to Monday. But, once it's here, I tend to look at Monday as the first day of the week, a fresh start, the day to ramp up the week. The day to set the tone for what will hopefully be a productive week. So, thank you Monday for always being here to give my week a fresh start.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gratitude Day 25 - Grateful for Leftovers

I think this title says it all. So, so grateful for leftovers. I really haven't had to cook since Thursday. And I'm a-ok with that!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Gratitude Day 24 - Grateful for Awareness

Today I'm grateful for awareness, specifically awareness of knowing what I need to do to nurture myself. It's been a very, very busy month. Lots of photo shoots which means lots of weekend work. 

Tonight we had an invitation to a surprise birthday party for a friend. Back in October I rsvp'd yes because at that time I had NO photo shoots lined up! We were psyched to see a bunch of people we hadn't seen in so very long. But then my scheduled started filling up, and my energy reserves started dwindling.

Thanksgiving was a full day of cooking and being "on." Friday was our anniversary which meant more indulging in wine. And now here it is Saturday evening and I am beat AND I have more shoots tomorrow, early too.

I had to make the call to not go to the party. It was tough. But I needed some rest and relaxation and I needed to prep for tomorrow. 

My awareness that I needed to stay home and take care of things, primarily myself had to be listened to. 

Of course, when I bail on things like this I always feel like I'm missing out. Usually I'm not. But this time I did! Turns out it was not only a surprise birthday, but a surprise marriage proposal and a surprise wedding. We missed out for sure. 

But even though we missed out I still felt much better about being home. So I'm also grateful for listening to my intuition.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Gratitude Day 23 - Thankful for My Partner in Crime

Today I'm thankful for Mr. Shahin "The Great" Sharifi. Today is our 9th wedding anniversary. Today is also our 13th anniversary of being together. And it was 11 years ago today that he totally surprised me by asking me to marry him. 

I'm thankful that he always makes me laugh. I'm thankful that he is so non-phased by cat puke and other cat bodily functions. I'm grateful that he calls me out on stupid things I do, reminding me "that's not very yoga like." I'm thankful that he beautifies our yard and house and created the Jasmine Lounge oasis in our backyard. 

I'm grateful that he is compassionate and generous. I'm thankful that he can get a good hate on with me:) I'm thankful that he is humble. I'm grateful that he is forgiving. I'm thankful that he never once verbally got irritated with me during vacation when I kept saying "mon" at the end of every sentence. Like "stay to the left mon" or "rum and coke mon."

I'm grateful that he recognizes that I'm always right, or at least let's me believe that. I'm thankful that every time I go out of town he's like omg, what am I gonna do without you and then cleans the whole house so I come home to a spic and span home.

I'm thankful that he puts up with my crazy schedule, working all the time ways. I'm thankful that he encourages me to be totally lazy and indulge in things like cupcakes and cocktails. I'm thankful he's a hot, ass rock star, so I can be a hot ass rock star's wife. 

I'm grateful for my partner in crime of the last 13 years and I'm grateful that he is here to continue to be the yin to my yang.

Happy Anniversary Baby!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Gratitude Day 22 - Thankful for the Feast

I made a kick ass feast today. And I infused it with love:) I'm so, so grateful that I have the means to purchase all the food. I'm grateful that I could share it with my wonderful husband, my brother, my father and my brother's friend. And I'm grateful for the awesome walnut pumpkin pie recipe I found. Wow! And now I'm grateful all I have to do is go pass out:)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Gratitude Day 21 - Grateful for My Girlfriends

Today I'm grateful for my girlfriends, old and new, you know who you are:) Some of you I've known for almost 25 years. And oh, the adventures we've had. On that note, I'm grateful to be alive after some of those adventures:) Some of you I met when I went back to school to Old Dominion. Some of you I met through yoga and teacher training. And some of you I just met a few months ago at Kripalu but damn if it didn't seem like we've known each other forever! My girlfriends are the best. Boosting me up when I'm down, not letting me get away with stupid crap and always a source of something, whether it's positive energy or a beer drinking throw down, that I need. I love you girls:)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Gratitude Day 20 - Grateful for My Yoga Students

Today I'm grateful for the lovely people that attend my yoga classes. Some are complete newbies, eager to learn and experience the power that yoga holds. Some are regulars that come to move and flow with grace. Some come when they can, carving out time in their busy schedules, giving me the honor of guiding them through a practice.

Each and everyone of them come with open minds and hearts and allow me to share my understanding of yoga and how to live a more spiritual and fulfilled life. They let me play my choice of music. They let me offer asana and pranayama that can heal their bodies, minds and spirits. They are my teachers:)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gratitude Day 19 - Grateful for Body Pump

Today I'm grateful for the Body Pump class at the gym. Shawn and I started going together back in April. I've determined I have a love/hate relationship with that class. I love it because I don't have to think since there's a great instructor yelling orders at me. I love it because it's a quick hour. I love it because it's a great workout and I ALWAYS feel great when I'm done. I hate it because DAMN IT'S HARD! And apparently I'm a wimp. So thank you Body Pump for my weekly ass kicking!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Gratitude Day 18 - Grateful for the Laziness

Today I'm grateful for laziness. And the opportunity to be lazy. Because I have nothing scheduled for the whole day. In fact, I don't plan on leaving the house at all. So my laziness will entail staying in jammies until I can't take it anymore (usually until around 2pm:), surfing the internet, browsing Pinterest, hopefully napping with kitties or at least playing with them and as much nothing as I can muster.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gratitude Day 17 - Grateful for the Busy-ness

Today I'm grateful for the busy-ness that's been going on. This month I have 9, NINE, photo shoots. Whoa! And yes, that's making things pretty darn busy. 

But, these people and their families are so awesome and amazing. I'm very lucky to have clients that refer me to their friends and family. I'm blessed and honored that they are choosing me to document their lives. 

Soon enough the busy-ness will be over. And I'll be grateful for that too:)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Gratitude Day 16 - Grateful for the Outtakes

Today I'm grateful for the outtakes in the photos I take of families. I just love them. You know the photos where the dad's eyes are closed, the mom has her mouth open because she's about to laugh, the baby is looking at the dog who is licking the baby's face. 

I usually trash those pics because folks generally don't like to see themselves like that. Believe me I'm the same way. BUT, through the eyes of someone else these photos are awesome. It really shows that life is just a big outtake. 

Seriously, how many of us walk around posed and smiling? Life is messy and I think messy photos are great! You just can't photoshop life so why not embrace the big mess that it is:)

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Gratitude Day 15 - Thankful for the Insecure, Control Freak Who Doesn't Pay Attention

Yesterday I had an encounter with an insecure, control freak who doesn't pay attention. Note that this description is not made out of judgement but merely observation and this person has called themselves these things. Note that I have no patience for people who don't pay attention on a regular basis. Zero, none, zippy.

I certainly don't claim to be perfect and am keenly aware of my imperfections. And that awareness leads me to try harder to not continually do stupid things. But enough about me, back to the insecure, control freak who doesn't pay attention and why I am thankful for that person. Shawn will love this because he had to listen to me rant about this person and now here I am thankful for them! I've surely lost my mind, right? 

So this situation with this person is not the first, in fact, it is an ongoing thing. And there is no doubt it will continue until I make certain changes where there will be no reason to have contact with this person any longer. I've been working on letting go of the irritation, anger and frustration that ends up taking a hold of me when I do deal with this person. And I thought I had been doing a good job. Until I exploded yesterday. 

I didn't explode towards them. But the anger, irritation and frustration took over and turned a minor headache into a full on raging, can't function, gotta go home and lay down migraine. While I was laying in bed I came to the realization that I'm not really letting go but rather pushing the irritations into a bucket. And the bucket keeps filling until like yesterday it overflowed and left me a mess. 

So I'm thankful for the insecure, control freak who doesn't pay attention because now I know what's really happening within myself. Today I'm drilling a hole in that irritation bucket so that the irritations that go in there will just drain out instead of filling up. 

And I'm also thankful that I got to take a nap with kitties yesterday!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Gratitude Day 14 - Grateful for Amazing Beauty

Today I'm grateful for this amazing beauty that I get to see for about three weeks every year. This is the view from my kitchen window, as well as our living room window. What a great thing to see as the blinds raise. These are some of the last trees in the neighborhood to change color and they are just spectacular.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Gratitude Day 13 - Grateful for My Car

Today I'm grateful for my car(s). The old girl 1995 Honda with 230k miles and the Scion with a little over 100k miles. Having the two cars means I can drive to work. I don't have to take public transportation. 

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against public transportation, in fact I use it to go into DC more often than not. I've used the bus and Metro before and it got me to where I needed to be, usually without issue. 

But today I'm grateful for my car because it's raining out and standing in the rain waiting for a bus would suck. I've done that before. I've also trodded through snow to get to a bus stop. 

I'm grateful for my car because it took me minimal time to get to work. I've done the ride a bus to another bus stop to take another bus to the Metro to get to another bus that will take me home and then walked home about 1/2 mile. Yes, it took about 2 1/2 hours, one way.

I'm also grateful for the money for gas. Although to take public transportation from where I live now to where I work now, it would cost about twice as much as I pay for gas. 

So yes, I'm grateful for that privilege and when it's time to buy a new car I will absolutely be looking at something environmentally friendly. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

Gratitude Day 12 - Grateful for the Pain in My Ass

Yes, I have a pain in my ass. Literally! I have scoliosis and because of that my back and pelvis are not aligned optimally. So sometimes I get back pain, like a strained quadratus lumborum which isn't comfortable. Or I get tension headaches because the curve in my lower spine also causes issues in the upper spine, so my neck gets out of whack. Or I get a pain in my ass! Right now my gluteus medius is inflamed and strained. Basically, the curvature in my spine causes all kinds of muscle imbalances. Some are too strong and overdeveloped, some are too weak and underdeveloped. 

So why am I grateful for the pain in my ass? Because it reminds me that I have to be vigilant in keeping my body strong and flexible. I'm just like everyone else and when I'm feeling good it's easy to forget that the scoliosis is still there and just let the specific exercises and stretches slide. But I can't do that. I have to be consistent with these things to avoid pain. 

Pain teaches us that something in the body is wrong and we need to address it. There are a lot of people who ignore pain. Or when they are in pain just give up. And that's the exact opposite of what we have to do. 

Yes, it's uncomfortable to try and move through pain or address it. Yes, I would rather sleep 10 or 20 more minutes in the morning. BUT, and the big but is YES, I want to be able to do yoga, exercise, hike, bike, walk, stand, move on my own until the day I die.

So thank you inflamed, irritated and strained gluteus medius for reminding me that I need to get the hell up in the morning and do the things I need to do to stay strong. No excuses.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gratitude Day 11 - Grateful for our Veterans and All Military

Wednesday of last week I attended a Veteran's Honoring program where the founder of the company I work for was a guest of honor. Lots of veterans, current military and government officials. 

During the keynote speech by a retired Brigadier General he reminded us that everyone who joins the military takes an oath to protect our rights with their life. 

They all make tremendous sacrifices, some the ultimate sacrifice of their life. And for that I am beyond grateful.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Gratitude Day 10 - Thankful for a Baby Nephew

Today I'm thankful for this little guy, my nephew. We had a visit today and he's a little less boring than he was a month ago. 

Shawn and I are excited to be the cool Aunt and Uncle and can't wait for him to be older so we can do fun things with this kiddo.

Here's part of some conversation from today ... 

Shawn to my brother: Thanks for having a baby for all of us. That we can come visit. And then go home. 

Hehe! Seriously though, we hope to have an important role in this guy's life. To help his parents in anyway we can. And to offer any guidance we can so his journey through this life is awesome. 

Thank you my little Nephew for brightening all of our lives!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Gratitude Day 9 - Grateful for the Basics

Today I'm grateful for the basics. A home that is intact. Food in my pantry. Heat. Running water. Gas in my car. Power. A healthy, strong body. A loving husband, family and friends.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Gratitude Day 8 - Grateful for My Job

Today, I'm grateful for my job. 

In spite of the craziness that happens around here sometimes, the lack of support there might be, the general things that I disagree with, the lower than average salary and the feeling that I often don't get to do what I'm really here for, good design, I am very, very lucky and thankful. 

I have complete autonomy. I have a very flexible schedule. I can make up my own projects. I have co-workers that are genuinely concerned about the welfare of those less fortunate (we are a human services nonprofit). I can leave my desk a complete mess and nobody cares. I can wear jeans everyday. I have a pretty easy commute. Deadlines are rare (most design professionals have constant, hardcore deadlines). I get four weeks of paid vacation and six weeks of sick leave along with all the holidays observed by the feds. I can work at home if I want/need. And I have a window view:)

I have friends that are and have been in living hell at their jobs. And when I say hell, I'm thinking hell might actually be better. The things I've heard, I'm just stunned. Sexual harassment, lying, no compassion, bullying, setting people up for failure. Whoa!

I've certainly done my share of complaining and there have been times when I've thought I've been in hell. But compared to some of my friends, this is nothing but some minor irritations.

And now some random gratitude ... I'm thankful for hot tea on a cold day, other people's blogs that inspire me, that Shawn cleaned the kitchen the other night (it was a wreck!) and that I don't have to stop at the grocery store tonight!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Gratitude Day 7 - Grateful for Yoga

Oh hell yeah, I'm grateful for yoga. And not just for the great things it does for the body, mind and spirit. One of the biggest things I love about yoga is the sense of community that it builds. 

I've had the privilege to teach yoga for over 10 years now, seven at Pure Prana in Old Town Alexandria. And over the years I've gotten to know a lot of people. Like minded people. People that believe in the power of yoga and how little things can make a huge difference. How just one person doing their part counts and counts big. And this happens everywhere yoga is practiced. Whether it's in your home, at a studio, at a gym, at a church or in a conference room. People are doing things that are raising the collective consciousness. 

I would say 75% of my friends on Facebook are people I know through the yoga community. Some of them I have never even met in person. During the election season, none of these people ever made hateful remarks or posts. Some of them voiced their opinions but without anger and judgement. I can't say that about other friends on Facebook. 

Tuesday night in my class we all needed to release tension from the election. So I decided we were going to practice loving kindness and compassion while we did our asana, opening our heart centers and then releasing all that love and compassion into the world. 

While we were grounding and centering we practiced extended exhale breathing which creates equanimity or level headedness, tranquility and calm. While we were moving we practiced drawing in compassion from the universe to ourselves and then releasing back out. And at the end before we laid down to rest, we asked ourselves who is an adversary that needs loving kindness and compassion, a person, a group, a nation, the world, a system, whatever. And then we did a big old heart opening backbend to send that compassion out. And I asked everyone there to send loving kindness and compassion to our next president so that he can be guided by love to make the decisions that are best for us all.

And while it was just us, 19 like minded folks plus me, doing this, you can bet your ass it did something. I could feel it. This little community of 19 people Tuesday night made a difference. Every little bit counts and every little bit makes a difference.

Now what if EVERYONE in the whole world sent out a little compassion? Can you imagine? Isn't that what people like Jesus, Mohammad, Buddha, Mother Theresa, the Dali Lama all have suggested? Hmmmm....

My best friend at Goddess Powered wrote about the same thing. I loved where she wrote, "How's that hatred working for ya? What good things have come about because of your anger and frustration?". So, so true. 

I am so, so grateful for the yoga community. And with this I send loving kindness and compassion out to everyone. Not just people I like but people who I may not care for personally, people who are lost, governments, systems, adversaries. Everyone.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Gratitude Day 6 - Grateful for Choice

Election Day. Finally, it's here and all the direct mail, radio ads, tv ads and signs will be gone tomorrow. Well, maybe there will be lingering signs. 

So today I am grateful that I live in a nation where you have the right to vote and choose who YOU believe in. And for the most part you aren't condemned for making your choice. You might have to put up with some verbal abuse but at least there aren't men running through the streets with machetes trying to sway your vote or kill you, or something. 

I'm also grateful that if there is an ad I have the choice to listen to it or change the station. I'm grateful that if someone is verbally condemning me for my choice in this election, I can choose to simply walk away instead of engage in a pointless argument.

I'm so grateful that I have awareness that leads me to choose compassion and understanding instead of hate and judgement. And I'm grateful that no matter the outcome of the election, I still live in a better place than pretty much the rest of the world.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gratitude Day 5 - Grateful for An Extra Hour

Today I'm grateful for the extra hour we got yesterday. Yeah, it means that it will be getting dark at about 5:00pm BUT it's light out when I get up for work! Woot!! 

Plus with that extra hour yesterday I managed to get a photo shoot AND grocery shopping done by noon! Double woot!! 

AND one more gratitude tidbit ... I'm thankful the power went out for us during the storm. Yes, I am. Because it forced us to clean out the fridge and freezer. 

And one more! See what happens when you're grateful, suddenly there's a ton of stuff to be grateful for. I'm full of gratitude that I live in a place where there are grocery stores stocked with good, wholesome, food, basically anything I want and not overly expensive. Now that clean fridge and freezer is stocked!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Gratitude Day 4 - Grateful for a Baby Hug

I had a photoshoot with an awesome family yesterday afternoon. It was their last in the Year in the Life series with their baby girl. I remember a year ago when Baby C was born and I was doing her newborn shots and I told her mom a year from now we're gonna be here saying, omg where did the last year go! And sure enough, we were. 

We were pretty much done and I was sitting on the floor putting stuff away when Baby C walked up to me. I was like Yes? And then she leaned in and gave me a hug. Yes, my heart melted! It was SO sweet and cute. I felt honored! Her mom said she just doesn't do that for anyone. 

So today I'm grateful for the Baby Hug I received.

With this I'm also grateful for all of the photoshoots I had this weekend. Three total. So yes it was busy but what awesome families. Cute kids, good weather. I'm blessed to be able to do what I do and capture special moments in these folks' lives.

I'm also thankful that the storm last week didn't blow every leaf of every tree in the metro area. I had great color from Mother Nature as a backdrop.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Gratitude Day 3 - Grateful for Traffic

Wait? Huh? What? Grateful for traffic??? What am I? Crazy?

Well, maybe just a little. But seriously. I'm grateful for the traffic I sat in on my way home from work last night. If I hadn't been sitting, I would not have been able to get these pics of this glorious, dramatic November sky at sunset. If I hadn't been sitting in the traffic I would have noticed the sunset but not been able to really see it. So thanks Northern VA Friday evening rush hour traffic. You made it possible for me to really enjoy this! And thank you Mother Nature for offering such beauty. It was stunning!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Gratitude Day 2 - Thankful for Freddie Fang

Say hello to Freddie Fang. Freddie Fang wandered into our yard about five weeks ago and never left. Mind you, we were feeding him and everyone knows if you feed a stray cat they will never leave:) 

Freddie Fang is one cool dude. He's got this long fang that hangs down out of his mouth, hence Freddie Fang or as we sometimes call him, Fang. He is super chill and friendly and has the longest meows ever. He likes pets and likes to sit in your lap. 

Shawn and I decided let's try to keep him and integrate him into our family of two other cats, Lenny Boy and Lucy Poo. We had been talking about getting a kitten but at one point I was like it would be nice to save an older kitty. And what happens an older kitty comes strolling into our backyard. 

Before we could let him in he had to be tested for viruses and parasites and we needed to find out if he was a boy or girl. Lots of fluffy fur hiding the private parts. Took him to the vet, he was all clean and we brought him in. 

Knowing that it's not a good idea to just throw cats together we put him in our bedroom with a litter box in the master bath and that's where he's been hanging out for about four weeks. Over the last four weeks we had tried integrating him with the other cats. Lots of yowling, hissing, fear and anxiety ensued. At first I thought Freddie Fang is being aggressive towards the other cats. Wanting to chase and back them into corners. On Monday, he chased Lenny Boy and got him cornered and the screaming coming out of Lenny Boy was just awful. I was like this just isn't going to work.

I was worried. Worried there would be a fight and that would set a precedent that fighting would be ok. Worried that Lenny Boy would always be scared and not be his sweet, chill self anymore. Worried that Lucy Poo would go hide somewhere and we'd rarely see her again. So over the course of the last four weeks I never fully embraced the idea of adding Freddie Fang to the mix 100%.

You see I liked the dynamic the way it was. Lenny and Lucy and their antics. I was attached to that dynamic. And remaining attached to that dynamic has been causing suffering in the form of anxiety. Yes, the lesson is coming:)

Yesterday I asked Shawn to try some integration with me not there. As in remove the true cause of anxiety that's projecting it throughout the household and see what happens. And guess what, it wasn't so bad. Yeah there was still hissing and growling but no fights. Yeah Lucy was still hiding but she and Lenny Boy both recovered fine. We did it again later when I was home and Freddie wasn't aggressive at all. It was Lenny Boy being a pussy (pun intended and sorry for the language, I absolutely couldn't resist!). Jees, did I raise my boy kitty to be a pussy and not stand up for himself? Hmmm ... I think so. Thankfully I don't have kids. God knows what kind of issues they would have!

My awakening that I seem to be causing more anxiety than the cats themselves and the fact that I have been attached to the current dynamic led to a decision. Freddie Fang is staying. The dynamic will change. It would eventually one way or another. I am releasing attachment and in doing so am also releasing anxiety. 

So today I am grateful for Freddie Fang for reminding me that attachment causes suffering and that I can change that. I am grateful to that fluffy cat for reminding me that change is gonna happen and you just gotta deal with it (you would think I would know this by now!!). 

This makes it's official ... welcome Freddie Fang Shabibi. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Gratitude Day 1 - Thankful for the Cold

November 1! I can't believe how fast this year is passing. Wasn't it just New Year's Day?? 

Well, now that it's November and Thanksgiving comes in November it's time for a daily Gratitude post. My friend Gretchen started doing a daily Gratitude post on Facebook a few years ago. She inspired me to do it last year. I think I've inspired someone to do it this year:) 

This year I'm going to do it here because if you want to rise up out of the muck one of the fastest, easiest ways is to be grateful, even for the muck itself. 

It's super easy to be grateful for all the good stuff. But can you find something to be grateful for in the crap? The traffic you sat in on your way to work? The power that was out because of the storm? 

For example, when Shawn was paralyzed, how could I be grateful for anything? Well, I was grateful for a lot. Most importantly that he was alive! Because that infection could have killed him given another day or two. 

So here we go ... Day 1 of a month of Gratitude ... today I'm grateful that when our power was out because of the storm this week it was cold outside. Yes, I'm grateful that it was cold outside because that meant the cooler of the few perishable items I wanted to try and save sat outside in a big old natural refrigerator. And that meant that when we had no power to cook I was able to eat leftover salad! Yes, I was bundled up, shivering but at least I had lunch!

And of course it's ok to be grateful for the good stuff! And with that I'm super, super grateful that our power came back on after a mere 24 hours.