Friday, 4 October 2013

Quoi de neuf?

Quoi de neuf (French for what's new?) Well, naturally, lots of happenings around here and still plenty of time to relax on island time. We've had birthdays, island trips, med school tests, some incidents of theft, new yoga classes, and now a brand new business. Let me elaborate.

While back home the news is ridden with talk of war and federal government shut down, in Dominica, life has been more simple. We don't have a TV to turn on the show of impending doom, although, we do try to stay in the know... just enough to realize, actually we're glad not to be wrapped up in that. Well that's basically how Steve and I normally live, we try to remain at least somewhat detached from the ways of the world.

So while all that was going down, Steve lost and found his bike which involved a high speed car chase. I went shopping for the house in Roseau and took a trip to jump off some cliffs. Steve aced his first mini, while I started new yoga classes. Right now I have 3 regular yoga classes a week - a free community class with my Ross Spouses Organization peeps, a Mommy & Me class that is a blast, and we've moved The Champs class to Friday mornings. I've been working a few days a week on marketing for The Champs Picard while Steve makes power points and presentations for test reviews and other Teaching Assistant activities (he's a head TA in the anatomy lab). OH and I'm taking French class twice a week, so I am now thinking about going to hang out in a French speaking island to practice at the end of our next French class semester. Martinique anyone? Our incredible new camera went missing (very sad....), BUT I did go to Roseau and register my business this week! So maybe with all the big big bucks I'll be making (ha! big joke) I can buy us a new one. I'm pretty thrilled about the opportunities as a new business owner.

Announcing Yoga Lifestyle Holistic Services! I am now legal to teach yoga and offer other (holistic) business services on the island ;). Funny store about that name. Apparently in Dominica, you can't have your business name be anything that doesn't fully describe what business service you offer. Live and learn people. I am loving the life of an entrepreneur. In November I travel to the Bahamas for my Thai Yoga Massage Certification, which I am suuuuuper looking forward to. I will head to the Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat on Paradise Island for 2 and a half weeks. I am so looking forward to living ashram life again for at least some time. I hope to see many of my yogi family members, have some time for growth and reflection, and go deeper in my knowledge of healing through yoga.

I have maintained contact with my friends back in NYC who want to do some wholesale apparel business in the Caribbean. I am interested in helping them - one yogawear and dancewear line, the other fashion-swim. So I am on the lookout for opportunities to develop some sales for them. Both are in the very early phases. I can see selling yoga clothing in the Ross community - if anyone is interested in sweet yoga capris, let me know! And the bathing suits, well this should create an opportunity to do a little more island hopping to some of the more tourist centered islands. Wish me luck!

Oh and Happy 32nd to Steve! His birthday was on Tuesday and the anniversary of our 1st wedding was Monday. And to add to the big week of anniversaries, one day earlier, was the anniversary of the arrival of our kitten to the family. Tuesday brought rain so I made Steve a big lunch and baked him a cake (Gluten and Egg free of course!). And you won't believe (for some that know Steve can be difficult to coral), I was successful in throwing him a surprise party. He was 30 minutes late to his own party and suspected nothing. Even though it was an hour or so long party, I was so thankful that he was able to have that spirited excitement and love from friends on his special day. He's such a special man, it was the least I could do to celebrate him.

Bense Pool Cliff Jump

Stocking Up in Roseau

Night at Screw's Sulpher Spa

Headed out of Bense - that truck was HOT! (and by hot I mean our butts wear burning)
Our Lovely Open Kitchen/Living Room and Some Laundry Hanging
Cake Baking, Icing Making
Cake Time on Steve's Day
Learning to Salsa

Thursday, 5 September 2013

New Semester, New Dawn

With a new semester comes new excitement and dawns fresh challenges. You see, in the Picard community, the energy revolves around the Ross Medical School calendar. At the same time, this is also a new school year for all of our friends and family back home... and mostly around the world. It happens also to be the Jewish New Year. Aptly, as Steve faces his new semester, I am also meeting new opportunities.

But let's back up a little bit and bask in the glories of the past month. I got to do a few of my new favorite things with friends new and old. Britney and Donald (Steve's best bud since days of yore) came to visit. We filled our schedule with activities that we hoped would blow their minds. I know Donald was playing it off when he remarked that "yeah, Dominica's nice"... but I know they thought that Dominica and our sailing trip were rad. We went on a hike to one of the most magnificent waterfalls I have experienced yet: Victoria Falls. The falls size and might were utterly terrifying, but after swimming against the current, climbing up the face of the rock, and jumping back in... I felt completely energized. One way to overcome fears, and come out feeling 110%.

Aba Wavine Hike w/ Donald & Britney
Victoria Falls

Hiking to Victoria Falls

Another favorite: snorkeling in bubbles. That's right, champagne bubbles do exist underwater here in Dominica at Champagne Bay. They are actually underwater volcanic vents. Too bad none of us had an underwater camera that day. The sound of the bubbles was intriguing, inviting us to swim in deeper. Then more and more champagne like bubbles kept appearing as we swam into the fizz and towards the rock inlet of the bay. Woah. Also, the fish watching at Champagne... unbeatable.

Final favorite activity shout-out for this post: sailing. But not just any sailing. Sailing to a little Caribbean France, dubbed Les Saints. Oh and our welcoming committee into the port? A mommy and baby dolphin. There's one life long dream checked off the list.
Basking in the sun on the sail to Les Saints

Our welcome committee at Terre d'Haut, Dolphin mommy & baby

Riding to shore of Terre d'Haut

Okay now back to new semesters; new challenges. I am super excited about the requests I've received and challenges that I've accepted. I've been teaching yoga now for 4 years, but since I've been in Dominica, I've gotten into a regular schedule of teaching out in the world. You see prior, I taught mostly at Sivananda Ashrams to serious yogis who have a rather committed well-rounded yoga practice. Not to say I haven't experienced all levels, just that ashramites tend to be more of an audience committed to higher goals using yoga as a tool. Now I am adapting to give my students what they want and truly need: healing, stretching, and strengthening in the body and mind using hatha yoga as the exercise tool. I keep my teachers' and gurus' lineage always as my foundation (Swami Sivananda, Swami Vishnudevananda, Swami Sadasivananda, Srinivasan, Mahadev Chitanya, Gauri Devi), but I have opened my repertoire to a greater variety of exercises. Instead of a stock standard class, we have a little more fun. I have the chance to open up to a more creative flow, and help lead students to a happier, healthier, and stronger place at the end of each class.

For the past month I have taught classes consistently at one of our favorite Picard establishments, The Champs. A popular restaurant, bar, and hotel in the hills above the Ross Campus. Wednesday mornings have brought a great crew of students who drive in from Calibishie as well as Champs hotel guests. I've really enjoyed adapting the yoga class to meet the students where they are challenged, but able to feel accomplished. On Saturdays the class has been mostly Ross students and faculty. I tend to make Saturday evenings a more rigorous class. More strengthening and deeper stretching. But each week the energy changes, so what a blessing it has been to have this experience to (in the words of Swami Sivananda) "adapt, adjust, accommodate."And did I mention Champs' has the best view in Picard? Each rainbow, glimpse of the sea, and sunset are the purest of mother nature's majesty.

Wednesday Morning Class at The Champs

Saturday Evening Class at The Champs

The new exciting opportunities ahead are teaching yoga exercises at the senior home in Portsmouth, The Grange, Teaching some prenatal, and teaching Mommy & Me. In addition, I will continue with the after school dance classes, and with a number of new dancers! What a joy it is to help others move, stretch, and open up through dance and yoga.

But what's that you say, I'm talking too much about myself? Yeah, it's true. Let me take a moment to praise my incredible husband. I am so so so so, well words can't express how proud I am of him. He finished out last semester with an A and a high pass. This semester he has been invited to be a HEAD TA in the anatomy lab! He is one of three head TA's selected out of 2nd through 4th semester students. He has also accepted a position as a peer tutor, as a supervisor for Ross EMS, a board position for Salybia Mission project, and (of course) the Presidency of the Ross Biker's Club. He's going to be a busy man this semester, but I know he can accomplish each task with tact, skill, intelligence, and love. Steve loves Ross, and medical school is totally his thing. Oh and in addition to his hard work leading him to these awards of prestige and great work, he's made time to still be my best friend and companion.

Love ya'll and miss all of our friends and family wherever you are!

Wednesday, 7 August 2013

A Spiritual Path: Taking Leaps

This begins a series of posts that I would like to write about my spiritual journey. As the inspiration comes up, I plan to divulge. Enjoy.

A few years back I took a huge scary leap. I quit my job. Not because it was horrible, not because I hated it. I felt like I was at a dead end, but that was the nature of fashion industry in 2009. The Madoff thing had just broken out and New Yorkers were hurting for money, or at least perceivably so. No one was shopping. Yadayada.

I had become increasingly involved at a Manhattan Yoga center, and started to feel the pull to do a teacher training course. I was looking for the light in all that depressive desire for wealth and power. So I did it, and I had complete faith that everything would work out just fine. And it did.

The leap: Quit job. The success: Fill time with something profound, healthy, and foundational. That of course was the Yoga teacher training course. When you have a strong feeling about something and you go for it, everything falls into place.

I remember walking to Macy's one morning... I was walking along the backside of the building by the loading dock. I had this day dream, a really strong day dream. I saw an image of Swami Vishnudevananda smiling. Swami Vishnu was the founder of the course that I was about to experience. I felt his peace. It must not have been two weeks later that I gave my notice.

This is all not to say that I didn't have my fears and anxieties. I did. Fear and anxiety were two of my biggest battles. At the same time, I had a great calm in my heart; a calm that pervaded understanding. I believe that when you get this feeling, its truly a gift that cannot be ignored.

Wow and what a transformative month the TTC was. I don't ever really remember missing NYC. Maybe I missed my independence as we were moving with our group of 20 to every morning meditation, class, lecture, meal, and all. I was so blown away by the knowledge I was coming into. This was a major segue-way into a deep mystical experience for me... which continues...

I think I've mastered the big leaps. It's the small ones I still need work on. For instance, giving my husband instructions on how to move the clothes line in the morning because I am afraid that the line will drag on the ground and the clothes still wont be dry. These are the small fears I am working on. I am going to make a conscious effort to overcome them. Let's see what happens.

Here's a before and after sample. (The weekend before I left for the training, then the TTC graduation). Do you notice a difference? I'm not so excited about posting pictures unabashedly of myself, but for some reason I feel the need to do so. I feel that these pictures reflect the change that took place on the inside.


As I searched through pictures to offer these, I noticed how dramatically life has improved for me over the last decade. I owe much of this to my dedication to the practice of yoga, but mostly because these practices have deepened my connection to Spirit. I grew up in the church and was always a big fan of Jesus. But my perspective now is like sshpeww* (sound effect coupled with my arms shooting out to the sides to show you how much my mind has opened and grown).

Okay so back to small fears. Overcoming them now. Will let you know which next reflection comes up.



Saturday, 27 July 2013

July Fun & Explorations

I have been waiting for some super inspiration to hit me over the head. I wanted to wow you all with a fancy blog post on something healthy and/or magical and/or profound. But I haven't come across it yet. So instead, a simple post.

One really unique thing to do in Dom is to go see baby turtle hatchings.

Isn't he just the cutest thing?!

Another obvious fun outing: Go to the beach your RSO friends. Number 1 Beach was pre-tty cool. Also where a scene from Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. We swam in the river that flows to the ocean. That was one good beach day.

And then there's the Kalinago Indian Reserve. I had gone exploring to meet the medicine man of the tribe and learned about the 110th anniversary of the reserve. So I came back and brought a few (daring as they were) friends along. It wasn't very organized, and one of those - who knows what's gonna happen kinda things - turned out we learned a few things and had ourselves a nice little cultural outing. 

my personal favorite costume right there.

And for one more taste of island adventure: Today I went on a hike where we climbed down the face of a mountain using ropes to reach a waterfall feeding into the Atlantic. Spectacular.

In other news, I have added a new job to my calendar. That makes it officially 4 (5 if you count babysitting my friends babies) budding Domincan professions so far. Yoga teach, dance teach, standardized patient actor, and now hotel marketer. Just as long as these things enhance this adventurous life, I love adding them to my active list!

Peace friends and fam. Love ya'll!


Saturday, 6 July 2013

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Not in any true order of preference, I would like to share with everyone the simple pleasures of being a "spouse" at Ross Med and living in Dominica.

Friends - It's hard really, moving to a new country. But thank the good lord, everyone else in this community is in a similar situation. With as much as I have relocated and evolved personally over the last decade, I have actually struggled with lonlieness. Growing up I always had a ton of close dependable girl friends, but this hasn't been as constant for me over the last few years. (boo hoo) No, but I've found hope! I have met so many beautiful people here, and I am so thankful for the time I get to spend with my friends. I am grateful for all these sweet mama's that I can call friends.  I have already had a few neighbors and hang out buddies come and go, but I still have Amberly! She's my neighbor and has the two most beautiful little girls. I go knock on their door to share a cup of tea and some girl talk... it's tonic for the soul. Banks, Amberly's 3 year old, is another of my favorite people - she just cracks me up with her sweet banter. She loves to compliment me/everyone (why thank you! who doesn't love a good compliment) and just makes you pour over her cuteness. There are so many others that are enhancing this journey, you know who you are and I just love you all!

Roseau Day with the Bestest Ladies and Babes
Music Festival with Rikki
Our Crew for Boiling Lake Hike
Banks and Me at Dance Class
RSO Northern Link Trip

Community -  Often I find myself awe struck by the community here. We live together, study together, work together, eat and drink together. Student, family, faculty, and locals alike. It's just so beautiful and comforting. Also, the spiritual maturity of this group is also a great relief. After living off and on in a monastery (no I've never been a nun people), I still constantly feel a strong presence of Spirit within the land and the community.

Singing & Dancing at In.Light.In

Yoga Shoot, thanks for helping me friends!

Cook Out at Kootney

Kittens - My kitten is my other BFF. I love her to pieces, and everyday I tell her how happy I am that she's in my life. True story. Steve is the same with kitten. She's just the cutest, best little companion ever.
One of Kittie's Favorite Spots

Another Favorite: in the closet under the clothes
Husbands - Oh and while we're at it, Steve is my numero uno bestest closest companion. I am so lucky to have such a strong, determined, intelligent, and understanding best friend and partner. He's doing so well in school, I am so proud of him. And on top of school he is loving EMS and the Salybia Mission project. In both activities he plays an active role in applying his book knowledge to health care: EMS in the Ross Community, and Salybia in the Kalinago Territory. He usually studies at home, so I get to see his sweet face often.
Birthday Rainbow

After Extreme Dominica
Morning Yoga Asanas

Dancing - Only my momma knew that I might fall into the position of dance teacher on the island. This has been a great creative outlet for me. Story: funny thing happened when I was cleaning out my closet at my parents house in April. I found a career aptitude test that I had taken in middle school which assessed my highest career potential in the performing arts. I laughed a little cause you see I was sooooo into dance at that time in my life, but now look at me! All these last years I have been fighting to find time for practicing visual arts, but the performing side just lay before me like a red carpet. Anyway, I'm now really looking forward to visiting home and taking some classes at the Houston Metropolitan Dance Academy to brush up on my skills and get some exciting new inspiration to add to classes.

Dancin' with the Kiddies

Stretching with Kiddies and Ms Christi

Yoga - So you've heard me mention yoga. Well what an amazing tool it is in my life. And what a wealth of experience I am gaining. I take classes from a gifted teacher, Trudy, where I learn from the spectrum of Yoga practiced around the world. I practice my own series gifted to me by my teachers in the Sivananda Organization. I teach a class weekly to the Ross Spouse Community. I've taught yachties out on the beach and I've taught a private class at an incredible resort, thank you to Ms Trudy's guidance through Rainbow Yoga. I am humbled by these incredible opportunities. I am working to expand the offering with both Rainbow Yoga and on my own, and look forward to updating everyone more on these developments. OH and in November, I am traveling to the Sivananda Paradise Island Retreat to work towards my Thai Yoga Massage Certification. I A M S O E X C I T E D. Not only to do the course, but just to be in that incredible spiritual place and with my Sivananda family.

Posing on De Champs Guest Balcony

Tree Pose while Banks Says Cheeese

Pretty Pose in Pretty Scenery

Exploring the Island - I have been on some pretty epic adventures around this island, already! We hiked through an active volcano, we repelled and cliff jumped through a canyon, we hiked up to breath taking waterfalls, we met modern indian people, we snorkeled, and sailed, hiked and hitched. (Big sigh) What a place to be!

Cliff Jumping at Extreme Dominica
Boeri Lake Hike on My Birthday

Bwa Nef Falls with Christy

Shopping Days - Hitting up the market in Portsmouth is a real treat when I make it up and alive early on a Saturday morning. I love talking with the older Dominican women. I love their style, their madras head scarves and big toothy smiles. I love their accents, which aren't quite calypso, more island French. I stock waaay waay up on fresh produce, herbs, coconut oil, and anything unique that I want to try. Today I bought chrisophene and made this massive vegetable medly with it, plus Dominican sweet potato and pumpkin - topped with a coconut pepper cream sauce. And I wouldn't want to leave off my epic shopping trips in Roseau, where I stock up on GF offerings, health food from Fresh Vitamins, and stop in for an organic lunch or juice at Organic Lifestyle, where Narissa and her husband treat me like family. What a joy!

The Only Picture I've Taken in Roseau

Cooking & Baking - Well when I'm not practicing Yoga, teaching dance, exploring the island, swimming, or hangin' out with friends, I'm in the kitchen... and I really love it! Who knew. I was never a big cook until pretty recently. I learned to cook at the Yoga Ranch, where as last resort they tossed me into the kitchen and had me cooking for 50. Hah, that's one way to work it out real fast! When I moved back to Brooklyn I cooked less, but now I'm back! Last weekend I did a cooking workshop with Sybil Allen Jones who has really opened my eyes to Caribbean cooking. This week I've made mashed green bananas (as opposed to mashed potatoes), and I've found new ways to incorporate coconut milk, oil, and season peppers. I've made some epic salads/ salsas with all the mangos, avocados, and tomatoes available here. And I'm just so thrilled every day to make fresh smoothies with the best ingredients. I'm feeling super healthy... even with all that local chocolate I've been consuming. Baking wise, I'm perfecting my chocolate chip cookies, I've made mango pie, and tonight my second ever gluten free cake. I've tried new recipes for other kinds of cookies... and I'm pinning many more to my "Get in My Kitchen" board on Pinterest to add to my repertoire. I think I'm going to make a pretty good mom. One day. hehe.

Rikki Preparing the Dough

GF Mac n Cheese Specialty

Cookie Ganache Sammies

Now while it looks like I'm a real perfect lifer here, trust me, I'm purposefully highlighting all the blessings in my life. The difficulties that have come up, while I'm learning to embrace them, and use them as lessons and catapults, I know these hardships are what will make life just that much better and more delightfully complex. I am practicing how to be happy within, and to be happy no matter where I am physically. It's all about what's inside the heart.

Love to All and Peace to All!