2016: Yoga Goals

It was important for me to attend a donation-based yoga class (also called karma yoga for the idea that you get what you put into the world) for New Year’s Day. The whole idea of starting off a new year on the right note, and never having been to one of any form in the past, got me moving in the morning rather than sleeping in like I’ve done for these holiday/donation/karma classes in the past.

I practiced with Theresa at Santosha Yoga in Chesterfield, a practice of letting go of 2015 and setting an intention for 2016, rather than a resolution. That’s exactly what I needed to hear. It’s amazing when you connect with what the teacher is saying. I’ve never been to Santosha before, and practicing at studios I haven’t been to is one of my goals for 2016. One of the things about teaching yoga is that there’s no one right way to do it. My teacher Lisa said one time that you don’t feel like a yoga teacher until you’ve been doing it for 10 years. It can be so easy to fall into a pattern or even feel stuck, and this goal is a reminder for me to learn from other teachers out there.

I’m also planning a trip to New York City in April for the Yoga Journal conference to learn from as many master teachers as I can. I was supposed to attend the one that took place in the Colorado Rockies in September, but I was sick and could barely get out of bed. I’d imagine the atmosphere and energy is different from the mountainous outdoors of the Rockies and the hustle and bustle of the city, but I’m still looking forward to it! (On that note: Anybody willing to put me up for a few days so I don’t have to pay $200-plus per night at the hotel? 🙂 )

Books: 2014 in review and 2015 challenge

Few of the books I read
A lot of the books I read

I haven’t treated reading in the most kindest way in the past. As a kid, I checked out books by plastic bags because my parents only took me to the library on Sundays. In those days, my nose was in a book whether I was home, in the back of a car, even restaurants.

Somewhere in the late middle school/early high schools years, I fell out of reading as other things grabbed my attention. Reading became more of a requirement than something I did for fun. Reading in college? Forget it. Between reading/editing heavily at the school newspaper, reading textbooks then reading novels for classes, I barely read for fun. I could barely sit still for five minutes to read for fun.

It took some time even post-college, but I’ve discovered my love of reading again. Social media helps although I don’t want to think that’s the sole reason I got back into it. It’s just something I need in my life now that I didn’t think I needed (or wanted) back then. But really, does the reason matter as long as I’m doing it?

When I saw this post from Maddie last year I wanted to do one for 2014. I didn’t consciously try to read a variety of books. I read what I wanted with recommendations from Goodreads.

Here’s what my year looked like in books:

Overachiever! See that?
Feels good to read past my goal

While it’s good and dandy I exceeded my goal, let’s see how those titles break down.

Gender: 11 by women (including two by the same author), 6 by men. It’s more balanced than I thought because I would’ve guessed the disparity was a lot bigger.

Race: Wow, all 17 authors I read are white. I know it’s not a good excuse to say that I didn’t even know the races of some of the authors, but my goal for this year is to branch out.

Genre: 5 YA, 2 memoirs, 2 nonfiction, 1 self help, 8 fiction. Not bad, could be more diverse.

Format: 7 on my Kindle, 11 actual copies. Among them, I own 6 and plan on purchasing 1.

Moving forward, I’m participating in a reading challenge as a way to help expand my horizons. Plus it’s fun! I’ve seen a few floating around but settled on the one from Random House. My Goodreads goal is 21 books, and this Bingo card has 23 categories, so hopefully I read past my goal again this year!

Who doesn't love Bingo?
Who doesn’t love Bingo?

Books: A Detroit anthology

They stagger in one by one — each with a story, each with a life of problems. First comes the prostitute. Then comes a drinker. Every swing of the door brings another desperate person from the street outside.

How do you read that and not thirst for more? That’s how the collection is in A Detroit Anthology. Rust Belt Chic Press kindly sent me a review copy.

The anthology is the Detroit FUBU: For us, by us. (Sidenote: Wasn’t aware the company rebranded, which makes sense since I feel like I haven’t seen anyone wearing that clothing since 1998-ish. Also didn’t know Samsung invested in FUBU in 1995.)

The “us” are the writers, a few of whom I’m proud to say I’ve worked alongside with, others whose bylines are recognizable from the years I’ve pored over the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News; more often than not — both. They’re also photographers, poets and essayists bringing the city alive through the pages.

The “us” are the people whose stories are featured, whether it’s the authors themselves or those they write about. Like the Brooklyn transplant whose summer internship turned into six years. The fixer who plants himself on the same spot near an abandoned storefront and makes money by tinkering with broken lawnmowers that vroom back to the life. The writer/author who recalls her hungry days in the city. The above quoted prostitutes and drug addicts who venture into a safe haven lost as lost can be — but just might find their way.

The pictures painted sometimes aren’t pretty, nor they should be. Then, it wouldn’t be the truth. If what you know about Detroit is what the national media has fed you, then the truth feels like Dan Gilbert, and as far as I can see, there’s no Dan Gilbert in these pages.

The stories will make you smile; it might make your heart pound. It might even make you tear up, like I did. It’s a history lesson; it’s a love for the rich history. Most of all, this collection of work will make you fall in love Detroit. Because, like the title of the first piece puts it: We love Detroit, even if you don’t.

Practice-Space will host a book launch at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 31.

Yoga: Sweating out my issues

My casual on and off yoga practice of the last two years has recently turned a dedicated corner. During this time, never did I think Bikram was the type of yoga I was interested in. Stick myself in a room of over 100 degrees for 90 minutes doing garurasana (eagle pose) and the like?

Britney knows how I feel.

But when Yelp put together a Bikram event at a Midtown studio, I jumped at the chance. If I wasn’t ever going to do it on my own, might as well do it via a free event to see what the fuss was about.

Bikram is no joke — not that I thought for a second it would be easy. There’s really no way of mentally preparing yourself for the grueling 90 minutes other than making sure you’re hydrated beforehand.

I’m bummed that I didn’t make it through the entire session. But if there’s one thing I learned through yoga, it’s not to compare myself to anyone while on my mat and to listen to my body.

During the first half of the standing poses, I was doing rather well. You might say I even surprised myself. Check out that fierce concentration.

Detroit Yelp Elites at Bikram Yoga Midtown (Credit: Yelp)
Detroit Yelp Elites at Bikram Yoga Midtown (Credit: Yelp)

Then we had to transition onto our backs before the sitting poses, and that’s when my surroundings started getting fuzzy, my breathing became labored and I could feel a migraine starting to settle in. Halfway through, I was only doing half the poses, and then when we had to fold forward, I felt like I was going to pass out. I made it out of there.

One of the teachers told me afterward that your blood pressure drops when you lie down after all the work that you put in. How is that safe and good for your body? Are Bikram’s health claims actually beneficial in the long run?

I don’t think of my non-desire of Bikram to mean I can’t toughen it out, although it’s easy to view it that way. There’s a time and place not only to pull back but also to push yourself. I find that on my mat daily — at room temperature, and it’s a beautiful thing.

Vegas: Third time is an editing charm

Paris, the view of where I stayed. #nofilter
Paris, the view of where I stayed. #nofilter

What happened in Vegas … I brought back in knowledge to apply to my work.

As a freelancer, it’s easy to become a homebody, so I made it my New Year’s resolution to get more involved in professional communities (ie: network. Outside the home). I should’ve done this years ago, but I finally made it out to my first ACES conference. In Vegas. You can imagine how difficult it was for me to decide whether to really go. (It wasn’t.)

After getting rid of the initial nervousness of not knowing a single soul attending the conference, I had an educational four days listening to/speaking with my professional idols and other well-respected people in editing.

Three takeaways from the conference:

1. As intensely as editors squabbled over the news that broke during the conference that The Associated Press wouldn’t be making a distinction between using “over” and “more than,” we should fight harder for our jobs and our industry.

2. The phrase “BuzzFeed generation” is a misnomer. We can be just as into finding out which Olsen twin we are (I’m Ashley) as we are with reading the latest Atlantic cover to cover. Millennials can’t be pigeon-holed into one reading type. Quality still rules, whether it’s a quiz, listicle, long-form article and more. (But apparently slideshows are in the down and out. Not a surprise there.)

3. Copy editors always need to remember to be truth-seekers. We’re more than the rules and style guides we follow. On that note, we need to be more flexible and not brainlessly apply rules like robots.

Pasadena: Slice of paradise

They traveled from near and far, brought together by something that hadn’t occurred in a quarter century — to watch their alma mater in the Rose Bowl. It didn’t matter that the team’s home base, in Michigan, was thousands of miles away, while the opponent’s was just down the road (OK, under 400 miles/five-ish hours, to be specific).

We’d been waiting for so long, and it was our time. We met so many others who also bled green — from Baltimore, from Chicago, fellow Michiganders — and you couldn’t help but feel safe, feel comforted, knowing that, despite being complete strangers, you share this common bond.

The moment I wanted to bottle up: The mountains, the blue of the sky, surrounded by my people.
The moment I wanted to bottle up: The mountains, the blue of the sky, surrounded by my people.

Resolution: Meatless Monday

That resolution to limit meat consumption to 1-2 times a week? I’m not surprised that I could not keep up with it, even for a week.

Why? I have a few reasons. As much as I want to be a savvy cook, I’m really not. But I’m trying. Although I like variety, I eat the same things by week. For example, this week my big thing was black bean, avocado and corn quesadillas so I ate that for lunch or dinner all week, filling in the rest of my meals with the regular cereal and rice meal (but not together, gross).

Being more conscious about my meat consumption + not being the best cook = running out of options.

Most importantly, I aimed too high. But I’m willing to admit my mistake rather than forcing myself into something I wasn’t ready for. That’s why I’m taking part of Meatless Monday, and going from there.

Sounds so simple, I can’t believe I didn’t come up with that in the first place!