Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Show up

Posted by Melissa
April is coming to a close and I am happy to share I found the time to create two macramé pieces.  One is currently hanging in my front window and the other is on the wall in my living room.  Having grown up in the 70's, I always wondered why I had a dark and vaguely negative notion about that decade.  It was like I rejected all the Saturday Night Fever and 8-track tapes of my childhood because I had fallen so hard core for the Bel-Biv-Devoe, Big Daddy Kane and waiting-like-a-statue-to-catch-just-the-right-second-of-each-song-from-the-radio-to-create-my-mix-tape of my adolescence.
This month of diving into macramé has brought a light to the darkness that inhabited my memory of the 70's.  Now, when I walk through my living room and I catch the unmistakable 70's vibe, I feel good.  Not only do I feel good, I love it.  I love it because I created it.  And I have also noticed this month, other things around my home that I have created, all due to jumping into this blog.  I have paintings I created, a headboard, a garden, a whole new mind and body. 
The piece I created as my wall hanging isn't exactly what I had envisioned.  And that's totally ok.  I can always make a new one.  Because even if it is like my kitchen wall moment, that too eventually faded into something more relevant and beautiful...the fact is that I did it.  And like yoga, (it always all comes back to yoga) sometimes it just matters that you show up.  Even when it's not perfect.

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Posted by Melissa
I usually work every Sunday.  Today I have off.  I thought about all the things I could do with my day off.  I had quite a list of things that I should do...go on a hike, go to the spa, go to yoga, visit my mom, clean my house.  Instead, I chose to watch movies all day and do macrame.  And I feel great about it.

I'm on my third romantic comedy of the day.  It's called "The One I Love."  It's a delightfully bizarre love story.  It's nice when a movie provokes you to think about life, feel deeply and learn something new about yourself. All of my choices led me through that mental and emotional landscape today.  But everything always seems to work out in the movies.  Even if it seems like the character has really fucked everything up.  It's comforting.  Starting with Bridget Jones' Diary and ending with Beginners, it was a perfect day of "me" time. 

I walked to the local "everything" store in between movies and grabbed what I needed to start a new macrame project.  It's going to be a wall hanging, made with thick white cotton rope, above my couch.  I have been dreaming of creating this very thing for years.  It feels good to finally do something you've always wanted to do. One of those things that you carry around as creative inspiration, but then somehow it morphs into a weight of something you should be doing.  

Last night I was thinking about how precious life is.  I thought, that what if I died...what would I regret having not done?  The first thing I thought about was writing a book or a screenplay.  I'm at a time of transition in my life, for a while now.  It almost seems like I am always in transition.  Always figuring out what is coming next, where to go, what to do.  Is that just what being an adult is like?  Am I the only one still feeling like I haven't figured it out yet at the age of 42? I do know that I am done carrying around writing as a weight, It's time to simply sit down and do it.

No matter what happens, or what I continue to not figure least I created macrame.  At least I felt deeply, loved hard and wasn't afraid to make mistakes along the way.  At least sometimes I knew what shoulds to follow and what ones to let go. And I keep being blessed with a new dawn to keep trying.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Artist at work

Posted by Melissa 
We finally started doing macramé.  And I love it!  Have been listening to rap music and doing macramé for the past 24 hours.  Life is good.
 Amy's son, Japhy, loves to run through the hanging cord and grab it and mess it all up.  It's fun to see him enjoying our craft, but when I am ready to start tying knots, I simply say to him, "Artist at work," and he leaves my cords to me.

I decided to not use a pattern and to just go free-form.  It's a bit unsettling.  Sometimes I step back and I love what I see...the fluidity, the lack of structure.  Then all of a sudden, I hate it and I want it to be perfect.  I keep thinking it seems incoherent. 

Most of all though, I do feel like an artist.  I feel like I am creating in a whole new way.  It is inspiring on may levels and I am so happy to be experiencing macramé.  Finally. 

Thursday, April 2, 2015

50 Shades of Macramé

Posted by Amy and Melissa

This April we're getting knotty with macramé! Melissa's been dying to do macramé for years; maybe it's her 70's upbringing, or knot.

Coming off a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge we thought we'd go a little arts and craftsy before ehem…erotica month (blush). Hey, maybe we can macrame some cool handcuffs, lingerie, bikinis, or sex swing. 

We're hoping this month's posts are visually stimulating.

Just think of this month as the most knotty affair you can possibly fathom.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Don't be a loser

Posted by Melissa
Yesterday was Day 30 of the 30 Day Bikram Yoga challenge. I made it to the 7pm class, and it was a tough one. Right before class, another student was leaving the 5pm class and congratulated me on the challenge. "How was it?" she asked. "Easiest one yet," I replied, feeling excited for class.
Well, that 30th class kicked my butt. I was breathing heavily, contemplated savasana way more than I had recently, and probably let out a few too many sighs. As if my drama could change anything about the class.  In fact, it likely only made it that much more of a struggle. The struggle is a choice. It really is. Sometimes that thought feels defeating, but it is actually the most empowering idea. Even if you choose to struggle and be in that drama, it is yours. You choose to be in peace or in struggle, no one makes you. What does Bikram say..."If you let someone steal your peace, then you are the loser." So true.

What I learned in the past month:
  • I can make it through a Bikram yoga class without giving myself an "out".
  • At 42, I can be the most fit and the strongest I have been in my entire life.
  • It really is mostly mental, the physical follows your thoughts.  
  • When I listen to the teacher, really listen and follow the form, it's always easier.
  • I can hydrate and nourish my active body without sugar, and only whole foods.
  • I like (love) myself more than I thought I did.
  • I am way, way stronger than I ever thought.  On every level.
  • I have an amazing community.
I finished out the class and took the longest, most peaceful, final savasana ever. Somehow, lying on my sweat saturated towel was completely satisfying and worth every drop. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

You are full of...LOVE

Posted by Melissa
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:
My last yoga challenge in August/September felt like walking through deep, thick, emotional mud compared to this one. I cried most days, both in the studio and out. I spent several pranayama deep breathing exercises hoping that my tears and trembling bottom lip were hidden by my arms as I pushed my head back as far as it would go until I could see the wall behind me. I rested in savasana instead of triangle pose, vacillating between self hate and deep gratitude. I don't regret a second of how I moved through that challenge. It's all part of my journey, both in the studio and out. 

The difference between that challenge and this one is so drastic, that I almost have a hard time accepting it.  I'm more comfortable with the other me. I know how to do struggle and upset. In my story of myself, I am good at being cranky and bitter. And I'm exceptionally good at not being good enough. Now here I am 28 days into a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge and I'm not crying every day. I'm not resting in a sweaty puddle of self loathing during triangle pose. I'm standing strong, attempting trikanasana to the best of my body's ability each and every day. I'm meditating everyday. I'm making time to take care of me. I'm creating new stories about myself that are full of power and possibility, both in the studio and out.

Most important of all, and I mean more important than doing any posture during class, or even showing up everyday, is the relationship I have with myself. I thought I wanted to make friends with triangle pose, but really, I wanted to make friends with myself. My kids still tell me that I am cranky, I still have days where I don't feel great or I cry, sometimes I have moments of hating things about my life, or moments of hating triangle pose and the way my body looks in the studio mirror. And then I remember that those feelings will pass.  I remember that life isn't always comfortable.  I remember that I am still full of love, no matter if I have a "good" class or a "bad" one.  A "good" day or a "bad" one. 

I feel incredibly grateful for everything that has conspired recently to create the perfect environment for me to make friends with myself.  I'd love to encourage you all to take time for yourself everyday, and to appreciate your effort to do so.  You are all full of love, both in the studio and out, even when you least feel like you are.
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:

“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:
“Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.” ~ Rumi - See more at:

Friday, March 20, 2015

New Moon, New Season, New Choices

Posted by Melissa 
Today is a pivotal day.  It is the first day of Spring!  It also began with a total solar eclipse and a new moon in Pisces, soon after which, the sun moved into the first sign of the zodiac, Aries.  It is a great time to be intentional about new choices and releasing old emotional habits and patterns that haven't worked for us.  It's time to walk away from opportunities that have not been fruitful. Don't keep trying to walk down that same habitual path hoping to reach the end, it's all an illusion, it was never right for you.  If it hasn't worked yet, it's not going to.  It's time to make a choice to move on to new opportunities that offer freedom from what has held you back in the past. 

Think about these questions...

What are you releasing today?

What are you choosing to create?

I find it exciting to usher in this new burst of celestial energy in the midst of doing this 30 day yoga challenge.  My body and mind are flexible and strong, and I feel capable of setting intentions with an unwavering belief that I can see them through.  This is what doing yoga can offer you, especially if you continue your yoga practice no matter what.  I have spent months not practicing since I started Bikram five years ago, but I always come back.  I found creative ways to make my yoga practice a priority.  It's not a luxury, it is an essential.  Never feel guilty for making time for your overall health and well-being. 

I am releasing my insecurity and my dependence on others, emotionally, financially and mentally. 

I choose to create a life where I am responsible for my happiness and success.  I am full of love, humble confidence and prosperity. 

Your turn...

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

It means you're relaxed.

Posted by Melissa
It is a rare class for me when I do every pose. Well, it used to be.  I have been on a roll lately, doing every posture and not resting during class for 10 days now. It all started last Sunday. I walked into the 8am class, after two really tough days in the studio, and I felt so tired. My teacher, Gary, asked how I was doing.  "I'm really tired, " I offered back. Gary smiled a little, leaned back in his chair, and in his super chill way, he said back to me, "That's good. It means you're relaxed." 

I nodded, said something back as if I understood what the hell he was talking about, and walked into the studio to find a spot for my mat. As I waited for class to begin, I kept thinking about what he said. What if I just went with it, and pretended it was true? What if I started class thinking I was relaxed instead of tired? And believing it. 

I decided to see how it felt to be tired and relaxed instead of my exhausted version of tired. "I'm relaxed," I repeated to myself as my feet fidgeted to find their way comfortably together before the first breathing exercise. I tried to convince myself it was true.

All of a sudden, I forgot how exhausted I thought I was. My muscles stopped feeling like dead weights. I didn't lie down during my usual stopping grounds...standing head to knee, standing bow, triangle, toe stand...the standing series was done. I didn't even rest during salabhasana. I found myself doing the sit up before camel, and I didn't come out of the posture early. Instead of being so tired that I thought I would be in savasana the whole class, I DID the whole class. 

And I have done the whole class every day since. It's a personal record for me. And while I know yoga is not about competition, or ego, there is something so nice about going beyond a self-imposed barrier that I never thought I would cross. I share it not to be all..."I'm so awesome", but to remind you that you are so awesome. What kind of barriers have you put up around your practice, around your life? What statements are you carrying around and believing that are changing you not only mentally, but physically as well?

Thanks, Gary, for offering me a new perspective for my practice to grow into.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Can we be friends?

Posted by Melissa
"I hate triangle," I muttered after class the other night.  "It's like that irritating person you never want to see, but then there they are, fucking up your whole day."  I had had a kinda tough class that night and clearly needed to vent.

I want to make friends with Trikanasana, triangle pose.  I have lofty goals for this 30 day challenge, like loving myself and gaining self-confidence, but triangle is something tangible that I can dig into and see progress, right?  Yes, I will able able to see physical progress throughout the month if I choose to focus and work on triangle pose.  But, I doubt I would get very far if I don't choose to change my thoughts first. 
Current Trikanasana.  So hard to post this. 
Triangle is the ninth asnana of the 26 posture series created by Birkam Choudhury.  Some days, even before class begins, I know I will sit out at least one set of triangle.  Other days, I have an exhausting half moon series, standing bow gets the best of my mental focus and strength, or I get further than ever in separate leg stretching and it pushed my legs beyond where I thought I could stretch.  If any one of those experiences occur, I decide I just can't do triangle.  I head down to my mat for a savasana.  A savasana that typically is not very restful, since I am thinking about how I am not doing triangle.  Rarely am I not doing triangle because I cannot, it's because I will not. 

There is so much to do during triangle.  Bend my knee down so far that my thigh is parallel to the floor (never happens!), sink my hips, all my weight in my bent leg heel, other knee locked, move only my arms, upper body twisted back, head to my shoulder, profile of my face to the mirror, bottom hand fingers at my big toe (yeah, right), arms straight up and down perpendicular to the floor.  Breathe normally.  Is my weight still in my heel?  Is the posture over yet???? Please say change already.

The only way for me to make friends with triangle pose is to change my mind about it.  Instead of being irritated by that annoying person or a yoga pose, I can choose to focus on myself, and let go of the negative mental chatter.  It might not be easy at first, but the less time I spend looking for negativity, the less likely I will find it.  Then, maybe then, I can start to feel more comfortable physically as well.  I'm pretty sure my teacher Penni is right when she says it's 99% mental and I can trust that my leg will hold me...because it can. 

So, here it goes, throwing all caution to the it's out there and everyone knows.  If I savasana during triangle for the rest of my 30 day challenge, I better be close to dying.  And you better come over and see if I need CPR or just a "get the fuck up and do triangle" motivational, raised eyebrow kind of look.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Day 7 - 30 Day Challenge

Posted by Melissa

My 8am class was hard this morning.  I stopped at one point during the second set of pranayama deep breathing.  That's the first thing we do in class, before the 26 postures even begin.  My brain was swimming with thoughts of defeat and rationalizations for my quick fatigue.  I didn't feel dizzy, or light headed like I could pass out.  No, I just felt really tired.  In my muscles kind of tired.  Not a sleepy kind of tired.

I haven't been drinking enough water, I know that.  I know I need to drink more.  The first couple weeks of my Whole 30 in mid February, I was drinking 3-4 liters a day.  The past few days I have been lucky to get in 2 liters.  Maybe.  I also have not been eating enough.  Yesterday, I had two salads and cashews...for me, that isn't enough food, even without doing a 30 day challenge.  I have no idea why I am not doing what I need to do to get myself ready for class every day.

Now I am nervous for my 8am class tomorrow.  I haven't even finished my 1 liter of water from class this morning!  And I have all this mental baggage from two days of classes where I rested more than I like to.

I find this to be one of the toughest parts of the Bikram practice.  Being OK with how you show up every day.  It's easy on days when you kick ass and rock every pose, sweating your butt off and feeling on top of the world.  But it's hard on days where that line between what you can do (so you must!) and what you want to do is very fuzzy.  Doing a 30 or 60 day challenge has always brought this issue into focus, more than when I am practicing 3-5 times a week.

I love learning about my edges.  I love getting comfortable with being uncomfortable.  It's what I have always, always loved about Bikram yoga.  It's that kind of mental and emotional strength that you can draw upon outside of the studio.  Sure the muscles help, and it's nice to see less pudge around the middle when you look in the mirror, but what I treasure the most is the mental fortitude and self exploration that emerges through my practice of yoga.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Pregnant Melinda's 30 Day Challenge

Posted by Melissa
Today was day 4 of the 30 Day Bikram Yoga Challenge and, for me, day 23 of my Whole30 program.  Starting my yoga challenge this time feels very different than when I usually do one.  Typically, I drink wine and eat junk like there is no tomorrow for at least a week, if not months, before a challenge.  This time, I started my 30 days feeling healthy and mentally strong.  I showed up to the studio and appreciated my growing muscles and increasing focus during the postures, instead of hating on my body.
Add caption

And then we took some photos for the blog.  There I was, Pregnant Melinda in full force.  All I could see was my protruding belly, my thick middle.  It took me some time to handle that awkward reunion with my previous BFF, Miss "You're Never Good Enough", and remind her that it's over.  I knew I didn't need her anymore, but her voice is so familiar.  I thanked her for her misguided protection she offered for so long.  She helped me to not open up and let others in.  She shielded me from the dangers of vulnerability.  So, I thanked her and bid her farewell.

I think somewhere along the way I decided that if I told myself I wasn't good enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, rich enough...I would match up with what everyone else thought and everything would make sense.  No one would want to want to love the real me, and I wouldn't have to risk letting them.  Those thoughts only served to hold me back.  To cut me off from enjoying life's moments.  When we are too busy with our inner chatter, bullying ourselves, we are missing out on the life right in front of us.

Those "too beautiful to bear" moments are becoming easier to just be with and enjoy.  I am learning how to be in my body, and enjoy those experiences.  To not rush through where I am in my physical experience, so I can get to the part where I have a nice memory to carry around with me.  I am growing patient with myself and with life. 

This is what I learn in yoga.  To not rush through and to be patient.  That I am good enough, no matter how I show up on my mat on any given day.  As difficult as 90 minutes of Bikram yoga can be day after day after day, it's way easier than the deep inner work that comes bubbling up when I am off my mat.  But I am so deeply grateful for it all.  It's worth it.  Every bit of it.

Monday, March 2, 2015

30 Day Challenge

Posted by Amy & Melissa

Even though we've written about our love of Yoga and Bikram Hatha yoga numerous times on this blog we've never actually selected doing a 30 day challenge as one of our things. So, it's on, people!
Rabbit Pose - Sasangasana
 For almost a year now, we've been been Karma cleaning at The Sweatbox, one of our favorite woman-owned businesses in our neighborhood on Capitol Hill. This is the place it all started. Last year we completed a 60 day challenge--something neither of us had done before. It was self-motivated (i.e. not sponsored by the studio). This month we join other 30-day challengers at The Sweatbox.
Locust Pose - Salabhasana
If you can't commit to going to yoga for 30 days in a row, we encourage you to at least give Bikram a try once or twice this month. The more you can make it to class...the better!

Saturday, February 28, 2015


Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Leaf, at around 3 months, UWMC NICU.

Today is the 16th anniversary of the death of my first child.  Leaf was born at 25 weeks old and his lungs were always sick.  I just spent the morning rereading my journal of letters to him while he was alive.  All the ups and down of the oxygen saturations levels and O2% being raised and lowered, morphine levels increased and decreased, heart surgery, blood transfusions.  Disappointments and hope beyond hope.  I’ve always been someone that believes in the best outcome, no matter how big or small the stakes are.  I stand and cheer when the stadium is empty and it’s the 14th inning.  I keep clapping and hollering for an encore, even when the lights have come on.  And I never gave up hope that he would pull through…every day of his life.  I really got to feel that again in reading over my letters to him.

Through the years, some people have told me that I didn’t grieve his death properly.  That I still had a “lot of work to do” to get past the pain.  The thing is, I have always, since the beautiful and sunny day that he died, been incredibly grateful.  If this tiny, perfect soul had only a short time to spend here on earth, how lucky am I that he chose me to be his Mama?  I got to spend every day, hours upon hours in the NICU surrounded by his pure love.  I treasured being there with him.  I miss it, every single bit of it.  Sure, there is pain, but it’s the kind of pain that you don’t “get past”, but instead, through gratitude for the time you had with that person, transforms into the most beautiful love.   Like a rare diamond grows out of a lump of coal.  Or a pearl from a grain of sand.

On this last day of gratitude month, I wanted to share one of the things I am most grateful for in my life, Leaf Haddon Terry, born October 15th, 1998.  It’s not something I talk about a lot, because honestly, I find that it makes others uncomfortable.  I’m done taking care of the assumed feelings or reactions that others might have by editing myself.   I’m going to be me, speak my truth, and keep cheering for the best outcome.  And trusting that just because it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, doesn’t mean that I can’t be grateful for the experience. 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Whole Gratitude

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

Gratitude month was rolling along, heartsplosions (that feeling of joy and love that swells into your chest and feels like your heart is connecting with the entire universe) were a regular occurrence and I was feeling grateful for simply being alive with every step of my day.  Even though life was not without struggle, I was able to maintain and firm grasp on gratitude, and I felt the rewards of my effort.  I was eating healthy, going to yoga, keeping my house clean, tidy and organized.  I had even let go of the fear that it would all come crumbling down, that darkness would ooze in, and I would once again be overwhelmed and burdened by life's everyday stresses. 

Three days ago, I had a particularly stressful chain of events fall into my life.  I reacted hastily, and angrily.  I cried.  I was emotional.  I wasn't grateful.  I wanted to hole up with a burger and fries and a bottle of wine.  By yesterday, I was so overwhelmed I didn't even want to see anyone, let alone go to work and pretend to be happy.  I wasn't even trying to be grateful.  The concept of being thankful to be alive was replaced by visions of driving off the I-5 bridge.  I'd never do it, but my mind can be dramatic.  And besides, the barrier is too high and sturdy. 

That afternoon, I looked down and my feet were walking along the same sidewalk I was on when just Monday I had been feeling incredibly grateful, just to be alive with all the possibility each breath brings.  I was muttering to myself about how much my life sucked, when that reminder of gratitude interrupted me.  I remembered the feeling, it was so pure and organic and it felt like it would always be with me.  As I allowed that memory to take up more space in my inner dialogue, I realized that I was being a bit one sided.  Not whole.  Not myself.  I am someone that chooses to be grateful for all of my life.  The days glittered with heartsplosions AND the days of overwhelm and breakdown. 

Life isn't perfect, and neither are we.  Take it easy on yourself.  Be open to what is, be grateful for what life brings you, no matter what.  I truly believe there is always a silver lining, even in life's shitty situations.  It's OK to be upset, to be pissed and yell and cry, and lay in your bed all afternoon if you need to.  This too shall pass (this holds true for the ups and the downs!).  And when we are carried through the struggle on a foundation of gratitude, I want more than anything to believe that we are better off.  Because we have chosen to remain whole, to not deny any emotions or part of life's rich experiences.  And then we can emerge from whatever life brings as an authentic human being.  Less afraid, and more open for what is next to come.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

10 Things

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
10 things I am grateful for this morning: (in no particular order)
  1. Coffee
  2. My apartment
  3. Friends
  4. My children
  5. My parents and brother
  6. My creativity
  7. Love
  8. My strength and my vulnerability
  9. Ability to pay my bills
  10. Yoga
My first thought is....what a boring list.  It's always the same things.  Everyone is thankful for this stuff.  But seriously?  Could there be a better list?  Children?  Friends?  Family?  Being thankful for who I am?  These are things that make life worth living.  I pray that everyone would have these things on their list every single day. 

Stop every day and take a moment to be grateful for the broad strokes of what makes your life beautiful, and the small moments along the way.  All of them are precious.  All of them a gift. 

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Gratitude vs. Ambition

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I was having a particularly difficult evening with my son and as things were beginning to calm down a conversation started, mostly around things that he was unhappy about.
I suppose my son would rather live here.  Geez.
"Don't you wish we lived in a big house.  Maybe even in LA.  A big, nice house like lots of my friends live in.  Not like this apartment.  A real house.  A nice, big house." His words spat across to room at me.
Of course, I would love to live in a nice house!!! (internal voice)
 "I am choosing to be grateful to live in this apartment.  We have everything we need and we have a great community." I replied, in that calm parent voice, that is likely not hiding how frustrated you actually are.
This basic conversation went back and forth for a few rounds, when he turned it into me saying he shouldn't have dreams.  He began to complain that I was suggesting he shouldn't even try to be a major league ball player when he grows up, that he should just give up now since we already have everything we need.

This is a tough one for me, in life, and as a parent.  Yes, I try to choose to be grateful for what I have, but I also have dreams.  Does having dreams for more inherently disregard your gratitude for what is?  Does drive, ambition and striving for the best mean that you aren't grateful for what you have in the moments before you achieve those goals?

I was looking around the internet for opinions on the matter and a couple ideas stood out to me:
---Gratitude is a feeling of being full, while ambition is a feeling of hunger.  They compliment each other but do not exist at the same time.
---Ambition for gratitude can propel you forward.  And you can feel gratitude for your ambitions and passions and desires.

I started thinking of how I could bring the two close enough to exist in the same moment.  What if the link between gratitude and ambition/dreams is service?  When you are blending the two seemingly opposing ideals of gratitude and ambition, what if the result is that you automatically have a desire to be of service to others?  I've always loved the quote by Gandhi, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others."  If we are working towards our goals through avenues that also help build everyone else up at the same time, won't we, at the end of each day, feel incredibly grateful?  Won't we then, have found our true selves, because we are living in a way that is satisfying? Full, and yet hungry for more?

This dichotomy is brought together, and no longer felt as opposing forces, on my yoga mat.  Everyday.  Every pose.  I want to do the poses better, I want to learn the proper form, I want to build endurance to not fall out of standing bow every single time.  And then, as I lay in savasana in between postures, I work to turn of my mind and just bask in the gratitude of being right where I am.  No judgements about how long I held a pose, or how deep I went into it, just breathing in and breathing out.  When I walk out of yoga, I am better equipped to help others...even when it means standing in my son's doorway at midnight, contemplating life, desperately wishing I were in bed myself, but having to be a mom and help him through life and bedtime.

I asked my son if he had thought much about our conversation that night, to which he replied, "No." I asked him what he thought about being grateful and still wanting more, still working to be a ball player, now that he wasn't as angry.  He just shook his head and said, "Well, of course I'm still gonna try."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Too beautiful to bear

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
by Hafiz.  Posted on Instagram by of yoga.

Holding my black coffee and standing in my front window, the world outside had that familiar feeling of being what I call "too beautiful to bear."  Those are the words that floated into my mind as I was looking at what was otherwise a dull, gray, Seattle morning.  The filtered morning light held a touch of Spring, the squirrel pouncing over the neighbor's driveway and the tiny gardens on our lawn felt Spring-like too.  My upstairs neighbors drove by, father taking daughter to school, and I imagined them chatting about their day or the books they were currently reading.  Across the street, another neighbor opened their curtain and was also looking out their window, but just hidden enough by the birch trees to guard from exposing my moment. 

I've heard those words before, "too beautiful to bear".  I always hear them when I am clear minded, paying attention, and observing nature or humanity.  It's the most beautiful feeling that I struggle with not pushing away.  It's as if I know it can't last, but the beauty makes me want to hold onto it forever.  The two cannot coexist and it's immediately bittersweet as soon as I hear those words repeating in my head.  The only time I can say I truly felt that beauty and had no desire to push it away was right after each of my babies were born.  Everything made sense and I could bear that beauty over and over again, for eternity.

Maybe it's that I am on day 2 of the Whole30 and I haven't drank wine or had anything to toxify my system, maybe it's that I've been focusing on gratitude for 11 days now, or maybe it's the calm after the storm that was getting my 13 year old to go to bed last night.  Whatever it was, I basked in that inner glow until I couldn't bear it any longer and my brain shut it all off.  The mud became ugly, the birds chirping became dull, the light held less magic all of a sudden, I wondered if my neighbor across the street thought I was weird for standing in my window for so long, and I felt impatient.  The big, yellow school bus I had been waiting for finally drove by, and I smiled the biggest smile I could possibly get into my face, the kind that shows you're feeling so much joy that you don't care how your face looks, and waved to my youngest as she rode by. 

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Thanks, it's what's for dinner everybodeee!

Posted by Amy Baranski

Sometime in the past year in my house during dinner we started taking turns sharing one thing for which we are thankful. I grew up saying prayer before breaking bread and wanted to have a ritual before eating with my son that felt authentic to me. We also try to share one thing that went awry to model the idea that mistakes are positive and lead to new ways of thinking and doing AND that feeling sad or grumpy about something is okay too. It's a part of our day that should be honored and not discarded as unsavory.

My son consistently contributes to the former.
Some dinner guests at my house.
I'm just thankful we've encouraged him to sit with us for ten minutes plus at the dinner table. Whether he chooses to eat the food in front of him is another story. But dinner-time is shaping up to be a nice family gathering centered around food, conversation, and connection. We are sometimes graced with the presence of Super Grover, Pony or the Diver. And, at one time or another our beloved Vitamix.

Growing up I had a structured dinner time. I'm thankful for that. It taught me some good habits. Each night was the same. Our chairs were the same. We always prayed before each meal and watched the nightly news during dinner. We asked to be excused and were responsible for clearing the plates. When we all got a little older with after-school activities and such dinner was usually an anchor to the day. Sometimes if play rehearsal or practice was late a plate would be kept warm for us in the oven.

In hindsight I think more conversation would have been good--watching the news was serious business. But I am also thankful to have been exposed to the news--to see the wrath and good in the world. To see the world (I would not leave the country until I was 16). It also grew in me a love of journalism and storytelling. I don't like watching television much anymore consequently there's no TV in my house. I don't pray formally unless I'm visiting my folks. But I do value the togetherness of dinner and being thankful and open about the realness of the day.

It's this kind of modeling and structure that I value so much as a parent of a toddler. He values everything we give him--our words, actions, feelings, mistakes and so on. So I've decided to bring him in on the gratitude journal journey. He has his own book and I'm making a point of asking him what's something he's grateful for. I keep our journals on my dresser along with a pen. I record his thoughts and mine too. Having my journal in one place is helping me to develop the habit of writing in it. I use my dresser every day so the journal is easy to access to quickly jot something down.

Last night my son shared: "I'm thankful for going to bed! For nursing--that's what I'm thankful for; bedtime nursing." Such honesty and sweetness in his moment of grace.

I wrote: "Beeswax candles and moonlight on a foggy night" two things that had lifted my mood recently.

I've never kept a gratitude journal, so this month is a first for me. Maybe it could be a first for you and your kid. My sister keeps track of fun memories that she and her boys make throughout the year. They keep the memories in a jar and read them at the end of the year. I LOVE that idea. What a fun way to reflect on the blessings of life and to remember the good. Don't forget about the bad but remember the good. Remember the good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Riding the Tiger of Success

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

When 2015 came around, I got together with a couple girlfriends to set intentions for the new year.  We each shared our progress for the past year, shared where we were emotionally and spiritually, and then stated what we wanted for ourselves in the year to come.  I am so grateful to have friends like this in my life and, in fact, a day does not go past where I do not get to have a conversation with a girlfriend about these very things.  Eternally, I am grateful for my friends. They love me unconditionally, no matter what, and walking through life with that love makes all the difference.
At the end of our evening, we did a tarot card reading with the Osho Zen Tarot deck.  The card I drew that night that stood out to me was "Success".  On the card is a man riding a tiger.  He is high on life.  The card interpretation reads, "Because of your willingness to accept the recent challenges of your life, you are now -or soon will be- enjoying a wonderful ride of the tiger of success.  Welcome it, enjoy it, and share your joy with others - and remember that all bright parades have a beginning and and end.  If you keep this in mind, and squeeze every drop of juice out of the happiness you are experiencing now, you will be able to take the future as it comes without regrets.  But don't be tempted to try and try to hold onto this abundant moment, or coat it in plastic so that it lasts forever.  The greatest wisdom to keep in mind with all the phenomena in the parade of your life, whether they be valleys or peaks, is that 'this too shall pass'.  Celebrate, yes, and keep on riding that tiger."

Since that day, the tiger has been a very important symbol in my life.  I often think of Bikram's words, "Bengal tiger strength" and I picture my tiger protecting me and imbuing me with his power, confidence and courage.  I also try to to remember that I won't always be riding the tiger.  Sometimes  a tiger sits and waits for the most opportune time to pounce.  That quiet time doesn't need to be interpreted as low and depressed, it is what it is, simple and still.  It has purpose.  Every moment of your life has purpose, whether it feels like you're riding the tiger or waiting in quiet stillness.  Every moment is worthy and valuable. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Thank You

Posted by Amy Baranski and Melissa Baumgart

It's February and we are keeping gratitude journals.

Make an attitude to be in gratitude, you will find the whole Universe will come to you. 

Yogi Bhajan

'Thank you' is the best prayer that anyone could say. I say that one a lot. Thank you expresses extreme gratitude, humility, understanding.
Alice Walker

Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will have even more to express gratitude for.
Zig Ziglar

At the age of 18, I made up my mind to never have another bad day in my life. I dove into a endless sea of gratitude from which I've never emerged.
Patch Adams

I don't have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness - it's right in front of me if I'm paying attention and practicing gratitude.
Brene Brown
Silent gratitude isn't very much to anyone.
Gertrude Stein
Let's get our gratitude out there.  Write it down.  Speak it.  Live it.
Who wants to join us in February to see what a month of living with gratitude can do in our lives?

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Hard Boiled

Posted by Isabel Bennett and Lily Baumgart

Monthly Fan Fic Special (January)

Sherlock has been pecking at the avocado and eggs that John had served him earlier when he realizes that the wife had green fingerprint on her wrist. He smiles wolfishly and leaps nimbly from the smooth leather chair. “John!” he yells in the general vicinity of the kitchen. John appears in the doorway, looking alarmed. His expression hardens as soon as he notices the uneaten food lying innocuously on the side table. Sherlock hardly notices, caught up in his rapid deductions. “The wife took her own daughter! She’s about to get a divorce and wants to prove that her husband is not fit for childcare! Call Lestrade…. I thought something was off about her shoe size….” John simply juts out his chin, no compliments for the great detective.
Sherlock doesn’t even notice John’s lack of affection for him at the moment because he’s so caught up in his own brilliance. The air is practically full of the great detectives pride as he saunters over to John who is sitting on the couch. “What do you think of that one?” He asks as he sits down next to John.
“Nothing too impressive,” John replies as he scoots further away from Sherlock. He really was pissed now.
“What the hell is up with you?” Sherlock practically shouts.
"I'm surprised you don't already know, Mr. Detective," he retorts as he stares coldly at the eggs that are still on the table, untouched.
Sherlock sprung from the couch to examine the cold eggs. His eyes fly across every inch of the yellow food in front of him before he peers across the plate and back at an indignant John Watson.

"What's wrong with them?" he mutters in an inquisitive tone.

"What's wrong with them?!" John asks in bewilderment, "They're still THERE!"

God, Sherlock hated how John often ended his sentences by yelling the last word. Why would he do that? What's the purpose? He sounded fatuous. However, it was apparent that John was extremely offended by the mere existence of the eggs and they needed to be destroyed immediately. In attempts to win the army doctors acceptance and love again Sherlock hastily scoops the plate up and shoves them into the trash can in the kitchen.

"Better, dear?" Sherlock asks with one final flick of avocado into the bin. Somehow his voice conveys sarcasm, accomplishment, and exasperation all at once.

"You were supposed to eat them," John mumbles defeatedly, "It's apart of your new paleo diet. You complete idiot."

"I do have to delete some things. You know that. And this is just so foolish. And difficult. It's almost as bad as not smoking." Sherlock finally offers as some sort of screwed up resolution that John always ends up accepting because Sherlock is a hopeless husband.

Game Day

Posted by Amy Baranski

I'm just writing this blog post so I don't get fined.

Wrote this the other day.

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

Never give up. 

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Found my glow

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

I reached into my purse to clear out loose change so I could empty it into the change jar that my oldest uses to take the bus to school every day, since she had yet again lost her Orca card (for non-Seattleites, bus pass).  I gasped loud enough to startle my kids as I saw what I had pulled out.  It was a small, round, metal pin that I had never seen before.  I have no idea where it came from, but there it was in my had a heart on it and the word "Glow."

It was during my 60 day challenge in August/September that I first found my glow.  It must have been a day in September, because I know it was toward the end of the 60 days, and I know it was a Thursday night class at 7pm with Gary.  I was on my mat, in one of my usual spots in the middle rows on the right side of the room.  It was a very focused class for me, no fidgeting and just staring at my own reflection in the mirror.  There was very little darting around the room with my eyes.  Laser beam focus. 

Then it happened.  As I looked at my reflection in the mirror, I saw a yellow glow all around my body.  I thought maybe the heat was getting to me and I might be about to pass out...but, no, I remained standing and conscious.  The glow was around me for the rest of the class.  Each pose had its particular struggle, and that was OK, I realized the poses aren't meant to be without effort and sometimes pain. In between poses, I had the most peaceful savasanas I had ever experienced.  The whole class, I kinda felt like I was floating.

After the 60 day challenge, when I dove back into junk food, wine and no yoga, Amy and I often joked about how I lost my glow.  Then one day another friend reminded me that even when it's cloudy, the sun is still up there, behind the clouds.  And that even if my mind felt cloudy and my heart felt heavy with rain about to stream down my cheeks, my glow was still inside of me. 

Finding the glow pin reminded me that it's always been there, my glow is always with me.  Even when life is a struggle and sometimes feels painful, maybe it's not all meant to be easy, and we just need to find savasanas along the way until the clouds once again part and you see your own glow.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Pregnant Melinda Strikes Back

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Remember Pregnant Melinda?  I do.  I'll never forget the burn of humiliation on my cheeks or how deep I had to dig into my shallow emotional reserves to not fall to pieces in the pool that day during water aerobics.  When the instructor asked me if I was pregnant, into the microphone for the whole pool to hear, I felt I had hit a new low.  Since adolescence I have been hearing people either call me fat or ask me if I was pregnant.  And there I was, in a water aerobics class trying to be healthy and fit, and yet, meeting up with the same old comments.
03/12 "Pregnant Amy and Pregnant Melinda"

One of my current jobs is at a maternity store.  Last Sunday, I greeted a mother and daughter as they entered the store.  The mother said, "We need to find my daughter some maternity shirts.  She just isn't fitting into her tops anymore."  I stepped out from behind the counter to assist her and her daughter, "Of course, we have all of our maternity clothes right over here."  The mother looked me up and down and said, "Looks like you need one too," with a smile.  "NO," I said sternly and with force, as I continued to walk toward her, "I am NOT pregnant."  She continued to smile and pretended the whole thing never happened.  I spent the next 30 minutes helping her daughter find maternity shirts, exhibiting nothing but exemplary customer service.  I think they spent a few hundred dollars. 

While it did affect me, and I have shared the story with friends in a "Can you believe that?" kind of way, I did notice a huge difference.  I felt bold.  I felt fierce.  I did not feel small and less than everyone else just because those words were spoken at me.  I did not cower and want to hide with humiliation.  In that moment, I chose to stand tall and continue to do my job.  Sure, it has hurt my feelings since then, and occasionally added fuel to my fire of self loathing as I look into the mirror...but I can tell that I have changed since that last time I was called pregnant in the pool at water aerobics.  I still carry that inner dialogue of being the fat one and looking pregnant, but it's quieter and less incessant. 

I notice the contrast most in the yoga studio.  In yoga, you stare at your own reflection for 90 minutes.  This can be a challenge for those of us with body image issues.  The bright lights, the tight clothes, the sea of tiny women in the room seems to have no horizon at times.  I might start off class, looking around the room, comparing my body to others, feeling like the "big girl" in the back of the class.  But by the time I have rocked my way through half-moon, I feel strong and confident, and my size doesn't matter in the least. 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Back of the class

By Amy Baranski

Gratuitous yoga pose while on vacation once upon a time.
Wow 17 months since my last solo blog postIt feels strange to be back on this blogging platform.

I'm writing while my son works at the kitchen sink rinsing out his favorite household item, the Vitamix. Standing atop a wobbly chair circa 1890 high on his tiptoes, sometimes one-legged to maneuver the faucet. The water gets really hot too. Danger abounds. I'm so impressed by his natural ability to find his edge and the focus and persistence he maintains there. He always seems to push further exploring his environment and his place in it. I want to be just like him!


After a two-year hiatus I returned to my Bikram practice almost a year ago. It has deepened so much of my life I'm extremely grateful to have returned. A few nights ago a student asked me why I always practice in the back of class. For the record I haven't always practiced in the back row, but recently I do place my mat in the same general area. This (ahem) happens to be in the back, under a fan, near a door. I rambled off something about not feeling prepared and following yoga etiquette, you know, reserving the front for the students with better postures, endurance, and such. The student gave me a "yeah, whatever" smile. I wasn't sure how to take that, and I couldn't believe I got called out.

Of course I obsessed. Why am I practicing in the back? I came up with a whole list of reasons!

I'm trying to stay anonymous. I feel vulnerable in the front. I have less self-criticism when I see my reflection from afar. (We practice in front of big mirrors; part of the Bikram practice is looking at yourself). I really haven't felt prepared lately. There was that one yoga party I went to...and I'm not entirely certain what I said to some other yoga you know giving that whole experience some breath. I get to look at the photos of Bikram and Yogananda during Savasana, and you know, that's cool. I've been ok with feeling comfortable. This trend started after a consecutive 60 day yoga challenge and I just needed a break from being a "front row person". Yeah, so that's why.

The next night I moved to second row. (The front was filled).

It wasn't a class without many personal savasanas, but I worked harder. I felt more uncomfortable, but that felt good. I experienced more mental chatter, but I brought intention to my thoughts. I'm not sure where I'll practice tonight. I don't want a plan, but I don't want to fall back into the familiar either.

Maybe I'll just make things really uncomfortable and ask a front row person if I can take their spot. I can say something like, "You know, Bikram says we're supposed to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable."

The lesson I'm learning here is that discovery is all about rearranging. My son is constantly rearranging. Putting the top on the Vitamix then taking it off. Placing something in the blender and taking it out. Each time he discovers and delights in something new. I think I'll take his lead.

half-way up the mountain

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
Before the breakdown on the mountain.

I woke up this morning feeling renewed and motivated, sort of.  I described it to Amy as the feeling I had of being half-way up that mountain when we were backpacking. Tears and mosquitoes covering my face, the weight of my backpack feeling heavier and heavier with each sob, the mountain steep ahead of me and nightfall quickly upon me...I HAD to keep going.  I had to find something inside of me to overcome my intense desire to give up.  Life has felt dark the past couple days, mostly my own negative thoughts and perceptions being the ever growing steep mountain terrain ahead.  Today I will find that small bit of strength inside to keep going, to change my attitude and keep on climbing out of the darkness.

Healthival Update:

I started my Healthival a little early, so I'm a few weeks in.  The first two weeks, I went to yoga 4 days each week.  It felt good to be back, sweating in the heat, stretching my body and my mind.  Even just typing that makes me realize how much I'm missing it since I have not been to practice for over a week.  Tomorrow I will return to yoga and my intention is to go at least 4 times a week for the rest of Healthival, and through February, until our 30 day challenge in March. 

I have been keeping up with Paleo, mostly. 

I drink half and half in my coffee every morning, because me, it's not worth drinking without half and half.  I keep a half gallon in the fridge, and I'm the only coffee drinker in my house.  I once quit coffee for a couple months and when I went back I decided I would never make that mistake again. 

I was out on Sunday night and was offered pizza.  I declined.  After a drink at this amazing little speakeasy style bar in Belltown, Bathtub Gin, I decided to indulge in what was touted by my date as "the best pizza in Seattle" at Rocco's.  It was a delicious slice...crispy crust and light sauce, but I still prefer the atmosphere and spicy NY slice at Big Mario's in Capitol Hill.  I didn't feel guilty at all for going off paleo for that slice. 

I've also decided that I'm calling corn a vegetable, and damn it, I can eat popcorn!  Amy told me last night that corn isn't a vegetable, it's a grain.  (I looked it up and the UC Cooperative says that it is classified by botanists as a fruit.)  I still feel crushed by that news.  My whole childhood I was taught that corn was a vegetable, and in fact, for kids it is often a favorite.  Chosen to be eaten first above green veggie counterparts like broccoli and spinach.  Oh well.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Slow Cooker Pork Roast

Posted by Melissa Baumgart
I found my old crock pot underneath my counter cupboard.  I really need to organize that area.  After purchasing a pork loin roast at the co-op, I decided to throw it in the slow cooker overnight and see what happened.

I added in two celery stalks (minced), half of a yellow onion (minced), two chunks of fresh ginger (whole), and three garlic cloves (peeled and crushed).  After dumping in the pork, I covered it with 12 oz. of orange juice and about 8 oz. of water.  I finished it off with 2 Tbsp of chili powder and a few squirts of Bragg's liquid aminos.

This morning, the pork all fell apart without any effort and it tastes amazing!  Now, I just need to make a crunchy slaw and it'll be the perfect lunch.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Simple. Paleo and Yoga

Posted by Melissa Baumgart

Dinner.  1/4/15
My focus for Healthival is a nod toward simplicity, and not taking on too much.  I am eating paleo, which I have been doing since December 29th, and have been back to yoga on a regular basis this past week.  My main goal is to cultivate a healthy mindset in which I can grow a foundation for a lifestyle that supports moderation.  I can be so "all or nothing".  Shit, I recently went from practicing 60 straight days of yoga to 90 days of hardly any yoga and seeing how many toxins (junk food and booze) could I shove into my body.  The pendulum does swing. 

It was with that in mind that I chose to sleep in today and not go to yoga this morning before work.  I went four times this week and was up late last night setting intentions for the new year with a couple girlfriends.  When I finally fell asleep after reading in bed, it was past 1 o'clock in the morning and I decided that I would be OK with not going to yoga.  That's huge for me, I would usually berate myself for such choices.  Shame, my steady and constant companion upon a typical Healthival journey.  I want this time to be a different practice.  Sure, I might get it wrong, but that's fine.  I'm doing it in a new way, stretching my boundaries and seeing what new possibilities lie ahead. 

I leave this post with an Ernest Hemingway quote that relates to morals (that which is concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character).  This definition can be the very thing that sometimes bring me to a state of all or nothing.  I just finished my first book of 2015, about Hemingway and his wives, and I learned a lot about life and myself.  Hence, this all feels very fitting, indeed. 

“So far, about morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.” from Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway.

I will definitely consider this tomorrow when making my Healthival choices.

Friday, January 2, 2015


Posted by Amy Baranski and  Melissa Baumgart

Our first month for the blog this year is a term we came up with called "Healthival!"  It's like the debauchery of the Carnival celebration, but the other side of the coin...a dedication to our health.  Through patience, self-control, courage and self-reliance we will find our power and a more clear view of ourselves with love and compassion.  Here's to our health! 

We got the band back together!

Posted by Amy Baranski and Melissa Baumgart

WE'RE BAAAAACCCCKKKK!!!! And we're doing the blog again. Think of our last goodbye and the time away from here as a sabbatical. When we left the blog, Melissa found this fitting quote by Alan Cohen:
"It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new.  But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful.  There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power." 
Honestly we can't remember where she got the quote from or who Alan Cohen is but over a year later his words are more resonant than ever. The movement in our lives has called us back to this blog bringing us closer to a sense of security that is deep and profound. 

We think it's pretty courageous to start something again that we said goodbye to (or really stupid). But what the hell? We think it's the courageous choice, just for the record.

So what happened?  We'll let you know soon, when you all become loyal readers of this blog.