Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Holy Cow: An Indian Adventure by Sara Macdonald

For some reason I picked this book up thinking that it would be a travel memoir and yoga memoir. It is indeed a travel book, but it is not just a book about traveling and doing yoga as I had anticipated. The best way to place this book in your mind shelves is as a spiritual travel memoir. Macdonald takes the reader on a trip through India, that is not always pleasant but it is real. In the land of chaos she travels in search of ways to better understand the people and the country around her. What she finds is understanding of herself and ways in which to try and be one with her own head and heart.

When I first started reading this book my immediate reaction was… “Wow! I never want to visit India!” I do not think I could survive a day in many of the cities she details. The crowds, the open groping of women in the streets and the extreme hardships of people all seemed so emotionally overwhelming and I was just reading a book! But once Macdonald began her spiritual travels I started to see a side to India that was very welcoming and appealing. There is such freedom not only in what people choose to call their religion or spiritual quests throughout India but there is also such a wonderful adaptation game going on as well. According to Macdonald religion is not a stagnant thing in India, it ebbs and flows with the culture, environment and time. It is a beautiful way to look at the spiritual side of people. While I am sure I will not being going to India anytime soon, and at one point during the reading I thought I would never venture that way, Macdonald has lit a spark of interest in me with her book. It is well written and honest and a good read for anyone seeking a travel adventure, spiritual quest, or even a looking into the culture anthropology of India. The only thing I think could have been improved was more time spent on some sections of her travel (the Buddhist Temple visit and more on her Yoga studies), but that is just my personal preference.

Novel Moments:
“I must find peace in the only place possible in India. Within.” (Kindle Location 1064)

“I feel like I’m trapped in a TV episode of Survivor Spiritualists. The last one left gets enlightenment.” (Kindle Location 1125).

“For one brief moment I realized that I am just vibrating matter- arising and falling away like all the other particles in the universe.” (Kindle Location 1235)

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Social Networking Pandas

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Hello Weekly Zen Readers! Have you noticed the little panda bears that live in the top of my sidebar? Let me introduce you to my social networking pandas. These little guys are holding my place at all the coolest social networks: Twitter, Facebook, Flickr and my Blogger Feed. So if you want more Weekly Zen join me on any or all of the social network below for more pictures, daily updates, quotes, reading recommendations and more.
Happy Reading!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Happy Summer Solstice

"The summer night is like a perfection of thought."  ~Wallace Stevens

Enjoy the longest day of the year. :)

from Wikipedia....

"A solstice is an astronomical event that happens twice each year when the Sun's apparent position in the sky reaches its northernmost or southernmost extremes. The name is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination[citation needed]; that is, the apparent movement of the Sun's path north or south comes to a stop before reversing direction.

The term solstice can also be used in a broader sense, as the date (day) when this occurs. The solstices, together with the equinoxes, are connected with the seasons. In some cultures they are considered to start or separate the seasons, while in others they fall nearer the middle."

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Big (Round Robin Challenge)

The year 2000 was a big year for me. I graduated from my first undergraduate degree and took a leap of faith and traveled around the country with my later to be husband. While our travel was not really centered on any sort of theme I noticed that after a few stops we had created one… seeing things that are normally small made into big statues. From tiny prairie dogs to baseball bats we saw a lot of silly statues and stopped to take photos with them. It was a great way to celebrate my then big achievement… seeing big things around the country.

This post is for the Round Robin Challenge June 18th theme “Big.”

Linking List:
as of Midnight MST
Saturday, June 18th

Day One

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Amanda- Posted!
Amanda's Weekly Zen

Rachael **Welcome, new Robin!** - Posted!
The Smile Spot

Kim - Posted!
40's and Fabulous

Carly - Posted!

Tina **Welcome, new Robin!** - Posted!
Leckeres für Mensch und Katze

Peg - Posted!
Who Can Discover It?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Running Once Again

Back in January 2011 I hurt my right knee during the WDW Marathon and it has never quite been the same since. I was told I tore my meniscus and it may or may not be a long recovery process. Not wanting to make things worse I really took it easy on my knee, so easy that today was my first real run since January. I did 3.08 miles in 40 minutes which is not extraordinarily fast but it is about 4 minutes less than my normal walking pace so I felt like I was flying this morning along the Manatee River. For the last five months I have been wearing knee straps to try and help with the stiffness in my knee cap and I noticed that more and more I did not feel I needed them when I would speed walk. So I ventured out this morning with no straps and while I was running (sprinkled with walk breaks) there was no pain at all in my right knee. This is HUGE because just last month every time I would try to break into a little jog I would feel pain shoot through my knee to the point where I felt I was limping after a short attempt. I am so elated that my knee seems to be recovering. I think it is a mixture of taking it really easy with the speed walking and the strength training I have added in (lots of squats!!!).

Also a large part of my knee recovery I attribute to my yoga practice. Each teacher I have had I told them ahead of time that I had knee problems and they all seem to have added into the lessons poses that would be beneficial to my knees. Just being more mindful of the way I bend and use my knees has helped. While Vinyasa can be a challenge with my injured knee the act of getting into a pose and holding it has given me much more strength in my knees. I am not sure my right knee will ever be back to “normal” but as long as I can get the occasional run in I am extremely happy.

To those runners who have had an injury I offer the following advice… take it easy. This is your only body. You want to treat it with respect and listen to it. It is not great to be injured and I know we all want to get back at it as soon as possible but the harder we push it when we are injured the longer we will stay injured. I may have taken it too easy on my knee the last five months but I do not regret it. All I want is healthy knees and honestly speed walking can be pretty darn fun, even at races.

Another note about today’s run… I ran in my Team MARATHON Bar shorts this morning. They are your typical running short with the slits on the sides to make sure you have plenty of movement in the shorts to accommodate your running legs and well…they were completely awesome! I have never had these kind of shorts before because I always thought some of them looked really short and the material is really thin compared to some other running shorts. Now I know what I was missing! I think there is no going back for me now.

Happy Running.

Member of the 2011 Team MARATHON Bar:
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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Vrksasana (Tree Pose)

Change can be stressful no matter how small or large. This last couple of weeks we all (me, Norwood and Maverick) underwent a major lifestyle change… well at least it felt major. We all gave up our “land yacht” for a sailboat and took to the water. So many things were involved with moving into our new home. The normal stuff of deciding what “junk” we would keep and then realizing that it was entirely too much and having to decide what junk of the junk we would keep. Then there was the reality that out of the three of us none had ever really spent time on a boat before. My husband was worried how I would adapt and I was worried how Maverick would adapt. Turns out we all did pretty good.

So after getting all our stuff on the boat we just lived on the boat. We literally had not stepped onto land for a few days then finally we had to step off and venture out into the world. What we discovered was that the once stable land was now swaying. It is strange thing to feel your body try to adjust from the constant movement of the water to the immovable land. At first I did not think much about it until I ventured into a local yoga studio for a little Vinyasa. My practice was completely different than it had been in the previous five months. Balances that were normally pretty easy were extremely hard and my head was swimming during final relaxation. I made it through my first land class then practiced the same routine on the boat… strangely enough the rocking of the sailboat on the water helped my balance and those I could not do on land I was having no problems with on the water. Today I went back to land for another class not expecting much from the practice because truthfully my body still feels like it sways when I am not on the water. Warrior I and II, swaying, modified triangle… swaying. Heck even in Full Lotus I felt a gentle rock. Then we came to Vrksasana (Tree Pose). I was sure that I would fall out of it over and over again but no. I was able to have a sturdy tree with full branches both on land and on the sailboat. I have never felt so rooted in one place before while doing tree until we started to live on the sailboat. I have always had a fondness for Tree Pose but now it means so much more to me. It is sort of like a lifeline on a sailboat, you want it to be sturdy because it is what keeps you in your place… on the boat. Vrksasana is what will help me feel grounded within myself while my body adjusts from the movement of water to land. Vrksasana is the stability in my ebbing and flowing life.

How to do Vrksasana (Tree Pose):
1.Stand in Tadasana. Depending on which leg you want to start on you will shift your weight into your anchor leg and slowly bend the other one. Reach down and grab the bent leg by the ankle.

2.Draw your foot up and place the sole against the inner thigh close to your groin area (or wherever your foot feels most comfortable.

3.At this point you have several choices as to what to do with your arms. You can keep them in Anjali Mudra or extend them straight up into branches. Once you have your balance and you feel strong in your anchor leg, experiment with your arms.

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Monday, June 13, 2011

From Landlubber to Sailor

Our Sailboat
Originally uploaded by Amanda's Weekly Zen
Norwood and I have been living an unconventional lifestyle for about 9 years now. We started our journey into an alternative lifestyle way back in 2000 when we took off after my graduation from undergrad in a Vanagon Camper Van and traveled across the US from Colorado to Florida. While that adventure only lasted a few months it started our life of travel together. We then moved into a truck camper which we did all the US in then into a 24 foot fifth wheel which we again did most of the US in then onto our property in an off grid cabin which we spent five years living with a miniscule carbon footprint. While our five years in the mountains of Colorado was at times divine we were bit by the travel bug again and made our way back to Florida where we found our current travel home a 30 foot Cherokee fifth wheel. After two years of once again seeing the US by land we decided that it was time we look to the seas. After an extensive and at times stressful search we finally came across our sailboat and in a whirlwind week we packed up the essentials and moved in. We are now learning the boat, to sail and soon we will be spending an indefinite amount of time sailing and seeing all the things we could not see in our years of RV travel. After just a week on the sailboat we all have found our sea legs and are already plotting our new adventures. More coming soon from the great waters that surround the land we have spent so much time exploring…

Maverick on our sailboat
Maverick sitting in the cockpit of his new floating home


Friday, June 03, 2011

Member of the 2011 Team MARATHON

I am one of the 250 people who have the opportunity to be a part of the 2011 Team MARATHON which is sponsored by Marathon Bars powered by Snickers. As a member of the team I will be entering four endurance events (Half Marathons and 5ks in my case), wearing my team gear and giving out some fantastic Marathon Bars products. My team membership runs from June 2011 to December 2011. Stay tuned for Race Recaps from my four events and more information about Marathon Bars.

Happy running everyone! ~Amanda

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