Friday, May 29, 2015

Flashback to Havasu Falls

Some of my most popular posts have been about the Havasupai waterfalls. It's easy to see why; it's one of the most beautiful places on Earth. For today's Flashback Friday, I'm sharing a roundup of all my Havasu Falls knowledge and experiences. This was inspired by this video of our last trip to the waterfalls (I was reminded about it thanks to a Throwback Thursday post).

It's been two years since I went to Havasu Falls for the third time. I wish I could be there right now.

 


I've written about:


Thursday, May 28, 2015

Favorite Quotes from "On the Road"




I am finally getting around to reading Jack Kerouac's "On the Road." I have wanted to read it for years.

Kerouac's novel is full of gems. I'm realizing that when many people quote "On the Road," often it's the following, which is early in the book:

... because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars ...

But there are many insightful, relatable moments.

I was a young writer and I wanted to take off. Somewhere along the line I knew there'd be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.

For my whole life I've searched for adventure and can relate to Sal's restlessness here. Similarly, I liked when he describes that desire.

I felt like a million dollars; I was adventuring in the crazy American night.

I also like how he describes people he meets and how they talk:

"LA." I loved the way she said "LA"; I loved the way everybody says "LA" on the Coast; it's their one and only golden town when all is said and done.

 I feel like I am on the road with Sal. I celebrate his triumphs and feel his disappointments.

Suddenly I found myself on Times Square. I had traveled eight thousand miles around the American continent and I was back on Times Square; and right in the middle of a rush hour, too, seeing with my innocent road-eyes the absolute madness and fantastic hoorair of New York with its millions and millions hustling forever with a buck  among themselves, the mad dream  grabbing, taking, giving, sighing, dying, just so they could be buried in those awful cemeteries beyond Long Island City.

Sal's has a poetic way of thinking.

The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death.

And it turns out YOLO is not a new concept.

"I don't like you when you're with them."
"Ah, it's all right, it's just kicks. We only live once. We're having a good time."

When he suspects that Marylou won't "switch to" him from Dean in San Francisco (an odd situation, by the way) he makes a good point.

But why think about that when all the golden land's ahead of you and all kinds of unforeseen events wait lurking to surprise you and make you glad you're alive to see?

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Fat Cat Chicago

I was in mac and cheese heaven Monday night.

It happened thanks to my running group, which meets at Fat Cat Chicago in Uptown. We ran about 3 miles to Montrose Beach  the park was teeming with barbecuers  and back before indulging in burgers. Well, the other runners did; I indulged in cheese.

Fat Cat offered three options: three-meat; four-cheese and three-mushroom mac and cheese. I went with all cheese paired with an Ace Pear cider. Am I doing this carbo-loading thing right? No? Oh well.


I'm still thinking about it now  creamy and delicious.

I'd also like to try the herbed goat cheese flat bread, the toasted chile black bean dip, vegetable sliders, the bean burger and the mushroom risotto.

And Fat Cat happens to be located near Green Mill Cocktail Lounge, where Al Capone used to hang out.

As I rode the train home after dinner I felt a sense of pride in the city I live in now. There's just too much to do and eat!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Bringing Life to Our Place

Something has been missing from our apartment in Chicago.

Flora.

It's our last name and one of our favorite things on Earth. Graham and I corrected the issue this weekend when we brought new life to our place. 

We filled our sun room with plenty of vibrant blooms.

I chose petunias and geraniums.



Graham wanted a Lobelia plant and Fuchsias.



We also started our little urban garden. We're hoping to have some hot peppers, bell peppers and basil, among other plants. I'm planning to plant some carrots as well.




And we needed a tree that will hopefully have pretty blooms. A gardenia tree looks lovely in the pot that matches our walls. Petunias surround the tree. 


We've had mixed luck with plants that we had in Phoenix. Send positive vibes for our little garden!

Update:

Our gardenia tree has its first bloom.


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Memorial Day Weekend at Willis Tower

I had the bright idea to visit Willis Tower on Saturday of Memorial Day weekend because Graham had a rare day off and I wanted to go to the Skydeck.

We walked down Jackstreet Street to see a line of people stretching down the street to the west when we arrived at Wacker Drive. Could that be the line? Yes.

We decided to go inside to see which line we needed to go through. After we went through security we were told it would be hours until we reach the Skydeck. I didn't believe it to be true, so we stayed.We took an elevator up one floor, where we deboarded and were taken to another line. This line was for people who had tickets but not the Fast Pass. Lesson 1: Buy the Fast Pass. We waited in line for about an hour before we were able to see the Willis (Sears) Tower video, which lasts about 10 minutes. Lesson 2: Bring snacks. The movie theater doors open and the crowds rush through it to get to another line. People were cutting under the ropes and running. From there we were separated into different lines for the elevators, as I would later find out. Because it was so busy, about 16 of us at a time were taken to a service elevator that went to the 67th (or so) floor. From there, we got off and took an escalator up one floor to board another elevator that took us to the 99th floor. Then we deboarded and got on yet another elevator for the 103rd floor. It was quite the adventure.

We took in the views of the city after nightfall; our original plan was to see the sunset, but that was the plan for many others that day. 

The city is so vast and impressive. We mulled trying to take a photo in the Ledge but decided to hold off until we have a visitor and it's not a holiday weekend.


 Honor the Fallen reminded us all what Memorial Day is all about.


I admired more of the city as we walked back to the Red Line.


And that checks off another Chicago bucket list item. 

Friday, May 22, 2015

Yoga Music



I've recently heard people say that a particular type of music "isn't yoga."

It's a pet peeve of mine for people to say this.

Why?

Because you shouldn't be so concerned with the music. It's secondary.

I disagree that you should only have traditional yoga music during a yoga class. I think you should play whatever music you like. Or no music at all.

I've had teachers who play rap, those who play the latest hits, those who only play instrumental music, those who play nature sounds, those who play a mix of music types, those who play original music, those who play classical songs and those who use gongs. I've had a teacher play music at such a low volume that I didn't even notice it was on until halfway through class  because I was so attuned to my breath. All of the classes were beneficial, and they were all certainly yoga.

When I teach, I like to play no music in the beginning of class, when I invite students to set their intention and start paying attention to the breath. As we slowly begin to move I introduce slow-tempo songs. The momentum in the playlist builds as our class approaches the peak pose, from where I bring the music back down. I like savasana music to be a mix; sometimes it's ballads, other times it's the sound of waves.

That's just my preference. That doesn't mean a different way "isn't yoga" and I would never say that to anyone. I hope you will keep this in mind next time a particular song comes on that you might not like during class. What better time is there to work on your sense withdrawal?

Namaste.




Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Phoenix Eats

Time flies when you're working, squeezing in as much family and friend time as possible, and dining at your favorite Phoenix restaurants. And did I mention I was waiting on the birth of my newest niece?

I arrived in Phoenix on a Tuesday ready to celebrate my first niece's first birthday.

But the first thing on the agenda was lunch with friends at Taco Guild. I had driven by the restaurant almost daily when I lived in Phoenix but never made it in. I was missing out! The former church with stained glass windows and mismatched plates is a unique setting for a meal. My friends and I shared the guac and queso duo, then I chowed down on two veggie tacos. I wished I had also ordered rice when I saw it being dropped off in front of my friend.


**Sadly, our GoPro is not turning on at the moment, so all I have to show for my trip is cellphone photos, except for this one:



I also made sure to stop by Gadzooks Enchiladas & Soups the following day. I got my favorites: potato Jack enchiladas with green sauce, cheese, pickled onions, medium salsa, pico de gallo, and more cheese (cotija).


Besides that, I dined at Olive & Ivy, where I had bruschetta (strawberry and apple; fresh mozzarella; and grilled asparagus — the best) and a martini. My drink was the Belvedere Blue, which I expected to be blue but was actually pink with blueberries in it. Delicious.



My trip would not have been complete without a stop at Delux, where I had the veggie burger with avocado and a basket of mixed fries. I may have gone there just for those fries. I have no photo of the dinner because I was having too much fun catching up with friends.

Another non-photographed meal was the Sonoran Kale Salad at the Hotel Valley Ho after the One Breath Connected Launch yoga class. I paired it with an Arizona Sunrise drink by the pool.



Thanks for the delicious eats, Phoenix!

Monday, May 18, 2015

Home

A week away from my husband, apartment and dogs has taught me what home really is.

A song that best verbalizes what home entails is aptly titled "Home," by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros.

"Home is wherever I'm with you."

There are no better words to describe what my home is. It's the place I have longed for every night since I've been in Phoenix. It's our bed, our apartment, our belongings.

Chicago may not be as familiar to me as Phoenix, but it's my new home because that's where Graham and our new life is.

I watched this amazing timelapse by Max Wilson twice over the weekend. I am in awe of my new city.

I can't wait to go back home.

Photo credit: Choose Chicago  (choosechicago.com)



Friday, May 15, 2015

My Phoenix Neighborhood

I've been back in Phoenix since Tuesday. I must have brought the cooler weather with me from Chicago, because it's been breezy, cloudy and even a little rainy. I'm back in a familiar place, visiting my favorite restaurants and hanging out with my friends and family.

At the same time, I am noticing changes happening in my old Phoenix neighborhood. Redevelopment projects are tearing down outdated buildings and bringing new restaurants to the area. A new Yard-like project is being built just across the street from the space that holds Culinary Dropout, Barrio Urbano and Little Cleo's. And just down the block from that, another restaurant space is being updated right next to Spinato's. I also noticed that the office buildings across from the Yard were torn down, and the commercial spaces near Bethany Home Road and Seventh Street were already being renovated when I moved. It's so exciting to see new life being brought to the neighborhood.

It will be interesting to see how the area looks the next time I return.

I wish you all a fun-filled weekend!

The view from my office building in Phoenix.



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Weekly Workout Recap

A positive byproduct of my marathon training was that posting my workouts online held me accountable and gave me motivation to power through it. A week of rest and recovery has reinvigorated my desire to advance my yoga practice while maintaining my running fitness. To that end, I'll continue sharing my weekly workout sessions, along with reflections on each week and my fitness goals.

Monday: 60-minute Level 1-2 yoga class at the studio. Highlights of the class were practicing variations of headstand and doing eagle pose, which isn't used in as many classes as I'd like.



Tuesday: Rest.

Wednesday: 40-minute yoga session at home to a video by Yoga with Adriene. I added headstand, forearm balance, handstand practice, extra bicycle crunches, pushups, side planks and shoulder stand. Also, instead of lifting the knees up into a cat variation as she suggested I added opposite arm/leg extensions and crunches on both sides.

Thursday: 1 warm, humid mile. It was my first run since the marathon. I took a moment to admire the new blooms in my neighborhood.

Friday: 60-minute Level 1-2 yoga at the studio. We held lunges for what seemed like 10 minutes. From downward-facing dog, we brought our feet closer together, lifted one leg and brought the lower foot closer to the hands, as in standing split. Then we attempted to kick our behinds with the bottom foot. I managed to get some hang time on one side, which was scary and thrilling at the same time. Then the teacher spotted me for another handstand.

Saturday: 42 minutes of yoga using the Cross-Training Class for Runners on Yoga International's website. I subbed wide-legged fold and seated forward fold in some spots.

Sunday: 1.34 miles. All I wanted to do on this chilly Mother's Day was curl up on the couch and watch "Sex and the City." But I forced myself to at least run around the neighborhood, do two laps at the neighboring university's track, and run back home. It was a short, leisurely but much-needed jaunt.  I also did this 10-Minute Core Focus class from Yoga International, adding bicycle crunches, cat/cow, handstand practice and a reclined twist.

May mileage: 2.34 miles. It's time to get back into running. I hope to do some group runs when I come back from Phoenix.

Week's yoga classes: 5.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Buckingham Fountain

I was determined to do some exploring Saturday, but the rain threatened to derail my plans. One day earlier it was 85 degrees, but on Saturday the city awoke to 40- or 50-degree weather, wind and cloudy skies. My idea to do touristy things at Navy Pier would have to wait. I decided instead to try to see Buckingham Fountain at Grant Park turned on at the Switch On Summer event. It didn't quite feel like summer, but Graham and I enjoyed walking around downtown, strolling through the park and checking out the booths at the event.











When the wind picked up and the radar showed a looming rain, we headed back toward the L train to head home. We made a pit stop for dinner and noticed a model of Chicago in the Chicago Architecture Center. I love we just seem to stumble upon something intriguing at every turn, and I'm grateful for my exploring dates with my handsome adventurer.


Friday, May 8, 2015

I'm Going Home

Only a few more days until I fly to Phoenix for my niece's birthdays. *insert handclap emoji* I wish I could cram all of my favorites into the short trip, but I'm happy to spend the little time I will have there with my family and a few friends.

Last night the homesickness really hit me, so this visit could not come at a better time. For the most part I have been strong about the move to Chicago, but sometimes I wish I could click my heels and be home surrounded by familiar faces.

For the next couple of days, though, I hope to do a bit of exploring the city. I think I'll feel better if I do something fun to keep my mind off the isolation I've been experiencing.

I recently read a post on Venus Trapped in Mars that resonated with me. In it, she writes, "It does not matter how many times you step up to the plate and strike out, or how long you feel sorry for yourself for striking out. When you finally get the courage to place the right foot down in front of you, the left foot will follow and lead you to the solution for your problems." She writes about going to events alone and being too afraid to talk to people, but she kept putting herself out there. So that's what I'm going to do.

I don't want to sound down because I really do like what I've seen of Chicago; it just doesn't feel like home yet. 

Happy weekend!






Thursday, May 7, 2015

What is Spring?

My idea of spring has always been 80 degrees and sunny. Spring starts in February in my Arizonan experience. It's baseball and hiking and outdoor brunches.

In Chicago, and many other places, spring is actually in the spring. It's rain and sun, followed by more rain and then more sun. It's unpredictable, fluctuating.

I'm learning that I had no idea what spring was until I moved here.

Spring means 50 degrees and foggy one day and 85 and sunny the next. It means seeing the trees start to sprout yellow-hued leaves that in a blink turn bright green. It's watching the brown, muddy ground transform into grassy patches with tulips galore. It's seeing bright blooms juxtaposed by the brick and cement of the city.

I love spring.






Wednesday, May 6, 2015

A Perfect Day for Baseball

It's foggy and 50-something degrees right now in Chicago.

 I'm daydreaming about Sunday, when the temperature reached 77.

What else is a girl to do on such a beautiful day than go to a baseball game? Sunday's Cubs game was a drastic difference from Opening Night baseball, weatherwise. The forecast predicted a beautiful day, but there was some talk about thunderstorms rolling in.

I struggle with what to wear on a daily basis, because the weather is unpredictable. I decided to wear shorts, sandals, a short-sleeve top and a cardigan, and I packed a rain poncho in my purse, just in case.

Sunshine blanketed us for most of the game, until some light rain moved in. It wasn't enough to dampen our experience though; it only lasted a few minutes. I chowed down on healthy snacks of nachos and fries with cheese and tried to learn the names of more of the players.

My companion to the game had to cancel on me two days before, so I was left scrambling to find someone to go with on Saturday. I have no problem going to baseball games by myself, which is what I did on Opening Night, but I didn't want to waste a ticket. After reaching out to a few people I hardly know, I was able to find someone. It would be a blind friend date, so I was nervous about what she would be like. To my delight, she ended up being someone I'd hang out with again. She made the conversation easy, and we had many things in common, including both being new to Chicago.

I realized that the worrying I had done before the game about finding a companion and whether it would thunderstorm was useless and unnecessary. Somehow everything works out.







Tuesday, May 5, 2015

A Morning at Millennium Park

Graham and I were Chicago tourists this morning. We went down to Millennium Park to see Cloud Gate, aka the Bean. We had never bean there. 

The rain meant that we didn't share the space with crowds. Clouds stood eerily overhead, but we had no need for our umbrellas.


9 a.m. on a Tuesday turned out to be the perfect time for a couple to get their wedding photos taken.


And of course I had to do a yoga pose in front of the Bean.



I imagined the park teeming with people on a sunny day.





 The amphitheater would be a great place to catch a show in the summer.


I can see myself people-watching near the public arts pieces.