A Month of Yoga

A Month of Yoga

A Month of BLYS

Inspired by a friend (who I will introduce to you soon), I have committed to a month of daily yoga at BLYS in Falmouth, MA.  There are several reasons why I am doing this. 

Yoga quiets my mind.  My 2010 mantras are focus and release, and yoga allows for both.  Basically, I cannot stay in a pose while over thinking things or holding on to grudges without toppling over.   

In yoga class, I am reminded to set an intention (see mantras above) and focus on the ever present “now”.  Just writing about this is having a calming effect… 

I am interested in improving my overall health, and most of the yogis I know are consistent when it comes to taking care of themselves.  I want more mind-body balance.  And I want to look good in yoga pants. 

Yoga is expensive, but worth it.  If you are interested but can’t afford to go regularly, I suggest you take at least a couple of classes before going the video route.  Some poses are challenging (understatement) and having an instructor there to guide you will make all the difference.

Paul was kind enough to buy me a one month pass.  So, I thought why not go every day while I can?  Yes, I am mighty sore on my fifth day straight and no, I do not recommend this to anyone who has not practiced yoga before. 

So far, I have taken Vinyasa, Power & Balance, Heated Core, and Hot Power Yoga.  I was reluctant to go the heated route (due to my “ruddy” complexion) but it feels so good to sweat so much!  My skin looks no worse for wear and I am already feeling a difference in my flex-ability.

Blooming Lotus Yoga Studio

My plan is to make yoga a big part of my weekly routine after I finish the month.  I think that alternating yoga with my weight resistance program (ChaLEAN Extreme) and other summer activities (bicycling, swimming, etc.) will be a great combination for me.

Stef (one of the awesome BLYS yoga instructors) has suggested I read the book Light on Life by BKS Iyengar.  I just reserved it at the library.  She also recommended www.yogajournal.com .  Thanks, Stef!  

What are some of your favorite healthy activities?  I have a tendency to be on the sedentary side and I do love my meals, so the more inspiration I can give and receive, the better…

Celebrating Summer Solstice

Celebrating Summer Solstice

Must be Summer!

As fair as I am, I love the sun.  Without it, we would cease to exist, after all.  I also have a healthy respect for the sun; ever since my first real sunburn in my early teens.  This happened to coincide with my first real rip current experience (Hueneme Beach, CA).  Scary.  My utmost love (and respect) goes out to the sun and the sea, along with my gratitude.  The majority of my best life experiences revolve around the fire and water elements.  

For many years, I celebrated Summer Solstice all weekend long at my friend Tom’s place in the Connecticut woods.  This spot is filled with natural beauty and is the holder of many a summer memory.  It was Tom’s grandfather’s hunting lodge, and Tom and his friends have done their best to honor and maintain the character of the land and lodge.  I miss the place and the people.  

This year, Paul and I rang in summer with a Jimmy Buffett concert.  Can’t get much more summer-ish than that, methinks.   Don’t you love it when you go to a concert and the weather is just right and the people are friendly and the beer (or, in my case, wine) is cold; all taking place before the music has even begun?  

Friends + music + sunshine + pizza and beer = Solstice

As we walk through the parking lots, I am reminded of wilder times.  At one point in my life I wondered if I would ever actually “mature”.   I am happy to report that I have indeed matured, yet can still appreciate and celebrate my (sometimes) wild youth.  And that I actually survived it. 

Bead Me!

What pleased my heart and soul most was the fact that,  in spite of the hard times many of us have fallen upon, this place was absolutely packed with Parrotheads and Parakeets.  Kudos to Jimmy Buffett for keeping the party going for no less than four decades now…

"With all of our running and all of our cunning/If we couldn't laugh we would all go insane"

Of course I want to know what the Solstice means to you.  Do you celebrate it?  Do you have any fun summer plans?  We do.  They haven’t fully taken shape yet, but we are free to roam for the entire month of August.  Did you hear that, Colorado friends?  Cause we are soo headed your way…you do remember us, don’t you? 

Tell us...how do you plan on celebrating summer???

Tip: If you don’t have any fun summer plans yet, feel free to make some up.  Then promise me you will do your best to make them happen.   We all deserve some summer fun! 

A telltale sign that Paul had a good time...

And yes, it has been a while since my last contest.  So, for every comment you leave on any CC blog post from now (6/21/2010) through Sunday (6/28/2010), you will be entered to win a prize of the Celebrating Summer Solstice variety…game on and good luck!

"As a dreamer of dreams and a travelin' man/I have chalked up many a mile"...

Stuff. Do You Own It? Or Does It Own You?

While Paul is in England with his Dad, I am going through what was left of our “stuff” after the sale of the Colorado house.  Yikes.  We got rid of most of it, but still.  Too much stuff. 

I went and rented a storage unit the other day so that we could have our stuff out of the homeowners way when they are here for a month this summer.  My goal is to get whatever we have (sans couches, which we will most likely sell) to fit into the 5×10 unit. 

The bulk of our stuff consists of books.  A lot of my books can be checked out at any local library.  A lot of his can not.  So, I have decided to let go of most (not all!) of my books.  I have resisted this for some time but now it feels right.   I am ready. 

Maybe one day Paul and I will embrace the e-book phenomenon.   Not sure on that one.  We are still contemplating i-Tunes, after all.  I do love the idea of being truly mobile…still a book is so much more satisfying to me than a computer screen.

Do you have stuff that is weighing you down?  My goal is to simply live “beneath my means and within my seams”.  If this is a goal for you as well, or if you are already living this way, I would sure love to hear from you…

How We Became Caretakers

Last October, I wrote a post on why we decided to caretake.  Since then, I have received many an inquiry as to how we became caretakers.  Most of the time it is via e-mail, so I just e-mail the person back, all the while thinking to myself that I really must blog about this as it is obviously a topic of interest.  So, here goes.

When I house and pet sat full-time in my twenties, it was all by word of mouth.   I am trying to remember how the first sit came about.  Someone must have said to someone else who was looking for a sitter, “I bet Valynne will do it, she is single and broke, and pretty responsible for a person her age”.  So, I took a long-term sit, which saved me tons of money on rent.  Then, I took another.  And another. 

My only means of marketing myself was with a very pretty business card.  I love pretty business cards, by the way.  Business cards say a lot about a person/company, so try not to be too cheap here, people.  And yes, I do believe that with all of our technology, a business card is still very important.  I hand mine out all the time.  People tell me how pretty they are.  And then, they contact me.  As simple and effective now as they were then.

Flash forward a decade (OK, fifteen years) and we now have the means to search for sits and sitters all over the planet via the world-wide web.  Pretty amazing, really.  This would be how Paul and I found our current sit.  We were in the process of selling the house and pondering where our next dwelling would be.  I did not want another house.  The words thirty year mortgage are practically synonymous with prison term to me.  So, I got online and Googled away. 

There are now a variety of websites that you can subscribe to in order to find any kind of caretaking positions you can imagine.  By the way, people use the term caretaking  and sitting interchangeably.  The main difference is that “caretaking” typically means a long-term arrangement that tends to include more responsibilities, while “sitting” is typically short-term (think two weeks spent with your neighbor’s dog, taking in the mail and watering the plants). 

So, I chose two online sites for us to subscribe to.  Both of these can be found to the right of this post under CARETAKING/HOUSE & PET SITTING.  The Caretaker Gazette costs $30 a year, and Housecarers costs $45.  Not bad, considering we are saving thousands and thousands of dollars a month!  Plus, it is way more entertaining than cable, and a great way to learn your world geography : ) 

Once I subscribed to these sites, I searched for possible sits and marveled at the possibilities, reading the really interesting ones out loud to Paul.  After the house officially sold, I began to inquire.  I had compiled a list of references and written an introductory paragraph or two for our online profile (which evolved into our website).  Less than two weeks later, we were headed east, for a long-term caretaking job.   Pretty simple, really. 

You may be saying to yourself, yeah, but…to that I say, trust me, there are all kinds of opportunities for all kinds of people in all kinds of situations.  Example:  You have two dogs.  While it is more difficult to find sits when you have animals of your own, there are sits that allow you to bring your animals with. 

You don’t have to subscribe to the sites above to get a feel for what is available.  They will have sample sits as well as current sits, just without the contact details.  If you are on Fb, you can also fan Caretaker Gazette.   Check out the sites, and then decide whether you want to make the investment. 

My bloggy friend Kim is starting a caretaking site, as well.  You can access it by clicking on Caretaker International (also to the right of this post).  This is brand new, so if you go on and don’t see much, stay tuned.  She is featuring a free classifieds section, so you have nothing to lose by posting your own ad.

We have met other caretakers (mostly online) by commenting on their blogs, meeting them on forums, and the like.   It is a pretty cool community; most of us share a love of animals, travel, living simply, etc.  

I came upon my recent side sit in Cambridge via networking with other caretakers.  Cool, eh?  This is common for caretakers.  For example, since deciding upon a long-term sit, we have had many requests to sit for others.  If we are unavailable, we like to be able to refer someone who is.  Someone we know and trust. 

Looking back, I can see this post is a bit long and a bit rambling.  I am a bit sidetracked today (more on that later) but I didn’t want any more time to go by before bringing up this topic as I have had two e-mail inquiries these past 24 hours.  I am hoping this post leads to more questions, ideas, and rapport.  Please share your thoughts by clicking on the comment button below.

We look forward to hearing your own caretaking success stories in the near future : )

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