Tuesday, 23 September 2008

spring things

spring has arrived down under - trees sprouting new growth, hot sunny days. today, soft rain is falling & the air is warm. on the weekend i planted seedlings in our vegie patch - lebanese cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, mint, summer basil, continental parsley, strawberries & peas. these newbies are looking fresh & ready to climb crazily up the garden trellis.

our old diswasher must have known it was a time of renewal & has now gone to diswasher heaven - a shiny new dishwasher hums away in the kitchen now. ah, the joys of sparkling clean cutlery!

spring is perfect for weekend reading on our back deck under the shade of the umbrella. i have just finished the bhagavad gita (with a clear-cut introduction & translation by eknath easwaran).

it is described as 'a timeless spiritual classic' that is 'acutely modern'. i agree, it is so relevant today. though surprised that i didn't pick it up ten years ago when i first began practicing yoga, i believe we come to these things when we are ready & not before. it has made clear many things i have read about in relation to yoga. some 'ah-ha' moments for me. better late than never!

spring & babies go together of course - i know this movie has been out for ages, but have you seen Juno yet? if not, it's worth taking a look. i watched it this weekend for the first time - a sweet & timeless story (unplanned teen pregnancy), great acting (ellen page is wonderful), great soundtrack.

spring means bare feet. is there anything better?!

Thursday, 18 September 2008

a sign

our house & home, which we have named 'querencia' (spanish pron. - ke-ren-cia) has a sign at last. i decided to paint a 'trompe-de-l'oeil' mosaic look instead of making an actual mosaic. it was tempting to use bright colours for the sign, but in the end i chose earthy/terracotta tones that suit the house better.

the sign is not hung yet as it is painted on fibre cement board and i need to work out a way to affix a loop onto the back, so that this can be used to hang on a hook in the wall. in other words, the technical details that i should perhaps have worked out before i started :) a coat of varnish would probably be a good idea too, since it will be living outside.

Saturday, 13 September 2008

beauty, happiness, art & laughs

i thought i'd share some links;

the first is three beautiful things, where each post is just that.

the second is gleeful, the happiness project of a melbourne girl.

the third one is great if you're feeling arty.

and this one, just in case your monitor needs cleaning!

Friday, 12 September 2008

going in deep

it has been three months since i returned to a daily yoga practice and in that time i have given up alcohol, returned to vegetarianism, got my mental health under control, dropped two dress sizes and have begun meditating again. not surprisingly, i am happy.

for the past few days i have increased meditation from 10 mins a day to 20 mins in the morning (roll out of bed, shower then sit) & 20 mins in the afternoon (after asana practice). this has had a huge effect on my health, making the core of fatigue i have been living with for such a long time now, disappear completely. my eyesight has also improved (clearly there is a relationship there)

don't be fooled, meditation is simple and i will share with you what i have learned;

sit in a quiet place free of draughts in half lotus (legs not completely crossed - left ankle resting on right calf) on cushions or folded blankets. your hips should be higher than your knees. get comfortable. rest your arms with wrists facing upwards on your knees.

be dressed for the season - I wrap myself in a pashmina shawl which is light and warm. when not in use i wrap this shawl in a cake of sandalwood soap, so that when I sit I am surrounded by the scent, which aids relaxation.

it helps to set a timer to the desired length of meditation, so you avoid obsessing about time - its good to begin with 5 mins then increment by 5 mins thereafter, as your practice improves. the longer the practice the deeper you go, the better it is for you.

keep your spine aligned and upright, but relax into the posture with the breath, which can be either short or long, it matters not.

breathe in through your nose and out through your nose.

just observe what happens.

if you become distracted or sleepy, use a mantra such as 'ham-sa' (i am that) - ('ham' on the inhalation, 'sa' on the exhalation) i love this mantra for its simplicity and because it sounds like the waves coming in on the beach.

keep coming back to the breath.

adjust your posture gently if you feel you are slumping, or find that your chest feels compressed. but don't wriggle around! ignore nagging aches & pains, they are only trying to distract you!

think of meditation as housekeeping: imagine that your mind is a desk cluttered with papers and files which require sorting. your thoughts are these papers & as each paper (thought) floats into your mind randomly, read it (observe it), then let it go. eventually you are left with a blissfully 'uncluttered desk' & space for your mind to function effectively. when new thoughts/problems arise during the day, you can deal with them more efficiently. these benefits will follow you into your day to day living.

when ready, open your eyes gently & stretch your legs out in front.

finally, I will leave you with an excerpt from 'Eat, Pray, Love' by elizabeth gilbert

Ketut Liyer, the medicine man from Bali;

"why they all look so serious in yoga? you make a serious face like this, you scare away good energy. to meditate only you must smile. smile with face, smile with mind & good energy will come to you & clean away dirty energy. even smile in your liver."

good advice!

Monday, 1 September 2008


for a long time now i have been searching for the right word to name our house. this is not as easy as it sounds. i once even searched through the back section of 'lord of the rings' for one of those beautiful names created by tolkien, like 'lothlorien'.

sounding beautiful was not the only criteria though. at the same time we wanted something less commonly used and of course the meaning had to fit. it had to feel right.

i spent time searching the spanish-english dictionary. although i have never been there, i love everything about the country, its art, food, music and language. i tried to find words for home, or words that described what we know and feel about where we live and what we believe in.

nothing seemed to fit, until recently when i picked up a book at the library called "isabel's daughter" by judith ryan hendriks - an enjoyable read by the way. the story eventually leads to santa fe (a vibrant centre for art ) in new mexico. the main character is given the generous gift of a small adobe hut which once belonged to her artist mother, the first thing she had ever been able to call her very own. the property was named;

'querencia'. (pronounced ke-ren-see-a)

there is no exact translation for the word in english, but these are the definitions i managed to find;

  • a place from which one’s strength of character is drawn.
  • in spain, it is the place in the ring (the 'corrida') where the wounded bull goes to renew his strength and center himself, ready for a fresh charge.
  • a place in which we know exactly who we are. the place from which we speak our deepest beliefs.
  • a safe haven, affection, fondness, homing instinct, den, lair, nest, roost, home, sanctuary.

this is the name we have chosen.

although i was originally searching for a house name, it is one we would take with us wherever we go, as it is more about how we feel about our home, than our house.

the next thing will be to design a sign or perhaps make a mosaic to hang out the front.