Teachers

I have always loved my teachers.  When I was little, I wrote letters to my elementary school teachers over the summer.  I continued to write to my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Stark, until I was in college.

Imagine my surprise when I recently attended a chakra cleanse workshop (www.innerpeaceyogatulsa.com), and the workshop focused on teachers.  Not the sort of teachers I used to write letters to.  These teachers were those people I have struggled to forgive, people who I want nothing to do with.  I was shocked that at each point of the chakra cleanse, Meghan (our instructor) asked us to recall someone who abandoned us, hurt us, shamed us, etc. etc.  And to thank them.  Not just once.  Not twice.  But throughout the entire workshop.  It became a mantra.

Thank you for being my teacher.
Thank you for giving me that experience.
Thank you for making me stronger.
Thank you for teaching me what I DON’T want to be.

At first I was really uncomfortable because the person who came to mind was my father. To make a very long story short, my father left my family when I was 16, and pretty much never came home. He left a huge mess for my mom and all of us (5 kids) to sort out. It was awful. We could have been on Oprah type of awful. I’ll just leave it at that.

 

As I sat with this mantra, it became clear to me that in many ways, my father did teach me valuable lessons that helped me become the strong woman I am today.  It’s possible that my father is one of my greatest teachers.  And that terrified me.

How could someone who caused so much pain and heartache be one of my greatest teachers?  How could he be among those who I adored and looked up to all my life?  Like Mrs. Stark?

For some reason – beyond my awareness and knowledge – my father is in my life.  The universe brought us together, for better or worse.  And while no one deserves to be hurt, shamed, or abandoned … sometimes it happens. My mom used to say, “All God’s children got somethin’…” Meaning, we all have pain.  We all have contrast in our lives.

But we don’t have to continue living in the contrast.

I think the best we can do is to see what the lesson is.  To acknowledge what the person or situation has taught us.  To really learn the lesson.  To grow from the contrast and move closer to what we really do want to experience.  And then be grateful for the lesson.

From my father – from the contrast – I learned to walk this life with integrity.  To be forthright and honest.  And on the occasion that I have done something wrong or hurt someone’s feelings, I apologize and acknowledge where I have fallen short.  Then, I begin again and strive to make things right.  I am grateful for these lessons, especially as I embark on starting my own business.

Our thoughts and our words create our experience.  So, let’s choose thoughts and words that will attract the types of teachers we really do want in our lives.  The kinds of teachers we would have written letters to when we were little.  The kinds of teachers we want to be when we grow up.  (Aren’t we all still growing up?)

It’s true that we can grow from the contrast – by learning what we DON’T want to be. But it’s also true that we can grow from inspiration.  I’d rather grow from inspiration.

 

Who will be your next great teacher? Choose wisely.

Peace,
Chelsea

New schedule!

Hi friends!

There have been a few changes to my teaching schedule.  The new schedule is below:

Mondays:

4:10pm @ Muskogee Swim & Fitness Center, Muskogee

7:30pm @ Inner Peace Yoga, Tulsa

Thursdays:

5:30pm @ First United Methodist Church, Checotah

Fridays:

8:30am @ First United Methodist Church, Checotah

12:05pm @ The Yoga Room, Tulsa

Saturdays:

5:00pm @ Inner Peace Yoga, Tulsa

For more information – including class descriptions, locations, and drop-in rates - go the YOGA tab at the top of the page and click on CLASS SCHEDULE.

Katelyn

Wishing you a magical summer!

If you had a magic wand, what would you wish for?

Peace,

Chelsea

Road Trip

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Hello, readers!  Yes, I am still here.  The last 2 months have been full of ups and downs.  I haven’t felt the need to write about them until this week.

After I wrote my last post, I felt renewed, energized, and really inspired.  Within a week I came across a job opening that seemed absolutely PERFECT for me.  The position involved opening a retail space specifically for the yoga and fitness community in Tulsa.  The position would give me the experience and training that would help me open and operate a successful yoga studio of my own someday.  I was beyond thrilled. It felt like all of the pieces were finally coming together.  My purpose for being here in Oklahoma was starting to feel more clear.

The first interview went well and I felt like the second interview went even better.  A week later, I received a brief email stating that they were going with an internal candidate.  I can’t tell you how incredibly disappointed I was.  This perfect job and perfect world I created for myself fell to pieces.  I felt like I was back to square one again.

Back to square one as in, why did I move to rural Oklahoma?  Why did I leave my perfectly great job (with the best coworkers on the planet, by the way), leave my best friend, leave my sister, leave my church family, to start over in the middle of nowhere?

What’s the lesson here?

It’s like my mom says,  “When you’re taking a road trip from Seattle to San Diego, and you hit a bump in the road … you don’t turn around and go back to Seattle.  Or you don’t suddenly start driving to Denver.  You keep heading to San Diego.  So, you hit a bump in the road …  keep going.”

While it feels more than a bump in the road, I’m still heading to San Diego, or to opening my dream yoga studio.  Not exactly sure how to get there, but I still trust the process.

See you in San Diego,

Chelsea

Hungry Like a Wolf

via whitewolfphotos.blogspot.com

There is a Cherokee legend that goes something like this :

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

The wolf we feed is the one that grows. It’s simple. It makes sense.  But I would also add that the wolf we feed also draws the rest of the pack; what we choose to place our attention on attracts more of the same.  Lately I have been meditating on deliberate creation and the law of attraction. That which you give attention to, you attract into your life.

It’s really quite powerful.

You see, our thoughts are like magnets. What we think about or even worry/stress out about, is attracted to and brought into our experience. We truly create our own experience in this life, and it starts with our thoughts, or the wolf we choose to feed.

Now, it’s not like every single fleeting thought becomes reality or that every single thing we think about immediately becomes part of our experience. But, the more we dwell on something, or meditate on it, the stronger the attraction for such a thing becomes.

I know for myself that it is true. What I spend my time thinking about, and what I give my attention to, does come into my experience, whether it is intentional or not.

True story: A few weeks ago I found out that my community yoga class at our public library lost its funding, so the class would be ending.  I very easily could have chosen to feed the wolf of self-doubt, shame, anger, and so on.  I could have called all of my family and friends and asked them to feel sorry for me.  I could have taken this news to mean that I’m a failure.

Of course I was upset about this news, but I immediately shifted my thoughts to, “Well, the universe must have something else wonderful coming along, and this is just part of that transition.”  I did call my family and friends and I asked that they just think positive thoughts for me that day.  I made sure to practice yoga that evening, just to move that stuck energy of worry and self doubt that I could feel weighing heavily in my body. I left my yoga practice feeling lighter, brighter, and confident that there must be something else coming along that would be wonderful and I was ready for it.

That evening, I received a text message from the owner of a yoga studio in Tulsa, asking me if I would be interested in teaching a class starting in March. I immediately replied yes! I had been working hard over the past few weeks to get to know the teachers at this studio and be on their teaching schedule.

Last Monday night was my first class at this studio, and the energy was awesome. Everyone was so lit up and energized, I could feel the room humming. It was a fabulous affirmation that I was doing exactly what I needed to be doing.

And, I am working out the final details to keep my community yoga class going, despite losing our meeting space at the library.  I’m hopeful that our next meeting space will draw even more students to practice with us.

Some might say that day a few weeks ago was purely coincidence. But, I know how powerful my thoughts are. I know that I create my own experience here. I believe in the law of attraction and I am ready for more deliberate creation.

So, here it goes:

I want to create the best power yoga studio & community ever. I want to bring this light and love to Tulsa, Oklahoma. My studio will be humming with energy. Students will have the best experience ever and will think to themselves, “I can’t wait to come back tomorrow for another class!” Each class will be full, mat-to-mat. We’ll be the talk of the town!  And, all of this will be effortless. Yes, I will need to put together a business plan, find funding, etc. But, it won’t be hard. It won’t be a struggle. It will be an absolute joy.

There, I said it.

Which wolf are you feeding with your thoughts, your words, and your intentions?

With open palms,
Chelsea

Snow Day

Well, it’s another snowy day here in Oklahoma …

which can only lead to hours spent in the kitchen and the best idea ever.

Homemade.Oreos.

Oh it gets better.

Chocolate dipped Oreos with sprinkles.

And heart-shaped Oreos.  Is there anything cuter?

Wrapped in bows?  Yes, they can be even cuter.  This brilliant idea came to me just in time for Valentine’s Day.  So, if you have a sweetie you’d like to send some sweets to, I can make these and wrap them up for you.  I can even ship them.  If you are reading this blog, chances are you know how to get a hold of me, and we can talk.  There’s also a “contact” tab in case you don’t know how to reach me.  I can also put together a Valentine’s Day basket full of other goodies.

Obviously I have no problem making tons of sweet pretty things… but just in case your sweetie prefers the Dark Side instead of pink bows and sprinkles… don’t worry.  I’ve got you covered.

I can also do 3 other Star Wars sandwich cookies, in case you’d like to go for the Star Wars theme.  I prefer this little guy because the chocolate wafer cookie goes so well with his helmet.  But that’s just me.  I also think he goes well with hearts.

It’s time to stop day dreaming about chocolate and cookies and time to go do some yoga in the front room, next to my space heater.  Hope you had a fun and productive snow day!

Peace,

Chelsea

Best muffins ever.

I love all morning pastries – scones, croissants, morning buns, donuts … you name it, I love it.  There’s just something about eating a sweet treat for breakfast and sipping strong coffee.

Muffins are by far my favorite.  But I find that most muffins are as heavy as a softball and just as greasy as a bacon & cheese egg sandwich.  You know the kind … the muffins that actually make donuts look healthy … over-sized muffins that are full of trans fat, sugar, and preservatives.  Just take a look at the ingredients list on your store-bought muffins.  Scary long list of words that you’d need a degree in Chemistry to figure out.  Friends, this is not how breakfast was meant to be.

This muffin, however, has it right.  Whole grains.  Lower fat.  Fresh fruit.  Lower sugar.  And yes, chocolate.  How is this possible you ask?  This muffin recipe is adapted from Veganomicon, and it works like a charm every time.  My friends and family go crazy over the rich flavor and can’t believe that not only is the recipe slightly healthy, but it’s vegan to boot.

Well, as healthy as a muffin can get, right?  Enjoy the recipe, and be prepared to never look at a muffin the same way again.  You won’t want to go back to those other muffins.  Trust me.

The Best Banana Muffins Ever

adapted from Veganomicon

3 very ripe bananas… way beyond the freckle stage

1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/4 cup canola oil

1/2 cup sugar – I prefer raw sugar in this recipe

2 tablespoons molasses

1.75 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 cup oat bran

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon (use less if using Penzey’s)

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1/2 cup vegan semisweet chocolate chips, optional… but when is chocolate ever optional?

1/2 cup shredded coconut is also nice

Preheat the oven to 350 and line a muffin tin with paper liners.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, oat bran, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.  Use a whisk to combine, breaking up any lumps.  Set the flour mixture aside.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas really well.  Add the sugar, applesauce, oil, and molasses.  Whisk well to combine.  Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture and mix with a wooden spoon  or rubber spatula until just combined.  If using chocolate chips and/or coconut, fold them in now.

Scoop into muffin tins.  This should come out to 12 even muffins, so don’t be shy about filling the muffin tins with a lot of batter.

Bake for about 18 – 23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a muffin comes out clean.  Cool for a few minutes in the muffin pan, and then remove the muffins and let cool on a wire rack.

These are best fresh from the oven and slightly warm.  They also keep well in an air-tight container for a few days.  The best way to eat leftover muffins is to slice and toast them in the toaster oven for a few minutes and then top them with some Smart Balance.

Deliciousness.

A view from my yoga mat

Hello everyone!  Today is day 3 of my 40 Days to Personal Revolution.  Just thought I would occasionally post pictures and thoughts about my experience with the program.  Here’s a view from my yoga mat:

I think it’s really important to carve out a space for meditation and yoga practice at home.   It really helps me get into a regular routine if there is a regular place where I unroll my yoga mat that is free from distraction – like the phone or computer.  We don’t use our formal dining room very often, so I moved the table against the wall and I practice meditation and yoga in this room.  It’s a quiet space in the house that has a large window, so the natural lighting is really nice.

I also like to set the mood for my home practice with incense, candles, and a little heat from the help of my small space heater.  While I am on my mat in this room I listen to music and podcasts.  My favorite podcasts are from Philip Urso; you can find his podcasts for free on iTunes.

I am also in the process of downloading some music from Antje Duvekot.  She’s a singer/songwriter I had the pleasure of seeing in concert a few years ago in Harvard Square at Club Passim.   She has a beautiful voice and the lyrics are sweet and meaningful, so her songs are great for deep stretches and savasana towards the end of a yoga class.

Those are just a few things I do at home to help me with my meditation and yoga practice – what do you do at home?  Please share!

Peace,

Chelsea

A Raisin in the Sub

Have you ever bitten into a cookie, thinking it was going to be a rich, chocolaty cookie … only to realize that it’s oatmeal raisin, instead?  I’ve done this before.  The first bite seems off. For a brief second, I am confused. If I am expecting chocolate, I want chocolate.

Sometimes those darn raisins disguise themselves as chocolate chips, and they get my hopes up.   Not that raisins are bad, they are just different.  I have to be in the mood for an oatmeal raisin cookie, but I am always game for a chocolate chip one. If you are like me though, you’ll take a second bite and realize it’s not bad after all.  It’s sweet, chewy, and has the right amount of cinnamon.  Did I mention that I love cookies?

I bring up this scenario because lately I have been substitute teaching for a few studios in the Tulsa area.  I notice that when I substitute teach, it’s as if the students are expecting chocolate chip cookies – their favorite instructor for their favorite class – and instead they are presented with oatmeal raisin, a substitute teacher.  Still good, just different.

The challenge to substitute teaching is that in most cases, the students and I don’t know each other.  And yet, we have expectations of each other.

The tricky thing is that these expectations will color how we experience the class.  But, we can’t control how others experience things.  We have to let others choose their experience.  As a teacher, this is a hard one – I want everyone to have the best experience ever.  And while that might be my intention, I know that ultimately the students choose their own experience.

Subbing yoga classes is a wonderful opportunity for me to practice letting go of these expectations, and to truly come from a place of emptiness.  What I mean by that is to drop what I think I know and to come from a place of “I don’t know.”  This helps me to truly be with the students in the room – not to compare them to other classes I have taught - but teach to who is actually in the room.

As I have subbed over the past few weeks and reflect on this, I realize that I also need to come from a place of not knowing when I teach my regular classes and my regular students.  We never really know how the other person is experiencing something.  We assume we know, we think that we can tell, and that we have all the information.  But, I really don’t know.

When I allow myself to teach from a place of “I don’t know,” my teaching is more powerful.  I allow the students to truly see me, and I allow myself to see my students.  Seeing and being seen is so powerful.  We don’t do it often enough and our society doesn’t really help us do this well.

Every time I get on my mat, or teach a class, is an opportunity to get empty.  To create something new, coming from a place of I don’t know.  It’s certainly not easy, it does take practice.  But it’s more difficult when we come into something already having our minds made up – it’s harder to like an oatmeal cookie when you’ve already decided that chocolate chip is all that you like.

So, I invite you to get on  your yoga mat and drop what you know and see what good can come from it.  You might just find a new love for oatmeal cookies or a new substitute teacher!

I’ve included my favorite oatmeal cookie recipe, and yes, it does have chocolate.  It’s the best of both worlds.  Enjoy!

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook

First, get out all the yummy stuff:

1.75 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp cinnamon – Penzey’s Vietnamese is the best!

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Kosher salt

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature

1 cup packed light brown sugar

1/3 cup pure Grade B maple syrup  – Don’t skimp here, use the real stuff.  Trust me.

1 large egg at room temperature

2 tsps pure vanilla extract

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats

2 cups milk chocolate chips  – The very best are Guittard milk chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 325 and line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  In a small bowl combine the flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt.  Set the flour mixture aside.

In the bowl of mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the butter and brown sugar at medium speed until it is light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the maple syrup and continue to beat until well combined.  Add the egg and vanilla and continue to beat until the mixture is well combined.  This is why it’s best to use a room temperature egg; it will combine into the butter mixture more easily. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined.  Then add the oatmeal and mix until just combined.  Be careful not to over beat.  Once the oatmeal is well incorporated, take the bowl off the mixer and add the chocolate chips; stir by hand with a spatula or wooden spoon until well combined.

Drop by 2 tablespoon mounds onto the cookie sheet – these will be large, chewy cookies, so be generous as you form the cookies.  Make sure they are about 2 inches apart from each other, and slightly flatten the top of each ball of dough so that they bake evenly.

Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes until the outside edges are golden brown and the tops are set and just starting to turn golden.  Cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for about a minute or so, and then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

You may want to sample a few of them while they are warm; glass of milk is not optional but a must.

Peace,

Chelsea

And we’re back …

Hey there 2010 … where did you go?  If you are like me, suddenly the months of November and December flew by!  Sorry to be MIA for the past few weeks.  I have lots of great stuff in store for 2011, and I will be blogging about once a week.  Here’s a quick recap of November & December:

In November, my partner officiated a wedding in San Antonio for some of our friends.

I went to San Francisco for Thanksgiving to see my mom & sisters.  Josie took us to amazing restaurants,

I said hello to the Pacific Ocean and managed to not blow away,

and we went to Tartine.  It was worth the wait.

In December, I celebrated my 30th birthday in style,

and I started looking for spaces to lease so that I can open a yoga studio.  Stay tuned!

I think I spent most of December in the kitchen.  At times I was up to my elbows in butter! (in a good way!)

I made cookies,

cupcakes,

pies,

and I made a lot of Christmas baskets.

I went to Seattle for Christmas to hang out with these cool kids,

do a lot of yoga,

and spend some quality time with the fam.

I hope 2010 ended well for you!  I am looking forward to a big year in 2011!

Peace,

Chelsea

Less is More

I love everything pumpkin.  So, as you can imagine, I love baking this time of year.  I bring out my good Penzey’s Vietnamese cinnamon and stock up on Libby’s pumpkin. 

I’ve been experimenting with different recipes for pumpkin bread this season.  I still believe that when it comes to quick breads and muffins, less heavy ingredients and more wholesome ingredients makes for a better treat. 

This recipe does not use eggs or butter, and very little oil compared to other recipes.  You can choose to leave the oil out altogether and use more applesauce, and I’m sure it would turn out just fine.  This recipe is also great for those who are sensitive to refined sugars, as agave works really well in place of the sugar.  If you substitute agave for sugar, just use 1 cup agave.  The texture of the bread might be a little bit more dense than if you use regular sugar, but it’s still quite delicious!

Enjoy!

Lower-fat More Flavor Pumpkin Bread

Adapted from: The Joy of Vegan Baking by Collen Patrick-Goudreau

3 tablespoons ground flax seed*

1/2 cup water

2 cups granulated sugar (or use 1 cup agave**)

1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce

1/2 cup canola oil

1 15oz can pumpkin puree

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

1 cup nondairy chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350.  Prepare 2 standard size loaf pans with non-stick spray. 

Using a hand mixer and a small bowl or blender, mix the flax seed with the water until thick and creamy.  In a large bowl, combine the sugar, applesauce, oil, pumpkin, and flax seed mixture.  Set aside.

In another bowl, stir together the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

Fold the flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the batter evenly between the loaf pans.  Place the loaf pans on a cookie sheet and bake for 55 – 60 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  To allow even baking, rotate the loaf pans half way through baking (which is why I use a cookie sheet, just turn the cookie sheet around in the oven).

Let the loaf pans cool on a wire rack.  You can store the loaves at room temperature for a few days in an air tight container.  The bread is excellent when sliced and warmed or toasted and topped with Earth Balance.

* You can find ground flax seed in most major grocery stores.  Look in the cereal aisle near the oatmeal or on the baking aisle.  Make sure it is ground flax seed, as whole flax seed will not work the same way in this recipe.  Store flax seed in the fridge.  It’s a great substitute for eggs in baked goods and also delicious when added to oatmeal, cereal, yogurt, etc.  For an extra boost of fiber, you can even add it to smoothies.

** Agave is also available in most major grocery stores now.  Look in the baking aisle near the sugars or where the syrups are located.  Agave is sweeter than regular sugar, so you don’t need to use as much.  It’s also great in tea, coffee, and other instances where you would use sugar.