Monday, November 29, 2010

photos from these past weeks, getting okay with b's

The aim of an artist is not to solve a problem irrefutably, but to make people love life in all its countless, inexhaustible manifestations,” - Leo Tolstoy

oh man, i don't even know where to start. i have not been keeping up in these past weeks because life has been moving really fast. but i've been writing posts in my head because i don't really see the point in living and having experiences if i can't take time every now and then to contemplate what it means to me.

let's start with where i am. tonight is sunday and i photographed dogs all day in virginia. it's chilly outside and the heat is broken so my roommates and i are huddled with our laptops around the dining room table surrounded by our two tiny space heaters. natalie merchant's nursery rhymes album is playing from the kitchen. i just made a batch of gingered carrots that i am going to ferment over the next few days with my fingers crossed (i've been reading nourishing traditions and rethinking a few ideas about what i put into my body) i've been laughing with my roommates all evening and it makes me think about when people had to spend time together in one room because of scarce heating sources and how maybe that wasn't such a bad thing. adam is africa for the next week or so and i'm already missing him a bit. i bought a car last week, a beautiful cornflower blue prius, and i am still marveling at how nice and easy it has made the rush of holiday photography work.

things are good, really good, but of course not without some bumps. i had a conversation with my dad this evening that left me feeling defensive about a really small disagreement. i got a parking ticket that first time i drove my car. i was running late to teach and frazzled and although i did pay the meter and stick the little receipt in the right area on my dashboard, i neglected to see the fire hydrant two feet away from my car. doh. this week i also got back a grade on a design project. it was a really big project that i had worked on for over 30 hours and thought looked pretty good. my grade was a b. i felt it right away in my stomach but made a joke about it to hide my disappointment from my classmates. right after i went through a critique on another project where my work was praised but i was still upset about that b for a few hours. i was upset that i had worked so hard on something and it had been judged less than excellent and then i was upset that i was so upset about it.

no matter how many times i realize that my life is not about perfection, on some level i still think i should be the best at whatever i do, no matter how hard or new it is. that feeling brings me back to what it was like when i was in high school. that was a time in my life when i put so much pressure on myself to succeed that i didn't really know how to have fun. i distinctly remember the last day of school of my junior year of high school when i looked at my report card and was surprised by a b and a b+ and spent the afternoon teary and feeling sorry for myself instead of hanging out with my friends and celebrating the start of summer. i blame some of this on growing up in the super-competitive fairfax county area and a little bit on being in a family of over-workers and partially on my own instinct of perfection as self-preservation. as wrong as i know this is, i think the instinct is that if i am just perfect enough then i won't be able to get hurt.

after high school i started to gain some perspective. i went to college in a laid-back, midwestern where i was surrounded by people with dreadlocks and went on float trips. i partied and relaxed and learned to love the photojournalism work i was doing apart from the grade. then if followed that with the peace corps--a experience where the only way you can succeed is by submission to disappointment and then enjoying whatever rises up from the ash. two years in latin america really did the trick for me. it was a culture where my version of success really didn't mean that much to the people i lived with which helped me to see how it's all just perception anyway.

everything in my life teaches me about the process and this is no acceptation. a major tenant of yogic philosophy is that you must work really hard while totally releasing the results of what comes from the effort. you must try without expectation and trust that whatever comes is for your highest good. i don't know about you guys but i think this is really hard. one part of me accepts it while the other still wants everything to go the way i think it should and pouts when it doesn't. but i guess the pouting is also part of the process and probably an important one at that. i am lucky to have been able to set my life up in a way where there are not a lot of opportunities for hard line definitions of success (except for the occasional community college grade). i try my hardest to base my decisions on joy and mostly that brings me joy and the more i experience this the more it connects me to my heart and the more i can see that this is really what makes the world go round.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

oh god this picture makes me happy!

this week has been silver nail polish, traveling atlanta and back again to photograph another ethiopian wedding which felt amazing, the really interesting nutrition book "healing traditions" which made me want to make my own kimchi, lots of sleep, sketching CSA radishes for my drawing assignment, party planning for LOVE-O-RAMA and having so much fun with it, seriously looking to buy a car because i it would be so kind to myself to not have to hustle every time i need a ride somewhere, salads with fresh arugula, toasted walnuts and blue cheese, an artist date at target where i looked for things that felt girly and pretty, crying as i finished "ten thousand splendid suns" because it was sad and beautiful, crying as i wrote my morning pages this morning and still not being sure why, starting the week #6 chapter in the artist way on abundance and really feeling it, trusting that i will have time to do everything that needs to be done (even though this design project i am working on right now seems really big), lots of backbends, warms baths, realizing that relationships require a lot of understanding, a great chat with my life coach cj where we talked about how to please yourself so you can relieve everyone else of that responsibility, fresh-baked cookies, faith in the process of all this unfolding, the feeling of having enough, not teaching so much this week and feeling recharged by it, excitement about the holidays, the everyday abundance of buying myself some nice moisturizer in the altanta airport--i did it so fast that i didn't have time to talk myself out of it :)

Thursday, November 4, 2010

"music is god"

i know i am from my generation because i am always hesitant to watch any youtube clip over five minutes. but i quickly got enraptured by this amazing story of the oldest living holacaust survivor who is just full of love and optimism about life. it made me feel warm inside on this rainy cold day we are having.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

a few crazy pictures from a very sane march.

5 questions.

i was just featured as quiet mind's featured teacher in their november newsletter and i wanted to share. thanks for asking me these questions rita, they really made me think.


featured teacher: gracy obuchowicz

when and how did you start teaching yoga?

i started teaching yoga a year ago when i completed the yogaworks training at quiet mind. before the training i had been practicing seriously for about 5 years and had reached the point in my practice where i was ready to expand to the next thing. there was this small voice inside of me that kept telling me that i needed to teach yoga but i had every excuse for why i wasn't ready yet. but the voice persisted and so i researched trainings and found out that yogaworks was coming to dc for an august intensive. i talked to chrissy carter, our teacher trainer, and she assured me that all of my doubts were normal and that all i needed to become a teacher was to have a strong desire, which i definitely did. i decided to listen to her and took the plunge and have been richly rewarded every since.

do you have any advice for your students on their yoga journey?

i advise them to really regard their practice as a journey. i can do so many things now that i couldn't do before and i know that i will keep evolving in my practice. before i became an instructor i used to push myself really hard thinking that i had to "win" at yoga. i realize now that there will always be things that i can't do and that can serve as the drive that keeps me going. for me, the most important aspect of yoga is taking time to listen to that voice inside of myself, really learning to recognize how my mind works and practicing compassion with myself and the world around me.

what is your teaching philosophy?
my teaching philosophy is that yoga should be challenging and fun at the same time. i love the yoga sutra where patanjali says that an asana should have both sthira (strength) and sukha (ease) and i am always encouraging my students to find a way to engage themselves and their bodies that also allows for strength and flow. i believe if we can master that on the mat that it becomes a lot easier to find that in our daily lives. i think everything about the way we live our lives shows up on the mats. if we take the time, yoga can help us to take a good honest look at ourselves and our habits and from there we can start to make some thoughtful changes. i hold the space for my students to do that work for themselves and try to make them laugh once in a while so they don't take it all too seriously.

how do you integrate your life with yoga and yoga with your life?
for me, yoga shows up everywhere. i do a lot of things--photography, massage, art, business, teaching--and yoga is the thread that ties it all together. yoga helps me to be present no matter what i am doing and how to trust in the process of things. i am currently working through "the artist way" (an amazing 12 week program that help connect you to your creative dreams) for the third time and this time really seeing it through a yogic filter. i agree with the author, julia cameron, when she talks about how through our habits and fears, we can really block ourselves off from an awesome creative flow that is our birthright as human beings. i am experimenting a lot with my current beliefs about money, time, business and seeing some awesome results. yoga helps me to see that i can make my life as beautiful and bright as i want it to be and it also helps me to be easy with myself when i have a down day and just need a long bath and some chocolate.

what is your funniest yoga teaching moment?
my first night teaching a class i was subbing for another teacher and the intern didn't show up. i had been hoping that only a few people would come but over 20 people came to the class that night. i didn't know how to use the computer system so couldn't sign anyone in. worse, i couldn't get the lights to turn on so we ended up doing an impromptu candlelight class. i was so nervous but tried not to let it show and just kept moving forward and tried to remember to breath. by the time i taught headstand i finally started to relax and enjoy myself. it actually turned out to be a really nice class and i figured after that i could handle just about anything when i was teaching.