When blissful moments find you

Today was one of those days. Happy just because. Little bits of bliss here and there.

I’ve been sick and whiny lately, so it was a nice change to have some moments that made me smile.

There was my new dress, which is so fabulous, it deserves it’s own post. (Soon!)

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All the classes at school put on plays around this time. My class’ play was a couple of weeks ago (a musical circus, adorable!). Tonight, I helped out with another group. We don’t have a stage at school, so we go to the church across the street. They have a huge basement with a great stage. While I was setting up chairs, I noticed a bookshelf. Obviously, I had to check it out. They were for sale. For 25 cents! Seriously! A quarter for a book! There was a piggy bank to put your coins in.

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And then coming home after a long, long day to find these beautiful lilacs my cousin Annie left for me and a card her daughter made me. Such a thoughtful gesture and it made me crazy happy! When someone goes out of their way to do something nice, just because, it’s a wonderful feeling.

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I had one of these moments today. They don’t happen every day, so I sat back for a few minutes and enjoyed watching the kids work.

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Also, I went to the library after school and ran into one of my first graders. Her reaction is a perfect example of how kids act when they see their teacher out of school.

You’re at the library?

You’re getting books?!

For our class?! Wow.

I hope your day had some bliss in it!

One year of Bliss

The Bliss Project is one year old today! Time flies when you’re finding your bliss.

I looked back at my first post. I wanted to remember where I started. Have I lived up to my blog’s name? I think so. The Bliss Project is about trying new things. Recently, I felt as though I hadn’t been having a lot of new experiences. When I started this project, I was looking for something, I just didn’t know it. I thought I wanted to try everything out there, but one thing found me. If you’ve been reading for the past year, you’ve probably guessed it. It’s hot yoga. My practice, my bliss.

After reading the first post, I worked my way through my posts. I’d forgotten some of them! It was like looking through a yearbook. Here are a few of my favourite posts from the past year.

First day of my first 30 day yoga challenge! Who knew what joy would come from those 30 days and the days since.

My yoga pet peeves. Please keep your feet on your own mat!

Last day of my 30 day challenge. I learned so much about my practice and about myself!

Sharing positive motivation. Something has to cancel out all the negativity out there.

Trying to play volleyball. Tip: don’t duck.

I did a lot of these new and exciting things with my friend Julie. I was very sad when she moved away, but she’s coming home for the summer! One more reason to look forward to warmer weather.

My second 30 day yoga challenge. It was a different expericence from the first time, but just as amazing.

Turning 31. It didn’t kill me.

Wearing a dress every day in December. Twirling and feeling pretty for a whole month. Bliss.

Telling yoga how I really feel. It’s true love, and true love lasts forever.

Doing yoga in the snow. Cold but fun!

It’s been a great year. Blogging makes me happy. The fact that people take the time to read about my thoughts and my life is incredible. In one year, The Bliss Project has been viewed by people in 143 different countries. That makes me feel amazing.  I’ve connected with many wonderful people and learned so much. Thank you for reading, you’ve made this girl very, very happy!

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Enjoy the moment

There are few moments in life where it’s good to be selfish. Really and truly selfish. Where it’s all about you and only you.

Today, as I started a power yoga class, Laurie, the awesome teacher, told us to be selfish. That’s never been the word that comes to mind when I think about yoga. But it makes sense. When I’m on my mat, it’s my yoga, my practice, my time. When I’m off my mat, I live my yoga differently. It’s about community and sharing. It feels good to be selfish every once in a while.

My energy level today was medium. Medium low, actually. I planned on just doing what I could and sitting out whatever I didn’t feel like doing. I imagined it would involve chair pose twists and a few updogs. As soon as class started, however, I forgot what I had planned. I did all the twists, but put my knee down in side plank. I enjoyed the moment I was in, then moved on to the next one. If I wasn’t feeling it, I modified. It was a great, medium-energy-level practice.

I was selfish today. I did my own practice, not my teacher’s. I didn’t care if everyone saw me take child’s pose instead of half-moon. I didn’t beat myself up because I didn’t stay in crow pose as long as I usually do. My yoga, my practice, my time. Bliss.

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Open your heart

Valentine’s day. Some people love it, some people don’t. Many are indifferent. Some say it’s all about consumerism, others say it’s a day to share your feelings.

Here’s what I think. Focus on the love. Give love, get love, share love. Love your friends, your family, your other half, yourself. Be kind, be thoughtful, be happy. Smile, sing, share. Let yourself believe that love is all you need, even if it’s only for one day. Open your heart and let love in.

I work with children. Children are naturally open to love. They tell you they love you so easily. They feel it, so they say it. Between them, it’s about friendship. On Monday, each child pulled another’s name out of a basket and had to do nice things for this person all week. No presents, no consumerism, just small kindnesses and smiles. They tried to be more patient, play together and share.

They each made a card for their “secret friend”. This afternoon, watching them open the enveloppes and try to figure out who had been being so nice to them all week was, I was happy. They were so excited! And it didn’t cost a thing.

After work, I made my way over to the yoga studio where Amber led a heart-opening class. Backbending and heart-lifting, it made me realize that letting the world in is a conscious practice. We can’t just expect good things to happen to us, we have to open ourselves up and ask for them.

Love, love, love. Namaste.

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Have I been the change?

When I started this 30 day challenge on September 1st, I was in it for the yoga. When I heard about a challenge happening at Pure Yoga Ottawa, my favourite studio, I jumped on the chance to participate. I was pleasantly surprised to find out there was more to it than doing yoga every day.

I received daily e-mails filled with motivational quotes and messages from Megan, the creator of this amazing challenge, videos and tips for at-home practice from Megan and Mike, another teacher. There were nutrition tips and delicious recipes. I discovered new ways to prepare old ingredients and new foods to try. There was information about holistic healing. This was new, and interesting to read about.

I’ve mentioned in previous posts that my body is tired and needs a rest from daily practice, at least for a while. However, my mind and spirit will miss the daily motivation and encouragement. For this, I am sad to see the challenge end.

This challenge coincided with going back to work. Last year, I found the back to school period to be very difficult. I felt like there was always something more to do. I never had enough time to do it all. Once I realized I couldn’t do it all, I relaxed and enjoyed my work a lot more. This year, I was afraid of falling into the same trap. I was happy to have a reason to leave work at a reasonable hour, to take some time for myself and to have a way to find peace every day.

I realized one of the things I love the most about yoga is the quiet moment that comes after giving all I’ve got. Taking child’s pose anytime feels good, but taking child’s pose after going through several flows, side planks and chair pose is bliss. I was thinking about this during class today, when Megan said something that struck a chord with me. She said The vinyasa of our practice mirrors the vinyasa of our lives.

During a class, I might feel happy, frustrated, proud, discouraged, tired, curious, scared and blissed out. I feel these same emotions during my daily life. I try to approach challenges in my practice with an open mind and lots of laughter. I am trying to do the same with the challenges in my life. This is the change I did not know I was looking for. So yes, to answer my own question, I think I have been the change.

Today was day 30. It was the last class. I went to Megan’s class, which was perfect, because I started this challenge with one of her classes and also because without her, there wouldn’t be a challenge. I was very proud of myself for seeing this through all the way to the end. I got all 30 stickers on the board! Yes, they’re all pink.

I was also very happy to do this class with Jacynthe and Dominique, who are both collegues and friends. We did this challenge together and it definitely contributed to the motivation to make it to class every day!

And finally, it was great to meet some of the other challengers. We have become a community, linked by our desire to be the change. Thanks so much Megan for giving us the chance to find the best in ourselves. Namaste.

The great pumpkin adventure

I don’t like pumpkin pie. There. I said it. I know it makes people think I’m weird, but I think pumpkin pie is weird. I don’t like the texture. Also, it’s a vegetable. In a dessert. Because I don’t like pumpkin pie, I’ve always thought I don’t like pumpkin anything. However, last weekend, I picked some very beautiful, very orange pumpkins in the garden.

I washed the dirt off, then cut one in half. I scooped out it’s insides. (I was planning on roasting the seeds, but I forgot about them and they kind of all stuck together. It was a little icky looking, so I threw them out.) Then, I placed each half in a baking dish and poured about an inch of water around them.

They went into the oven for about an hour at 350 0C, then I scooped out the edible part. Voilà, roasted pumpkin. That’s it. Nothing else to do.

I did this yesterday, then put the pumpkin in the fridge. Today, I pureed it and froze some of it in half-cup measures to use in the future.

Then came the fun part. Pumpkin scones. I figured if I wanted to check to see if I liked pumpkin flavoured anything, it was best to test it out in one of my favourite things ever. Scones.

I used this recipe and they came out tasting marvelous! They taste like fall, spices and Halloween. Ok, maybe not Halloween, but they’re really good! I made mine bite-sized, so I baked them for 8-9 minutes.

I brought some in to the yoga studio tonight and left with an empty plate!

Baking these put me in a good mood. I wasn’t in a bad mood, but I had kind of a grumpy day. I’ve been feeling a cold coming on all week and today it made sure I knew it was here to stay for a few days. It was one of those days where everything and everyone annoyed me. Being annoyed all day, while sniffling, is exhausting.

The scones made me feel better, and then yoga was perfect. It was yin and it was heaven. At the end of class, we chilled out in pentacle pose. I’ve only done this pose a few times, but I love it. You lay out in one big X with a block under your sacrum. I felt very relaxed and just let go. Then, I got a rare blissful moment where I let go even more when I thought I wasn’t holding anything. It was amazing and I think I gave a little sigh of happiness.

When I came home, my kitchen had that sweet, happy, baking scent. Bliss.

Click for free giraffe

Wouldn’t that be lovely? To have your very own giraffe? Sadly, I tricked you. I have no giraffes to give away. If I had any, I would love them, and squeeze them and keep them for myself.

Here is a picture of me on my giraffe, drawn by one of my students.

Before you get all sad at not having a giraffe, I do have something for you! A couple of days ago, I saw this great post from my Bliss Buddy, The Usual Bliss. I was inspired to do the same as her, because she’s so awesome.

Here’s the deal:

1.  I will make a little something for the first 3 people who comment on this post.  It will be a surprise and may arrive at any time in the next 365 days (yes, a year).

2.  To sign up to receive a gift from me you must play along too.  Share the giving love on your blog by promising to send a handmade goodie to the first three people who comment on your blog post.

3.  You must have a blog.

4.  After commenting on my post, you have to post this (or similar) on your blog to spread the love.  If you haven’t posted in 72 hours then the next commenter will be chosen.

Do you want to play? If so, you will get something awesome from me! I’m not telling you what it is yet, but it is quite fantastic, if I do say so myself. Also, I assure you it won’t be a whole year before you get this amazingness in the mail. Think sooner, rather than later!

I was inspired to write about giraffes:

A) Because I love them.

B) Because I read this fabulous post from another Blissfull Blogger.

Positive motivation, from me to you!

Yesterday I came across some very disturbing pictures and messages online. I’d heard of thinspo, short for thinspiration, but I had no idea how awful it really was. Girls are posting and liking pictures of emaciated young women as their inspiration. This is what they aim to look like. I refuse to post any of the pictures I saw, but some of them had messages like “I only feel beautiful when I’m hungry”, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” and “Your stomach is not growling, it’s applauding”.

When I started this blog, I decided it would be my happy place. I could go on about how horrible and dangerous these thinspo photos are, and how damaging they are to young and not so young girls everywhere, but I won’t. Instead of adding to the negativity, I decided to create my own form of inspiration. Let’s call it Blisspo. I know that word makes no sense. That’s not the point.

What is the point? I think it’s about balance. I try to eat right and excercise, but I also like brownies and watching tv. Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a little slimmer, usually when I wear a bathing suit, but I work out to be healthy, not to be skinny.

So here is the first ever collection of Blisspo photos I created just for you. Enjoy and don’t take it too seriously!

Sing your heart out

I am lucky enough to have daily doses of bliss at work. I’m a teacher, and every day is an adventure. Sure, last week I tried to sell my students on facebook (As a joke, of course. That kind of thing is frowned upon.), but most days, something will happen to make me feel like the most important person in a small person’s life for that moment.

Today was a great example. Since October, I’ve been working with my students, who are 6 to 9 years old, on a musical. We’ve been singing, dancing and acting every week for months, all to prepare for one big show. Today was the day. The play was “Lili peur de rien” which translates to “Lili’s not afraid of anything“. The kids were flowers, animals, children, a witch and a dragon. I can’t say the whole day was pure bliss, because there’s only so much over-excitement one person can take, but watching them perform on stage tonight, each one of them feeling like a star, made all the practicing, the sewing, the same songs being heard over and over again and repeating “speak loudly” several times a day, worth it a million times over.

I haven’t done yoga today yet, but it doesn’t matter. Yes, today is day 24 of my 30 day yoga challenge (I think), but my day was about so much more than yoga. I’m giving myself 20-30 minutes of practice before I crash on the couch.

Also, I tend to go a little crazy with costumes when I put on a play with my students. This year, I made 2 dresses and a squirrel costume. The other costumes were from previous plays I’ve done. I drove myself nuts making costumes while doing a yoga challenge, but I did complete number 37 on my list of 101 things to do in 1001 days: Make a dress. Sure, I thought I would make myself a dress, but two kid-size dresses equals one me-size dress.

I’m exhausted, I’m happy and I have a song about a witch stuck in my head. I got flowers from the kids. One mother wrote me a note saying “Thanks for being a part of my daughter’s happiness.” I’d say these are signs of a great day.

Savasana Bliss

Today was day 5! I went to Pure again. I love that place! Today’s class was a 75 minute hot flow. My goal was to give it my all and not sit out any postures, even the core stuff. I did pretty well. I was going strong for the first part, right up until a child’s pose break. After that, my runner’s lunge and airplane were pretty shaky, but I found my groove again and the rest of the class just flowed. (Haha, flowed. I’m so funny.) I had Amber as a teacher again, and I liked her much more than I did on Monday! She adjusted some of my postures and fixed my pigeon. I didn’t even know it was broken. Maybe I’ll enjoy it more now. Maybe.

After class, I was drained and needed a moment to breathe and relax….oh wait, what? You’re taking my picture? Let me pose and smile.

Near the end of class, lying on my back, I was almost giddy in anticipation of what was coming : savasana. On it’s own, savasana is basically just lying on the floor. But after you’ve been through 47 flows and 87 different postures, it’s bliss. Over the years, I’ve mastered the art of being perfectly still. I don’t move, I don’t fidget, nothing. It makes all the poses and the sweat worth it. If I could bottle the way I feel during savasana and sell it, I would be a millionaire.

As much as I like to take pictures and have my picture taken, there was no way I was messing up my savasana for a photo. But I wanted to add a visual. Doesn’t this look like heaven?

As much as I love this pose, I have one small problem. I can still my body, but not my mind. Try as I might, there is always something going on in there. These are some of the things I think about during savasana:

– The peanut butter sandwich I’m going to eat when I get home. Note to self, eat before yoga!

– What kind of Booster Juice I’m going to get.

– The sweat dripping into my ear.

– The “check engine” light that just went on in my car.

– Grey’s Anatomy.

– Blogging.

I kind of worry about letting my mind go blank. What if it stays that way?

One teacher once said that thoughts will come up, and that I should just aknowledge them and then picture them floating away on a cloud. I tried this. It made me think of Care Bears. Then of Care Bears doing yoga. Namaste, Cheer Bear!