Thursday, December 30, 2010

holiday gifting...

...our way!

I ADORE the holidays! I know that there are lots of people out there who have a hard time at Christmas, but the commercialism, gluttony and over-spending don't really get to me because I see so much beauty at this time of year. In our little corner of the globe December means lights, glitter and bows (certainly we all need some motivation with creating beauty outside in Onterrible). It means considering those in your life who you love, and spending countless shopping hours thinking about what might make them smile. In December we are held accountable for all that we have, and asked to give thanks. Only at this time of year do we see so much charity and consideration for others. We cook and bake from scratch, and make time for the people in our lives. Regardless of one's belief about Christmas,  it's undeniable that December is a magical month here in North America. 

This year Warren and I decided to make use of our love of creating beautiful and delicious things. Actually, the hours that went into knitting about 20 tiny sweaters, cooking six batches of holiday granola, and delicately roiling countless chocolate truffles far surpasses the hours it would take to go out and buy presents. Warren and I are so incredibly lucky to know so many people who need nothing! We all have so many things! We didn't think anyone would mind not getting another sweater or DVD. To top it all off we came out of December with no financial debt! It's a win-win holiday situation really!

Here are some photos of some of the gifts we gave. I didn't get a chance to photograph everything because frequently I was sewing in ends or tagging gifts on my way out the door to see the recipient! That's how it goes in the handmade world!
healthy home-made holiday granola

not-so-healthy chocolate truffles in chili-chocolate, coconut and peppermint

tiny handknit sweaters make adorable tree ornaments!  

how did I make so many tiny sweaters without pulling my hair our? with the magic of Christmas!

i love rubber stamps over store-bought gift tags!

i often snipped a sprig of our "real" christmas tree too decorate gifts rather than throw-away bows

i wrapped my gifts in brown paper (LCBO bags turned inside out work too!) and yarn...

I hope your holiday season was filled with beauty and love!

Love Always, 
Joan Blondina

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

an exercise in self disclosure...

I wonder if part of my love of journaling has something do to with the fact that I have built a career on tuning into other people's needs. Early in my career I learned pretty quickly that compassion fatigue can lead to resentment which can lead to a pretty painful day at work.

When I graduated from my undergraduate program I began working full time, in two separate jobs, seven days a week, both day shifts, afternoon shifts and night shifts. I was also applying to graduate school, planning a wedding, and pretty well living on my own while Warren was away at army training. I had no life other than trying to build a future. At that time I worked as a case manager in a transitional housing program supporting the needs of women with various mental health and substance use disorders and helping them move forward. Many of these women were my age or close to it. When the women would spend their days in their pajamas reading a book, take really long luxurious showers, go out for coffee with friends, or go on dates I would get extremely jealous; I had no time for any of these things. When I would spend hours on end each day talking through emotional problems and coaching them to address symptoms of depression and anxiety I would feel resentful that I didn't have the same access to professional support (some days we all need it!) All of this resentment did not mean that these women had an easier life than I; far from it. It was a sign that I was not tuned in to my own needs.

This resentment that I was experiencing didn't last very long. I eventually learned how to have a better balance between the needs of others and the needs of myself. This is ongoing learning. As my career progresses I am still taken back by how self-disclosure comes to easily to some people. I can sit and listen to someone tell me there story for a whole hour without needing to say anything, and could probably write a pretty good biography on their life afterward. Just the act of sharing with a trustworthy and supportive person is powerfully therapeutic. I am pretty blessed to have a job where people come to me with emotional pain and leave feeling hopeful.

When it comes to my comfort with talking about myself, well, I'm not very comfortable with it. I will sometimes talk about my feelings with others, but it doesn't ever feel natural. I had a colleague one time earlier in my career who (in a very critical way) said that the reason that I can't talk about myself to clients is that I have no life experience to talk about. I disagree. I have lots of thoughts and insights and I have very relevant life experience that relate to what my clients are telling me but I don't need to disclose this in order to sustain a therapeutic relationship; my empathy comes through in other ways. This is the same for my personal life.

Returning to the topic of journaling, I suspect that my desire to write and have others read is a way of experiencing this transparency that my "clients" practice when they come to me. I observe very real changes in their demeanor once they have had an hour to unload with me - whether I was actually helpful in affecting their circumstances or not. Sharing is good, people! 

I do also have some pretty reasonable fears around this transparency. The likelihood of someone out there taking what I write, finding fault, and criticizing my thoughts is very likely (ie. She's crazy if she things she's going to have an orgasmic birth). Do I care? Yes, a little bit. But I also know that it takes a lot of courage to be open to criticism which is a pretty admirable thing. 

Finally, to finish my thought, having a public journal like this is actually pretty self serving in my case. I don't know how long I will find it enjoyable, but for now it's my little bit of air time to share with others where I come from. This is for me, but I still hope you enjoy.

Love Always, 
Joan Blondina

this would be a lovely room to spend hours in...
 Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

like a very tall elf...

I'm knitting my fingers to the bone getting ready for Christmas. I hope I get it all done!

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

mondays are good days (learning how to have an orgasmic birth)...

Lately I have been looking forward to Monday all weekend long. Monday is the night where Warren and I have an early supper, pop in to Starbucks for a London Fog or Americano, and hightail it up the mountain to our prenatal classes. We have an amazing instructor. Shannon is a certified Doula, is active in the local Le Leche League, and just generally so knowledgeable about birth and new babies. Somehow luck was on our side and we scored private classes. For three hours, Warren, Shannon and I talk about childbirth. It's riveting, I swear! As it turns out, I love talking about childbirth.

I always thought I would be afraid of giving birth; being in the hospital, being strapped to a bed and connected to fetal monitors, sweating, throwing up, and screaming... I think many women are afraid of childbirth, but we haven't been told the whole 'baby story'. Learning about natural childbirth (minimal or no medical interventions) has given me the confidence to not only know that I can do it, but actually look forward to it. Shannon has taught us a lot about what to expect, and why it happens. Childbirth (barring no serious complications) does not have to be seen as medicalized. It will be difficult at times, we have been advised, but we don't have to see it as just a terrible and traumatic means to an end. Childbirth can be a process that we experience at every moment, every contraction and every dose of those amazing natural chemicals. 

By the time our three hours is over, I am ready to go for three more. When we get in the car, Warren and I immediately start processing our feelings about what we have learned. We stop somewhere for a snack to bring home and spend the next couple of hours talking about how relevant it all is to us. Right now we are juggling with our feelings around where is the best place for our son to be born. We are open to a hospital tour, but are also open to the possibility of birthing him at home. We are also making decisions about what will happen to the baby once he is born (we don't want him taken away, bathed or swaddled until he has had enough time to bond with us and breastfeed), vaccinations, unnecessary procedures or interventions, co-sleeping... We have also learned that modern western medical practices are not always in the best interest of the baby, and that we don't have to do anything we don't want to. We have control over everything, and we want to do what feels right for our little family.

The really significant piece for me is that the information we learn about natural childbirth is not common knowledge among women or mothers. I have had lots and lots of women doubt my ability to have a natural childbirth without pain medication. I have been warned by well-meaning women that I have no idea what my pain threshold will be. Fortunately, we have the information and support from our Midwife and childbirth educator to make the right decisions for us and our son. I just know that Warren is going to be the best birth coach I could ever imagine, and a strong advocate for our baby.

Before I was pregnant I watched the documentary "The Business of Being Born" and I recommend it to anyone and everyone, not just people planning families. It's a documentary that everyone should be interested in about the perspective we have on childbirth in our society. We also watched "The Orgasmic Birth" which was amazing too. Do yourself a favour and watch both of these trailers. If you want more watch this and this (skip to 2:15 for the best part!)and this.

I am quickly learning that the topic of natural childbirth can be controversial for several reasons that I wont go into. It's a bit of a gamble to come out publicly about our decisions, especially because we have never given birth before. I appreciate that there are other perspectives, and think that they are all valid as long as people have been given all the information necessary to make their decisions. For this I am very thankful for our childbirth educator and her support and knowledge as we plan what I hope to be the best, most adventurous day(s) of our lives.

Thanks Shannon!

Friday, November 26, 2010

read this and tell me that we're not all connected...

remember this?

now read this.

"...but it is bittersweet to leave a place where I have the best memories of my entire life in. We may have been completely broke financially-- but I have never been happier in my life. I wouldn't change one moment."

We are never alone in our journey through life. Our feelings, thoughts and expectations are not unique to only ourselves. It's a small world and in many ways we are all the same...

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

there's always a silver lining...

... and I love to discover its whereabouts. 

Our recent re-location means that I can't walk to work anymore. Now I drive in every day to work, and it's certainly not as relaxing or enjoyable. However, driving means that I do get 10 minutes of either beloved a.m. public radio banter or some in-the-car-from-the-heart-belting-out of whatever CD I have laying around. So, there you have it: a silver lining!

Another amazing thing about driving to work is that if I make one small detour, Starbucks becomes part of my rout. How convenient! Few things lift my mood like a well made Soy Latte, and Starbucks makes one of the best. I am a bit of a Soy Latte connoisseur (if I thought about it I could probably list my top 5 favorite places in the world to get one). So once a week I dart in with the rest of the crazy people who love paying $8 for a coffee and slice of pumpkin loaf and arrive at work feeling luxurious and at peace with the world.

There's nothing like finding the silver lining.

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Saturday, November 20, 2010

there's more than one way to make a baby...

I knit this little guy up for our little guy. At 6 months, I suspect this is about how big he is right now. I have made a few toys before, but this one is by far my biggest accomplishment. All those body parts to sew together made it feel like dolly surgery. It was knit with organic cotton, and feels so soft and squishy! I am super happy with how he turned out.

With the leftover yarn I had, I knit up a little hat and a puppy-dog. Cute!

Baby knitting aside, the knitting gifts continues as I have Christmas on the way. But, I can't promise that there wont be a whole ton of knit toys in this baby's future!

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

the question of the year...and an update

Is it a boy or a girl? If you don't already know by now... were having a little BOY!

Here are some photos from the day we found out. What a day!

our little one on screen

I'm a boy!!!

And boy, oh boy, is he a boy! ;) I saw with my own two eyes!

We weren't sure if we wanted to know the sex. We would have been happy not knowing... but come on! We just want to know everything we can about our little beeb, and until we meet him our knowledge is limited. We were just TOO CURIOUS not to find out. 

We did get a lot of 'boy' predictions, based on 'old wifes tales' like the speed of his heartbeat, my lack of morning sickness, and how long it took me to really look pregnant. 

Immediately after the ultrasound I hightailed it to the mall for some little outfits. Did you know how cute the baby clothes are at H&M? I can shop for the both of us in one go. Amazing! And for anyone who is interested, H&M has been my favorite place to buy clothes to fit my growing body. I just buy the biggest size they have and I can grow right into it. 

Since last writing, a lot of adjustments have been made. We are all moved out of our apartment, and all moved in to our transitional space. Things are going well, and we are eagerly awaiting everything that is ahead of us. 

packing up and feeling HUGE!

our (secret) little mark made on this home
Moving on and forward. Life is good, and we are so blessed to have support and love around us!

Love Always, 
Joan Blondina

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

sometimes life is really hard...

... and you have to do things that you wish you didn't. Fortunately, as many can attest to, it's the most difficult things that deliver the most rewarding outcomes.

Warren and I have made the tough decision to leave our apartment. We received an extremely generous offer to temporarily stay with family until we are ready to buy a house and take on all of the responsibilities that come with that. While I am one hundred percent certain that we are making the right choice (OK, maybe ninety nine percent) it's still really hard to pack up and move AGAIN. I thought we had left our vagabond lifestyle behind, but here I go again boxing up my beloved books and finding suitable adoptive parents for my houseplants. I have never been this sad about moving. This apartment is my safe space. It's our little nest above the treeline where we simultaneously hear the city-sounds of emergency vehicles and our neighbour who has Turret's Syndrome, and see the bushy lushness of the escarpment and feel so far away. This is the home who's safety allowed me to learn how to be a better knitter, a better cook, a better house cleaner, a better partner and a better person. I can't explain how much I have changed in the past year and a half. This little home inspires me and reminds me how happy I am. By the way that I adore this place you might think that I live in some kind of luxury unit. It's so far from luxury, with it's tiny electric stove and beige walls that have seen way to many coats of paint without a proper sanding. But we love it. It's just so "us". And now we have to leave. I am really grateful that we have an opportunity to live with family at a time when their help will be priceless, and that we will be able to get the head start on home buying that most people don't have. But I still can't help but worry that somehow things will change and I wont be able to return to my charmed little life.
This weekend we began packing and transferring things to storage, and I just couldn't handle it. Warren found me sobbing in the bathroom, overwhelmed with everything that will now only exist in memories and pictures. He left for a moment and returned with a beer for himself and a small glass which he filled with beer for me. We sat together on the edge of the bathtub and "cheers-ed" to new steps forward. The four ounces of beer went straight to my head, but I was able to calm down and gain some perspective.  Huddled together on cold white porcelain we took a few minutes to absorb the reality that sometimes things are really hard to do, and that is life, but eventually things always get better.

I was going through some photos on my hard drive and came up with these. Here's to life, and amazing memories!

{this is so amateur but I did the best I could. The song is "Cranley's Gonna Make It" by Broken Social Scene}  

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

can I share...

this inspirational blog? 

Particularly, I love this, and this, and this...

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

we were meant for each other...

... this little bebe and us.

I am continuing to surprise myself as I seem to be taking this impending mommyhood thing so well. But the more I look back at the past six years or so, I see that this was all meant to happen this way, and I have been preparing to be a momma before I even realized.

People ALWAYS ask about our pregnancy: "was it planned?". What a funny question. I am not offended by the question; mostly confused. What do people mean by "planned" anyways? You can plan all kinds of things, but it doesn't mean that it's the right plan. And planning rarely results in an expected outcome anyways. Planning has never been my thing. I like to think that rather than 'planning' for this babe, we opted to 'prepare'; very slowly, and somehow subconsciously...

Four years ago when Warren and I were married, pregnancy was out of the question. Since the day of our wedding I have been fending off inquiries about my maternal status. Typically, I would gawk, as if I had some kind of aversion to gestation. I was often offended: why do I have to have babies just because I am married? Warren and I routinely celebrated my 'monthly gift' with a jump in the air and a hug! We knew that we wanted kids some day, we just really weren't yet emotionally ready for kiddies.

Warren and I spent the first couple of years of our marriage sorting ourselves (and each other) out. Remember, we were young when we got married. I could barely say the word 'husband'! During our growing years I finished grad school and Warren made a difficult decision about his career path and successfully finished two years of college. We spent a lot of time learning about what we wanted in life. We also spent our fair share of time in a tumultuous game of marital trial and error, whereby we learned how to be married, how to be individuals, how to communicate, and just how to make things work when life gets hard. Because of this we are very happy and secure in our relationship. When I think about it, had we had children when people thought we should have, when would we have had the chance to fine tune our relationship? At the time I didn't know it, but throughout all of the growing pains I think we were preparing for much more challenging adventures ahead...

Throughout the years I observed a more personal evolution. I slowly became more domestic, and our meals went from grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup to homemade soups, curries and fresh salads. At some point I swore off chemical household cleaners and began making all my own, or purchasing all natural products. By the start of this year, I lost interest in any kind of party nightlife and became very choosy about where I would go out. I didn't even want to 'go out' for New Year's Eve; opting to spend it quietly with friends. I stopped drinking to get drunk because I just had no enjoyment in it anymore. I wasn't depressed or anything. It was actually the opposite. Before I even realized it, I had begun to make room in my life for a child. And no, none of this was planned.

In November/December 2009 Warren and I went to New Zealand for almost a month. This was a long awaited trip for me. I love to travel, but since graduating university I hadn't been able to take off more than a week to go anywhere. I was aching to have an extended adventure, and the marriage of our friends was the push we needed. While in New Zealand we spent a lot of time in hostels and bars, surrounded by other travellers our age, yet I could never relate to them. Warren and I just kept to ourselves for the most part. Meeting people in hostels used to be my favorite thing about travel and I would have been in my element a few years earlier, but somehow at 26 I felt too old for it. This was a sign. As we traveled throughout the gorgeous country I couldn't help but secretly think that I could see us doing this with  a little beeb someday. This was another sign.

I have accomplished some of the things that I wanted to have done by the time we started having babies, and others I haven't. I didn't realize that being ready has more to do with being present in the moment than fulfilling a set of tasks (ie. get married, buy a house, pay off student loans, have a baby). By letting life unfold we were able to come to this decision so organically. While before when we would see babies in public we would look at each other expressing pity for the parents, now we can't walk buy a baby without waving or go-go-ga-ga-ing over the little person. Somehow it just snuck up on us!

I am not sure exactly what all of this is meant to illustrate; I guess I just wanted to pay respect to our process and honour how we got here. It wasn't as simple as a conversation over dinner: "We're not getting any younger, we really should try to get pregnant"... Not at all. I am proud of us for waiting until we arrived at that intangible 'feels right' place.

   {us on our wedding day in 2006}

So, here's to adventures to come and a whole new journey to trust in.

Love Always, 
Joan Blondina

* Stay tuned for a video unveiling of the most popular question in pregnancy: boy or girl?

Friday, October 1, 2010

something I can groove to...

... and friends to groove with.

What I love about all of the friends that I have in my life is how they refresh my spirit and inspire the best parts of me to come out again. I need my friends, even if it's only once or twice a month (year) that we connect. 

Good friends always have something to share, and in the case of last night, something musical! Simple-drives and wine bottles in hand (latte for me) they arrived last night willing to share their cherished, highly sought out music collection with one another. What a gift! No USB port on my laptop went empty while we cut and pasted, high on the possibilities of songs to hear and i-pods to be made-over.

Thank you girls, because as I sit here completely drained from a week of work and life, I can be a little closer to you as I listen to the songs that have  most likely seen you through your summer, your year and everything that has happened to you.

Love Always, 
Joan Blondina

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

feeling crafty once again...

... and finally inspired!

I am sad and ashamed and shocked to admit that I am secretly relieved that summer is over. Please, no throwing rotten tomatoes! Hear me out! This summer was hot and stale; made even more hot and stale by my super life-giving, blood-pumping, hormonal body. And I was tiiired in a way that I can't properly describe. Not the kind of tired that you get after a long, hard day of work or an all-nighter party. The kind of tired you would get (I can only imagine) from running a marathon up a hill carrying a 40lb backpack and then building a house and then on the way home weeding everyones front lawn. Except that nothing like that has been accomplished. Although it is a pretty big deal to grow a whole new organ, and to prioritize the nutritional needs of a new life. While I have absolutely no reservations about sharing my body with this child, I did observe my lack of interest in much else. I didn't do much cleaning or cooking or yoga and barely any crafting, considering that I typically have 10 little projects on the go. But, as the seasons change so does my spirit. I am feeling revived and much more comfortable and ready to participate in the world again!

Here are some crafty ideas that I have up my sleeve, thanks to the many inspiring women out there in this big world of ours:

These are button cookies, and the instructions can be found here! They are absolutely adorable and although I don't bake I can't imagine that they are very difficult.

I don't read the newspaper (I just don't get media's idea of 'news') but I know where I can get my hands on some. These are a cute little way to give gifts, and the instructions are here. I can imagine lots of other creative materials to use...

Why didn't I think of this? It's a picture frame made into a dry erase board with the use of some pretty fabric! You are welcome for providing you with an easy and impressive handmade birthday/mother's day/Christmas/any day gift. Here is how you make it. Handmade could not be easier.

Finally, I don't remember where I got this photo from, so I can't source it, but it inspires me to make some hair pieces in fall colours. This summer I learned how to make fabric flowers (thank you Internet) and it's a really simple and relaxing process.

Hopefully I continue to stay inspired! I welcome some cheering on from anyone who reads this! Soon I will photograph and post some more knitting/crochet that I have been working on. And something tells me there will be some pregnancy related posts on their way...

P.S. You have seen the extent of my blog-design skills. If anyone out there wants to volunteer to make it prettier I would be glad to accept the offer. I might even make you some button cookies!

Love Always
Joan Blondina

Friday, August 27, 2010

what i've been up to...

I've been up to a lot this summer, and seemingly nothing at all. Back in the spring, I mapped my summer out as follows: read various books on self-discovery and personal development, spend my days on a blanket in the park, find a signature summer wine, work on my green thumb, perfect a fancy hairdo, and knit a supply of hats, scarves, and various other items to sell in the fall. Instead, I  spent most of July and August laying on the floor of my living room watching reruns of "The Office", watching my bottles of wine collect dust on the wine-rack, and let all the herbs in my balcony garden go to seed and the tomato plants suffer starvation. 

It turns out that, to my surprise, while I was making my summer plans my body was spending the month of June making a tiny blueberry sized baby!!! The perfect little disruption from my selfish, indulgent summer plans! 

We are so excited to be making this little gift, and despite one month of despising everything edible and being too EXHAUSTED to do anything other than breath, I feel AMAZING! As I write this I am 14 weeks, or three and a half months pregnant. Yay second trimester!! The little Sea Monkey is about the size of a tomato, and is probably sucking it's thumb right now, the little monkey! Here are some photos from last week:

The Sea Monkey is laying upside-down here, but still managing to give a little "wave", although I think it's actually the umbilical cord. 
Here we can see a profile of babe's perfect little face!! AAAWWW!!

Since learning of the little monkey, we've been busy reading about "what to expect", attending midwife appointments, hearing the perfect galloping heartbeat, and dreaming about what little babe will be like. I tried to hold off on knitting anything for baby for as long as I could, but today I just had to make this heart-melting little baby hat: 
Couldn't you just melt?! It's made from the softest organic cotton in such nice colours. I am itching to make 100 more adorable tiny hats!

Ok, enough baby talk for now. I have also been into a few other things this summer, including some quality beach time, learning how to dragonboat, and a beautiful August wedding!

Warren's parents bought a beach house in Port Stanley this summer. It's located on Lake Erie on the most beautiful beach. We spent some time there tanning, swimming and enjoying family sillyness! I made sure to grow a nice little pebble collection for a beach-inspired craft that I dreamed up. 
The beach also inspired me to make these nautical bracelets for my dragonboat team to wear while we raced:
More summer crafts included some fabric flowers which the bridesmaids wore at my friend's wedding:
I have so many beautiful photos from that wedding... but that will have to wait for another day.

For now, I hope you enjoyed our little news, and looking at some of the crafts I have been working on this summer. 

But, alas, I must sign off. Being a baby incubator it tiring and it's late!
Love Always, 
Joan Blondins

Monday, August 16, 2010

something so beautiful... be alone. by yourself. and enjoy your own company without checking 'bbm' to see if your friend read your message (why did they not reply back??), or calling someone up just to fill the silence.

I love this little clip (click here!).

Love Always,
Joan Bloindina

Thursday, August 5, 2010

beautiful signs of summer...

When it's super hot and sticky like it has been this past few weeks, the first instinct I have is to complain. My hair is frizzy. My clothes are sticking to my skin. I can't sleep. The cat's are cranky. But then I remember that I love summer! Here is a small list of the nice little things that means it's summer:

~stained green thumbs from opening pounds of sweet-pea pods
~several shampoos before the campfire smell leaves my hair
~strawbetty-red stained blotches on the wood cutting board
~kids playing at the park on the walk to work
~sand in the car, bugs on the windshield
~sleeping with no covers
~rainbows over the cityscape
~caring for friends and family's cats and gardens in their absense
~flip-flop tan lines
~ signs of life EVERYWHERE
~ a collection of SEASHELLS, STONES, and other TREASURES at the bottom of all my purses

I have to remind myself to appreciate these little things. Once winter arrives I ache in their absence.

Love Always
Joan Blondina

Friday, July 30, 2010

1 of the 100 things I love about yoga...

There are so many things that I love about Ashtanga yoga. I have been doing yoga for about 4 years, but only consistently for a year. By consistently, I mean that it is consistently in my life, despite my sporadic lack of discipline. Nonetheless, I love it and the benefits are infinite.

One significant gift that yoga has brought into my life is a more positive body image. Never am I so in touch with my body as when I practice yoga.

In the most obvious way, you can’t spend three to five hours a week head to toe in skin-tight lulu spandex without confronting some lumps and rolls, no matter who you are. No three-way mirror required. You get to be up-close and personal with what your mother gave you.

On a deeper level, I have learned to see my body as a tool rather than a burden.

I can’t hide from myself halfway through a class when I am attempting to curl myself around myself and at the same time breath and then ‘pop up’ into a vinyasa. Here I am forced to understand my abilities and limitations.

I have some pretty wise teachers at my studio. I can say that without a doubt that I have learned more from them than five years of university. Many of them say ‘if you were meant to have a perfect asana right now you would.’ Wise, right? One teacher in particular says ‘if you can, you must’. Also wise!

This dichotomy between acknowledging what you are able to do and knowing the difference between not being able to do something and not wanting to is powerful.

It is in the most difficult poses that my body teaches me important lessons about who I really am. Do I give up, or persist? Do I panic and distract myself or do I embrace the discomfort? Do I honour my body and where it’s at today or do I crank myself into Marichyasana B and risk injury? These considerations lead to answers about the real me. There’s no fooling anyone in yoga. Not even yourself. 

In yoga body is my teacher, so how could I not learn to love it?

I won’t lie and say that I love my body every day. I can certainly get caught up in expectations and comparisons. I might see someone with a flat stomach and think ‘I should get a personal trainer…’ but really, I am smart enough to know that no one has a perfect body, and yet everyone’s body is perfect. It’s about having a relationship with your body that is mutual; a little give and take.

For the most part I accept my body as perfect for me. If I was meant to have any other body, I would. And if I really wanted to I could. But as it is right now I understand it. I do my best to give it respect, and I am blessed with mobility and freedom from pain.

Thank you Body! In yogic tradition:

shantih, shantih, shantih

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Monday, July 26, 2010

i gotta get home there's a garden to tend...

I gotta get home there's a garden to tend
there's fruit on the ground and the birds have all moved back into my attic, whistling static,
when the young learn to fly I will patch all the holes up again

well i can't believe that my lime tree is dead
I thought it was sleeping
I guess it got fed up with not being fed
and I would be too I need food in my belly and hope that my time isn't soon

so I try to understand what I can't hold in my hand, and where ever we are, home is there too
and if you could try to find it too, cause this place is overgrown into with works in bloom,
home is wherever we are, if there's love there too

in the back of our house theres a trail that wont end
we were walking so far that it grew back in,
there's no trail at all,only grass growing tall,
get out my machette and battle with time once again,
but i'm bout to loose because i'll be damned if time don't win

I gotta get home theirs a garden to tend, all the seeds from the fruit burried again
there own family trees teach them thank you and please as they spread their own roots they watch their young fruit grow again
and this old trail will lead me right back to where it begins

So i try to understand what I can't hold in my hand, and whatever I find i'll find my way back to you
and if you could try to find it too, cause this place is overgrown with works in bloom
home is wherever we are if there is love there too.

"Home" by Jack Johnson

Pretty, eh?

Love Always,
Joan Blondina

Thursday, July 22, 2010

on the road again...

It's been pretty hot and lazy around here (to clarify, I am NOT complaining!). It is so hot, in fact, that even the cats are too lazy to hunt my yarn which I have carelessly left out a few times.

So I have not yet documented our last road trip, which was over two weeks ago. 

We love to travel, and hopping in the car with camping supplies, towels and flip flops always reminds me of the first summer we were together. We have always loved our little adventures. 

This adventure began when we shipped the kitties off to Warren's brother-in-law's house. It was super nice of him to take them, especially because he is extremely allergic to pets. He's a good guy!

Next we headed to Whitby to spend some time with my parents. They will be moving soon, so that was one of our last times to enjoy the house together. We also visited my sister's new apartment where we broke the place in with the world's best falafel (which, surprisingly is not in Lebanon or Israel, but in Ajax ontario ;)) and some laughs! Warren and dad golfed (woot woot dad! You beat Warren twice!!) and mom and I shopped at value village and had wine on the deck. I love my parents, and this was the best possible way to start the vacation.

Next we hit the 401 east for Ottawa to spend Canada Day with a good friend of ours D-vo. 

D-vo is a great guy; one of the best. He always shows us a great time, and is the best tour-guide in the city. He didn't grow up in Ottawa, but I swear he knows more about it than any capital city native. He brings us to the best restaurants, the coolest bars, and introduces us to amazing people. There are always things planned from parties, to D-vo style tours of the city, to surprise trips to exotic provinces ("Sara, did you bring your passport"?). This time was no exception!

So, being Canada day, the plan was to be super touristy and hang out downtown, have some drinks at the market, see the queen, stop in at a party, and see some fire works. 

Downtown was pretty well all closed down for the celebrations. Everybody wanted to see Queen E herself. 
 And guess what... we saw her! Do you see her there. She's really tiny, but there she is, with her red suit and white hat! Yup, we waited through all the (ahem) Canadian talent to see this... we were ready for a drink by this point!

We spent the day walking around, amazed at the sea of red. I love Ottawa. It is a city with a lot of spirit. If it weren't for the epic winters, I might already live there.

We walked until the sun went down, and enjoyed the best fire works I have ever seen! 

D-vo really showed us a good time, but it was time for us to move along. We got up early the next morning, grabbed some coffee/tea and hit up the nearest grocery store for supplies for our next adventure. 

A few hours west, and were were, once again, in Algonquin park. To prove to you how much I love it there, I hereby am going on record that when I die I want my body's ashes sprinkled onto one of the beautiful, crystalline lakes that live here. I love this park. It's by far my favorite in Ontario. Five minutes into the park we were greeted by this lovely creature:
a MOOSE! I know you can't tell, but trust me, it was a moose. She was pretty camera shy, so this was all I got. But don't worry; I met plenty of critters who were willing to pose for a shot. More to come...

But first we had to set up camp, and get on with the relaxing! Here are some photos of life at Pog Lake.
Obviously, we were in the wild, and were lucky to see a few, non threatening, cute critters! I am a big animal fan, and I love doing wildlife photo shoots like this:
On a canoe ride we saw this beautiful loon tending her nest. Warren called her lazy... men. The next day when we paddled past we saw that she had abandoned her nest. When we looked around we saw this:
AAAWWW! She was taking her little fluffy babe for a swim!

Other critters we saw:

Ya, nothing too ferocious or anything. By the time we were up and about it was too hot for any bigger animals. Probably for the best. I saw this on the news this morning. Better to photograph the little guys!

When Warren and I go camping we like to make really good food. No hotdogs (god forbid!) or jiffy pop. We make REAL food. Slow food. 

We did some spicy veggies over cornbread:

A campfire pizza:

Corn and potatoes with an organic, free range chicken:

And not ever to be left out of our camping ritual, HOME MADE MARSHMALLOWS, with graham crackers and organic dark chocolate. Ya, you're jealous, I know. There are no photos of the actual s'mores in action, because that happened after hours, but here are the marshmallows: 

They are the yummiest, fluffiest, vanillaiest things you will ever eat! Next year, come camping with us and you will see!

We had a lot of fun on our little getaway together. It will be too long until the next one. I will just have to look over these photos over and over again and relive the relaxed, easy feelings of being on the road.

Love Always,
Joan Blondina