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A Raw Vegan Breakfast Recipe for the Working People

I am constantly exploring different options for work-day breakfasts. During the week breakfast needs to be simple and delicious, something which can be made ahead of time, nutritious, and keep one satiated until lunch. And yes, a green smoothie fits all of the above requirements, but 365 days a year? Time to mix things up!


Anti-Inflammatory Maple Chia Seed PuddingIMG_20160724_105142

What you’ll need:

Quart size glass jar

Vita-Mix Blender (or other powerful blender)

3 cups water

⅓ cup hemp heart/ hemp seeds

¾ cup chia seeds

3 tbsp maple syrup Continue reading

Kicking the Plastic Habit

Many of us have heard how harmful plastic can be for the environment and our bodies, but just what can they do and who do they affect?

Plastic pollutants threaten marine environments, “where they have the potential to impact aquatic life through ingestion and the plastic’s ability to attract and absorb certain pollutants” (www.groundwater.org). They also leach chemicals into the foods and drinks we consume. Each of these chemicals react differently in the body, some synthesizing estrogen (BPA), causing hormonal imbalances which studies have suggested affect brain development in the womb leading female children to have ADHD, anxiety and depression (ElBoghdady, 2011). Another of these chemicals is phthalates which is found in pacifiers and the nipples of baby bottles.  This chemical is known to disrupt the endocrine system – glands that produce hormones to regulate growth and development. This disruption seems to adversely affect young males. These are major issues which stem from a product which, in many situations, is optional. Yes, plastic is convenient, but it isn’t our only option.

Plastic Free: The Why, What and How?

I heard about the idea of going plastic free from a podcast which I listen to regularly, The Urban Farm Podcast. This program hosted Beth Terry of My Plastic Free Life (listen to the podcast here) and asked several questions about her reasons for going plastic free and how she accomplished minimizing her use of plastic. Her passion inspired me to look more closely at my own plastic consumption and how to sustainably reduce my plastic use. She encourages people to collect the plastic they use over the course of a week and decide which items could be most easily replaced with a non-plastic. Continue reading

Overcoming Discrimination with an Open Heart

Overhanging my desk Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nobly pears into the distance with his words floating below, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear”. After this week’s’ shootings in Dallas, brought on by  peaceful-turned-deadly protest because the deaths of two African American men whom were shot by white police officers, I asked myself, ‘What would Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. do now?’.MLK-love-vs-hate Continue reading

Anchors Away: Mindfulness Part 2

Recently I was able to attend a Mindfulness Training for Professionals which focused on transforming one’s life, work, and those whom one serves. The professor, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Hypnotherapist and head instructor for Karatedo Doshinkan, offered us many ways of re-awakening to the moment through an array of practices found in different cultures and religions around the world. Those of us who registered and attend the two day seminar were from various cultural and social backgrounds, worked with different populations of both children and adults, in a variety of settings (school teachers, social workers, private practitioners), and had different experiences and exposure to mindfulness practices. Although we were different people, who came to the training for different reasons, we were able to find a technique or strategy which resonated with our personalities and needs in the moment.

This reminded me, no matter where we came from or who we perceive ourselves to be, we all share special characteristics which make us human. If we are able to tap into one of those characteristics, breathing or feeling bodily sensations, we can tap into the oneness which is in us all, that we are all here together with the same afflictions, difficulties, and needs.

Here I share some of the insight and strategies I received throughout the training. This is part two of a two part series. If you have another practice or strategy, please share it with everyone at the bottom of the post.


Trauma and How it Creates Limiting Beliefs

Trauma and how it affects the brain and body is complicated. As I like to say in the yoga classes I teach, “Every body is different”. Because of this, trauma, and other brain patterns, are stored differently in different people.

There are five factors from which a belief, or way of thinking leading one to act or behave in a certain way, stem. One does not have to experience all five to create a belief about themselves or someone else. 

  • Repetition
  • Authority figure
  • Multiple people
  • Identification
  • Emotional Experience

These factors create positive and negative patterns or ways of thinking. The following story is a belief created early on in a young boys life, which has negative effects. One can imagine the positive patterns created by these very same factors.

Continue reading

cup-quote-tea-relax2

Anchors Away: Mindfulness Part 1

Recently I was able to attend a Mindfulness Training for Professionals which focused on transforming one’s life, work, and those whom one serves. The professor, a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor, Certified Hypnotherapist and head instructor for Karatedo Doshinkan, offered us many ways of re-awakening to the moment through an array of practices found in different cultures and religions around the world. Those of us who registered and attend the two day seminar were from various cultural and social backgrounds, worked with different populations of both children and adults, in a variety of settings (school teachers, social workers, private practitioners), and had different experiences and exposure to mindfulness practices. Although we were different people, who came to the training for different reasons, we were able to find a technique or strategy which resonated with our personalities and needs in the moment.

This reminded me, no matter where we came from or who we perceive ourselves to be, we all share special characteristics which make us human. If we are able to tap into one of those characteristics, breathing or feeling bodily sensations, we can tap into the oneness which is in us all, that we are all here together with the same afflictions, difficulties, and needs.

Here I share some of the insight and strategies I received throughout the training. This is part one of a two part series. If you have another practice or strategy, please share it with everyone at the bottom of the post.


Mindful Awareness is a consciousness, recognition, or a realization that something is happening. Thich Nhat Hanh explains there are many types of mindfulness practices: mindfulness of eating, mindfulness of anger, mindfulness of breath. Using these definitions, one can imagine bringing a sense of mindfulness to each and every activity. As one may make their daily coffee, smelling first the grounds, noticing the stream as it brews, looking at the color, and taking a sip, one notices the different flavor combinations as it hits the tongue and roles down the throat.

Continue reading

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A Sun Salutation Guide in Time for Summer Solstice!

Today is the Summer Solstice and to celebrate this festival of light many yogis around the world will greet the longest day of the year by saluting the sun. The sun, which at it’s core is creating energy by turning hydrogen into helium, creates enough heat and light to reach us here, 93 million miles away. Each morning we are greeted with its gentle rays coming from the east, and each evening we say goodbye as it dips down to the west.

Why is the Sun Important?

The sun provides our bodies with essential vitamins and supports plant and animal life, which in turn supports human existence. It also creates the winds by unevenly heating the earth’s surface allowing rains to come inland giving clean water to plants and animals alike. The sun is the only way our existence is possible. Its gravitational pull is the reason our earth and this solar system has formed. Our placement in the universe, creating the ‘Goldilocks’ effect, has allowed consciousness to evolve from a single celled organisms. These are a few of the reasons the sun’s power has supports our existence, and what better way to express our gratitude than by bowing our head during our practice.

The Practice

Following the below described sequence, stay connected to the breath and body, inhaling as one lifts the body and exhaling as one moves downward, rooting into the earth. By practicing outdoors one may feel more connected to the sun’s energy and the life that energy has created on earth. Begin by facing east, the direction in which the sun rises each and every day, symbolized by new beginnings and illumination.

  • Mountain Pose – Tadasanawith the palms together in front of the heart (our hand position symbolizing where our true intelligence in centered)
  • Forward Fold – Uttanasana
    • Step one foot back, into Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana
    • Step the other foot back, into Plank Pose then float to the mat, keeping the elbows hugged into the torso
  • Choose any of the following backbends
    • Cobra – Bhujangasana
    • Sphinx – Salamba Bhujangasana
    • Upward Facing Dog – Urdhva Mukha Svanasana
  • Press into the hands, moving into Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
  • Step the opposite foot forward, into Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana
  • Step the back foot toward the front of the mat, meeting the other foot in Forward Fold – Uttanasana
  • Inhale, lift back into Mountain Pose – Tadasanawith the palms together in front of the heart.

Repeat, beginning with the opposite leg.

A Word of Caution

Be careful not to do too many sun salutations in a practice. Yes, saying you did 108 sun salutations on the summer solstice may be fun, but is it healthy for your body? Our wrists were made to hold a couple of pounds, but during chaturanga and downward dog, they can be holding two-thirds of one’s weight. This is fine for a short length of time, but not for hours on end. After the body begins to tire it looks for the path of least resistance, often creating alignment mishaps. This puts the shoulders and wrists at risk for injury.

My suggestion is to go through 1-3 cycles of this sequence, allowing the body’s energy to guide the practice, not a number or amount of time.


May we all be illuminated.

Happy Summer Solstice!

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One Year Older, One Year Wiser

This month is my birthday, and contrary to what I’ve been told about getting older (mostly that it’s bad), with each passing year life seems only to get better. Every new gray hair which pops out of my head is a sign of success. ‘Wisdom’ I call them proudly to people who inquire about my age and hair color.

28 years old may seem young, and don’t get me wrong I feel young, but in my youth I took the many opportunities presented to me to grow. ‘Character building’ is what my husband calls them, and for a 28 year old I have had many opportunities to ‘character build’. I look around at others my age and see a select few with good work ethic, who are driven, determined to follow their heart in the form of a career path, similarly to the path I took. I see others who are still in school, traveling the world, bouncing from couch to couch. For each of us there is a different path, none better than the other, all moving toward the same goals; Happiness, love and freedom. I view it as a maze where each person is taking their own turns, sometimes moving backwards, other times moving forward.

Maze

At my age, I am lucky to have achieved these goals, making it to the false finish line of life. Even though I feel both happy and free now, I take solace in the fact that nothing stays the same. These feelings will be replaced with others, greed, fear, anxiety, hate, and I will be forced again and again to recognize where I am in the maze and realign myself with the common goals.

Each year new opportunities arise. If one dares to look at these challenges as ‘character building’ one moves more towards the goals set for themselves. Choosing to meet these challenges with openness instead of fear, allows for learning to occur. I recently saw a Chinese Medicine and Massage therapist who said it best, “The choices we make are based on two things only, love or fear”. One might pause, asking themself, ‘Am I choosing this because I am scared or out of love?’ then realign themself with the choice which allows for growth.

This year I honed my ability to do just that, which made my 27th year one of true happiness and freedom. As I travel through the maze I look forward to the prospect of new ‘character building’ opportunities which will, no doubt, further me on my path.

Will you join we in the journey?


Please leave comments below on any ‘character building’ events which happened to you over the year!

Get Your Hands Dirty!

When feeling the urge to take action, the first step may be to pick up the computer and search the World Wide Web for others who feel the same or are doing similar work. Often this leads to reading blogs and watching videos focused on communities other than your own. After the initial research, one is left to ponder how the work of others can inspire our own based on the needs of the community. We are also faced with a choice, move forward, initiating change in the community or let go, possibly realizing the time and effort necessary isn’t plausible or possible at the moment.

Recently, I was faced with this challenge. I am passionate about gardening and local organic food, as well as educating young people about the world around them so they can become stewards of the earth. After listening to a recent episode of The Urban Farm Podcast which focused on Tonyehn Verkitis, owner of Eco-Arts Living and board member of The Greenhouse Project in Blakely, PA, I was inspired to combine my two passions. This woman saw a need, wrote a grant, and began the work of building a more knowledgeable community through growing plants. How could I bring a similar service to my own community? With the world wide web as my guide, I began the initial step of researching.

What I found was other people in my community, and abroad, with a similar idea. To my relief, I didn’t have to start from scratch, there was already an infrastructure set in place to connect the community with information on gardening and local healthy foods. This nonprofit is already successfully running with community support and volunteers abound. What could my role be in helping this movement? Volunteering my time and talents in any way possible was only a click away- the internet is truly amazing!

After submitting my name, number, and talents I was left to wait. I remembered a lesson learned not too long ago, action isn’t always instant and nothing which comes quick is as gratifying as those which take a concerted effort. As I wait for a reply on how I can help, I am left thinking of other ways to bring this Greenhouse Project in Pennsylvania to the children I teach everyday. Would our local hardware store donate a greenhouse? Would teachers and students find time to embrace this new/different learning tool? Would they see it as beneficial or ‘just another thing to do’?

The first step of researching is simple and may help one connect to others who are already doing the work in the community or elsewhere. It may also give one new and different ideas about the necessary steps to create the project or idea. Reflecting on the questions below may help when deciding if the action steps are viable:

  • Do I have the time and energy to take this on?
  • Does the community in which I live need this service?
  • Are there others who have already begun this work?

The most difficult step toward actualizing a passion is seeing the project to its entirety and maintaining operations.

  • Will I be able to take the project through to the end?
  • What is my plan for passing responsibilities onto others?

Some of these questions won’t be necessary to have a concrete answer, but may be helpful to keep in the back of one’s mind.


Just like every aspect of life, action will ebb and flow, hitting road blocks at times and move so quickly one may feel they aren’t able to keep up with the outcomes of their efforts. Breath and smile through these times. They are what makes this life beautiful. In the words of Ryokan, an eighteenth-century Zen poet, “To find the Buddhist law, drift east and west, come and go, entrusting yourself to the waves.”

For me, this fully realized passion-in-action will take time. The initial research led me to volunteer in my community garden which gives to the hungry. The next step will be finding a greenhouse for the school in which I teach. Time will tell if this idea becomes a reality. Because the passion behind the effort is directly connected to my values and mission, I know it will happen is some form. What I do know is my hands will stay in the dirt, working toward my goal of connecting others with the earth.

I encourage you to take action and get your hands dirty!


Leave a comment below:

  • What does your community need?
  • What community projects do you currently participate in?
  • What projects have you begun?
Renz (83 of 85)

Fostering Compassion: A Yoga Sequence and Meditation

It is difficult to cultivate compassion, a loving kindness, when in pain. The first step in any compassion practice is getting into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down.

 

  • Seated easy pose or Constructive rest pose Renz (26 of 85)

 

Allow your awareness to move from outside of yourself to the breath. Notice the inhale, filling the lungs, and as you exhale say, silently to yourself, releasing releasing releasing (1-2 minutes).

Allow your awareness to move throughout the body. Notice areas where you might be holding unnecessary tension. With your next exhale allow your body to soften and release any physical tension.Your shoulders may drop, you might soften your brow, the belly might release, allowing your next breath to be received in a softening belly (1-2 minutes).

Compassion is a mind free from hatred. When there are no negative emotions in our minds, then we are automatically at peace. Compassion is the wish that others not suffer, as well as having the urge to help end the suffering of others. Cultivating compassion is a source of peace and harmony in the heart and mind (Psychological Science Compassion Meditation).

Allowing your awareness to move to the heart space, notice and feel the space there as well as the warmth radiating outward. While focusing on the heart center and the breath, repeat silently to yourself, ‘May I be happy, May I be free from suffering, May I experience joy and ease’. ‘May I be happy, May I be free from suffering, and May I experience joy and ease’ (1-2 minutes).

Bringing one hand to the heart and one hand to the belly, setting your intention for your practice today. It may be compassion for a loved one, a family member, child, spouse, co-worker, or yourself. Bring that person to mind. Notice the warmth and the space surrounding the heart, and repeat silently to yourself, ‘May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. May you experience joy and ease’ (1-2 minutes). Allow your hands to drop to your side and gently blink the eyes open. If you have chosen to lay, roll to one side and come into a comfortable seated position.

  • Head to knee forward bend – Janu Sirsasana (4-6 breaths)Janu-Shirasana-300x200
  • Bharadvaja’s twist– A wringing out of the spine (4-6 breaths)
  • Seated Wide Leg Forward Fold – Upavistha Konasana Do this in between switching from left to right
    • (Opposite side) Head to knee forward bend – Janu Sirsasana
    • (Opposite side) Bharadvaja’s twist- A wringing out of the spine
  • Seated Forward Fold (4-6 breaths)Renz (30 of 85)

Move onto the hands and knees. Knees hip distance width apart and hands underneath the shoulders. Spread the fingers and align the creases on the wrist with the top of the mat.

 

  • Cat/ Cow

 

      • Inhale as you lift the tailbone as the shoulders role away from the ears
      • Exhale as you press into the hands, tucking the tailbone as the shoulder blades fall open
        • Here, feel both the back and front of the heart space as you lift and open the chest, then pull the front heart space inward to allow the back of the heart space to shine.
    • Lift the knees, Pressing back into Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svanasana
    • (3) Sun Salutations focused on the movement of the breath with the movement of the body
    • Mountain, inhaling the arms up, stepping the right leg back

 

  • Low Lunge – Anjaneyasana

 

        • Right hand on right knee- Gentle twist (4-6 breaths)
        • Arms come up on an inhale, engaging the pelvic floor, bringing the Renz (83 of 85)belly button energetically to the spine, and lifting the chest (4-6 breaths)
        • Straightening out the bent right leg, forward fold over it, keeping the hips in line with the knees (4-6 breaths)
        • Bend the right knee, with the left hand reach for the left toes, coming into a modified King Arthur’s pose. Place your right hand on your heart and repeat, silently to yourself, ‘May I be happy, May I be free from suffering, May I experience joy and ease’.
    • Moving into Downward Facing Dog, moving through a Sun Salutation if you would like, then move to the opposite side.

 

  • Child’s Pose

 

      • The act of placing our hand on our hearts has been proven to calm our nervous system, allowing us to move from a reactionary state of mind (fight, flight freeze) to a connected state, enabling us to act out of loving kindness and compassion.
    • Downward Facing Dog – Moving through a Sun Salutation

 

  • High Lunge – Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana

 

      • 3 dips connected to the breath followed by a 6 breath hold. Move to the opposite side.

 

  • Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II

 

      • Imagining you have paintbrushes in your hands, inhale into Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), exhale into Reverse Warrior Pose (Viparita Virabhadrasana) 3-4 breath cycles. Then, hold Warrior II 4-6 breath cycles. Move to the opposite side.

 

  • Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II

 

      • Imagining you have paintbrushes in your hands, inhale into Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana), exhale into Reverse Warrior Pose (Viparita Virabhadrasana) 3-4 breath cycles.
      • Lifting off the front bent knee, come into Half Moon Pose (Ardha Candrasana) Putting your hand to your heart, repeat silently to yourself, ‘May I be happy. May I be free from suffering. May I experience joy and ease’.  Move to the opposite side.
    • Downward Facing Dog Moving through a Sun Salutation

 

  • Child’s Pose

 

    • Allow the body to soak in the practice by releasing the weight of the body into the earth. Noticing the breath and where it is felt in the body. With your next exhale, repeating silently to yourself, ‘Releasing, releasing, releasing, letting go, letting go, letting go’.Renz (38 of 85)
  • Moving onto your back, soles of the feet behind the sit bones, shoulders roll back. Pressing into the earth with the soles of the feet, come into Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). Relaxing the face, neck, and chest. Energetically bringing the legs toward the center line, breath. 4-6 breath cycles. Exhale as your role down, releasing the pelvis last.
  • Windshield wiper the legs left and right. Do any poses your body needs (1-2 minutes).
  • Come into Final Relaxation Pose – Savasana, where all the work is integrated into the body and mind.Renz (34 of 85)
    • Allow the body to release into the earth, feeling supported and at ease.

Bring your awareness to the heart space. Feel the warmth in the chest. Visualize someone you neither like or dislike. It may be someone you see in your everyday life such as the grocery store clerk, a post office employee, the receptionist at the gym or dentist office. Although you do not know this person well, bring to mind the suffering this person could be going through such as illness, loss of a loved one, addiction. Imagine the warmth in your heart spreading to encompass them. Repeating, silently to yourself, ‘May you be happy. May you be free from suffering. May you experience joy and ease’.

Gently inhale, filling the lungs, the upper belly, and the lower belly. Slowly releasing the breath as you wiggle fingers and toes, shaking your head left and right. Make your way to one side and eventually to a seated position. Take your time, move compassionately and with ease.

Bringing one hand to the heart and one hand to the belly, come back to the intention you set for yourself at the beginning of practice today. It may have been for self-compassion, kindness toward others, or loving kindness toward a specific person or situation (1 minute).

Bringing the palms together in front of the heart space and bowing the head, may we be happy. May we be free from suffering. May we experience joy and ease. May our thoughts, actions, and words contribute to the happiness and freedom of all. Namaste.


In the yoga classes I teach there is a focus on the breath, breathing 4-6 in each posture. There will be some postures one might only want to do for 1-2 breathes. Notice this tendency and try to stay one breath longer than feels comfortable. If there is a pose in which one would like to stay longer than the 4-6 breathes, that is fine, but I encourage one to take the middle path. Balanced, investigative, and open to the findings. If something hurts, don’t do it. If something is uncomfortable, as Erich Schiffmann puts it, play the edge, pushing beyond what’s comfortable to broaden oneself physically and mentally.

I truly hope you enjoy this Cultivating Compassion practice. It has allowed me to experience a more open heart space and more loving thoughts, actions and words toward friends, loved ones, colleagues, and grocery store clerks.

May we all experience peace, love and happiness. Namaste.

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I Heart Idaho!

There is only one place I’ve lived where one can downhill ski, back country ski, cross country ski, mountain bike, and hike all in one week. Welcome to Idaho!

Over the past decade I have spent my one week off for Spring Break traveling to connect with family and friends, only to feel exhausted and in need of a rest when school gets back in session on the following Monday. This year, learning from my past experiences, I took the week to do anything and everything which would leave me feeling rejuvenated and refreshed. What was on my list? Gardening, skiing, biking, hiking, writing, and most importantly… being outdoors!

The week started with an ‘early release’  Friday afternoon which allowed three hours of blue-bird skiing at Sun Valley. The snow was solid with a 1-2 inch softening layer on top which grew throughout the afternoon. Because of the late start, I didn’t remember sunscreen lotion, aiding me in the sweet goggle tan forming on my lower cheeks. A stylish look for anyone wishing to appear raccoon faced. The skiing was followed by music at the base of River Run Lodge. The jam band sounds were the perfect complement to the surrounding mountain scene. Ending the evening with a soak in the hot tub and a relaxing dinner made the most enjoyable and perfect beginning to a terrific week of outdoor adventures and relaxation.

The weekend came and went as usual. Mornings full of coffee and catching up with my husband. Afternoons full of workouts and errands. The difference came on Monday. As my husband rolled out of bed to head to the hill (ski patrolling- who needs a big boy job?) I stayed, lavishing in the comfort and warmth of my bed. ‘Oh, how beautiful life is’ I thought to myself.

After treating myself to a massage at Pure Body Bliss in Hailey, Idaho I took myself out to lunch at Glow Cafe in Ketchum. In a past life I lived and breathed for one thing- ketchup! Any reason to get the substance into my mouth, I would. Mac and cheese, ‘Got any ketchup?’. Hamburger and fries, ‘Got any ketchup?’. Steamed broccoli, ‘Got any ketchup?’. To this day I continue to love ketchup (raw vegan or clean vegan or meat-and-cheese-atarian, who cares? A girl’s gotta have her ketchup!). One item on Glow Cafe’s menu with ketchup is the Sun Burger. Each time I have been there they have been out of the patties (what’s a burger without a patty?). Was this poor planning on their part or is the Sun Burger really that good? I had to know!

On this occasion, once again, I asked for the Sun Burger fully anticipating being told, ‘We are out of the Sun Burger, but have you tried the Sun Valley Wrap or the Grilled Cheese?’. This time the woman taking my order promptly asked me, ‘What type of dressing on the side salad?’. I answered, ‘The Sun Valley Wrap would be fine’. We both stared at each other looking confused for a moment, until I realized what she had said. Surprised, I replied, ‘Oh, for the Sun Burger? I’m so glad you aren’t out! The hemp ranch please!’. Homemade sunflower burger patty served with avocado, “cheese”, and (the most important ingredient of all) raw ketchup! And let me tell you, the Sun Burger really is that good! I was in vacation heaven. ‘How could the break get any better?’ I thought.

Tuesday was the day to get ready for the upcoming mountain biking season which was quickly approaching. I recently began mountain biking and am somewhat unfamiliar with the fine tuning. The Boise Bike Project located near the Boise State Campus came to the rescue. For $10 an hour one can work on their bike using all the tools in the BBP shop, while working directly with a technician who teaches the bike owner how to work on their own bike. The technicians there are so incredibly nice and helpful it’s unbelievable. They got me in and out of the shop in under 30 minutes, fully ready to hit the Boise foothill Ridge to Rivers trail system. The one crucial bit of information I received at the BBP, ‘If you want to be sure your bike is ready to ride, lift it a couple feet in the air and drop it. If anything giggles it needs fixin’’. Gosh I love those bike technicians! Such wisdom (I do not mean that sarcastically)!

The initial climb up 8th Street was grueling. Only five minutes into the ride I had to stop and take a break. Had the hours of cross country skiing done nothing for me over the long winter? The seemingly endless gym hours, for nothing? I hadn’t worked as hard to go such a short distance since my first hike in Idaho, straight from the plains of Oklahoma. Nine years in hill country, I thought, would have served me better.

After 45 minutes of climbing toward the ridge I came to my turnaround point. The view of Boise from 1000 ft above the valley floor is magnificent, well worth the huffing and puffing! As I practically flew downhill, I was grateful not to be working quite so hard, and also grateful my friend Lauren taught me the correct posture for going down steep trails, ‘Keep your butt back, feet level, and squeeze the frame’. Great advice!

‘An adventure a day keeps the doctor away’, is the age old adage (or something to that effect). Tuesday’s mountain bike refresher led to Wednesday’s much needed yoga session. Boise is blessed with many wonderful amenities and Sage Yoga is one of them. Debbi Murphy, one of the yogi’s who taught me what I know about teaching yoga, led the 75 minute vinyasa class. Her teachings, accompanied by the new East Forest album Music Meditations, grounded and invigorated, which kept me buzzing for the 2 hour drive home to Hailey.

Cross country skiing at Sun Valley Nordic Center followed by laps through the half pipe at Dollar Mountain consumed my Thursday. As I stood near the bottom of the half pipe, reveling in the fun run I had just completed, a (what looked like) five year old girl came down, shooting up each side, getting higher than I would even dream of going, then flew through the bottom to shoot in the opposite direction. My ego, which takes a beating each time I compare myself to the elementary school shredders which dominate Dollar, was hit hard. ‘I don’t think I’ll be going pro anytime soon,’ I thought to myself. Looking forward to heading to the family cabin brightened my spirit, giving me something to think about other than my some-what pathetic half pipe showing.

Friday morning, as my husband worked, I packed and hiked our food, clothes and supplies into the cabin then went off to explore the snowy wonderland at the base of the Smoky Mountains. In between the Big Wood River and  the Harriman Trail I weaved in and out of pine trees, up small slopes, and traversed patches of flat land. The quiet only interrupted by gusts of wind moving through the pine needles. Being outdoors, without the sound or sight of any other human being, in a white wonderland is an experience I never knew I’d live.

My habit of waking up late on days off turned out to be advantageous Saturday morning. The early morning isn’t the best time for spring skiing. The snow, set up by the freezing night temperatures, was hard as, well, ice until around 2:00 pm. This was perfect for me. Not only does tele-skiing tire me out more quickly because of the constant lunging taking place, waking up early is my archenemy. Lack of sleep is my kryptonite. One sure way to put this enthusiastic, energetic girl in a piss-poor mood is to deprive her of sleep. Needless to say, that wasn’t the case on this Saturday.

As we clicked up our climbing wires around noon, heading toward the ridge line, we discussed the spring snow and created a game plan. Lucky for me the snow hadn’t yet loosened, so we would need to take our time, moving slowly uphill, to allow the sun to soften the snow. ‘Perfect,’ I thought, ‘That’s my usual speed!’. Ascending Easley Face was no great feat. The mellow slope ranged from 25-32° with the peak sitting at 7,400 ft, only 1,000ish feet gain from the front porch of the cabin to the ridge line.

Once at the top, surprised to experience a gentle breeze and blue sky conditions, we added a layer to our t-shirts, more out of habit than necessity. Surrounding us were the Pioneers, Boulders, and Smoky mountains. We paused, gazing at the gorgeous scene for nearly ten minutes without realizing the passing time. Awoken from our daze by a gust of wind, we peeled off our climbing skins, and prepared ourselves for the descent.

The solid snow pack and gently warmed crust made for the best corn skiing of my life. A few months before the snow had not been so solid and forgiving. As cracks shot out from under my skis toward the nearby anchoring trees and rocks, my husband gave me a bit of advice, which I am calling the golden rule of sketchy ski days, ‘Today would be a poor day to center punch a back country bowl’. Words to live by! And although this week the snow pack was not nearly as dangerous, I still wouldn’t be center punching anything. No need to take risks when the sun is tanning the ridiculously white skin that hasn’t seen sunlight in over 6 months.

Our skis took us all the way back to the cabin’s porch with almost no effort (I even caught some air!). The late afternoon brought naps, followed by snacks, ending with a dazzling sunset and the conclusion to my week of freedom. As the moon lit up the night sky, I felt at peace and grateful for this time. Oh, how I love the great state of Idaho!