Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Light My Fire

Come on, baby, light my fire...

Daddy Long-Legs built our first fire Sunday. I don't know where he got the idea that I like fires. Maybe it's because for the first two years of our marriage, I would scream "I love fires!!!!" and every night in the winter, "We should have a fire!!!" in total excitement. And so we did. Every night we were home.

I stare at it, sit too close to it, poke at it, throw stuff in it...I love fire.

It's probably one of the 5 things I like about winter (hot chocolate/warm drinks, boots, Christmas/holiday season, skiing/snow [if even available], fire). It's the same for everybody, I know. But my disdain for winter is so strong that I cling to fires like a life preserver. 
"I know it's only 58 degrees, but I had a bad day, so let's light it up."

It's energy, bright and warm. Something inside me resonates with that. I can feel that bright warmth, and when I feel passionate about something, I feel the fire. And I know how to stoke it. 
 I know where I feel it.

The third chakra (which is a swirling vortex of energy in the body), Manipura is located in the solar plexus. It represents warrior energy, self-esteem and transformation. It represents taking charge of one's life through selfless service, a get-up-and-go attitude. It is belly laughter and ease. It is warmth and vitality. It's the seat of personal power. It is, right now, my favorite chakra. 

courtesy of yogajournal.com
A deficient third chakra is evident with digestive problems, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and feeling like a victim. In these cases, the fire needs to be stoked. I like core-strengthening poses for the third chakra. Navasana, which is boat pose, is great for this. Also, Urdhva Prasarita Padasana (fancy name for leg lifts) is also a great way to get into this chakra. Any twists too. The warrior poses. Making the sound "ram" will help too. Just do it.

Taking any kind of scary risk will help you to get into your third chakra as well.

Taking on too much stuff in life (sounds like someone I know...me), perfectionism, anger and hatred can indicate excess third chakra activity. Backbends are a great way to cool off the Manipura.

All righty, we got some winter griping in, some yoga, and now you're set.
Done for today. Wishing warmth for those of you stuck in cold, dreary weather. Like all of America.

Liza Jane

Saturday, November 23, 2013

House of the Rising Sun

We get a show every morning. It doesn't always look like this. 
But something is always happening over that lake.

On this particular morning, I woke up mad. It happens. I knew I wasn't allowed to eat or drink anything because I had to leave at 6:45 to go to the doctor in Jackson. Testing for gestational diabetes. Great.

Not even water. But as I stumbled to the kitchen out of habit, not sure what I would have done in there anyway, tired and angry and hungry and thirsty, I looked out my window and saw this. 

Jackson and I went outside, breathing the cool air, and I stood in awe. Damn. It got prettier every second. Talk about meditation. Nothing takes you into gratitude like seeing something like this brilliant scene. God, the funkiest artist. The most radical, top-notch director of shows. My mood transformed, and all of a sudden, everything felt magical. I felt connected and uplifted. Jackson and I might have been the only creatures to see it exactly like that from where we stood.

So I felt loved. That was a crazy, busy day. I did not walk through it on a cloud. Three more hours of hunger and thirst and failing a diabetes test put me out. But that sunrise prepared me. I stayed pretty much uplifted throughout the day.

Not everyone chances upon magnificent sunrises every morning. A good way to get into the feeling of preparedness, of being loved and to try to hold on to that lifted feeling throughout the day is to practice a  few sun salutations toward the east, first thing in the morning.

(Courtesy of smashboard.com)

Get the body moving and warmed. Get into the breath. Get into the moment. Get into worship mode.

The Sun Salutation A's that I teach vary from the one above, so feel free to change it up for yourself, do what feels right. Even if it's just standing there in Mountain pose, feeling the ground beneath you.

You know that I kind of fight against anything that is expected of me or of women "like me." I've always resisted any type of boxing and especially the labeling of that box. So consequently "free-spirited" is often the adjective I hear about myself, which I recognize as another box, 
but at least it has a prettier label. 

But you know? We're all going through the same things. I'm thinking about paint colors and house repairs, and I feel like a nesting mama. But that's what I am. Put me in a box labeled "Nesting Mama," because that's exactly what's going on here. 

I love this child, punching and kicking from within. I love my husband, helping and being sweet through all this. And I love my house, which I seem determined to turn into a cozier, prettier place this winter for us, my baby, and guests who come here. 

And maybe just for the house's sake. To show love for the house, wherein I see a show in my backyard every day. To show gratitude for living here, in the House of the Rising Sun.
(I realize this song was about a house in New Orleans that could have been a brothel/drug and alcohol haven and/or prision, but humor me as I try to turn something dark into light). 

Liza Jane

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Fire on the Mountain

This story starts with a romantic, gorgeous wedding and ends with a romantic, gorgeous wedding. 

At the end of September, we celebrated my close friend Caroline's wedding. Caroline is a sweet soul, a loving woman and a very talented artist. Her wedding was in Highlands, NC, the highest incorporated town in the Alps. I mean the Appalachians. She was beautiful. The gown was beautiful. The whole thing was beautiful. 

So there we were, celebrating one of my closest friends in the highest incorporated town in the Appalachians. It was still green, and the mountains just really called to me, you know? We were only there for a weekend, but I wanted more time.

I wanted more mountain.

The thing is pregnancy causes weird cravings. One minute you like spinach, and the next you're scornfully mourning the fact you bought some out of habit at the store.

I've been a tropical girl always. Low-lying tropical areas appeal to me. Or European cities. Sure, I like the mountains. Who doesn't? But that's pretty much it. Next thing I knew I kept picturing myself in wool socks, drinking hot chocolate by a fireplace at some B&B somewhere, looking out at the fall foliage.

A short weekend in the Highlands was not enough. Although every moment of the weekend was wonderful--driving up the mountain, seeing Caroline like that, getting to see old friends, witnessing a lovely union, eating delicious food, making new friends, and driving back down the mountain. It left a craving like the brownie craving I've been dealing with. 

Oh pregnancy. 

Yes. I'll be back.
So we took a picture on the way back down the mountain. And I promised myself I would be back in the mountain air before long. So strange the things you crave.  I had to have it. 

Back home, taking a little sunset yard break with Jackson.
 So when we got back to the flatlands from Caroline's shindig, I got to work. I knew we had to head back up into that Georgia-South Carolina-North Carolina-Tennessee corner soon. For a wedding at the beginning of November. I hadn't much time. And lots to do. 

Oh little Jacksey, little Jacksey poo. 
Will got to work with cotton and peanuts. I got to work with nutrition school, nursery, house, and yoga. Paint colors and repair men. Car accidents and mental breakdowns. Homework and reading. The bookstore, the spa, the recreation center. I decided we had to the end of the month to get everything done. And then we would go again--this time to Asheville.  

Wowza. Those Vanderbilts were loaded. 
 I found a magical little B&B in Asheville. The 1900 Inn on Montford. Best place to stay in the whole town probably. I got a good vibe from the place by just looking at their web site. And they had fireplaces in the rooms. Sold. 

The innkeepers were delightful, the breakfast turned out to be delicious, and the rooms were so cozy, yet spacious and clean. The sheets felt like whipped cream. The beds were king size. Plus, they had those little spa robes in the rooms. Listen, you give me a spa robe and a fireplace, and I'm like a little lamb in your arms. Not only that, the house was so charming and old. It was the quintessential, lovely old B&B. I have also decided I shall stay here again. 

The night we got there, we ate at a place called Rhubarb. Ok, folks, you know I'm no foodie, but I do know good food when I taste it. The chef from Blackberry Farms started this place, and it was magnifico! Go! If you go to Asheville, go there! 

View from the Biltmore.
 Then we're at the Biltmore, wondering around this monstrous mansion, and Will says he doesn't feel so hot. And he feels hot. 
He says he can tough it out. 
The conservatory in the garden at Biltmore.

Oh my the orchids.

I want a conservatory, Santa. 
AWESOME tree. I seriously stared at this tree for 10 minutes. 
But then I turned around, and all the color had left my husband's face. Okay it's time to get our asses the hell out of here.

He developed a fever. FIRE #2.
My motherly instincts kicked in. I went out and got soup, rubbed his head with a cold washcloth, ushered him Sprite and water. I didn't know where this was coming from 'cause I ain't no Florence Nightingale. But it happened. My baby got sick. We watched movies and lay in bed. I was cooing over him like Mary in the manger. Surprising, but I think I have a good shot at this Mommy thing.

It didn't take long for Will's spunky immune system to spring into action. He was almost well the next day. One thing he knew: he didn't want to sit around. Typical.

We went to town to grab some lunch to go before getting on the Blue Ridge Parkway. We were going to take it north to the highest point east of the Mississippi River--Mount Mitchell. We would hike up to the top, but my big belly wanted to make sure we had food to eat up there.

Needless to say, I ran into some things I liked in downtown Asheville. 

Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe.
Two things my eyes are always searching for: little bookstores and yoga studios. When we were waiting for our food, we roamed downtown a bit. I swear a magnetic force brought me here. I fell in love. I love bookstores. This one, Malaprop's Bookstore & Cafe, www.malaprops.com,  charmed me like the others, like the one I work in.
I missed work. 
 Will had to pull me out of there with a fishing hook and a net. The food was ready around the corner. But not before we stopped to look at an old drugstore, some art, and an organic clothing store. Whatever. I live in the country.

Balsam Nature Trail leading to top of Mount Mitchell.
Oh yes. A whimsical walking trail on the highest mountain. The trees were short, little dwarf trees with moss and lichen. Huge boulders and smooth little rocks, fallen trees and fog. The firs and spruces smelled like Christmas. I felt like little elves and fairies might pop out and surprise us. We were in our own little world. It felt so cozy and haunted in there. Right up my alley. 

'Twas my favorite part of the trip. We saw rock overhangings (?), a natural mountain spring that began a creek that ended up in the Tennessee River, the Ohio River and finally the Mississippi River. We pretended to hear bears, though we might have really heard one. 

Then we made it to the top. Where it was extremely foggy. 

And I had some big fat biscuits from Tupelo Honey Cafe.
Those biscuits were so good. Dash of salt and pepper on top. Had me going. No kidding. The blueberry preserves were homemade too. Dang, where did this come from?

Later Will said, "Where's my biscuit?"
"I don't know," I said defensively, looking down and away in shame, my voice trailing off. 

So this cafe is another recommendation. If only just for the biscuits and jam, or whatever it was. 

Um, we've seen better views. Fog kind of got us here. But oh well. I couldn't wait to get back in that forest. 
The ride to and from Mount Mitchell on the Blue Ridge Parkway was truly half the fun that day. I mean the foliage was incredible. View after view of blanketed red, orange and yellow peaks and rolling horizons in the distance. And driving underneath all those leaves in the sunlight felt heavenly--the seemed to light up in their colors. The colors amazed me, and for once, I was thankful for my superpower pregnancy senses. 
What a special highway the Blue Ridge Parkway is. I loved every second of it. 

The next day sent us to DuPont State Recreational Park, about 45 minutes from Asheville. We wanted to see some waterfalls. See above. See below.

The one above is called High Falls. Breathtaking. 

We did some hiking around in this park. Loved seeing all the natural wonder. Waterfalls are crazy, you know? They are so damn pretty. 

We started to see who catch the most leaves. I totally won. Even if Will tells you otherwise.
I loved this little park. I especially loved the sound of the waterfalls. 

Then we came up on a waterfall called Triple Falls. 

There's the third one. 

The Biltmore has nothing on this place. Took my breath away. 

Boy feeling better. 
Letting it all hang out. 

This was our last day, and I walked away from this hike feeling like I got my mountain fix. I felt good about it. Like when I finally got my oven working, and made some damn brownies. Yet, somehow I did not feel right. All of a sudden. 

Little surprise when we got back. From the innkeepers.
Like I said, I can't say enough about the 1900 Inn on Montford. Seriously, if you go to Asheville, stay here. These people are so nice. They gave us a baby gift on our last day! I mean, that's so nice. They don't even know us. I started crying of course.  Just so moved by people sometimes. People really move me. Good people. The balloon said, "You're So Special." I wept and then I threw up.

I was sick. I got sick fast. It was Halloween night. All I wanted to do was watch the little trick-or-treaters in the neighborhood on the front porch, walk to a local restaurant and watch the leaves fall on our last night. I got no such thing. I got a fever and tossing-and-turning. FIRE #2. Thanks Will.

It was a long night, and I wanted an ambulance for the ride to Reynold's Plantation outside of Atlanta. Will packed me in the rental car at 7 in the morning along with all his other baggage, and we drive down. The last leg of our trip. A wedding for two fabulous people, Jack and Elinor. Will's closest buddy, and Elinor--a good friend of mine. 

We checked in, and I crawled into bed. Slept, ordered room service soup, slept, drank some water, slept, took a bath, slept. And then in and out of sweaty sleep all night. By the morning, I was 60%. After some more room service, I was 70% and by noon, 80%. After a walk with Jessie (one of my closest who was there for the wedding too) I was 90%! I would go to the wedding that night!

And I'm sure glad I didn't miss it. What a lovely celebration. Elinor was stunning. Her dress was to-die-for. 

I usually don't talk about this kind of thing, but man, good looking centerpieces!
 Everything was grand. The trip back wasn't so bad. And this week hasn't been painful at all. I'm back in black--barking orders for down-dogs and up-dogs, and updating bestseller lists.

That concludes my story about fire on the mountain. I guess the moral of this story is: follow your cravings but try not to get sick. I know I'm stocked with wisdom. Hell, you got some good Asheville advice. 

Liza Jane