Saturday Morning Sanskrit: Santosha

Good morning! The word of the day is Santosha~contentment.

It’s been a while since the last Saturday Morning Sanskrit post…but I love learning the meaning behind these ancient words so I’m picking it back up where I left off. Before Baby Max came along I was studying Patanjali’s eightfold path.

If you have no idea what I am talking about, click here. The Yamas in the first limb address social behaviors. The Niyamas in the second limb focus on our thoughts and attitudes. There are five niyamas, or personal guidelines, to help us with our thoughts. The second is Santosha, which means contentment.

The dictionary defines contentment as a state of happiness and satisfaction.

Basically Patanjali tells us to be satisfied with what we have. It’s such a simple thought, yet at times it seems impossible. Our consumer-driven culture doesn’t help matters. But according to the ancient texts we really can be content with what we have, it just takes practice.

Contentment arrives when we make the choice to be happy with what we have. It’s not easy going against old habits. Especially old Nordstrom Rack habits when planning a Mexican-themed afternoon fiesta. But I’ve committed to the idea of Santosha~contentment with what I have, so I’m pulling out the summer tote to dig through the pile of dresses I already own to find just the perfect outfit. I’m also reading an amazing book about voluntary simplicity, which I will share more about later this week.

How do you practice contentment with what you have?

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Filed under Happiness, Yoga

Snow Day

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Is there anything better than a warm bowl of soup on a cold snowy day? There was a fluffy white covering outside on Monday. Baby Max and I stayed in our jammies all day and I managed to make this delicious curried carrot soup with ginger and coconut milk. The side dish in the background is crunchy slaw salad from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking. We kept busy playing catch, building with legos and tossing around in the snow.

What’s your perfect snow day?

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40 Bags in 40 Days

Happy first day of Lent! It was three years ago that I decided to dip my foot in the pool of vegetarianism for 40 days. While I did go back to eating seafood, my life was still changed in a significant way. This morning I came across Ann Marie’s 40 Bags in 40 Days decluttering challenge. What a perfect way to shed excess baggage and lighten up. Click the link for details, planning and printables. I plan to post pics on Instagram and update here once a week. I would love to have you join me!

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Every Mother Counts

A few weeks ago I spent an afternoon hooked on A Cup of Jo’s Motherhood Around the World series. Joanna featured guest posts from American moms living abroad in various places such as India, Norway and Japan. I loved all of the insight, but the one post that has really stuck with me was written by Jill and Sarah in Congo. These two mamas have their own blog Mama Congo. Their post about a visit to a maternity clinic gives a little glimpse about what life is like in Africa. Needless to say, it’s not easy. My day-to-day dilemmas are small potatoes, but sometimes I find myself swept up in the trivial stuff that just doesn’t matter. Reading something like this reminds me that there are so many people suffering from serious problems like lack of food, water and medical supplies. M and I have decided to dedicate Baby Max’s first birthday to charity. We’re making a small donation to Every Mother Counts and we’ve slipped a short note in with our party invites (that’s not to say we aren’t still planning a festive shindig).

Dear Friends and Family,

We would like to express that your presence is present enough. If you feel inclined to give something, please consider a small donation to a worthwhile cause. We support Every Mother Counts, an organization dedicated to improving maternal and infant health in Africa. Thank you!

Much love,

Angela, M & Max

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Escuelita de Verano

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Friends in boat pose

This year I vowed to give back more. I started small during my recent trip to Costa Rica. A few weeks before we left I contacted Friends of Nosara to ask if I could visit the local elementary school. In Costa Rica January is considered summer and the schools close for the month. That leaves kids with nothing to do for the day, so the Surfing Nosara Foundation sponsors a summer camp with free lunch and activities for the kiddos. The English speaking coordinator Sarah was thrilled to have us visit. We volunteered to bring a blender and fruit to make smoothies and I planned to teach a yoga class. I practiced my Spanish beforehand and looked up a few key words and phrases. I also brought along these colorful cards. On the day of our visit we stopped at a roadside stand to pick up fresh bananas and pineapples. The students loved doing yoga, despite my broken Spanish. They adored Max. We had so much fun being part of the local community for the day.

IMG_3362Savasana works in any language

_DSC3275A helper adding pineapple chunks to the mix

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Every student got the chance to assist

_DSC3267Patiently waiting

M and have traveled extensively, but only recently did I think to reach out to a local school for a day visit. A few years ago I spent a month volunteering in Peru and I guess I thought that giving had to be some grand gesture. That’s nice when you have the resources, but even one afternoon can brighten someone’s day or $20 can make a difference.

I would love to hear about your volunteer experiences!

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Filed under Travel & Leisure, Yoga

Decluttering: Books

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I have a love affair with books. But lately I’ve started to feel overwhelmed by stuff so I’ve decided to get rid of the ones I haven’t read in a few years. My tastes have changed and if I really need to read them again I can check them out at the library. I tried a yard sale last summer, but our house is pretty remote so we didn’t have too many shoppers. After six months of hoarding them in a box in the garage, plus an unsuccessful Craig’s List attempt, I’ve decided to try the online route. I used this link to enter ISBN numbers. I was surprised to find that out of 40-ish books, four were accepted from Powell’s for a grand total of $7.75, which will be deposited in my Paypal account. Powell’s pays shipping via an emailed label. The rest will be donated. It’s a little painful giving away practically new books that I paid retail for, but hopefully I can find a good cause. And remember this lesson when I want to purchase a new book in the future…

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Filed under Happiness, Home & Garden

Grace & Glory

I went to hot power yoga this morning and liked it. I’m not usually a fan of hot yoga because the heat can be pretty intense. But at 8:30 this morning M offered to watch Baby Max and the class at my usual studio started at 9. We live in the woods, so there was no way I could make it. I’d heard about Grace & Glory through a friend so I decided to give it a go. The room was packed and it was hot. 90 degrees to be exact. But it wasn’t stifling and in the chilliness of winter it actually felt pretty good.

What really made me like the class was the teacher. For me, yoga is more than just a workout. Sure that’s what got me interested in it years ago. A workout that you don’t really have to work at? Count me in. My thoughts have changed since then as I sit here drenched in sweat next to my sleeping baby, afraid to move. The reason I really liked Nicole’s class was because she sprinkled in plenty of yoga philosophy throughout the poses. Like, “My practice is my prayer.” Yoga is movement to get rid of all the crap that is stuck inside of us, both mental and physical. Jivamukti teacher Sharon Gannon wrote about intention this month. If you do yoga with the intention of losing weight, you will probably become thinner. However, why not elevate your intentions for yourself and your life? As Sharon points out, yoga without the philosophy is gymnastics. And sure it will make your body feel good for a little while, but why not awaken something higher in ourselves? And that’s why I really loved today’s hot power yoga class. Yes, I was there for a workout and to feel better physically. But I was also there to let go of negative thoughts and aspire towards inner tranquility. And sometimes that takes a good dose of sweat.

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Filed under Around town: South Jersey, Yoga

5 Blogs

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A cold wintery sunrise in New Jersey

Five new (to me) blogs I adore:

Slow Your Home: The Simpler Life You Want

The Minimalist Mom

The Simple Year

The Fearse Family

A Cup of Jo

It started with a quest to find the perfect words to politely say “no gifts please” on Max’s birthday party invites. We have Christmas presents that haven’t been taken out of their boxes yet and he just doesn’t need anything. I don’t mean to sound ungrateful. We are very lucky to have our needs met. But when it comes to stuff, I really want to simplify. As I mentioned on my About page, I love the idea of minimalism…but I have a hard time letting go of all the excess (like clothes that haven’t been worn in years or my 25-year-old collection of Lisa Frank stickers). As I write this I am inspired to lighten up. I’ve already put my wedding dress on Craigslist and stacked up all of the novels I’ll probably never read again. And if I did, I could just borrow them from the library. Now it’s time to tackle the stationary drawer(s).

What are you holding on to that could go? Do you have any favorite blogs?

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Filed under Baby, Happiness, Lovely Lists

Costa Rica with Max

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A monkey at Playa Dona Ana…the best rest stop in the world

The perfect place to stop for lunch on the way to the beach after a flight into San Jose

IMG_3326Yoga in the treetops at the Nosara Yoga Institute

IMG_3336Baby Max chasing a beach puppy at Playa Guiones

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Swinging at a family-owned restaurant in Nosara town (across the street from the air strip)

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Playing around on a long board

We stayed two nights in Tamarindo, Costa Rica’s hip surf town with a large number of expats, beach bars and surf shops. The yoga class that I took there was for the most part in Spanish with a little English and focused on hips, which I so needed after the journey. On Saturday we drove three hours through mostly dirt roads to the quaint little town of Playa Guiones near Nosara. M and I rented a long board to take turns on while Baby Max happily played in the sand. On our last day in Costa Rica we headed back to the San Jose area to a Swiss chalet…yes a European style hotel in the mountains of Heredia. The air was crisp and cool and the scenery was stunning. Although the truth is…it was quite an odyssey to get there. The internet said four hours, and after six and several trips around the same town I was starting to think a nice boring safe Marriott next to the airport wasn’t looking so bad. Baby Max was crying and everyone we asked kept saying take the main road up the hill. Problem was the main hill wasn’t labeled along with all the rest of the roads. Alas we finally made it and like always when traveling, it was worth it.

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“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

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Filed under Baby, Travel & Leisure, Yoga

Layovers & Baby Love

IMG_3307Two days later…finally in Costa Rica with a gorgeous view at a roadside stop for lunch

Our vacation got off to a slow start with a delayed flight out of Atlantic City due to fog. The first leg of the trip was scheduled to depart at 7 a.m. and we ended up leaving around 11:30 in the morning. That’s an extra 4 hours of entertaining baby at the airport, but surprisingly things went pretty well. The AC airport is small and there aren’t many flights scheduled at the same time so there was plenty of room for Baby Max to crawl around and play. For the first half of the three-hour plane ride to Fort Lauderdale he was energetic but happy. Then at last, the nap came.

IMG_1113Airport fun; meeting new friends

Travel tips that work for us:

  • Hide a few toys in the days leading up to travel. Take them out one at a time on the flight.
  • Water bottle fun: shake it, peel the label off, drink it
  • Nurse for takeoff and landing (it’s supposed to help alleviate pressure in the ears).
  • Bring plenty of snacks, but try to wait as long as possible to break these out. My goal is to wait until at least the second half of the flight. I also dole them out very slowly.

IMG_1115Publix stop on the way to the hotel for an avocado roll

We missed our connection and ended up staying the night in Fort Lauderdale. Exhausted but excited and unwilling to waste our one night in South Florida we headed out for dinner and a stroll through South Beach. Max hung out in the Ergo for the evening and M and I found amazing veggie risotto.

IMG_1120He loves avocado sushi

Normally when I travel I can be a bit of an introvert. I never talk my seatmates. I’m usually reading or wearing headphones. However, traveling with a baby is a little lot different. No books and no headphones. Traveling with a baby is all about living in the present moment. And so far I’ve learned that almost everyone loves babies, even that thuggish looking guy with the backwards hat and tattoos. On our way to Costa Rica M and I ended up chatting the whole way with a soon-to-be groom on the way to his bachelor weekend. The conversation started when he asked us how old Max was. He sipped mixed drinks while we entertained Max and the flight passed pretty quickly.

Costa Rica is a baby friendly nation. Upon arrival we (and another family with an infant) were whisked to the front of the customs line. The rental car guys oohed and aawed and strangers all around stopped us to say hi to Max.

IMG_1123Since he was up most of the plane ride he napped for a big part of our 5 hour ride the the beach

There were a few tough moments, but overall the trip here went pretty well. Now it’s off for some fish tacos and fruit smoothies.

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Filed under Baby, Travel & Leisure