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having flexibility

Lighten Up and Let Go: Flutter Breath

By September 10, 2014 feeding ourselves, getting out of our comfort zone, having flexibility, inspired by others, living a joyful life, personal growth, pleasure, practice, self care, silliness

I have been in a pretty serious and focused space over the last few weeks. I have been craving avenues to express silliness. Who would have thought that an expression of silly would be found in my yoga practice?

I was reminded how invigorating it is to be silly this evening in my yoga class when the instructor guided the class through a series of breaths. The final breath in the series was what is called the “flutter breath.”

I found a delightful snippet about fluttering on a blog about breathing and yoga. I found this image on there too! I am not sure who to give credit to, but I love it!

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Here’s what Diane Neuman, author of Breathing Deep Exercises, had to say about fluttering: 

Fluttering is an effective way (albeit silly) to dump some tension from your face. Face muscles are very small, very complicated and, therefore, a bit difficult to unknot.

Considering all the personal and professional challenges that get dumped on you during the day, it is no wonder that you squint, grimace, clench your jaws, wrinkle your forehead, tense your tongue and jut your head forward! Small face muscles eat up an enormous amount of energy. A tense face messes with your breathing and that messes with your speaking and that messes with your accomplishments.

We will stray briefly from the preferred nose-breathing. Keep any mouth-breathing brief and stop for water if you begin to feel dry.

Keep your mouth closed with lips and jaw muscles completely relaxed. Your lips will be parted slightly only by the escaping exhalation.

1. Breathe in through your nose. Softly blow out each exhalation through your relaxed lips until they flutter. Wet your lips when necessary. Horses and babies make this same sound.

2. Inhale slowly through your nose and breathe out through your “flutter.” Gently squeeze out as much air as possible. The gentle vibration will gradually melt away tension from your face and jaws.

Lesson: I am working on letting go of my serious approach to a number of things in my life. I am sending soulful gratitude to Jennie Dickson at Durham Yoga Company for facilitating the flutter breath in class tonight! I have learned a new strategy to be silly on the mat and in life. I can do it anywhere! 

What strategies do you have to allow some silliness in your life? What might happen if you allow yourself to be silly in unexpected places? 

 

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Coffee and Tea: From a Server’s Point of View

By August 17, 2014 attention to detail, beverage junkie, coffee, customer service, having flexibility, practice, working in restaurants

Imagine running 100 miles a minute, having a list of 40 things to do next, and having to stop in the midst of it all to pull together an after dinner drink ensemble for five people. All of the 40 things I am about to orchestrate are going to be put on hold. It is time to make coffee!

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To some restaurant servers- as many as I know – serving coffee and tea can put a kink in our flow. We have to leave our sections (what we call where all of our guests are sitting) for more time than we really like to, and we often have to run around the restaurant to gather ingredients that are not within arms’ reach. It really takes a lot of time to put together an assortment of after dinner drinks for five people, unless they all decide to have the same thing – and that doesn’t happen often. People have individual preferences, don’t you know! And we want to be respected for those preferences!

Living in the wonderful world of customization, people have a lot of choices when it comes to what they will be drinking after dinner. It no longer comes down to “I’ll have regular or decaf.” People have at least 10 options when thinking about how they want their coffee. There are a variety of espresso drinks, with or without steamed milk, foam, whole milk, skim milk, etc. There’s drip coffee. At some places you can get French pressed beans or pour overs. Again, you have all of the dairy options, and don’t forget the non-dairy options: almond, rice, or soy milk.

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Then there is the sweetener option, a whole different debate for some people. Which is better to offer for guests? There’s straight white sugar, sugar cubes (a bit more elegant in appearance and less messy), less-processed sugar in the raw, honey, and stevia. Then there are the artificial sweetener choices. I could write an entire post about the “yellow, pink, and blue stuff” that people still ask for.

There are also many options for tea drinkers. Do you want honey, sugar, perhaps lemon? If you really want to get technical – which I do when I am at home – there are varying degrees of water temperature that one should be thinking about when serving tea, especially if you are having green tea.

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Thankfully for me, and for my guests, who I do not want to burden with too many choices, the place where I work only offers coffee and tea. We serve simple and well-crafted food, and our coffee and tea list matches the rest of the menu in simplicity. That means I do not have to run all over God’s green earth to gather ingredients for after dinner drinks (although it seems that way sometimes). I just have to go away from the place where I can visually monitor what the guests in my section are doing. I have to put everything I am doing on pause for 5 or 10 minutes to prepare some delicious espresso drinks and tea for my guests. Just as I do, they appreciate the way good coffee complements their dessert and wraps up their dining experience in a ritualistic way.

Lesson: Working as a server, and in life, it’s easy to get caught up in the details. Sometimes focusing on the bigger picture can make all the difference in a dining experience. When is looking at the bigger picture helpful to you in your life? 

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What Do I Do with a Mushy Cantaloupe?

By July 28, 2014 beverage junkie, creativity, having flexibility, practice, recipes, summer

There are few things more disappointing to me than picking a fruit that has an undesirable texture. Come on, you know what I am talking about. How many tomatoes, peaches, plums, apples, or melons have you sunk your teeth into with disappointment?

In the summer I can eat a cantaloupe a day. There’s nothing quite like that subtle musky, juicy, refreshing melon experience. What is hard to swallow is when I pick a melon with a mushy texture. Who’s with me here?

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As usual, I went to the Durham Farmers Market on Saturday morning. I have been buying three cantaloupes from Brinkley Farms each Saturday. I have to admit, for as long as I have been eating cantaloupes this summer, my run on really good one’s has been mind-blowing!

Today was the first time that I sliced open that wonderfully musky fragranced melon to discover a mushy texture. The flavor, on the other hand, was perfect. What was I going to do?

I grabbed my Vitamix blender and scooped out the flesh of the melon straight into the blender pitcher. Once I had all of the melon scooped out, I put the lid on the blender and turned it on low. In seconds I had a refreshing juice. That was an incredibly easy solution!

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One thing to note is that after it sits, this juice will thicken. I did not strain out any of the pulp. You can thin it by adding some coconut water until you get the consistency that you want.

Another option would be to transform the juice into a shrub. Click here to learn more about shrubs and shrub making. I haven’t tried that yet, but will check it out and get back to you. You could also make a soda with your juice by adding sparkling water to it. Play with the ratios to get the flavor and texture you like. It is better to add a little bit of soda at a time. You can always add more, but you can’t take it away after you mix with your juice.  Let me know how you like it!

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Lesson: When things don’t go quite the way we planned or even assumed that they would, we can feel disappointed or even frustrated. These feelings often show up when we have expectations of a particular outcome. Who doesn’t want  to eat a perfect melon?

I always do my best to come up with alternate options that will work just as well as the outcome that I had hoped for in the kitchen and in life. This cantaloupe juice is a good example of that. What do you do to have flexibility when things don’t turn out as you had hoped?

 

 

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