I’m a sucker for a challenge. For October, I challenged myself to take 31 yoga classes and say ‘no’ to all the Halloween treats offered (no candy or baked goods). I feel great! But I bet I would feel even better if I practiced the challenge that Holly Schultz completed. Earlier this week, Detroit Free Press posted the story of Schultz and how she is honoring her mom’s life with a random act of kindness performed every day and themed after her mom’s favorite things. Five years ago, Schultz’s mom Betsy died of a brain tumor.
“When you reach that point, you realize how much you’ve healed and grown, but you still miss that person… I just thought if I could get people to do nice things in her honor, it would be a nice tribute to my mom.” – says Schultz
“Practice random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty.” – Anne Herbert
This gallery contains 17 photos.
by Amy Ippoliti, ToeSox Ambassador
My grandmother used to remind me that when I was young, I would squat on my haunches looking intently at ant mounds in our driveway. I don’t know what exactly captivated me about them, but I’d watch their behavior as they went in and out of their hole, utterly fascinated and amused for hours.
Not much changed when I became an adult. Friends still laugh when I stop in my tracks to point out a perfect flower or a cute cat in someone’s window – almost to the point of being annoying. My boyfriend jokes that I have “rodent-dar” because I always spot the squirrels hiding in the trees when we stroll through the neighborhood.
Times have changed though, and while I still get out on walks, social media and the computer are what capture my attention much of the day. I know I am not alone in feeling inundated with data and news feeds.
During my first trip to Bali in September, I had the opportunity to unplug and do what I love to do: stop, pause, and appreciate beauty and capture it on camera.
In Bali, despite the hustle and bustle of the scooters and traffic, you cannot drive down the street without seeing at least five women pausing during their day to make an offering to a shrine. Balinese women and some men spend much of their time devoted to the process of offering making. As part of their worship they gather flower petals, lime, crackers, and greenery and weave baskets to hold the offerings that are brought to the shrine (or car dash board, on the street, or in doorways) sometimes as often as three times a day.
During the trip I also christened my new Mazzy Sandals so I took a lot of pictures of them in interesting places as I stopped to take it all in!
There is no doubt that the Balinese culture encourages us to pause, take notice and enjoy the passage of time. The photos below are just a few of the many moments I experienced in Bali. I hope you enjoy!
Amy is a yoga teacher, writer, and philanthropist. She is known for her innovative methods to bridge the gap between ancient yoga wisdom and modern day life, helping yoga students “turn up their own volume.” She is also co-founder of 90 Monkeys, an online professional development school for yoga teachers and studios in 43 countries around the globe. www.amyippoliti.com / www.90monkeys.com
Lisa Hirsch, Founder/Owner of The Studio MDR, started an illustrious career in the music industry in 1994 and built a big career - from Artist Relations at Universal Records to being a Product Manager at Virgin Records to traveling on a tour bus. After working a lot, learning a lot, and meeting a lot of interesting people, Lisa was burnt out. During this time she discovered the Lagree Method and developed a new passion. The decision was big, but she made the change and opened her own studio. Below, Lisa shares her advice on how to make a big change.
“If I could tell a new student or friend anything, it would be this: learn to be brave. Being brave is certainly not an easy thing. It is all about moving out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself with new experiences, just as I did when I decided to switch from one longtime career to another.
It is about following your dreams at any stage of your life. Never let anyone tell you something is impossible because as I have learned, if you put your mind to it, you can achieve pretty much anything. We all have moments of despair – moments that make us feel like we just want to give up everything we worked for up until that point (and that is normal).Practice taking a breather in some way – whatever helps bring you back down to earth, relax, and re-focus. Whether it’s a day at the beach, a rewarding workout, or even a little retail therapy, everybody has their own coping mechanisms.
At the end of the day, sometimes you just have to take that leap of faith and pray that the net will appear. If you are confident, focused, and determined - it will.
For those wanting to make a change, take some time and narrow down what you think that change needs to be. Before I decided to open the studio, I wrote a business plan to open a women’s clothing retail shop! I even had a storefront picked out but something steered me more towards fitness. I really had no clue what I was doing when I opened The Studio (MDR). As the old adage goes: when it rains, it pours. I was diagnosed with epilepsy while trying to open the studio and I even had my driver’s license revoked. It was such a difficult time for me and I certainly wanted to give up at times, but despite those feelings, I put my game face on and showed up every day to get that studio open. When that time finally came, I was scared people wouldn’t even show up, but THEY DID! They appeared in such large numbers that now, after only one year, we are expanding and doubling our space.
I learn something new every day and I love it. I feel blessed to be surrounded by such an amazing community that came together to build something from nothing – one that is continuing to grow. Working hard, believing in yourself, and consistently showing up can make miracles happen. It is not easy to take the first step, but once you do, you move closer to those dreams of yours becoming a reality. So dare to dream. Believe in yourself. I already believe in you. Being brave can mean different things to different people. If you embrace an optimistic attitude, there are no wrongs – only rights. Face your fears and challenge them!” – Lisa
Dave’s been a Twitter friend for a while. I enjoy seeing his tweets, especially when he shares photos of his awesome experiences using our products. As I look at the photos, I realize he is a very active guy. I enjoy learning about what motivates and inspires others, so I decided to ask him a few questions. His answers are brilliant, beautiful, and from a place we can all learn. Perhaps you will feel like I did… ready for some great exploration!
What’s your favorite activity and why?
My favorite activity has to remain cycling. I love it for the challenge and the simplicity. I can leave my house and depending on the direction find any type of terrain to explore. To me there is always something new to see along the way and I also find it to be a ‘rolling meditation’. I love cycling for another stranger reason: it taught me to ride hard without having to “win”. A long time ago I realized the competitiveness was edging out the joy. Each year I saw I had to put on more miles than the last, go faster that the previous month. So one year I noticed I was within about 50 miles of a new record, and even with a month or more of riding weather, just stopped. It was a changing point to realize you can get better without letting competition be your driver.
What motivates you?
Dave: Exploration is my motivation. Whether it be reaching high for a mountain summit or reaching deep inside on the mat. There are just so many discoveries waiting and each one is a thrill.
What’s your favorite part of Fall/Winter?
Dave: Winter is turning into my favorite season. Back country snowshoeing or x-sking is the perfect way to get out and just leave everything behind. There is a “cleaness” to the earth you don’t always see at other times – and a beer never tastes as good.
Anything you haven’t tried that you’d you like to?
Dave: There’s not just one thing that’s for sure. A long yoga retreat (at an exotic location). An expedition - like a few weeks climbing in the the Northern Cascades or even Alaska. Surfing. Backpacking New Mexico. Solo cycling across the US.
Dave and ToeSox…his testimonial:
Dave: My first use of ToeSox was of course for yoga. I saw the concept as a winner but I had an alterior motive as well. My town is small and we had no one teaching yoga for 60 miles. When a young yoga teacher, straight from the Sivanada Ashram (CA), came to teach all she could afford was a small room with poor heat and concrete floors. Your Sox were a lifesaver on those winter days.
Thank you Dave for inspiring us to get outside or to our mats for great exploration!
I just returned from a two week trip to Europe. It had been a long time since I had last nurtured my travel bug, so the trip was extremely exciting to plan and to execute. I think everyone should leave the country at least once in their lifetime. Add a place to your bucket list, pin a photo on your dream board, tell your friends where you want to go. Have fun dreaming and then doing… it’s worth it. Here’s why: when you get outside your comfort zone, your horizons (mentally, socially, emotionally, physically) expand. Expansion provides more understanding, and more understanding creates more love and compassion. So wiggle your way into the great unknown.
I gleefully traveled to four countries where I’d never been before: Hungary, Austria, Turkey, and Croatia. While there are countless lessons I learned by leaving the country, I’ll cover just one from each country:
1. Hungary. I was sitting in an empty tram when a woman boarded the car and sat right next to me instead of taking the empty seat on the other side of the car. This was a little confusing for me as I assumed everyone likes their personal space (including me, I guess). After two weeks of welcoming the neighbor and also choosing to be the neighbor, I realized it was fun… and normal. Try it next time you have the opportunity to be close to someone. For example, in a conversation do you square your shoulders to their’s and look them in the eye, or do you stand at an angle with your head turned so you can look away at any moment?
2. Austria. Classical music makes the soul come alive. It’s been a while since I’ve seen an opera or listened to classical music. I just don’t make it a priority like I used to. But in Vienna, the place of Mozart and Strauss, it felt very necessary. One of the best moments I had was the night we attended an orchestra/opera/ballet showcase. I realize I need to take more advantage of the cultural and musical events in my city, many of which are free.
3. Turkey. Cats are everywhere in Istanbul! I couldn’t believe it. I expected restaurant owners to shoo them away, but instead they fed them. I expected signs that said ‘don’t feed the birds’, but instead there was bird feed being sold on the corners. I witnessed a museum security guard taking a break from his duties to play with a stray cat. It reminded me that we are all connected, and animals are a vital part of that story.
4. Croatia. This country was my favorite stop. I learned from the people the beauty of moving on. This country has had such tragic warfare, and it was surreal for me to see the ruins of war that has happened in my lifetime. What stuck out to me, especially in Dubrovnik, was the resilience and kindness of the people. Our kayak tour guide told us that the people just want to put the past behind them and move forward. It put my own little “tragedies” into perspective.
Bonus lesson: Traveling is so much more colorful and comfortable in ToeSox!
Get thousands of people together for a weekend of yoga and music, and you’ll feel a special kind of magic. I recently experienced this magic after spending five days in Lake Tahoe, CA at Wanderlust Festival Squaw Valley. In between my daily yoga classes, I soaked up the sounds of laughter and music; I absorbed the visual maginificance of the moutains; I recognized and felt grateful for the clean, crisp air; and, while the sun was intense, I enjoyed the light it brought and the shadows it casted. At night, my friends and I would enjoy conversation, great food, music, laughter, each other. I was blissed out, loving every moment.
Then on Saturday, I went on a hike lead by Katie Brauer. During the first part of the hike, Katie encouraged us to partner off with a stranger and exchange Wanderlust peak moments – moments where we felt a shift, an AH-HA! I enjoyed my partner and learned about his experience and his interests. We walked and talked for a while, then Katie told us to stop talking for the rest of the hike and walk in silence. The silence triggered a very strong shift inside me. Wanderlust has a constant buzzing of sound and noise – music, OMs, mantras, words. Experiencing the opposite of what was constant soothed a slight anxiousness I hadn’t realized I was feeling. I realized in that moment how much I love the sound of silence.
After the hike, I re-entered the festival feeling more balanced and peaceful just by honoring that silence. Silence I didn’t even know I needed. It’s no surprise too much of anything, tilts the scale and can throw off our balance. Even too much fun at a yoga festival! I’m recognizing other ways to find balance:
If you say Yes all the time, try saying No.
If you exercising vigorously every day, try resting your body for a day.
If you work all the time, try playing for an hour or a weekend.
If music is always on, try driving home in silence.
If you always watch TV, try going for a walk.
If you only do yoga or Pilates, try running or walking.
If you always text, try calling a friend.
If you always read, try writing.
Running is a great way to ground the body, letting the feet strike the earth. It allows us to breath deep, enjoy the moments of adrenaline and sweat, and squash the monkey mind. The beauty of running is that it doesn’t require too much gear. Throw on shorts, a tee, shoes and socks, and go outside.
A recent post in Trail Runner Magazine sorts serious runners into two categories: Trail Runners vs. Road Runners. The article notes, “It’s not unusual to see cross over between trail runners and road runners, a more and more road runners are looking for new adventures on the trails. ” With that in mind, here’s a couple of the funny/true (?) comparisons of the runners you’ll find on the trail vs. the road:
• Road runners show up in snazzy matching outfits and Nike track suits. Trail runners have been mistaken for homeless people.
• Road runners are constantly checking their watches for split times; trail runners check where the sun is in the sky, to see if they need to take out their headlamps.
• Road runners hope they are not overtaken by faster runners; trail runners watch out for mountain lions, rattle snakes, bears or other creatures.
• Road runners check for flat fast courses; trail runners look at elevation charts and the scenery.
• Road marathons might have up to 40,000 runners, start with fireworks and end with bands and balloons; trail races start with, “Ready, Set . . . GO!”
• Road races are meticulously measured and certified; trail runs might be a few miles long, give or take a mile or two.
• Road runners count miles and study average pace; trail runners train by time.
• And finally, both trail runners and road runners like wearing their race T-shirts and gaining bragging rights.
So which type are you?
Audrey Hepburn sure said it best when she noted that “happy girls are the prettiest girls”. It’s true. Happy people are the best looking people. Just the turn of your lips upward and your whole essence changes. There’s a sparkle in the eyes and softness in the face of people who are calm, present and happy. But besides the beauty that exudes from happy people, there are other findings about this positive emotion as listed in Family Health Guide’s 20 Amazing Facts About Happiness. Here a few noteworthy observations:
- If you do 20 minutes of exercise, three days per week for six months, your general feeling of happiness will improve by 10-20%
- Having 100-200 belly laughs a day is the equivalent of a high impact workout, burning off up to 500 calories
- Several studies have shown that a pet can reduce blood pressure and stress, promoting health and happiness
While certain circumstances may be beyond our immediate control, we still get to choose in each moment how we respond. We can choose our mood and, thus, our emotion and outlook. Shift your perspective and your actions just by going outside, turning off the TV, and other Simple Tips to Live Happy, Wild and Free. Be happy, be healthy, and be beautiful.
It’s been said that shoes make the outfit, but could it also be said that shoes make the outlook?
According to a recent article, ”The Psychology of Wearing Flip Flops“ by Linda Wasmer Andrews in Psychology Today, there’s a “deeper meaning of summer’s favorite footwear.” The article shares why with just a simple slip of your foot into the shoe, signals the mind that it’s time to relax.
“Flip-flops are easy. With a simple slide of the foot, you’re ready to go—no laces, buckles, or socks required,” says Erena DiGonis, a licensed psychotherapist and certified health coach in Syosset, N.Y. When the rest of life seems difficult and fraught with responsibilities, flip-flops evoke happy-go-lucky ease.
Recently, researchers at Northwestern University coined the term “enclothed cognition” to describe the systematic influence that clothes have on a wearer’s psyche. Their research showed that volunteers performed better on selective attention tasks when wearing a lab coat, for instance. When donning flip-flops, you are telling yourself that you’re the kind of person who knows how to relax and have fun.
Just as putting on a pair of no-nonsense women’s pumps or men’s wingtips sends a message to the brain that it’s time for work, slipping on flip-flops signals play. “Flip-flops liberate us from formality,” says Debbie Mandel, a stress management specialist and author of Addicted to Stress. They tell us that it’s time for recess.
Debbie Mandel, stress management specialist, followed up the Psychology Today article with a post on Intent.com. Because physical stress results in emotional and mental stress, Mandel recommends keeping a pair of flip flops by your desk at work to help alleviate small physical stressors. She says:
Stress accumulates as it is an inflammatory process which suddenly swells out of control like toes in a closed shoe in the late afternoon on a hot day. When we deal with the little stressors, we are better able to focus and reframe the larger ones which come our way. Pain and discomfort are stressors which often lead to irritability, misunderstanding and conflict. So, put on your flip flops, spread your toes and you will ease on down the road, but stride mindfully as you don’t want to get an abrasion, blister, or banged toe on the journey.
So whether it’s rain or shine, pick a shoe that shows that you’re ready for fun-filled times…even if you’re just staying at home.
The seconds seemed to tick by slowly. The wait was unbearable as we sat patiently until the teacher dismissed us for recess. Then we’d race to the playground - soar on the swings, climb on the monkey bars, and play tag in the field. Playing is fun. But somewhere along our journey, we’ve taken recess out of our daily routine. The good news is that recess is what we make of it.
Just because we grow older doesn’t mean we have to grow up (all the way anyway). Being a kid was fun because we were expected to play. Our parents would encourage us to “go play outside” and ”go play with friends”. We colored, danced, sang, imagined, ran, laughed. What’s stopping you today from playing?
Be a big kid and pretend…
A yoga mat is a grassy hill to roll down…
The Pilates cadillac is your jungle gym…
A morning run is a game of tag…
A hike is a climb to the castle to save a princess…
Break for recess and let yourself play.
Jen Healy (pictured) plays everyday on geometric bar structures that form a modern “playground”. The Quantum Playground strengthens and stretches the body. Jen wears grip gloves so it’s all fun and never a slip.