Gone too long.

Hi all,

I’ve been gone too long.  Many apologies.  All too often, I struggle to maintain balance in life.  And recently, I’ve been working extra hard to maintain balance in my life despite working more than desired.  While I’ve been up to some really cool things this summer, I have really let my blog and my Masters Project fall off my radar.  But, I’m back at it.  So many ideas scribbled on post-its and stuck in my notebook.  Fodder for many posts to come.  In the meantime, I want to share what I’ve been up to this summer.  In June, I took trips with my parents.  Belize with my mama, and Alaska with pops.  You’ve had a chance to see a little bit from those trips with 2 of my previous posts (see here and here).  But, photo round-ups of both of those trips will be the next posts up.  Since then, I’ve decided to stay put in my beloved Minneapolis to earn some cash, spend some quality time with friends, focus on my fitness, and really devote time to a few things that I’ve been really wanting to learn to do for quite some time.   So, I’ve tried very hard to put some boundaries on my work schedule…although, it’s hard to say no to the money and to a boss or co-workers in need…therefore, it’s not always gone swimmingly.  But, I’ve paid off my credit card debt from recent travel splurges and am saving up for a few upcoming trips while maintaining a really solid lifestyle.  So, no complaints here.

The fountain at the Walker Sculpture Garden, one of my favorite spots to meander on a nice day.

The fountain at the Walker Sculpture Garden, one of my favorite spots to meander on a nice day.  Photo taken by Steve Walker, a friend whose collection of photographs are really worth checking out.

With a relatively normal work schedule, I’ve had a decent amount of free time to enjoy my friends and this city, a city that really comes to life in the summer months.  Spontaneous meet-ups at the “beach” after work or a drink on the stoop at sundown.  Sunday morning jaunts to the farmers market.  A music show here; an art fair there.  Previously, I structured my life so that when I was in town, I worked so much that I had none left over for friends.  Then, I would play hard when I traveled, which was often.  It has been really nice to have time to nurture those relationships that I claim to cherish so much.

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The Minneapolis Farmer’s Market on a weekend. It can be a bit overwhelming because of it’s size, but I love the energy here. Delicious food, fresh produce, a few entertainers, and a ton of great people watching.

Summers in Minneapolis are chock full of outdoor movies and concerts, festival, and art fairs.  People come out of the woodwork and soak in all the warmth and sun while it lasts.

Summers in Minneapolis are chock full of outdoor movies and concerts, festival, and art fairs. People come out of the woodwork and soak in all the warmth and sun while it lasts.  This photograph was taken down at Saint Anthony Main, a neat little area along the river across from Downtown.

Nothing like receiving a text at 530pm inviting you to bring your dinner to the beach and chill out waiting for sunset.  Not a more relaxing way to unwind after work.  Photograph taken at Cedar Lake.

Nothing like receiving a text at 530pm inviting you to bring your dinner to the beach and chill out waiting for sunset. Not a more relaxing way to unwind after work. Photograph taken at Cedar Lake.

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Pre-show drinks at the Dakota. Kate is truly flummoxed at why I’d want to photograph my cocktail…but it’s like a little fish bowl full of deliciousness! Why wouldn’t I?!!

This isn't a high quality photograph, and it's actually a year old.  But, I just saw this group live a week or so ago, and I just love them.  Les Nubians.  These women know how to groove, and they are totally inspiring.

This isn’t a high quality photograph, and it’s actually a year old. But, I just saw this group live a week or so ago, and I just love them. Les Nubians. These women know how to groove, and they are totally inspiring.

One of my closest friend’s 15 month old daughter has finally stopped acting like she has never seen me before, which comes with it’s pros and cons.  Now, she just looks at me like, “Please don’t waste my time with your silly jokes and ridiculous banter.”  But, she does know that I will not play the game where I pick up things that she throws on the floor.  And, her laugh is adorable.  So, I’ll call that a win.

Too cute for words.

Too cute for words.

Having a bit of a routine has also been a real pro when it comes to maintaining any motivation to keep fit.  I’ve been trying to round out my workouts, focusing on activities that are fun and push me out of my comfort zone.  Despite my fear of heights, a few friends have gotten me on the climbing wall at our local climbing gym, Vertical Endeavors.  Initially, I was a bit terrified and had no trust in myself or the equipment holding me up.  But, as I became more comfortable, it became apparent that my real issue is my belief in my own capabilities.  Luckily, I have amazingly supportive…and logical friends.  As I struggled to reach for a hold a bit farther away than my liking, Kate says, “Go for it.  Seriously, what’s going to happen?  These are the possible outcomes.  You are going to reach for it and make it.  You are going to reach for it, miss and fall.  Or, you are going to let go and come down, which, my friend, is the same as falling.”  Point taken.  Since, if you can get me to the gym, you know I’ll be pushing myself.  I’m not great.  I don’t climb like a champ.  But, I don’t stop until I’ve reached the top or my forearms get pumped to the point of dysfunction.  When it comes to my personal growth, I’ll call that a win too.

I love being welcomed to scenes like this when I'm jogging around Lake Calhoun.  So peaceful despite the buzz of activity as everyone else soaks up the same scene.

I love being welcomed to scenes like this when I’m jogging around Lake Calhoun. So peaceful despite the buzz of activity as everyone else soaks up the same scene.

Our weather is all over the map.  But, there is nothing like a warm, sunny day by the lakes.  Living just a half mile from Calhoun, I love to take a quick jog over and by the lake every now and then.  Get a little fresh air and people watching in all at once.  Cardio is not my favorite, so I have been trying to mix in workouts with Lisa Van Ahn.  I have to put a plug in for this amazing woman for so many reasons.  One, she is amazingly supportive and positive.  She wants you to have fun, but she wants you to achieve your best.  I respond to this type of balance in a coach.  Also, her workouts are as fun as I think cardio and circuit workouts can be.  She has regular classes at Om Collective, but she also does a monthly outdoor Boot Camp at different parks and lakes in the area, incorporating the features of the park to make each workout unique, and even throws in challenges with cash prizes sometimes.  She might be the only person who is ever successful in getting me out of bed before 6 in the morning.  One last little plug for this woman, who is always an inspiration for me…check out her website for free workout music mixes, free workouts, and frequent inspirational blog posts.  Trust me…she’s fun.

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Lisa Van Ahn’s summer boot camp. The Walker Sculpture Garden is my favorite. It’s fun to be sent into the different sections to do different exercises. It breaks up the workout a bit and is refreshing. Photo taken by Dave Puente.

Yoga.  Exploring yoga.  Pushing myself to improve in my yoga practice.  Historically, I get lazy in my yoga practice and do just enough to keep my back happy.  But, this summer, I am starting to have more fun with it.  When I can, I join a good friend and excellent yoga teacher, Betsy Christensen (no website yet), in her yoga practice.  Luckily, she likes to do yoga outdoors…and likes to end her practice with her legs up a tree!  (FYI:  You can find her at Locally Grown Yoga on Mondays from 6-7 pm at Growing Lots Urban Farm at 1915 22nd E, MPLS.)

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Legs up a tree with Betsy Christensen. My favorite pose. Bryant Square Park, Minneapolis.

But, also, I have explored a bit of AcroYoga and Aerial Yoga, 2 varieties I’ve always thought too advanced for me.  No, this is not so.  All you need is a little body awareness, some desire, and an experienced teacher.  After a 4 week course with AcroYoga Minneapolis, I’ve never felt so capable and empowered.  AcroYoga is hard.  Your whole body is engaged and hard at work.  But, it’s an awesome feeling to be sitting in throne one minute, to be flying the next, then to be hanging there getting a back massage.  It’s even more awesome to learn to and realize that you can base another human without dropping them on their head!  Fun photos here.

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Watching our instructors move through a series of poses at the Introduction to AcroYoga series I attended with AcroYoga Minneapolis.  Photo taken by…hmmm, not sure.  Credit given to AcroYoga Minneapolis!

Grainy photo but awesome moment in AcroYoga for me.  Shoulder stand.  So empowering.  Photo taken by Qassandra of Minneapolis Acro with Dan & Cassandra.

Grainy photo but awesome moment in AcroYoga for me. Shoulder stand. So empowering. Photo taken by Qassandra of Minneapolis Acro with Dan & Cassandra.

Aerial yoga looks so much fancier than it really is.  After a workshop at the Yoga Center of Minneapolis, I realized how attainable it was…and how ah-mazing it is to be able to let gravity do it’s work while you just hang from the fabric hammock in a variety of poses.  Your body feels amazing afterwards, a testament to all the proclaimed benefits of this type of practice.

Hanging out at Aerial Yoga, stretching out in a way that I can not imagine obtaining any other way!

Hanging out at Aerial Yoga, stretching out in a way that I can not imagine obtaining any other way!

Is this all, you ask?  Ah, hells no!  I go all on or all off.  One or the other!  I’ve never been a shy one when it comes to the dance floor.  Although, some would say that I could afford a little restraint in this arena!  But, when it comes to Latin American dancing, or really any dancing that requires me to express any sort of sensuality or to follow the instructions of another human being, let alone a man…whew, that’s a challenge.  But, I’ve been wanting to learn how to salsa dance for years.  So, after a recent trip which relit the inspiration, I decided to make an effort to actually learn this summer.  It’s definitely come with its challenges.  But, who knew it would be so addictive!  I find myself at a dance class or club most days of the week these days.  I’ve always had rhythm.  It was the moves that I was lacking.  But, now after starting to learn salsa, I’m finding myself at bachata, zouk, samba, and hip hop classes.  It’s so much fun; it’s a good workout; and, it’s outside of my comfort zone.  3 of my goals for the summer…met.  Efficiency at its finest.

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Photo taken by Trandy Blue Photography at a special event at Social Dance Studio, one of my favorite places to take salsa and bachata.  I have to recognize Leo too.  He’s not at Social Dance Studio, but he’s a great dance instructor who is teaching me zouk and samba.

Over the past several months, I have been studying spanish in my free time, practicing when I can during my adventures abroad.  Having not traveled anywhere spanish speaking over the past 5 months, I’ve had to really try to find time to practice this summer.  Weekly lessons with Marcela at Abra Palabra are so valuable; she keeps me accountable and attentive.  The painful task of reading articles from La Jornada, a Mexican newspaper, written in spanish…what’s become my weekly homework.  Studying from online sources, such as Señor Jordan‘s Spanish Videos and BBC’s Mi Vida Loca, an online tutorial based in a drama series.  Spending spare minutes here and there quizzing myself on my Iphone with DuoLingo.  Anything to keep the spanish language somewhat present in my mind.

Not an uncommon sighting at my place in the evenings, especially the night before a spanish class when I'm cramming in everything I've neglected to review from the week before!!!

Not an uncommon sighting at my place in the evenings, especially the night before a spanish class when I’m cramming in everything I’ve neglected to review from the week before!!!

Without plans to travel for another month and having already been home for 2 months since my last trip, I get a bit antsy here and there.  But, it’s been really nice to have some routine, be able to spend time with friends (and my cats!), and to focus on exploring activities I’ve been wanting to do for ages.  What’s to come?  Well, I’m going to add some meditation and african dance to the mix…and keep doing what I’m doing now.  I need to spend some time really working on and completing my Master’s Project.  Trips?  Well, of course.  Aside from trips home to visit family and close friends for the holidays and a trip out to D.C. to spend time with some of my closest friends (and their children I barely know because I’m the worse auntie ever), I have trips to Trinidad & Tobago, Hawaii, and Panama on the books for the next several months (October, January, and February, respectively).  On days when work is just too much and I think my soul has been sucked from my being, I remind myself how lucky I am to have a profession that allows me to lead such an amazing life.  I have so much to look forward to over the next several months.  And, let’s be honest.  Most days, work ain’t so shabby either.  La vida es buena…la mayoría.

So excited to reconnect with these ladies in D.C. in just a few weeks!  Some of my bestests, who I've just realized that I have not seen since the weekend this photo was taken...1 year ago...insanity!

So excited to reconnect with these ladies in D.C. in this weekend! Some of my bestests, 2 of  whom I’ve just realized that I have not seen since the weekend this photo was taken…almost 1 year ago…insanity!  Photo taken by Steve Walker.

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