Category Archives: Living Life and Yoga, Too

The Who, The What

One week of yoga teacher training is over and, my goodness, it was a busy week! Here’s the who and the what of my last week.

The Who: There are two teachers and one assistant who is training to be a yoga teacher trainer, as well as eight female students in my training course:

*a 16 year old online high school student

*someone who is training for an Ironman

*a former professional ballerina

*a hair stylist

*a girl who recently moved from Mexico City and just got her green card

*a school speech pathologist

*a woman her owns her own sustainable furniture company

*and me (How do I define myself? A former teacher and wannabe writer?)

 

The What: Each day starts with at least two hours of practice, sometimes three. During the practice, we’re learning accurate alignment and how to correctly do all of the asanas. Each week has a different focus with this week being on standing poses. For the rest of the day, we’re either learning the philosophy behind yoga (and no, it’s not a religion, but a spiritual practice), human anatomy (so many damn muscles to memorize!!), posture labs where we find the exact way to hold asanas (or poses) and how to adjust students in them, and lastly, we have teaching practice – a time to try out our own teaching skills. Class ends at 4:15 each day, but there are hours of homework writing or reading about each of the above parts of the training. By the time 10 o’clock rolls around, I am exhausted, but feel completely ready and excited each morning to see what’s up next!

Yoga Teacher Training…what’s that??

Today I leave for California. While there, I’ll be taking a month-long yoga teacher training course at YogaWorks in Costa Mesa, California – right in the heart of Orange County. When not at classes, I can indulge myself at Laguna, Newport, or Huntington Beach, visit DisneyLand, see the giant Hollywood sign, or drive an hour-and-a-half to San Diego. While this sounds like a vacation (and I’m sure it’ll turn into one Friday night-Sunday night), I’ll actually be quite busy taking classes.

Come August 31, I’ll have earned my 200-hour certificate which means I can teach at smaller studios around the world. There is such thing as a 500-hour cert and people who attain those can teach at major studios and can also teach others how to be a yoga instructor. Throughout the next month, I’ll be taking classes from 7:15-4:15 every day, as well as a multitude of yoga classes outside of the training. In the end, I’ll essentially be “doing yoga” for 200 hours in a month! There are training courses where you can attend only on the weekends, but doing this would take months and months, which frankly I don’t have. Without a steady income at the moment, I need to get done with schooling as soon as possible so that I can start my new adventure. Doing this intensive training course means that what takes most people weekend upon weekend upon weekend, I’ll be done with in 4 weeks and I’ll be doing it in California!!

Will I teach yoga when I’m finished? At this point, I really hope I can find places to do it. I’d like to combine my editing and writing efforts for freelance positions then teach yoga at a studio (or studios) all in the comforts of Chicago. That’s my plan now…who knows what’ll happen come September. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to work 7-4 every day?

I’m excited (albeit a bit nervous) for the coming weeks mostly because this is a dream that I’ve had for a long time and I’m taking my destiny into my own hands to do something that I love. My moving to Hong Kong was my first step in becoming me, this is the next. Here’s to a great month continuing to figure out my life!

Sometimes, Growing Up Is Easy To Do

For the past 5 years I’ve lived in 2 polar opposite places: Ottawa, IL and Hong Kong.  These locations could not be any more different.  Ottawa with 19,000 people, a whole lotta townies, few restaurants, as well as a Wal-Mart and 2 strip clubs that welcome you into town. Hong Kong has 7,000,000 inhabitants from the world over, more restaurants than you could count, as well as dance clubs and bars galore.  Even though these cities are so different, they both helped me to grow into the adult and the person that I am today.  Ottawa taught me how to be an adult: renting, bills, utilities, making small talk, being independent, grocery shopping, working, taking care of a car, my own well-being, and making friends.  When I moved to Hong Kong, I was already an adult who knew the basics of being an adult, but my life lessons expanded by moving away from every single person I knew.  Hong Kong made me, well, me. It helped me figure out who I am as a person; it taught me lessons on how to be happy, how to make genuine friends, find what I consider fun, and how to live on my own (really, really on my own).  Ottawa made me an adult, Hong Kong made me Ashley. And to have had both experiences in such a short amount of time, makes me really grateful for both of them. I went to Ottawa today and got misty-eyed about all the things I missed about it and even though that list is short and mostly contains the people I like, Ottawa was good to me. I’m not sad I left there, but glad I took the chance to be me. If I hadn’t left Ottawa, I may have never found out that cosmos are my fave drink, dated a Brit (or 12), gone on a safari, made friends from other countries, danced ‘til 5am, or lived in a shoebox-sized apartment. So, thank you, Ottawa for making me want to leave so that I could find Hong Kong. And, thank you, Hong Kong for making me want to leave to find out what else is out there in the world and to help me keeping finding, well, me.

…country girl…

“Brother, she’s all country

…to her down home roots

…from the song she plays.

That’s the way she was born and raised.

She ain’t afraid to stay country.”

Lyrics modified from “She’s Country” by Jason Aldean

 

I’ve been home now for over two weeks and each new day – and sometimes hour – brings about a revelation with something that I love about living in the country.  Yes, Sycamore is surrounded by cornfields as far as the eye can see in some places, but with a population of over 17,000 people, we are far from destitute. It is, though, a great little country town with nice people, big houses, yards with grass (!!), and, most importantly, my family.

1.    Driving- While public transportation in Hong Kong is world-class, I really just love driving my car.  You can turn on the radio (see #2), go at your own speed, and because it’s the country, there is a lot of open road with no one in the way (minus a tractor or two haha).

2.    The radio- Country music is what I’ve lived my life by for the last 13 years (when I was 16, I hated listening to the same songs over and over again on the radio, so I forced myself to listen to country stations and I fell in love). I still listen to the pop stations or oldies occasionally, but having the choice of channels, especially in the car…and in English…is great. The best part? Singing in my car at the top of my lungs and grooving to the music. Singing and dancing while listening to my MP3 player and walking through the crowded streets? Not possible!

3.    Food- Cookie dough, bacon, frozen pizzas, oh my! Yes, I’ll probably gain a bunch of weight back, but it’ll taste damn good!

4.    Laundry- Having a dryer is unexpectedly amazing. Even though my rooftop was a fine place to hang out clothes to dry (and to have a glass of wine), it certainly wasn’t ideal with the rain, sun, and humidity mucking up my plans to do laundry.

5.    Refrigerators- Not that my fridge is monster-size or anything, but it’s big enough to hold a gallon of milk and that’s really all I need! Living off of a mini-fridge was hard enough in college when I had a cafeteria to eat in, let alone when I’m an adult who enjoys cooking.

6.    The people- Of course my friends and my students in HK were nice, but they were sometimes the only people who would smile at me all day long. Waitresses? No! Taxi drivers? No! Patrons on the MTR? Definitely not! Everyone (okay, the majority) is so nice here. I missed the friendly disposition of the bankers and the waiters in my small town; sure the latter are working for a tip, but at least they smile and act like they want to be bringing me a pineapple margarita.

7.    Family- This should probably be at #1, but having my family (and friends) nearby is definitely a perfect reason to be at home in the country.

8.    Big houses with big yards- There may be a drought this summer, but when the rain starts pouring and the grass gets greener, I am going to love my yard. Hong Kong is notorious for weedy grass sporting “Do Not Walk” signs at the edge. With luscious, soft grass next to my parents’ 2-story house, there’s almost no need to leave!

Not everything in Sycamore is perfect and there’s definitely stuff I miss about Hong Kong, so stay tuned to find out what has made tears prickle in my eyes and what made my heart sad I’m not in HK anymore.  

I vow

I vow to be more open-minded when I move back home.  Hong Kong has taught me a valuable lesson in opening myself to the possibilities that something else great, better, or even fantastic can be waiting around the corner, if only I’m willing to open my eyes to see the light.  Tonight, I went out for drinks with a fellow Sassy blogger whom I’ve known for a few months; besides chatting at our writer events, we’ve never spent time together outside of Sassy.  We had a great time sipping on raspberry martinis and chatting about life; now with only 2 weeks left, I’m sad that she and I never agreed to meet up sooner.

I’ve met all of my friends in Hong Kong through a quirky girl with whom I used to work.  None of my closest friends are random girls I just went up to and said, “Hi, I’m Ashley, let’s be friends.”  Okay, so that’s a ridiculous way to meet people, but how hard is it to go up to someone you’ve never met before and make conversation?  Apparently really, really hard because almost no one I know does it…except in Hong Kong.

Continue reading I vow

Clarity

As mentioned in my last blog post, I’ve been having a hard time deciding where my life is headed…then a bit of clarity set in:

My alarm went off at 5:45am in anticipation of having a third interview with a school in Seattle.  It wasn’t an ideal job or an ideal place because of its proximity from my family, but it was a job something I am in need of.  While waiting for Skype to ring, I opened up my email and lo-and-behold there was an email from my ex-boyfriend—yes, the boyfriend whom I’d fallen in love with, had ideas of future grandeur, and dreamed would email me someday.  There it was, unopened, but full of possibilities.  Maybe he was emailing to say he was getting married to someone else, maybe he was emailing to say he wanted to marry me, maybe he just wanted to check in on me.  The latter proved true (or at least I think so…) and I responded normally, acting as if my heart wasn’t beating out of my chest and as if I didn’t draft the first email begging him to take me back.

6 o’clock rolled around and I continued a conversation I’d been having for a few weeks when the final question was asked: Are you still interested in this position?  Unbeknownst to my conscious mind, the answer came out of my mouth without hesitation, “I think the school is great, and the position would be great, but I’m not sure Seattle is for me.  I really want to be close to my family and that flight is just too far…but I love your school.”  The last bit quickly escapes in a bit of a panic.  Even though it’s not the answer she probably wanted to hear, it was the honest truth.  Though my hopes did get raised with the email I’d opened 15 minutes earlier, it played no part in my answer…I promise!

On my way to school, I began reading a yoga magazine I’d picked up from the studio and it featured a few articles about yoga in schools.  That bubbling feeling you get when something is exciting emerged and it made me start thinking about how wonderful it would be to be a yoga teacher and that maybe in the fall I could do yoga teacher training instead of elementary school teaching. 

Later in the day I received a reply to my ex-email asking for a Skype session.  And while I was sure he wasn’t going to ask for my hand in marriage over Skype, I was eager to hear what he’d have to say.  This enthusiasm bubbled over to me perusing the internet for yoga teacher training; first in Chicago, then opportunities in Spain and Greece came up—how amazing would that be?! 

After my answer to the Seattle’s school question and my profoundly good day, the clarity set in about what I want to do when I get back to the States.  Maybe someday I’ll go back to teaching, but this school year I’m going to sit it out; I’m going to find out what else can make me happy.  I need to take this chance and try it out…it certainly is scary as hell to not have a plan, especially for my Type A personality, but I’m psyched about what else is out there.

Since then, I’ve been offered the Seattle job and turned it down; had a Skype date with my ex-boyfriend and, no, there is no proverbial ring on my finger, but we had a nice time catching up; and I started the search for yoga training institutes in the US.  My life is going to work out, even if it isn’t what I’d planned.