100 Day Challenge

Inspired by writer Suleika Jaouad and The Isolation Journals, I am embarking on a 100 day challenge. I am keeping it very simple and staying curious to see where it will lead. While I already take daily walks with my pup, my goal for the next 100 days (from today until July 9th) is to keep an eye out for beauty and capture it. Just on my phone, I plan to add it to an album to keep track of my progress. Maybe I will turn it into a hard copy book, maybe I will choose one photo a week to paint or make a collage of multiple photos. My hope is that by taking one photo each day reminds me to keep an eye out for the beauty in the world and build on it when I have the time.

To stay accountable, I have put a reminder in my calendar so that I remember this is an ongoing activity and it doesn’t get pushed away. I will do my best to report back and let it be a prompt for blog posts in the future.

This is my photo from today. I love the delicate pink streaks in this flower. And the brown or imperfect parts make it real. The blooms this time of year make my walks so enjoyable.

Looking for the beauty, inspiring more creativity. That is the goal for the next 100 days.

Is anyone else on a 100 day challenge? Done this before? Share your experience in the comments, I would love to hear how it went.

Wordle.

*Screenshot of my Wordle a few weeks ago, when I just couldn’t figure it out…

Wordle. This little game has added new joy to my morning routine. Not just because its fairly easy and quick to play (here’s a run down of the game if you are not familiar) but because since I started playing, my mom, sisters and high school aged daughters and nieces are all on a group chat where we share our scores each morning. I laugh when Natalie or Siena have done the Wordle at midnight the night before, that will never be me, my mind does not work well that late. I love that Micheli is always the first one in the morning to share her score. I am thrilled when Nadia chimes in with her score, but I am pretty sure she has our chat muted, but I know it brings joy to my Mom that she is playing a fun game with her family each day. And it makes me laugh to annoy my sister when I “love” all the text results as they come in.

We’ll often curse the game and ourselves for taking so long or not getting it at all, which was the case in this photo, I blamed my failed game on lack of caffeine. I played the game out of order in my normal routine for the morning. I won’t do that again!

I read one article that called it yoga for the brain, I love that metaphor, not just because I love yoga too, but because it’s a gentle way to exercise the brain and in our case it also connects us to family that are far away.

Not Perfect… But Ok

I set up my mat and blocks and waited until 10am rolled around. I was excited to be teaching my first, online, at home yoga class for the employees at Expedia. 10:15 passed and as it got to be 10:20 I realized no one was coming to my thirty minute online class. While preparing for my classes, I had been drawn to a meditation practice I often fall back on, the Maitri or Loving Kindness meditation. With my mat and space set up, I figured this was a great opportunity to take a stab at the online offerings I was hoping to post on my website.

I sat on my blanket, turned on video mode on my iPad and away we went. The sound and video quality are not great, but the idea is for it to be simple, simple for me to create and simple for others to watch and practice. The biggest mistake I made was that I told my viewers to get comfortable for a short five minute meditation. Rookie mistake. Since I had never done this on screen before, I wasn’t really paying attention to time, I figured it wouldn’t take long. As I came to a close, my video was a little over 12 minutes.

Ironically, when I viewed the video after, I was completely distracted by how orange my face looked. After a week in Palm Springs, my face was a few shades tanner than usual, but my neck and lower body did not get as much sun. I was automatically self conscious of my appearance, the exact opposite messaging I was trying to convey in my meditation.

In the end, my film making daughter helped me edit out my turning on and off the camera, we set it to a black and white filter to even out the tone of my skin and I apologized in the video and now in this message that while I said it was 5 minutes it was actually 12. It’s not perfect, but its okay. The messaging, the meditation and the moments of peace are worth all the challenges that came with getting it all set up. I am giving myself some compassion for my first time.

If you have 12 minutes (not 5) take a look at the video, you can find it here on my YouTube channel which I hope to add more videos to. Or you can access it via my yoga website: www.kathygorohoffyoga.com.

I would love any and all feedback, let me know what you liked, what you didn’t and what you like to see more of!

Stay light and joyful…

Photo Credit: Andrew – Flashback to light and joyful days, December 2015, full moon off the coast of Cuba in the Gulf of Mexico

We had a full moon this week. I shared this passage from the Power Path with my class on Wednesday, “Known as the snow moon, this full moon is much about balance between being and doing, between the masculine and the feminine, between being serious and disciplined and light and joyful.”

During my break this month, I am embracing the idea of balancing between being and doing. It seems I am always in the mode of doing more. Getting more done. Trying to be enough. When we are able to balance between both these ideas, adding in more fun and free time among our serious time helps to add in more optimism, gratitude, community and support which are all themes around this full moon.

One of my favorite and relaxing past times is reading. More specifically, listening to audiobooks provides an opportunity to tune into a new world and in some cases, with the books I am listening to, hear the fun and interesting stories by someone I am curious about. I love most memoirs read by the authors, most recently I have enjoyed memoirs by: Matthew McConaughey, Will Smith, Kal Penn and this week, Rob Lowe. Rob and I had a lovely week, running with my pup, driving around running errands, getting chores done and just resting and reminiscing on all the great movies of my youth; The Outsiders, St. Elmo’s Fire and About Last Night and then moving into one of my favorite shows of all time The West Wing. Which I am now rewatching over twenty years after its release. The show is smart and funny and reminds me of my good friend, Ron, who we lost in 2021. He and I would watch the show back in the day and if we didn’t watch it together we would report back later in the week about it. Ron was a victim of the pandemic. Not Covid, but from isolation, which I learned this week in my yoga teacher training (Yoga for Healthy Aging) that isolation and loneliness can lead to an increased link to cardiovascular disease. While this isn’t exactly what happen to Ron, isolation did play a part in his suffering. It still makes me sad I never got to properly say goodbye to my friend, watching this show brings back great memories of our friendship.

This full moon and this month is providing me the opportunity to relax, connect to the past and remember what is important and what I am grateful for; family, friends and free time. This blog might be a bit rambling and all over the place today, but my point of it all is to remember to stay light and joyful and connect with others.

So, let’s connect! Tell me how are you staying joyful in your free time? What are you watching? What books are you reading or listening to?

February ReFresh

I am giving myself a little break in February. First, I have decided to pause my yoga classes on Monday mornings. I am teaching a number of other classes in the week and the early mornings on Monday have been weighing me down. While I love seeing the beautiful faces of my regular students, I need to give myself more time in the morning to ease into the week. I am still undecided if I will start back up in March. Stay tuned.

I am also giving myself a little break from my memoir. As some of you know, my family and I took a cross country adventure six years ago. While we traveled I journaled and when we returned I decided to write a memoir about our trip. I started slowly when we returned and over the past three years I have finished the manuscript and taken a ton of classes at the Hugo House to refine the manuscript. Now I am in the editing phases and trying to create a proposal to pitch to agents and publishers. I realize this is a challenging business and have felt like I have been driving around in circles for a few months without any focus on where I am actually going. So I am giving myself a break from the whole process for the month. No editing. No drafting proposals. No researching agents. Just letting it go for a bit.

Instead I am going to try and be more creative in other areas. I am taking myself on field trips, this week I went to the Van Gogh Immersive Exhibit. I am also trying to do things out of my comfort zone, so I went alone. I am going to pull out my paint by numbers and my watercolor notebooks. I will do my best to write on the blog, but you might see more poetry or fiction, maybe I will share some of the art I create.

The idea is to invoke a bit more of my creative side, pull in the qualities of the goddess Saraswati. Since the beginning of the year I have been enrolled in a yoga teacher training class focus on finding our winter dharma using the principles of Ayurveda. This week’s class focused on the goddess Saraswati, the Hindu goddess of knowledge, music, art, speech, wisdom, and learning. My goal this month, instead of beating myself up for not working on my book or telling myself my edits aren’t good enough, instead, I am going to sit quietly, call on the wisdom of Saraswati and give myself the freedom to create whatever comes up.

In Honor of Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh was an amazing poet and an influential Zen master, he died this week at 95. His poetry and writings are inspiring, below is one of my favorites.

Poem by: THICH NHAT HANH

Our true home is in the present moment.

To live in the present moment is a miracle.

The miracle is not to walk on water.

The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment,

To appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.

Peace is all around us-

In the world and in nature –

And within us –

In our bodies and our spirits.

Once we learn to touch this peace,

We will be healed and transformed.

It is not a matter of faith;

It is a matter of practice.

“Nhat Hanh taught that you don’t have to spend years on a mountaintop to benefit from Buddhist wisdom. Instead, he says, just become aware of your breath, and through that come into the present moment, where everyday activities can take on a joyful, miraculous quality. If you are mindful, or fully present in the here and now, anxiety disappears and a sense of timelessness takes hold, allowing your highest qualities, such as kindness and compassion, to emerge.” Time Magazine

Self-Observation without Judgement

I wanted to share this poem that I offered in my yoga classes this week. It’s a beautiful reminder of how we might move through the world, using mindfulness, to observe ourselves without a harsh and critical eye. It also ties in perfectly to one of my words for the year: Compassion.

My suggestion for some self-observation combined with some self-care: Read this poem, then lie on your back (like our final resting pose in yoga, Savasana) or any comfortable position, find stillness and take 10 deep breaths and offer yourself some deep love.

Self-Observation Without Judgment By: Danna Faulds

Release the harsh and pointed inner
voice. it’s just a throwback to the past,
and holds no truth about this moment.

Let go of self-judgment, the old,
learned ways of beating yourself up
for each imagined inadequacy.

Allow the dialogue within the mind
to grow friendlier, and quiet. Shift
out of inner criticism and life
suddenly looks very different.

i can say this only because I make
the choice a hundred times a day to release the voice that refuses to
acknowledge the real me.

What’s needed here isn’t more prodding toward perfection, but
intimacy – seeing clearly, and
embracing what I see.

Love, not judgment, sows the
seeds of tranquility and change.

2022: Hope, Dedication & Compassion

*Photo credit: Siena – Snowy Christmas Morning*

It’s a new year. And while it might feel like we have been stuck in the same story for the past two years, the new calendar can bring hope and possibilities. The past few years, I have moved away from making resolutions and instead focus on a word (or words) that help me stay focused for the year. This year my words are Hope, Dedication and Compassion.

First, I am hopeful for health in the new year for my family, my friends and the whole country. I am hopeful we will move on from this virus. As we move into the third year dealing with it, I want to find something else to talk about, I want to let go of worry and concerns. Predictions and number of cases and hospitalizations, I want to find something else to read about in the morning news.

I am hopeful that this year I will find dedication and focus for the projects that are important to me. I will also give myself a break and compassion when things don’t always go according to the plans I set. Being flexible is also just as important as being dedicated.

I am hopeful my daughter will find the right school for next year. I am dedicated to helping her find her way and also stepping out of her way. I am scared, nervous and excited all at the same time for for her. I can’t imagine what it will feel like to have her space become empty. I know she will thrive and do amazing things, but I also know she will have struggles that I won’t be able to help with. I will have compassion for myself and her when things get hard for both of us.

I am hopeful about the changes to come. I am hopeful that the story will change and we will have new topics to discuss. I am hopeful that there will be adventures, travel and connection without the burden of disease or worry before, during or after.

I will remain hopeful for the future, dedicated to the practice and compassionate for myself and others no matter the outcome.

Happy Holidays to YOU!

Tis the season to be running around busy, trying to get it all done. I mentioned in my last post that I am trying to enjoy the season, relax and take it all in. One of the things I do enjoy about the holidays is giving. While I might pack my schedule shopping and cooking, I try and remember that the end result is something that does bring me joy and honestly, the cooking and wandering the stores for that something special is also enjoyable, if I can do it on my own schedule. The main thing I am trying to remember is to take care of myself, if one day I feel busy, overwhelmed and in constant motion, I am learning to plan the next day at home, with less to do. This is how I make it through the holidays.

And in an act of self-care, I am posting today to say Happy Holidays and see you in the New Year. I haven’t been posting as consistently as I’d planned, but I hope to add a weekly post once we arrive in the New Year and the holidays have settled. For now, I am taking the rest of the month off and will start back fresh in 2022.

I hope you all have a wonderful season, however you celebrate, making sure to find joy in the simple moments and taking care of yourself!

Beat the Blues this Holiday Season

*Photo Credit: Real Simple – another great article re: holiday stress

I was browsing through some of my ​older blogs today and came across an article I wrote for my blog and Red Tricycle a few years ago. The concept was a letter to myself over the holidays, a reminder that I actually do enjoy the holidays as long as I don’t over do it. While I am not planning on doing another Whole 30 at the new year and our dog is much more mellow now, I thought I would repost it here because most of it is a great reminder as Thanksgiving and the holiday season approaches… 

Around mid-November every year I start to get a little anxious about the holiday season. Maybe it is the massive amount of family birthdays that fall during the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays, possibly it is the consumerism that is blown overboard in the world around us and likely it could be due to the overscheduling that comes in the upcoming two months. But this year I am vowing to take a different approach to the holidays and for Red Tricycle this week I have written myself a letter to remind myself of how I would like to participate and enjoy the holiday festivities this year.

Letter to myself over the holidays: (November 16th, 2016)

Dear Self,

I know this is a crazy time of year for you, but I want you to remember a few important things as this holiday season approaches. Even though this time of year between Thanksgiving and Christmas can be very busy and you have eight family birthdays (including your own) starting before Thanksgiving and ending mid-January, try and remember why we celebrate – you are grateful for your amazing family, you feel blessed to have so many people around you to celebrate with and don’t forget that every day with these people is a blessing.

Yes, the kids are constantly asking for the new toy or drone or giga ball, but instead of getting frustrated with their desire for more things, find the joy in your children’s excitement and love for celebrating the holidays.

Even when you get tired and worn out, don’t forget traditions, (cutting down the tree, Advent calendar, Santa Brunch, making holiday candy and gifts), remind the kids of what you did when you were young and remember that these are going to be their memories, make them happy ones. You don’t want their memories to be of a burnt out, cranky, stressed mom.

I know you spent a year trying to downsize and minimize your belongings – but this year the girls are excited to get toys and presents without size restrictions – embrace this excitement and try to purchase gifts within reason.

Enjoy the first Christmas with your crazy puppy, get a new stocking for him, find fun gifts for the furry monster – he can’t have too many toys and he will love it. Managing the Christmas tree will be a challenge but he’ll love it too and it’s worth it. It will be a different year for sure, but it will also be a fun one and one you will remember forever.

Take time to get out of the city and into nature. Nature fills your cup, even if it’s just to the local park for an hour or 2 get out, recharge and remember what you are grateful for. Along with getting outside, plan your activities ahead of time, mark the calendar for down days and family only days. These are the days that bring you joy and will make you happy.

Take care of yourself. Take a hot bath every so often, go to bed early and watch bad TV (i.e. RELAX).  Make time to exercise, try and eat right and not splurge on EVERY special occasion. Plan on restarting the Whole 30 the first week of January to renew – don’t forget how great you felt the last time you had focus and really stuck to the program.

Give back. You are so fortunate to have family and friends that love you, don’t forget about the people that have less than you. Even though this can be a hectic time of year, make time to give back to others. Helping at Solid Ground has made you feel so inspired and proud, continue to work with people in need and get the kids involved too so they remember it’s not just about them. Comfort packs are always a great way to give to those in need and find other activities that will remind you all about how fortunate you are, while helping others at the same time.

Last thing to remember, the holidays are at time for joy and cheer, there is no need to stress about gifts and social engagements. Do things that bring you joy, don’t do things that drain you. The girls will get all the gifts they need and whatever they get will be enough. As long as you are relaxed and enjoying the season and the people around you, you will have a wonderful holiday season!

Enjoy and Happy Holidays!

Love, Yourself