Stretching the Mind

Check out my article for Southwestern Magazine HERE

20 Things to Make Time for in 2020

I started out the New Year sick…again… I’ve been dreaming of a thoughtful, inspiring “it’s a new decade” blog post, but I honestly don’t have the energy. A list felt more concise and convenient for the time being. Here’s what I hope to focus on in the new year and the next decade:

  1. Bringing BiblioYoga to life!
  2. My writing
  3. My yoga practice
  4. Reading
  5. Gratitude and Appreciation for others
  6. Meaningful conversations
  7. The great outdoors
  8. My love
  9. My meows
  10. My family (all the way in Texas)
  11. My BFFF Mary (also in Texas)
  12. Mermaid Adventures – Summer Trip with my favorite girls
  13. New Connections – Finding a community in Colorado
  14. Meditation
  15. Eating clean
  16. Exploring Colorado – Camping, Dining, Comedy and Concert Venues, all the things!
  17. Meeting with Financial Advisor – I want a Jeep and a home!
  18. Tarot & Reflection Every Day with my Biddy Tarot 2020 Planner
  19. Listening to Podcasts (and maybe even starting one…)
  20. Learning New Things

What are you hoping to achieve in the new year?

Book Review: Teaching Yoga Beyond the Poses

As yoga instructor still discovering my voice and growing my teaching skills, I found this book incredibly useful. My professional background is thirteen years in the world of education teaching both high school and college-level English and Philosophy courses. As an educator, you are often assigned curriculum and essential skills you must instruct. Much time is spent crafting and creating lessons around those skills or re-imagining “canned” curriculum to fit your teaching style and students. In the world of yoga, we each have our own practice and journey, and we must continually self-reflect on our strengths and weaknesses before instructing a class. In making the transition from yoga student to yoga instructor, I found myself longing for a resource to assist me in assessing myself as a yogini and then using that assessment and reflection to craft and build courses of value for my potential yoga students.

This book is an excellent resource to help yoga instructors do just that. It is essentially a workbook divided into three sections. The first is on Finding Your Voice as an instructor. There are some great tidbits of wisdom here for instructors both seasoned and new, particularly in regards to authenticity and finding inspiration (especially when you don’t feel inspired). From there, the second section offers Fifty-Four Themes for classes! I absolutely love this section because it serves as a model for how to construct a class, even offering potential phrases and sentences to use during class that connect back to the themes explored. There are also some pretty groovy themes–I especially dug the idea of utilizing the four seasons as themes.

The final section allows the yogini to get creative herself! There are blank templates to write out your ideas and inspirations, which makes this book extra handy to carry around when you’re in the process of pondering about what to teach next.

Overall, I highly recommend this book, especially for those of you that are newer to constructing your own classes. The thematic approach is quite fun and a good exercise to reflect and consider the various approaches to teaching a yoga course!

Savasana & Skeletons: My Yoga Practice Always Suffers in October

My practice is an escape. From long to-do lists. From sights and sounds of city life. It’s a time when I can connect with my body. As a former dancer, I used my body to tell stories, to connect with others. One of my favorite parts of class was stretching for ten minutes at the beginning. I never considered why I enjoyed it or what those quiet moments did for me.

Yoga allows me to feel my body. To recognize pain and redirect it, both physically and mentally. It makes me reflect on what I might have done to cause that pain or discomfort and what I need to do in the future to prevent it. The older you get, it seems the more pain you have—not just physical, emotional too.

Yoga sometimes brings out old phantasms that you thought you’d locked away in a deep, dark Poe-esque Tell-Tale-Heart floorboards. It comes knocking when you least expect it and completely shatters your sense of strength. It is part of the process; understanding your pain, both the mental and the physical—you have to work through that shit. Sometimes that means I have to sit with myself. Sometimes that means child’s pose is all I am up for that day. Sometimes that means I feel my body blazing and go full-blown phoenix, ready to work through a fast-paced flow. In that flow, I am on fire. I feel strong. I feel independent. I feel like I can do all the things –oops wait, lost my balance…maybe not all the things, there’s certainly a reality check here and there, which is grounding in its own right.

That’s right…sometimes this Hufflepuff turns into a badass phoenix like Fawkes!

My yoga practice isn’t perfect pictures on Instagram. It isn’t my friends and I all lying in a circle on some bohemian blanket with our heads surrounded by crystals. It’s real. It’s truth. It’s painful. It’s present. But most of all, it’s necessary.

This is stemming from my avoidance of the mat lately. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I am a College & Career Counselor, which means that October, my once beloved “let’s get spooky month” is no longer my favorite (until the 31st…everything changes on Halloween!). Early deadlines, scholarship applications, students and parents who need my help with FAFSA, thirty-minute back-to-back appointments with my seniors all day, every day. This is when I need yoga the most. I know it. I tell myself that every morning. Every lunch break. Every day when I get home. Every evening when I finish dinner. I look at local studios and classes. I stare at Yoga with Adriene’s calendar (she’s awesome if you don’t know her, check her out), but my desire and ability to go inward is met with me feeling like the skeletons covering lawns right now. Vapid. Empty. Broken.

Skeletons can do yoga too…

I am an empath and a giver. I am the most happy when I do things for other people, which is something I’ve slowly tried to reverse with my yoga practice. It’s hard to learn to find your own happiness; sometimes it’s incredibly hard to make time to do so. So I’m writing this here and now to make myself more accountable…I’m going to make time for meditation and yoga. I’ve been auditioning to teach, but I also need to delve back into my own practice to be the best teacher possible if I am hired in the near future.

I’m also writing this to let you know, you are not alone. No person’s yoga practice (or writing routine, which is another thing I’ve been neglecting) is “perfect.” For me, my routine ebbs and flows…and right now, all I’m trying to do is find more of the flow in both the keys on my keyboard and on my mat.

Greta Van Fleet: The Resurrection of Rock & Roll at Red Rocks Amphitheater

Love them or hate them, you can’t deny that Greta Van Fleet has some serious talent. They’ve been called rip-offs of Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, The Rolling Stones, even Iron Maiden, but Greta Van Fleet’s classic rock roots are no secret. In interviews, the band consistently mentions revisiting their parents’ pressed vinyls and vehemently studying the rock Gods of the past in order to grow and mature as musicians.

New-age 70s rock revival frontman, Josh Kiszka, possesses Jim Morrison’s hair and impressive pipes equal to the likes of Freddie Mercury. He uses his voice like an instrument with such precision and control that his vocals own the stage as much as a guitar or drum solo (or his outfit, am I right?). Last night, Josh rocked a star-studded cosmic jumper, traipsed around barefoot on stage–his dancing and antics reminiscent of the great frontmen of the 60s and 70s, Joe Cocker and Mick Jagger, in particular.

It’s hard to believe that so much talent could come from one family—Josh (vox), Jake (guitar), and Sam (bass) all equally owned Red Rocks. One of the most surprising moments of the evening came from drummer, Danny Wagner, wind blowing his hair like a 80s rock music video as he pounded on the drums in an epic and long-lasting solo that would have been impressive to the likes of Bonham, Moon, Mitchell, and Peart.

The band’s set started out with some faulty lights in juxtaposition to the perfect goosebump-inducing banshee-like wailing of Josh and a sick seemless guitar riffs from Jake; the second they dove into “The Cold Wind,” the rocking didn’t stop. One highlight of the night was about a third of the way through the set, when Josh proclaimed “Flower Power” as one of the first songs the band recorded. He talked about loving one another, bonding, and all that other hippie shit before he launched into it, howling alongside his brother’s guitar. Halfway through the night, Greta cleverly covered John Denver’s “The Music Is You,” and gave it an edgier, hard rock sound with the crowd singing along. Throughout the evening, everyone was gasping and guffawing at the sheer lasting power of Greta Van Fleet’s energy. No matter the instrument, the band continued to deliver, especially Jake’s wailing on the guitar. The band closed with a fan favorites, “When the Curtain Falls,” “Lover, Leaver (Taker, Believer),” and finally “Highway Tune.” The bewildered crowd stayed until the end, frozen after the band finished. Fifty-to- seventy-year-old audience members that saw bands of the past said this was easily the best show they had witnessed at Red Rocks since the late 70s, and you know what? I believe them.

All photography taken from Miles Chrisinger. Instagram: @milescphotos

Except for these pics (taken by yours truly, clearly I wasn’t in the pit with a camera):

To Bourbon…And Beyond!

Buzz after a few concerts and too much bourbon…

I want BiblioYoga to be a space where I can share all of my passions and adventures; not just yoga and writing advice, but my mystical journey through this weird world as well. For me, the most otherworldly experiences always occur amidst aesthetic endeavors, especially ones that involve travel and/or live music.

Flashback…

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When I was in high school, I attended a Student Council convention on September 11, 2001. Before the towers were struck, the speaker talked about the importance of setting goals and making lists—your typical advice to teens with “leadership” potential. What struck me was an anecdote he shared about comedian, Drew Carey. At the time, my dream was to become a stand-up comedian, so any advice from a successful comedian caught my attention—especially at a leadership conference (comedians get a bad rap).

In the anecdote, the speaker explained that at age 18, Drew Carey made a list of 30 things he wanted to accomplish before he turned 30. I was awestruck when he proceeded to name things on his list that he successfully accomplished—have a sitcom, host a game show, and even CLIMB MOUNT EVEREST! (I can find no evidence of this on the internet, so maybe the speaker was full of shit, but hey…it worked for me!)

I don’t know if he actually climbed Mount Everest, but he made it on top of this chair…

That night, I went home and began to make my own little eighteen-year-old Kandace list. I didn’t have 30 things on the turquoise gel pen ink-stained paper to accomplish right away. The list is something I added to in my journal throughout college, but for a teenager, I had a good start. Sidenote: At some point, I’ll write another post on making this list and my new Before 40 list. When I turned 30, I opened my old journal and went over the various drafts of my list. Of the final draft of my list…the one that stuck…I accomplished 27/30 goals. I hadn’t moved out of state, which I just did a few months ago, NOR did I make it to Australia (I think Jake the kangaroo rat in Rescuers Down Under is to blame for my obsession with visiting the land of Aussies).

C’mon,… I know he’s a cartoon kangaroo mouse, but can you blame Bianca?

The final goal on my list that I failed to accomplish before 30 was to travel out-of-state for a music festival. The 2000s were a time when music lovers went to music festivals. Festivals were for the fans! It was pre-social media. People weren’t attending just to get fucked up and take pictures to post on Snap and Insta. People attended festivals because they LOVED music. My dream was go to Coachella or Bonnaroo (two festivals whose musical variety has seriously changed since then and that I honestly don’t have the stamina for these days). I was fortunate to live in Austin & Houston, Texas, where I went to tons of stellar festivals – SXSW, Austin City Limits and festivals past like Free Press Summer Fest, Railroad Revival Tour, In Bloom Music Festival, and Float Fest (pour one out for the homies). But, my goal was to explore a new place and connect with music lovers like me.

So this year, I said, you know what…I’m 34… where’s a place I haven’t been with musicians I want to see? And, I found a lineup and a city worth exploring! This week, I crossed my music festival fantasy off my list with Bourbon & Beyond 2019 in Louisville, Kentucky!

Three glorious days of musicians that I love and respect with very few misbehaving teens and I-don’t-know-my-limit-yet-twenty-somethings. I work at a High School and occasionally teach college courses, so any reprieve from eighteen to twenty-five year old irresponsibility is lovely!

When I travel, I tend to stay in AirBNBs. I like supporting and connecting with locals and helping them grow their independently owned businesses. This adorable abode is by far one of the best places I’ve stayed out of the many homes I’ve booked over the years!

The Cutest Spot In Louisville!

If you’re ever in Louisville, I highly recommend booking Modern Style & Vintage Charm in Germantown. I mean, the hosts even give you pink bathrobes that say “FreshAF”!

So, my FreshAF self had a blast at the festival. I had originally considered reviewing each set, but quickly realized that in order for that to occur, this blog post would be incredibly long! Instead, I’d like the highlight the idea that we, as human beings, need adventures! Adventures in new places. Adventures with new people. Adventures where we encounter new art. New food. New cultures. Adventures are what make us human. Our ability to recount, describe, create, and share those stories are imperative not only to our own personal histories, but to the history of our culture.

BiblioYoga will be a place where I help people reflect on all of these ideas through both the practice of mindfulness and yoga, but also through the use of pen and paper or keyboard and screen. I hope (someday) to also be able to provide retreats (mini adventures, hooray!) for yogis and writers. Until then, I’ll continue to find new places, new people, and new stories to tell on my own.

New Site, New Mission

Welcome to my new website – BiblioYoga! BiblioYoga is a soulful space where mind and body connect—where yoga fuels creativity. It’s a space where people can be authentic, connect with themselves, and with others. If you are in the Denver area, I would love for you to join me on my journey.

Below you will find posts backlogged from my previous writing website writeeverydamnday.com. I intend to continue fostering a space for readers and writers to grow (as well as yogis and yoginis) through BiblioYoga! More to come soon. Thanks for checking out the new blog and be sure to follow me on Instagram @biblioyoga.

Review of 2017 Write Every Damn Day Book Bingo Challenge

In 2017, I decided to challenge myself and others to a Book Bingo (#2017weddbookbingo)! The card below needed to be blacked out by the end of the year. Although I read more books than the categories listed on the bingo card, this challenge gave me an opportunity to explore different genres and read a few books I might not have prioritized reading. Below is the list of books I read in 2017 for each category.

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A BOOK THAT BECAME A MOVIE OR TV SHOW: Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

A BOOK ALL OVER #BOOKSTAGRAM: The Gunslinger by Stephen King

A BOOK FOR YOUNG ADULTS: Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman

A BOOK IN A SERIES: Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer

A BOOK YOUR BFF LOVES: Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

A BOOK FROM A DIFFERENT COUNTRY: The Storyteller by Walter Benjamin

A BOOK BASED ON A TRUE STORY: Yoga Girl by Rachel Brathen

A BOOK ABOUT WRITING: On Writing by Stephen King

A BOOK THAT RE-TELLS A FAIRY TALE: Cinder & Scarlet by Marissa Meyer

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A BOOK RELEASED IN 2017: The Perfect Stranger by Megan Miranda

A BOOK OF POETRY OR SHORT STORIES: Whereas by Layli Long Soldier & Afterland by Mai Der Vang (both were amazing! I couldn’t only pick one for this list)

A BOOK WITH A BEAUTIFUL COVER: All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

A BOOK WITH TALKING ANIMALS: The Book of Dust by Phillip Pullman

A BOOK YOU MEANT TO READ IN 2016: All the Missing Girls by Megan Miranda

2018

To kick off 2018, I am participating in a yoga journey hosted by Yoga with Adriene. Her 2018 January series is called TRUE!  Some of you may have noticed that I changed my instagram username to @biblioyoga. I’m constantly re-defining myself and my goals and in 2018, I will earn my 200hr YTT certification to teach yoga! I selected a new name that illustrates my love of reading and writing with my love for yoga.

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I am a fan of having a visual to help guide me in my journey. There’s something about checking boxes that is oh-so-satisfying! If you are looking for a great way to kick off your new year, I highly recommend this Yoga with Adriene’s at-home practice! Namaste y’all!

In 2018, I plan to launch another “challenge” like the book bingo, but I plan to combine reading, writing, and yoga. Keep following my instagram and checking the blog this month for more details. In the meantime, remember to Write Every Damn Day!

From Adventure to Eudaimonia

My word for 2017 was ADVENTURE! 🧜‍♀️

✈️ I went on lots of adventures to some new and some favorite places and traveled with many of my favorite people! 2017 – Marfa & Alpine. Galveston. Cape Cod & Provincetown. Charlotte, the Blue Ridge Parkway, & Asheville. Boston & Provincetown (again!). Kerrville. San Marcos. Fredericksburg. Wimberley.

🧘🏻‍♀️👩🏻‍💻 I also went on personal adventures in my writing and yoga practice. I stretched myself in ways I never have before and pushed myself to share my work and participate in communities that once intimidated me. I started a blog & an Instagram to connect with other writers and yogis. I listened to tons of podcasts about yoga, writing, and growth and attended events where some of my favorite writers were speaking (Neil Gaiman is a gem!) I took InPrint, All Writers, and Writespace courses and found a tribe of writers I appreciate in both Houston and other parts of the country. I found a new yoga studio home and an on-line home practice when I can’t make it to class.

📚 I read. A LOT! By creating my write every damn day book bingo instagram challenge, I held myself accountable and encouraged others to go on Adventures in books! I’ll post about my completed bingo reads soon! I am creating a new Bingo for 2018!

👩🏻‍🏫 I challenged myself in two new careers within Education and grew as both an educator and a human being. Working in the field of education means every day is a new Adventure full of questions, problems, and challenges that bring minds and hearts together.

👫 Because of all of the Adventures and time spent on growth, 2018 is bringing big things for me! And even though Adventure was my 2017 word, we are starting off the new year with an International one, Belize 🏝

🤗 My word for 2018 is EUDAIMONIA, which I am borrowing from Greek philosophy. It’s a word I connected with at 19 years old in my first philosophy course and continually reflect on. Eudaimonia (human flourishing) is a state of happiness, growth, and fulfillment. To both LIVE well and to DO well according to Aristotle helps you flourish, but eudaimonia is not simply a feeling of happiness that comes and goes, it is a state of being and an understanding of the full potential a human life has.

✨ To Eudaimonia and Beyond! ✨

🥂 Cheers to the New Year! 🍾

Making Time to Write

When I tell people that I am a creative writer, the first response I always receive is, “How do you have time?” At first, I made it seem like writing time randomly occurred, “Oh well…I just sit down for a little bit here and there” or “I have the weekends sometimes,” but the more I reflect on when I write, the more I realize that it is not a hobby that just pops up here and there.

I don’t HAVE time.

I MAKE time.

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Wake Up Early

I am definitely not a morning person. I am slowly attempting to become one by getting up and practicing yoga, but I wouldn’t call myself an “early bird”. Waking up early gives you time. This time does not necessarily have to be used to write (God knows I can’t form sentences at 5 AM), but it can be time to do other things like cleaning, reading, working out, or accomplishing tasks on your To Do list that might take up writing time later in the day. The morning gives you QUIET (especially if you have children or a hectic, quick-paced job). Start by waking up 10-30 minutes earlier than you normally do and just enjoy that quiet with a cup of tea or a short walk. After realizing how much you need that time for yourself, you become more excited about the practice of waking up early.

Schedule Your Writing

Put it in your calendar. Use a timer. You have a date with your computer or journal or whatever it is you use to write. Make a commitment and stick to it! I also like to schedule periodic writing time or writing retreats with friends to keep me motivated and productive. There are earlier posts about my past writing retreats! If you schedule a cup of tea a day (however long it take you to finish drinking it) or an hour on a timer, I guarantee you will focus and write.

Remove Distractions

Speaking of focus, it is important to remove distractions. People are distracted by different things. If I am at home, I want to clean. I keep my study tidy and sweep the floor before I sit down to write. My bookshelves are behind me, so I do not have the sudden urge to organize them. I make a pot of tea, so I do not get up and go into the kitchen only to accidentally notice the dishwasher needs to be unloaded.

In my study, I play music, so I can’t hear what is going on in the rest of the house. I shut all of the doors (one is slightly cracked for Scout, my cat to come and go as she pleases). These are my habits because I learned over time there are certain things that derail me. For many people, having their phone is a problem. I keep mine on silent and only check it when I have to go to the bathroom.

I wrote an earlier post about creating a writing space that you love. My study has become my little retreat for yoga and writing. Not everyone has an entire room dedicated to writing, but if you can create a corner in your apartment, I promise having an inspiring space helps a great deal!

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Take a Class

I am a firm believer in taking creative writing classes as your funds and schedule allows. My first class (outside of academia) was an on-line novel writing class because I felt I did not have time to drive into the city for a course. On Tuesdays, I attended a  weekly virtual meeting with four other writers and an instructor in a chat room. I was accountable for submitting a weekly amount of words, as well as reading the submissions of others throughout the week and writing comments, which was truly a lot of work. However, I found that I had much more time to write and read than I thought I did. Instead of aimlessly watching television, checking social media, or walking around Target (guilty pleasure), I sat down and read the other writing. Because I knew I needed to submit writing every week, it motivated me to schedule time to write or write during my lunch break at work (if I had one).

This year, I completed two in-person classes about thirty minutes away from my house, which means I spend an hour driving to and from class on the weekends. Because I don’t live in the city, I chose to take my most recent class from 11 – 1 PM on Saturdays. The structure of this class gave me time to write, as well as discuss my writing and the writing of others, which truly makes you a better writer and motivates you to continue writing consistently.

If you can’t afford to take classes or find a place nearby, NaNoWriMo.org is an excellent way to keep yourself accountable and build a network with other writers who could possible serve as readers for you and give you feedback.

Find Your Tribe 

I’m fortunate to have a small network of other writers that I have built over the years. Three of my closest friends write creatively, and we often share work with one another for feedback before sending it off for publication. It’s important to have a tribe of people that are your motivators; people who constantly ask you what you are working on or writing about and want to unpack your project with you. This can easily be someone who does not write, but that loves to read or just likes to talk to you. It’s also important to find readers, which you can discover a variety of ways. Again, the internet is your friend, so on-line writing groups or websites like NaNoWriMo are great for building your tribe. Social media is another fantastic way to find readers. Search Twitter and Instagram using hashtags. Facebook has tons of groups like The Binders,  Writers Helping Writers and Fiction Writers Global that are easy to join. Be sure to give what you get as well; if someone offers to read for you, you should be open to reading for them as well.

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Finally, always try to Write Every Damn Day!