Sunday, December 30, 2012

the release

while it did not technically occur on the night of the winter solstice, there was a wee releasing ceremony on a bright breezy sunday morning.

a year's collection of regrets, hurts and worn-out habits scrawled on bits of paper like tiny white flags of surrender, bundled and bound with an offering of sage.

smoke and ashes lifted by the wind and carried away...

thank you.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

a good year

twentytwelve:  ten things i liked about you
  1. there was courage to leave the job that was smothering me
  2. there was something better and brighter and way more me to replace it
  3. working with meg:  more greens, more breath, more space for what's next
  4. walks in the woods with my favorite person and a corgi who loves to hike
  5. yogaville and yoga festivals and just plain yoga
  6. kindreds
  7. solstice fires, new years day picnics, country roads
  8. letting go
  9. becoming vegetarian
  10. the karma garden
thank you.

see previous year-end-slash-gratitude-slash-foot-shots-collections here.

(p.s.  those pointy-toed ballet flats get some mileage!)

Monday, December 24, 2012


"this is the way of peace:  overcome evil with good, and falsehood with truth, and hatred with love."
-peace pilgrim

"peace is always beautiful."
-walt whitman

"all we are saying is give peace a chance."
-john lennon

have a beautiful christmas, loves.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

how to love a gypsy job

1.  choose the best navigation system so you don't lose your way.

2.  seek out rainbows and blue skies.

3.  eat pancakes.

4.  when you miss your home remember that love can be found anywhere and everywhere.

5.  greet the day with gratitude.  and yoga.

6.  hotel rooms are bland and plastic...find sparkle and warmth.

7.  make it a quest to discover the best pho (veggie burger, margarita, etc.) in each city you frequent.

8.  explore on foot.

9.  show a classic roadside diner some love.

10.  every town has a main street.  shop and eat local no matter where you are.

11.  when you spot a brightly painted barn on the side of the highway, slow down, pull over and say hello.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


have i ever told you that my nickname (well, one anyway) is sparks?

(because my last name is parks and i can be a wee bit temperamental at times.)

Monday, December 10, 2012

coffee please

a whirlwind two weeks, that's what's in store.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

lunch lately

when i accepted this lovely gypsy job of mine, i was a bit concerned that all the traveling would pose a huge challenge to healthy eating.  turns out, i've had the best time discovering whole foods and vegetarian restaurants in the cities i've visited.  and my lunches have never been more nourishing.

Monday, December 3, 2012

a different drummer

today i am 48.  a happy 48.  i am loved, safe, healthy.  and (maybe, finally) understood.

i received a birthday card from my mom and dad yesterday.  it was the first sentiment i've received from my parents that felt like true understanding.  it refers to (and celebrates) me as a "true original" and "someone who dances to her own beat".  this may seem trivial to some, but this 5x8 hallmark card represents forty-eight years of struggle on all our parts:  me, a quirky girl with a imaginative mind, daring ideas and endless curiosity, fighting (sometimes literally) to be who she is and them, concerned parents desperately wishing for a more grounded, agreeable and traditional child.

it's the best gift ever:  being loved and accepted for who you are.

speaking of birthdays, i am on the faith squared advent calendar with a little nod to another december baby.  (it may be later today when it goes live.)

the image above is a shot of rusty belle performing on the charlotteville walking mall on saturday.  how much do you love his drum built from scraps, a pan and a baby shoe?  and his swanky sunshine shoes?  pure joy.  i wish you could have heard the music.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

inspired: advent

the beautiful girls over at faith squared are sponsoring the loveliest of online advent calendars.  each day of advent there is a bit of seasonal beauty and words of inspiration and grace.  i'm so happy to be involved with this project.  i've added a link to the calendar on my sidebar.

happy december loves.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

hello december

inspire me.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

gratitude: week five

  • my intuition.  so far the best thing about getting older is becoming more attuned to her wisdom and voice.
  • attention to aesthetic. 
  • an open and curious mind.
  • staying vegetarian when i'm craving steak au poive, fish tacos, chicken pot pie.
  • flexibility (i'm leaving the door open for the fish tacos).

Sunday, November 25, 2012

gratitude: week four

on the day after thanksgiving, instead of indulging in black friday, we went to yogaville.

the last time we visited, i was in the midst of making the decision whether or not to leave my job and radically change my life.  yogaville provided the space and stillness to give me some clarity on the issue.

i am so very grateful for this open, loving, spiritual place that is quite unexpected in rural virginia.  being here instantly brings the familiar sense of groundedness that i've been blessed enough to experience in other beautiful places.

i am grateful for the sacred spaces i have known.

(photos taken friday at yogaville.)

i am grateful for the pacific ocean.  her name masks her fierceness and power.  i like that.

i am grateful for the tidepools she leaves behind.  she taught me that you can be bold and raw and honest and still create beauty and gentleness.  i am grateful for all those times i held the hand of my daddy while he told me the stories of the magical little sea worlds that exist in each and every tiny pool.

i am grateful for a home that is safe and warm and happy and peaceful.   living here makes me want to be more creative, more joyful, more loving.

i am grateful for my childhood home that i miss often and dream about with a sense of nostalgia and history and love and belonging.

i am grateful for forests and woods and mountains.  and for trails that help me be brave.

i am grateful for the 24"x72" yoga mat that i can roll out anywhere and transform my body, my mind, my spirit, my day, my life.

i am grateful for the places i have not yet been and who whisper to me that there is something for me to learn there.

my most favorite completely accidental self-portrait ever:  protection, wisdom, guidance, beginnings (all these ganesh gifts)...are within.

i am grateful for the practice of choosing which space to inhabit (i.e. yogaville over target) on any given day.  i am grateful for having those options.

i am grateful for learning (still learning, still practicing) that any space (even target) can be peaceful and transformed by awareness and appreciation of its unique beauty and stories.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

gratitude: week three

happy thanksgiving friends.

i am so grateful for each of you.

i am grateful for this space to write it out and capture moments and cultivate a life of awareness.

also, so thankful for these things:

  • my insatiable need for color
  • the buddha on the thanksgiving table
  • we've named him honey buddha
  • as in "honey buddha don't care that there is no turkey"
  • honey buddha also doesn't judge that there is lasagna and mashed potatoes
  • thankful for meg worden and the work we did earlier this year
  • and that i totally forgot to get the family-sized package of squishy rolls
  • that's right, forgot, as in completely slipped my mind!
  • because that job that made me want to stuff squishy rolls in my mouth is no longer mine to bear
  • and other squishy roll needs are being met in more appropriate ways
  • grateful that this list does not have to be serious
  • because we do not have one single truly serious need
  • so i will end it here
  • and say a blessing for children living in fear and poverty and anger
  • honey buddha cares about that
  • and so do i

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

homemade kombucha with hannah

kombucha is a sparkly fermented tea.  you may have heard it called "mushroom" tea (it tastes nothing like mushroom).  i call it magic elixir.  it's an ancient probiotic brew that is detoxing and prevents all sorts of disease.  i just feel good when i drink it.  it took a really long time before i tried it but once i did, i loved it instantly.  i love it so much i am flirting with an addiction.  which is probably great for my health, but not so great for my budget given the cost of bottled kombucha in stores ($4-$5 per bottle).

my friend and yoga teacher sarah makes her own kombucha at home and sweetly offered to share a starter mushroom (scoby) with me and show me the steps to brewing my own batch.

meet hannah, sarah's daughter.  she is very talented in the kitchen.  she is already quite famous in our town for her healthy eating and mad culinary skills.  she is just a joy to be around.

we used 2-quart jars and the recipe from this beautiful book.

the recipe
(for each jar)
2 quarts filtered water
2/3 cup organic sugar 
4 organic black tea bags or equivalent loose tea leaves 
1 cup previously brewed kombucha
1 scoby (kombucha mushroom)

(you can find a thousand recipes online.  sarah says not to stress out about the precise recipe, she likes to experiment with different proportions and tastes.)

wash your hands and kitchen surfaces (cleanliness is pretty important in this process).

measure your tea into a clean, dry jar (or use teabags).

fill the jar about 3/4 full with boiling water.

add your sugar and stir well until the sugar dissolves.

(use a wooden spoon, not metal.)

repeat for each jar you are making.

allow the tea to steep.

seriously, how adorable are they?  a beautiful baby-wearing, kombucha-brewing yoga teacher and her amazing children.

kombucha...kombuda...kombuddha.  such a wise child.

let the brew cool to body temperature.  this is very important, you don't want to "cook" the scoby.  be patient.

remove the tea bags or strain the tea if you used loose tea.

add one cup of previously brewed kombucha (and cold water to fill the jar if necessary).

now for the scoby.

this is scoby (below):  symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  she is a culture therefore she is alive.  treat her right.  express your love and gratitude openly and often.

(she's quite a versatile substance, watch this to see how scoby is being used to make fabric.)

place one scoby in each jar.

once they are full, cover your kombucha jars with cotton fabric.  secure tightly with a rubber band.  they should look like they are in the sunday school christmas play.

they are now ready to be stored to "brew".

store them in a quiet warm space out of direct sunlight for two to three weeks.  (sarah suggested experimenting storing the jars in a cooler with a heating pad set to low.)

after three weeks, a new scoby "pancake" will have grown in your tea.   taste your tea.  it should be a bit tangy with a bite.  if it's sugary, it's not ready.  back in the cupboard.

(if any mold has grown in your batch, discard the entire batch, scoby and all.  you will know if there is any funkiness present.)

when it's ready, remove the scoby and save.  at this point you can flavor it if you like with hibiscus flowers, ginger, chai spices, etc.

pour off and bottle most of the brew, always leaving a cup or two of brewed tea and scoby for your next batch.  you can use glass jars or recycled drink bottles.

if you added flavors, you may want to store your bottled brew for one more week or so.  this will allow the flavors to deepen and promote effervescence.

speaking of effervescence...hannah likes to wait out the brewing process by star-stirring, cabbage hugging and making her baby brother laugh.

this is sarah's mothership scoby.  she is quite impressive, yes?

these are ready for storing.  in three weeks, i'll have my first batch of kombucha.  i'm going to add some hibiscus and ginger.

thank you sarah and hannah!  you completely demystified this process for me and i had a great time spending the morning with you.

if you haven't tried kombucha, i know it can look a little weird.  i encourage you to try it to see if you like it.  whole foods or your local health food store should carry a line.  you can also find local brewers at farmers markets.  if you are near southwest virginia, local brewer buffalo mountain makes amazing kombucha.  regardless of the source, there are a lot of varieties.  i suggest synergy trilogy or buffalo mountain hibiscus to start.  they taste great and you will feel awesome.

a few internet kombucha resources: