Sunday, December 5, 2010

Ah, Rishikesh

Rishikesh is a beautiful, holy city nestled the soaring foothills of the Himalayas. Here, the Ganges is a milky light green, fresh and swift moving. The air is clear and filled with the honk, honk, honk of scooters, rickshaws, cars, trucks and buses (video and/or sound clip to come!). Among the vehicles and people are scared cows ... and monkeys, goats, dogs and pigs.

I'm among the many pilgrims drawn to Rishikesh. The group of yogis on this retreat totals 30. I practice yoga daily; my steady meditation practice serves me well, as it offers a place to truly go within.

The Maharishi Mahesh Yogi taught The Beatles to mediate here. I make a pilgrimage ... within a pilgrimage ... to the very ashram. Abandoned long ago, its gates are locked. Someone inside asks for X number of rupees to come inside. Instead, I scramble over rocks up a winding trail that brings me inside the grounds. It's sad and holy at the same time. I snap away. Jai guru dev.

The city and its people are colorful. I schlep up and down the steep roadways in search of serenity, insight and clarity (yes, video to come).

I find with lovely silk scarves, bangles, bindis and a sari. I also find myself with a group of fellow yogis who are open, generous, insightful searchers on their own journeys. Beautiful souls all, they inspire and uplift.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hot, Flat and Crowded

Our air conditioned motor coach whisked us north from Delhi nearly 200 hot and dusty miles to the city of Rishikesh. I snapped some shots of the villages and countryside we passed along the way.

Can you feel the dust stuck to my lipgloss?

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Delhi, Old and New

The scent of India greeted me on arrival at the New Delhi Indera Gandhi airport. The air was thick with a smokey smog, a mix of burning trash, plastic, cow dung and petrol. Even from the air, I could see the congestion of people/vehicles with the roadways clogged with rickshaws, cars, trucks and buses all burning diesel, and all honking.

Outside of the airport, it was chaotic. So many people. So many cars. And humidity plus fog-like smog. The driver took me and two fellow yogis (each arriving from the United States on separate flights) to our hotel. Ahhh, air conditioning. While it was 10:30 p.m. in Delhi, it was about noon according to my body clock, I feel asleep in the clean air almost immediately.

My first full day in India was spent in Delhi and included a tour of a 6,000-year-old city. Comfortably removed from the masses in our air conditioned motor coach, we toured Delhi, Old and New. Our tour guide ushered us by India’s White House equivalent and other government buildings, temples and city gates (“please,” our guide insisted, “cameras out please wecannotstop cameras please”).

Among the views from the bus:

A solemn highlight was the visit to the National Gandhi Museum. Mahatma Gandhi has been a personal inspiration -- he embodied and applied ahimsa, or nonviolence, on a global scale.

Especially humbling was his small simple room with his bed, pillow and prayer beads. One wall held a case housing his remaining artifacts: eye glasses, his cane, cutlery and not much more. “Simplicity,” Gandhi said, “is the essence of universality.”

The remainder of my pilgrimage to India was a simply beautiful and enchanting dream.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Time Changes

One of the first things a traveler to India learns about -- when ordering food, when making plans, when scheduling nearly anything, really -- is India Time. I’ve encountered similar phenomena elsewhere in the world and you may have, too.

Things here are delivered or arranged or simply happen when they happen. In my punctual, over-booked world, it took only a little while to get used to it. Once I let go and accepted this cultural pause, conditions improved immediately.

So, in the spirit of India, I’ll be posting my travel experiences in good time. On India Time.


Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Vision

For this month's book club, the lovely citylifeeats had a genius idea: collage! Hence, my current vision board (front and back images below) covers the file folder containing my India information ... lists, plans tickets and more. Simply beautiful!


Today, I leave on a pilgrimage for which I've spent the last several weeks preparing. To ensure my aching back does not interfere with the voyage and the 10 days twice daily of yoga, I visited Gui-Fang Chen . . .

. . . for the most effective acupuncture treatments. Now, I am able to twist side to side with ease again.

The post-monsoon season weather in Rishikesh will be divine, at least according to this forecast.

My suitcase is smartly packed with Flight 001's amazing spacepaks. The compression bags hold two weeks worth of clothing and fit into a carry on bag, which I'll check. The balance of my suitcase is filled with 15 skeins of yummy yarn for the girls and women of the Mother Miracle School in Rishikesh. On my return, I'll have lots of room to bring a little India back for loved ones.

Now, that's some yarn.

My companions for this journey? My journal.

A book.

And another book, this one on my iPod.

Plus, I'm bringing an intention for the retreat, a sense of adventure and an open heart. I'm looking forward to new experiences, the beauty of holy places and a deeper connection within.

SVP, join me.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

You Glisten, I Glisten

The crystals in this mala reflect the light within you and me. The one pictured is my latest -- the faux pearls are a richly iridescent and a luscious shade of gray.

Dites moi, SVP, you likey?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

108 Simply Beautiful Glass Pearls . . .

. . . hand knotted with peace and love the strands of luscious, iridescent faux pearls and shimmering faceted crystals I create in cream, pale pink and black, and now offer for purchase. Suitable for wearing on and off the yoga mat, bien sur.

I’m setting up an online store and will let you know once it’s live. Meanwhile, feel free to contact me with questions, or if you have a special request, at cocoyoginiATgmailDOTcom. It would be an honor to craft a gorgeous mala or two for you!

Dites moi, SVP, would you like more information?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Love, Autumn

On the drive to an early meeting this morning, I watched the September Harvest Moon set in front of me whilst a splendid orange sunrise glowed in my rear view mirror. I noticed the trees along the George Washington Parkway are losing their summer luster; they are only beginning to bear the colors of fall.

Later, in the middle of a parking lot far from the tree-lined edges, I found a tiny red oak leaf resting gently on the windshield of my car. So unexpected and dear. A love note from autumn?

I know this sounds trite, but it's true: I love fall. Colorful foliage, cooler days and clothing in layers. It's a time of personal renewal for me as my energy increases and motivation becomes more intense. I accomplish so much more than I do the entire summer. Look for big things in the months ahead!

Dites moi, SVP, what's on the horizon for you?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Sounds of Fall 2010

Fall officially arrives in two days. I hear autumn approaching with the sporadic sound of acorns plunking off sidewalks and car hoods, very different from what I expect to hear soon in India.

Tracey Jackson has prepared me for some the soundtrack of New Delhi. {Tracey is a NYC-based writer, director, producer, screenwriter whose blog I follow and whom I recently met live and in person. She graciously carved time out of a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., with her husband Glen, to meet for drinks.}

In the courtyard of her hotel in the heart of Georgetown, Tracey told me if we were in a similar space Delhi, we would hear the repeated honk honk HONKs as Indians drive with one hand on the horn. Eventually, Tracey assured, it becomes white noise.

While researching Rishikesh this weekend, I happened upon a blog with audio clips of the LOUD India I am gearing up to visit. The blog is called Field Abuse and its goal is to “reveal the contradiction between the idealistic look of the spiritual western traveler looking for some enlightenment and the reality of a chaotic and quite noisy country.” Take a listen to the sounds of my destination.

So, now I’m planning to bring even more pairs of my pretty in pink earplugs for the trip. I remain eager to immerse myself in the sounds – and sights, smells, tastes and more – of the Indian experience.

Before I do, let me tell you more about Tracey.

I learned about this fascinating woman’s almost daily blog in a recent edition of Town and Country magazine. Her credits are numerous; among her recent creations is Lucky Ducks, in her words, “a very personal film about what it means to raise a child today, how what we carry with us from our own childhood bleeds into our parenting whether we know it or not; and that to fix your kid you really have to fix yourself first.”

She recently posted about embarking on a face to facebook tour, visiting old friends with whom she has reunited online. I was delighted when she took me up on my offer to meet when she came to town. A half hour cup of coffee became two and a half during which we talked about her new book, Between a Rock and a Hot Place: Why Fifty Is Not the New Thirty, India and more. Thank you Tracey, for being so generous and gracious!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

It's Never too Late to . . .

. . . bloom. Consider this Rose of Sharon soaking up the late summer, late afternoon sunlight. Spied yesterday in the 1700 block of Willard Street, N.W.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Laying Low

The dog days. Ah, summer, an unusually eventful time of year for me of late. Let’s recap.

Twenty-four months ago, doctors found and coiled my unruptured basilar tip cerebral aneurysm, saving my life. I spent July and August recuperating and reflecting on my personal miracle. Dr. Wayne Olan, I have no words.

Twelve months ago, I took my first solo vacation in more than a dozen years. During an intensive, week-long course in Soho, NYC, I learned to draw -- see differently, really. (I also practiced yoga at the Jivamukti Yoga Center alongside Russell Simmons(!).)

This summer, I invested in myself with a minor cosmetic surgical procedure that resulted in an unexpected complication called Keratitis. The condition causes the clear covering over the cornea to become inflamed. Have you dealt with it? It was a bewildering and disheartening ordeal. I looked awful and felt worse.

I’d never heard of it, nor could I find information online that would reassure me about treatment and recovery. I read that I could lose my vision. I also read the condition of that blurred my vision might remain.

I found it difficult to maintain my usually upbeat disposition. I downloaded the audio version of Pema Chodron’s book, When Things Fall Apart, Heart Advice for Difficult Times, and listened to it over and over. Pema, I am grateful for your words of wisdom.

Dr. Erica Edell, my ophthalmologist, reached out to every colleague, finally locating a specialist who eased me off of steroids and antibiotics and suggested a non-medical course of treatment that saved my vision and my life. Dr. E, I am eternally grateful.

As the fog lifts, I look back over a quiet period when I disappeared from my life, online and off. I’m so happy to be back.

Dites moi, SVP, how was your summer?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Summer Dreams

This week’s sublime forecast, courtesy of Rob Brezsny.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22)

According to Hawaiian mythology, the soul leaves the body during the night to seek the adventures known as dreams. The place of departure and re-entry is the *soul pit* (*lua'uhane*), which is located in the tear duct of the eye.

During the next few nights, I'd love for you to send your soul flying out though your soul pit for some daring exploits that will revitalize your lust for life.

Take your backlog of stored-up tears along with you, and pour them down like rain on the secret garden you've been neglecting. The garden will respond to the downpour with a big growth spurt.

My usually vibrant dreams are even more so. SVP, tell me about yours.

p.s. happy birthday(!) to moi 7.23. hmmm, where will my dreams take me now?

Sunday, July 11, 2010

My 101 Things List — Part One

Ted Leonsis’ list of 101 things he wants to do in life inspires many individuals. Ted reconsidered his priorities and goals following a close brush with mortality at age 27. He recorded personal and professional goals, and accomplished 80+ of them so far, fueled by happiness*.

My own brush with mortality occurred two years ago this month {honestly, as my husband says, it was part science fiction and part fairy tale. My biggest lessons, more than anything, have been to live fully in the moment and nurture my fearlessness.}

I’m well beyond my twenties. As I look ahead, I find myself reflecting on this marvelous life journey. Whilst compiling my list of 101 things in toto, I’m claiming credit for accomplishments and experiences already checked off my list. Following is a retrospective, or

My First 50

1. Learn the Tango

2. Work for myself

3. See Paris

4. Attend at least one presidential inaugural ball

5. Travel to my ancestral homeland and visit the village of my grandfather’s birth

6. Fall in love

7. Attend at least one of the Dalai Lama’s teachings

8. Backpack across Europe by myself

9. Manage the press for the one of world’s largest multi-sport sporting events

10.Go to a nude beach {enjoy the sun! play in the surf!}

11. Live in a big city

12. Write statements about the First Amendment to be read on the floor of the U.S. Senate

13. Meet Johnny Bench

14. Create a wonderful family

15. Learn how to hand knot a strand of pearls

16. Drop out of the rat race for two years

17. Work on an ocean expedition

18. Attend a yoga retreat on a tropical island

19. Adopt the smartest and sweetest feline, ever

20. Dye my hair pink

21. Establish a consistent meditation practice

22. Oversee a national marketing/communications campaign with signage that really endures

23. Attend Cornell

24. Establish a consistent yoga practice

25. Meet descendants of the Romanovs

26. Dye my hair purple

27. Blog

28. Be a godmother

29. Become vegetarian

30. Complete yoga teacher training

31. Learn to sew knits

32. Learn to cook international vegetarian dishes

33. Escape to a luxury spa in southwestern Utah for two decadent weeks

34. See the baseball, hockey and horse racing halls of fame

35. Search for my true self

36. Travel to most major cities in the United States

37. Make a difference in someone’s life

38. Produce television public service announcements and persuade stations across the country to air them

39. Study Buddhism

40. Learn to breathe

41. Get at least one tattoo

42. Hike hundreds of miles of the Appalachian Trail

43. See Paris a couple more times

44. Survive a brush with mortality

45. When the time comes, seek appropriate cosmetic treatments

46. Learn to shoot video

47. Volunteer

48. Start to live in the moment

49. Toss a bottle, with a message of peace and love, into the ocean and meet the wonderful soul who discovers it

50. Live a radiant life

To come . . . the Next 51.

Dites moi, what do your lists look like?

* Looking forward to reading The Business of Happiness. Perhaps meeting Ted is on my list of 50+.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

First Lady of Fabulous

In my opinion, she certainly is. She is Michelle Obama, first lady, mother, daughter, sister, role model, champion and neighbor.

The first image is that of a Blue Q shopping bag, which is made from 95 percent post consumer material. It's a find from a recent visit to Pearl River Mart in Soho, NYC.

Among the bag’s patriot-themed bunting are the words, “First Lady of Fabulous” and “Mighty Michelle.” Images of Bo, encircled with “We Love Her,” embellish the side panels and the little pocket inside the bag.

The second image of Michelle is a special favorite of mine, from a February 2010 interview with Robin Givhan (love love love her, too). Simply gorgeous!

What I love about my neighbor, Michelle, exactly

  • Her intelligence, confidence and wit makes for one beautiful individual
  • The pearls on her wrist inspire, as does her campaign targeting childhood obesity
  • The company she keeps, specifically the three generations of women living under one roof at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. {I offer my greetings every evening I roll past their home}.

Michelle, Sasha, Malia and Marian, sooo happy you live close by. Let’s meet for yoga! btw, I have beautiful faux pearl malas for you. Please call or e-mail anytime.

Photos: 1. Blue Q; 2. Photo by Marvin Joseph, The Washington Post

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

No. 8

My eighth hand knotted creation, a birthday gift for a friend who inspires and encourages me.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Six Down, Six to Go

This is this week's horoscope, courtesy of Rob Brezney, reminds me of the value of a mid-year assessment. How would you answer the questions below?
LEO (July 23 - Aug. 22): The year's half over, Leo. Let's take an inventory to see whether you've been taking maximum advantage of the special opportunities life has been offering you. Consider these questions:
  • Has the quality of your intimate alliances become especially intense, invigorating, and catalytic in recent months?
  • Have you created lots of small miracles with the people you care about most?
  • Have you been willing to risk more to get the most out of your togetherness, even if it means dealing with shadowy stuff that makes you uncomfortable?

If there has been anything missing from your efforts in these heroic tasks, get to work. Between now and January 2011, you'll have a mandate to go even deeper than you have since January 2010.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Body = Canvas, Fashion = Art

Tomorrow, I’m slipping away for the day to New York City for divine inspiration. The Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum are featuring related exhibitions on American fashion and the evolution of the modern American woman. The body as canvas, fashion as art, according to the advertisement.

American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection, at the Brooklyn Museum, features the first generation of American {women} designers and the French designers who influenced them.

And at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it is the exhibition, American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity. From the website . . . "Focusing on archetypes of American femininity through dress, the exhibition reveals how the American woman initiated style revolutions that mirrored her social, political, and sexual emancipation. 'Gibson Girls,' 'Bohemians,' and 'Screen Sirens,' among others, helped lay the foundation for today's American woman."

Dresses ... sketches ... shoes to feed my soul and imagination. Plus a special treat -- a visit with my dearest Tessa and baby Claire. Oooh la la!

Where are you finding inspiration?

Photo: Charles James (American, born England, 1906–1978). "Tree" Evening Dress (detail), 1955. Rose pink silk taffeta; white silk satin; red, pink and white tulle. Brooklyn Museum Costume Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., 1981 (2009.300.991)

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Malas, Made with Love (and Peace & Love)

Long strands of pearls draped around one’s neck are simply beautiful. So Chanel, sooo Coco.

The idea of hand-knotted, faux pearl malas surfaced when I imagined this blog. After weeks of experimenting with glass pearls and hand-knotting tools and techniques, I’ve made several beautiful strands in white, ivory and the palest pink. The guru and marker beads are multi-faceted oval crystals with a soft iridescent sheen.

Thus far, I’ve strung prayer beads and gifted them to

    • The dearest yoga teacher from whom I have learned much about myself
    • A beloved colleague who inspires me
    • A joyful friend, originally from India, who shares her world of the love for words, yoga and fellow sentient beings
    • A kind Mongolian Buddhist who celebrates at a temple near Belmar, N.J., where I coincidentally spent childhood summers

While knotting the thread I am reminded of my mother, who was a skilled and prolific knitter. I have gained a greater appreciation for the rhythm of the craft and the connection with the person for whom the object is being created. I feel mom lovingly knit one, purl two, for ME. I hope each recipient can feel the love in every pearl I slip down the thread, loop and knot.

May all beings benefit.