What gives our purchases meaning? A post on Black Friday.

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It’s Black Friday, and my partner and I have Apple fatigue. We purchased three Apple products online today, as gifts for ourselves and for others.

In dialogue through these transactions, we felt an eclectic mixture of tension, stress, excitement and guilt. I started to question my specific purchase and asked him for help. He brought up to me the idea of excess, which for me translates to not feeling worthy of things and learning how to receive—but for him, it was more a conversation of not wanting to buy anything he wouldn’t actively use.

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Reflections: 100 Days Left Until I’m a Yoga Teacher

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On March 8, 2015, exactly 100 days from today, I will officially be a certified yoga teacher.

I thought about this last week when I was at my mother’s house in New Jersey, as I touched down into how distant and numb I felt from my training and study.

My life in 2014 has been blessed, beautiful, confusing, jagged. For the first time, I’m traveling as a way of life, while simultaneously maintaining my own sanctuary in my chosen city. I’m doing poorly at maintaining a lot of connections that are important to me; I’m doing swimmingly at expanding others.

I frequently fly back and forth between two places: New York City, the most populous and unhappiest city in the country (re: the National Bureau of Economic Research, gleaned from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data), and Boulder, the healthiest, happiest city in the country, according to 25-year Gallup Well-Being Index surveys. To be fair, my partner lives in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn-Boulder connection is palpable. But still, I feel such a disconcerting polarity sometimes.

Each time I move, fly, bus, train, drive—I try so hard to hold my center. But it escapes me. I scatter bits of myself, and I’m often unsure where I left them.

I want to honor this final 100 days. It’s not that I want to do asana—physical yoga postures—for 100 days. What I want is to build a more available access road into the place inside me that deeply wants this, that embodies yoga as my meditation and connection to self and Source.

I’ve been coasting along since October, when I started my yoga teacher training. Since it only happens 1-2 weekends per month, it’s easy to immerse and then disconnect, not incorporating what I’m learning into my daily life.

But, I want to make this meaningful. Why else would I do it?

And so I begin on the first of my last 100 days. The first Yoga Sutra is Atha, which means now. Yoga now, yoga always, yoga everywhere you are. My teachers say that we don’t just practice on the mat; we practice always, in all ways.

Today, I practice yoga now.

Write your words, whatever they are. Today, maybe they are about ham.

Sometimes, I start my day at 10:30 a.m. with a European-style baguette at the artisan shop four blocks from my home. Today’s crisp shell holds between its yielding inner lips French ham, brie, butter and jalapeño jam.

The words “gluten” and “dairy” do not have their meaning here, as they do when I say things like, “I avoid gluten and dairy.”

This morning, I am not avoiding. I am savoring.

I am swelling with memories of having this at least once every day in Spain, where they will put anything between two slices of a baguette and give it to you for 2€: tortilla española, squid, and often just a single razor-thin slice of jamón ibérico. Nothing else.

Think about it. It’s so beautifully un-American. A slice of jamón and bread. No cheese, no squishy sauce to coax your mouth into accepting it. You have to trust you’ll be ok at the other end—the cotton-dryness of the bread may put your mouth into a start of alarm, but only until it finds the jamón, its fat sweating into the inner cushion of bread, and there it is—there’s the softness, the oils, the impossibly rich peppery barnyard flavor, and then it’s gone. It vanishes just as quickly as you put it in your mouth. And you want more.

The Spanish could put more slices of jamón ibérico in the sandwich, of course, and charge more for it. But they don’t. You’d have to buy five baguettes, toss all the bread, and put the jamón on one sandwich before they’d do it for you themselves.

Because jamón ibérico is meant to be savored in its juxtaposition: how can this much flavor be packed into such a featherweight thing? The power of ibérico is in the marvel.

Nov/Dec Challenge: 30 Days of Making!

Taking a cue from Investigative Designer David Seah, I’ve decided to start a challenge of bringing one new creation into the world for 30 days.

Editor’s Note: I initially planned to do this every single day of November (including weekends), but due in part to the fact that I have 20-hour yoga teacher training weekends, I’m much better suited to do 30 weekdays. And so, I shift to welcome what feels right for me.

As such, this challenge runs from Nov. 3 – Dec. 12, 2014, excluding weekends.

My intentional parameters:
  1. It must be or represent a tangible thing that can be reused, shared or enjoyed by myself and others. 
  2. It should unfurl from my authentic creative expression. (This could mean making a productivity sheet, or this could mean making a hula hoop.)
  3. It must offer value to myself/others, help me create more value (by automating a process, etc.) or help me sell something of value I’ve already created.

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Often I will share photos of my creations (likely on FacebookInstagram or Twitter tagged with #30daysofmaking). Let the creativity games begin!

Check out David’s original post and let me know if you want to be my accountabilibuddy!

My 30 Creations:

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Craving a Life Reboot? Tamara Star Can Help—And She’s the Real Deal

Let me be clear: Tamara Star is a wonderwoman wrapped up into a gorgeous, tall, sometimes shy, fiercely feminine package. She is also my friend; I believe in her deeply, and she’s created a truly special 40-Day Personal Reboot program just in time for the swift-moving, productive energy waves of the season. She’s put her heart and soul into it, and I wanted to share it with you through an exclusive interview with her.

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Every day, Tamara shares her insights, personal stories and tips over at her Facebook page, Daily Transformations. She started it out of a genuine desire to share and help, not intending to turn it into a business—it now has 279,715 fans. In addition to her writing there, she now writes at her website and for The Huffington Post, elephant journal, The Good Men Project, MindBodyGreen, and many more.

Amy: Tamara, for those who don’t know you, what’s your meeting-someone-on-a-plane description of what you do and why you do it?

Tamara: I tell people that I’m a start-over strategist. I’ve been intuitive since birth and I spent 23 years in corporate America, so I act as a bridge between those two worlds. I help people see the blind spots that prevent them from living a life they love.

Tell me a little bit about how and why you created the 40-Day Personal Reboot.

The 40-Day Reboot was developed in my own journal 7 years ago when my life blew up. I was at a point where it was either: completely give up or come up with a game plan. So this reboot is very near and dear to my heart.

It’s for people who want a fresh start, have gone through a major life change like a breakup, or who are really tired of doing the same thing day after day and getting the same results.

I believe that the way we do anything is the way we do everything. If we fall down in one area, the others suffer as well.

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Holistic Productivity: How to Design Your Day to Nourish You (Or: Get Shit Done and Still Go to Yoga)

Being that I travel only slightly less often than a pilot, I’ve needed to find ways to be productive when I have little-to-no daily routine to count on.

I’ve tried plenty of online and offline tools for self-management. Sometimes they work for a while; sometimes they don’t get past the starting line. If trust is lost early (i.e., an app doesn’t cross-platform sync during the first five minutes of use), it’s dead to me.

What I found I wanted most was to trust myself: to not give over my power to one system, but to learn how to trust my internal compass to direct me to how I was meant to move, shift and create in the world each day.

In an effort to create space for this, I’ve been crafting my own personal day design system all year. They are experiments in finding joy and freedom in discipline.

My method involves a yin, feminine approach to productivity, giving the user a new way to look at a single day—as an expansive opportunity and palate for creation.

I wrote an in-depth article on how I created my main pieces for Productivityist.

And, you can also pick them up in a neat packet for $14.

Now, I’d love to give you a quick tour of some of these experiments.

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Movement as Meditation: An Homage to My Yoga Practice (and An Announcement)

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I attended a Zen Buddhism class once in which the instructor said that yoga was “not a great form of meditation.” We were in a yoga studio.

But for me, yoga is embodied meditation.

Author and Conscious Lover Kathlyn Hendricks once told me:

We start by whatever door we come in.

For me, movement is not a distraction. It’s a vehicle for me to move in more deeply.

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