Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thanks, Mom

I was shopping at a local handmade shop in Minneapolis last week.  The store carried a variety of items including yoga mat bags.  So I was curious to see how the bag was constructed.  The outer fabric was cute but when it came to the inside all the fabric edges were unfinished.  They weren't double sewn or serged.

I felt like I was instantly taken back to my childhood when my mom taught me to sew.  This was a time when we had a basic Singer with a very efficient straight and zig zag stitch.  We didn't have a serger or anything fancy.  My mom taught me how to make clothes.  One thing she made sure to do is sew with a straight stitch on woven fabric and then go back with a zig zag to finish the edge so it wouldn't fray.  When  I saw the yoga mat bag I knew bad things were in store for the future owner.  Strings would be everywhere.

As I reflected on my own sewing, I started to reminisce.  I remember hot summers sewing in the basement with my mom.  She was SO patient.  As a parent I don't know if I could hold my cool as much as my mom did.  She understood my frustrations.  She explained each step with love.  She stepped in when I got stuck and took over if I needed just "a little bit of help."

When I think about my mom I see everything I want to be.  She is kind and loving.  She is there when you need someone and always willing to listen.  She has a great sense of humor and is a spit fire in her own way.  Her house is always spotless (I didn't get that gene.)  She has great friends and is on the go constantly.  My children adore Grandma Judie and I love her with all my heart.  So this is a public thanks to my mom for being the person she is.

We all have someone around us that has taught us something.  Sometimes we go by each day and forget about those around us that have helped us grow and learn.  If you can, send out a thank you.  Let them know how much you appreciate and love them.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have a problem.  Most people that sew understand where I'm coming from.  I love fabric.  I usually have a project in mind when I purchase any type of fabric.  I watch for good deals and coupons.  I buy enough that I have a little extra.  You can follow my sewing trail by looking at the fabric I purchase.  It might be the bins of baby flannel for swaddling blankets.  It could be the color coordinated fabric for queen size quilts.  It might be terry cloth for washcloth animals.  You name it, I feel like I've got it.

I was trying to find fabric I already have for reusable sandwich bags and wallets.  I started to search through old fabric.  As I dug in my stash I started to feel like I was on an episode of Hoarders: Sewer Buried Alive.  Never in my lifetime will I be able to use all my stash considering I'm still buying more.

So I was brought back to yoga.  In yoga there are eight limbs.  The first limb is yamas (guidelines for how we interact with the outer world), niyamas (self-regulation),  asana (yoga postures), pranayama (breath control practices), dharana (meditation), dhyana (practicing the first 6 limbs with concentration/meditation) and samadhi (this limb is not practiced, but obtained.)  It is in the first limb, yamas, that you will find aparigraha which is the non-accumulation of worldly objects, caused by covetousness and attachment.  While this yama can be interpreted in different ways, it hits home when I think about all the fabric I have acquired.  I wonder why I hold such an attachment to something I don't use and really never see.

It is time to clean house.  After the holidays I plan to start cutting my fabric into squares.  We will be making quilts at school with my class of first and second graders and the fabric is perfect.  I have to start asking myself, is this something you really need?  Will I still want it in a week?  Will my project be starting soon enough that I will be able to use what I purchase immediately?

As you are read this blog, you may be thinking about your "collection."  You may have that thing you keep buying  and it  goes in a closet or plastic tub.  Before you make that next purchase have a conversation with yourself.  Ask those revealing questions to know whether or not you really need to bring it home.

Sunday, October 3, 2010


Change can be scary.  Change can create an unsettled feeling.  It can also be invigorating.  It can make life exciting.  It can provide a new outlook that may have never happened had you jumped into the unknown.

From January to September I'm training for triathlons.  I'm either running, biking or swimming.  Sometimes I lift weights and I practice yoga.  But really it is a lot of the same thing.  Now that racing season is over I'm looking for a change.  I decided to try P90X.  Yes, it's the workout program you see on infomercials late at night.  I've often wondered how it works and do people really see the results they show in the ad.

So my husband and I started just yesterday.  The title of the first dvd is chest and back.  Before we started I had in the back of my mind it would be fairly easy because I was used to running, riding and swimming.  The workout began with a warm up and then went into about thirty minutes of pull ups and push ups.  First of all I never knew there were so many ways of doing pull ups and push ups.  Second of all, I'm not in great shape.  I'm sore today.  My arms were shaking when I dried my hair after a shower following the workout.  My body needed a change.

When I think about my workouts I think about how many aspects of my life I'm holding onto thinking I'm in "good shape."  While it is hard to step back and look at your life to bring in change, it is necessary to keep you invigorated and alive.  Take the challenge.  Find something new to do.  Change up your workout.  If what your doing is bringing the same result and it isn't working, step outside of yourself and look at how you can bring in something new.  Create the change and prepare to be awoken.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Hill

About a week ago I did a triathlon at Square Lake near Stillwater, MN.  This is a race I have done for the past four years.  I'm familiar with the course and know that by the time I get to the run portion of the race there will be a large hill to run up.  The first time I did the race I walked up the hill.  I was convinced I was too tired to run up it.  After I finished the race I was disappointed I wasn't able to run the whole five mile course.

The next year I did the race I told myself I was going to make it up the hill without walking.  I did run for the most part but needed to walk at the top.  Every year seems to get better and better.

So this year's race was another year of thinking about the hill.  I was cold in the race, my feet so cold in the first mile that I felt like I was running on rocks.  Around mile three I was coming to the hill.  It was at that moment I was reminded of something I teach in my yoga class.  Pay attention to your mind but don't let it hold you back.  I could hear my thoughts coming in.  The self talk that told my body I was tired and why should I keep running up such a big hill.  I asked myself why I do this race every year.  I wanted to stop for just a minute.

It was when I started to listen but let go of my mental limitations that the hill became easy to run.  I had been training a lot over the summer.  I was in good physical shape and could run the whole course without stopping.  I made it up the hill and never stopped until the finish line.

So this brings me to every hard moment in life.  I wonder how much could I do if I could control my thoughts.  What could I accomplish if I could tell my self I was strong, able and up for the task?  I think the possibilities are endless.  So pay attention to your thoughts.  Hear what you're telling yourself and believe you can do it.  Watch what can happen.  You will be amazed.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


I was sewing last week and decided to turn off the television.  It was late at night and everyone was asleep in the house.  The windows were open and a storm was coming.  I could hear the wind blowing through the trees while crickets chirped near the pond behind my house.  It was then that I was reminded of the calming affect silence could have.  It was so peaceful just to sit and listen.

When I teach yoga we think about clearing our minds.  Being surrounded by silence allows us to tune into our internal chatter.  With distracting background noise we can't always hear our inner monologues.  When I am paying attention to the conversations in my mind I can let things go.  I can honor my worries and calm my fears.  I can release tension I am carrying around.  When I leave class not only am I physically tired but I feel renewed with an uncluttered mind.

At school I have a quiet time in my classroom.  Everyone in the room stops and spends some quiet time by themselves either reading, drawing, writing or resting.  It is the time during the day that kids enjoy the most.  Wouldn't it be fabulous to have our own quiet time during our workday?  It would be a time when all phones are off, coworkers have their own quiet time and email and texting are unavailable.

Take time to find silence each day.  Go for a run without an ipod.  Eat dinner with the television off.  Practice yoga without any background music.  Drive somewhere without the car radio on.  Experience silence.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


This was my dog, Bruiser, with my son.  About two and a half weeks ago he suddenly passed away, most likely from a heart attack.  He was twelve years old and seemed like he was in good health.  Just the weekend before he had been chasing the vacuum around the house.

The night he died I was surprised and saddened.  I couldn't believe what had happened.  The next day I was working with a group of adults and wanted to share about my dog but was brought to tears when I tried to talk about it.

When I think about Bruiser I want to share everything I loved about him.  His snoring under the bed.  How he laid on my chest with his paws around my neck as a puppy.  The times he would drink so much water his belly would swell up to look like a watermelon.   His love of children and tolerance for any poking and prodding.  I think about how I appreciate every moment he spent with our family.

As a society we can get caught up in negative thoughts, regrets, and guilt.  It was when Bruiser passed that I wanted to focus on what I appreciated about him instead of getting caught in sadness and anger.   Look around you and notice the good happening at this moment.   Appreciate what you have.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Om, Shanti, Shanti, Shanti

Welcome to my blog.  To give you a little background about myself, I am a yoga instructor, teacher and mother.  I am a triathlete, a sewer and a reader.  I have been teaching aerobics for about 15 years and started teaching yoga about three years ago.  The more I learn, the less I know.  It is the journey I am traveling that I would like to share with you.  Every weekend for the next year I plan to post a reflection.  I teach yoga on Sunday mornings and I bring my thoughts for the week to class.  Sometimes the reflection is personal, other times it is a look at the world around us.  Please share your thoughts as we travel together.

For my first posting, I want to tell you the story behind Shanti Designs.  Last December I was looking at gift ideas in Yoga Journal and decided to make my own yoga mat bag.  I love to sew and could never find anything that really thrilled me.   I played with the pattern and ended up with the bags I currently sell on Etsy at  It was also around the same time that my best friend was diagnosed with ovarian cancer after giving birth to her second child.  I was devastated.  I had only heard horror stories about ovarian cancer and knew she was in for a painful, life altering journey.  Again, I was reading Yoga Journal and came across the mantra Om, shanti, shanti, shanti.  Shanti means peace in sanskrit.  I was drawn to the far reaching implications of this mantra.  By chanting shanti three times you are invoking peace.  The first shanti invokes greater peace within yourself; the second, peace in your family and friends and with the third, peace on the planet.  The immediate impact I felt was a feeling of hope for my friend.  I knew I had to maintain peace within myself to help those around me.  While I am but one person on our large planet I know I can make an impact.  I am trying to send peace out into the world with good deeds, kind thoughts and friendship.  So as you go through your day, find peace in yourself and those around you.  Go out and create peace.