My Birth – DAY on the Sea.

Okay, I know, I know!!! My birthday was last month! No, I’m not trying to drag out my birthday into another month but I do have something really important I want to talk to you about. It’s Balloons.

Most of us purchase balloons for our children’s birthday or maybe even to “let go” at our wedding shower. I see them in the grocery stores, the flower shops and even at restaurants sometimes. They are everywhere – Unfortunately.

After our last sail from Catalina Island to Ventura, California I will NEVER purchase another balloon. We saw at least 15 balloons floating randomly on the surface of the ocean and were able to save only six. I will say, it kind of felt like The Universe was saying “Happy Birthday DAWN!” because I have never seen so many balloons in the water.

But balloons don’t belong in the water. Fish try to eat them, birds get the strings wrapped around their necks and choke to death. Turtles get stuck in them. This is not a happy event for them!!!!

I know balloons look pretty and I know it’s a “thing” we human do to celebrate….but I KNOW we can find something else. I know we’re smarter than this! In fact,  If you are reading this,  I’m going to ask you to be bigger than balloons. I’m going to ask you to find another way – buy a cookie or a big cardboard sign or ANYTHING.

These oceans are OURS and we have to do what we can to try to keep them clean, to keep the fish healthy and to stop polluting our fricking home!

Because this:

14513647_10209436927332539_1975998668_o

Is NOT worth this:

rusty-blackbird-killed-by-latex-balloons1

P.S. We found a Mylar balloon in Joshua Tree as well 😦 Below is some more info for you. Please do your part to help. Namaste.

http://balloonsblow.org/impacts-on-wildlife-and-environment/

Advertisements

Sunrise in the Desert – Joshua Tree, CA

I woke up to the sound of my boyfriend saying, “Oh my God!” As he sat up quickly and I labored awake I wondered what the problem was. Had some animal gotten into our packs? Was a person entering our camp site? Then I realized he was looking at the sunrise. As I sat up to join him I saw that the sun had not yet peeked over the rim of the earth but it was casting a brilliant orange glow on the clouds that hung just over the horizon. The rest of the sky was a crystal clear blue! Good Morning Joshua Tree!!!!

We had been up late the night before watching the stars. It’s one of the main reasons we came here. When you are out in the Mohave Desert there is very little light to interfere with the amazing display that is put on every night by the Milky Way and all of her compatriots. We spent several hours lying on our backs oohing and ahhhing in amazement, naming the constellations we knew and making up names for any we didn’t. We even saw a few shooting stars!

I have always wanted to hike out to camp, carrying all that I needed on my back. Truth be told, it made me a little nervous to camp in the wild but I knew with my boyfriend I’d be in good hands. Little did I know that my first trip would be to the Twin Tanks area of Joshua Tree National Park.  We each carried a sleeping bag, pad, water, a few clothes, our tent and just enough food for an overnight trip. As we headed out from our truck I started to think, “What have I gotten myself into now? It’s HOT and I have to hike? I can do that right?” Don’t I look excited?  LOL

14537042_10209421049855612_846324641_o

The hiking was gentle and my guide was patient as we made our way out. Our camp site was a shallow depression on the east side of a large cluster of rocks. We quickly set up our tent and began to explore our home for the night. We climbed around the granite boulders, made our way through the sandy areas and up over some of the stones to make a circumnavigation of the area near our tent.

To the southwest we notice a huge white stone capping a nearby ridge and wandered over to check it out. It turned out to be a huge seam of Milky Quartz rising up from the earth! It looked like a man-made monument from afar but it’s placement is totally natural! Several large pieces had fallen down from the pinnacle looking like huge white ice cubes that would never melt. We left our own cairn of rocks to celebrate the natural beauty of this place!

We saw very few animals over the weekend and I’m sure that’s due to the lack of any water in the area.  I was mostly worried about snakes or scorpions climbing into our tent at night but luckily that didn’t happen! We did see one brilliant blue bird and a  hawk screaming as he flew overhead looking for lunch. A few rabbits scurried away as we explored and a small grey wren hopped around our camp site looking for food .

The real stars of the landscape are the resident cactus and their cousins! There was no need to remind me to steer clear of their sharp spines and needles! But when you get the chance to look closely at these beauties you can’t help but be mesmerized by their color and shape and form! These lovelies have thorns to protect themselves from being eaten! There is so little water here that they protect their juicy flesh by growing long spikes to make themselves unpalatable!

After we spent a few moments enjoying the sunrise and holding hands, we began to strike our camp site. Barry made coffee and I took a few minutes to stretch, breathe, feel the wind against my skin and listen to the silence that is this place. It was a quick trip but I left feeling grateful for my life. I am so blessed that I have the opportunity to visit these places, explore new parts of the country and enjoy the beauty that this world offers.

Life is such a gift. I hope that you can take a moment today to be grateful for your time here.  Go see the places you want to see. Put your toes in the sand or climb a hill and see the view. Drive out into the desert if that’s your thing. Beauty is all around if you’ll just take a moment to see it! – Namaste.

14551001_10154118080571731_467030446_o
Utthita Hasta Padangustasana – Extended Hand to Big Toe Pose

 

 

Mt. Rubidoux – Riverside CA

My friend Sharon knows the truth about me. She knows that I will go hiking and that I have the ability to do a strenuous hike but she also knows that I don’t really LIKE hiking. I love getting to see the view from the top. I love the camaraderie of hiking with a group of friends and I also love what hiking does for my body. But for some reason it’s just not my “go to” form of exercise.

14407919_10209346906242068_1247866359_o

I am first and foremost a yogi. I practice yoga for about an hour each morning at home. It helps me be more flexible, it gets my blood flowing and my brain active and it also helps me be in a positive mood. After my yoga practice I like to do something else that is complementary to a healthy/happy lifestyle. Sometimes I ride my bike or paddle board. Sometimes I swim or go to a Zumba class. Today I hiked Mt. Rubidoux in Riverside, CA.

I guess it’s not really fair to call what I did today “hiking.” That word brings forth images of climbing over rocks and roots, needing to use my hands to pull myself up higher and I certainly didn’t need to do that! The trail at Mt. Rubidoux is a gentle up hill walk. The 3 mile trail is wide, flat and paved. I was there at 8am and already there was a steady stream of people. I saw folks running, moms pushing strollers, groups of ladies visiting and even a guy walking his gorgeous Iguana!!!!!! That was a first for me!

14455695_10209346876361321_385704713_o

Mt. Rubidoux is just short of 1400 feet in altitude but from its peak you are awarded a 360 degree view of the surrounding neighborhoods, downtown Riverside and the mountains nearby. The terrain on the mountain is very different from what I am used to in the Pacific Northwest. Here it is very dry and brown. Big rocks poke out of the earth or stack on top of each other. Small scrubby bushes cling to every centimeter of earth in search of water.

14408344_10209346907162091_2032532836_o

The thing that I loved the most about my walk today was how happy everyone was! Many people said hello or morning as we passed. One of the stroller moms gave me directions about how the trail worked. I gave and received exuberant high fives from several people running down from the summit and another person even stopped to help me pick trash out of the bushes! It was definitely a peaceful community feeling.

This is what exercise and being in nature does for us humans. It gives us a chance to remember that we all have a hard time walking up hill! That we are all on this planet together. That we are trying to be healthy and fit. That this is our community, our park and we should work together to keep it clean. And that it’s a good thing to cheer each other on!

I hope you are able to find a little peace in your life today.

14375184_10209346906802082_2001404548_o

Pop Up Yoga in Ventura California

I’m lying on my back in Savasana. The sun is making glowing orbs on the back of my eyelids and warming my face. I can feel the bumpy ground beneath my body and the wind is tickling my toes. A mole is popping his head out of the ground. I can hear him nibbling on grass nearby. I’m surrounded by 40 happy souls and I feel peaceful, relaxed and grateful for Ventura Pop Up Yoga.

I found out about Pop Up Yoga by looking online. They host classes all over town in parks, at the marina and even at a winery! Pop Up Yoga is not connected to any particular studio. Multiple teachers share the instructor role and they offer a practice every day of the week. The coolest thing is that you pay for the class by donation! They believe that yoga should be available and accessible for everyone. So they just ask you to pay what you can afford. Isn’t that great?

14285692_10209258755558356_1987306443_o

(Getting our stretch on!)

We visited Ventura, California this past weekend to dog-sit for some friends. We spent the weekend wandering main street, tasting beer, walking the pier, watching kite boarders sail across the water and we even paddled in the Harbor. But by far, my favorite part of the weekend was yoga at The Cross in Grant Park overlooking the city!

 

14231297_10209235951428267_4449791733100842649_o

I arrived early and found my spot on the uneven ground. Someone mentioned that they were trying to find a flat spot. And I thought, “Good luck with that. It’s uneven and bumpy. There are small smooth patches, some rough, some dry, some moist. Kind of like life! Is it ever totally smooth? We try to find balance between work, home life, vacation time, spouses, kids, commitments. This ground is a perfect metaphor. You can try to find a flat spot but it’s not likely to happen!

14315732_10209258758998442_617748758_o

(The view from my spot! It was a little hazy in the morning.)

Our Instructor today is Margeaux who has just opened a new studio called Yoga Casita in Santa Paula. As she leads us through the practice I can’t help but notice how tall she is! (A model maybe?) I’m guessing she is about 5’11” and looks very athletic – I bet she surfs! I know, I’m supposed to be focusing inward but I can’t it. This is my monkey mind at work. I also notice she’s very good at holding space for quiet. That’s something that I struggle with when I teach. I always want to fill the quiet time with talk – but not Margeaux. As we hold poses for five breaths she is quiet – allowing us to focus on ourselves.

14339415_10209258757078394_645670146_o

(Can you say Trikonasana?)

Most of all, what I loved about today is this: There we were – about forty of us, all different sizes, shapes, skin colors, religions and backgrounds and yet for this short moment – one hour of our day –  we were One. We moved as one, breathed as one and radiated peace and harmony out into the world from our hill top aerie. I had at least five people say hello to me and smile and say welcome! Yoga does that. It brings people together. To breathe, stretch, love each other, look inside and BE.

So here I am….having the ultimate California yoga experience. I am on a hill, overlooking beautiful Pierpont Bay and the white sandy beaches of Ventura, California. I feel welcomed. I feel happy. I feel Yoga. Welcome to California Dawn!

14329191_10209258771718760_2033720951_o

 

The Constancy of Change

It’s getting really empty in here! I’m down to one fork, one plate and one cup. All traces of “me” are being erased and packed away in cardboard boxes and big black plastic bags. It feels really strange. It’s not my home anymore. I’m basically camping in my RV – The Gypsy Love Bus for one more week until the buyers come pick her up.

I’ve been trying to write this post for about a month. I have such a heavy feeling in my heart that I can’t shake. I am getting ready to move – again. This time I will be moving to Southern California to be with my boyfriend while he works in a two-year contract position. I’ve moved before. In fact, I’ve moved a lot! My whole life has been one move after another. You’d think I’d be used to it by now – even enjoy it – and sometimes I do. But not this time. I’m trying really hard to find the positive in this next chapter but I just keep feeling sad and a little angry.

I don’t know what is wrong with me! I love sunshine. I will have a pool to swim in every day if I want. I think I even found a place to work and a Massage Therapy school to attend……So why do I feel like this move is such a CHORE? Why do I hang my head and think, “I can do this, I can endure it”?

I visited southern California last week and while I was there I called my daughter to try to explain to her how I was feeling. “I feel lonely here. I want to live closer to you. I miss my friends. I’m not sure I’ll fit in down here, I miss my community….etc.” And she responded by saying, “Let me get this straight, it’s warm and sunny, your wonderful boyfriend is taking care of you, and you’re sitting at the pool? Boy, MOM, that sounds awful!” Her sarcasm made me laugh as I realized the absolute absurdity of my complaints.

Even though I know she is right, my heart is still heavy…..I’m working on looking at the positive. I pack up another box and put it into storage. I prepare to say goodbye to my co-workers, friends and family. I hike in the woods often to remind myself of how lovely and green it is in the Pacific North West AND I remind myself that the winter here is gray and cloudy and awful!

I keep trying to look at it as though I’m off on another adventure. That I LOVE having adventures and exploring new places. There will be new parks to hike, places to explore and new friends!

So, wish me luck in my next adventure! Please send love and light and uplifting thoughts. I need them. I’m having a hard time with this one. Hugs Y’all.

Reveille Yoga – Riverside CA

Reveille – The bugle call first thing in the morning to wake you. The “get up and get your day started right now” push that we all need each morning to energize, awaken and motivate us to get a move on! Reveille Yoga in downtown Riverside, California is where I found my wake up call last week.

As Jenny Montenegro walked into the room I wondered if she is from somewhere tropical – somewhere like Belize or Portugal. Her skin is golden brown, she has long dark hair and when she smiles the light reaches up into her brown eyes. Jenny is an artist. On the mat and off. She has an MFA in Studio Art & Design from UC/San Bernardino. And that flair, that artist’s style is evident in her yoga practice as well.

She started us off with a short, gentle meditation and then moved us smoothly into a challenging flow that incorporated Suria Namaskar B – or Sun Salutation B. As Jenny guided us in her soft, gentle voice I found myself challenged and sweating more than usual!

I tried to chalk it up to the California weather – It Is HOTTER there. And then I tried to tell myself that Jenny is much younger than I…..but the truth is probably closer to the fact that I don’t practice enough on my own. The ladies to either side of me seemed to be just fine! Sure I teach a full load of classes (9 per week right now) but practicing on my mat – on my own is not something I push myself to do enough. Is it ever enough?

As we came to the end of practice Jenny said it was time for inversions. I mentally kicked myself for requesting Sirsasana at the beginning of class when she asked if anyone had a pose they wanted to include. I was tired, but being the brave, badass, sometimes crazy yogi than I am, I pulled it off. Two Shaky, rocking, weak headstands – Hooray!

Reveille is a lovely studio located in the historic down town core of Riverside. It is just steps away from the historic and amazing Mission Inn.  It’s a great area to walk and check out the local shops. Wear shorts and flip flops because It’s warm and drop in to a class with Jenny! I promise you’ll get your wake up call!

For the Love of Water

As a girl from the Pacific Northwest I never really thought all that much about water except that we have a lot of it! In the Seattle area, it rains ALL the time, we have oceans nearby and the mountains have snow which melts down into the rivers. Water is everywhere! Everything is green. Moss even grows on the rocks!

I love the water! My boyfriend and I are sailors so we spend lots of time on it. We have been sailing in the San Juan Islands throughout this last summer and we are now planning on taking professional sailing training so that we can be on the water full time!

Our training will be held in Gibraltar so we are traveling from the Pacific Northwest across the country to Florida so that we can fly out of Jacksonville. We are taking our time traveling across the country so that we can see the parts of it that interest us. So far, we have traveled from Washington state, down into Oregon and California. We like to take the back roads so we can see the lesser travelled areas.

Being water lovers, we are always looking for lakes to paddle or camp nearby. Imagine our surprise as we came upon the first lake where there was no water! Just a dry lake bed. And then we saw another and another.  The lakes that did have water were 50% or less of their normal size and most of the rivers were a mere trickle compared to their former robust glory. When we stopped for gas near the second dry lake, we asked the gentleman serving us “Where did all the water go?” He said that it went dry back in the 50’s when they started tapping into the water for irrigating nearby crops.

12016716_10206637464747724_1590266425_n

(Washoe “Lake” This is a boat ramp into a grass field.)

Further south in the valley near Bishop, CA I was told stories about big cities coming over the mountains to buy land and water rights – only to funnel all of that precious water out of the valley into the Los Angeles area.

So here’s the thing….I’m no expert. I don’t have all the answers. I just know what I’ve seen. I don’t know if this is happening because of global warming, or overuse, or unfair redistribution but it sure looks to me like this problem is only getting worse.

So here is my challenge to you: Find out what you can do. Get real about how much water you use. There are water conservation districts in your area – find out what they suggest. Find out where your water comes from! This is a matter of public record. Don’t just take the easy answer – go at least 3 steps back to find the original source of water. Challenge your neighbors and friends to conserve water as well. BUY A REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE. As far as I’m concerned, the single use bottles should be banned.  Find out what you can do and DO IT.

Water is our most precious resource. We must respect it. Without it we die.

12063604_10206688263737667_4632561444910354237_n