24 January 2010

A Night of Thievery Corporation...

Thievery Corporation in action
9:30 Club, Washington, DC
23 January 2010

On Saturday night I had a last minute opportunity to see one of DC’s finest talents, Thievery Corporation. They were playing a mere three blocks from my house at the 9:30 Club, another great DC institution. There are really no words to describe the show…you have to see it for yourself in order to grasp the experience. The performance is a ride…a journey of lights, colors, stories, yoga, Buddhism, politics, prayer, and just a helluva good time. There were many moments throughout the show where I longed for my yoga mat because I had the urge to bust into asana flow. During the concert there was an artist painting Ganeshas on a large canvas above the stage. I fell in love with the entire experience. Thievery Corporation…don’t miss them if they are near you! I’ve shared a few photos from the night below.


18 January 2010

Onward Brave Soul...

 Strawberry Fields - December 2009
Photo taken by Cynthia Evangelista
"My role in society, or any artist's or poet's role, is to try and express what we all feel.
Not to tell people how to feel. Not as a preacher, not as a leader, but a reflection of us all." - John Lennon
Bravery” is a word that has been extended to me numerous times since I’ve moved to DC. As I meet new people here, either in social settings or random conversation, and the customary first impression questions are exchanged between me and my new acquaintances, I’ve grown accustomed to explaining how and why I ended up in DC. “Where are your from?”, “What do you do?”, “Why did you move to DC?”…and in one big exhale I respond, “well, I had a job and a rent-free home in Florida but I needed to start a new beginning for myself, so I left my job and my rent-free home with 2 suitcases and bought a one-way ticket to DC and here I am.” The majority of the reactions I receive are something like this: “Wow, you’re very brave”, “That’s so brave of you”, “I don’t think I could ever do anything that brave” or conversely, it’s “what the hell are you thinking, you left Floooorida to come to Deeee Ceeee in the Winter?!”
Hearing this so many times, I began to ask myself, am I really brave? Because, in between the large gaps of time this “bravery” nonsense kept manifesting itself into my life, I really just thought I was…well, a little crazy. I left the Sunshine state, where I had a wonderful community, a supportive network and promising opportunities to a city where I knew some people, but not  many, had no employment lined up and would be sleeping in a room that was about the size of my Floridian walk-in closet. There was nothing majorly wrong with my life in Florida. I had it nice and easy. It was so easy that I could actually predict exactly what my future would look like 10 years from now…and that was the bottom line. I was at a place in my life where I didn’t have to settle. I could be mobile, fluid, travel and continue to experience change. The opportunity was there and I wasn’t about to let it pass me up.
While I had the support and encouragement of family and friends in my DC move, which made it a lot easier to make the transition, I wasn’t sure I had the support or encouragement from myself. I didn’t have my own back. In my first weeks in DC I experienced many instances of weakness, self-doubt, fear and insecurity (and I still have them, just less frequently). I’ve called our nation’s capital home for almost 3 months now and there are still many things I am unsure about, many questions I have no answers to and endeavors that remain to be seen.
What has given me immense comfort and eased me through my transition is the refuge of my all-encompassing spiritual network. It holds what is so sacred and divine about this life: sporadic glimpses of god in the continuously flowing nurturing words and deeds of my parents, the kind wishes transmitted from friends both near and far, the invaluable guidance of my roommates (luckily, both DC veterans), the lessons of teachers past and present, and the expansive outlets of healing resources that exist all around me. The most notable being a wonderful Buddhist meditation teacher who I’ve been introduced to through my new yoga shala. Only through meditation am I able to become aware of my thoughts allowing me to tame the flickers of anxiety from become huge flames and emerge from my fearful thoughts unscathed. Once I affirmed the value of a deeper self-worth could I start becoming my own cheerleader…then, ya I did feel kinda brave.

07 January 2010

An Evening With Elizabeth Gilbert...

7 January 2010

 Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love stops in DC at the Historic Synagogue to promote
her latest book, Committed: A Skeptic Makes Peace with Marriage.

I can only begin by expressing how friggin’ excited I was to see Liz.  My yoga buds and I shared the experience of reading Eat, Pray, Love together in our first book club and I will never forget the wonderful memories which took place in my living room, drinking wine, eating cheese and discussing the book with some of my favorite gals.

I  sat in a packed house of 400 people, mostly women, of all ages waiting to hear what the best-selling, rockin’ female author had to say (I had a killer seat in the 3rd row). I learned that Gilbert is an advocate of gay rights, not a fan of the concept of soul mates, and hates giving people relationship advice. After a brief reading and question and answer session, Gilbert autographed books and graciously took photos with the few of us fans left over. She was so humble with the audience, thanking each supporter for their time, attendance, and patience. When it was my turn for a snapshot with Liz I asked her if she still did yoga. She turned to me, threw her head back, and in a sweet and perky voice replied, “Well yes I do my dear!” I told her I practiced yoga as well and just as she was about to say something to me, the photographers interrupted and prompted us to look at the camera. She once again thanked me for coming and I thanked her for her insight.

I’m only in the second chapter of Committed and have laughed, gasped, cried, and struggled to close its pages and patiently wait until I can open it again.

04 January 2010

A Toast to New Beginnings...

Votive prayer candles at The Shrine of the Immaculate Conception - DC

Today I had the opportunity to meditate at the US Botanical Gardens with the Kagyu DC Buddhist group (I’ve shared some pictures below). It was a new experience, meditating in a living plant museum in the middle of the nation’s capital. I welcomed the Amazonian climate after walking several blocks in a wind storm and 18 degree weather. As we sat and meditated tourists would pass us by, children would run around us and stare oddly at the Buddha statue we had placed in front of our bench. The sounds of laughter, conversation, and mist were an interesting presence in my meditation. I used the leaf of a Bleeding Heart flower located directly in front of me as my meditative focal point. I felt more awakened from removing my ego from the comfort of sitting in a quiet space on a fluffy cushion, surrounded by altars, candles, and incense.

As I welcome a new year, getting out of my element has been a personal predominant mantra. I moved to a new city, started a new job, and lived with new people. It hasn’t been easy but I also haven’t had a single boring day. Looking back on the last 10 years of my life they were filled with cycles of beginnings. Entering college, beginning my career in legal services, getting a masters, commencing law school and taking on a yoga teacher training program at the same time. I was always prepared to start something new and it felt wonderful being able to succeed at the challenges I took on. I never gave up, no matter how many times I wanted to. Naturally, there were moments of failure but never without learning valuable lessons. At the start of a new era in my life, I accept that I will never stop wanting to conquer or quit…eternally evolving, growing, and making the most out of this life. This year holds many exciting adventures…I get to continue to explore this new city filled with energy and passion, meet new people, read new books, travel, develop a new career, and see Ani DiFranco in March (Yay! It feels so awesome to say she is playing down the street from me! I can’t wait!). 2010 will rock.

On New Years Day my parents gave me a scroll with the following message from the Dalai Lama. The text of it framed my resolutions for the new decade…and perhaps the rest of my life.

No matter what is going on
Never give up
Develop the heart
Too much energy in your country
Is spent developing the mind
Instead of the heart
Be compassionate
Not just to your friends
But to everyone
Be compassionate
Work for peace
In your heart and in the world
Work for peace
And I say again
Never give up
No matter what is going on around you
Never give up

~ H.H. The XIV Dalai Lama