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Month: August 2013

Back on the Mat.

Back on the Mat.

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26 poses, 104 degrees, 40% humidity. Bikram yoga.

for the first time in what i wanna say…a year, i went back to bikram yoga. whattt? yup. since my bucket list has, “Get certified as a yoga instructor” near the top of the list, i thought to myself…maybe i should get off my butt first and onto the mat! so, that’s exactly what i did.

but, not to a power yoga studio as i plan to pursue, but thought i would go hardcore, and go to the studio, bikram style. got up at 9am and tried to fight my body for 10 minutes with reasons as to why i should not go to bikram (as originally mentally planned the night prior), but i figured…GO.

got to the studio in bikram attire (it gets REALLY hot and sweaty REALLY quickly), and started my practice. “wow, this is gonna be new,” i thought to myself. the new kid on the block again, but it was ok. i thought to myself, accept what you do not know, and learn along the way…and so i did.

it wasn’t my best practice on my mat by any means, but it was my attempt to get my body in the rhythm of rejuvenation and renewal – back into a healthy flow if you will. probably two poses before the floor exercises, i couldn’t handle it anymore! i remember thinking to myself in between one of the poses, “i’m gonna pass out, i’m gonna fall over – no, you can’t! cause then people will start falling over too cause they will also feel discouraged. you gotta stay in it! fine! drink water, but don’t be distracting. close your eyes, don’t make eye contact with the teacher. i hope he doesn’t call me out. crystal, get up! get up!” but then…i started feeling sick, and started seeing dots…so then i thought to myself, “NO. this practice is for my body, and i gotta stay focused on my breath and how my body is feeling and gotta relax my face…i can’t do this practice for other people – this is not that time. you’re thinking too much. just listen to your body and sit quietly.”

and so, i got down, closed my eyes, and got up when i was ready to continue. and by that time, i caught the second set of the pose right before the floor exercises. phew! i busted my butt through the floor exercises, bikram instructor man called me out on a few of the poses (cause i was not doing them correctly!) and eventually got through it to the end of the hour and a half.

while in savasana, i thought to myself, what a metaphor for life. i love yoga, and i think that that’s what i love about the practice. it’s a reminder to breathe, and how important it is to not fight your body, and to not go go go just for the heck of it…

sometimes it’s so easy to go go go, and by the time you reach your destination or point completion, or what you think is the highest “place” you can attain, you realize, hmmm perhaps i missed the point of the whole thing because i was too focused on that one destination point.

spirituality. while going to church and praying novenas, and buying religious articles as devotion pieces are all awesome things…it’s so important to not forget the Jesus and relationship part of the deal.

while i wanted to have an awesome practice in yoga on the mat today, busting my butt until i passed out would not have been good for anyone. especially me!

moderation with challenge. it’s good to know limits, and boundaries, and listening to my body.

appearances. in bikram yoga, you aren’t the most attractive kid on the block. sweat all over – in your eyes, mouth, dripping all over the place! your hair is in a mess, and your face sometimes looks angry. what a freeing place to be!

and so, i can gladly say, “i love my time on the mat!”

excuse me while i detox. 🙂

 

Keep it Simple. How?

Keep it Simple. How?

 

i came across a United Nations Association Gift Shop in palo alto...a friendly surprise to see fair trade items piled on top of each other!
i came across a United Nations Association Gift Shop in palo alto…a friendly surprise to see fair trade items piled on top of each other!

Ironically enough, one of my good friends from USD moved to the San Jose area around the same time I headed over to the South Bay, and he has been one of the greatest blessings to me during this time of transition. Jake served as an Augustinian Volunteer for a year in Mass. after college, and more recently, he returned from spending two years in Chile as a volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteers. So good!

We are doing the same type of work up here in San Jose, so that’s pretty cool too.

In the many moments that Jake and I spend together, we end up talking about social justice. More specifically, we share our pictures and stories from our times spent internationally, and often talk about how it is that we plan to intentionally live what we have experienced and learned.

I mean, just ’cause we are no longer abroad and no longer living in those communities, does not mean that our mission is over. In fact, I think the challenge is just beginning, and the mission starts to take a new shape as it is formed and developed where we now reside.

Sometimes Jake’s roommates would walk into their living room, only to find he and I with our “Spirit & Song” booklets open, singing praise & worship songs on Sunday evenings after mass…or, actually, any weekday, really. We always somehow end up talking about the difficulties and challenges we face with trying to live more just and socially responsible, amidst a world that is not all the time just, and not all the time socially responsible. And now we have salaries, no longer stipends! More responsibility.

There’s New Resource Bank, a bank which carries the “vision of bringing new resources to sustainable businesses and ultimately creating more sustainable communities.” Awesome! The difficulty is that there is only one physical location, and while they have partnered with a number of other banks for their customers to make use of their ATMs, there are other difficulties along the way. Some which may not necessarily be conducive for those with jobs which require withdrawals of large amounts (due to immersion trip pocket money!)

And clothing…Jake and I have spent much time scouring the web for “just” and “socially responsible” clothing brands. Have we found some? Yes. Well, how about dress shirts, work clothes – not just t-shirts and yoga wear? Are the companies which used to be under so much criticism for their mistreatment of employees and unjust conditions, now owning their social responsibility for the common good? On various sites, you can see different ratings…but how are those ratings really calculated?

How about living simply? We want to live simply. But we also want to socialize and spend time with friends. Does that mean that we simplify our social life and not hang out as much in certain social circles? The questions continue to spiral themselves into others, and while we may not necessarily find the answer, the question is there, and we kinda just leave it up to ponder and contemplation until the next idea or an epiphany comes.

on living simply. my cousin demonstrates just that. with the filter aftermath, of course.
on living simply. my cousin demonstrates just that. with the filter aftermath, of course.

But these things are important! As huge advocates for social justice who are striving to become more social responsible and aware citizens, it is so imperative that we continue to educate ourselves with what’s going on in this realm of life.

We never stop learning, and I’m so glad that that’s the truth. One day at a time.

What are your favorite brands which are fair trade and/or adhere to a code of social responsibility? How do you live more simply in your life? What advice would you give to someone trying to live a more justice-centered life?

is it possible?

 

 

#movecreatelaugh in norCal

#movecreatelaugh in norCal

 

so far, my time in Silicon Valley has been….interesting? but fun. very fun!

and even moreso…the need to move. create. laugh. CONTINUES…

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the other day, my cousin, rochelle, and friend, jake, went hiking in Big Basin in Santa Cruz. to say it was awesome is an understatement. we moved with our tents on our back, trail mix in our pockets, and smiles on our faces! we needed to spend some time in nature and get away from the city and cars and agendas for a bit. #move

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last weekend, ate rochelle, jake and i went to the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco! super fun! our friend, Tom, was selling his delicious pork belly burgers, and so naturally, we helped build the burgers, took orders, listened to fun music, and had a good time. #create

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jake and i usually play music every week. he plays guitar, and we sing together…it works for the both of us. watch out, coffee shops and churches, you have no idea what’s comin’ your way! #create

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when we went backpacking in Big Basin, we couldn’t take Henry…so ate rochelle dropped him off at a resort instead. this is a glimpse of what happened. #laugh

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it’s important to stay physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually healthy…this is my way.

what’s yours? #movecreatelaugh

Consolation Blanket

Consolation Blanket

 

Upon my move to norCal, Sr. Grace, MSC mentioned to me that there was a St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parish up in San Jose. of COURSE! I don’t think Mother Cabrini would have let me get away from her presence quite yet! Good thing – she’ll be with me for life.

So, naturally…I made my visit, and felt consolation that one of my dearest mentor saint friends was going to be around and celebrated at a church and a school. yay!

At the church, I sat in silence in the quiet space (which was huge by the way), and tried not to get freaked out by the silence. At the same time, the stained glass window image of Mother Cabrini behind me shone onto the altar, and it was beautiful. A lady walked in, said some prayers on the kneeler to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and I continued to take in this quiet time. It was very much needed.

A move is stressful enough – transition is hard, and just like my friend said to me, “welcome to the secular world!” where I was no longer being welcomed into an intentional community like I had experienced with the Cabrini family through CMC and the last year, for the past three-fourish years. This was a new experience.

But, like, Sr. Terezinha would always remind me: “God won’t send you into the cold, without a blanket.”

I think having a parish named after Mother Cabrini is definitely a gift, and she is certainly part of my consolation blanket.

Here are some pictures:

Who/What is your consolation blanket these days? Hope you get a chance to look around and be grateful for today!

Service and Being Filipina

Service and Being Filipina

 

It was an exciting day today, in that I met some of the student leaders that I will be working with this year. I mean, what better way to kick off the year, than to dive into some community service work?

The student leaders organized an opportunity for our group to serve at a local soup kitchen. Talk about bringin’ it back! Last time I served at a soup kitchen was in high school – at least, that’s the most that I can recall! I remember serving at the Catholic Worker in Orange County a few times, and I remember baking brownies for the people on Thanksgiving. It was part of our youth ministry program at church, and other times, I just decided to go, just…because?

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www.catholicworker.org

It indeed seemed like a new experience for me serving at a soup kitchen, in that, I felt like I had a new pair of lenses. Between my days of recording community service hours in high school and now, many years later, my experiences with poverty, homelessness, hunger, and social justice have made vivid imprints in my mind.

This afternoon, I was brought back to discussing “A Place at the Table” with our CRS Ambassadors, while discussing food hunger in America. I was brought back to the many false stereotypes that I heard growing up, that poverty and homelessness affect only a certain ethnic group (and saw yet again, firsthand, that this is not the case). I was brought back to remembering the importance of not forgetting people in the margins.

Most of the people were gathered in the center of the room. They seemed to get the most attention, and I happily poured soda into their styrofoam cups. Looking around, I saw people were beginning to fill the outside tables, and I thought to myself, “don’t forget the people in the margins!” What a metaphor for life.

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And unexpectedly, I was brought back to the Philippines.

Walking around with a cannister of soda in my hand ready to pour, I walked over to this Filipina woman who called me over. She said, “Pinay?” (colloquial term for a Filipina). Happy to have made contact with another Filipina, I said, “Opo!” (“yes” in Tagalog). She then said, “That’s all I know! I’m from Ilocos Norte. I’m Ilokano.” I was brought back to Baguio, distinct memories, and my Ilokano roots.

A few moments later, I poured some soda into another man’s cup. He said, “Hey! Are you a native Filipina?” I thought to myself, “what is going on here?” Haha, I told him no, but my parents are from the PI. I then asked him if he was Filipino and he said, “No. I’m Mexican.” Ok…so either there was a community lesson on Filipinos and the Philippines, or perhaps it was not common for them to see Filipinas serve at the soup kitchen?

As the day winded down, soda cannister in hand, this young adult – probably around my age said, “Hey! Are you Filipina?” At this point, I was like, what in the world? I wasn’t wearing anything distinctly Filipino to prompt this seemingly popular question! I said, “Yeah. are you?” He said, “Nope – but I can just tell from your face and complexion.”

I then thought to myself, that’s pretty awesome! Normally, I refer to myself as a Filipina-American (Fil-Am), but keepin’ it simple, Filipina will do too. 🙂 But dang. Three times the same question!

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Today I was happy to be out there, directly serving the people who came for food, care, and shelter, and I was grateful for the blessed journey that has led me up to this point. Nothing is wasted.

How has your journey led you to where you are now? I would love to hear about it!

“Nothing is Wasted” by Jason Gray