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An Interview with Elena Brower

An Interview with Elena Brower

I am so over the moon to share this next interview with you! Elena Brower is an elegant, artistic and authentic yoga teacher (my most favorite kind) out of NYC. She teaches very large classes is some of the most amazing art/culture institutions on Earth. She inspires me a lot lately as I move into a deeper understanding of my self through this sabbatical year. You can find Elena's classes on yogaglo.com and you can learn more about her offerings and be inspired too via her beautiful site. Thank you Elena for honoring me with your time and answers.

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KS: Dear Elena,In the last year and a half I've been transitioning from a studio owner in Bend Or to a full-time mama of two boys/very part-time yoga teacher in Portland OR. To stay inspired I document my life via my blog, take photos and collect all sorts of things that inspire me both online (usual very early in the morning while it's quiet and I'm nursing!) and off through nature, books, music, style and my yoga practice. Your website/blog/Instagram is one place I go for inspiration. So thank you for that. A do a series I call An Interview With. I've interviewed a late night talk show host, a international women's organization founder, an artist, a photographer, a toy maker - all yoginis and up until now all local Bend women. Would you be willing to do me the incredible honor of answering some questions via email for my blog? With Love.
EB: sure! no promise on how fast i can return, but YES! and thanks for your sweetness, Kat... x

KS: You seem to always be or working to be connected to Spirit, how do you nurture this connection?
EB: I study a lot, I meditate daily, and I read so much poetry and books on the science of the body and the mind.

KS: What do you love to eat? What sorts of food have you found give you the most radiance?
EB: Kale, cruciferous vegetables and good lean clean protein.

KS: I love that your priority for self-care and self-love is so evident in your writing, musings, and teaching. What do you think is most important when practicing self-care?
EB: Remembering to really connect to myself by waking up early, staying close to my practices of yoga and meditation, taking super salty baths, and going slowly in the mornings.

KS: What do you love about being a mama?
EB: I love being a great example of equanimity for my son. It's been a really nourishing road for both of us, learning how to evolve a lot of negative patterns and coming to love and respect one another so much.

KS: Do you have any advice for new moms or moms of very young children?
EB: Always apologize when you aren't proud of your behavior. Seriously. Show them what a great apology looks like and how deep a connection can be when truth is present.

KS: What music do you love?
EB: I have to confess I love 70s rock and 80s alternative...But mostly i listen to everything ranging from ambient to classical.

KS: What is your favorite book?
EB: Just read Eve Ensler's In the Body of The World and it gave me such incredible perspective. I love anything about the science of the brain too.

KS: What is your favorite movie?
EB: Harold and Maude is the first one that comes to mind. What a sweetness.

KS: What is your favorite color? :-)
EB: Right now white or super light periwinkle blue.

KS: You have great personal style! Can you describe your personal style? Brands you dig?
EB: Elegant. For both yoga and real life, I wear alot of Lole, Hyde, 51inc., KiraGrace, Katerina Waldenstrom, Wellicious... these lines can go from mat to life gracefully.

KS: I love seeing your beautiful, simple, evocative pujas on instagram, how do you care for your home?
EB: I clean it myself and am always refocusing the altar spaces and creating new avenues for the flow of energy in my home.

KS: Who inspires you?
EB: Every person who comes to class. My son. My parents. My sister. My teachers.

KS: What are you really excited about right now?
EB: On Meditation, a film i'm helping produce, and my audio meditation course that I'm recording now for release in fall 2014.

KS: What are you currently obsessed with?
EB: Writing poetry.

KS: How does your yoga practice show up and influence your life on and off the mat?
EB: It's teaching me how to stay steady, be consistently patient and happy, and a great mom.

KS: How important do you think Art is in teaching and practicing yoga?
EB: Art is everything. If you're teaching, and you can locate your art in what you're doing (whether it's poetry, your interpretation of ancient teachings or your take on science), your work will always keep you inspired and attuned.

An Interview with Sarah McMurray

An Interview with Sarah McMurray

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Sarah McMurray is one of the sweetest and most loving people I have had the pleasure of meeting. Every time I see her she is full of smiles and genuine care. She is an artist of life and she has a story to tell. At age 31, she is fighting Sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. She agreed to let me ask her some questions. Enjoy her delightful responses and join her fight!

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KS: What really excites you right now?
SM:
Oh goodness, green smoothies with ginger, time in the woods, being with family and friends, a hot shower, lilacs and almond milk spicy chai!!

KS: Do you connect with Spirit (God, Mystery, a Divine Presence, so many words!)? If so, how?
SM:
Great Spirit connects most often with me through nature, meditation and art, the poetry of Hafiz and Mary Oliver. Lately Mary Oliver’s poem Wild Geese has really been doing it for me.

KS: What feeds your soul?
SM:
Community that is raw, authentic, present and willing to walk through life’s craziest things together! Since my cancer diagnosis, I have been absolutely in awe of the impact community has on my soul. As a highly independent woman, I’m learning to let people do even the most basic things for me and to not only ask for what I need, but to truly recognize it. It’s empowering to know tribe is such a gift to soul. I’m also someone who needs alone time to write and process and time in nature is the other key to my soul’s joy.

KS: You were at one time a food blogger, what did you discover?
SM:
I was, I worked for a short time as a food blogger/photographer and recipe creator of organic, gluten-free and often vegan recipes. I loved it! Making nourishing foods and plating them creatively is an excellent ritual in self-care. Not only are you feeding your physical body, but also your creative spirit through the process. Some recipes were total flops, but having a sense of humor when cooking is a good reminder not to take our self too seriously. I’ve always been interested in holistic nutrition and at some point I would still love to study it formally.

KS: You are currently dancing with cancer (this is how I like to think of it). What are you gaining in the realm of self-care thru this experience?
SM: Oh I like that! Dancing with cancer! Honestly, that is a big question. I’m still fairly new to the cancer journey, but some of the things cancer is teaching me are to be truly present to the moment. None of us know how long our lives will be and yet we live as if we have all the time in the world. Being able to say yes to what you truly want in your life and also to say no to things and relationships that drain you is a gift. I’m also learning to lean on my tribe. This has never been something I have been good at. I wanted to present myself as strong, capable and self-sufficient. Asking for help and being vulnerable is scary business, but the tribe wants to help and learning to let them is the most empowering gift of knowing I’m not dancing with cancer alone.

KS: What music do you love?
SM:Lately I’ve been listening to a lot of Jeanna Lindo (a folk artist), Krishna Das, India Arie, The Avett Brothers and Beyonce (because a girl has got to dance)!

KS: What is your favorite book? What are you reading right now?
SM:
Oooh! My favorite book EVER is Kite Strings of the Southern Cross – a travel essay about a woman exploring the tropics by Laurie Gough.  Currently my bedside table is stocked with all of Kris Carr’s Crazy Sexy Cancer books, Hafiz poetry, Beat Cancer with Nutrition, Grumpy Cat (humor is the best medicine).

KS: What is your favorite movie?
SM:
I’m a total sap! I LOVE Anne of Green Gables still, Elizabethtown, Little Women, 50 First Dates, and Eat Pray Love.

KS: What is your favorite color? Why?
SM:
I go through color phases…right now I’m loving teal and orange together! It reminds me of a tropical island.

KS: I love your style! Please describe it.
SM:
I guess I’d call it bohemian-whatever-I-find-that-strikes-my-fancy. Lol. I’m a little bit country and a little global flair. I usually find my favorite things while traveling, or thrifting, so it’s very eclectic.

KS: Who inspires you?
SM:
I’m inspired by anyone who loves hard, shares their authentic self with the world and follows their heart.

KS: What are you currently obsessed with? SM:Hand sanitizer. Scarves. My cat. Blogging about my cancer journey. Anything ginger!!

KS: Will you please tell me about your projects?
SM:
Well….right now, surviving cancer. But I’m trying to work again – I have the most incredible job right now helping people connect to healthcare and community resources. It feels really lovely to help others with chronic health conditions while I’m dealing with my own journey. I’m also blogging about my journey with cancer at: love-write-be.blogspot.com because I found so few authentic resources for young adult cancer survivors and I wanted to document it so that when someone else goes through this journey they have an idea of what they might experience, and also to give insight to people who don’t have cancer. I had no clue, no experience with it and I know I’m not the only one. Being 31 facing cancer is an unusual beast and I want people to get a glimpse into this crazy adventure.

KS: What can't you live with out?
SM:
My family and friends. I’m incredibly blessed with an amazing group of people in my life. Everything else is secondary.

Follow Sarah's story on her blog: love-write-be.blogspot.com You can help Sarah fight cancer! You can donate to her Sarcoma Warrior Fund.

An Interview with Heidi Thomas

Heidi Thomas is a wonderful, beautiful and soulful woman full of life, love, and pure sweetness. I interviewed her about her photography business and passion Thomas and Velo, being a Mom, life, love and yoga! Heidi is someone that I admire very much for her genuine love of life. She went through a very special yoga teacher training with me when I was pregnant with Brendan and we have been connected ever since. Here is what she shared with me. Happy Mother's Day! Today also happens to be Heidi's birthday, so Happy Birthday Heidi! 935989_10151973437114598_535370863_n 543880_238695369620841_160894377_n 1459740_10152008066784598_803723569_n 9346_10151673192334598_318567005_n 574484_10150812089274598_1069435254_n

KS: Who are you? HT: I am a mom, wife, photographer, teacher, athlete, and lover of all things nature.

KS: Tell me about Thomas and Velo? HT: Thomas and Velo Photography: My best friend Andrea and I started Thomas and Velo Photography this past July when she got back from Scotland. It was her idea to go into business together and make the plunge right away. Thomas is my last name and Velo is her maiden name. We both have a huge love for photography. There is something about stopping life for a fraction of second that is beautiful. I truly love the sound of my shutter closing. It is my creative outlet. Andrea and I have so much fun together. We go on every shoot together and take turns behind the camera. Our favorite type of photography would be story telling. We love capturing people of all ages just doing what they do in life. Our least favorite... formal posed shots but they are part of photography and can still be creative and beautiful.

KS: How significantly has your life changed since having your little guy Sawyer? How has this inspired your work? HT: Ahhh, life after Sawyer. Let me just say, that I love being a mom. I wouldn't trade it in for the world. I look at him all the time and think, holy cow, we MADE him. Crazy...Life has changed some but not dramatically. We still do "things". We just have a tag along with us now and have to be home for nap time :). It's made us both slow down and be more busy. I hope to one day do photography as my only paid job so that I have more time with Sawyer. Photography is a great mommy job. I do know that I need to take more pictures of him with my professional camera! Having him has inspired me both in photography in my classroom. I think I am a more understanding person with the parents in my classroom and the families I photograph. I also understand the HUGE importance of taking pictures of children while they are young. I love taking pictures of kids playing.

KS: As a mother, teacher, wife, and friend, how do you take care of yourself, what are some of your self-care practices?   HT: I am super busy during the school year so taking care of myself is both important and hard. I still struggle to find a balance between family, work and myself. I want to do it all. I need sleep and exercise to feel like I've taken care of myself. I make sure I get to sleep around 10:00 and that I get some form of exercise each day. It usually consists of an early morning run or yoga class. I like getting it done while my family is sleeping. This way I don't feel like I am missing out on family time. I also meditate in the evenings after putting Sawyer down and before I edit photos :).

KS: What is your favorite food? HT: It's hard to pin down! Anything whole, organic, GMO free and healthy! My favorite junk food: chips... I love salt.

KS: What is your favorite book?  HT: That's also hard. I feel like all women should read, The Red Tent. I also really wish I had a red tent once a month.

KS: What is your favorite movie? HT: All romantic comedies. I love how easy they are to watch and knowing they almost always turn out happy. I also really enjoy watching documentaries.

KS: What music do you love? HT: Americana is my go to. I also love my "yoga" music. I blast it in the car and attempt to sing/chant in Sanskrit.

KS: Tell me about your style, personal and (photographic) professional? HT: I talked a little about my photography style earlier. I love candid, real life photography. Capturing small moments and small details. I love telling a story with my photographs and often imagine each shoot becoming a coffee table book!

KS: What do you love about your home? HT: I love that my home is comfortable and filled things that are either special or nice to look at. I love that we have a wood burning stove and a huge backyard to play in.

KS: You hava an amazing group of friends. What is something you all share? HT: My group of friends are amazing. We get along and get each other. We all have a love for adventures, good food, nature, yoga and generally anything fun!

KS: What are you currently obsessed with? HT: I am obsessed with Kinfolk Magazine. I love the photography, stories and recipes. I would love to photograph for them some day. I am also obsessed with other people's photography and food blogs.

KS: Are you in love? HT: I am so in love. I am in love with my husband beyond words. He amazes me daily and I feel so blessed to have him as my husband and Sawyer's daddy. I am also in love with Sawyer. Who knew love could be so deep it's crazy.

KS: What can't you live without? HT: My family, friends, good food, running and yoga. I am so grateful for my family, home, friends and life in general. I am blessed and happy.

KS: How does your yoga practice contribute to and play out on and off your mat? HT: Breath. Breathing, remaining present and calm. I think yoga has given me a different outlook on life and how I interact with people off the mat. On the mat, it is 100% a moving meditation and me time. I walk out of yoga will a full heart.