Friday, October 29, 2010

ayurvedic comfort for fall

Since I am currently contemplating getting my license to practice Ayurvedic healing (combined with a doula certification, possibly a prenatal yoga certification, and maternity and newborn photography of course), I decided to share a little bit about what that means.

Ayurveda is something I am passionate about and try to incorporate into my life as much as possible. Ayurveda is a holistic system of medicine that has been around for over 5,000 years. It aims to heal individuals through food and lifestyle based on a person's specific mind/body constitution, or dosha as it is referred to. The ultimate purpose is to bring people into complete balance and harmony with nature. There are three types of doshas: Vata, Pitta and Kapha. To determine your dosha take this quick quiz: Dosha Quiz.

Without going too much into detail, fall is a Vata time of year marked by cool, dry air and wind, which are elements that throw Vata out of balance. Therefore, to bring us into balance we must introduce the opposite of those elements with things of a warm, moist, heavy and grounding nature.

How do you know if the fall season has found you out of balance? If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be in need of some Vata soothing: anxiety, insomnia, fear, nervousness, indecisiveness, dry skin, lips or hair, restlessness, weight loss, easily agitated, impatient, digestive issues, sensitivity to cold...the list goes on, but I'll stop there.

So, after that brief explanation of Ayurveda, here are two simple yet incredibly soothing practices that I bring into my daily life during the fall (other things include maintaining a regular routine, gentle yoga, warm oil massages, warm baths and warm drinks).

Spiced Bananas

One banana, sliced
1 teaspoon ghee (clarified butter), melted
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cardamom
1/8 teaspoon dried ginger

Melt the ghee (or you could use organic, grass fed butter) and mix with all the spices. Toss with sliced banana. Eat slowly.

Simple Aromatherapy

This is also an inexpensive, natural alternative to candles or incense. Simply fill a small pot or pan 1/2 way with water and add spices or essential oils (you can also toss in pieces of fruit such as orange rinds). You can make this as fragrant as you like by adding more or less of your scent, and you can control the degree to which you want to disseminate the scent through the air by turning the heat on the stove up or down.

Vata Balancing Aromatherapy


Thursday, October 28, 2010

have you had a novel experience today?

They say that every time you try something new, your brain forms new connections. Therefore, every time a new taste swims across your taste buds, you drive in a new direction, you take the plunge and finally learn how to surf or play the mandolin....well, you are strengthening your brain. And in my opinion, you are doing more than that; you are living. I try to keep this in my mind constantly so that I can consciously bring more vitality and neuronal connections into my life.

Last weekend I tried a concord grape for the first time. Is it strange that I am 30 years old and have never eaten one? I'm not sure. I bought a box of what looked like beautiful blueberries from a farm stand, and when I referred to them as blueberries the farmer took the time to show me how to eat a concord grape. It was a new experience and a new taste....and a new texture rolling around my mouth, which I have to say kind of bothered me. But, I loved the whole process of gently squeezing the fruit until the inner goodness beneath its skin popped through, then feeling for the pit in my mouth and spitting it out. I thoroughly enjoyed it and the slow pace at which the farmer introduced me to concord grapes.

So try something new today! It will do you good.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

fallen leaves

Yesterday was a spectacular fall day here in Connecticut.....a warm 70 degrees and the foliage almost at its peak. I couldn't help myself from stopping at my favorite park in New Canaan to enjoy the splendor of such a perfect day. A spirit of freedom and appreciation began to fill me up as soon as I started walking across the sprawling lawns, so much so that I flung my shoes off and sank my bare feet into the cushiony grass beneath me. I spent an hour meandering my way around from beautiful tree to beautiful tree, all the while intensely feeling connected to the earth through the bare skin of my feet sliding across sticky grass, damp dirt and crunchy leaves. It was heavenly.....and I took quite a few pictures which only made it more amazing (these are only a small portion of them and are nothing great, but they make me happy).

I have to say I am mesmerized by falling leaves. Something in me feels a release followed by great freedom watching the tantalizing yellow, juicy orange, and brazen red leaves unhitch themselves from their branches and float in a swaying dance down to the earth to be reabsorbed. And I love to see the ground carpeted in them....I am genuinely sad when I see people raking up the leaves the minute they fall.

More fall goodness to come....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

om baby baby

I light up with passion and inspiration when I am photographing, but what takes that experience to a completely different level is when my subject picks up on my energy and we begin to flow like one stream of creativity. Sometimes this happens when I pick up on my subject's vibe and I begin to imagine their experience of life....somewhat like an actress getting into character. And sometimes my subject picks up on my particular way of seeing the world and take it on as they pose. This doesn't always happen, mind you.....but when it does, it's an exciting experience of being in the moment, fully alive.

On that note, I thoroughly enjoyed photographing Nicole because we share a spiritual, yoga-centric understanding of life. And given Nicole's admiration of all things hippie, I am able to pull her more in my direction. As she put it, her husband was going to notice that she came home from my house smelling like Patchouli, slathering herself in the bar of homemade soap I gave her (aptly called "Om"), and speaking of meditation beads and the natural beauty of her pregnant body. Love it.

Monday, October 25, 2010

farmer's market

I felt very inspired by the fresh produce at the Farmer's market over this past weekend. I'm often inspired by what I eat....awed by the tasty beauty the earth has bestowed upon us and all the magical nooks and crannies to be found inside their skin. Fruits and vegetables are honesty breathtaking to me, as dramatic as that sounds.

This particular Saturday full of autumn sunshine, local farmers and my sweet husband's hand holding mine as we wandered the tables of produce was somehow more perfect and inspiring than other Saturdays. It's amazing how buying something straight from the source makes you feel more connected to your community, to what you put into your precious body and to the experience of life itself. It's profound.

Alex and I actually have a dream to live on a mini farm in Vermont. We are hoping to move to the Green Mountain State this coming summer (cross your fingers that we find jobs there and can make it happen!), but the mini farm is probably farther into the future. It's just something that brought us together....this borderline Thoreau-vian life we have dreamt up and are partly living already. We envision ourselves someday, in this country home, making as much as we can from scratch, growing as much of our food as possible and enjoying a more simple existence than we're currently living. Ahhhh to dream.....

Saturday, October 23, 2010

beautiful belly

I have quite a few pregnancy shots to post so I'll let them trickle out little by little. This is actually the first maternity session I've ever done, and it's something I've been looking forward to for a long time. I have become more and more enthralled and awed by pregnancy over the past few years. Perhaps it's my own biological clock becoming more attracted to the idea, but I happen to think it's more than that. I am beginning to think it's more of a calling, and am currently meditating on the idea of becoming a doula. After taking these pictures of the lovely Nicole, I felt more drawn to the idea because of how inspired I felt by the experience and because Nicole shared with me that my nurturing energy made her feel so comfortable and beautiful. I was honored by that comment. I also realized that I could combine all my loves by becoming an Ayurvedic doula (so I would be practicing natural healing and providing support during pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum), I would offer maternity photos, newborn photos.....and eventually I would like to publish a book about the experience.

Stay tuned.....I should be making a decision soon!

Friday, October 22, 2010

alex's vows

Photography by Natalie Schlegel

Yesterday I shared the wedding vows I wrote for Alex. Today I will share what he wrote for me....
Alexa, I first saw you (as an adult) when I came to pick you up in a blizzard. I got lost on the way, but then your neon orange jacket suddenly shown out, walking down the white road to meet me. Your green eyes spoke of kindness and your smile immediately calmed me and allowed me to tell you all the difficult things that so often go unspoken between two people. As we had dinner, it was as if going out with a familiar friend, with whom conversation was as effortless as air. When you attacked me with kisses in the car afterwards, I got the sense that the feeling was mutual. Since then life has been easy.
For you have eased in me what was angry, have brightened the parts of me that were sad. As a perfectionist, I never saw the accomplishments I had attained, I never saw any sort of progress. I only saw that which I did not have. But your constant expressions of love, your constant reminders of how far I have come, and of everything that I am worth, have eased me to the point that I could die today and still feel truly content and accomplished, no matter what. For as long as you hold my hand and calm me with your gentle words, I will always find the satisfaction in any trouble.
I promise that I will always try to provide you with the same sense of comfort. I will hug you when you need reassurance, kiss you when you need love, remind you of your talents when you are insecure, and calm you when you are agitated. No matter what tragedy life may throw at us in the years ahead, I will remain by your side, with faith as blind as the snow I found you in, and love: warm and hot and forever.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

we're married!

Well, we did it! Alex and I became husband and wife this past Saturday in beautiful Stowe, Vermont. It was more magical, significant and fun than either of us could have imagined.

One thing we heard repeatedly was that our vows were incredibly touching. Since we are both writers we naturally felt compelled to pen the words ourselves....I suppose it was more like we wouldn't have had it any other way. We also co-wrote our entire ceremony so we were excited to share that (and our vows) with our friends and family (second to that was showing off all my handmade decorations and personal touches--look for future blogs about that).

So given the rave reviews we received about our ceremony, I thought what better way to continue to share the magic than to post our vows. I will post mine today and will post Alex's tomorrow. Enjoy the love!

Photography by Natalie Schlegel

Alex, on our first date I looked across the table at you and immediately thought “I love this man and time will uncover all the reasons for this instant and pure emotion.” After that I came to know you and love you so quickly because I had finally found someone with the same intense level of openness, passion, introspection, honesty, romantic inclination and zeal for life that I have. As you drove me home from our second date you told me that you had always longed to have someone know all your stories, to hear the whole truth of Alex and to understand your experience without words. Today I stand here feeling honored to be that person.
In loving you I have opened myself in a way I never thought possible. You have witnessed more than anyone else all the ways that I shine and all the ways that I struggle, and through it all you have been an unwavering voice of acceptance and support. You have taught me what unconditional love is and have provided me with the safety and comfort I need to better myself every day. In return I have been able to love you as intensely, openly and authentically as you deserve. Thank you for knowing exactly how to love me.
I promise to spend my life returning all the beautiful gifts you give me daily. I will forever nurture our friendship so that we may always be blessed with the laughter, adventures, passionate conversation and deep sense of connection that both of us thrive on. I will give you my acceptance and support so that you may always have a safe place to share yourself and feel the comfort of a hand that always holds yours. I will offer you the free flowing affection, praise, gentleness and indulgence that you offer me so you may always know how truly beautiful, unique and loveable you are. Most importantly I will spend the rest of my days filling your life with the uncontrollable and passionate love that never stops pouring from my heart to yours. I will love you forever.