Taozi Tree Yoga

The seeds we water are the seeds that grow.


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I’m Baby Crazy… in Dusseldorf

DANGER! THESE KIDS ARE TOO CUTE AND MAY CAUSE “CLUCKYNESS”*

*Clucky:The desire to want kids.

Marina: 1 1/2 years old

Noah: 3 years old

Ross and I had the honor of spending the weekend in Dusseldorf, Germany with my pseudo brother Kevin and his family. I’ve known Kevin and his parents Peg and Keith (my heroes) from before I was born, he was the first person to hold me and he was dressed up as a clown.  It’s a long story for another blog. Anyway… Kevin moved to Germany 7 years ago for work and met the lovely Ute 6 weeks in (he said goodbye to his dreams of European bachelor-hood quiet quickly). Since that time they have had a whirlwind adventure into domesticity. The fast track into the land of grownups seems to be the trend among many of my friends. In Beijing my best friend got married and had a baby in the last year while a few others have a bun in the oven. I have always loved kids, babies, and small cute cuddly animals…etc. While some people prefer to stay on the opposite side of the sidewalk when passing buggies with babies, I prefer to stroll up and totally engage with the little tyke. Call me clucky if you want but I’ve been this way for a long time. Our weekend in Dusseldorf however, may have pushed me over the line from “Ahhhh aren’t they so cute… to- Wow. These babies are little miracles.”

Ross photo bombing Marina 😉

We arrived in Düsseldorf with absolutely PERFECT weather. Not a cloud in the sky and a totally mild temperature. Kevin greeted us at the streetcar stop just blocks away from his home. In each of his hands he held the small palms of his little German bundles of love. Noah, a tall, hyper active, electronic engineer, train fanatical 3 year old and his princess little sister Marina, 1 and a half…. The sight of him approaching took my breath away. You know when you see an old friend or family member and they have been transformed into an entirely different realm? Kevin was certainly a father and from what I learned that weekend… an incredible one. Noah took my hand like a total gentleman. He gave it a kiss and I felt faint ;). He proceeded to strike up a conversation in German, refusing to believe I didn’t understand him. This was the pattern the entire weekend. Too cute.

Ross trying to understand Noah as he jabbers away in German.

We went back to the house where Ute, his wife, greeted us in a towel, fresh out of the shower… she had a big grin and was apologetic for her towel state and simply as delightful as ever. We took a little rest in the back yard. I tried to play yoga with the babies, but they were more interested in the watermelon. Next we headed out into the city for an amazing weekend adventure. We basically followed Kevin and Ute’s weekend routine. We ate a complete German meal of curry worst and pommes (sausages and French fries) Kevin insists its health food ;). Next we play with boxes and balloons. Noah was infatuated with Ross’s camel back. He has been in a fireman stage and thought the portable water bag was amazing. Then we took a long walk by the river. Perfect day… no?

“Playing” yoga with the kids.

Watermelon time. On the mat. 😉

Fantastic 4.

Very bad yogi. 😉

Peek-a-boo!

Noah playing with Ross’s camel back.

That night we hung out at the house, read some story books to the kids and after they went to bed we stayed up late chatting. The next day was more of the same… A big German breakfast at their local diner, a walk to a giant fish pond, playing in the park, and ice cream on the front porch. The day took an even more cliché turn when they pulled out the baby pool and finger paints. At this point the kids were covered in ice-cream, sand, and paint. This naturally turned into bubble bath time. I never knew bubble baths and a hyper active three year old could be such a hoot. That night we had a pasta salad in the back garden lit by candlelight. After the kids went to bed the four “grownups” stayed up and I got to have some family time with them… we talked about Grandma Pauline and again reflected on how cool our family trip to Italy was.

Fishy!

Kevin and Noah on the “tight” rope. You can do it Noah!

Mmmmm…Ice cream….

Lovely Ute and baby…

Kevin and the kids playing “Rhino” in the back yard…

Pool time.

Beautiful!

In retrospect… there wasn’t any one thing that was spectacular or out of the ordinary about the weekend (perhaps the amazing weather). To Kevin, Ute, and the kids, it was just a normal weekend. For Ross and I looking in, we saw pure treasure. Full days of playing with the cutest kids one could imagine. Trains, paints, pools, and books.  Cartoons, ice cream, and bubble baths. Isn’t this what parenting and being a kid is all about? Of course it wasn’t totally perfect… there was the occasional afternoon tear crisis when nap time was looming… but Kevin and Ute brushed it off easily and walked through it with grace. By watching the family life in its reality I learned a few lessons. It brought me closer to the yogic idea of abhyasa… or CONSTANT practice. It seems pretty clear to me that having kids is the greatest daily practice one can undertake. I mean, it’s a never ending job. I didn’t see Kevin or Ute touch a cell phone or a computer the whole weekend (except for when taking the I-pad away from the kids, after their ten minuets were up…but that doesn’t count).

Ross and the babies watching cartoons.

On Monday morning we were introduced to the work week routine… an early morning rise with breakfast at the table, and then the run out the door to work. The family sat and had every meal together, complete with a little sing-song prayer while holding hands before eating… “Beep, beep, beep…”. Seriously. Very cute. Another admirable thing we witnessed was the balance between their work and family life. Kevin and Ute both walked into the kitchen looking super sharp in their work suits and we were reminded that they have this whole other life outside of the family. Cool. Rock stars in the office and then on the weekend they devote themselves entirely to enjoying their time with the babies. What great role models to prospective grown ups like us. The bottom line though is that it is hard work. From what we saw with Kevin, Ute and the kids, it can be an amazing experience, but it takes commitment. Yes, I’m still clucky, but I’m having the time of my life frolicking around the globe with Ross… for now we will get our dose of  fun-filled family weekends from those kind enough to let us join in. Thank you so much Kevin, Ute, Marina and Noah! Friends in Beijing, you are next! 😉


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Look at the stars…

Breathtaking.

 

“Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes shine to the stars. Enthusiasm is the sparkle in your eyes, the swing in your gait. The grip of your hand, the irresistible surge of will and energy to execute your ideas.”

Henry Ford

Dortmund, Germany. The whirlwind of life continues on. 12 countries on 4 continents in 12 months. Really? Easy to see why often I feel entirely drained. Taking it all in, enjoying, and keeping my eyes open for the miracle. Going through the motions this week, taking in the amazing experiences again brought to me, I’m wondering what the lesson is. This morning it came to me. Enthusiasm. What are all of these moments if not met with my utmost energy and my own special sparkle…? Its easily attainable, all that’s necessary is the intention and the follow through.

We arrived in Dortmund exhausted as a number of early mornings had finally compounded to the point we couldn’t keep our heads up. Enthusiasm? Hmmm… hard to cultivate on an empty tank. We stayed on the most comfortable inflatable mattress ever with Joerg and Karin, two old friends from Beijing. We enjoyed good sleep and good food. Particularly the famous German breakfast. It was here we were able to recharge our batteries and load up on more appreciation for our path.

LOVE waking up in Germany…

The highlight of the week was seeing COLDPLAY in Koln in honor of Karin’s birthday. We spent the day absorbing the city. GORGEOUS. The church there is spectacular. We wandered around a bit then headed to the show. Wowza. What an experience. I have to say there were tears as I looked around and saw 45,000 people with their arms in the air lifted up into the open night sky as he sang, “look at the stars, look how they shine for you, and everything you do…”. Seriously, very moving. You know that feeling, when you are at a show and there are butterflies in your gut? Or there is a deep bass, vibrations through your feet… like the unifying OM in yoga class. I couldn’t help feel a big sigh of WOOoooowwwww accompanied by tears. I was grateful for the moment and the tears which served as some evidence that I AM getting it. LIFE…  Sometimes I think maybe I’m totally numb to all the incredibleness that my life currently is. There is something about a large group of people united under song to make you feel alive. I loved it. What a perfect opportunity to recommit to joy. To recommit to enthusiasm.

Karin and Ross enjoying the sunshine…

Koln.

Oh yes…

The next day we headed out to the country to visit Joerg’s country home. Unbelievable. A beautiful piece of property in the most lush hills. We had a wonderful lunch on the back patio and then hiked about six kilometers to a small perfectly German village for some cakes and coffee. The best part of the hike was the trees. As soon as we entered the forest we had to give the trees a big hello and tell them we were there… I spent a minute with my hand on the trunk of a beast of a tree. Thinking of my dear friend Mo telling me to talk to trees.

Back Patio…

Green!

Talk to the trees.

Count down…

Lift off 😉

Drama struck early the next morning as Ross pulled a muscle in his back. Drama or a blessing? The poor man could hardly walk. We braved a trip to a nearby mining museum for a quick tour hosted by the lovely Karin. Then home we went where for the first time in I don’t know how long we watched a movie and CHILLAXED. SUPER ENTHUSIASTICALY. I felt terrible for Ross as he really was in pain, but to lay there with him watching Midnight in Paris and recounting our own experience there not 3 weeks ago was fantastic. Doing nothing was a gift.

Cute town…

It’s our last day in Dortmund, today we head to Dusseldorf to spend a few days with German family… my sudo brother Kevin, his wife Ute and their beautiful kids. Enthusiasm. Taking this with me in many forms. Yes, of course in my day to day life experiences, but also in my personal progress. Creating enthusiasm for writing, for reading, for more yoga… for continuing to DREAM and take small iddy bitty steps forward.

Star shine…