If you are reading this from somewhere in The Bay Area, it’s likely you experienced a bit of Fleet Week fever last week (hopefully the fun part, and not the traffic & crowds). San Francisco has held the annual Fleet Week since 1981, this year welcoming more than 9,000 crew members from the Navy, Marines, and Coast Guard arriving on visiting ships…and one million spectators! San Francisco weather is often at it’s finest during October, and last week was no exception: sunshine, warm temperatures, and beautiful blue skies. Perfect weather to spend Saturday on a sailboat on the Bay, watching the highlight of Fleet Week — the Blue Angels! Possibly because I am married to a man obsessed with flying, I’ve always looked forward to seeing the Blue Angels perform, and even know the schedule (3 pm on Saturday and Sunday afternoons). These talented and incredibly trained Navy pilots put on a dazzling air show for the million fans, and being out on the water was a spectacular spot to watch the blue and yellow birds soar through the sky. They fly at over 400 miles per hour, sometimes the planes are just 18 inches apart, and you can feel the roar of the engines through your entire body. Awesome.
Saturday was spent on the water, but Sunday was spent on the ground. Thanks to my husband’s passion for flying, as a pilot he has access to the field at Oakland Airport where the Blue Angels planes are based for the show. I have wanted to see them from this perspective. I was able to get up-close-and-personal, standing right next to them on the runway, watching the preparations, take-off, and landing! It was a thrilling experience, and I was honored to see the entire team of pilots and crew — so proud, professional, attentive (and with perfect posture!). I am sharing some video clips I took of these beautiful birds, and I hope you’ll experience a bit of the up-close excitement that I felt.
The Angels put on 60 shows every year, amazing crowds across the United States with their incredible maneuvers and stunts — but they also invest over 100 hours of community service on the ground during Fleet Week here in San Francisco. It’s a time that seems to bring people together, and I love seeing everyone’s own experiences of the Blue Angels on social media…whether excited about spotting them practicing on Friday afternoon, or gorgeous photos on Instagram and Facebook of the views from city high-rises, boats on the bay and Treasure Island…it’s heartwarming to feel a community come together. I believe the Angels remind us of the glory of our country (the Blue Angels couldn’t exist without teamwork!), and impart a collective sense of patriotism. I had lunch with a friend today who told me that she gets tears in her eyes the first time she hears them thunder over her house, and her heart shakes with the rumbling. They do shake us at the core, as a symbol of the American spirit that connects us all — like hearing the Star-Spangled Banner at a sporting event. It felt especially poignant this year, given the friction and uneasiness so many feel this election season. I am grateful to the Blue Angels for reminding me, thrilling me, and inspiring me. Fly Safe.
I just returned from my first visit to Asia! I’ve long wanted to visit Shanghai with my husband, who does business in Asia, and had the opportunity this past week. It was a whirlwind — a relatively quick trip that left me amazed, and wanting more. Shanghai is a beautiful city, and no visit would be complete without a trip to The Bund, where we stayed. A mile-long stretch of waterfront along the Huangpu River, it is a major Shanghai landmark. Stunning views of the modern spread of buildings against the skyline in the East, and old Shanghai architecture in the West (sometimes called ’the museum of buildings’)…the Bund sums up modern China. Nighttime is like a light show, and the vibrancy of the river-side promenade with a sea of people and a sky of lights was thrilling.
On several evenings our group of nineteen enjoyed fabulous feasts in beautiful rooms overlooking the Bund. Shanghai is foodie heaven, from dim sum lunches to multi-course dinners, and the essential street food. (Xiao Long Bao – soup dumplings, and Cong You Bing – scallion pancakes) As the biggest city in China, with a population of more than 24 million, the food culture is a mix of provinces from all over China — Shanghai has it all!
We visited Yuyuan Garden, a respite from the bustle of the city, located in the heart of Shanghai. The famous classical garden was originally built during the Ming Dynasty, and ‘Yu’ means pleasing and satisfying…and it was. But nothing tops the feeling I had walking into my first Asian Buddhist temple at Jing ‘An. I was emotional when I walked up the steps and climbed over the traditional threshold of the temple into peaceful spaciousness — the massive gold Buddha welcomed me, and the timeless atmosphere embraced me. I loved the smell of incense, the tranquility, and the sacred feeling…I felt as if I’d waited forever for this experience, and it is a meaningful memory of my first trip to Asia.
Even on a fast trip to Shanghai, I saw the juxtaposition of old and new, traditional and modern — from the Bund with epic views of the Pudong skyscrapers…to the Yu garden, with a peek into what life in Shanghai once looked like. If you have the opportunity, go! I look forward to visiting again. And until then, 明朝会 (mintzowê)…goodbye, Shanghai.
A yogi and spiritual teacher, Ram Dass wrote a book in 1971 called Be Here Now — and those words resonate lately. I have noticed our cultural focus on accomplishment is so magnified that sometimes even pleasurable activities become simply tasks to complete. A vacation spent reading books, hiking new trails, and practicing yoga becomes a checklist of productivity: Finished Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad; hiked Half Dome; mastered the Forearm-Stand Scorpion at Wanderlust. Check, check, check. (I did none of these things!)
The ‘cult of productivity’ is a much-discussed phenomenon, but I feel compelled to shift my awareness and focus more on the ‘art of relaxation’ and ‘being here now.’ I’m totally on board with the advice of yoga teachers, coaches and thought leaders— Be deliberate. Be conscious. Be present. Contemplate. Reflect. Relax. Have fun. Waste time sometimes. Live in the moment. Enjoy. At times it is important to remember the value of presence over productivity. Life does not always need to become a checklist.
When it comes to cooking, here’s my motto: If I’m going to take the time to cook, (or bake!) it’s got to be easy and healthy! I’m not talking about boring “diet” food either…it has to be delicious and fulfilling too. After years of trial and error (HA!), I now know that I feel best when I eat ‘Paleo’-style: more protein and vegetables, and fewer simple carbs. I say ‘Paleo’-STYLE, because it’s an approach and a goal, but the life of an empty nester on-the-go makes sticking to my protein and veggies challenging at times. Life is short, and I am all about enjoying the moment (and, sometimes, the carbs!), so when I return from an indulgent escape, I have a few go-to ‘damage control’ recipes to make a return to healthy eating easy — and tasty.
Two of my recent favorite breakfast recipes come from a terrific blog, Darby Jackson Wellness. A health coach and personal trainer, Darby brings a powerful, energetic, and loving message about women and food and health to her work…and has some amazing recipes! The Coconut Flour Blueberry Muffins are just as delicious with raspberries, and the Pesto Egg Cups are basically a great grab-and-go mini frittata and you can add other veggies or leftover goodies. Visit Darby’s website for more recipes and inspiration!
The energy of summer keeps many of us moving. Sometimes I almost get the sense of being a little bit scattered. Imprinted memories of unstructured childhood schedules in the months of June, July and August sometimes make me feel like I can say yes to every fun and crazy opportunity. Once that slight hint of Fall chill hit’s the air, I sense an inner shift. I notice that year after year as the energy of autumn comes in I begin to feel more centered inwardly, and a ‘return to self’ occurs. I find myself wanting to cook more, nest a little and feel grounded.
Feeling grounded to me means I am spending more time at home, cooking more, practicing more yoga and walking in the woods. It means becoming laser focused on completing projects that have been nagging at me. Over these past few weeks I have enjoyed making fabulous healthy muffins, soups and dinners and getting things done around the house. Staying grounded means really looking at the schedule and planning the activities and experiences I really want to have on my calendar. Minimizing travel plans can become important – because I love being in the Bay Area during this season. (However, fall is a beautiful season in SO many places so I do schedule a few fabulous trips).
When a harnessing of my energy takes place, I notice I become more centered. From this place, I feel it is easier to reach out and reconnect with family and friends and I am able to move into the holiday season with greater ease. Feeling centered inwardly always enables me to connect better outwardly. The peace comes from within.
I also think of Fall as a great time to reconnect with gratitude. My husband and I had a great discussion about this a few nights ago. Feeling grateful for all the things that we do have in our lives, even in the midst of all of the chaos in our every day living. We have a wonderful app we recently recommitted to using each night before bed called Gratitude Journal, a simple journal for uploading pictures and memories recording daily gratitude’s to easily refer back to when those reminders are most needed. Gratitude is obviously a year round practice but I realize how easy it is to disconnect from it, as our lives become busy and more complicated while we are trying to solve day to day issues.
I am grateful for all of the wonderful memories of Summer and for my favorite Fall season – and for feeling grounded as I walk this path, with renewed energy. Happy Fall!