There is a crack in everything

  • by 100 Good Things
  • July 15th, 2015
  • 2015, July

There is a crack in everything

Perfection is a dastardly monster that is impossible to chase and even harder to please. Enough is never good enough for the perfectionist who always seems to spot that speck of dust that carefree mortals miss. The need to be perfect is lethal on the yoga mat.

With the benefit of the rear view mirror, I recall berating myself ceaselessly for not being able to twist my torso into a pretzel on the [yoga] mat. The body simply could not go where the mind wanted it to go. Neither resolve nor sheer brute strength worked. It was a sobering realization that hit home hard.

After weeks of self-loathing, the inflexible mind finally saw what the mat wanted it to see.

“Ring the bells that still ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

The perfectionist is afflicted with a common motorist curse best summed up by comedian George Carlin: Have you noticed anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anybody driving faster than you is a maniac?

Compassion is wanting in the fervent nitpicker. He is relentlessly unforgiving on himself and those around him. Precious energy is spent anguishing on the outcome in pursuit of impeccability. Not that being perfect is a bad thing. We wouldn’t have amazing Apple products if not for Steve Jobs’ burning passion to be perfect. However, I have not met a perfectionist who is content and at peace with the world, much less himself.

The mat that is my mirror has shown me the need to be perfect is a choice and state of mind. 100 Good Things is still very much a work in progress. I feel blessed to open shop in an immensely forgiving neighborhood that allows me to make mistakes, learn and grow. I work with lovely producers who don’t mind I am not a conglomerate with deep pockets. They are happy to educate me so I can pass on the knowledge to my customers. This is perfect, or rather good enough, and I can sleep at night.

As for twisting like a pretzel, Marichyasana C is my go-to pose whenever I need a twist so spine-liberating it makes me scream with joy. I am happy to report the pose is pretty much perfect now. Perhaps, my grateful spine thinks good enough is enough.

The ethically and sustainably produced merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care and understanding. To purchase them, visit 100 Good Things store.

Seesaw here, seesaw there

  • by 100 Good Things
  • June 30th, 2015
  • 2015, June
Organically grown cotton; colors derived from nature

Organically grown cotton; colors derived from nature

I was in the middle of Bakasana, or crane pose, at a recent yoga class when my good teacher decided to start the ball of arm balances rolling. I had an epiphany when she started talking about the nuances of Mayurasana, or peacock pose. I was struggling to lift like the graceful bird and pretty much tightened every single muscle I knew that was there. I froze at the hips like I always do when it’s time to go upside down on the mat.

She, ever so cool as a cat, walked around the terribly strained bodies in the room, then sagely said, “The best way to put it is the seesaw effect.” Exasperated from trying, I uncoiled my legs, or rather toppled out of my lotus position, and listened so I can uncover the secret to the superhuman feat.

As one end of the teeterboard goes up, the other goes down. Instead of forcing a stability, balance can be achieved simply by going with the flow of the seesaw. One end of the plank swings up, the other end goes down. Forget trying to find equilibrium in symmetry. Lower your forehead to the ground so your legs can lift.

Sounds laughably logical. Like the man who mocks a million-dollar painting his own child could have painted. The obvious can be so painfully obscured.

The Seesaw Theory puts balance in a, well, balanced light. By allowing myself to yield, albeit seemingly disproportionately, I can progress. As I am constantly curating the offerings at 100 Good Things, I am learning the merchandise balance I seek will come from simply relaxing and moving with the seesaw. I know for sure my arm balances will go off-kilter if I become too hung up on holding equilibrium.

Balance, and all is coming.

The ethically and sustainably produced merchandise at 100 Good Things are sourced with care and understanding. To purchase them, visit 100 Good Things store.

Buy less, buy better

  • by 100 Good Things
  • June 17th, 2015
  • June

upcycled bag

 

Work brought me to Phnom Penh recently. Apart from making it a point to check out the local yoga scene, happily, I had pockets of time to window-shop and gain a sense of what’s on-trend in the Cambodian capital. What I saw left me mortified and guilty as charged.

In the name of fast fashion and perfectionism, fabric waste left on the cutting room floor was enough, I suspected, to power an entire upcycling industry. Enterprising young designers were refashioning redundant textiles from garment factories into fashion accessories, apparel and statement homewares.

This means no one bag is the same, only because what the designer and her team of hardworking workers can produce are dependent on what can be salvaged from textile factory floors. Every fashionable boutique worth its threads had found creative means to rework such awful lot of textile remnants into a covetable piece of cushion over, shawl, bag, apparel, you name it.

Some of these stylish fashion and home accessories are sitting on the shelves of 100 Good Things. To me, they are a constant reminder of how I should always make a purchase decision: Buy less, buy better, even better if I can repurpose my resources. I am inspired to be a more conscious consumer.

To purchase some of these fashionable upcycled fashion accessories and homewares, visit 100 Good Things store.

Less is more

  • by 100 Good Things
  • June 3rd, 2015
  • 2015, June

Yoga in Maldives

At a recent yoga inversion workshop to fine tune the art of going upside down, I found myself shedding a heavy fear baggage to nail that elusive incredible lightness of being. Shirshasana, or headstand, the king of yoga poses, has myriad benefits. Perhaps chief among them is defying gravity is great for heart health. It’s a bonus seeing the universe the other way round is great for the skin.

Shirshasana is one pose not to be taken lightly and certainly isn’t the be all and end all for all yoga practitioners. I know better because I have bruised my muscles, bones and ego awfully early in my yoga journey when I was impatient to take off and fly.

There’s a trick to overcoming fear of inversions, Anahata Yoga’s San offered, “You simply stop before you reach the point of being scared.” Sometimes, it’s about just taking two steps and going no further. Repeat two steps daily till ennui sets in – and it will – and the body is ready to stride that extra steps.

Being task-driven is a necessary evil in goal-oriented work environs. The difference, I discovered on the [yoga] mat, is being with the journey enroute to the destination. When you slow down, breathe and be present, you reach your station centered and connected to the core of your being. Instead of going through the motion, bending one leg after another, moving from task to task in a harried manner.

Learning that less is more is fine art. Apply the theory off the mat, to the real world: The next time you are at the supermarket, pay attention to ingredient labels. You will be hard pressed to find something with just a few ingredients, let alone with familiar names you understand and can pronounce. Baking a loaf of bread requires just flour, water, salt and yeast, not an alarming 20 ingredients that read like a toxic chemical soup.

Likewise, a bar of body soap does not require artificial fragrances and questionable additives. The antioxidant-rich soaps at 100 Good Things contain just a few good things, of which silk protein is a major ingredient. Silk protein, a by-product of the silk industry is a natural humectant and actually consists of a string of amino acids that have the same pH balance as the human skin. This gentle soap with just three ingredients effectively cleanses as it nourishes. Paring down to achieve more may just be the one thing this planet needs to eliminate poverty and violence.

To purchase these lovely silk protein soaps, visit 100 Good Things store.

Fishing for contentment

  • by 100 Good Things
  • May 15th, 2015
  • 2015, May

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite scarves in the shop is a Laotian silk piece inspired by fishing nets local fishermen cast over waters to haul in a multitude of fish. In fact the fringe of this scarf is knotted using the same net-weaving technique. The brilliant colors are derived from nature: Black from mud, guava leaves and a wild plant Laotians call kungpa; orange-red from annatto seeds, which is increasingly prized as nature’s alternative to synthetic food coloring.

The sartorial elegance of this fishnet scarf aside, fishing, I discovered, is part and parcel of life in Laos. Subsistence agriculture is very much practiced and locals haul up from any waterbody just enough fish to feed the family. An old friend, M, speaks fondly of a diplomatic career stint in the landlocked country that has shown him the virtues of contentment. “I have fished all over the world but nowhere is as simple and true as Laos,” the avid angler muses. “Fishermen take only what they need to eat each day. The Laotians really believe in the balance of nature. I learn a lot about that out there, in the simple act of fishing.”

Incredibly, M was told catfish as enormous as a Volkswagen can be found in the mighty Mekong River. A neighbor offered to take him to this “Mother of Water” one day, suggesting he pack a heavy casting rod and the biggest lure in his tackle box.

He laughs, “I tied on a huge plug I had used in Mexico fishing for Marlin. As I pulled back and cast out, I noticed my friend was no longer smiling. I didn’t think twice about that. I was already busy. Something big had taken the plug and was rapidly running line off the reel. As I strained over my bending rod, trying to slow the run, my friend brushed against me and I heard a sharp ping. The line went slack. I was shocked. My friend had cut it, I could see the knife in his hand. He turned to me and the big smile was back. ‘Too big to eat, no need to bother. Let’s go home’.”

To purchase this lovely fishing net-inspired silk scarf, visit 100 Good Things store.

 

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