Thursday, 3 January 2013

For my teachers

This past year has certainly been an interesting one for me. The phrase practice and all is coming certainly comes to mind.

In a nutshell, I turned my back on academic math, saw my brother sell all of his worldly possessions in order to be with the woman of his dreams--whom he is now married to, saw three roommates some and go, moved back home, changed paths to the ESL route, landed a job in China teaching math, said goodbye to an amazing person, learned to do handstands, dabbled in one armed handstands, and said goodbye to a city that I had called home for over 7 years.

Obviously, in 7 years, you meet a lot of interesting people. Many of the people I've met  have played a pivotal role in my development as a person in some way or another, and I'd like to take the time to honor my most influential teachers.

1. BL: I'll never forget my first yoga class, with her. I had no idea what to expect as I had only done p90x yoga a few times and wasn't really sure what it was all about. There were abundant statues of deities, a picture of an elderly Indian man, the father of Ashtanga, Guruji, interesting decor, a tiny bathroom, and yogis and yoginis twisting themselves into what seemed like impossible positions with relative ease, and the smell of incense, but that's not what stuck with me. For lack of a better term, I will say that your presence was incredibly peaceful and welcoming. This is probably the main reason I stayed with it for so long. I was curious how someone could be like that and still be able to push us to our limits at times. Sadly, your knee and schedule changes at the yoga studio made it such that you couldn't teach as much as you would have liked to, but I am certainly grateful for the classes that I was lucky enough to attend with you. Your absence also made it possible for me to work extensively with another influential teacher, whom I have already expressed my gratitude towards in a previous post, so I am thankful for that as well. It is quite interesting that someone can teach you so much by doing nothing but accepting you as you are without judgement. Perhaps that is the best practice that I learned from you. Hopefully your final gift to me will help me become better able to produce the same alchemical transformation in others that occurred in me.

2. AB: A former psychology teacher of mine, and the person who introduced me to yoga. I can't thank you enough for this. The decision to take Abnormal Psychology has certainly changed my life situation quite dramatically. Quite so. Thanks for teaching me "right effort" for lack of a better term. For some reason, I am able to achieve great things in your classes. The awesome music certainly helps.

3.AG: A free spirit with an incredible voice. Your sheer enthusiasm for life, yoga, and music have certainly inspired me in ways I can't even begin to express. For some reason, you are able to bring out the best in me and for that I bow to you. You've certainly inspired me to take on any task with childlike enthusiasm. You've taught me to embrace a life full of joy, handstands, and shenanigans. You'll be a fine yoga teacher one day, because you already are and I don't see that changing any time soon. I'll remember you every time my hands become my feet.

4. SM: I'll certainly never forget to breathe correctly in your presence.  Although others have taught me to work very hard and aspire to greatness, you've taught me to relax and enjoy the moment. This is something that I've been able to put into practice "off the mat" and am quite thankful for this. Your gratitude page is an excellent idea. Hopefully it will inspire others to appreciate more and more moments. A great practice indeed.

5. ML: You have certainly taught me "non-anticipation" for lack of a better term. Back when I was in reserves, we had a Sergeant who used to harp on us not to "anticipate the words of command". A few moments of auto-pilot notwithstanding, I was able to do this more and more as I took more of your classes. Being able to do exactly what is required in the moment without worrying about what will happen after that is a beautiful practice in itself. Not turning the present moment into an obstacle is quite helpful indeed.

The Ashtangi in me associates the number five with the end of the posture, or in this case, the list above. There have been countless other people out there that have helped me over the last year, and I thank all of you as well. I am not sure what 2013 will bring, but I would like to think that the lessons I've learned from everyone will help make it a prosperous time indeed. I'm not sure when or where I'll see you all next, but if and when I do, I shall be truly thankful for it.



Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Thankful to my core

Today marks the end of an era for me. I can't remember the exact day, but somewhere around May this year a new teacher began hosting a lunch class at the yoga studio that I frequent. At the time, I preferred my yoga in increments of 90 minutes, so a 45 minute class seemed out of the question, but I decided to see what it was like just in case. My natural curiosity often gets the best of me, you see.

The class went by relatively quickly. It was over just as I felt we were beginning, but it was a good class just the same. The teacher was pretty funny, I thought so maybe it won't kill me to mix in a 45 minute class every now and then. Sometimes a step back is really a step forward, after all.

Like me, she had an abundance of free time after an unsuccessful attempt to work at lululemon (A fate I too was overcome by several months later. That and food poisoning the day before the interview.), so she subbed many of the classes that I regularly attend. There was a point when I was in her class just about every day for quite a while.

Tragically, she did not like a particularly cheesy playlist I had one day, and I probably drove her crazy a few times with my occasional, or not so occasional, shenanigans and unintentional somersaults. The spaciousness in her pelvis surely helped her deal with these as gracefully as possible.

I wasn't always in the greatest of mindsets going into her class or others, but her humor and ability to push me as hard as anyone out there can helped me to leave feeling better in spite of the fact that I was a sweaty disaster.

Aside from my mother, she was the only one to give me a birthday present this year (A tin of licorice twist tea, which, appropriately enough, just ran out the day before our last class together for a while, tonight.). She also gave me some tea today as a "going away" present, for which I am quite grateful. Hopefully the wooden salamanders I gave to her will serve her well, or at least keep the big black dog happy. The big black dog is an excellent creature.

Thankfully, she has found herself a boatman to call her own and so will likely be in Halifornia until I return, whenever that may be. Hopefully she'll have many successful self-help books and other successful things going on in her life by then; maybe a third series practice, maybe a small human, who knows.

As Morpheus says, everything that has a beginning has an end, and, for now, our yoga classes have come to an end. Hopefully I'll see her again, but, if not, I wish her all the best. Thanks for the exuberance.

Live long and Prosper,


Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Goodbye Halifax

It's been a while since I first arrived at Birch 2 in Mount Saint Vincent in September 2005. I was painfully shy and only knew a handful of people who had come here from my high school, though I didn't even know that they were there until afterwards.I was definitely more than a little shy, but as soon as I arrived I was greeted by Kody Dagley and his twin brother Kristan, my neighbours as it were.

My first year was definitely a great experience. My grades were great, got along very well with my fellow birch 2ers, and discovered a passions for the athletics and recreation society, which I would stay in for all four years and eventually become the VP and President in my last 2 years. Most of my time in this society was spend planning and setting up for events, which I found to be pretty exciting. We started new events at the mount like the grinches gala, mardi gras, and the haunted house, which are now annual events and  a tonne of fun! I was usually on the volunteering side of the event, so I didn't get to partake in the events very much, but it was a blast just the same.

Those friends that I met in first year remain very good friends to this day. For some reason, most of us decided to pursue careers in education. Hopefully we'll be able to inspire future generations to be the best that they can be; whatever that means for them. I'll be in China, where Kristan has already spent some time, but most of the others are sticking with Canada. Maybe Someday I'll return to join them, maybe not. We shall see how China treats me.

In terms of fitness, I've done a few different things. For the better part of 5 years I was heavy into the weights. As my focus and strength in the gym increased rapidly, so too did my confidence and focus outside of the weight room, which certainly helped me do very well in my classes.

In my third year my friend Jill introduced me to Step aerboics, which is quite an awesome time if you have never tried it before. Basically it was me, and 1-3 other guys and a tonne of middle-aged women, plus a few students. There were the "regulars": Debbie, Janice, Dana, Cindy, and Richard, who had been doing step for decades, and a few other people who came and went off and on. As soon as I took my first class I knew I would do it for a while, and hardly missed a Tuesday/Thursday night class for 3 years.

I do neither of these things now as I have found everything I am looking for in yoga. I was part of the furniture at the studio above lululemon for the last 2 years, but I will be saying goodbye to that place soon enough.

On December 30th I will be going home to Cape Breton until  I leave for Qingdao. It'll be pretty nice to be back, given that I haven't been there since December 2010. I've certainly changed quite a bit since then, but, still, no matter what changes in your life, it is always nice to go home for a rest before you embark on a new journey.

I've definitely met some amazing people and will miss them all dearly. I certainly hope that I'll see everyone again, but, if not, I am certainly quite glad to have known them. We shall see where the wind blows me.

Live long and prosper amigos,


Sunday, 18 November 2012

Off to the land of tea

I was recently offered a job in Qingdao, China and will be accepting it enthusiastically! I'll be teaching at the very least 1 math/ESL class, a listening/speaking and/or computing class, and maybe even some AP stats and calculus.

It's a university prep school in which the students study immersion style for one year before heading off to a North American university. Like any school, they are always looking to expand their range of courses, so, if I want to, I can create my own course/materials! Obviously this would help both me and the school, so I am most likely going to pursue this option. From the sounds of it, they also want to start a 2 year program, and want to offer weekend classes for students/adults that want to take them, so there are ample opportunities for extra work if I want it.

If i were to draw up an ideal job for myself, this would be remarkably close to it, so I am so glad that I found it. The way in which I found it was quite random, so I'll share it here.

I was on the bus on my way to wander aimlessly downtown when my phone rang. It was Telus calling to ask me if I wanted to upgrade to an iphone 5 or some other smart phone. I told them that I would likely be out of the country by the time my current contract expires(late February), so getting a new phone, which would require a contract here, would make no sense.

Immediately after I hung up, a young man in sun glasses asked me casually where I will be going. I told him that i wasn't really sure, but I had been applying to a bunch of jobs in Korea and Japan. As it turns out, he was off to China the very next day to teach English in Xi'an. His qualifications were not all that different from mine, so I thought that it couldn't hurt to start looking in China myself.

That night I went to Daves ESL cafe to check out the china job scene and the second Ad was for a job teaching math in a university prep school that teaches math, science, English, and business courses with locations in Qingdao, Dalian, and Xi'an. I met the qualifications, so I figured it couldn't hurt to apply.

Within the hour I got an e-mail asking if I could do an informal interview the next day, so I did. It went really well, and within a few days he sent me a potential instructor questionnaire, which I filled out that day and sent off. He liked the answers, so he scheduled a formal interview for this past Tuesday. That went really well and within a few days I had a formal job offer, together with a contract for me to look over. I am going through this carefully, but so far it looks awesome. I will definitely accept it.

The job will start mid-February, so I still have plenty of time to see my friends before I head home in January and stay until I leave. It'll be good to spend some time at home before I go to a whole new world for an undetermined period of time. I could see myself staying for a while if it's even half as good as it seems.

It's a little nerve racking flying literally half the world away, but all the magic happens outside of your comfort zone, so it's definitely worth a shot. The city looks absolutely amazing, so I am pretty excited about it.

The abundance of excellent tea is a nice bonus as well.

Three cheers for stumbling across a dream job randomly!!

Live long and prosper,


Thursday, 25 October 2012

Blowin' in the wind

It seems like forever since I wrote my last post, so it's probably time for an update.

I just finished the second of three courses in the TESL diploma at SMU. I was fully intent on completing all three by the end of the year, but as of about 2 am on Monday, I was virtually assured of a job teaching math and physics at a Christian boarding school in Korea starting in February. The guy who interviewed said my resume was a gold mine and told me to expect a call from the director of the school the next day to discuss the finer points of the contract.

With this in mind, I promptly withdrew from the third course, as it would make little sense to finish a program that would have no real relevance for what I thought I would be doing all too soon. The extra 1325$ would also be quite helpful. The next day came and went, though, and I didn't receive a call, which was a little perplexing, but I didn't think much of it.

The next day my recruiter sent me an e-mail saying that the school changed their mind because "my beliefs were astronomically different from theirs". I thought this strange, since the interviewer seemed to agree with my answers to his "religious" questions, even saying "amen" to most of them.

My recruiters were quite pissed off about this, saying that the schools actions were completely unprofessional, which they were. They were quick to point out, though, that this obviously wouldn't have been a good fit long term if they were so shaken by my tame, neutral answers. What bearing this has on the teaching of math and physics is beyond me, but I suppose it is ultimately their choice if they want to weigh religion so strongly in their choices.

Still, I have confidence in my recruiter. I am willing to go wherever I am needed, so that should certainly help me find a job quite easily. Wherever I end up is where I am supposed to be. I'm happy to go wherever the wind takes me.

In the meantime, I am going to focus on math tutoring and leave my schedule pretty open so that I can be available at basically any time for an interview with a potential employer. Thankfully I have all of my documents ready to go, and, according to the facebook page for my recruiter, a tonne of new jobs magically popped up yesterday, so hopefully one of them will pan out.

Time will tell.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Welcome to the jungle

This is a bit overdue, but I am more than a little stoked about the recently launched jungle collection from Davids tea has me swinging from tree to tree in excitement. I am so happy that they have straight guayusa tea now!

I could not pick a favorite of the bunch if I had to. Iced cocoa canela with soy and agave is pretty marvelous, though :) Try it if you haven't already.

The addition of straight guayusa to my tea arsenal has rekindled my alchemical fire. Since the flavor is pretty subtle, it can easily be mixed with any of the fruity herbal teas to kick them up another notch. What's better than midsummer nights dream? Midsummer nights dream + focused energy from guayusa :) Mixing with exotica is also a tasty experiment. Maybe I should mix it with wintergreen woods to fuse the North and South American woodsyness.

Hopefully that gives you some inspiration for your own tea mixes. If you find an excellent mix, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below! Fun and games for all!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Turn the page

Yesterday was a very sad day for me. The very first person to ever serve me tea at Davids tea made her last tea for me.

Her time as a manager at Davids tea has come to an end and she is now pursuing her dream, working in the fashion industry!

It's a little bittersweet. On the one hand, I am extremely happy that she is off to work in her dream job, but on the other hand I will certainly miss her presence behind the counter. It was amazing to talk tea with someone who was obviously passionate about all things "tea".

I too changed career paths earlier this year and it has brought me a tremendous amount of happiness. Hopefully her new path will lead her to breathtaking new vistas.

Sometimes the dreams we have as children fade away. Sometimes, that's okay when those dreams are just fantasies. When those dreams are real passions of ours, though, we shouldn't let them fade. We should chase them until we catch them and delight in the fact that we are living our dream.

On our journeys, other travelers will walk by our side for a time, but when our paths diverge, all we can do is wish them all the best and carry on.

So, to the person who served me my first majestic cup of davids tea, I bid you adieu. Hopefully your journey will go splendidly. Wherever you go, I'm sure you'll get there in style.

Live long and prosper,