Saturday, February 4, 2012


"Better joy in a cottage than sorrow in a palace..."    ~ Proverbs

Every child remembers a favorite Christmas. For most, it's the year they received a bike under the tree. For others? A set of slot cars, a pair of ice skates or a trunk of dress up clothes. Yet others? It was that much dreamed of doll, GI Joe or set of puppets. I enjoyed most of those, without question. And yet, my favorite Christmas was the year I received a Holly Hobbie Play House. This wasn't a to pretend to move my tiny doll family about. This was a small cottage sized playhouse completely made out of cardboard. It was adorable. It had trompe l'oeil design of an adorable cottage. Little did I know that my parents had, quite literally, stayed up all night putting it together. (And later on that day, they realized that they had disassemble the darn thing and put it back together in my room!) 

Until we moved, I spent every waking moment in that playhouse. I brought pillows and blankets and enticed our dogs to come hang out with me. I read. I played house. I played school. It was my sanctuary within my sanctuary. I felt happy, safe, free to be creative and utterly joyful there. I never worried about needing to clean it (it was too small to really get untidy). I never thought I might lose anything or that things would just vanish. It was manageable. Additionally, it was just how I wanted it. No one helped me...I simply brought in there bits and pieces from around the house....a favorite silver frame, my books, the soft leopard blanket my mother had sewn, my father's lap desk (which served as the perfect actual desk) and a little antique trunk to hold my "treasures". It was the most essentially 'me' space I've ever had.

It's no wonder that I've loved cottages ever since then. As an adult, I've been incredibly fortunate to have had a lovely roof over my head at all times. From my husband's and my first apartment to our current house, we've never been without the safety of shelter. Additionally, I've had some wonderful help from my mother with furniture and from my mother in law with painting each room. And yet, compromises are always made. Whether it's making do with furniture because it's serviceable, or finding the happy medium between what I find beautiful, and my husband finds too feminine, that majority of the spaces in my house are a testament to adaptation. Please don't misunderstand. I love my home, my husband, my children and our animals. But, every decision to change, or not to change, a space requires modification on my part. I am grateful, beyond measure, for the loving family I'm blessed with. However, I continue to daydream about cottages. Small, charming, folksy, shabby chic, historic, quaint, girlie and scrumptious...I've wanted "a room of one's own", thanks to Virginia Woolf, most of my adult life. Mine just happens not to be a room. My "room" is a tiny house of my own.

When I first came across this cottage in The Grower's Daughter, I fell in love. A former hunting cabin, the cottage was renovated by a Wheaton College graduate, when her husband and she chose to downsize dramatically and moved into a wooded property with very little in the way of luxury. The cottage became a labor of love, a refuge and a sanctuary for the builder. As Wheatie myself, I related to the the builder's aesthetic sensibility, her taste and her desire. I love the way in which every nook and cranny is used. I am passionate about the white, Victorian-meets-Shabby Chic style. I love the roses. I love the chandelier. I love the sleeping loft. I love the pink. I love the lace. I love the doorknobs. I love the china. I love the little porch. I love how utterly immaculate everything is. There isn't dog hair all over the white draped furniture. There aren't hockey bags opened up on the porch. There isn't a gaggle of (however beloved) teenagers draped over every surface. There are no half finished glasses of juice everywhere. It's peaceful. It's dreamy. It's private. 

I'd love to have this cottage in my own backyard. I can imagine climbing into the bed (using a ladder I'd put on wheeled tracks), with a cup of perfect tea and a stack of my favorite books. I'd leave my cell phone back in my house. Although I would install indoor plumbing (unlike this dream cottage, that's a non-negotiable for me), I would keep this cottage just the way that it is otherwise. I'd eat things like cucumber sandwiches and sliced mango. I'd wear Victorian inspired dresses and sunhats. I'd wrap myself up in fur blankets when it would get chilly. I could write uninterrupted. I could sleep without being disturbed. I could hear myself think. It would be my own space. Just for me. No sweaty athletic apparel on the floor. No Ramen noodles left to congeal. No unending sports games on television at the loudest possible volume. No television at all, actually. It would be peaceful. Calm. Relaxing. Serene. 

I realize this is a pipe dream. Even if such a magical abode just appeared, as if conjured, I know that it wouldn't remain perfect for long. My two dogs are immense and release enough fur every day to create a smaller animal. They'd be scratching to be let in within seconds. I know my husband, ever the space-needer, would be eyeing my cottage as a possible home for his lawnmower, plow and boat equipment. I'm sure my kids would lobby to make my cottage into the teenager hangout.While I'd be at the store, I'm sure I'd arrive home to find my charming decorations out, and the ping-pong table and TV in. Along  with the iHome blasting music. My fantasy sanctuary would become doghouse, storage barn and media center the moment my back was turned. Maybe that's why it's best left a fantasy....I can keep it beautiful and perfect in my imagination in a way I'd never manage in real life.

And yet...there's a perfect place under the pine trees that would be just dreamy. Do you think I can keep it a secret?

Sunday, January 29, 2012


"Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple."  ~  Dr. Seuss

I feel truly, exceptionally and powerfully blessed. So many people have dropped me notes to wish me well and to encourage me over the past year. I have no idea what my life would be like, had my life's course not veered into unknown territory. However, one thing that I do know: I'm eternally grateful for those special folks who have reached out to me. I'm encouraged by your stories, by your thoughtfulness, by your willingness to get to know me and by the new friends I've made. In addition, you have all asked me some good questions. Rather than repeat myself, I've decided to do a Q & A segment on Preppy Yogini. I've done this on other blogs, but not here. So, I hope that I'm managing to answer most of your questions. If not? I plan on doing another one in time. Thank you again for all of your kindness and understanding.

  1. How did you come up with the name "Preppy Yogini"? I did blog piece on this very story about six months ago, called The Bohemian Sloth. When I was doing my yoga teacher training, I was blessed with many fantastic instructors. Unfortunately, one was just hideous. He was a cross between Attila the Hun and the worst Kindergarten teacher ever. He made fun of people. He pushed students to the point of injury and he was simply a rotten person, let alone a terrible instructor. When I questioned his methodology, he spat out, "You're nothing but a preppy yogini". He meant it as the most derogatory slur imaginable. I wear it like a badge of honor now.
  2. You talk about Maine a lot. Are you from Maine? Yes...and no. To a true, iconoclastic Mainer, I am not. I wasn't born here. Therefore, I'm from "away". But, I have spent many years here, first as a summer person growing up, and then with my husband and our children. I grew up in California and New York, and went to school in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, before moving to Europe for four years. I enjoy living in Maine, but I also love traveling to other places. I get itchy feet if I'm in one place too long.
  3. What made you become a yoga instructor? How did you become one? I had been practicing yoga for years before my first cancer diagnosis in 2003. I had three surgeries in just 7 weeks. It was tough! But, yoga was instrumental in helping me recover. When I was well enough, I resigned from my job in traditional education and studied at Kripalu and Gentle Spirit Yoga for my 200 hour R.Y.T. certification. I felt tremendously encouraged by own instructors and this inspired me to pursue my own path in teaching.
  4. What's your favorite yoga style of practice? What do you recommend? That's like asking a mother who her favorite child is! I have honestly enjoyed every form of yoga I've practiced. I believe that every class, regardless of yogic 'arm', has the potential to be fabulous for all levels. It really comes down to the teacher and her willingness to give of herself to her students. For beginners, I generally recommend classes that are Hatha based, or that offer Yoga Foundations. It's a great starting point.
  5. You have mentioned being sick. What was wrong? How are you doing? I'm doing much better! A year ago, I was slowly starting to walk around and drive again. Unfortunately, my Sarcoma based cancer returned. This time, my surgery and procedures were even more invasive...and I'm also 8 years older, making my recovery that much more difficult. The form of cancer I have is not treatable by radiation or chemotherapy. Surgery is my only option. I had some pretty intense setbacks, but I'm on the road to recovery again. It's just a very slow road. Think Los Angeles traffic at rush hour slow.
  6. Why have you stopped doing book reviews? I am still reading up a storm and look forward to writing reviews again on this blog. When I created Ellen's Thirty Day Book Challenge last Spring, I actually ended up reviewing more than 30 books, since I had an impossible time narrowing my list down. I burned out on writing book reviews for a while, as a result. 
  7. I like your writing. Have you been published? Years ago, I was published in Parenting, Mothering, The Doula and several other magazines aimed at that life path. I haven't been published since then. I hope to be again. I'm working on several different pieces...but all seem to be longer than magazine articles. I look forward to continuing my writing. While it would be an honor to be published, I truly write for myself and my own spirit. Anything beyond that would be fresh butter cream icing on a very dense carrot cake.
  8. What other hobbies do you enjoy? Beyond writing, reading and yoga, I love design. I think I'm actually a frustrated art director in a yogini's skin! I also love animals...I have two dogs now, but have had horses, cats and one very special bunny during my life. I love good wine, scintillating conversation, travel and long walks on the beach at sunset. Seriously though...I really do love long walks on the beach at sunset.
  9. Are you still teaching yoga? Can I join your class? Unfortunately, my last surgery, the complications that ensued, made teaching yoga impossible for me. I am adjusting to a new definition of normal. If you're going to be in coastal Maine or the greater Scottsdale, Arizona areas, I'd be happy to recommend some amazing teachers. I am taking 3-4 classes a week again, and am enjoying the simplicity of being a student at this time.
  10. What's next for you? I wish I knew. I really wish I knew! I have no idea. I do know that it's time to figure out who I'm going to be as a grown up. It would be nice if the universe sent out smoke signals to give me a hint. While I'm looking for said clues in the heavens, I'm doing a lot of volunteer work in my community. And drinking far too much tea. 
Thank you again. Best wishes. Enjoy. Namaste!