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Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People-Review and Interview

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I want to start off by saying that I’ve never been much of a believer in self-help books. Born with a hyper-sensitive BS detector, a practical mind, and color-coordinated set of lifelong baggage of major depression and physical and emotional trauma, I’m a pretty hard sell. I scoff at books that say I can “breathe and believe” my way into lifelong happiness. That the only reason I was depressed was that I didn’t believe hard enough. Give me a break.

Then I read Will Donnelly’s Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People, and it rocked my world.

What makes Will’s book different from your average run-of-the-mill yogi self-help book is that he’s not trying to sell you a better life, but asking you to look at your life at a different angle with relatable and simple messages with quotes at the beginning of each essay. The essays in the book are only a few pages long, giving you “bite-size” wisdom, separated into easy-to-find categories; if you’re looking for advice on personal responsibility or love and relationships, it’s easy to find what essays to read. While most self-help books act like a preacher on a pulpit, Will’s book speaks more like a friend giving you a little life advice, making him relatable to his reader. He knows love and grief and loss because he’s been there. After the death of his life partner Jeff to Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS, in 2010, Will was at a loss with his grief. He went on a long road of mourning and depression and found healing in both yoga and writing. Will knows what it means to struggle and come back.

Will Donnelly is a nationally recognized, certified yoga teacher and writer. He has been a pioneer in the field of yoga, developing Practical Yoga, and co-creating/co-hosting a yoga–reality series for fitTV (Guru2Go, Discovery Communications, 2004). As a writer and teacher (and gay man), Will encourages all students to trust their impulses and find their true voice.  While Will has been teaching yoga for 17 years and practicing it for much longer, you don’t have to be a yogi to get the full benefits of this book. You just have to be a person. There are so many wonderful lessons to take away from this book, from essays on doubt to trust, his words stay with you long after you close the book.

I had the absolute privilege to “virtually” sit down with Will and have an enlightening conversation about his book.

How did the process of this book get started? 

I was processing grief during that time and I had a voice for yoga and wellness so I put the two together, journaling about life issues, about loss, about doubt, all sorts of things you’ll find in the book that I talk about in my yoga classes. My students would often say to me “Whatever you said at the beginning of class was really incredible, do you have that written down?” and I always say I actually don’t, so over the years I’ve been chronicling each of my thoughts that I would bring up in class that were relevant to personal growth and tried to write an essay about it and how it could help. These lessons I talk about saved me from the depression I was living with for the last eight years.

I ended up writing 70 or 80 essays through the blog “Confessions of an Accidental Yogi” and I decided that some of the essays I was very happy with and wanted to have them out in the world. So I grouped together the top 50 essays and put them in categories, such Trust & Faith, Personal Responsibility, and Love & Relationships, so it was easy reading. We’re all here to help each other, and as soon as we recognize that, then both our beauty and natural radiance, as well as our pain that we suffer through, can help others, just by saying “you’re not alone.” Life is a very weird and strange place to land in and I think by sharing stories and offering them gently, a lot of people can resonate with them as they deal with the journey of life.

What was the writing process like? How did you come up with ideas for essays? 

All of them are individual creations. Many come from my own personal experience dealing with my own fears, like traveling by myself after having been so fortunate to have had a travel companion most of my adult life (through my life partner). Some stories were triggered by quotes or passages read in books. A lot of blog posts were born in the writing group I teach in Hawaii (Writing from the Core with Will) and through meditations and conversations.

What of your own advice was the hardest to follow? 

The piece about doubt, I have to come back to that over and over again, to have faith because doubt is a part of faith. I am filled with doubt. When I think “Oh, I can’t do it,” or “I’m scared, I don’t know what to do next,” I have to recognize that that’s the beginning step of a very powerful journey in life and to have faith that it’s all going to work out.  The beauty of getting older, which is not prized in the gay male community, is that you can look back on your life and see your choices and it makes it easier to make them again if they’re positive choices. You can look back and say “I had doubt when I moved to LA and 3 years later I had my own TV show.” My favorite quote I use often on social media is by Fran Lebowitz: “Every Intention, every achievement has come out of dissatisfaction, not serenity. No one ever said ‘Things are perfect, let’s invent fire’”

What lesson or mantra do you follow everyday? 

It’s really profound to watch someone you love and adore get sick and during that time, I would think “I can’t do this, I can’t physically do this” and the mantra that stuck with me is a Stephen Hawking quote, “It matters if you just don’t give up.” If we’re not taking care of each other if we’re just here to be greedy, then what’s the point? It’s really easy to fall into despair about what humanity is doing right now, but then I realize it doesn’t matter what humanity is doing, it matters what I am doing and if I’m creating a joyful life. To go back to the Aquarian Age mantra in yoga: “Keep up and you’ll be kept up.” If you can find a way to keep going in a difficult 11-minute yoga pose, you can do that in every part of your life.

What was the easiest and what was the hardest part of writing this book?

The easiest part was going back and re-editing everything because it had all been written for the blog. The hardest part was wondering if this book was worth it because I didn’t want to end up putting more garbage out there. I wondered “Will people enjoy this? Is it pretentious or is it the real deal?” So I think the biggest challenge was having faith that my voice was worthy to be heard. It was an incredible feeling to be on the other side of that.

What is one piece of advice you want our readers to hear? 

I think the reality is that it’s our goal, perhaps especially in the LGBTQ communities, to appreciate the diversity of life and to dive into it and not feel like such an outsider or feel so threatened by it. So it’s about learning to open our minds up to a bigger picture of what life is really about. So dive in, dive into all of it, don’t miss it. Whatever our dreams are, it’s important to do it and to do some form of service to humanity, some way of giving out to the world other than taking.

Will currently lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, where he leads yoga and therapeutic writing classes at Kalani. He also leads several popular Practical Yoga adventure and healing retreats throughout the year, including the annual Holiday Yoga Retreat. His book, “Practical Yoga’s Wisdom for Everyday People: Essays & Inspiration for Life” is available here. Information on retreats, audio clips from his book, his newsletter, and access to his popular yoga & meditation workout video (now available for streaming, first of the three workouts is free) can be found at WillsPracticalYoga.com.

I’ll leave you with one last word of wisdom from Will Donnelly:

“Your struggles don’t define you. We’re all struggling through life and it’s important not to get caught up in the struggle because so many do and become defined by their issues or their past. You get to reinvent yourself every day and you can use your past, no matter how damaged, as a bouncing point to go somewhere deeper and have a richer life because of it.”

Originally posted 2017-11-09 18:01:50.

Ellen Ricks is a word-for-hire, fashion blogger, and bibliophile living in upstate New York. She has a BFA in Creative Writing from SUNY Potsdam and has been published in a number of literary magazines, both in print and online. She runs the fashion blog Sarcasm in Heels.  When not writing, Ellen enjoys frolicking in fancy dresses, consuming pumpkin spice everything, and dismantling the patriarchy.

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Why We Loved “Lafayette” And What He Brought To True Blood

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Sadness wrapped around my entire being July 8 when I was tagged in a Facebook post by my daughter. She was sharing, that Juilliard studied Nelsan Ellis, the straight Black man who brought us True Blood’s (TB),  Lafayette had made his transition. My reply, “NO!”  I’d turned her on to TB and that post was special between us. Rolling Stone confirmed things in a beautifully written tribute. The news of his death traveled fast across social media with celebrities checking in on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. We were all crushed.  

Heart Issues Were The Culprit

Complications from heart issues and a history of alcoholism and drugs took one of my favorite actors. Family members shared with Hollywood Insider that Ellis opted out of treatment where he’d tried several times, and elected to deal with his demons on his own.  My God. At 39, the Chicago-area native had accomplished so much. His credentials include father, actor, writer, director and producer. There was so much more he could have done. His early passing is a reminder to keep a reign on our health status. That’s a message for everyone.

The Realness of Lafayette

Lafayette gave me life. With his passing, I went back to Youtube and thankfully found several clips of Lafayette doing his thing. A don’t f*ck with me Butch-Queen who would read you up and down without missing a beat, as he side-eyed and clapped back on unfortunate souls silly enough to try and play him, or those he loved. Lafayette also had a sweet side, but you’d be reminded that he was not here for foolishness. His frequent drops of sage wisdom were keepers. The delivery was always on point.

Took Care To Address Social Issues and Homophobia

Without Lafayette’s  character, TB would have been just another vampire series. A social justice and human rights activist in his own right, a favorite scene is Lafayette putting homophobes returning a burger he’d made as a short order cook at Monroe’s where his huge presence practically owned the place. The scene has been named “AIDS Burger” on YouTube where the hits continue to increase. If we were to give a moniker for Lafayette standing up for himself and by extension the queer community, the winner would be’ #TipYoWaitress.

Put Some Respek’ On It – Everyone Has

I usually get comments when I post about queer issues, especially how they impact my community. Not one derogatory comment was made about Ellis. His reputation as a gifted actor and friend also shone through the remarks from Hollywood and those who worked and studied with him over the years.

Rest In Power Nelsan Ellis

Check out the extensive movie catalog Ellis compiled, as he shared his gifts with the world. Condolences to the Ellis family. Thank you to Ellis and HBO for bringing the character of Lafayette Reynolds and all of his Butch-Queen swag and realness, into our lives.

Originally posted 2017-07-14 20:15:33.

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Meet the Drapers: New Reality TV Series Where Viewers Can Invest in Startups.

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meet the drapers
Meet the Drapers: New Reality TV Series Where Viewers Can Invest in Startups.

First-Ever Crowdfunding TV Show “Meet the Drapers” Premieres on Sony Entertainment Television November 19th, 2017.

Ever watch your favorite investment show and wish you could get in on the action, too? Now you can! In the new reality series, “Meet the Drapers”, millions of viewers will be able to invest alongside the sharks — the Draper family, Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists.

Meet the Drapers, the first series of its kind, allows regular people to become investors — right from their couch, while watching the show. This unique angle is made possible by the recent SEC regulations that for the first time opened investment crowdfunding to the public.

Investments will take place through the equity crowdfunding platform Republic, which has announced it will be Meet the Drapers’ official investment platform.

“Republic’s partnership is instrumental for the show’s success,” says producer Sarika Batra. “No other platform out there makes investing as friendly and easy, which is critical for the – often first-time – investors watching the show.”

“Crowdfunding is removing barriers like never before,” says Republic CEO, Kendrick Nguyen. “What was once viewed as an industry for a selected few is now accessible to everyone. And we’re thrilled to be part of a TV show that promotes entrepreneurship and enables greater diversity among both founders and investors.”

“South Asians – the show’s core audience – are a vibrant part of the Silicon Valley startup culture,” says Jaideep Janakiram, Head of the Americas at Sony Pictures Networks. “We created this show to showcase these trailblazing entrepreneurs, VCs and angels, and to allow our viewers to participate in their ventures.

“Meet the Drapers” is produced by Sarika Batra and is airing in partnership with the Draper Family, Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Republic and sponsored by ICO Investor.tv.

The series premieres Sunday, November 19 at 6PM ET on Sony Entertainment Television. SET is a paid channel on Dish network, Sling TV and major cable providers — please check your local listings.

About Republic:
Republic launched in 2016 with a mission to democratize investing. A leading equity crowdfunding platform and sister company of AngelList, Product Hunt and CoinList, Republic is part of one of the most prominent startup ecosystems in the world. On Republic, anyone can invest in breakout early-stage startups for as little as $10 in just a few minutes, using their credit card or bank account.

About Sony Entertainment Television:
Sony Entertainment Television (SET), one of India’s leading Hindi general entertainment television channels is a part of Sony Pictures Television (SPT) backed Sony Pictures Networks, which is India’sleading television network. Since its launch in October 1995, SET has created a unique space for itself in the Indian Television industry. Pioneering new waves in television programming, with blockbuster movie premieres, big format non-fiction shows and an impressive array of fiction shows like Sabse Bada Kalakar, Super Dancer, The Kapil Sharma Show, Indian Idol, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman, Beyhadh, Kuch Rangpyre Ke Aise Bhi, Bajirao Peshwa, CID, Crime Patrol Bade Acche Lagte Hain, Bharat Ka Veer Putra Maharana Pratap and Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyar. SET is known for its innovative concepts and exciting formats and is the most preferred family entertainment channel which has been providing strong platforms for more than 700 brands to reach over 93 million households in India. In addition, Sony Entertainment Television is also available in the US, UK, Africa, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji Islands and Seychelles. In total, SET influences over 332 million viewers in the Indian sub-continent, and the South Asian Diaspora worldwide.

About ICO Investor.tv:
ICO Investor.tv is the title sponsor of the show. They are a trusted source of information for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) enthusiasts and ICO investors. Their sister site, NextGen Crowdfunding will provide data for all campaigns on the show, and a live Crowdfunding Ticker will display updates on investor commitments for each campaign. Through the Meet the Drapers dashboard, viewers can “follow” and track the deals they are most interested in.

More information on the show please visit setasia.tv/meetthedrapers.
Show website: http://meetthedrapers.com/
Detailed information on participating startups can be found on republic.co/meet-the-drapers.

Originally posted 2017-11-19 04:37:43.


Also published on Medium.

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How To Complete NaNoWriMo Without Losing Your Sanity

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When most think of November, they conjure up images of turkey, cozy sweaters, and the seemingly endless preparations for the Holiday Season. However, if you’re in the writing community, November brings up images of frantic typing and the fear of a looming deadline.

That’s right folks, NaNoWriMo is here, and it’s getting cray.

  What’s NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s a fancy acronym for National Novel Writing Month. This month-long creative “holiday” was created by freelance writer Chris Baty in July of 1999 with 21 participants in the San Francisco Bay area. The next year, it was moved from July to November to “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.

The objective? Write a rough draft of a novel (about 50,000 words or more) in 30 days. Anyone else screaming yet?

This is a free event that anyone can do, just join their website and start writing in any format. Just as long as you get 50,000 words before the end of the month. Participants can submit their novel to be automatically verified for length and receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on the web, and inclusion on the list of winners. Also, bragging rights.

 Hey there,  I’m Ellen, a Features Writer here at TravelPride and a writer by occupation. I have a BFA in Creative Writing and have written a novel already. I’ve always wanted to do NaNoWriMo and I thought this would be the perfect time to do it. Plus I want to take a break from writing my current memoir and do the fun interconnected short story collection I’ve been dying to write for years. I thought this was going to be so easy. I mean my senior thesis was 50,000 words. My novel manuscript is 96,000 words. 50,000 words will be a piece of cake.

Me, Writer and actual Fool.

I was wrong. It’s hard ya’ll.

       To complete NaNoWriMo on time you need to write 1,667 words per day, which is roughly 6 pages, double-spaced. That may not seem like a lot, but with everything you have to do in a day, plus find the creativity and energy to write 6 pages seems overwhelming.

   Then there’s something I call the “NaNo slump” which happens around the second or third week of November. The first week of NaNoWriMo you’re all excited and ready to write, cranking out 2,000+ words a day. Then you get busy, writer’s block or just plain fall behind and then quit because you think you can ever catch up.

   Well, stop write there (get it?). I’ve got some great tips for how to complete NaNoWriMo without losing your inspiration, hope, and sanity.

 

Write Everyday

The most important part of writing for NaNoWriMo or just being a writer is creating a writing schedule. One of the genius things about NaNoWriMo is that it allows you to become a better and more successful writer after this is over since it takes 30 days to create a habit. By writing every day in the month of November, you’re setting yourself up for writing all year long.

Carve a period of time out of your day and set it aside just for writing. It can be early in the morning, late at night, an hour, two, whatever you can and use that time to just write and only write. If your life is a little crazy and can’t form a schedule, write when you’re on the go. Carry your tablet with you, use the Notes app on your phone, or do the old-fashioned pen and paper and write whenever you get a free moment. Waiting for your flight? Write. Commuting to home or work? Write. On your lunch break? Write! You’ll be surprised how all those little moments of writing really add up. It’s just important to write every day. Just write it!

Prompts

   Oh, Writer’s block, the sworn enemy of a writer. That blank page causes so much anxiety and could lead you to giving up on your project because you’re “stuck.” A writing prompt could help you. NaNoWriMo’s website is awesome because they have a feature called “word sprints” which is a timed writing challenge. You set a timer, open up your draft, and race against the clock to add words to your novel. They have a cool “dare me” button that gives you little writing prompts such as “Write a scene that takes place in a house of mirrors.” or “Have one character have a sudden personality switch with another”. It’s a fun little way to get the juices going. You can also just google “writing prompts” to find some good ones. Have fun with it!

Buddy System

   Teamwork makes the dream work! NaNoWriMo has a cool feature where you can have a writing buddy with friends who are also doing NaNoWriMo, which is a fun way to help encourage each other or be a shoulder to cry on. One of my dear friends, Cassie, who’s also a writer has been doing NaNoWriMo for years and she’s been a great resource (she also made a book cover for me, because she’s the real MVP). My friend Kelsey is doing NaNoWriMo for the first time too. It’s just nice to not feel alone in my frustrations and have someone who is also going through this. NaNoWriMo also has forums where writers can talk to one another because, despite popular belief, writers are not solitary creatures, but communities.

Let Go and Have Fun

   I personally put so much pressure on myself, not only during NaNoWriMo but in my everyday professional life. When something I write isn’t perfect on the first try, or I don’t meet my word count, I beat myself up over it. You have to remember that NaNoWriMo is all about having fun. No one is reading your novel right now, no one is judging you but yourself. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words, it’s okay if you take a break or write something crappy. You can always write more words and it’s better to write something crappy and edit it later than to never write at all.

   For some more words of advice let’s talk to TravelPride’s own Editor and Weekly Columnist, Summer Kurtz. Summer has actually completed NaNoWriMo in the past. Here’s how she completed the writing challenge:

“I had to set a schedule/goal and really stick to it as closely as I could. I think I tried to do a certain number of words daily and if I didn’t quite hit that I had a weekly goal to try and meet or even exceed if possible. It really helped me to become a more disciplined writer but also learn not to beat myself up over not reaching every single goal. On days I got stuck I would write a couple hundred words on any other topic I felt like until my motivation returned.”

   Fantastic advice. How are doing in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments and follow my own NaNoWriMo journey here. Remember: we’re all in this together!

Happy Writing!

 

Originally posted 2017-11-15 18:30:10.

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