Happy 2012!

I’ll gladly take more of this kind of “work from home” (or “blog from home”) next year…

Tonight, I’ll raise a glass of a friend’s treasured 1996 bottle of something good – dutifully ferried in a suitcase across 2500 kilometers from Shanghai to Yunnan – to more healthy, happy and productive times next year! Happy new year.

Apparently I’m a cliché

My good friend and fellow yogini WH sent me this link today, which really burst my yogic bubble. And all along I’ve been thinking I was special and finding The One Truth! (This awesomely funny yoga humor is copied from Lee Anne Finfinger’s article on Elephant Journal).

The 10 things you’ll do once you start yoga (that have nothing to do with yoga)
…presented here with my annotations

1. At least once, you will force yourself to try to be vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, gluten-free (insert any over-zealous diet here)/ drink Kombucha/ buy bottled water before class and pour it into your sustainable water bottle before the teacher/students/Whole Foods cashier next to you sees. (If you’re craving meat, just eat it! On your deathbed, will you really be glad that you didn’t have that steak on your 30thBirthday?)

Check. Just did all of the above for 10 days, round 3 of 2011.

2. Your iPod will now include a heavy serving of Kirtan music that you will listen to on your very long commute to your yoga studio (It’s cool; if you want to listen to Kirtan occasionally, go for it! When you start listening to it while driving and falling asleep — time to go back to your old playlists. Do NOT switch over to NPR!)

Jai Uttal is all over my iPod, even though I don’t have a long commute for an excuse.

3. You will pretend not to notice that your ass now fits in a size 6 instead of an 8, but you’re secretly thrilled. (When you get down to a 4 though, watch it. People will talk.)

Hate to be a skinny b*tch here but I was nevr a size 8.

4. You will go back to your natural hair color/ remove your hair extensions/ cut your hair short in an attempt to stop paying so much attention to your vanity. (Try not to cut it too short — the growing out process is a bitch and then you’ll just need more hair extensions. I did.)

Definitely stopped doing things to my hair and have let it grow wild from time to time, before trimming it to stay appropriate at my day job!

5. You’ll attempt to read the Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Upanishads while your stack of fashion magazines calls to you from the next room. (Really, why can’t I like Rachel Zoe and yoga? Now that I’m thin enough to actually wear her clothes, why should I pretend I don’t want to?) (See #3.)

Check. Check. Check. How many bookmarked yoga books do I have sitting on my night table?!

6. You will take a retreat. Hello, Kripalu! (It’s ok — those other people probably are weirdos. So are you. Eat your breakfast and shut up. No really, shut the fuck up – it’s a silent breakfast.)

Um, I know what Kripalu is and I have taken a retreat, just not there…yet.

7. You’ll start taking photos of yourself in yoga poses. Often. And you’ll think that other people care. It’s like the modern-day version of the vacation slideshow. No one gives a shit, but they’ll pretend like they do so that you do the same when they whip out their own photos.

Actually, I get professional photographer friends to take photos of me in yoga poses. Even better!

8. You will at some point wear mala beads, which will break all over the floor of your 6:15am class. (Basically, it’ll end about as well as when I wore my Grandmother’s rosary beads to dinner at age 6. Silver Lining: The company was kind enough to re-string them for free, and now I just wear them like a really cool wrap bracelet. It’s very hippie chic. Thank you September Vogue.) (See #5)

Good to know that as I keep practicing and teaching there are new heights to scale — haven’t worn mala beads yet except at teacher training graduation, and as part of a costume.

9. You will become a cheap date. Remember, you just dropped two sizes and you continue to spend at least an hour a day sweating and twisting and breathing. You’ll be buzzed from one drink!

Always been a cheap date, and getting cheaper by the day!

10. You’ll get over yourself. If you teach yoga, you’ll hope that people show up because they like taking class from who you really are. If you practice yoga, you’ll keep showing up and you’ll realize that the other shit doesn’t matter.

Truth. See my “11 Unexpected Things in 2011” post, item # 3.

A very Dali Christmas

I thought I’d seen it all – Christmas in the tropics, Christmas with heathens, Christmas in all sorts of places. But in Yunnan, Christmas is taken very seriously, in very unexpected ways. A full account will follow, but first, a few teaser photos…

On Christmas Eve in Dali’s Old City all the residents come out to engage in street shaving cream / confetti warfare

I was ill-prepared for the confetti war (no raincoat or shades), so I used my scarf for protection

On Christmas morning I did not have breakfast (because I’m still detoxing) at a Dali favorite, Bakery 88

Then we headed to nearby Xizhou village…

…to visit an old friend…

…who now lives in posh digs (the lovingly restored Linden Centre)…

with fancy things…

At night, we watched the 2nd Xizhou Christmas Pageant, or, rather the “Yesterday, today, Chinese, Western – harmonious life” show

Work gets hit with a case of the Christmas crazies

Before I head off to Yunnan (paradise in Southwestern China) I thought I’d leave the blog with some crazy happy images, memories of 2011…

Come holiday season, this is what may happen in the serious business of asset management! (P.S. I love my work mates).

“Jump if you love your shareholders!”

Just levitating like a good yogi can

Good investment ideas make us swoooon

Sometimes even I run out of words to describe…

For the record, my office is mostly “dry” – we have a Mormon, a Singaporean lightweight, an often-healthy-living yogi, and a couple of sweet tame Chinese girls. (But a deadly duo made up of an almost-British lush and an ex-diplomat who knows how to have a good time can rise to a boozey challenge when needed).

Et voilà…11 Unexpected Things in 2011

Dear friends,

It’s that time of year when I can be unabashedly cheesy and say “Thank you. For inspiring me, for supporting me, and – in some cases – for putting up with me this year.”

To continue the personal tradition I started with “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009,” I now present “11 Unexpected Things in 2011.” As ever, I wish you health and happiness for the coming year. Drop me a line, I would love to hear about your latest adventures. Have a wonderful holiday season!

1. I stopped writing QriousLife.com

No, my blog didn’t get hacked. I was just too technologically inept to hold onto my domain name and independent server hosting. I haven’t stopped writing, but I’m writing once again from behind The Great (Censorship) Firewall of China. Gorey details of how an analog dog just can’t seem to learn digital tricks here. (If you’re still subscribed to RSS feeds from QriousLife.com, I take no responsibility for the weird stuff that now comes out!)

2. I became a “Capital-ist”

To my very pleasant surprise, I found a job that pays me to do the things I love – meet interesting people, go to strange places, figure out how the world works, and write about it all.

3. I stopped caring…

…in a good way. As I continue to practice and teach yoga, I’m starting to understand the pithy wisdoms that I read. This year I learned to say, “I love all that I have now, but if it goes away one day, I will be ok.”

4. I started running

I even bought new running shoes. The last time I did that was a decade ago. To celebrate my baby-blue-with-pink-laces shoes, a 10K race may be in order in 2012.

5. I travelled alone

And I kind of liked it. Life is good, when you’re way up here (in the Cappadoccia region of Turkey).

6. I learned how to fly…

That’s Parsva Bakasana for the yogis…

7. …and to turn my world upside down

AKA Shirshasana

8. I drove for days in 40C heat around landlocked central China looking at 2000-year old baijiu cellars…

…and sampled 68% alcohol afterward. Occupational hazards, what can I say?

9. I was a vegetarian for two months (progress from #9 on last year’s list)…

…here’s hoping 2012 will be the year when I go all the way.

10. I kicked off a 21-day detox program right before Christmas

I’m still figuring out (on Day 5) whether this half fast over three weeks will be easier or harder than the full fast over seven days from 2009. Stay tuned.

11. I considered buying property and options for changing my citizenship

How very Chinese.

– Qi

One more piece of nostalgia…”10 Best Things from 2010″

Annnd, before my 2011 list is done, I’m reviewing my “10 Best Things From 2010” list…

1. I became a certified yoga instructor…

2. …which means I did 48 90-minute yoga classes at 42˚C over 28 days

3. I hosted a live broadcast talkshow

4. I crossed 5000 (?) km of Xinjiang territory in a bus

5. I found a permanent home for my stray puppy (see #5 in 2009)

6. I turned down a “dream” financial journalism job…

7. …to work at this humble little publication(brand new design coming in January)

8. I joined a *danwei*

9. I tried vegetarianism for a month (but cheated a few times, so it was
a pescatarian month)

10. I made 33 sweat-and-tears sisters and one honorary sister-man (photo
below)

It’s that time of year again…”9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009″

As I write my 2011 “annual list” I had a good bit of fun looking back at where this personal tradition started – with “9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009.”

9 Crazy Things I Did in 2009

1. I quit my job in a recession
2. I fasted and mediated for seven days
3. I lived in Paris just for fun
4. I started a blog (http://QriousLife.com )
5. I took in a stray puppy
6. I free-lanced
7. I found out what getting paid “peanuts” *really *means
8. I taught six-year-olds
9. I wrote a column (Fridays on http://www.ChinaDaily.com.cn