3 Reasons to do Yoga

Back when I was in my last year of middle school, and during the first year of high school, I went to yoga once a week with my friend Fiona and both of our moms every Thursday.

We had a badass, incredible, beautiful-from-the-inside-out teacher who I looked up to and adored, and got to be silly while we made fun of the adults exhaling like lions and actually saying “namaste” at the end of class…obviously we were the coolest kids on the block.

While our moms were absolutely in love with yoga, Fiona and I were pretty good and had tons of fun at yoga together, but were never really that into it. We didn’t breathe with our bodies, always cracked up while we were in happy baby, and could barely sit still in savasana. Our commitment to yoga was basically a commitment to our love for our instructor, and love of goofing off together.

Once our instructor left to pursue massage school, both Fiona and I and our moms were left feeling abandoned and yoga just wasn’t the same after that. Our Thursdays stopped being Yoga-days, and over time I just kind of forgot about picking it up again.

Well, after years of an on-again-off-again relationship with yoga that was pretty much centered around finding youtube videos that were short enough for me to concentrate without getting frustrated that I’m not automatically a yoga baller, I have FINALLY fell in love.

I now have experienced the “yoga light,” why people are so devoted, so addicted even to yoga and all the benefits. Maybe it’s cause I’m older, maybe it’s cause I’m wiser, or maybe it’s just because I don’t have my pal beside me to make me laugh in the funny poses. I faced my fears, joined a studio, and ventured to my first real-life class since I was 14…and it was incredible.

So since email is down at work, and all I want to do is toss my responsibilities out the window in the name of TGIF, here’s some reasons why I’m pumped about committing to my yoga practice.

  1. You Get Stronger. Though I’m very fit, am a passionate runner and exercise enthusiast, I would not consider myself “strong.” Yes, I can run 20 miles at a time and bust out a heart-thumping, hour-long nonstop insanity session and revel in every minute of it, but I am notoriously scrawny in my upper body and can barely manage a push-up. I despise strength training though I know the benefits of it. But when you do yoga, you build strength through elongation, through flexibility, through tapping into your body, not fighting it. I’ve found that when I remove the “you can do its” from my mind, and instead just focus on how my body feels, I am usually pleasantly surprised with the results. I can finally do chatarungas, hold crow poses, and am even on my way to doing hand stands. It takes practice and determination, and most importantly, being patient with yourself and listening to your body, but yoga will help you reach new levels of strength, both physically and mentally, that lifting weights just doesn’t satisfy.
  2. You escape from the cage of your own mind. This is an aspect of yoga I was never able to tap into until recently. I am a multi-tasking freak with a mind that flies a mile a minute, and turning off my stress while tuning into my body and soul was never something I could manage for more than 30 seconds. Since I rejuvenated my yoga practice, I have finally seen the light of releasing myself from the cage that is my own mind. When I step on the mat, I immediately focus on what my body is doing, and how I can focus on moving with my breath. The only voice I let in is my instructor’s voice. When I focus on just my body, my breath, and my mentor for the class, I lose myself while rediscovering myself in a whole new way. By the end of the practice, I’m sweaty, loose, open, and most importantly, I am calmer than I was before I walked into the studio, and this calmness stays with me through the rest of my day or night. By turning inward, the thoughts that crowd my mind no longer seem truly important. As a result, I am also more humble, more appreciative for the body that allows me to contort, strengthen, and lengthen, and even more appreciative for the soul it houses.
  3. You become a part of a community. Though I am all for doing yoga online with free classes or web memberships and such, it is so worth the money to join a studio. Not only do you get the hands-on adjustments from your instructor, and the fellowship of other yogis at all different levels with all different strengths and weaknesses, when you go to a real-life class, you cannot just abandon it when you feel like grabbing a snack or don’t “feel like it” anymore. (I’ve done this countless times while doing my youtube classes). When you go to a studio, you are able to focus and lock yourself into your commitment to your body and your practice. Usually, it’s this commitment that is lacking for me when I do youtube yoga. Joining a studio keeps you committed, engaged, and since you spent the money, coming back for more. Do some research and find a studio around you that is affordable (at least kinda affordable), find a studio doing a free community class and stop in to check it out (that’s how I found my studio!), and check out studio web sites to see which have the most accessible classes for you.

Now I know I literally just bought a membership at a local studio and am in the beginning phases of my yoga journey, but these are just some benefits I’ve experienced already, and they’re the core reasons why I will keep coming back for more.

Namaste lovely people!

These are a few of my favorite things

The server is down at work at the moment (a.k.a. everyone is flipping shit and no one can save any of their work a.k.a. we are helpless without computers), so I am taking this time to digress and find positivity in this dreary, run of the mill work day. Hence, this list of some things that I love in no particular order, with no particular theme.

  1. Yellow-paged legal pads
  2. Tahini
  3. Thin, gold rings
  4. My curly hair
  5. Camaraderie of my work friends
  6. The unbreakable intimacy of my very best friends
  7. Carrot-orange-ginger juice I made last night as a snack for today
  8. Coffee
  9. My huge army jacket fresh from the Salvation Army
  10. My giant scarf collection and scarves in general
  11. Blue pens
  12. Book shelves
  13. Brown Rice
  14. Broccoli
  15. Parks
  16. Talking to my mom on my walks home from work
  17. Rain
  18. Google Docs
  19. The distinctly different satisfaction of morning showers and night time showers
  20. Bedtime stories read to me by my sweet, sweet Collin
  21. Cooking in my cozy kitchen
  22. Shredded coconut
  23. Cheap Jewelery

Five Great Pieces of My Week(s)

It’s been a hell of a few weeks with nonstop commotion so I haven’t really gotten a chance to sit down and process my highlights, the goods, the bads, the uglys. Now that I have a moment to rest because of my 1st reason on this list, I can properly dig up the good things from the back of my mind.

  1. I am home for the weekend! It’s my stepdad’s birthday and last night my mom threw a surprise dinner party for him in my hometown, so I drove down for the weekend! Though it was a long fucking day yesterday after working, a mandatory appearance at my office’s summer party (where i sweated my ass off and couldn’t even have a beer because I was about to drive 5 hours), and that long ass haul down the thruway, it was worth it to see my family last night and enjoy a delicious vegan meal my mom had the restaurant make for me and a pleasantly large glass of merlot. Not to mention, I get to stay at my dad’s house and have my morning bath, run on my favorite trails, and make a delicious breakfast in the kitchen where I learned to cook. Even though I’m bummed my dad isn’t here this weekend, I’m picking Col up from the train station and we’re going to have a fun-filled few days lunching it up with my mom, swimming in my creek, getting dinner at my favorite restaurant while (literally) everybody knows my name, and getting some drinks at the bar up the road. Nothing renews and refreshes me like being home.
  2. I got promoted! I am now a scriptwriter at the communications company where I work and not just a scripting assistant! I’ve been there for two months and have already moved up and I couldn’t be happier! I get a $2.25 an hour raise and can now officially say that I am a professional writer!! This has been my dream since I was in high school, and my ultimate goal. It has also been the root of many fears in my college life where I was certain I was doomed to never find full time work as a writer. This goes to show that going after what you really love is the key to everything. REALLY. It’s not like I’m some hot shot author, I know that, but I’m only 22, am the youngest writer my company has had and I am damn proud of that. I fulfilled a 8-year long goal and now it’s time to see what the next part of my future has in store!
  3. I rediscovered Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Shutup, it’s brilliantly amazing and addicting, on netflix, and the perfect show to have on int he background while cooking, cross stitching, or doing my nightly sit-ups. Plus, it brings back memories of Buffy-fests with my big sister who was obsessed with the damn show. And, it’s hilarious and inspiring to see the outfits 90’s teens wore. I’m a 90’s chick through and through. My style is a bit hip mixed with 90’s grunge and 90’s clueless, so I love seeing what Buffy’s gonna wear to school each episode. Also, Spike is the shit.
  4. My team & I finally won trivia! Every Wednesday, Collin and I and a few of our friends go to Roc Brewing on South Union for their trivia. Roc Brewing is in a beautiful space with huge windows that overlook the Strong Museum, they have really cool flavors of beer that change every week, sell awesome shirts, and always have really great local art for sale. And, their trivia kicks ass. Our team, dubbed Taylor’s Angels (by me, of course), usually comes in 2nd place for all 3 rounds, but last week we finally won the last round which was music trivia! The whole team won free pints and we dug into the free salt and vinegar Cape Cod chips at every table. I am super SUPER competitive, so I am all about winning, and I am also all about trivia, so it’s safe to say I was stoked, am still stoked, and will always be stoked that we won. Even if it was only 1 round…
  5. I got to visit my BFF Victoria in Syracuse! She goes to ESF for one more year, and I finally had a weekend free to go see her. You know you’re truly the best of friends when nothing ever changes no matter what. Me, Victoria, and her twin Jaclyn have been best friends since we were 8 years old. With Jaclyn living in North Carolina, we still h ave a group chat we talk on almost everyday, Jaclyn comes to visit every Halloween as per our tradition, and as much as she can, and me and Victoria see each other as much as we can. I am so lucky to have a best friendship like the one I share with my twins. We are truly always in each others’ rings, tell each other the truth no matter what, and support one another in anything and everything. Tor and I met up with my best friends from college and went to the fair, and went to the bars. Tor and I managed to have a cute little dinner date at an Indian restaurant next to her place, and I got to hang out with her friend-turned-boyfriend. It was a stellar weekend with my girlz which I needed because all I ever do is hang with dudes in Roch.

P.S. I found these pictures of Collin and I from my 21st birthday last year that Victoria took with her fish eye lense camera. I love him, I love him always.

Five Great Pieces of My Week

On this Friday that I have been (patiently) waiting for, I am at work reflecting on the past week. It’s been one of discovery, hard work, and reflection. My mind is a buzzin’ with everything I’ve learned, discovered, worked on, and felt this week, so I’ve decided to compile a list of the five best pieces of my week. I’m going to start doing this every Friday just to motivate myself to keep exploring, thinking, and feeling new things, ideas, and emotions! Cool? Cool.

 

  1. I started/finished The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, the first book in the Millennium Series, and subsequently fell in love with it/its protagonist, Lisbeth Salander. She is a badass, sly, incredibly troubled investigative/technological genius/young woman who I happen to identify with on many levels. She does not become a product of her harsh and dark upbringing, she rises from it, kicking ass and taking names along the way. I have actually decided to name my car, who I have been struggling to come up with a name for for about three years, Lisbeth because I love her so much. I encourage everybody to read this book, not just because of the strength of Lisbeth (though that is my top reason), but because it is well-written, well-paced, and well-characterized. The story draws you in like a story should and FINALLY satisfied my craving for a book I just cannot put down, which I have been missing in my life for the past few months. I am on the edge of my seat, constantly checking the mail for the next book in the series, The Girl Who Played With Fire, to arrive in the mail! READ IT.
  2. Speaking of books, my boyfriend showed me THIS. It’s a site called Paperback Swap and it’s a gem of the internet! You can make an account and post any books you no longer want for people to request. When someone requests one of your books, you get a credit to get a book from someone else on the site for free! You just have to pay to mail your book to whoever requested it. BASICALLY IT’S FREE BOOKS AND RECYCLING IN ONE. C’MON. ITS GREAT.
  3. I discovered Slate’s Cultural Gabfest which is such an awesome podcast! My friend just opened my world when he told me how much he loves podcasts and how they make his day fly and keep him updated on his favorite things. Cultural Gabfest is all about dissecting current culture in a roundtable discussion. They talk about music, movies, books, and current events, which are all some of my favorite things. The hosts are super intelligent, pretty funny, and seem down to earth even though they talk in pretty philosophical fashion. I recommend giving this podcast a listen, it’s fucking great.
  4. I realized the power of parks. I am a complete nature girl, and grew up in the Hudson Valley where nature is abundant and just kinda there. When I moved to Rochester, I automatically missed my backyard, the Catskills, the easy access to hiking trails, the creek…basically everything. But, as I began to explore Roch, I discovered how many awesome parks they managed to fit into such a teeny city! I spend a lot of time running in Genesse Valley Park, which has such great and surprisingly long trails along the river and canal, and have ran in Cobb’s Hill Park, which has such an awesome view of the city and a really pretty reservoir. My favorite park by far though, is Highland Park. I’ve attempted running there a few times and don’t quite enjoy it for that purpose. But it is such a  beautiful park with a huge valley smack dab in the middle of it that feels like a wonderland. That valley never fails to make me feel small and human, and helps me stop and appreciate the beauty and vastness of the world around me. Go for a walk in a park, it’ll change your day for the better no matter what.
  5. I made THIS for dinner last night. I was craving something creamy and decadent for dinner, had pinned this recipe a while ago, and was too tired/rushed to create a recipe of my own to satisfy my craving, so I made it quickly for Col and I before we saw The Giver (DON’T SEE IT IF YOU LOVE THE BOOK/MOVIES IN GENERAL). It was really delicious, rich, and healthy! I recommend this for a cozy night in when you want some comfort food, vegan or not!

Roasted Tomatoes & Garlic Sauce!

5 Reasons to Go Vegan!

I have been a vegan for about three months now, and I can honestly say that is it for life. Once you go plant-based you never go back.

While, I will admit, the transition wasn’t all that difficult for me considering the fact that I was already an extremely healthy eater with tons of veggies and fruits in my daily diet, and the fact that I love to cook and don’t mind devoting time to meal prep, I still believe that anyone can make the transition and that everyone should! Here are my core reasons why a vegan lifestyle is the shit.

  1. Your carbon footprint is SO MUCH LESS! The meat, dairy, and egg industries are some of the, if not the LARGEST contributors to climate change and environmental destruction in the world. Most people do not know this! I know I didn’t until a few short months ago. We generally think that emissions and destroying the rainforest and other habitats are the sole contributors to climate change. The reason is because we are destroying habitats so that we can plant mass amounts of food for the mass amounts of animals we slaughter, then use crazy amounts of emissions to raise them on factory farms before they are slaughtered. When you go vegan, you are actively taking a stand against this unbelievable destructive industry.
  2. Your body will thank you! Actually, this one is also for healthy eating in general. When I began eating healthy, whole foods and tons of fruits and veggies, (combined with daily exercise), I not only saw my body shape transform, but also my hair! Where once I had pin-straight, dry, damaged hair, there was now bouncy, full, spiral freaking curls! It was such a mystery to me after I cut my hair that it grew back extremely curly and generally huge, but I am 100% sure it is a result of changing my diet. Since becoming a vegan, my hair has grown super fast and my random acne bursts have disappeared! I now have glowing, rosy cheeks and smooth skin.
  3. You will live cruelty free! I had first considered going vegan after doing research about the negative impact eating animal products has on the body, and just to challenge myself. After watching Earthlings, though, I added the moral reason of being a vegan to my list. While I totally respect everyone’s rights to eat whatever they please, I just cannot fathom eating a piece of chicken again or even drinking milk after being exposed to the horrors of the meat and dairy industries. As a nation, our factory farms are basically torture chambers where innocent beings not only die, but die in extremely sickening fashion and live the short lives they are given in utter pain and misery. Personally, I just can’t unsee what I saw, or unfeel what I feel. Yes, I get that eating meat tastes good, but it is unnecessary. I like being a vegan because it means I can live without killing, or contributing to killing, other beings in the process.
  4. You spice up your kitchen life! I’ve always loved to cook, maybe even more than I love to eat! Going vegan has challenged and excited my time in the kitchen. I love creating “veganized” versions of foods that aren’t vegan which I love (cheesecake, brownies, mac and cheese). Also, by using whole, plant-based ingredients, you will naturally eat healthier and, believe it or not, your grocery bill will decrease (I swear). Meat is expensive! Vegetables, fruits, beans, and grains are generally pretty cheap. And if you check out your farmer’s markets, they’re even cheaper than in the grocery store, and you will most likely find new produce to experiment and fall in love with that you had never tried before! Seriously people, being a vegan isn’t a life of deprivation, it’s fucking delicious!
  5. You eat more!!!!!!! This reason, even considering my cruelty-free and less carbon footprint reasons, is my absolute favorite thing about being a vegan. (no disrespect, chickies and piggies!) I’ve always had a large appetite, and when I started exercising daily, this appetite grew. Instead of meticulously portioning my foods and counting calories like I did in the past, I now eat an abundance of healthy foods because they nourish and benefit me. Because plant-based foods are typically lower in calories and are PACKED TO THE BRIM with nutrients, I eat a ton of them and don’t have to worry about calories or gaining weight. Of course, there are plant-based foods that are high in calories and that I still monitor (duh), generally I fill my plate with veggies, fruits, beans, and whole grains and feel satisfied and nourished, not overly full and guilty. Going vegan has really helped me develop a healthy relationship with food which I am insanely thankful for.

These are just a few reasons why I love being a vegan! I do not judge anyone who is not a vegan, because obviously I am still a newb myself, and I get why many people do not choose to go vegan (convenience, taste, etc.). I am just trying to shed light on how amazing this lifestyle is for your body, your mind, your soul, and your planet!

 

6 Reasons to be an Early Bird

 

  1. Your days are literally longer. By waking up early, you’re squeezing the most out of your day and have more time to do the things that you love to do, as well as the things that you have to do.
  2. It’s the most serene part of the day! I don’t know about anyone else, but I am always awake first at my place and I would never trade in an extra hour or two of sleep for my chunk of solitude in the morning. I make my breakfast listening to the birds and Sinbad, our squirrel who hangs out on the electrical line outside of our fire escape, instead of the hustle and bustle of the city swarming with commuters. When I wake up, the city is still more or less silent.
  3. Speaking of breakfast, when you wake up early you have more time to make and truly enjoy a healthy and hearty breakfast! What sounds better, eating a banana in your car on the way to work on a week day, or waking up a few minutes early to prepare a feast that will keep you going until lunch (or snack) time? Even on the weekends, if you sleep the day away, then you don’t have the time to relish in the fact that the whole beautiful, work-less day is ahead of you after you eat your delicious first meal!
  4. The morning is the perfect time to work out! By working out in the morning, you start your day in the most positive way possible; you treat your body to some endorphins right away, boosting the chances for a positive day and healthy choices throughout that day! Also, if you’re working out outside, you get to enjoy the morning beauty and some fresh air in your lungs before your daily obligations/routine.
  5. You sleep better at night! By waking up early, you’re most likely going to get tired a little earlier, and increase your chances for a good night’s sleep. I know that when I don’t get a solid night’s sleep I am a royal bitch/mindless zombie the next day, so I try to keep my sleep schedule pretty consistent. By waking up early and packing as much as I can into my day, I fall asleep because I am tired, not because I am trying to force myself to get some z’s in. And better yet, I go to sleep with the knowledge that my day was used to its fullest potential.
  6. You have more energy throughout the day! This is a BIGGIE for me. I am naturally a very energetic and enthusiastic person, but if I stay up too late one night and set my alarm a few minutes or so later than I normally do, I don’t have the same spring in my step during the day that I normally would. If I don’t give myself enough time in the morning to fully wake up before I hustle off to work or any other commitments, I am still tired and in the process of waking up when I get there instead of awake, alert, and prepared for the day ahead. Plus, when I give myself enough time to fully wake up in the morning, I have more time to put on a sick outfit, give myself an awesome hair do, and look my best.

I am, always have been, and always will be an early bird. I truly feel that I get that worm.