New Years Resolutions…the realistic kind.

2014 was an absolutely kick ass follow-up to the incredible year before it.

2013 was a year of bliss, where I was living out the final years of my adolescence, finishing up college, and met my boyfriend. I truly found myself in 2013.

I found myself when I turned my back on constant peer pressure and just decided to go with the flow of my own intuitions, I found myself while running mile after mile along pebbly goose-shit laden canal trails growing stronger with every step, and I found myself within the people I love. I began to see myself as they see me, as perfect in all of my angst, rage, passion, excitement, and giddy pleasure.

I fell in love in 2013. I would never have found true love within another if I didn’t work so damn hard to fall head over heels for ME.

2014, however, was quite the opposite. While it was not as much a year of transformation within, it was a year that brought monumental changes to my life. I graduated college, moved in with my boyfriend, got a full time writing gig, and experimented along the way.

I woke up at 4 a.m. every day and learned how to navigate open waters during my two month stint as a charter boat first mate. I learned how to knit, cross stitch, embroider, and garden.

But, the biggest, most life-altering decision I made did not involve my job, location, or financial situation. It was my decision to become a vegan. The decision that has truly impacted my life more positively than any other I’ve ever made next to regaining my health four years ago.

I now live a life of true compassion, health, and knowledge, which is a life greater than I ever could have imagined.

Now that I’m settled into a healthy routine full of hard work, creativity, and companionship, I’m ready to unfurl my little sails towards the new horizon that is 2015. I want this year to be one of excitement, challenge, and new experiences.

Here are my four realistic (since being realistic about my own limitations isn’t really one of my strengths…) New Years Resolutions:

  1. Dedicate myself to my yoga practice.

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Maybe this will mean going to one more class per week, or starting each day with some sun salutations, either way, I’ve fallen in love with yoga and how it makes me feel, and want to keep improving my postures and looking within.

2. Spend more time appreciating nature.

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Even a tree hugging, flower sniffing, grass napping wannabe nymph like me gets caught up in my own life working, lounging, etc. I want to not only spend as much time as possible outside, but also really stop and listen to the world around me. The future of our beautiful mother earth ain’t lookin’ so pretty, so I wanna soak up as much of her as I can.

3. Eat more macrobiotically, 

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I’ve recently started reading about the benefits of a macrobiotic lifestyle and find myself really connecting with the concept of pure, whole grains, veggies, and legumes being the staple of my diet. I’m already a huge veg and rice head, but I like the concept of including greens and grains at every meal and the principles behind the lifestyle. It’s super intense in its purest form, but including some of the concepts and principles within my life and diet is something I’d like to explore.

4.  Travel More392304_10151048932438644_844055631_n

Since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve always wanted to see the world. I’m curious, restless, and I crave to leave all baggage behind and use my precious life exploring. I’m going to stop using my lack of money as an excuse and travel as much as I can this year, even if it’s just a day trip to a local hiking trail. I don’t care, I just love to move.

Well, 2014, you done me good, but now it’s time to move on, look to the future, and make 2015 even greater.

Enjoy the last day of the year tomorrow, beautiful bloggers and Happy New Year!

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Monday Happy List

Today was…foggy, in a word.

My eyes fell out of focus more than usual while trying to do work, my head felt not only heavy, but full of white noise and static.

I just didn’t feel like myself. Maybe I was so unfocused on today because I was too tuned into the weekend now behind me. I won’t get into just how deeply I disagree with America’s 40-hour, 5-day work week, but I yearn for more days off, more time to not only relax, but enjoy my life.

I just can never get over how unfair it is that we must work more than we don’t work, that many of us work so much that we can’t even enjoy the life we work so hard for in the first place.

So, true to my word, I tried all day long to get over my Monday fog and be grateful for the beautiful days now past, along with the start of a new week full of possibilities.

  1. After a jam-packed Sunday which brought a family visit to a close, and a crispy, beautifully chilly 4 mile park run, I was craving a giant salad bowl and made this Quinoa-based spinach salad topped with Peanut Miso Dressing:

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tbsp. light Miso paste
  • 1/2 tbsp. crunchy (or creamy) organic Peanut Butter
  • 2 tbsp. fresh Orange Juice
  • 1 tbsp. Sesame Oil
  • 1 tbsp. Water
  • 1 small clove minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Sriracha
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

In a small bowl, stick peanut butter in microwave for a few seconds to soften it. Add miso paste, water, garlic, sriracha, sesame oil, and orange juice. Whisk until smooth, and then add salt and pepper, adjusting the taste as needed.

I know it doesn’t look too pretty, but it’s so delicious, so savory, and pairs beautifully with the cold crunch of a salad, and atop rice, quinioa, or cous cous.

2. I’ve always loved tea, but recently my tea drinking has been more and more frequent, and my interest in different teas and methods of steeping, boiling, etc. has been sparked.

While my dad, grandma, and I were having Sunday brunch at 2vine, we were served tea in a tea press, which I instantly fell in love with. My Gigi (what I call my g-ma), being the classic grandmother she is, bought me one about five minutes later when we were browsing around my neighborhood.

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This beauty is just the inspiration I need to start experimenting with loose leaf teas more. I’ve already dug into my virtually untouched stash and can’t wait to enjoy my fresh pressed Yerba Mate every morning before work as a new addition to my annoyingly precise ritual (Hey, anything that makes the dreaded lull before work more enjoyable, I’m all for).

3. Since I sucked it up and got a membership to the yoga studio nearby, I’ve been going 2-3 days a week and fall more and more in love with it during every single class. As a pretty scrawny person, especially in my upper body, I’ve always wanted to be able to do arm balances, handstands, and all that jazz but was never able to stick with my practice long enough. Well, this past week brought a yoga breakthrough!

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I can now not only do Crow Pose, but this Firefly Pose variation! I’ve never been more proud of myself during a yoga class and can’t believe how fast I’m progressing…I guess this goes to show that if you actually practice what you think you’ll always be shitty at, you’ll actually prove yourself wrong. The human body is so badass.

5. An absolutely stellar weekend with some of the people nearest and dearest to my heart.

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My BFF Victoria, My cute little Gigi, My Dad, My Collin, and I getting our drank on at Havana Cabana.

This weekend just cemented how lucky I am to have a family I was born into that I can be my authentic self with, but also that I have people I’ve chosen as my family. My best friend is not only a friend, she is my sister through and through. My boyfriend isn’t just a guy I’m dating, he’s my homie, my lover, my friend, and a part of my family as well.

Just writing this post has made my Monday a bit brighter.

I hope that maybe it made yours shine a little more, too.

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This Week’s Project: Soften My Rigid Expectations.

There is nothing I dislike more than making mistakes.

I’ve always been hard on myself for as long as I can remember. I thrive off of setting high expectations for myself, and the high I get from achieving the lofty goals I set out to conquer.

But, along with the highs that come from living up to my impossibly high standards for myself, there are also inevitable “failures.” These “failures” usually leave me guilt-ridden, anxious, and inwardly hateful towards myself. Although I truly love my tendency to dream big and think of my ridiculously strong willpower as a huge asset, I know that it is a negative attribute to be so unkind to myself when I don’t accomplish a certain goal.

Whether that goal is to exercise in the morning and the evening, or get everything done on my to-do list while knitting a scarf, or graduating with a 4.0 every semester and immediately become a well-respected poet, I find it hard sometimes to “go with the flow” and accept the fact that sometimes, creating a vision of who I’d like to be isn’t always the same as being kind to myself.

If I miss a workout when I promised myself I would do it when I got home, I feel guilty and push myself extra hard the next day, or I won’t stop bitching about how I should probably just suck it up and get it done (even though I know perfectly well I’m just too damn tired).

When I graduated a semester early and didn’t immediately find a full-time writing job, I felt like a failure for a good two weeks even though I saved enough money to move in with my boyfriend and supported myself by working on a boat, one of my lifelong dreams.

Last night in yoga, my instructor talked to us about the phrase “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” and how we need to rephrase this in our practice, and in our lives. Instead of just “powering through” and “gettin’ er done,” we need to soften, to breathe not through the pain or the challenges, but with the pain or the challenges. When we soften instead of harden, we feel everything going on within our bodies and without. We may not get to that final stage of a pose, or that final goal on our to-do list, but we actually feel the work we put into moving into that post, into reaching that goal, and we start appreciating ourselves for our efforts and attention, not just for the outcome.

This week, I am making a conscious effort to be more gentle to myself. If I truly don’t feel like exercising, I’ll give myself a break and keep reassuring myself that this is what my body needs, this is what I crave at this moment, so it is the healthy choice.

If I don’t write incredibly stellar scripts at work, or I am a few script approvals short of my weekly quota, I will not leave the office kicking myself for not being a “good” writer. I know I try my best, so that is all that matters. I put in the work, and not every week is going to be my best week.

This week, I am making an effort to soften, to accept and appreciate the efforts I put into my every day, and allow myself to relax a bit more.

I am not my work, I am not my body, I am not some future version of myself I’ve created in my head. I am me, and I am now…I will not be me and I will not be now forever, so it’s time I stop and smell the roses of my life. And even if I get pricked by their thorns, I will just let the wounds heal.

I invite all of you to be a little bit kinder to yourselves, leave your personal judgments behind, and appreciate the efforts you put into living, working, and being every single day.

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!