Jesse and I are in Missouri for the weekend to attend a wedding and then New Jersey to visit my family, go to the boardwalk and lay on the beach for a week! I'll be back on Monday, July 6th. Have a good 4th of July!
A very, very Happy Birthday to my wonderful boyfriend, Jesse! I hope this year is full of new and amazing experiences and accomplishments. I am so lucky to have you in my life. I love you, now and always.
Anyone have any good suggestions for brain candy that I can read on the beach?
I am in desperate need of some new novels. I have a ton of non-fiction to read but I want something that's a little easier to digest while sinking my toes into cool sand. Examples of things I have loved in the past: The Time Traveler's Wife, Good in Bed, Bel Canto, My Sister's Keeper, The Glass Castle, Something Borrowed, Something Blue, The Devil Wears Prada, Middlesex, The Namesake.
1. Being finished with my summer class. It feels amazing to not have any homework or tests hanging over my head.
2. I get to spend a week and a half with Jesse starting on Friday around noon. We haven't been together since mid-May and I am starting to go crazy from not being near him. I can't wait to fall asleep on warm beach sand with him next to me.
3. An incredible yoga class last night, which included the pose you see here, as well as the Idan Raichel Project's song, "Mima'amakim". I don't know that I've ever gotten that much release (of stress, tension and tight muscles) in any other class.
4. My Mom being so supportive and wonderful while I've been so stressed out these past few weeks.
5. Peach African Red tea.
6. Manicure and pedicure tomorrow night!!!
7. New sandals.
8. Smooth, clean sheets to climb into in just a minute.
"Apparently this award is bestowed on to blogs that are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award."
I'm going to pass it on to the following 8 blogs, even though I know some have already received it (think of it as extra love!):
Over the weekend, I was very sick and feeling sorry for myself, so I took myself to the movies. I figured getting out of the house might do me some good. I decided to see "Food, Inc", a new documentary about food policy.
I thought that this movie was incredibly well done. It tells the story of how our food went from being farmed to becoming like a factory. It shows what happens to the animals before they get to our supermarkets. It also discusses how a few large companies basically own and control the entire country's food production, as well as how that has impacted the way that farmers do their work. There is also a portion about how much of our food products contain large amounts of corn.
I've read Eric Schlosser's and Michael Pollan's books and I still felt like I learned a few things. Hearing from the families and farmers that are directly affected by decisions made in Washington and in board rooms made it hit home. The personal stories were deeply touching.
The one bad part is that the people who need to see this movie the most are probably the ones that are least likely to see it.
On this gray, rainy day I started daydreaming about my planned vacation next week. Jesse and I will be traveling to Missouri for a wedding and then to New Jersey to visit my family and spend some time at the beach. I can't wait.
Places I've been: Israel, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain, Italy, Mexico and Guatemala, as well as New Jersey, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and Maryland.
But I want more.
I love to see new places. So, without further ado, I give you my traveling wish list:
In the United States: California (I want to see it all!), Seattle, Boston, Chicago, New Orleans, Maine (going in August!), Orlando, Santa Fe, Savannah, Hawaii.
International: the Greek Isles, India, Argentina, Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, Dominican Republic, more of Italy, England, France, Costa Rica, more of Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Puerto Rico, Kenya.
Here is my full confession: I do NOT know how to relax.
In high school, I took all honors classes, worked a part-time job and got involved in numerous clubs and activities. In college I took a full load of classes, worked at the university's writing center and held various leadership positions in my co-ed fraternity. Post college, I worked 80 hour weeks in a restaurant while using my one day off a week to pump out job applications and do laundry. Then I worked a Monday-Friday job while working nights and weekends in a restaurant.
Currently I work full time and go to graduate school at night. My weekends are for errands, working out, going to yoga and doing homework. I am constantly making lists in my head of things I need to pick up, errands to run, papers to write, emails to send and people to call. I multi-task like crazy--commuting is for listening to podcasts while reading the newspaper and the eliptical is also for getting homework done. Baths are for soothing sore muscles, but they are also for list-making and magazine reading. I am contemplating working full time, taking a graduate course and doing the 200 hour yoga teacher training in the Spring. I feel like I never stop.
I am taking a vacation in two weeks and I already have lists of things I want to see, do and accomplish during that time. Unplanned time makes me skittish. I think that is partially because I am afraid I am wasting it and partially because I have no idea what to do. So my question to you all is....How do you learn to relax? I'm afraid of what will become of me after I graduate next May and all I have is my full time job.
For a long time, I was afraid of being successful and taking credit for the things I was proud of. I am still not sure why that is...but today I was reminded that we need to take the time to celebrate ourselves.
To that end....
Things that I am proud of that I am celebrating today:
1. Losing 70 lbs. I'd say this is probably my biggest accomplishment to date and the one that has had the most direct impact on my quality of life. I worked really, really hard to do it and each day continues to be a struggle, but I'm truckin' on.
2. Graduating from undergrad with honors with a double major (English/Spanish Language and Literature) and a minor (women's studies). Right now I am less than one year away from completing a master's program in International Affairs with a focus on Latin America and I currently have a 3.8 GPA. I've managed to do this while working full time. Only recently have I begun to realize exactly how hard I've worked to balance all of this.
3. Moving away from NJ. Not many people leave my hometown. I made the decision to do so on a whim, without looking back. I now know that this was one of the best decisions I ever made for myself.
4. Completing level 1 of yoga teacher training, as well as pre- and post-natal yoga teacher training. Honestly, I wasn't sure I could do it. But I did. And I'm a better person because of these trainings.
I was going to go to the gym tonight but when I got out of the metro by my apartment, the sky had opened up and it was pouring, thundering and lightening. I decided to stay in and give Jillian Michaels' "30 Day Shred" a try.
I purchased this DVD a long time ago at the recommendation of lots of Weight Watchers members but I had never done it. In fact, I haven't done a workout DVD since I started my shape up plan nearly two years ago and was too embarrassed to step foot in a gym. I traded the DVDs in for the eliptical and weight machines a very long time ago. But this one..... Oh. my. god.
I did level 1, which is only 20 minutes long, and I was dying. Granted I did it with 8 lb hand weights and I probably should have done it with 5 lb weights. I am way more out of shape than I thought! I have met my match. This could be a great morning workout (each level is only 20 minutes) to complement yoga or spinning at night. I'm hoping that if I keep up with it, I just might be able to do one real push-up sooner rather than later (all those chaturangas and I still can't do a real push-up!)
If her other DVDs are as good as this one, I think I need them all!
"You are lucky to be one of those people who wishes to build sand castles with words, who is willing to create a place where your imagination can wander. We build this place with the sand of memories; these castles are our memories and inventiveness made tangible. So part of us believes that when the tide starts coming in, we won't really have lost anything, because actually only a symbol of it was there in the sand. Another part of us thinks we'll figure out a way to divert the ocean. This is what separates artists from ordinary people: the belief, deep in our hearts, that if we build our castles well enough, somehow the ocean won't wash them away. I think that is a wonderful kind of person to be."
~Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
The basic premise is that the director picks an ordinary guy--Nick-- who doesn't practice yoga and has him commit to trying different kinds of yoga for an extended period of time. She sets out to prove that yoga has some level of a transformative impact on its practitioners and to capture that on film. Many important and interesting yogis appear here--Pattahbi Jois, BKS Iyengar, Dharma Mittra, Cyndi Lee, Ana Brett and Ravi Singh, Sharon Gannon and David Life, etc. Nick takes classes in New York, Hawaii and India.
Without giving anything away, I will say that I thought this was an interesting way of examining the multitude of ways that yoga is practiced today, what yoga is and is not, and, more importantly, why it is practiced.
This was the kind of movie where I wished a discussion session for the audience was built in afterward. I wanted to hear the other yogis in the audience talk about their experiences too.
I wish the whole world would do yoga, but I know from my own experience and from others close to me that yoga tends to appear to us when we need it the most. For example, I thought I was trying out yoga to lose weight but I can see now that I was drawn to the mat, and stayed there, for reasons much bigger than that. In fact, if I only wanted to lose weight, I probably would've been better off spending those 1.25 hours on a treadmill. I often say, and it's true, that I pay for not-exactly-cheap yoga classes because without them, I'd need to pay a much more expensive therapist. Yoga has taught me to listen to my body, to slow down, to value and believe in myself, to get out of my head, to stay present, to choose happiness and to follow my heart. I simply cannot put a price on all of that. I am convinced that yoga saves me from myself time and time again.
So, for my fellow yogis and yoginis out there, why do you practice yoga?
1. Garam Masala Chickpeas: Rinse, drain and dry a can of chickpeas. Toss in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, stirring every now and then. When they are crispy, take them out of the oven and toss them with garam masala and sea salt. Yummy snack!
2. Banana Milk: I had this at a raw food restaurant when I visited my sister in Florida. It's like a banana milkshake! Blend together a banana, some ice, a little agave nectar and about 1 cup of almond milk. Enjoy!
If you only ever own one piece of clothing, this should be it: the TranquiliT cardishawl (or hoodie). If you click on the link you will be taken to a video to see all the ways you can wear it.
And here are the reasons why you should wear it:
1. It's versatile. I own one...no, two...okay, several, and I always have one with me year round. It's great for post-yoga class in the fall or getting warm in the freezing air conditioning in the summer. I wear one on every plane ride I take (because let's face it, they never get the temperature right on those things!)
2. It's comfy. Sooooo very soft! Feels like pajamas.
3. It's good for the earth. All the TranquiliT products are made with bamboo and organic cotton.
4. It's pretty and comes in a variety of colors. With the other pieces in the line, you can mix and match for great outfits.
5. The clothing line is part of a small woman-owned business, which are always good to support.
I can promise you that you will not be disappointed. Treat yourself to one (or several) today!
Magpie Girl had a post today asking about people's 8 guiding values (also check out her Do Less Revolution here). It really got me thinking, so I thought I would post my answers here (in no particular order).
1. Love 2. Gratitude 3. Freedom 4. Truth 5. Belief 6. Joy
7. Compassion 8. Perseverance
These have changed a lot for me in recent years and I suspect that they will change in the years to come, but these are my 8 right now, right where I am in life at this very moment.
Two nights ago in my Survey of International Economics course we discussed the principle of creative destruction. While we discussed it in terms of what it means in a free market system, I started thinking about it in other ways, such as how sometimes what seems like ruin actually has benefits. There's also the fact that sometimes you have to (figuratively, of course) burn the whole house down before you can begin again.
I find that's often the case with writing. I would imagine it applies to other creative outlets as well. It takes a lot of courage to do away with something you've created, but it can be done in a way that doesn't hinder, and may actually help, the process itself.
It also made me think of this book, which I don't have but I have heard good things about.
I find creative destruction to be beautifully liberating when it is applied to life in general. I have a hard time letting go of something I've created or worked on, so this was a good reminder. There is definitely something to the "out of the ashes rises the phoenix" concept.
There are so many things I want to learn how to cook or bake. I long to have certain fall back recipes that are so stellar that everyone always asks for them. I want my home to be filled with the smell of nourishing foods. I collect cookbooks and peruse the photos. My tiny apartment kitchen doesn't have the space for making complicated dishes, but I know I could cook a lot more often than I do.
I read somewhere that if your goal is to learn to cook new things, commit to making one new recipe a month and, at the end of the year, you will have at least 12 new things in your arsenal.I recently tried a few new recipes with red lentils and was amazed at how good they were. I've also nailed down yummy hamantaschen in recent years. I'd love to be able to cook gourmet vegetarian food. In fact, attending The Natural Gourmet's chef training program is on my Life List.
Things I'd like to conquer: my mom's recipes for pumpkin bread, blueberry buckle, rice pudding and cupcake icing, challah, chana masala, rugelach, apple pie, anything with tofu that tastes like it was made in a restaurant, falafel, spinach empanadas and/or arepas, green curry with eggplant, crepes, homemade pita with my own hummus, black bean soup, flan, vegetarian paella, corn bread, a killer go-to appetizer and chocolate cake. And I might start with the infamous no-knead bread recipe for a bread making primer. I fail every time I attempt bread.
Do any of you have a signature dish? What is it? Care to share the recipe?
I had been wanting to check it out for awhile, so back over Valentine's Day weekend Jesse and I took a workshop with Kevin at Tranquil Space. They are offering a few more of them in the coming months, which I would love to be able to attend.
There's something very special and unique about moving and breathing in synch with your partner. You can also use your breath and body weight to go deeper into certain poses. Plus the asanas are even more beautiful when done with two people. And it's not just for romantic partners--try it with a friend! We even learned how to use the poses in my post-natal yoga teacher training to involve both parents and the baby.
I highly encourage you to check it out. A few good books can be found here, here and here.