Cancer. Strength and Yoga

There are two things on my mind today. First, my to-do-list for yoga poses.

Second, a little girl telling me she beat cancer… yeah. Let’s start with that one.

It is really hard for me to not burst into tears in situations like that. Especially when it is my time of the month—which causes me to cry at literally everything. Mariah Carey’s, “I don’t want a lot for Christmas”?… Yeah, I just admitted that. Gross.

So, here I was. A routine scheduling situation and this mom tells me, in a very nonchalant manner, that her daughter just beat cancer. It was so hard to not get caught up in their emotions, as I saw a sense of pride and relief surface in the mother’s watery eyes.

Here is her daughter, this adorable, lively thing that complimented me on my nail polish. This little spitfire/champion/bad ass extraordinaire stared cancer in the face and said “no”. You can imagine pitiful ol’ me, weeping at every single Christmas themed commercial (I realize how ridiculous I sound), having a slight break down.

So there you go reality, just one big dose of YOU.

I had to pull it together and gave that little girl the biggest high-five I could muster, and had a wonderful chat with the mother. Their strength is astounding.

Now on to much less important things.

I think I suck at yoga.

How trivial does THAT sound after my previous story?

However, this blog is about my path to self discovery via yoga, running and eating vegan. So perhaps I should write about those every once in a while.

Here is the reason that I think I fail at yoga. NOTE: I realize that there is no “failing” at yoga—that it is all about the practice, and being with yourself in that blissful 75 minutes, stretching to your own potential, not the potential of others. I get that. Or at least I understand that theory.

Let me break it down. I have been practicing yoga on and off for nearly seven years.

I should be bending myself into a pretzel on a whim. I should be able to throw myself into bird or paradise (which is a pretty cool pose), and fling myself into a head stand no big deal. But I can’t. I am nowhere close to being a human pretzel. I can kind of shimmy myself into bird of paradise. And I am terrified of head stands. I think my neck is going to break. I just chill out in the prep poses, pretending like I’m building up to something epic.

I’m not.

I was enrolled in yoga teacher training, and had to stop due to work commitments at my new job. I will eventually start the teacher training again, but before I do, I have a few personal goals.

1)      Master head stands. I will get over my neck fear. OR I will throw myself into it; probably end up crunching my neck forever. Right, I will take my time.

2)      Get over my fear of inversions in general. I have this looming fear that the moment I flip upside down in any capacity, something horrible will happen to my body. What this horrible thing is? No idea… but I imagine it involves excruciating pain and perhaps an explosion of moths. (my greatest fear)

3)      Learn to love my messed up displaced sacrum, my difference in leg length, my tighter-then-all-get-out hips, and my weak ankles. HOT MESS.

4)      Be able to jump (gracefully) from downward dog to the front of my mat, and from the front of my mat to plank. Right now, it is as if I am channeling an elephant.

5)      Stop being so damn judgmental.

That is all.

Goodnight and many happy thoughts and practices to you all.

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I did it! I made all of the dishes I set out to make for my first Vegan Thanksgiving.

Not going to lie, my stuffing kicked the other stuffing’s ass. (sorry mom)

But really, it was impressive.

However, we may have gone a little overboard with the amount of food, and I believe I will be eating thanksgiving all week-long… which can get a little repetitive.

So, this is a short and sweet post. But here is what I am thankful for.

1) My family– they rearranged Thanksgiving for me. They play Bananagrams and Mad Gab AND they watch elf while eating candy canes… my family is the most bitchin’ family around.

2) My ability to let things go. And what that means for the future me. Forgiving and apologizing has literally made blue birds land on my shoulders, and sometimes I break out into a spontaneous grin. It is a beautiful thing.

3) My drive and ambition to achieve a plethora of different goals. These goals include: climbing a mountain (next summer!), running a marathon (next fall!), complete a triathlon (next spring!), going back to grad school (I think I figured out what I actually want to do– it might take me a billion years.. whatever), become a yoga instructor, meditate on a regular basis, make a quilt… the list goes on and on.

All BIG goals. (especially the quilt– I get distracted)

What can I say? I’m a dreamer.

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A Very Vegan Thanksgiving

I am currently sitting at a deserted hospital. All of the clinics are closed, so this giant building is basically abandoned. It is the first year that I haven’t spent Thanksgiving with my family. I had some inner turmoil about it, but all is well. Plus, I made a few hand turkeys… what can I say, I’m secretly five.

First off, my family rescheduled the holiday to Saturday as both my step-dad and I had to work. SO, I get to have a Thanksgiving, just a few days later than planned.

Secondly, I am just so thankful that I have family that lives in the area. I know how blessed I am to live only a few miles from mom, dad, grandma, etc. This may sound like hell to some people, but I actually enjoy spending time with my family, so there you go.

Third, and most important, this holiday isn’t really vegan friendly. Granted, my family is used to my dietary restrictions. Before taking the plunge into vegan-dom, I was a vegetarian for 12 years. There have been years where they refused to bend—which resulted in a sullen 13-year-old me (tragic in every way possible) gnawing on a roll in the corner. “Well you could be eating the rest of this delicious food with us, if you just stopped being so picky,” REAL supportive family, thanks.

Needless to say, I was an unhealthy vegetarian for the first few years of my journey, as I thought that bread, cheese, popcorn and sunflower seeds equaled a healthy, well-balanced diet… I’m surprised I didn’t get scurvy.

However, now I inhale leafy greens like they are oxygen, and feel the best if I start my morning with some nut butter. I have come a long way.

As have my family.

Now, when I told them I was vegan—my mom nodded, and sent me the Thanksgiving menu, with stars next to all the things she was making animal product free (my mom is the best). Not only are the rearranging their schedules for me, they are also accommodating my dietary restrictions. How could you not love them?

On the menu she has butternut squash soup, roasted brussels sprouts with walnuts and a vegan/gluten-free pie (did I mention my brother is gluten intolerant? We are a handful)

All of this sounds absolutely delicious. However, I like to challenge myself, and I want to add more “traditional” dishes onto my menu, that the rest of the meat-eating family will be enjoying. So, although I am working a ten-hour shift today, and an 8 hour shift tomorrow, and Thanksgiving starts at noon on Saturday (don’t ask why we start so early), I am going to cook the following.

Non-dairy Creamed Kale

Maple Glazed Tempeh (see some repetition? I love a recipe… I make it over, and over and over again)

Maple Roasted Sweet Potato (oh yeah, I love syrup… “We elves try to stick to the four main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup!”

Apple Sage “Sausage” Chestnut Stuffing

Cranberry Sauce

And Vegan Gravy

Perhaps this is a bit too much…perhaps I will actually think about all the work that is required for that and remember how little time I have to actually accomplish these goals.

Especially because I am also planning a trip to the market to get flowers and kale—mainly so I can flirt with the farm stand boy. GAH, he is just so pretty.

Either way, I will get to spend quality time with the ones I love, probably drink too much wine, get competitive over bananagrams, and listen to Christmas music. FINALLY!

So, my fellow vegans—I hope today finds your bellies full and happy; reveling in your meat-free day.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Perspective

I work at a children’s hospital. I don’t know if I mentioned that before. This, as you can imagine, can be difficult. A lot of time I have to go in the back to regroup and not start weeping in front of the kids and their families. Fortunately, I work in an area of the hospital that deals with broken bones and the flu… not oncology, which would result in daily tears.

Working around children who have health issues really puts your life in perspective. Sometimes I find myself complaining about things that seem really important. Like how I sometimes feel overweight. How sometimes I get sad about my ex-boyfriend. How sometimes there is a symphony following me around with a thunder head above me.

You get the idea.

I am like every other human being. Self-involved and self-pitying. Basically, I am awesome…

So here I am, feeling whiny and upset about my miniscule trials and tribulations. And here comes a family, driving seven hours from destination X. They are here for their kid who has XYZ. Sometimes it is something simple like a broken arm, other times it is something like bone cancer.

Here is the kicker… they are always positive (well, not always… but give them a break—think about what they are dealing with!?!) So, 94% of the time, they are upbeat, they are kind, they are patient and the kiddo is usually always curious and hilarious. This is why I love kids. They always have a positive outlook, regardless of the situation.

It stops me in my self involved tracks. I take a step back, realize how blessed I am in this wonderful life/body of mine. Of course I feel things and get sad like everyone else (see last three posts…) but it is such a good eye opener to realize how lucky I really am.

For example, today I spent the morning walking in the rain with my dog (I adore the rain; thank goodness I live in Seattle). I followed that up by a wonderful yoga session, channeling grace and forgiveness, and ended my morning with an hour-long sauna… What in the world could I possibly be complaining about? On top of all of that awesome, I got lucky and scored some vegan leftovers from the S-mom who is like a god in the kitchen. A chickpeas/puff pastry/dried fruit pie that had me licking the plate.

True. Not all days are as incredible as today.

However, all days I am blessed.

truth

Letting Go

I don’t know if you know this, but hip opening poses in yoga are supposed to release emotion.

I usually chalk this up to mumbo jumbo and simply relish the feeling of stretching out my always-too-tight hips flexors. Imagine my surprise today, whilst in reclined pigeon, I had an emotional epiphany/breakdown.

Let me explain.

I consider myself a pretty strong lady. I am rational. I am grounded. I am logical and get the job done. With all of this awesomeness comes a pride and stubbornness that makes conveying emotions a difficult process. I deny feeling angry or being sensitive because I relate a lot of that to being weak.

I have no idea where this pride comes from, but whatever. It is there. And when I do feel vulnerable, I get kind of mean, sassy and lash out at the person who put me in that state of mind.

Recently having my heart broken definitely put me in a vulnerable place. Which definitely caused lashing out. Which definitely caused REALLY harsh words and things I should have most definitely kept to myself. However, I declared this in okay move because I was owning my anger, I was owning my bitterness, all these harsh emotions were MINE. It was okay to wish harm upon said person.

Needless to say, I wasn’t in a positive place. Remember the tiny violin? Imagine a Manheim Steamroller Orchestra. That shit was following me around.

So here comes the epiphany. While opening my hips, I felt this surge of emotion. I felt the tears coming on. I felt vulnerable, open and a deep sense of nostalgia wash over me. I thought about how my three years with the Ex was wonderful. I thought about how deeply we loved each other. I thought about how ridiculous it was that I assumed he didn’t love me ever because of his recent actions.

We heal differently. We cope with things differently. That doesn’t mean what we had wasn’t real.

All of this hit me like a wave. Let me tell you, I was a hot mess when I curled back into child’s pose. It was also poignant that my favorite magazine had an entire article based on forgiveness. The world was screaming at me to just let it go… All I needed was a good yoga session to push me to that edge.

At this edge I realized something. There isn’t going to be happiness in my next relationship if I hold this bitterness and resentment. I can’t move on unless my forgiveness is legitimate. I need to admit and confess my bitterness, apologize for being a heinous bitch, and wish him all the luck and love in the world.

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Man. Yoga… you are an eye opener.

Funk

It would not be an over-exaggeration if I were to say that this weekend I was in a funk.

And I am sorry to say, this post will not be about me getting funky fresh and awesome. It is about me feeling sorry for myself and having a tiny violin follow me around with a sad-faced cloud above my head.

Deal with it.

My life is pretty fantastic. I have a great job. I have amazing friends (seriously, I am the luckiest when it comes to my group of girls). My family is fantastic. I have my health. I think I’m pretty cute sometimes. AND I have my dog, who is the love of my life.

So what in the shit am I complaining about?

Who knows, sometimes that horrible, gut wrenching, soul crushing self-doubt seeps into your life. Perhaps I shall blame it on the old Ex, whose life–post me–makes me feel like throwing up. It is never fun to feel like a used kleenex after having spent three years with someone. Yes, bitterness… you are my friend at the moment.

So here is how my weekend went: me weeping for no reason, writing letters to people I shouldn’t write letters to, writing emails to people I shouldn’t write emails to, and eating a lot of chocolate.

Basically, I was a walking rom-com cliché.

And to make matters worse, my runners knee has come back, so I haven’t been able to run. Which makes me feel like an obese failure.

Seriously, can you hear the violin?

And yes, I am still kind of in a funk.

But here is what I know:

  1. My friends and I made oven roasted veggies with quinoa and non-dairy creamed kale while watching Crazy Stupid Love… best evening ever. This solidified my love of my wonderful, amazing friends. And my love for Ryan Gosling. I don’t think the man can be sexier… Did you know he can sing? Yeah, shut the front door.
  2. I have vowed to practice some form of yoga everyday. It centers me. It reminds me to seek peace. To let go of bitterness. To forgive.
  3. My friend from work posted this image on my Facebook and told me that she thinks of me and my life every time she reads it. It was a huge compliment. I am glad she sees me this way. I want to see me this way too.

Funk, be gone!

The Joy of Giving

I have figured it out. I now know how to connect yoga and christmas.

This epiphany came to me in my bed this morning. I had my day planned out down to the minute– as I do. My alarm went off at the appropriate time for my run, followed by my yoga, followed by a walk with a friend, followed by a trip to REI for a coat I have been drooling over, followed by work. You are at the edge of your seat, I can tell.

Here is what happened instead. My bed was warm. Seattle was cold. My dog’s head was on my chest, and he smells like warm potato chips (delicious). My sheets are made of fleece (literally). So I said NO, turned my alarm off and let the sound of hail lull me back to sleep for another hour.

I then had a panic attack about messing up my plans, guilt about not exercising to my full potential, and a realization that I now gained 10 pounds.

Yep, call me rational.

After my head decided to have a break down, it dawned on me. This season (this glorious, miraculous, blissful season) is all about giving. It is all about traditions, and family and being with the ones you love. A lot of time, it becomes about being one giant stress ball of anger and not being good enough.

So here is what it came down to. I rolled out my mat, put on my Adele Pandora radio station and spent some time with my sweet self. I spent 45 perfect minutes stretching how I wanted to stretch. Breathing how I wanted to breathe, and giving myself the gift of unscheduled, unplanned time. I followed this peace with a long walk in the cold, drinking coffee and having a nice conversation with a genuine person.

It was a perfect day.

Lesson learned. This season (this life) it is easy to get caught up in a whirlwind of dates and plans. It is easy to forget to give yourself gifts– to remember to slow down. My gift is yoga. Your gift may be a pint of beer and a good book. It may be a long nap under the new fleece sheets you went to buy (really, do it.)

The season of giving. To others… And yourself.

Treat Yo’ Self

If you don’t watch Parks and Recreation. Do yourself a favor– stop everything that you are doing, and go watch it. Right now. All of the seasons.

One of the recent episodes was so wonderfully hilarious that I had to watch it three times. Yes, I will admit that I watched it in succession, but whatever– don’t judge.

That shit is hilarious.

The theme of the episode was to “treat yo’ self”– a full day of doing whatever Tom and Donna felt like doing. Of course, their”treats” revolved around absurd purchases and a day at the spa.

Fine leather goods? TREAT YO’ SELF

I digress.

Today, I decided to treat MYSELF, and get a facial. Yes, you know it was from a deal site– half off?! ABSOLUTELY. I justified this purchase due to the fact that I haven’t ever had a facial. Word on the street is that it is like an orgasm for your face… ?

So I obviously had to see what all the fuss was about.

And yes, I am now addicted to facials. I am going to start scouring the internet for discounted facials, furiously googling, clogging my inbox with even MORE junk mail. It is so worth it.

I have never seen my pores so open, my skin is so delicious looking. Radiant! Glowing! Almost perfect enough to have me shell out $200 for the skin care– thank goodness I stopped myself before things got TOO out of control.

Here is what it comes down to. When you are taking care of your body– you are eating right, you are exercising, you are drinking copious amounts of water, you deserve to TREAT YO’ SELF.

It is like you are refining and recreating yourself into the best that you can be– or at least that is what I am saying as I shell out money I should be saving so I can get rubbed for 60 minutes and have pumpkin exfoliate smeared all over my body.

Just like Donna and Tom advise– find whatever your treat may be, and do it up– at least once a year.

(or once a month… depending on the deal)

Ps. I know I promised a yoga/christmas post… it will come. It just has to be perfect. My two loves– combined.

 

 

I am a GIANT wuss

My inbox is always full of junk email. I get approximately 22 emails from deal sites around Seattle.

I am addicted. Groupon, Living Social, Pop Sugar, Bloomspot, you name it, I am a subscriber.

They are a terrible addiction. Here is why. Any rational person would stop, step back and ask themselves, “would I really buy this if it weren’t discounted?”

Me? I’m like a kid in a candy shop. “ridiculous things I wouldn’t ever consider buying in real life?? SIGN ME UP!” 

Gah. I have a problem.

Either way, one of these deals brought me to a freezing cold warehouse in South Seattle with the s-mom. We were the only ones in this warehouse, there was strange techno music blaring and faint disco lights bouncing off the walls.

No, I didn’t get murdered in said warehouse.

Turns out, there is quite a following for the circus arts in our area. And this particular venue had a groupon for trapeze lessons.

(see… WTF)

I wish I had picture after picture of me swinging through the air with the greatest of ease.

Instead, the ONE picture would be of me, clinging like a koala to the bar, refusing to play. They asked me if I wanted to go again, I looked at them with disdain and said, “no. this isn’t my thing.”

Yeah, you heard me, I’m just too “cool” for this trapeze thing. In reality, it took 40 minutes for my stomach to stop trapezing itself into my throat, and another 20 before I felt like my own self.

Note to self: terrified of heights.

Meanwhile, my s-mom was flinging herself around, letting go of the bar and into the arms of a stocky, extremely muscular Dutchman.

I can’t make this shit up.

It was a strange way to spend a Wednesday morning, but I learned a few things from my experience. One, I can’t pursue a career in circus arts… damn. Two, warehouses are impossible to heat. Three, you must have a SHIT ton of muscle to be in the circus. Four, circus arts throw me off my daily routine, resulting in almost zero exercise and zero cooking today.

Basically, everything about today was an epic fail.

However, I plan on running and yogaing tomorrow. So take THAT derailment of work out goals.

I also discovered the joys and wonders of Pinterest, and have decided to craft my life away. Christmas 2011– you are going to be one epic year.

Tomorrow– how yoga and christmas connect. Get ready.

Dogs and Their Ability to Tone Your Behind

Remember how I said that I’m fanatical about Christmas? Well take that passion, that joy, that pure LOVE and multiply it by one billion, and you have my love for dogs.

Yeah Yeah, EVERYONE loves dogs, I’m nothing special. Oh wait, I am. I creep people out on a regular basis as I approach them with a huge smile and say, “hey cute stuff.”

Get over yourself, I’m talking to that fur covered, adorable brute you are attached to.

My friends get embarrassed as I veer off to ogle and drool over any dog that is in my line of vision.

Besides being the best things that have ever happened to me, they also happen to keep me in shape. Everyday, regardless of the weather, emotional breakdowns or physical ailments I walk at least three miles. Call it mother’s guilt, but I cannot go a day without getting my boy exercised.

And because I am crazy (see last post), I also walk 3-4 other dogs daily… I am not sure of how long this will actually last, seeing as I have my days planned out to the minute. (you think I’m exaggerating? I give myself ten minute windows of free time– 10 MINUTES)

BUT I LOVE THEM SO MUCH.

So here you go, a run down of the current dogs in my life. I like to associate them with cliché anthropomorphized stereotypes. Deal with it.

Meet my pup, Zeppelin:He would be a southern boy. He wouldn’t be the brightest crayon in the box, but by golly, isn’t he a looker? He would have a deep southern drawl, probably wear overalls, and drive a tractor (obviously). As a dog, he prefers to be inside sleeping (see picture). He snores, he drools, he sometimes falls down when he runs too fast… ah. True love.

Meet Murphy:

There is only one way to describe what Murphy would be like as a human. Woody Allen. Murphy is twitchy, and neurotic. He chases shadows. Sneezes make him nervous. Spindly, glasses wearing Woody Allen. That is Murphy to a t.

Meet Rainier:

Your heart melted. I can tell. I sense it dripping onto your keyboard. This little man is a new arrival in my life (dog walker on the side). If he were to be a human, he would be everything you love wrapped in a fuzzy fur coat. Shit, let’s be real, this little guy would be sunshine, rainbows and unicorns wrapped in the body of Ryan Gosling. I can’t even stereotype a puppy… it seems wrong.

Meet Chloe:

Chloe is crazy. (no offense Jen) If Chloe were a human, she would be a nail-biting, bathrobe wearing, chain-smoking lunatic. Chloe is nervous, and her nervousness results in a abhorrence of men, busses, and things that make noises… You get the picture. After a few lunge/bites at male friends, Chloe and I have a private relationship– just Chloe and me. Avoiding people, places and things. We have a great time.

If I were to win the lottery, here is what I would do. I would buy a tract of land. I would build a beautiful craftsman log cabin, and I would adopt approximately 15 dogs. 

Moral of this story: if you want an ass of champions, to find unconditional love, have the best snuggle session of your life and never feel the need to be sad again, get yourself a dog.