Monday, April 29, 2013

The Monday Meltdown

Not that I am having a meltdown but I think it's a good way to sum up Mondays  even when you are unemployed! Although I had a great weekend including family, friends, 5Ks, and amusement parks... Mondays always seem to bring me back to reality. While there are lots of things on the list as I prepare to move across the country there is one goal that has really got me thinking... 

While in Bali, I lived a pretty simple life. There was no primping due to the high heat. I didn't have a lot of clothes because I was limited to one bag. I didn't wear a lot of jewelry because that just got in the way during yoga. I did buy a lot of gifts but those were typically more Bali-esque type trinkets and weren't all for me. 

The fear of my stuff arriving in California is also lurking. The process of moving and packing was awful and emotionally draining. I did the best I could to declutter but in the end I was exhausted. I know that there will be more work to be done once the semi pulls up to my new place and no the semi isn't just my stuff! 

When I got back to the US and headed to New York I quickly found myself in consumption mode again. This was some what out of necessity as I forgot about the season of spring. I have all my heavy duty winter gear and my minimal hot weather wear, the rest is in storage hopefully safe and sound. I needed a few things but the trendsetting energy of NYC fueled my purchasing power. 

So for May... I will not be purchasing ANY more clothing items. This is to include; shirts, tops, jeans, capris, shorts, jewelry, workout clothes, and Zumbawear. I am granted one purchase, a dress, for a wedding and my brother's rehearsal dinner. I swear I really don't have any dresses here with me! Not only will this get me back to reality that I don't really need that much, it will save me more than the money on shopping. On my way out of Chicago, the Audi was packed to the brim. There was even a last minute purge to fit everything, some junk man hit the jackpot that day. I am already over capacity and will have to ship items to Cali once I finally find a destination. 

A true Yogi lives as simply as possible for many reasons. While I don't think I will giving up my worldly possessions and wearing a burlap sack, I could do with less. Much less. So that's it, I am putting it out there... no more stuff in May! Stuff Free! My aunt is also taking this Spring Cleaning pact with me so we can hold each other accountable. I will keep you posted on how it goes... and feel free to check in to keep me honest!  



Friday, April 26, 2013

A Chicago I Never Knew

NPR is my favorite radio station especially on longer drives. As I drove home from the airport on Monday I tuned into my favorite NPR program, This American Life. I subscribe to the podcast and found an older episode to listen to, Harper High School, Part One.The program is broadcasted in Chicago so the city is frequently a topic of discussion. This particular episode and the following episode, Harper High School, Part Two, tells the story of the high school's staff and students during the course of the school year. Harper is located on the South Side of the city in Engelwood and is plagued by gang violence. Last year 29 students were shot at and 8 were killed. This is not the Chicago I knew. This is a Chicago I barely heard about. Violence is so commonplace on the South Side that it is rarely mentioned on the evening news. If this were to take place in a suburban middle class high school it would be national news. This is an everyday reality for these students. It was an eye opening story for me and also one of those stories that leaves me confused and wondering where I even begin.

The links to both stories are below. I would also recommend subscribing to the Podcast through Itunes. After doing a quick internet search to find the links to the episodes, I found a follow up article sharing that Michelle Obama visited the high school on April 10th to further her campaign to end violence amongst the youth in Chicago.



Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Widowed Yogi Diet

While in Ubud I ate very healthy. The options were amazing with tons of fruits and vegetables available picked daily. There were also many many healthy restaurants providing plenty of choices while eating out. As part of the training, we also had several lectures on the Yoga of Food by Alice Duzevich of Food Well Thought. These lectures were pulled from many disciplines offering many viewpoints including; Ayurveda, Taoism, Macrobiotics, Sattvic, Acid/Alkaline, and Blood Typ . With so many different theories to consider and plans to follow, it can be confusing. It's impossible to change everything in one day and to return from Bali a completely changed eater. I am doing the best I can and have made some serious changes in my diet. Below I have included a list of some of the things that I incorporated. Please note, I am NOT a dietician and I have NOT done extensive research on anything. This is simply what I do on a day to day basis and have found what works for me right now. I will give you the advice I was given during my course, take from it what you will. And if you find something that you are interested in, do some more research on it and find out what you can! 

Smoothies Smoothies Smoothies! This has been by far the biggest change for me. I drink my fruits and veggies! My large blender is packed away in a storage unit in Chicago so I picked up a Magic Bullet and started blending! This is the perfect size for one person and comes with blending cups so you can blend and go. I don't have set recipes, it's all about experimenting! I usually start the day with a banana, almond butter, raw cacao shake and have at least one green smoothie a day. A green smoothie for me contains spinach and some fruit. I have had a couple of pure green smoothies/juices that I like but they are few and far between. I find that the fruit component really makes them more tasty for me. I always use almond milk as the base, you can make your own or to save time and use the store bought stuff. And there are PLENTY of recipes on Pinterest to give you a start, check out some of my pinned recipes here...

Apple Cider Vinegar Yum! I know sounds gross right? But it's not I promise! I drink a teaspoon in a full glass of cold water every morning. This leaves you with a slight hint of the sweet vinegar in your morning hydration. This can also be used to make dressing which I have yet to try but plan to. There are a ton of benefits that can be attributed to drinking apple cider vinegar and you can find the evidence all over the internet. Here is a good article that sums it all up... This stuff is cheap so at about $2 a bottle, I am more than willing to give this diet trick a chance!

Eating close to the source! My cart at the grocery store is pretty much filled up by the time I leave the produce section. By the time I hit the bean aisle I am almost done aside for a few spices or specialty ingredients. I really wish I go to the farmer's market but spring hasn't quite sprung here in the midwest so that will have to wait. I cannot wait to shop all the Farmer's Markets in SD but I digress. Most of the recipes I have been trying since I have gotten back are vegan and include a lot of food processing. One of the greatest discoveries... making this simple healthy food isn't that difficult because there aren't a lot of ingredients or fancy cooking techniques, just letting the fresh food stand for itself. 

Soaking Seeds/Beans/Legumes is Cool! Since most of my recipes include beans or legumes, I have been buying a lot of them. In my course, the teacher discussed soaking before preparing. I was a little leery about the additional prep time but knew I was always grossed out by the cans and what the aluminum sides were leaking into my healthy meal. It takes a little pre-planning but even a quick soak can do the trick. So why do we soak? Per the Body Ecology Diet by Donna Gates, when our digestive tracts are weak it will not be able to break dow the phytic acid found in grains, beans, nuts, and seeds. Soaking removes the enzyme inhibitor. Every effort should be made to eat grain-like-seed meal each day. This adds fiber and helps stops cravings for carbs and provide vital nutrients. I don't know about all the scientific stuff but I do know beans make me feel fuller and if I soak them I can cook them withough the gooey stuff leaking from the can. 

I am a proud Choiceotarian! In an age where everyone has to label themselves as something, I am a Choiceotarian! When at home I typically eat vegetarian/vegan but cheese adds so much flavor that I just can't cut it out completely. I occasionally eat meat and find that I operate better eating meat every once in awhile. I typically try to eat meats that are organic farm raised and I like to know the source but that isn't always possible either. There are some restaurants that I will eat meat from and some that I will not. A quick five minute analysis of the place can determine that for me. I don't want to be stressed out when I go out to eat. I will make the best choice that I can but not stress about it if I eat something that I normally wouldn't. This takes all the fun out of dining with friends which I love! The other day I was craving pizza, so I ordered a veggie pizza and then the next morning got back on track with some apple cider vinegar water and smoothies. It's all about moderation and not depriving yourself of anything and making the best choices you can at that moment! 

Right now I am reading the Body Ecology Diet which was quoted earlier in this post. This book discusses how to restore and maintain your body's ecology needed to function properly and eliminate or control the symptoms that can wreak havoc on your life. I don't quite understand it all yet so I don't want to make any comments on it but I have already picked up a few new tricks including those mentioned above and hope to start incorporating fermented foods (besides Apple Cider Vinegar) into my diet. Another book I would recommend is AntiCancer. I read this awhile ago and it's also packed up in the storage unit so can't quote specifics but as you can guess, discusses how the foods we eat cause cancer. I read this while Matt was ill and it made a lot of sense to me. I encouraged Matt to read this book as well but he was really a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Which is another odd concept to me, I would never be eating like this if I was still cooking for Matt and myself. I found a lot of joy in cooking for us as a new family. After his death, I rarely cooked as it was too painful and depressing to prepare a meal for one. Finding a new way of eating and cooking has sparked the interest in me again while not digging through the recipes of my past. 

I hope this post gives you some new ideas to incorporate into your diet or at least something to look into. It's all about experimenting... seeing what foods upset your stomach or make you feel great! Try something new everyday! 



Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Be the Change You Want to See in the World

While in New York City this past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the 9/11 Memorial. The memorial isn't quite finished but the two memorial pools are and construction has begun on the seven towers that will occupy this space. Perhaps you noticed the skyline pic in my last post which included a very tall building under construction, this is one of those towers . Like the rest of our country, I was horrified and sad after the events of 9/11. I understood the catastrophe in a new way after reading The Alchemy of Loss, a book about a 9/11 widow. After enduring my own loss and grieving, it was almost unbearable to think about all those that had to suffer through grief after the attack. Not only did they have to grieve the losses of their loved ones but they had to know that someone caused it and that is an emotion I couldn't begin to imagine. 

I felt especially emotional staring into the reflection pools after last week's tragic events in Boston. Yet another monumental act of hate and violence that is too much to comprehend. Lately, I have been taking a slightly delusional approach to news of such events. Most Americans sit glued to their televisions watching the suspects being chased down or listening to stories of the victims. I don't watch it and sometimes avoid the news programs altogether. I want to stay informed but typically choose to scan the internet to get the facts that I need. It's almost as if I can't even think about it.  

It's not only that but I don't know how to change it and it frustrates me. I also get this feeling when watching documentaries of how messed up the medical system, how awful the food is that we eat every day, or how we are destroying the planet. When things are seemingly such a mess, where does one begin? Then as I turn off the news or take a deep breath, I realize I am doing all that I can. I am living my life in an honest way enjoying the moments that I have with gratitude. I am not perfect but I try my best and really that's all we can do. We can't control anyone else's action the only option that we have is to lead by example. In the great words of Mahatma Gandhi, "Be the change you want to see in the world."



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I'm Back!

And you didn't even know I was gone right? I returned from a long weekend in NYC visiting a friend yesterday. It was a lovely trip filled with lots of walking the New York City streets with blisters to prove it and checking out some of the current health trends. I even got to check out YogaWorks, a national teacher training program that has a few studios across the country including NYC. They have a 500 Hour Teacher Training program in San Diego which could be a possible next step in my yoga world domination but I better start teaching first! Check out some shots from NYC below...

Me on 60th Street

View of the city from New Jersey

Enjoying tulips in Tribecca

Lincoln Center

A walk thru Central Park

Lots of New Yorkers enjoying Central Park

NYC Tree Pose from Jersey

I was slightly mad to jump on a plane so soon after my 40 hour journey home but I wanted to visit my friend before I headed across the country. There is no time like the present! The first week back from Bali was spent adjusting and I am lucky that I had the time to do so. The weather was the biggest and most difficult change. Not to diss on the Midwest but it was cold and dreary here. Everything in Bali was so green and lush it was a major recalibration for my eyes. But spring is trying to push through here with a high weather prediction of 70 degrees today and due to my grandma's love of gardening her grass is looking very green! The other adjustment was food. I was used to eating so healthy and really enjoying it. When I got back all the preservatives and additives made me sick so I got to smoothie making very quickly. The fruit isn't quite as fresh but it will have to do for now. Can't beleive I almost forgot this change which was really the worst... the jet lag! I am all better now though if you consider being in bed by 9pm and up by 6am normal!

I have been a little overwhelmed since I got back. After learning so much and realizing there is so much out there, I didn't know where to start. I just wasn't sure which direction I wanted to go. I learned that you have to leave things up to God/the Universe (whatever you want to call that higher power) but at the same time you have to put some effort into it... where do you draw the line? I can't really start teaching because I need to teach in a place where I will live. My mom is going to be on a strict class regimen while I am home but that's about the best I can do on the teaching front for now. If there are any Daytonians that want yoga classes from yours truly please let me know! I have been putting a lot of thought into this and would really like to try this blogging/writing thing so I will be putting more time and effort into this as I chill in Ohio for a bit. Let's see where this goes... universe I might be taking the lead for awhile feel free to take charge at any time! 



Tuesday, April 9, 2013

End of the Line

It's hard to believe but it's the end of my Bali adventure. My two month journey has come to an end. It has been; amazing, life changing, breathtaking, challenging, scary, fun, and many many more emotions I am sure I am forgetting to list. 

Today is also the thirteenth month sadaversary of Matt's death. Ironically I began this trip on February 9th and ended it on April 9th. Although the date of the 9th typically makes me cringe, it didn't even register with me as I was planning this trip. Perhaps it was the excitement or perhaps it was just meant to be. 

As I pack my bags and look back on the past year, I have to question how am I doing? My life has changed so much in just one year. I am very proud of myself and all that I have accomplished. It's hard to put a label on myself since my feelings, emotions, thoughts change so much from moment to moment... This too shall pass ... sorry to whoever originally said this quote, I can't find your name online and I have a flight to catch! One thing that has been reconfirmed every step of this journey is that moving to San Diego is the best decision for me at this time and I am truly following what has spoken to me. I am very much looking forward to moving and another new adventure. 

I have to thank everyone that has helped me to get to where I am today. All of my friends and family have been so supportive of this trip. I have to especially thank Matt for this opportunity. Without him and this chain of events I wouldn't have taken this trip. Sometimes this is hard to comprehend but I also know I am were I am supposed to be. I am also so greateful for those that I met at my yoga teacher training. They made this trip that much better and I now have friends across the world (and another friend from Ohio as randomly one of my classmates is also from Ohio)! Everyday I started my meditation thanking all those that helped me to get me here.

Today I woke up and went to my last yoga class in Bali. It was a Bikram class so it was difficult as always but peaceful at the time same time. I drank one last green smoothie although I vow to drink these when I home! Then I headed to the beach for a lunch by the ocean and I had one last thing I wanted to do. I  had brought some of Matt's ashes with me and was waiting for the right time and place to spread them. Nothing had spoken to me until I realized it was the end of the trip and my time left to do this was short. Spreading Matt's ashes in the Indian Ocean on April 9th seemed the right way to end this trip. 

I can't spend too much thinking what will happen when I get back, I am throwing it out to the universe... let's see what it comes back with. I leave you with the lyrics to End of the Line by Traveling Wilburys, one of Matt's favorite tunes. 

End of the Line by the Traveling Wilburys

Well it's all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it's all right, if you live the life you please
Well it's all right, doing the best you can
Well it's all right, as long as you lend a hand

You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring
Waiting for someone to tell you everything
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring
Maybe a diamond ring

Well it's all right, even if they say you're wrong
Well it's all right, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well it's all right, as long as you got somewhere to lay
Well it's all right, everyday is judgement day

Maybe somewhere down the road aways
Youll think of me, and wonder where I am these days
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays
Purple haze

Well it's all right, even when push comes to shove
Well it's all right, if you got someone to love
Well it's all right, everythingll work out fine
Well it's all right, were going to the end of the line

Don't have to be ashamed of the car I drive
Im just glad to be here, happy to be alive
It don't matter if you're by my side
Im satisfied

Well it's all right, even if you're old and grey
Well it's all right, you still got something to say
Well it's all right, remember to live and let live
Well it's all right, the best you can do is forgive

Well it's all right, riding around in the breeze
Well it's all right, if you live the life you please
Well it's all right, even if the sun don't shine
Well it's all right, were going to the end of the line

As Always... 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Mountain Mama

Yet again I have proven that I do not like roughing it. On Monday I departed Gili T to head up northwest to the mountain town of Munduk. It was about a three hour drive and it was beautiful but I knew it wasn't the ideal spot for me as soon as I arrived. I had booked a homestay for the next three nights and had a little house/room to myself on the back side of the property. I was starving by the time I arrived and knew I didn't want to be wandering around at night so I quickly found some dinner. I retreated to my room and the bug sounds began, I knew I was not alone. 

I tucked myself under my mosquito net and read a book to hopefully drift off into a safe slumber. Behind my cottage I could hear a large group of European teens playing cards. I was slightly annoyed but also happy to know that people were around. I finally drifted off when I awoke to a very loud bug sound. I wondered if it was actually in my room but was half asleep so I decided to go with it not being in my room to hopefully get some more rest. Despite my growing fear, I fell back asleep until I was again awoken again by the European teens. Two girls were in the cottage next to me and upon their arrival to the cottage, they screamed when I would assume they found a creepy crawler. They ran to find one of their male travel companions to kill the bug. I laid in fear as I now knew I wasn't the only one concerned with the bug situation. Then the sound was back. It was loud and engulfed my whole cottage, it felt as if the world was coming to and end. 

Now there is nothing in this world that makes a widow miss her husband like the onset of bug danger while laying in bed. I again had that feeling of what the hell am I doing. I wondered what I should do. Should I go find the owners to kill the bug? Then I realized I didn't even know where to find someone for help which further pushed my downward spiral of fear. I realized that I must lay there and hope that the bug wasn't dangerous. Really, I didn't have another choice either. So I laid and counted the hours until 6am when I knew it would be light. 

I finally drifted back to sleep and awoke a couple of hours later. I hadn't heard the bug in awhile. I picked up my Iphone flashlight stashed by my pillow and did a quick scan of the room and there I found a big giant cricket type creature. It looked relatively harmless but there was just no way that bug could be roommate. So I took it down. I laid in my bed and felt a bit delirious. I was wondering if I had even killed the bug as I had been having dreams about killing bugs. The next morning my suspicions were confirmed when I found the evidence in the toilet. I am still feeling bad about taking this defenseless bugs life but I was operating on fear. 

I jumped up eagerly at 6am to enjoy the daylight as the creepy crawlers made their retreat. I had planned a hike for the day with a guide and was looking forward to this as I tired to ignore the possibility of more bugs. I also made the executive decision to head back south that day. I just couldn't spend another sleepless night in that cottage. I enjoyed the hike to two waterfalls with my knowledgeable guide, Nyoman. The waterfalls were spectacular as were all of the mountain views. I also got to try some Kopi Luwak. If you don't know what this is, it's poop coffee. The Balinese feed the luwak (a cross between a fox and a cat) coffee beans and the cat poops it out. They then process those beans for an expensive cup of brew. I saw the luwak up in the mountains and after our hike we sat down to enjoy a cup. A Balinese lady served us the coffee and then sat down to chat with Nyoman. Soon I saw here wiping her eyes. Nyoman shared that she had lost her husband only two months ago in a motorbike accident. He shared with her that I had also lost my husband. We gave each other a knowing look as neither of us could speak each other's language. Widowhood needs no words, it is a universal feeling despite cultural differences, language barriers, and geographic distances. 

I headed back to the beach after my hike and checked into an air conditioned hotel with plenty of wifi and luxuries to go around. I don't know if it makes me a bad yogi but I really enjoy some of the niceties of life. I don't think I take it for granted but I am just more comfortable here. I also love the beach and feel naturally in a better state when I am by the water. I am getting tired of packing and lugging my suitcases so I will be spending the rest of my time here in Seminyak. Its a beautiful beach town with plenty of beach space and activities. It is more touristy but I truly believe a place is what you make of it. I took a bikram yoga class this morning. It felt great and there are plenty of healthy eating options around. Tomorrow I am finally trying surfing! Can't believe this trip is almost over but looking forward to getting back to begin plans for the second half of my move and of course to see friends and family and especially my Lila!

View from the Mountaintops

If I hadn't roughed for the night... I wouldn't have been able to do this! Yipee! 

A Luwak working on his delicacies