Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Whole 30 Round 4 / New Year's Round 2

So, tragically, we had to return to the US after a magical time in Costa Rica.  It was extraordinary beyond any description - we cried having to say goodbye, and have already made plans to return March 2018 to celebrate our 5 year wedding anniversary.

Every morning - with the exception of the morning we had surf lessons (so fun!!) - I did my very own yoga practice outside in an observation deck my father-in-law had built outside, just above the house.  Like the house itself, it has both a jungle view and an ocean view.  No guidance, no teacher but me.  No music, no soundtrack but nature.  I can't adequately describe how special and moving it was, each and every day, so I'll just the pictures speak a thousand words.

 It was so special getting to share my in-laws dream house with them and spending so much time together.  We were incredibly sad to part, but so grateful to them in knowing that this home is in our family forever.

Coming back, I wasted no time - Sunday was Day 1 of my 4th round of Whole30.  It's definitely the most whiplash-like I've ever done it, in the sense that the day before was full of non Whole30 foods and spent largely in the air, rather than in the kitchen prepping and cooking.
But having done it a few times gives me the advantage of having a predictable few simple, easy meals I can easily whip up.  My mom is joining me too, which always makes it easier and more fun!

So while I'm mourning the end of both vacation and the Obama administration, it feels like a second crack at New Year's.  A second crack at that feeling of fresh-start, of getting ourselves grounded.  Reaffirming resolutions, immediately taking drastic steps to improve my health on as many fronts as I can, and settling back in to our home sweet home feels really good.  Almost as good as the Costa Rican sun, but I'll still take it!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Adios for now...

Sitting down to write this, I'm 100% distracted by wondering if I remembered to do everything on the eve of our first vacation in two years.  Did I tie up all the loose ends at work?  Did I pack everything?  Prepare everything?

I'm in a fairly scattered place to be writing a blog, is what I'm saying.

2016 decided not to leave without throwing in a few parting shots so very typical of the year.  I came down with a New Year's cold (feels like my 407th since November) and jammed the bejesus out of my right big toe, in a repeat of a minor injury (that I never got treated because I am so foolish sometimes) I got about three years ago.  It doesn't quite want to straighten on its own and while I can move it through a full range of motion, I can't do that without pain.

So, sigh.

Small potatoes, and immediate challenges to my sunny 2017 attitude.  I am 100% someone who buys into the magic of The New Year and resolutions and intentions and all of that.  So two things that are sure to set me off to all of my super unattractive and super un-yogic traits of being angry and sad and frustrated and self-pitying - being sick and being injured.  Check and check.

Luckily, my word for 2017 - Light.

Lighten up.  Spread light.  All the myriad of ways you can think of it.  I want more light.

There is a lot of darkness to come in 2017, and I want to fight against it without becoming a part of it.

Luckily, I'm about to go to Costa Rica - where I can soak up light by the absolute barrel-ful.

So I'll expound and pontificate on that more when I get back - hopefully with a clean bill of health, a fully functioning right toe, a fully healed and pain free left plantar fascia and heel, and a tan - but for now, I leave you with one of the most beautiful songs that make me think of my 2017 intention.  You should all listen to it.  Track 10, the last track of this totally lovely album by Leo Sidran.

Friday, December 30, 2016

There's an app for that

At the beginning of December, I wrote a blog post all about how in preparation for getting swept up into the annual madness that is the month of December, I wanted to really double down on all of my habits and be really proactive about taking care of my health - on the cold & flu front as well, the foot front, the workout front, the mental front - all the fronts.

I'm very proud to say that, along with the indulging, joy, stress, and travel that goes along with the holidays, I've done just that.  The biggest tool for me in maintaining my routines, habits, and health has been - because it's 2016 - an app.

I downloaded the Productive App at the end of June after seeing Marc use it, and I seriously can't believe I haven't written about it yet.  I use it religiously every single day to track habits that I want to keep up with - daily habits, weekly, monthly - it's incredibly flexible in the frequency you want to set.  There are plenty of built in suggestions as well as options for you to write your own.  If you go a whole day with every single habit done, it marks it as a "perfect" day - which as an upholder, gives me a ridiculous amount of joy.   When I went back last night to look at my overall progress, I saw that December had more days marked as "perfect" than any other month since I started using it - definitely not what I expected.

January and New Year's is a time that I love - I welcome any arbitrary excuse to find a fresh start, to renew or begin good habits and become introspective.  This app - and I don't use that many - has truly helped me to end this year on solid foundation so I can look ahead and aim even higher for 2017, instead of needing to use New Year's as catch-up.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Organizations to Donate for Aleppo Aid

I had an actual topic for an actual blog post planned today, but Aleppo looms too large.  Instead, and in the spirit of this season which is coming at the end of a violent, divisive, tumultuous year, I want to put some resources all in one place if you're looking to spread some charity and goodwill toward our fellow man (and women and children).

Save the Children Federation:  Donate to the Syrian Children's Relief Fund
"Save the Children is on the ground in Syria, and is helping refugee communities throughout the region, providing Syrian children and their families with emergency care, shelters, protection, clean water and warm clothes."


The Compassion Collective:  Together Rising
Touted by Elizabeth Gilbert, Brene Brown, and Glennon Doyle Melton, this charity is specifically aiming to create a mobile hospital.  More info here

Doctors Without Borders for Syria
Donate directly via this link to this group that gives desperately needed medical aid.

Hand in Hand for Syria

As the name suggests, a hands-on organisation which prides itself working directly with Syrians inside Syria, even when other aid organisations considered it too unsafe. They had a team inside Aleppo when it was over-run by Assad loyalists last week and are still sending aid into the area


There are certainly more, but this is a great place to start.


For our birthday's this year (mine was last Tuesday, Marc's was last Thursday) we agreed that we didn't need any stuff (especially since Christmas is right around the corner!) and agreed to donate to a charity of each others' choice for our birthday's.  Marc will likely choose an environmental cause, and my original plan was to give to the Center for Reproductive Rights (which could still use our money!), but the fact that Aleppo keeps hitting bottom and sinking lower and becoming more desperate - that's now where my birthday money is going.  


Please, please, please, find something you can sacrifice out of your holiday season this year and let's put our money, resources, and prayers to where they are truly and desperately needed.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Music Share - Winter Playlist

I am 100% using my birthday, Marc's birthday, and the birthday of my client's beautiful baby all happening in one week (not to mention the rockin Karma Kids Yoga holiday party) as an excuse for not having an original blog this week.

Instead, please accept my offering of my newest playlist - songs that make me think of winter (or that just go with the songs that make me think of winter).

I'm particularly obsessed with Leslie Odom, Jr's version of Winter and his incredible new album Simply Christmas.  Check it out on Spotify!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Focus on Foundation

I'm on call for a birth right now - my first time being on call in December.  I wasn't sure what to expect, as this is the most wonderful / most completely insane time of the year, but so far I'm finding it to be an incredibly grounding force - despite the nerves and "Oh my god, I haven't looked at my phone in 20 minutes" anxiety that pops up with being on call.

For me, December isn't just about Christmas - both Marc and I have birthdays 10 and 12 days before, right on the heels of Thanksgiving - and we have two gorgeous nephews born in November and December as well.  There's always something going on, always money to spend, always places to go, always Titan Theatre Company's A Christmas Carol to go see (opening this Friday!), always a holiday party.

What being on call demands, though, is (along with sobriety!), self-care.  Getting enough sleep, staying healthy (no easy feat after a week with three snotty children over Thanksgiving, but we made it!), and keeping myself organized and ready to go is essential.

This December also marks a desperately long-awaited turning point in my recovery from my torn plantar fascia.  It was a complete shock back in August to hear that I needed to be on crutches for six weeks, and a bigger shock when I saw just how ridiculously long the recovery process was taking.  My original doctor said recovery was 6-8 weeks - and my sports medicine doctor confirmed my suspicions (after it was taking so long) that practically no one fully recovers from this injury in less than 3 months - at the absolute minimum.  And getting back to running obviously takes more time from there.

Since re-adjusting my expectations to that new time-frame, December has taken on an entirely new significance.  Now that it's here - now that I'm healthy - now that the emotional shock of the election is shifting (heaven help us) into reality - and now that I have an external obligation to take excellent care of myself - I'm finally able to see myself getting back to my life pre-injury.  Upping my physical activity not just doing my PT homework or even having a great swimming workout, but being more active overall.  And if we're being honest, here, November was spotty at best on the workout front.

As anxious as I am to get back to running - and it feels so close I can taste it, yet still far - what I really need to get back to first is a consistent, actual, strong yoga practice.  I still have to pull my punches on some standing poses, as that deep bone-bruise type heel pain is still present, but I feel I can get back to the studio - my beautiful yoga-home, The Giving Tree - and start to rebuild a strong foundation for myself.  And is there any better time than December to give yourself that gift?

The world tends to go mad in December and try to build itself back up again in January.  My intention this month is to focus, amidst the joyful noise, on rebuilding my foundations now so that come January when that frenzied New Year's energy is abundant and everyone emerges hungover and bleary-eyed and ready to live their best life because it's a new year - I'll be ready to build.  And hopefully, maybe, just maybe - ready to run.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Painful Progress

I have no idea what to write today.  There's so much going on that I just feel stuck.  Things too personal to share, things too overwhelming to articulate.

It's always incredibly hard to leave my sister and her family.  It's the most deeply painful illustration of how nothing lasts forever that I've ever experienced, and ever will until I have my own kids.  Whenever I go, it's for a full week, and I get immersed.  The outside world mostly ceases to exist.  I'm in baby land.  It's nonstop, it's exhausting, it's wonderful.   I know I can't stay there forever - I have my own life and a city that I truly love.  But when I'm in it, I want to stay there forever.

It was sort of a holdover, a respite from the stark and frightening post-election reality we find ourselves living in.  Coming back doesn't just mean back to work or back to a normal routine, but back to facing fully head-on the challenges ahead and how I can be of help.  It's overwhelming.  It's jumping back into the process of processing the results and what it means for the future all over again, only halfway through.

But - nothing lasts forever.  Life is change.  My heart breaks when I think about all the cute and funny things the kids say and do and how the next time I see them, some of them might still be but others will be outgrown.  Replaced by new routines.  Same kids, same personalities, but so wildly different from visit to visit.  When I leave, I'm not just sad that I won't see them again for a little while but that I'll never see that version of them again.

Marc and I were given a surprising gift coming back from the visit on Friday - our plans to meet our sweet month-old nephew Lucas and visit newly two-year-old nephew Caleb were thwarted by the nasty colds we got from Atlas, Zoe, & Kai - we wound up with a weekend together.  Two days in a row.  Off.  Together.  Not off with one of us chasing one kid in one direction and the other chasing the other two kids in two other directions, but off.  God knows the last time that happened.  A weekend to heal, to recover, to reflect on our wonderful week and the challenges ahead.  We did what any normal couple would do - we watched all six hours of the masterpiece that is Angels in America.

Everything it says about love, change, God, politics, family, relationships, New York City, America, good, evil, the world...it feels so relevant in every facet of life these days.  Go back and watch it.  Go back and read it.  It offers hope, comfort, catharsis, inspiration.  Go.

I'll close this disjointed, rambling, vague piece with one of the last monologues of Angels, one that never fails to bring me to tears.  Happy, sad - all at once.  Emphasis mine.

“Night flight to San Francisco; chase the moon across America. God, it’s been years since I was on a plane. When we hit 35,000 feet we’ll have reached the tropopause, the great belt of calm air, as close as I’ll ever get to the ozone. I dreamed we were there. The plane leapt the tropopause, the safe air, and attained the outer rim, the ozone, which was ragged and torn, patches of it threadbare as old cheesecloth, and that was frightening. But I saw something that only I could see because of my astonishing ability to see such things: Souls were rising, from the earth far below, souls of the dead, of people who had perished, from famine, from war, from the plague, and they floated up, like skydivers in reverse, limbs all akimbo, wheeling and spinning. And the souls of these departed joined hands, clasped ankles, and formed a web, a great net of souls, and the souls were three-atom oxygen molecules of the stuff of ozone, and the outer rim absorbed them and was repaired. Nothing’s lost forever. In this world, there’s a kind of painful progress. Longing for what we’ve left behind, and dreaming ahead. At least I think that’s so.”


The world only spins forward, as Prior says.  Let's keep doing the good work.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Deep breaths

It shouldn't come as a surprise that we say, "Deep breaths" to ourselves and each other at Karma Kids Yoga all the time when we know we're about to encounter (or are in the midst of) a challenge. Maybe it's a trying parent or an event with 30+ crazy excited kiddos or spending hours of our lives on hold with Verizon because the Internet is slow again -

Deep breaths, we tell ourselves.  Deep breaths, we tell each other.

Never have I - never has the nation - been more in need of that advice than right now.

Deep breaths, because while there is a time to process shock and emotion and disappointment, we have to keep taking care of ourselves - and taking care of each other.

It often feels like laziness or cheating (because it often is!) when I simply use the week's blog post to outsource to other articles or videos, but today it simply feels like the only work there is to do.

We are about to be led by a man who has no regard for the freedom of the press, among many other things.  Seeking the truth and protecting the vulnerable has never been more important in our lifetimes.  Let's take a few deep breaths and go do the good work together.

There's a lot of overlap here, but they're all great resources.

27 Productive Things You Can Do If You're Upset About the Election
Buzzfeed

How to channel your post-election anger, sadness, and fear into action
Slate

The election is over, and here's what you can do about it
Chicago Reader

"If you're overwhelmed by the election, here's what you can do now"
Huffington Post

Michael Moore's Morning After To-Do List
Alternet

Finally, the phenomenal John Oliver finds the perfect blend of terrifying truth and desperately needed humor - as always.

Last Week Tonight

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The Discipline of Gratitude - Election Day Edition

Anyone else excited out of their minds for today?  It feels like going to vote for the very first time!

In honor of where I first heard the term, "discipline of gratitude," and in honor of election day, my blog is getting outsourced to the original source of inspiration.



Tuesday, November 1, 2016

The Discipline of Gratitude

November brings with it my hands-down favorite holiday - Thanksgiving.  Food & Gratitude - two of the most beautiful things in life, in my humble opinion.

I heard a phrase that caught my attention a few weeks ago, and knew right away it was a thought/practice I wanted to explore.

The Discipline of Gratitude.

It seems like it deserves capitalization.

What I take it to mean at first glance is to not just take the idea of gratitude lightly - as the latest buzzword or the latest supposed key to instant happiness and contentment.  Keeping a gratitude journal is I'm sure a legitimately awesome tool for a lot of folks, but it can also turn very rote very quickly (or even start out that way).

We who are blessed to have enough in our bank accounts to feed, clothe, and shelter ourselves all know in an almost dismissive way that we have a lot to be grateful for, and that everything else is all the small stuff.  But in the thick of day-to-day life, the small stuff becomes the big stuff, and we do sweat it.  In that context, it can be easy to write down that we're grateful for the Basics, but how often are we stopping and reflecting and feeling not just gratitude for it but feeling humbled with gratitude?

I've been pondering similar things a lot lately with my foot injury.  It hurts much more than I wish it did today, and since I'm waiting very impatiently for MRI results, my mind is left to its own worrying, worst-case-scenario-writing, self-pitying devices.  The discipline of gratitude, to me, seems entwined with the notion of perspective.

As my beautiful friend Laura often will remind me - we do not live in Aleppo.  There is almost no problem that we are facing in our blessed, blessed lives as New Yorkers - who, while struggle to make rent, are not living in poverty by any stretch of the imagination - that even compares.  The same idea of perspective, in my more mentally composed moments, is what reminds me that even if it takes much longer than I want it to (like it already has), I will get better.  Even though I struggle with the financial burden of my medical care and the work that's sacrificed, I have access to medical care and I can still do some work.  Even though not being able to walk normally/without pain is crushingly dispiriting, it's not like I'm going to lose my foot.

It's so hard to have the perspective that it's temporary, and sometimes I don't even want to admit to myself that it is because I'm stuck in that negative loop - and sometimes the negative mindset you know is much more comfortable, even when it's making you miserable, than the very frightening idea of hope and positivity.

There's a lot more I want to say about the discipline of gratitude, but - there's a lot more November to go.  I'll close this blog by taking the opportunity again to wish my beautiful big sister the happiest of birthdays!  I never have to dig deep to remember how grateful I am that she is my sister.