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Showing posts from 2017

33

Wednesday I turn 33, and I started out the week with the most wonderful celebration with wonderful people, and 33 candles on a huge chocolate cake.

There's a lot wrong in the world, but that is not one of them.


December Mantra

Happy December, the month where New Yorkers attempt to fit 50 pounds of fun and parties into a 10 pound bag!  There are certainly far worse things in life, but I come out of every December usually feeling absolutely wrecked - partied out, overstuffed, drained, and exhausted.  My birthday is the 13th, Marc's is the 15th (our sweet nephew Kai turned 2 on the 2nd!), and Christmas parties and plays abound.

To get through the year with a modicum of peace and energy, I'm making it my goal to infuse the mantra slow down into this month as much as I can.  Especially, for my hardcore hippies out there, with Mercury being in retrograde starting yesterday and up until December 22nd, "slow down" is exceptionally good advice.

So at work, at home, making plans, or even at that party where you're reflexively and thoughtlessly reaching for the chips for the 500th time (or is that just me?), try to remind yourself to slow down.  Enjoy what you're doing.  Pause and breathe in …

Music Share - Tom Waits

No matter how much I love my job, I always have major melancholy coming back to work after time away with family.  This past five days with my in-laws and husband have been wonderful, and coming back means not only the usual "back to reality" but entering the absolute madhouse that is December in New York City.  Parties every five minutes, our birthdays, Christmas cards and presents, shows, until finally we board a plane in 23 days to take us to an entirely different form of madness - my sister's house!

Marc's been reminding me to take it a day at a time, though, and to take advantage of the quiet when it happens and enjoy the madness when I'm in it.

In that vein, I'm taking it easy on this blog today and sharing some of the music that provided the soundtrack to family time (and family sing-a-longs) this weekend - Marc's all time favorite singer/songwriter, Tom Waits.  Here are 14 of my favorites of his, spanning from 1973 to 2009.  Enjoy!




The advantage of the obstacles

I was pretty stressed out this week.  Some of the reasons were obvious, but there were also days I just felt gripped with an anxiety that I couldn't explain, that came seemingly out of nowhere.  In those times, it's almost always tempting to move away from meditation, yoga, writing - things that will actually help me - and toward zoning out, numbing behavior, reloading my Instagram feed 40 times, or never having a moment of quiet.  The breakthrough comes - for me, at least - when you ignore the immediate desire to just space out and get numb and distracted and actually pay deep attention to the problem, to the stress, even to the anxiety that seems to have absolutely no logical reason behind it.  Sometimes that involves talking really honestly about it, sometimes that involves doing some gentle yoga and going to bed early.

I did the latter on Friday night with my favorite PM practice that I know I've shared on here before, but I can't share it enough times.  I've d…

Grateful.

It's been eight years today since I've been with the love of my life.

A few months from five years married (Costa Rica, here we come).

Eight years and a couple months since living in the city.

Seven years of Friendsgivings in NYC with my chosen family.

Seven years of Karma Kids Yoga - more chosen family and buckets of kids.

Ten years since college; fourteen of the friendships.

One picked-clean, no leftovers turkey last night.  A table of desserts.

And in ten days we do it again with family.

This morning I'm tired, still full, and grateful.


Faith in Humanity

The oft-quoted Kathrine Switzer, long distance female trailblazer, once wrote, "If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon."

Marathon Sunday is always one of my favorite days of the year in New York City.  I've spent these Sunday's over the last eight years that I've been here as a spectator and cheerleader, both in person and on the couch in my boot nursing my injury last year, I've been a volunteer, I went down with other marathoners and marathon volunteers to Staten Island after Sandy in 2012 after the race was canceled - and I've spent the last two years fighting to qualify for it.

Next year will be my year, along with my 'sole sister' (I'm making it happen) and work wife Laura, so this year was another year spent being absolutely inspired beyond measure cheering on the sidelines.  Seeing the heart, the raw emotion, the joy, the pain, the absolute love from the sidelines and from the runners is awe inspiring.  Ye…

Music Share - Fall + Love

I've resisted the onset of fall really hard this year because, as always, summer went by way too fast with far too little beach time.  Now, however, I am all in.  The wind, the leaves, the football - I'm eating it all up.

This is the season when I moved to New York eight years ago, and it's the season I fell in love with Marc eight years ago.  I'm a strangely seasonal person when it comes to music - Joni Mitchell in the spring, Janis Joplin in the summer, Mumford & Sons as summer hangs on tight before fall.

Today I'm sharing a playlist based on new and old fall favorites, some with a special significance of being songs listened to on repeat by either me or Marc (or both) as we fell in love eight years ago.  Wild is the Wind and Picture in a Frame for him; Make You Feel My Love and Can't Help Falling in Love for me (although full disclosure, I most often listened to the Elvis version.  Ingrid is just too pretty not to win the playlist war).  And we spent man…

Book Report: Dangerous Boobies

Yes, you read that right.  Boobies.  As in - boobs.  Breasts.

Caitlyn Brodnick's book Dangerous Boobies:  Breaking Up with my Time-Bomb Breasts is a funny, relatable, compulsively readable memoir of her relationship with her breasts, cancer, and cancer prevention via a preventative double mastectomy.

Personally, I wasn't touched by cancer too much as a child.  I had grandparents suffer from it, but as a child I sort of viewed it as a consequence of smoking (as most of these cancers were) and something reserved just for very old people.  I wasn't touched very much by people closer in age to me or to my parents going through it.  As I've gotten older, though, it has struck more and more in my circle - and younger and younger victims.  Family, friends, grandparents, parents, children - you name it.

Caitlyn Brodnick's experience of cancer, though, began before she was even born.  Her father's entire immediate family had been struck down by the disease in various fo…

Shared Humanity

Funnily enough, it was while watching Titan Theatre Company's fantastic and bloody Richard III this past Friday night that led me to start thinking about compassion and the fact that we as humans always have far more in common with each other than we think.

There is a scene between three of the powerhouse women in the show where enemies realize their mutual grief binds them together and puts them as members of the same club.  They don't exactly put their differences (or, you know, blood feuds) behind them and become best friends, but they relate to each other as fellow human beings.  It's an amazing scene of grief, reluctantly shared humanity, shared desire for vengeance, and ultimately human connection.

The idea that people on such polar opposite ends of a spectrum - again, blood feud - could have a moment of commonality is always striking.  These days, we all too often are ready to be divided amongst ourselves and to disconnect from others on the opposite side of a debat…

Monday Mantra

My favorite meditation technique has always been, without question, the use of a mantra.  In life, I'm pretty much always talking, reading, or writing.  I love words, and they have a much more powerful effect on me than trying to focus on a visualization or reflect on an idea.  In addition to (or in place of, sometimes) New Year's Resolutions, I like to find one word or phrase to use to help shape my thoughts, goals, and actions.

So - I have a lot of mantras floating around in my head.  Some are just handy reminders that I can think of during a stressful time, and some are more like life mottos for myself.

Recently, this one popped into my head:

"Everything is a blessing."
After a day which had started out easy and peaceful and dissolved into, I believe the technical term is, a bit of a shit show, I made it through a last minute change in plans which I had allowed to stress me out unnecessarily (which I sadly do all the time), I thought to myself that things had actua…

Laura Runs & Eats

Happy October!  Even though it's already been fall for a couple of weeks, it hasn't really felt like it i NYC.  After this stunner of a weekend, though, and the turn of the calendar along with the turning of the leaves, it definitely feels like fall is here.  Fall is, for me, the best running season of all.  The cool, crisp temperatures, the gorgeous leaves, the blessed reprieve from humidity, the slow and steady breakout of colder weather clothing - in honor of it all, today's entry is totally running-focused!

I've had a bit of a stop-and-start start to my 5K training.  I'm continually paranoid about re-injuring myself, yet also tend to be inflexible toward altering my running schedule.  I'm doing my best to force the former side to overrule the latter, so I've had a few days where I've skipped a run and replaced it with swimming or biking at the gym, or just strength work incorporated with some jump rope and hated burpees.  It's a constant challen…

Book Report - The Four Tendencies

I have loved every one of Gretchen Rubin's book since I first read The Happiness Project about seven years ago.  She's a meticulously detailed writer and researcher with a very easy-to-read style that's a cross between research paper and personal diary.  Her work on becoming happier and habit change has been profoundly influential in my life, and in a way that feels much more realistic and accessible than some of the slightly more extreme books out there, such as The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  (Good luck getting us to purge that much)

In her book Better than Before, Rubin unearths four tendencies - a somewhat looser term than "personality type" - a framework that identifies people based on how they respond to both inner expectations (like keeping a New Year's Resolution) and outer expectations (like meeting deadlines at work or school).  I was not at all shocked to learn that I, like Rubin, am an Upholder - and apparently we are a very percentage of …

Transition (a search)

Whether or not you have a hard time falling asleep, I'm sure you've heard the same advice many times over the years since electronic devices have taken over our lives - no screens for an hour before bedtime.  It's a rare human being that actually is able to follow this, in my experience, but we all get why we should be doing it.

So many people who have a hard time winding down for bed, or who have a hard time transitioning their mental/stress state from work to home, struggle because there is no clear divide or boundary anymore between the different facets of our lives.  Work, the news, engagement with others via text and social media, all permeate any and all attempts at setting boundaries and divides between the two of them - but these boundaries and divides are crucial for our mental health.

During last weekend's amazing Brain Gym course, I noticed a lot of little things about myself that I wanted to adjust or improve or get help with, and one of them was a seeming …

The Magic of Brain Gym

I cannot believe I haven't blogged about Brain Gym yet!  That is absolutely bananas, and also sort of great because after a few years of incorporating the little bits and pieces I learned from Shari (founder & director of Karma Kids Yoga and the only boss I've ever had with whom I've also done crazy things like the pose on the right, which she named "fart neck"), I finally took the "Brain Gym 101" course this past weekend to learn more in depth about the what's and wherefore's.

Brain Gym is a lot of things, but what it is primarily is a way to facilitate better learning through movement.  Although it started in the field of education and helping children learn better, everyone can benefit from it.  You may be reading and writing just fine, but do you have a situation where you struggle to communicate your needs clearly to a partner, a friend, a co-worker?  Do you struggle with random bouts of unexplained anxiety that you struggle to release…

In which I blog about blogging

Everyone's been asked this question at some point - "What did you do for fun as a kid?"  Often the question is asked in an attempt for you to find your one true passion so that you can follow your bliss for your job and "never work a day in your life."  Or it's sometimes just asked to help guide you toward a valuable hobby that will bring you joy.

For me, the top answer that springs to mind is always writing.  Yes, I also had a deep and abiding obsession with movies, and I could spend hours playing with Barbies, but writing has been a consistent love and passion for as long as I've been able to do it.  I loved coming up with my own original stories, creating fanfiction before I even know the word, writing movie reviews (my former dream job, before the Internet made the profession way less common, important, and relevant), and even just straight up transcribing things I loved just for the pleasure of typing it and recreating it.  I've kept a journal …

Book Report: It Starts with Food (Whole30, Round 5)

I've written several times on this blog before about the Whole30 program - it's 30 days in which you only eat vegetables, fruit, meat, seafood, eggs and nuts.  No dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, and most importantly, no added sugar of any kind.  Yep, that includes honey.  And agave.  And stevia.

Why would someone who has a deep and abiding love for all of the foods on the "no" list voluntarily do this, you (understandably) ask?

Having done it four times already, and being literally in the middle, on Day 15 of this Whole30, I can tell you - because it feels so. damn. good. after thirty days.  Well, it starts to feel good before you get to the thirty day mark, but the first week can be quite rough as you detox from the sugar addiction.

I can tell you that my skin (I suffer from eczema) clears up, my bloat goes away, my energy levels increase and stay level throughout the day, I sleep better, I feel good in my own skin, and most importantly for me, my mental/emotional/…

Redemption Run

On August 16th, 2016, I went for a run after taking two weeks off, in hopes the pain in my left heel that had been plaguing me for months would heal itself.  The run was, as I remember and wrote in my journal later that day, amazing.  It felt so great to be back out, I pushed myself, I had new music (President Obama's Summer 2016 Spotify Playlist - sigh!), and I got good and sweaty.  The only downside to that amazing run was that right afterward, my foot pain increased a lot from where it had ever been before.

And of course, two days later at an appointment where I was hoping for a cortisone shot and to be sent on my merry running way, I discovered the pain was due to a torn plantar fascia and was sentenced to six weeks on crutches.  Which of course turned out to be longer than six weeks and would include a long recovery period which led to me not running again until February 5th, 2017.

That weekend of my injury I was supposed to run the France 8K, which would've been my secon…

Charlottesville. Thoughts and Feelings.

I have two other blog post topics rarin' to go - I've started my fifth round of Whole30 and reread the book that started it all, and I've come up on a very important injury-a-verysary which is leading to a redemption run this weekend.  This explosion of things to write about is rare, as I'm often scraping the bottom of the mental barrel for inspiration week-to-week.

It's amazing how something can feel so vitally and urgently important and meaningful one day, and beyond trivial the next.  It just keeps happening during this national emergency known as the Trump presidency.

Each day that goes by since this weekend, it's hitting me harder and harder, and in quiet moments when I'm not working or busy or filling my head with podcasts, I just want to cry.  I'm so deeply afraid to live in a country where the President falsely equivocates racists storming a city with the people who stand on the side of racial equality.  When he has to be practically forced to d…

Music Share - Mumford for Yoga & Running

My mother-in-law is really really into music.  In her next life, she will be the next Freddie Mercury.  Her passion for music is infectious and always leads to incredibly fun times, dance parties, and sing-a-longs at the LeVasseur's.

In 2013, the year Marc and I got married, she got me into Mumford & Sons.  (This is how out of touch I am with my own generation's music)  I had heard their big hits, of course, but one day when my in-laws were visiting she brought their concert DVD, The Road to Red Rocks.  Seeing them live absolutely floored me and I appreciated their lyrics, musicality, and energy in a way I never had before.

I listened to them a ton during that incredibly emotional, change-filled year, and I always associate it with that time, with our honeymoon, and I always crave it when I'm about to take off on a plane, during late summer, and when life generally has me reaching out for comfort, consoling, and spirituality.

So - I've been in a Mumford place rece…

Simple meditation

It's been a week.  Marc finally returned home in the wee hours last night from his crazy week-long adventure to Pennsylvania and Seattle to see two wonderful friends from two different parts of his life.

It's been a week of gaining perspective, sending prayers and good thoughts to those in need, and being forced to surrender to what is, when "what is" is no respecter of what you or anyone wants.

So here's what I did this morning, and I hope it can help you too.  Set a timer (with a gentle chime) for as long as you like, or just sit for as long as you like.

Sit comfortably with your back against the wall.
Find something to fix your gaze upon - a candle works well for this.
Keep your eyes open but soft.
Bring your attention to your breath without trying to alter it.
Notice how you feel in your body.  Release any tension that can be released - the eyes, the jaw, the neck, the shoulders, the abdomen, the hips, the legs.
Notice if any emotions are creating physical sensatio…

Running with Lady-Friends

One of the many things I love about running is that it's usually a great source of alone time.  As an introvert, I prize alone time.  As much as I love working at a place where I get to meet an interact with so many families, kids, and amazing teachers, too much time around people really drains my batteries.  Running solo - especially with no headphones! - is a great way for me to hit the re-set button.

However, there is seriously something to be said for running with other people.  Cribbed from my all time favorite running (and life) podcast, Two Gomers Run for Their Lives which you should listen to immediately from start to finish, whenever Marc and I run together we make a date of it - it's a Romance Run!  It's a great opportunity for us to catch up with each other, especially since our schedules are usually opposite and we don't get a ton of time together during the week.  Also, his long legs almost always push my pace, which is great for me in my new quest to work…

Home is Where the Heart is

One of the most cloyingly saccharine cliches of all time?  Yes.  True?  Also yes.  Sort of.

It's been an incredibly eventful three weeks.  At the end of June, my sister underwent major abdominal surgery to repair a major diastasis caused by two back-to-back large pregnancies.  On that same day Marc and I headed up on the Megabus to Massachusetts for a fun long July 4th weekend of family (including our two delicious little LeVasseur nephews!), wine, fun, and going through endless boxes of nostalgia from his childhood as his parents prepare to put their gorgeous house on the market.  The baby pictures!  The metric tons of books! The middle school poetry!  Oh, the earnest and terrible middle school poetry...

Then last weekend, I flew to SC for a whirlwind celebration of the twins' third birthday with family (third!!!), helping out my sister, who is recovering beautifully in every sense of the word.  Just shy of three days of nonstop work, play, and extreme highs and lows of overs…

Yoga Love for the Neck, Shoulders, & Upper Back, by Karma Kids Yoga!

My upper back & shoulders have been bugging me all week - I strongly suspect it's due to reading 200 pages of the fifth Harry Potter book at the beach on Sunday.  (And yes, I deserve the world's tiniest violin for that.  Biggest first world problem in human history)  I've been doing a little self-massage with doTERRA's Deep Blue Rub (which is basically like magic in a tube), but have needed a little bit more to loosen things up.

By total coincidence, my wonderful boss, Shari Vilchez-Blatt (founder & director of Karma Kids Yoga) was inspired this week to share some of her favorite neck, shoulder, and upper back releases after talking with some lovely women at her daughter's school.  Like so many people, they work at desks and computers all day and suffer from the eternal hunched-over-a-keyboard posture.  New moms suffer from this too, from holding and feeding their babies all the time.

So many of us could benefit from taking some time out to give our should…

Music Share: Paul Simon & Other Cool Cats

Doing a little bit of a cheat this week as the clock runs down on this blogging week - I have a lot more to say about last weekend (and will have tons to say about next weekend when my firstborn niece & nephew turn THREE!!) but for now, I'm just going to get this one up.

In honor of my in-laws and the incredible memories I have around their fire pit and in the living room  with endless glasses of wine, jamming to Simon & Garfunkel (among many others), are my Paul Simon (and friends) playlists.  The first one is 64 minutes, a good-ish yoga class length, and curated to start slow, build, and end slow.  The second is an hour and 42 and in no particular order.

Paul Simon always makes me think of happy sunny summer days and my amazing in-laws.  Enjoy!










9 : 1 and DONE

This past weekend, I finally did what I set out to do last year - I finished the 9:1 program with New York Road Runners.  Run in 9 races and volunteer in 1- and you qualify to run the following year's New York City Marathon.

After I got injured last August with just two races to go (just two!), and found absolutely no mercy or help within NYRR to offer me a chance to get those credits back, my running wife and cheerleader Laura sent me a sweet little meme that simply said, "Injury makes the comeback sweeter."  It feels so amazing to be on the other side of that journey and to feel that...yep.  Yep, that's true.

Would I have preferred not to have gotten injured and to have done it all in one go last year?  110% YES.  But it didn't work out that way, and I definitely felt ten times more emotional crossing that final stepping-stone finish line yesterday than I would have had I been able to achieve it last year.

These last two races were particularly meaningful just …