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Showing posts from 2017

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 …

The Discipline of Restraint

I try to live my life as a disciplined person.  I have certain habits I work to maintain, I'm disciplined about my running, and try to be disciplined in my work.  I always think of discipline as more, harder, faster.  Working harder and longer, pushing yourself past your limits, going to that place of being uncomfortable and challenged.
This week, I discovered the discipline of restraint.  It took me much longer to get back to full health post-virus than I imagined - and truthfully, I'm still not eating 100% normally for fear of my body revolting.  As soon as my body gave an inch of recovery, I wanted to take a mile in jumping back into my normal routine.  I was desperate to go for a run again, especially since I have my final two qualifying races this weekend to gain entry into the 2018 NYC Marathon.  After last year's injury and coming so close - two races away, in fact - and not meeting my long-awaited goal of making this year's marathon, I am chomping at the bit to…

Too Much Too Soon / Child's Pose

Nothing humbles you like a stomach virus.  Except maybe forgetting how humbled you were the first time, overdoing it on food and wine (I know!) the second you feel normal, and then getting the humbling smackdown again.  "Too much too soon" is basically my middle name after every single illness or injury I ever have.  You'd think I'd learn.

Physical illness, mental illness, grief, pregnancy, existential stress at the state of the news (and as always, there's so much to rail against) and so much more can shake you off your foundation.  Luckily, yoga is infinitely adaptable - it's not all sweaty vinyasa classes in lululemons.

Meditation, restorative yoga, and my all-time favorite, Child's Pose, are just what the doctor ordered when the doctor has you in a humble ball on the floor.  And it's there for you when you're ready to - slowly - build back up.

So - child's pose today.  Back to the resistance next week.

Life Time

Whenever I come back from my sister's, I'm acutely aware of how much downtime I have.  Even on my busiest of busy days, I have a little time to myself in a way that just doesn't exist for her anymore unless she works hard to schedule it in - and luckily, she makes that self care effort as much as possible.

Being down there, I couldn't help but be acutely present for a majority of the time.  When three kids under 3 are up and running, you have to seriously be on your toes, because Kai will find a ladder and climb it all the way to the top.  I was also super disconnected from the news, which was glorious.  I checked in every so often to make sure I wasn't missing the impeachment (alas) but I let all my podcasts go off to the wayside and the world continued to turn.

This entry's title is taken from a quote I saw a long time ago, posted by a friend whose music taste is vastly different than mine.  I saw the quote before hearing the song (Shine by The Rollins Band),…

Where You Are

I'm going to lay it all out there right up front - I am about to write a blog post that is inspired by lyrics from Disney's Moana.  Mock if you wish - but hear me out!

First of all, if you think you're too cool for this movie, I'm here to tell you that you are not.  If anything, this movie is probably too cool for you.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's glorious, perfect music has been swirling in my head since Laura started playing the soundtrack in her kids' classes before I had even seen it.  Like Hamilton, it's dense with driving beats to the point where it will get stuck in your head, and you will have trouble falling asleep when they are stuck in your head.

This past week while visiting my sister (who needs a new title besides SuperMom, because she's even more incredible than that - I'm open to suggestions) and her amazing family, I got to finally watch Moana with the kids.  I've been looking forward to that forever, especially since my sister posted At…

Bounce Back

Yesterday, I ran my fourth half marathon, and my third Brooklyn Half.  It's an amazing race with a really well-designed course that starts at the Brooklyn Museum, takes you into beautiful Prospect Park, and then sends you straight down Ocean Parkway to end at the beach in Coney Island.

The first time I ran Brooklyn, as a newlywed in 2013, I ran my best time at 2 hours, 17 minutes.  I'd yet to have a running injury, but oh lord, I look back on the videos Marc took of me when he was cheering me on from the sidelines and my form was terrible.  I was pronating all over the place, and my knees knocking together look like an ad for How to Eventually Need Knee Surgery.

The second time was last year, with my stalwart and amazing friend Laura.  We both felt undertrained, we both had plantar fasciitis that was concerning to us, and neither of us had the training season we were hoping for, so we were anxious to get the damn thing over with in one piece.

Yesterday carried with it similar…

That Beatles Time of Year

Obviously, there's never a bad time to listen to The Beatles, but I've recently been on a bit of a kick lately.  Partly inspired by the lovely Iris's Aroma Yin class at The Giving Tree Yoga Studio, partly by spring, I created a new yoga playlist that is 100% The Beatles (with a couple instrumental versions thrown in to bookend it).

Enjoy!  Feel free to follow me on Spotify, where you can find me as "yoginiannie."





More to come next week - I'm sure I'll have much, much more to say, as I'm running the Brooklyn Half on Saturday!  I'm nervous but mostly excited - it's not just my first big race since recovering from my injury, but it's a big race way sooner than I would have originally expected since going on crutches in August.  So, stay tuned!

Green & Green

Being from the South, springtime in New York always feels like it comes way too late.  By March, I'm expecting full on blooms.  Even though it always comes a little later than I want it to, it still somehow seems to come in perfect time.  March is the slow (painfully slow) thaw, April is for the blossoms, and in May - almost like clockwork - the buds blow away, the leaves fill in, and it's green, green, green everywhere you look.  At long, long, long last.

I always associate May and springtime with green for the obvious reasons, but lately I've had a different green on the brain - money.  As a freelancer married to an actor, money is always on the brain, and 99% of the time it's a source of stress.  I'm sure no one else on earth can relate!

We've used a system for a few years now to track our expenses called You Need a Budget (yes, you do) which has been amazing in keeping us on the same page and helping us communicate about our money or, often, lack thereof.  …