Just Words – Sort of About Stress & Self Worth

14 Thu, 2011 § 6 Comments

Yesterday, I needed a lot of “me” breaks.

I stayed productive filling out forms for school, researching whether it might be in our favor to move to another apartment later this year, baked yogurt biscuits (from scratch by hand) & even debated over a few job applications; but I also spent the day on the verge of losing it.  Like total meltdown.  I don’t even know how to put into words what I’ve been feeling or maybe I just don’t want to put a voice to it yet.

I could throw myself a pity party, but that isn’t really what I need.  Instead I took some me time throughout the day.  Some of it quiet; some of it intense — not necessarily distractions but specific ways I could focus my energy while clearing my head.  I usually come back with a refreshed perspective in place of the former doom.

So early in the morning, I went for a slow walk with Eisley & my camera.  Walking still means I’m in my head a lot; but once I start playing with the camera, my attention shifts to what I’m seeing & trying to capture rather than the stress in my head.  I really only came back with one image I like.  I might share it tomorrow.

Mid-day, I decided to drop in on a yoga class.  Especially tight muscles meant all of my energy went into breathing & trying to relax into even basic poses.

I was feeling better.  I was coping.  Still, “it” lingered.

Finally, Wednesday evenings mean spinning, which is usually a torturous treat I only look forward to.  Fifteen minutes before class, I was barely coaxing myself out the door, knowing it would only do good even if I didn’t feel up to it.

The substituting instructor destroyed us.  I have never sprinted that many intervals, ever.

In the midst of a truly brutal workout, there is no room to feel sorry for yourself or to call yourself weak or think your are worthless.  You dig, you push & you don’t give up.  You tell yourself you can do anything for 30 seconds, because you are so much stronger than you think you are; & you even have a little more to give & suddenly, you are pedaling even harder.  You feel like vomiting, but instead, you grin, grunt & push.  Drenched & fatigued, you can’t stop smiling all the way home.

Maybe I’m just riding the endorphin high.  The issues are still there, but suddenly I’m that strong, capable person again.  I can take this on, breathe, sort through it, push myself, smile & live each moment.

That’s all we can do anyway, right?

“Nothing Tastes as Good as Being Skinny Feels”

16 Sun, 2011 § 14 Comments

Love My Body part I

I had already felt like crying the day I read that quote.  Its endorsement nearly pushed me over the edge.  I had been looking for motivation…but not of this genre.  My favorite workout blog had been back up & running for awhile now; I was shocked it had taken me this long to check out the new layout.  This counsel from a fellow follower threw me deeper into the shallow body image paradigm I was struggling to overcome.  She attributed the quote to Kate Moss.  As a responsible blogger, I should verify; but I just cannot bring myself to read anymore concerning this mentality.

I had worked so hard to establish & feel good about my body.  Recently, I had started falling into old habits, such as comparing.  I won’t be fit until I have abs like that.  My arms aren’t good enough until they look like hers. I went online looking for motivation & was hit with self-deprivation.

I continued to browse over workouts & new features, like photos & posts from followers about their progress.  One woman shared her amazing journey, then nearly negated everything she had accomplished by focusing on what she “still needed to get rid of” [her lower tummy pooch].

I wanted to hug her & shake her & tell her to not be self-deprecating & disempowering.  Be proud of what you have done!  Be proud of how strong you are! I scanned comments & though she received a lot of congrats, the only mention of the tummy pooch comment offered her “the trick”.

Only one half serving of fruits, no sugars, no grains & no breads per day.  Try this for a couple of weeks religiously, & you should see a reduction in “puffiness”.  If you keep going, maybe you can kill off the pooch.

I understand limiting sugar & processed grains, but all grains & almost no fruit?  As someone who relies on crucial energy to do what I love to do, my body needs these foods.  Isn’t it more important we eat a balanced diet, nourishing our bodies?

Needless to say, I needed to switch paradigms…before I got stuck in a place I did not want to be…a place that makes me very unhappy.

So what to do?  For me.  Right now.

Climb.

Focus on appreciating how strong & healthy my body is.  Appreciate what it can do.  Commit to making it stronger.  Treat my body lovingly.  No deprivation.  No comparisons.  Remove the focus from how I look to what I can do.  Some of the strongest, most athletic people do not have the “perfect body” look.  Our bodies are amazing, capable of so much.  Why do we struggle with feeling the need to perfect our bodies through appearance?  Why not through performance?

[We did not get any photos this weekend but decided to return here to work this traverse since it was one of the driest areas.]

With the cold weather & the snow [& an over-priced climbing gym], climbing has not been possible the last couple months.  My body & mind have missed it.  With 40 degree days, we jumped on the chance to touch rock this weekend.  It felt good to test my body & connect with the earth.

It felt just as good to nourish it rather than deprive it.

I started my days with fueling foods,

like barley & lentils mixed with Natalie’s Spicy Thai Chili, which is delicious & packs some heat!

I listened to my body’s cravings; Uncle Sam cereal with raspberry kefir & a sprinkle of cacao nibs was one of these.

I kept it going while out & about with even more random creations.

[I will share more of these little guys tomorrow.]

I feel like I nearly sunk into a superficial pool but was able to wade to the shores of a healthier mindset.  Did I make it on my own?  No.  I will share more of that tomorrow as well. 🙂

I hope you have enjoyed your weekend as much as I have.

~

Are you happy about your body?  Is your own body image paradigm a healthy one?

NYE Mulling

3 Mon, 2011 § 5 Comments

I have never made New Year’s resolutions.

I think I have always just known, they don’t last.  One day doesn’t suddenly make the difference.  My friend, Ashley, tends to agree & made some really great points in her NYE post.  She gave me a lot to mull over on my snowy hike with Eisley on Friday [& another potential book to add to my ever-growing list].

How often do the “next-day” resolutions last?  When we say, “on New Year’s Day I will”  or “Monday starts a new week, I’ll do it then”, how often do we follow through?

“The day” often comes & goes by, & we realize we forgot to do what we had intended…or we make excuses & postpone it…or as soon as we mess up, we scrap it.

What changes do last?

Those that we start now.  The changes we are motivated to make the moment they hit us.

I appreciate setting goals & time-lines to keep us focused, but most important is what we are doing now to make these changes.  Specific occasions, like New Year’s, offer a good reminder to reflect on the person we are & how we might like to change.

What did I discover as I reflected during our walk?  Things feel off.  I have never been at this place before & know I am at risk of falling into old habits.  Intentions speak strongly to me & offer a tool I can use now.  [If you didn’t click on Ashley’s post, you really should go read it.]  I agree with Pico Iyer from the Wall Street Journal:

“The best resolution to make this New Year’s Day might be to open your eyes to everything around you—while also recalling that most of our lofty resolutions will ultimately come to naught.”

The last couple years my main intention has been focused toward opening my eyes & embracing the present.  I have realized the end [goal] does not justify a miserable path of pursuance.  I might die before tomorrow comes.  Am I happy with how I pursued today, especially concerning my interactions with others?  I can surely continue to improve my state of presence & seeing all things with a fresh perspective, & this is something I will always strive to develop.  It will help me face my situation now, to know “the only peace of mind I could find is from realizing how little I could bend circumstances to my will.” ~Pico Iyer

That is not quite enough right now though.  There is something else going on inside — the reason for feeling off — something I need to face & articulate.  It has been a constant, wavering reflection lately that I am having the most difficult time actually putting into a solid thought, let alone words.  Perhaps I am only avoiding it; I find myself unable to focus on it for long, but it is always there.

The closest I can come to articulating it is I need to acknowledge & appreciate my own worth & value & what I offer & am capable of doing.

The “how” is hazy like this photo, but the intention is there & has been for the last couple weeks.  I will nurture it every day into clarity, especially because I am surrounded by love & support of family & good friends [which includes you].  I am happy & doing well but can sense I am near the brink of a meltdown if I am not mindful & loving to myself.

2011 will be a happy year.  Today will be a happy day.

~

We rang in the new year rather quietly, bundled up inside, hiding from the cold with comedies & “gourmet” grilled cheese open-faced sandwiches [on my mind since Natalie’s Christmas party] of local artisan bread, sheep’s brie, oregano & braised artichoke hearts along with apple & fennel chutney over wilted greens.

The star of our night is in the glass to the right though.

The bottle of ’09 Opera Prima Tempranillo alone was ok.  Not especially dry & not too sweet, but it lacked the full-bodied flavor we normally like.  Once we heated & steeped it with some spices though…Yum.

Warm, Spicy Wine from The Kind Diet

It has been in the negative degrees here!  A warm drink was essential NYE.

I halved the recipe, used only 2 T of maple & combined all of the ingredients other than Madeira, which I believe is a Portuguese wine, & steeped it for ~2 hours before slowly heating it again, then straining.  I am not sure what we were missing out on by not having the added Madeira, but we certainly could not taste what it might have been lacking.  My fear was it would become too sweet, but the acidity of the oj may have been what balanced out the sweetness, & the spices were wonderful.  This is a holiday cold-weather-drink keeper!

~

How did you celebrate NYE?  Do you make resolutions?  Or are you a goals or intentions setter?

Shades of Grey

21 Tue, 2010 § 8 Comments

I do not naturally love winter.  I have no winter sports that I enjoy that keep me where I prefer [outdoors].  I hate being cold.

I have had to slow down & turn inward — mimic the season in a way — to learn to cherish it…or at least not become horribly depressed when the worst cases of cabin fever hit, usually around January/February.  I have already been feeling down though with the stress of moving & finding work.  The holidays have not even passed — this is supposed to be a festive & joyous time!  I can’t already be sad.

Fortunately, today is the winter solstice: the shortest day & longest night of the year.  It is “midwinter”, which means the gradual lengthening of days, & therefor, return of light to the earth.  Last night, I realized I can embrace & mimic this within myself as well.

Dave & I have started a tradition of taking a midnight or night hike during the winter solstice.  Since there was a lunar eclipse last night, we decided to enjoy our hike a night earlier than usual.

We bundled up, anticipating a frigid night, & headed out to the national forest that lies just east of us.  It is only a short walk & the perfect setting for our hike.  Eisley was thrilled.

The wind gusted constantly; we had expected it to be biting, but it was actually refreshing.  I wasn’t cold at all, which was a shock to both of us [I’m known for freezing in 70*F weather].  We found a beautiful meadow, hoping it would be an ideal spot to witness the transformed moon.  Being our first trek into these woods, it was amazing to see it from night’s perspective, surrounded by varying shades of grey.  Even the eclipse glowed only a faint yellowish grey.  Though that was sort of a dud, it was amazing to be out in the night air, walking the network of trails by moonlight & growing anxious to see them by daylight.

I decided that I will not forget or neglect the bits of “light” that bring me happiness & make my life worthwhile.  I also need to acknowledge my own inner light — my beauty & worth — & not let my self esteem [or worth] wane.  I will strive to embrace this & allow it to grow along with the natural light in the world.

~

Now speaking of a different type of light & warmth, we wanted a warm & hardy — but not heavy — meal before heading out.  I had everything needed for one of my favorite truffled whipped bean dishes…except the white beans & leeks.  I did, however, have lentils, & a beautiful white onion calling from the basket to be caramelized.   I love lentils, but often forget this & therefor forget to make them often.  After this meal, I do not think I will be guilty of that again.

French Lentils with Caramelized Onions, Thyme & Truffle Oil

2 servings

Rinse ¾ cup of french lentils [or cook more if you’d like leftovers for something else].  Prepare by simmering in 1.5 cups of water, until water is absorbed & lentils are soft. [Mine took ~50 minutes, which seems long; often it’s closer to 20, so I don’t know what to tell you.  Just watch them closely I suppose.]

When lentils are nearly finished, use a large skillet to saute a small, thinly-sliced sweet onion in olive oil over med to med-high heat for ~5 minutes.

Quarter 10 or so baby bella mushrooms & add to the skillet with a splash of mirin or white wine.  Saute ~5 minutes more.

Stir in 1 – 2 tablespoons of fresh thyme & the juice from ½ a lemon.  Saute about 2 minutes longer.

Fold in 1 cup of cooked lentils, add some fresh-ground pepper & allow to heat through for a minute.

Remove from heat.  Serve in bowls & drizzle with ~1 teaspoon of truffle oil.

The worst part about this meal: I was hoping for leftovers…

While I absolutely love the way truffle oil enhances this dish, don’t stress or rush out to buy some if you don’t have it.  [When you do have a bit to splurge or find it on sale, I highly recommend it.  Only a little goes a long way.]  This dish is still delicious without it, or you could simply drizzle with quality olive oil instead.

~

Did you catch a glimpse of the lunar eclipse last night?

Do you have any fun or special traditions that occur before the holidays?

The Rest of My Day

17 Wed, 2010 § 4 Comments

So what did I mean yesterday when I said “most” of my day flowed smoothly?

After establishing my intent to see things for what they are, not let anything get to me & just work with it, my day went smoothly…I was happy…mellow…calm.

I was like water & the day flowed

until I hit a wall while I was about 40 feet off the ground.

I got off to a bumpy start on the warm up [not the actual climb above] because it was more awkward than I had expected.  I winced & wined but pulled through.  I was at my 4th bolt, debating which path to take over a ledge, & — BAM — I slammed into the wall.  I.did.not.want.to.be.there.

It isn’t a “physically challenging” wall — this climb is well within my physical capabilities — it’s psychological.  I’m sketched & afraid; my head isn’t in it.  When I hit this wall, there is generally one of two ways to handle it:

A. Shift the blame to someone else, like the “bolters” who needlessly exaggerated the space between bolts or the fact that “we haven’t been climbing routes enough to feel confident” or onto my “belayer” because he’s not sure which way the route goes & I convince myself he is getting impatient [which is never the case].

I am focusing on the past, which obviously isn’t useful.  Then my brain jumps to future prospects, one of them being falling.  Now that’s all I can think about.  So of course, I fall…or give up, which actually feels worse.

OR

B. Accept that I am the one climbing, I can’t change the situation of the rock, bolts, etc. & only I can do anything at that instance.

It is not the ego’s sense of “I” here.  It is accepting that I always have a choice in every situation I am ever in.  Only I can really do anything about it.  It is submitting to the presence & not glancing sideways, worrying about the future or the past, which are generally negative thoughts.  What can I do now?

Monday, I succumbed to choice A & gave up…left to freak out about the fact I just bailed on the warm up!  😦

After talking with Dave, I realized the moments I break through the wall, I am usually muttering something to myself like “I am totally lost here [on this climb]…”I have no idea what I’m doing”…I actually laugh…& think “oh well”…risk it — just go for it — “I’ll figure it out”.  If I don’t, yeah I fall, but only a few feet.  I’m not going to die.  I don’t think about falling; I only think about how I am climbing at that moment.

Life is a lot like this when we hit “walls”.  We can go with A & focus on everything except the task at hand OR be present & own it.

~

Did I tell you what Dave’s “intention” for the day was?  To make me laugh hysterically.  I thought this was a worthy intention 😉 & couldn’t help but be anxious for its execution.  If I knew it was coming though, it wouldn’t work, right?

Wrong.

He succeeded.  More impressive yet: he made me laugh…hysterically…only moments after I had been crying over the climb.  I know he’s beyond amazing.  You don’t have to say it. 😉

~

Not only will I start the day off by “shaping intention”, I will take a moment before doing things like climbing & determine my intention for that experience.  I did this a couple times while climbing with my friend Polly, & we always had “successful” experiences.  I’m not sure what else to do, but I hope this helps.

What do you usually do when you hit the “wall”?

Shaping Intentions & Reshaping French Toast

16 Tue, 2010 § 7 Comments

Like Water

This was my first thought before getting out of bed yesterday.

Dave shared an article with me on Sunday from Elephant Journal about the Dalai Lama & the first thing he thought when he awoke in the morning.

His simple response, “shaping motivation”, immediately resonated.  It is first about establishing our own internal intentions & focusing them in a positive direction; yet it also conveys external actions & how we communicate ourselves & our intent to others.  Even if it is not the specific phrasing I chose for myself, shaping my intention with a positive thought before my day began had such a happy effect on my mood & behaviors most of the day.  [I’ll explain tomorrow.]

I am sure we have all had this idea of starting our day with a positive thought.  How we start our day often determines how the rest of it will go.  “Today will be a good day,” & so it is.  “I am beautiful”, & that day I truly am & it shines through.  Lately, I have been thinking a lot about stating my intent before I even get out of bed, but I kept forgetting each morning to actually have the thought.  😛  Maybe it’s because I hadn’t really determined my intent yet.  After talking with Dave about the Dalai Lama’s response, I wasn’t going to forget again.  Sunday night, before I fell asleep, I promised I would remember.

The next morning, “like water” came to mind.

So what on earth does it mean?

“When a stream comes to some stones in its path, it doesn’t struggle to remove them or fight against them or think about them.   It just goes around them.  As it does, it sings.”

~Tao of Pooh

See things for what they are.  Don’t try to change them or bang your head against them or over analyze them.  Accept situations for what they are; appreciate, learn from & work with whatever happens in everyday life.

While you do it — sing — be happy.

“There are no problems, only situations.”

~Avi in Revolver

Now why not share how you can start your beautiful day tomorrow with a beautiful breakfast, & I’ll tell you about the rest of my day in the morning?

Baked Pumpkin French [Cranberry-Walnut] Toast

variation of Ashley’s Vegan Baked Pumpkin French Toast

[for 1]

  • 1 – 1½ C cubed, day old, cranberry-walnut artisan bread [or any bread you’d like, but I definitely recommend a nice, thick artisan/bakery type]

[If you forget to leave your bread out the night before like I did, simply toast it that morning before tearing it, & it will work perfectly]

  • 1 flax “egg” [1T ground flax meal + 3T warm water, whisk + let sit for 10min]
  • 1 ½ T pumpkin puree
  • scant 1 T rice milk
  • ½ T sucanat [I will sub maple next time, which will be awesome with this bread & the pumpkin]
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp vanilla
  • ¼ tsp ginger
  • pinch of allspice, nutmeg, cloves, salt

Preheat oven to 350*F

After flax “egg” is ready, whisk in all ingredients except bread, in a large bowl.

Add bread cubes & stir to coat with the batter.

Spray small oven-safe bowl or ramekin with cooking spray.  Also spray 1 side of foil that will cover the bowl.

Pour bread cubes into bowl, letting excess batter drip off.

Cover with greased foil & bake for 25min, watching closely.
Uncover & bake an additional 5min.

Top with bananas &  almond butter [optional].

Broil for 1 – 3min, watching closely so it does not burn.

Scoop out & serve or eat straight from a cute little ramekin like I did!

~

Inside is doughy & pumpkiny — outside is crisp & sweet.  Perfect!

It also pairs perfectly with my special Pomegranate Cider.

~

Ok people…I really want to know…what is your favorite breakfast other than oats? 😉

Do you ever start your day off with a specific positive thought?

a.Sliver

26 Tue, 2010 § 9 Comments

Quaint boutiques & shops; cozy, local cafes & restaurants; & trendy outdoor gear stops inhabit the narrow streets of downtown Flagstaff.

Our first impression:

Local.Homey.Eclectic

It feels like a “young” town

with spirit.

Granted we only experienced a slice of this city & there is still much more to see, but we like it.  The sparse traffic & obvious bike lanes make for a friendlier pedal commute & everyone seems to love dogs [it could just be Eisley — she’s pretty lovable — I think I will make a lot of friends with her help ;)].

No city is perfect, but it is nice to see a community that is leaning toward eco-friendly practices rather than moving away from it…

& musicians whose songs warm the chilly October air — I love this.

I am definitely not above stalking out the lovely violinist serenading one of the corners of San Fransisco Street. 😉

The only time during the day we sort of raised our eyebrows & 😦 :

The indoor climbing gym, which looks just ok [the bouldering section is small], is $$$.  Day pass = $16 & it will cost Dave & I $200 just to get a membership — that does not include the membership fee each month!

Good thing the outdoor bouldering ROCKS.  We only touched the boulders in one area on Saturday at Priest Draw, & even though my tummy & core did not feel that great, I connected with the style.  We played on a beautiful, horizontal roof, & I am anxious to go back.  I was more concerned with having spotters than photographers, but I cannot wait to show you bouldering photos — soon!

So why did we leave our jobs in Utah & move to Arizona?    What made us leap without much of a safety net?

We wanted a fresh start in a new area where we could embrace our passions.  We are not interested in “waiting” to live, working 20+ years, banking on retirement to finally have “the time” & a chance to live like we have always envisioned.  One of those visions is traveling & experiencing new places, even if it means living simply.

Simple & happy — that is our intention.  We are figuring out the basic needs & luxuries we cannot live without & those we can.  We are embracing life & the aspects that truly enhance the experience rather than distract from it.

How often do you find yourself looking forward to the weekend?  Tired of yearning for the weekend to come & watching the weeks fly by [is it October already?], we changed our perspective & actions to look forward to each day.

Life is Now.

~

Have you ever made a drastic life change you knew would bring you happiness even if it seemed “risky” in the conventional sense?

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