welcoming spring. daily routines.

ONC viewEven after what’s been a really mild Utah winter, I’m anxious for springtime. I love summer and fall, but I still think spring is my favorite because the winters just drag on for me. By February I’ve had *just* about all I can take, and then suddenly and mercifully there are signs of spring and I snap out of my funk. I love the chilly-but-sunny days, the beginnings of gardening, and feeling like I can once again be a part of nature. Hannah and I have been enjoying daily walks. She loves to look at animals, and our neighborhood is smack in the middle of farm country, so there are nearby horses, chickens and cows to visit. We also just got a family membership to our local nature center (ONC), which is definitely going to be a weekly adventure. We went last week and Hannah LOVED it! And so did I. Even though things are only *just* greening up here and there, it was still beautiful and peaceful. Insta ONCAs Hannah gets older it will be so fun to take her to the nature center for the kids camps and crafty events, but for now we just enjoyed wandering the trails and seeing the birds and deer.

ONC pathAround the house, I’m switching up the baby-proof surfaces with some spring-time touches. I finally got the mantel stained, and put out some random spring-y objects I could find around the house. Plants, flowers, butterflies and birds are kind of a theme around the place right now. I’ve also been able to have the windows open for part of the day. Fresh air and natural light makes such a difference to my mood.

Spring mantel

I got a couple new pillow covers at IKEA – I love the biology textbook-style birds and bugs. (I’ve had the green pillow for years).Spring pillowsAnd the IKEA Varde shelf got a little switchup from the pink-and-red Valentine’s Day decor to some green {and my eating’s been greening up with more vegan recipes in the mix}.

Spring ShelfMy stack of reading reflects the season quite a bit, too. Some gardening magazines of course, and two new books I really recommend. Mindfulness and the Natural World is just one woman’s philosophical view of nature from a “you aren’t in nature, you are nature” kind of standpoint and I am really enjoying it. And mindfulness is the other theme right now, because I’m also enjoying implementing a daily yoga practice (only about 15 minutes during Hannah’s nap time, but it’s really helping me feel better); I really like the book OM Yoga: A Guide to Daily Practice. There is a short practice for each day of the week, and they are challenging enough for me that I am getting something out of just the short stints. Getting back into yoga has been so long overdue! I used to think to do yoga I had to go to a studio for a class or at least follow a video in its entirety. Silly right? The idea that it’s something you can do anywhere at any time, for any length of time is so freeing!

Spring readingIt’s not much, but adding a few routines to my day (a walk, some yoga, and a bit of inspiring reading) has been good for my soul and my sanity and I’m feeling like myself again! Seed-starting is on my to-do list this next week, and I am vowing to get some time outside in the garden just to start cleaning it up and prepping the beds with compost. What’s everyone else got planned for spring?

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happy 2013 (:

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I’ve been agonizing over my 2013 resolutions for weeks. I love that clean slate, the opportunity to improve myself. My first instinct is to fix everything. Do everything. So my first strategy was to write down everything I want to change or do, then prioritize it, paring it down to 10. Then I realized how unrealistic that was, so I instead mapped out a detailed plan to simplify my life, with goals, milestones, and a list of commandments. That one stressed me out equally. Then I thought, maybe I should take a yin/yang approach to goal making, sort of a list of to-dos that balance each other. For example, if I want to do something for my mind, I should also do something for my body. If something for my left brain, I should find something of equal weight for my right brain. It was a mess. Finding simplicity and balance should NOT be a complicated process.

This year, I have struggled to focus on my goals. It’s never been very difficult for me in the past, to accomplish the things I commit to, especially publicly. But this year, or at least the second half of it, my brain was just simply not cooperating. I have felt less connected, less motivated, and less energetic. Easily distracted, bordering on spacey. I’ve been sleeping poorly, less active, and more injury prone. I was sick in September. Then again from October… through… well, now (flu, then cold, then bronchitis..) My tendonitis is back. My shoulder is messed up. I’m always tired. My complexion is dull. Studying is a huge chore and work stress makes me emotional. I can’t focus on anything. I’ve gained back some weight I worked so hard to lose. It’s all connected. I want to fix it all, but it’s so daunting. I feel like my have-to-dos are so exhausting that I don’t get to enjoy the want-to-dos. So while I was trying to figure out where my 2013 priorities should lie, when I put it all down, all my ailments and shortcomings and guilt-sources, it got me down and made me feel hopeless.

So, in an effort to not give up and throw in the towel by January 5th, I’m reallyreallyreally simplifying my goals this year. No fireworks. No big declarations. Just one basic thing, for the first half of the year. Why? Because in May I will be done with school and priorities can be reassessed then.

So here it is.

Focus on healthy. Listen to my body.

There’s a great Henry Miller quote that says “Our own physical body possesses a wisdom, which we who inhabit the body lack. We give it orders, which make no sense.” I’ve been so guilty of ignoring the signals my body gives me and trying to compensate. I don’t have energy because rather than do the things my body wants me to do (move more and sleep more) I chug more coffee or eat more sugar. My tendonitis is back and my stress levels are high because I haven’t been going to yoga. When I do jump back into a good workout schedule, I overdo it and hurt myself rather than just easing in. When I need a day off, I guilt myself into chipping away at a to-do list I’ve created for myself. I can’t turn off that voice that says “must.be.productive.” If I actually were as productive as my intentions, that would be one thing. But what comes with trying to do it all is often frustration, guilt, disappointment, stress, and exhaustion. And when my life is out of balance, I don’t take something away; my instinct is to add something. Example: spending an hour at the gym is selfish, so I need to spend an hour doing something for someone else. This is well and good til every yin needs a yang. It becomes a bit of a monster.

So, my goal for 2013 is to focus on the foundation, take better care of myself. Let the other things fall into place. Do the things I know make me a happier person, like yoga and dancing. Be kind to myself, not beat myself up. Simple.

I’m going to do lots of other things this year. House projects and creative endeavors and getting my Masters, but those are all just life. I’ll get to them because I’m a doer. I don’t need a list of things to accomplish to be productive because I just am. But there are things I clearly need to focus on to make happen sometimes, and this is it right now. A little shift in mindset. And believe it or not, this is SO hard for me, to whittle it down like this. It’s not my nature, but I’m hoping this is exactly what I need right now.

What about you? What lies ahead for your year?

fall cleanse – october is detox month!

It doesn’t seem possible it’s October already. I’m almost done with a class I feel as though I barely started, and starting another in two weeks. Work has been chaos. Our NYC trip is fast approaching (mere DAYS!).

The last few months have been way too hectic. I miss the days when I could keep taking on more and more and just use a little concealer under my eyes to hide the fact I was sleep deprived. But I guess aging means minding the important details and taking better care of myself because lemme tell ya.. it’s starting to take its toll.

Since it’s a new month, I decided it was a good time to come up with a new regimen for myself – one that focuses on taking better care of myself and reducing stress. It’s nothing too crazy, but I have incorporated a few inexpensive and simple healthy activities to my personal care routine, and I’ll be focusing on holistic detoxing.

(Please forgive the lack of detail on these, but I’ve linked to the information I am following. As a newbie, I am trying these tactics by-the-book, and I didn’t want to re-write the processes here until I make them my own (meaning, once I have established a real routine I will post about what’s worked for me). I’m no expert, so I’m linking to more information for anything that may interest you. I’ll report back on these at the end of the month.

  1. Daily coconut oil-pulling. Have you heard of this process? Essentially this entails vigorously swishing a tablespoon of coconut oil (or another oil – olive or sesame are cited in a number of pieces written about this) for 20 minutes a day upon waking, prior to eating or drinking. You then spit out the oil and rinse with water, then brush/floss as normal. (And yes, it’s a long 20 minutes, but it’s doable). This process cleanses the mouth making your teeth and gums healthier (and healthier-looking), and supposedly absorbs/flushes the mouth of bacteria and toxins that invade into your system causing a myriad of health problems (they say most diseases begin in the mouth). The benefits are things like clearer skin, decreased joint pain, better digestion, better breathing, lessened PMS symptoms, reversed gum recession, etc. As I’ve only been doing this for 4 days, I am not yet sure what benefits I will experience, if anything, but I can vouch that my mouth feels clean and my breath stays fresh, and my teeth look brighter (which in my opinion is the number one thing a person can do to look younger quickly!) After 30-40 days I will follow up on the experience.
  2. Daily body-brushing. Remember the impact that Alicia Silverstone’s book The Kind Diet made on me? One of the sections in the book discusses some of the ways you can be kind to yourself, other than revamping your diet. She mentions body-brushing as a way to brighten your skin and “love yourself” in her happy hippie-dippy way. I think that was the first time I’d heard of it but since then I’ve seen it mentioned all over the place, so I finally started giving it a try last weekend. This is a detoxing and exfoliating process – ridding the skin of environmental toxins effectively, and allowing for better absorption of moisturizers. It increases circulation which brightens and tightens the skin, so it’s supposed to reduce cellulite. I bought a long-handled natural brush and followed Alicia’s instructions. I do this every night before a shower. I love the tingliness after dry-brushing, and my skin does feel softer (I think). I’ll follow up on this one later, too. (http://www.naturalnews.com/025240_skin_natural_brushing.html)
  3. No-shampoo. ‘Poo-free, if you will. I’ve eliminated washing/conditioning my hair. After switching to henna color, I also switched to a natural shampoo, with mixed results. I loved the feeling initially. But after a week, my roots felt incredibly greasy, probably due to the fact that for the first time ever, my scalp had to produce some oil. I tried extensive daily brushing to better distribute the oil, but that made it worse. I’ve never, ever had oily hair in my life and I couldn’t get used to having to wash every day. Such a hassle. So, I’m trying a new hair regimen: baking soda and apple cider vinegar. And for the first time since using the natural shampoo my hair feels clean! And the cost is pennies. Literally. Maybe 2 cents a batch. This may change my life. Again.. I’ll follow up after my trial month.
  4. Weekly hot-yoga. I’ve signed up for this and can’t wait. I’ve been upping the cardio the past few weeks, but my yoga class is too early in the day to get to them on time these days (working more hours) and I’ve been missing it. The studio I was taking Belly Dance classes from offers a hot yoga class I’ve been meaning to try to now’s the chance! And if you don’t know what hot yoga is, it’s exactly what it sounds like. The room is cranked to 95 degrees and you sweat out the bad and get super bendy. It may turn out to be my personal idea of hell. But I’m gonna brave it.. and I think I will love it. (I’m heading back to belly dancing this week, too!).
  5. Vegan-for-a-month. (It’s World Vegetarian Day today, by the way!) This one’s obviously the bigger commitment, but shouldn’t be much of a stretch for me. I’ve been lazy, lazy, lazy with my diet and feeling a lack of energy (and totally horrible about myself – it’s all connected!). So I’m going to kick off my healthy month with an immediate strict dairy-free diet.

So that’s my inner and outer detoxing plan for the month. Happy, healthy October!

a yoga playlist for your sunday

Beastie Boys – Namaste
Baird Hersey – The Charioteer
Jalebee Cartel – Fade Away
Sacred System – Black Lotus
Beastie Boys – Sabrosa
Moby – We Are All Made Of Stars
Massive Attack – Teardrop – 2006 Digital Remaster
Makyo – Naga – Tribal Dub Remix
Moby – In My Heart
Tricky – Bacative
Sacred System – Amrita Flux
Beastie Boys – Transitions
Goldfrapp – Strict Machine

fitness-y goal update & some feet pics {you’ve been warned}

I realized today that the last 30 days have revolved around my feet. After running the half marathon, {how long’s she gonna milk that – I know right?} I was hobbling on an injured foot for about a week and a half. Even once I was through limping, I was still not able to run on the poor thing and was frequently thawing out frozen veggies on my foot for 15 minutes at a time.

Luckily with the race no longer looming over my head, I was able to get back to yoga guilt-free {yoga was once guilt-inducing? Yes – because it’s fitness I enjoy and how dare I enjoy working out while I need to be training?? That’s how my brain works.} I am so very out of practice with yoga but the thing I love about it, and have loved for the 10 years or so I’ve practiced {with various levels of commitment} is there’s not need to be competitive. Even with yourself. You can have goals, but it’s truly not about the perfection of it. I love that.

Back to my feet.

I skipped the Dirty Dash {which my brother-in-law ran in my place} so I got to watch him, and my husband, and the rest of my would-be team play in the mud from the sidelines. It was a blast. What a ridiculous thing everyone should do. My husband is the filthiest one, second row, second from the left.

Then last week this happened:

I stubbed my toe on a yellow lab, jumping over a beagle. Fer rills. It still hurts and actually looks worse 5 days later – swollen and weird. Husband thinks it could be broken. Anyone have broken toe experience? I did plank jacks on the poor bastard this evening and it doesn’t seem any worse than before {the during was excruciating when I wasn’t successful at favoring it..}

It’s so frustrating to be injured just enough I can’t do my normal ‘thang, and there’s always something, but I feel  like I’m at 80% now and ready to get back to it! I’ve got 9lbs to go {but more importantly I have lots of squishiness to firm up} and some damage control to do from my carb and ice cream free-for-all from the last couple of weeks. Plus, I bought a bikini for motivation.

So, here’s what my schedule’s going to look like for the next 4-6 weeks, barring more injuries {for my own planning/accountability purposes}:

  • Monday: Elliptical machine during lunch or run after work, 30 min// 6 Week 6 Pack {Jillian Michaels DVD} in the evening
  • Tuesday: Yoga class
  • Wednesday: Elliptical machine during lunch or run after work, 30 min// 6 Week 6 Pack {Jillian Michaels DVD} in the evening
  • Thursday: Walk dogs in the AM, 30 min. // Yoga class
  • Friday: 6 Week 6 Pack {Jillian Michaels DVD}// 6 Week 6 Pack {Jillian Michaels DVD}
  • Saturday: Hike, walk, bike, dancing, etc – something fun and different.
  • Sunday: Jog with the dogs in the AM, 30 min. // 6 Week 6 Pack {Jillian Michaels DVD}

I’ll try to review 6 Week 6 Pack at the end of the program. I started it tonight and I loved it and hated it, and I’m hopeful for some toning results. There’s more to it than abs, so it’s a good total-body workout that focuses mostly on core, which is my trouble spot hands-down. Friggin’ apple shape, anyway.

I’m also back to using MyFitnessPal again – username is kbuelo if anyone else is on and wants to add me. I share my food diary with the world so if you’re into my over-sharing, and you just read a post about my feet so clearly you are -haha – I’m your motivation buddy!

What’s everyone else up to fitness-wise?

Glitter TOMS

I recently scored a bunch of Amazon credit for selling them some of my textbooks and thought it was the perfect way to splurge on a long time want list item – some glittery TOMS shoes. These ones, specifically:

I’ve been eying these for a long time. If you don’t know the story behind TOMS, it’s pretty rad. For every pair purchased, the company donates a pair to a child in need. One for one, around the world. I try to support companies I believe in as much as possible, so that is big for me.

So – how do you wear them, when you’re pushing 30 and work an office job? Because it’s my idea of a good time to compile ideas while I veg out in front of a movie, here are some ways I came up with to rock some glittery TOMS.

1. Business casual-casual. My office  is pretty lenient about the dress code, so it’s not a stretch to wear slacks with a funky tee, shoes and jewelry.

2. Business casual. I think I could step it up slightly with a pencil skirt and still wear TOMS. Thoughts?

3. On a date or girl’s day. Rolled jeans look really cute with TOMS.

4. With shorts. This is a really casual road trip look. I don’t know how likely I am to wear them with shorts {I love my flip flops} but I think it looks pretty fun.

5. To the gym. I go to my Finance class directly after yoga on Tuesday nights and always feel like such a slob. Some cute glittery shoes and a summertime hoodie over my attire would be a big improvement.

Thoughts on TOMS – do you own any and how do you/would you wear them?

fear.less, Pt. 1

How would your life be different if you didn’t fear the unknown? Or didn’t make excuses why you shouldn’t try something new? What would you be doing? Would you live where you live? Would you hold the job you currently have, or be doing something different? Would you feel anchored to your possessions or more confident without them? What would you be doing?

Like most everyone, I’ve been held back by fear my whole life in one way or another. Choosing the practical over the fabulous. Not even taking a shot at something I want for fear I won’t get it. Holding off on things until I lose 10 pounds.

Lately though I have felt the overwhelming urge to start saying YES to myself. The last two years have been the healthiest in my life. I went vegetarian. I (re)started practicing yoga. I started training for a half marathon. I started cooking mostly vegan. I’ve been inspired to do more good for myself and my health. Finding reasons why I should instead of shouldn’t. Some stories:

Late last year, I took a yoga workshop. I’ve taken yoga classes off and on for almost 10 years, and have been consistently doing it twice a week through all of 2011. I’ve wanted to advance my practice but was feeling nervous about leaving my comfort zone. I went for it and signed up for the workshop (it helped I didn’t go home and think about it but registered on the spot). This studio is on the creaky third floor of an art gallery, run/frequented by advanced yogis, and exactly the atmosphere I told myself I would some day practice yoga in (as opposed to the all-levels class next to the racquetball court at my gym!) This was by far the best yoga experience of my life. An entire hour was dedicated to understanding the history and healing powers of yoga. (As someone who healed my gimpy, weak, chronically hurt wrists, I am already a believer!!). Followed by an hour of practice more advanced than I am used to, but that I happily could keep up with. I’m so glad I didn’t talk myself out of going.

In November 2011 I took my first belly dancing class. Ever since seeing belly dancers as a kid, I wanted to do this. It’s even on my list of 30 things to do before I’m 30. But I never did because I was afraid I would look silly. I LOVE dancing of all kinds but there’s just no place in the adult world for it, unless you MAKE a place for it. My notions about it were so wrong. I thought everyone would be very good at it and I would be the awkward girl.  Truthfully, once I was there, I didn’t compare. I noticed and appreciated the talent of some of the others, but it didn’t make me feel inadequate. It made me feel inspired. It makes your curves, the same ones you curse and pick apart in the mirror, look beautiful – you need curves to make belly dancing look good. Empowering! I went back for more until my school schedule changed and overlapped the class. However, it got me in that door and I frequented lots of weird things at that studio since. Pilates, Zumba, candlelit yoga. In a studio run by a renowned pole dancer. Really. When my wrists really strengthen up I’m going to try Pole. Can’t wait.

I’ve since been bouncing around from obsession to obsession, getting my fitness on in weird and awesome ways. I just finished Ripped in 30 {Jillian Michael’s program} and moved on to p90x this week. A year ago when my husband started p90x I said there was no WAY I would even try it. It took a year of baby steps but last night I was doing pullups from a door frame in our basement and chanting “FIGHT FOR IT!!” over and over. Who is this girl?

I am a firm believer in writing life lists and making goals. Had I not put “belly dancing” on my 30 before 30 list, I wouldn’t have gotten around to trying it, and I’d be missing out on a positive, women-centered, empowering experience.

I’m writing my bucket list right now and plan to post it, for accountability/cheerleading/inspiration purposes, knowing it will evolve, grow, adapt, but also knowing that putting it in print helps me make great things happen.

I challenge you all to try something new, or start working on your bucket list now. Let me know if you do! We can cheer each other on.