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Letting Go Gracefully

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I wasn’t a Grey’s Anatomy fan until years after it was semi-cool to be.  My sophomore year in college, I discovered the spin-off Private Practice starring Kate Walsh and became a bigger fan of that than Grey’s.  Recently, I decided to go through all of the episodes again.

There’s one episode where Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh’s character) tells her therapist how she had to practice exercising her hope muscle in order to let herself move forward with some things in her life.

The idea stuck with me, because I realized that maybe that’s a muscle that I could be exercising a little more too.

Things have been brewing in my personal life for a while now, and it’s one of those situations that is both really hurtful but also really exciting.  One of those letting-go-to-bring-something-else-in situations, where I can see the past in the rearview mirror and the outline of what’s to come, but I can’t see the full picture.

They’re hard situations at times.

They hurt.

They give me butterflies because it means that the doors of possibility open even wider.

As Marianne Williamson says, the Universe is course-correcting, and when we experience lack, the Universe self-programs to fix it.

Now, my desire isn’t to challenge religious beliefs, but the idea here is hopeful and one that is concurrent with many religions.  The idea here is that when gaps or holes arise in our lives, something will come along to fill it.  It’s kind of like digging a hole in the sand on the beach until a wave comes seconds later to wipe it clean.

Even if you feel like you’re in a hole, there’s always a chance for a fresh start.  It’s just the way the world works. Things change.  This world is dynamic, and that’s a blessing when we let it be.

Recently, I’ve struggled with letting go.  A really important relationship in my life has come to a close, at least for now, and it’s quite painful.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened and it won’t be the last.  We all experience the loss of important relationships during certain times of our lives, but I know that when I’ve allowed myself to let go gracefully, it hurts a lot less, and new people have fairly quickly stepped into my life to help usher in a new chapter.

This time, I didn’t let go so gracefully.  I got tangled in the thorns of anger and resentment, wanting things to be different, wanting the other person to be different, wondering what it was about me that made this person act the way they did.

Agreement # 2: Don’t take anything personally. 

“The Law of Divine Compensation gives us the assurance that the universe will simply create a new route.” 

Hope and faith are like muscles.  Use them or lose them. 

The beauty and the beast of this life is that whatever others is do is a result of their own thinking.  It means that you no longer have to blame yourself for other people’s shortcomings (or perceived shortcomings) or anything they’ve done that has hurt you.  It also means that sometimes, as hard as it is, it’s important to realize when it’s time to let go.

It doesn’t have to be a relationship.  It could be a job, a commitment, a dream or a goal. Sometimes letting go of one idea of how our life should work out is the best thing to bring in another.

Don’t forget to hope.

Hope isn’t for suckers. Hope is not just for hippies.  It’s not just for the whimsical, non-intellectually inclined, Ivory-tower avoiders.  I used to think it was.  I used to think hoping was for softies, but maybe being soft isn’t always a bad thing.

Hope allows us to let go gracefully, even when it hurts.

Hope helps us call in the new projects, people, and situations that can move our life forward to where we want it to go.

Hope is what keeps us going until the stuff we’ve been waiting for actually happens.

So recognize that sometimes falling-aparts are more of a cosmic restructuring.

Sometimes letting go of one thing will bring you closer to something else that you want and need a little more.

Sometimes needing to let go isn’t such a bad thing after all.

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PopSugar Resort Must Have Review

A few months ago, PopSugar announced that they were coming out with a special “Resort” themed Must Have box, so just after Valentine’s Day, I ordered one.  They were supposed to ship by March 31, but on that day I got an email saying it would be postponed a week.  Finally, two months after ordering it, the box arrived! Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.48.39 PM I had a subscription to PopSugar from September through December of last year, but cancelled it at the beginning of this year for a few reasons.  1) The price increased just slightly, but it was already a monthly splurge for me, so it made more financial sense to not get them monthly and 2) I usually only liked one or two items from the box, though the rest usually grew on me.  I happened to like the most expensive items the most (go figure), so the box paid for itself, but I’m glad I cancelled my monthly subscription because I haven’t liked their past few months anyway.  However, I love anything that has to do with the tropics, so I really wanted to splurge on this for Valentine’s Day (for myself ;) ).  Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.51.44 PM This was a box within a box, so it didn’t arrive in the normal pink and white PopSugar box, but instead the black box came inside a regular one. Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.52.29 PM Each item was individually wrapped, which I thought was kind of fun, though I had already obsessively checked the internet for spoilers starting weeks ago, so none of this was a surprise for me.  I’m ok with that :) Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.53.40 PM Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.54.32 PM Out of all the items, I think I was looking forward to these Sisco Berluti stacks the most.  They retail for over $150, which, let’s be honest, is completely absurd for a BRACELET, however, they are beautiful, well-made, sturdy, and I’m so excited to wear them!

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Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.56.10 PM This was the original spoiler that PopSugar had provided a few months ago, right after they announced the box, and I was also excited about this Cuyana Turkish Towel.  It is super soft and I’ll probably end up using it as a travel blanket.  It seems too nice to use at the beach with sand and sea salt all over me.

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.56.40 PM I wasn’t super jazzed about this Salty Road Salty Caramel Apple Taffy.  I’m just not a huge taffy fan, and caramel apple reminds me of fall and apple orchards, not a tropical beach.  Maybe that’s just me.  I’ll just feed it to the college kids I work with (college kids will consume anything–especially if it’s free and sugar-laden!)

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.59.14 PM I hadn’t heard of Clark’s Botanicals before reading other views of this PopSugar box, but once I did some research, I heard some good things about this brand so I’m looking forward to trying this Cellular Lifting Moisture Mist.

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.59.41 PM I’m a product junkie and a post about all the amazing products I’ve found since January is long overdue, but I was definitely looking forward to trying this Smashbox double-ended liner, with gold and blue.  I love different colored eyeliners and mascara, and these just remind me of club hopping in Spain.  I have never been club hopping in Spain, but something about these colors makes me think I have ;) [Also, it could just be that I've been spending way too much time studying and working and need to take a trip to Spain...don't we all :) ] Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 3.01.18 PM

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 3.00.48 PM Now this is one of those products I’m dying to use, but also don’t want to use because it smells so good that I’ll be really sad when it’s all gone.  Yeah, I know, I can just buy more when I run out but it’s not as special when it doesn’t come in a PopSugar box…

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 2.57.35 PM The card says this Tropical Lave by Epicurean contains coconut oil and papaya extract, but it just smells like tropical paradise heaven to me.  It makes me wonder why I still live in Colorado when places like Hawaii exist.  Apparently it can double as a shampoo, which makes this a perfect product to travel with (unless of course you just dyed your hair red and need special shampoo so you don’t have to re-dye it the week after next…. ;) )

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 3.04.11 PM Finally–the R.B. of McD clutch, designed exclusively for PopSugar.  I’m not a big fan of the all navy color (and wish I got the half tan instead but you don’t get a choice), and the 3/4 canvas makes it feel kind of flimsy to me, but the consensus seems to be it would retail for about $100, which was the price of the whole box.  It’s ok, but it’s not my favorite, though most of the rest of the items make up for it, and I guess I’m glad it came with it.

Screen shot 2014-04-19 at 3.03.40 PM Overall, I’m glad I got this box though it was not at all was I expecting.  I was guessing (and kind of hoping) there’d be a cute beach tote bag, maybe a sunhat or a fancy/organic sunscreen, and some food item with coconut.  However, I do think that for $100, the value and quality of the products were pretty great in this special edition box.  I particularly love the bracelets, the towel, and the eyeliner, as well as the body wash which I’m very excited to try out.

This came just in time since finals are two weeks away and I’m going to need all the help I can to stay semi-relaxed while the finals (and some work) chaos ensues.  Hope you all have a fabulous weekend, and to those celebrating Easter or Passover, happy holidays!  Unless of course you live in the People’s Republic of Boulder, in which case, happy holidaze ;)

{ 6 comments }

Envy is Ignorance

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A few days ago, I was looking through an old journal and came across notes from one of the talks given at my spiritual center.

The senior minister, who also happens to be my favorite, had given this particular talk and shared the following gem from Ralph Waldo Emerson…

Envy is ignorance.

It hit me like a ton of bricks, because for me, those three words take away a whole lot of mental anguish.

Some people argue envy is useful, because it can be productive, energetic, inspiring, motivating.

Envy is not a useful motivator for me.  It just makes me feel worse.

It’s easy to get caught up in other people’s lives and what they have, comparing their job/partner/home/car/body to your own.  Sometimes knowing what else is out there can be helpful, it can make you work towards things you want or never knew you wanted.

Other times, what’s more useful is to relax into yourself, to take a step back from the world and focus on your own journey.  Focus on what you want out of this life, not on what others already have or what you don’t.

Envy disregards your innate gifts and abilities.

Envy diminishes what you do have and shows a lack of respect for the blessings already in your life.

Envy assumes that someone else has it better, when the truth is you don’t really know what’s going on for that person.  It’s easy to make assumptions from the outside, but every person contains within them their own universe and their own battles.

For some reason, reading this quote prompted me to pick up Wayne Dyer’s The Power of Intention, and re-read it for the third time, paying particular attention to the concept of higher vibrations and thought forms.

Higher thoughts are the ones that rise above the pettiness, the drama, the muck of lower energy thought forms.  They carry a higher vibration or frequency.  These are the thoughts that don’t wallow in lack, they’re the ones that create abundance, in all respects.

Envy is not a higher thought form.  In fact, I’d argue that envy is one of the lowest vibrational thoughts you can have, because it tells the universe you can’t move beyond accepting your life as it is.

This isn’t about resignation or blame or complacency.  This is about recognition and a willingness, no matter how hard it might be, to start thinking in a new way and to allow yourself to open up to new things that could come your way.

If you don’t clear out space for new things to come, you won’t have room for them when they do.

So the next time you’re tempted to be jealous or upset that someone else has something you want, acknowledge that feeling and elevate yourself to a deeper awareness that you too have the power to create what it is you desire.

Envy is ignorance and ignorance is not always bliss. 

Rise above.

{ 6 comments }

Remember a few weeks ago when I promised you a booklet of mini mood-boosting recipes? I decided to just post them individually instead and I’m very excited about this first one.

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What makes these mood-boosting?  The crust contains a hearty dose of flax seed, which is high in Omega-3 fatty acids which are said to aid in the treatment of depression and just generally boost one’s mood.  Pecans have a high level of serotonin, which also contribute to a positive mood.

These obviously aren’t a substitute for medication if you’re struggling with clinical depression, but if you need a sweet pick-me-up that has a greater amount of nutrients than most other treats with the benefit of no refined sugar as well as being gluten free & vegan, then you’re going to love these mini pecan pies!

Mini Mood-Boosting Caramel Pecan Pies

For the crust: (inspired by Oh She Glows Chilled Dark Chocolate Pie)

  • 1 1/2 cups gluten free oats (or regular)
  • 1 cup almond meal
  • 4 tbsp ground flaxseed
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 tbsp liquid sweetener (I used maple agave but you could use maple syrup, agave, or honey)

For the filling: (inspired by Gena Hamshaw’s Raw, Vegan Pecan Pie and Oh She Glows Homemade Rolo’s)

  • 1 cup pitted medjool dates soaked in hot water for about 30 mins to an hour (use the full hour if they aren’t very soft to begin with)
  • 2 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp plain, unsalted, unsweetened peanut butter (or regular, or any nut butter, or omit entirely and add an additional 2 tbsp of melted coconut oil)
  • 1 teaspoon agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Optional: a sprinkle of cinnamon (to taste)

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
  2. Pit and soak the dates and while those are hanging out, get started on the crust.
  3. If you want a chewier crust, don’t grind the oats (I didn’t), otherwise you can grind 1/2-1 cup of them.  Combine the oats, almond meal, and flax seed in a bowl.  Add the coconut oil, vanilla extract, and sweetener.  If it looks too dry, add a splash of almond or coconut milk.
  4. Spray a muffin tin to coat the bottom of each cup (I used coconut oil spray).  Add some crust mixture to each tin (I used a 2 tbsp scoop and this was about perfect).  Press the mixture down into the mold and make sure it’s uniformly distributed.
  5. Bake for about 15 minutes until golden brown.  When they are done, set aside to cool.
  6. Once the dates are soaked, drain the water and add the dates to a food processor.  Melt the coconut oil and nut butter (or just the coconut oil) and combine with the dates.  Process until smooth.  Add agave nectar (to taste–I just needed a tiny bit), vanilla, and cinnamon (if desired).  Blend until combined.
  7. Take a knife and make sure all the mini crusts come out evenly but keep them in the tin.  Transfer the “caramel” to a plastic bag, cut of the tip, and swirl on top of the mini crusts.  Add as many pecans as you like and let the pies set in the fridge for about an hour.

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Serve with a cup of Yogi Sweet Tangerine Positive Energy Tea while reading your favorite book.  (Sidebar: I go through this tea like it’s my job.  Not only is it refreshing and lightly sweet with a drop or two of liquid stevia, but it perks me up both mentally and physically).

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I hope you all have a wonderful week!

<3 Alex

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4 Years Later: My Recovery From Anorexia

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(NB: This post discusses some of my history with an eating disorder.  I’ve done my best to eliminate triggers such as specific weights, calories, and sizes–none of which I mention.  However, if you are struggling, please check in with yourself to see if you’re ok to hear parts of someone else’s story. <3) 

I woke up today and the whole world felt different.

The trees bloomed over night and the tiny buds on the branches began to take shape.  The Colorado sun that I’ve missed so much was shining in full force and you could actually feel the heat.

The quad was peppered with students studying, listening to music, throwing footballs and frisbees.

The air conditioning was turned on in some of the classrooms.

Everything just felt lighter, like my whole community thawed over night and I awoke to a vibrant, refreshed sense of existence.

But at the same time, I felt like a bystander tucked behind a gauzy curtain, watching it all unfold.

I felt more contemplative than immersed in the middle of it.

Sometimes the fringes aren’t a bad place to be.  In fact, sometimes they’re right where you need to be.

Four years ago this month, I intentionally made myself sick for the very first time.  It was the moment that marked my transition into the world of a full-blown eating disorder, though I’d been hovering on the brink of one for many years by that point (as most people who have eating disorders also have).

A month later, I held my grandfather’s hand as he took his last breath and a week after that I spent what would be an intensely miserable summer studying in the south of France while plummeting quickly into the dark depths of anorexia.

By the time I came home that August, I felt dead inside.

I still returned to school that fall thinking that it would be the best year of my life.  I had a boyfriend, a great group of close girlfriends, what was probably the single best dorm room on campus (after some bad luck with dorms during previous years), a great class schedule, and the job on campus I’d always wanted that only 2 students get chosen for.  And I was only 5 pounds away from my ideal weight (note: in my eating disorder, I was always 5 pounds away, no matter what weight I was at).

What I thought would be the semester of my dreams turned out to be anything but.

My friends became increasingly worried about me as I refused to leave my dorm room for days at a time.   The times they did convince me to leave, I stood nervously in the corner of whatever party we were at, staring longingly at the food but not feeling deserving enough to eat it.

My boyfriend constantly worried about my health and was terrified one night when I couldn’t stop shaking.   I was cold and shivering, despite having his comforter and several blankets wrapped around me.  He pleaded with me to eat anything, offering to get whatever I wanted if only I’d keep it down.

By October, I was so malnourished that I became delusional.  I was unable to distinguish reality from the tricks my mind was playing on me.  To this day there are things I don’t remember from that time.  Parts of it are all a blur, but I didn’t share these darker parts of my illness with anyone, mostly because I truly did not believe I had a problem.

I do remember the day my parents flew out to take me to what would be my first of many treatment intakes.  I was scared but more so I was numb.  My life was falling apart at the seams.  I was out of control and everyone saw it but me.  Ironic how the more I tried to gain control of my life, the more it fell apart.

Control in an eating disorder is pure illusion; you’ll feel in control for a while until it’s too late.  Before you know it, you’ve been swallowed up and it takes control of you. 

Four years later I sit at my desk, in the apartment that really and truly feels like home, marveling at what my life has become, marveling at who I’ve become.

I’m going back to school with the intention of getting a doctorate.  I have a job.  I’m healthy enough to go to Pure Barre, live on my own, and decide what I want to be and how I want to be.  My life is taking shape and morphing into what I never knew I wanted it to be.

This is because at the end of 2011, after spending my second consecutive birthday in residential treatment I made a choice that I was never going to come back.  I made the choice that no matter how hard it was to give up my eating disorder, something I both loved and despised almost in equal measure, I was going to do this recovery thing.

I was going to be brave and move forward, because I wanted more out of my life than the threat of a feeding tube, the confinement of a hospital or treatment center, and the daily torture it was to have an illness that dissolves your body and spirit from the inside out.

It was the hardest thing I’d ever had to do, but I did it.

I wanted to write this to today because I know there are others out there who are struggling right now, and many of them in silence.  Maybe some of them have reached out but also wonder if it’s really going to get any better or if they are destined to struggle forever.  I’m also guessing that most feel lonely, even when they’re surrounded by others who they know care about them.

What I want for all my fellow soul sisters who are struggling is to know that you’re not alone.

Know that your presence here isn’t an accident or a mistake.  You exist for a reason.

Sometimes asking the “Why” questions just digs you deeper into that hole.

Why me? Why now? Why this?

As hard as it can be, try not to ask why.  Maybe you’re not meant to know why, at least not in this moment.  Instead, focus on the tangible, actionable steps you can take to make today better.

When you make today better, you’re also making tomorrow better.

Don’t be afraid to give yourself what you need, even if you don’t think you deserve it.  Push your self-care boundaries because pushing those boundaries will never hurt or disappoint you.

Reach out for help if you haven’t already. (Check out this post with multiple resources at the end)

Stick to your meal plan.  If you don’t have one, see a dietitian.  Ask your doctor for resources if financial reasons are preventing you from seeking help.  I even know that many churches provide resources or information fairs about groups that can help you find affordable care.

Drink more tea. Take more baths. Get more sleep.  Basic self-care is the foundation upon which you build the rest of your skills.

Read more self-care and self-love books.

Take life a day at a time, an hour at a time, or a minute at a time, whatever you need.

Know that you can get through this.  It has been done before.  Even though it’s difficult, it’s worth it.

And if you’ve been on the path of recovery for a while, but feel yourself slipping, don’t wait until it’s too late.  Swallow any pride that prevents you from reaching out and get the support you need.  Get a refresher therapy session, nutrition session, or do an IOP program if that’s an option.

Talk to a therapist or a doctor, a friend or a trusted mentor, anyone who can support you.

Sometimes I think many of us superwomen types try to do it all ourselves and have trouble reaching out when we’ve been capable of doing so well for so long.

Even if you can do it alone, it doesn’t mean you should, and if you can’t do it alone, it’s a sign of strength, not weakness to admit it to yourself and reach out.

What makes you deserving of help isn’t how long you’ve suffered or what your “official” diagnosis is. What makes you deserving of help is suffering and wanting help.  You deserve support even if you can’t recognize it in this moment.  You’re worthy of love and care simply because you exist.

Don’t ever give up on yourself.  Life can be pretty wonderful.

With love and hope to all,

Alex

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Gifts of Normality

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Last week was that week.

It was that one week a year that we all have when shit hits the fan, things seem to get progressively worse and more stressful, and it just feels really hard to pull yourself out of your mind to remember the bigger picture.

So I guess I should be glad that I got my week over with, eh? ;)

Despite a tough week, there’s still a lot to be grateful for, like my family who continues to be so supportive of me, school and work to keep me busy (even if they’re part of the stress–the alternative is worse), a spiritual center that makes me feel renewed and hopeful, Pure Barre, and tea.  Lots and lots of tea.

Sometimes I think that we often mistake the tough stuff in our lives as punishment, a sign from God or the Universe that we’re just not cut out for this, or a reason to give up.  I used to think that way.  I used to believe that there was just something fundamentally wrong with me and I didn’t deserve what everyone else did.

Now, I still have my rough patches just like everyone else, they just aren’t as often as they used to be, nor are they as dark or do they last as long.  They’re of the normal variety.

One gift of having struggled with major depression is that you never, ever take feeling “normal” for granted.

Even the days when I’m stressed with school, or just bored, or am frustrated with something at work, I’m acutely aware of what a blessing it is to have normal problems.  I struggled for a long time just to reach what most people consider baseline and now, I am infinitely grateful to now have a baseline that doesn’t include wanting to end my life or do anything I could to get the pain to stop.

That was my old life.  An old skin.  An old self.

But even living in a state of normal has its own problems.  Many of them are ego ones.  But still we all have those moments when we want something more, something deeper.

For those of us up north, spring is upon us and though the metaphor has been reused and recycled in so many ways, it really is a time of rebirth and renewal.  It’s the time to shed the things that are taking up space in your life to let new and better things come through.

It’s tough to give up things from your past, whether they are relationships, old habits or ways of thinking, even clothes that you haven’t worn in 5 years.  Sometimes letting go is hard, but clinging is often worse.

I’m challenging myself to really and truly let go of old ways of thinking this season.  As hard as it is, I’ve set some boundaries in my personal life, which meant that certain relationships that were dragging me down had to be cut out of my life.  Not everyone can give us what we need when we need it, and knowing when to let go is just as valuable as knowing when to try harder.

If you’ve already tried harder, it might be time to let go. 

I have less than a month of school left, yet burnout has set in.  I’m challenging myself to be more productive and focused while I work so that after I get home from work work and Pure Barre, I can still have a few hours to do something for myself.

Finish Thrive.

Take a detox bath.

Watch something on Netflix.

Have some mint chocolate chip coconut ice cream.

Finally, I’m challenging myself to remember that even though I can often do it myself, I don’t have to.

Everyone can use support in one way or another, but the question for many of us superwoman types is will we allow ourselves to have it?

Do yourself a favor and reach out when you need to.

I don’t believe that life is meant to be as much of a struggle as many of us make it (myself included).  That’s not to say there aren’t hardships and adversity, but ultimately life is what we make of it, what we think of it.

As hard as it may be sometimes, choose to think that the Universe is on your side, that you have a million reasons to keep going for your dreams, and that you have the power to create the reality you want.

Wishing you all a happy and healthy week,

Alex. 

{ 7 comments }

Ego or Soul

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A few nights ago, as I was rereading Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map.  I love that each time I read a book, I see and realize new things that I missed the first time around.  This time, this quote struck me deeply…

I just want you to know how you want to feel….Ego-based or soul-driven?

For a split second, the world stopped.

I’d read those words before, but it wasn’t until that moment though that I was really able to take it in.

It’s similar to the love vs fear conundrum and reminds me of this article about love choices vs fear choices by Alexandra Franzen.  I’ve linked to it probably a half a dozen times, and if you’ve never clicked on that link, may I kindly suggest that now is the time?

In my own life, I’ve experienced how I can act from a place of love, abundance, and knowing. Or I can act from a place of fear, lack, and worry.

Every choice can be made from a place of love or fear.  Similarly, every choice can be ego-based or soul-driven.

It didn’t take long for me to realize that I’ve made many choices from a place of ego.

For me, ego here means both fear and self-image.

Time and time again, I’ve chosen the route of ego.

Wanting praise with the hope that it would fill a void in my heart (or life).  Choosing relationships that weren’t meant to be, no matter how much I wished they were.  Mostly, these choices just involved me being reckless with my own feelings, unsure of where to draw the line, what to accept in terms of treatment from others, and not having enough courage to follow my heart, no matter how hard it might be in the moment.

In my own life, a lot of things are changing.  Some things are really exciting, others are harder to deal with, but they all involve choices.

I’ve been on the precipice for a long-time concerning the next big step in my academic/professional life: applying for a doctorate. There’s an ego-choice and a soul-choice, and I’ve known for a long time which is which, but I didn’t want to admit it.

When it comes to my personal life, there are friendships that are dying and it makes me sad.  There are both ego and soul choices there too.

In life, we can make choices based on what we think will look good to others, what others believe in, or because we’re too scared to make the choice we really want to make.  I know I’ve made plenty of choices as ego-boosters, but they never left me feeling any better, or left me feeling how I wanted to in the first place.

All the accomplishments in the world don’t mean a damn thing if you aren’t really feeling them. 

But soul choices? Those are the ones that others may not understand, the ones that you may have to stand alone in for a time.  They may not be easy, but in the end they give you what you need.  (But this isn’t to say they can’t be easy! What makes it a soul choice is that it lights you up and doesn’t drag you down.)

Soul choices are the ones that make you smile deep within, because you know, you just know that this is what you need to do.

When I think about soul choices, I think of a line by one of my favorite Colorado bands, The Fray…

Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. 

Ego.  Or Soul.

{ 7 comments }

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I find it so hard to believe that March is almost over!

So, how’d you do? Did you have a great month? Did you take care of yourself a little more, worry a little less, pick up a new habit, or drop an old one?

In many ways, I was a lot happier in March than I was in February.  I kept my focus on the future, thinking about what I want to do this summer, realizing which doctorate programs would be the best fit for me, and overall what I wanted out of life.

I made it through most of round 2 of midterms (I have 2 more this coming week), did 20 Pure Barre classes (tomorrow will be my 21st), went to San Diego, splurged on my first designer purse (it was on sale because it’s an older design, but still, it’s fancy schmancy and makes me happy ;)), and heard a piece of life changing advice while watching an interview with Arianna Huffington.

Sadly, I’m spending my last day of Spring Break quite sick.  I thought yesterday I was finally kicking this cold, until I found it impossible to get out of bed this morning and slept an hour and a half longer than I intended.  Because I have hardly anything in my fridge since I was out of town most of the week, I begrudgingly hauled myself to Trader Joe’s.  If you know anything about me, you know I love TJs so you know I’m pretty sick if it’s actually a chore to go.

Anyway…here is the last of my official post for the March Magic Challenge.  I know I promised you all some recipes, and they will come.  Things got pretty busy with work and school before I left for spring break and I didn’t have a chance to whip up some batches of things to take pictures.  My apologies.

This post is a giant list of all my favorite books that I consider self-care, self-love, and/or healing books.  I’m a total book worm and an avid reader, so I could probably wrangle up enough books to do a second post, but for now, this list will do!

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The Basics

1. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz

If you haven’t read this, get on Amazon right now and order this book.  You will not be sorry.  A family friend bought me The Four Agreements set, as well as the companion book and the Fifth Agreement the week I moved back to Colorado after a really bad breakup.  I can’t tell you the comfort and awareness this book brought me.  It helped me take responsibility for the things in my life, good and not-so-good and allowed me to move forward.  This is an essential book for anyone who wants some simple keys to start living a better life!

See also: The Mastery of Love and The Voice of Knowledge–they are two of Ruiz’s other books and they are also fantastic.  Read The Four Agreements before you read his other books, since they all kind of stem from those principles.

2. A Women’s Worth by Marianne Williamson

3. A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson

4. The Law of Divine Compensation by Marianne Williamson

Can you tell I’m a fan of Marianne Williamson? :) I had the pleasure of meeting her back in September and she is a spiritual rockstar.  She was so kind in person, not at all arrogant, and really seemed to walk the talk.

I consider A Woman’s Worth to be a must-read for any woman who wants to reconnect with her own internal power.  A Return to Love is fantastic for understanding the whole fear vs love concept, and how to live a life rooted in love.  The Law of Divine Compensation is your cure to getting rid of a lack mentality and start thinking in terms of abundance.

5. The Power of Intention by Wayne Dyer

This is one of my all-time favorite books.  I read this book for the first time last summer, when I was feeling nervous about going back to school, lonely because I missed my best friend Katelyn, and in general, anxious about the changes in my future.  I love Wayne Dyer and this book really helped me understand and harness the power of intention.  I truly saw my lift shift after reading and practicing the lessons in this book.

6. Secrets of the Lost Mode of Prayer by Gregg Braden

A spiritual guide I worked with once recommended this book to me.  I read it at the very beginning of 2013, and it changed everything.  It was the spark I needed to regain control of my life and remember there’s something bigger than me working in my favor.  The Power of Intention has a very similar message to this book, and I recommend reading this one first, then POI if you want to delve deeper.

7. Eating in the Light of the Moon by Anita Johnston

This is a book for my fellow souls in recovery from eating disorders.  This book takes myths and stories and turns them into lessons of soul and self-care.  It’s very comforting and my copy is well-worn since I read it every time I went into treatment.  I still refer back to it when I need a little pick-me-up.

8. Succulent Wild Woman by SARK

I think SARK is kind of fascinating.  I really love reading about people who lead non-traditional lives, those who are rule-breakers and stay true to themselves.  Those are the people I admire the most.

9. 73 Lessons Every Goddess Must Know by Leonie Dawson 

This is Leonie Dawson’s self-published book, but I love it.  I love how brave she is in her writing and how willing she is to talk about the hard stuff but also be herself.

10. The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown

I saw this book back in January of 2012, as I was roaming the aisles of the Barnes in Noble near my apartment in Philly.  I had just gone back to school to finish my thesis/last semester of undergrad and had recently finished my last stint in inpatient.  I was still new in recovery at the time, but this book was such a beautiful reminder that I didn’t need to be perfect.  As my gift to myself for turning in my final draft of my thesis, I went to hear Brené Brown speak at a conference in New York (and also met Kris Carr there!).  She was fabulous and so inspiring.  If you haven’t read this book and struggle with perfectionism and not feeling good enough, this will help you beyond words.

Spark Igniters

1. The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte

I’m a late comer to the Danielle LaPorte train and I regret it (but I think we also find things when we’re ready for them).  This book.  What can I say about this book that would do it justice?

Do you want more out of your life? Are you tired of making goals, reaching them, and still feeling like you haven’t achieved what you set out for? Do you want to feel good? Right now? Tomorrow? Most of the time? –> If you answered yes to any of those questions, get.this.book.now.

Game changer.  

2. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

This is the only fiction book on here, but it’s amazing.  It’s hard to explain the magic of Coelho’s writing, but I’ve read nearly every book he’s ever written except for about 3 and each one has the power of combining worlds.  When you read his books, you’re not exactly here anymore.  If you’ve read his books, you know what I mean.  His writing is powerful and has the ability to make you look a little deeper into your own life.

Goddess, Angel, and Love Cards

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Some people aren’t into cards, and that’s cool.  I am. I love them.

1. Goddess Knowledge Cards (text by Michael Babcock and paintings by Susan Seddon Boulet)

Each of these cards has a beautiful painting of a goddess on it and her story on the back.  The goddesses range from Egyptian to Roman to Celtic to Greek to Native American to Middle Eastern.

It was a therapist who first introduced me to these cards (a therapist, I might add, who also had a PhD in Neuroscience–I loved that she was not only hard core science, but also into spirituality) and had me pick my “token Goddess”.  I often keep that card by my computer on my desk at home and each week pick a few others to keep by it.  They’re ones that make me feel strong or comforted or inspired, or whatever I need at the time.

2. Mastery of Love Cards Don Miguel Ruiz

These are his cards based on the book The Mastery of Love.  They are great reminders to love myself and how to have good interactions and relationships with others.  I often pick out a few that resonate with me and keep them on my desk as well.

3. Angel Tarot Cards Doreen Virtue

I use these cards and guidance in my life, and usually I use them if I’m going through a rough time, or at the very least, at the beginning of every month.  I shuffle the cards while reciting an energy-clearing prayer in Hebrew that my spiritual teacher taught me a few years ago and set an intention for the cards to be accurate and give me messages that will give me strength and help propel me forward.

Then I shuffle the cards and any cards that fall out are ones I keep and read after I’ve picked out all  the cards I want.  I really use my intuition with these and just close my eyes and pick whatever card feels good to me as I run my fingers over the edges.  It sounds woo-woo and it is, but it works wonders for me.  I love that these cards have not only been incredibly accurate, but really comforting for me through some rough times.  I love them!

Alright friends, there you have it! My self-care favorites! I hope that you try out one or two that you haven’t read and find something that really resonates with you and what you’re going through in this time in your life.

I’m off to study and do some meal-prep for the week.  Here’s hoping you have a wonderful last day of March and a brilliant start to April!

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San Diego Part 2: The Zoo & Balboa Park

I left off Part 1 of my trip to San Diego mentioning that I got really sick Sunday night/Monday morning.  It wasn’t ideal (well, when is it ever?) because Monday we were planning on going to the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, which meant a lot of walking all day.  We got up a little later (around 7:30) and headed to the Panera across the street from the hotel.  I had a big, doughy, carb-filled bagel which I figured would sit well in my stomach more than anything else.  Though I wasn’t feeling 100%, I was feeling well enough to be mobile.

I was really excited to go to the zoo, since it’s San Diego’s #1 attraction.  It kind of made me feel like a kid again :)

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Please excuse the bad hair.  Having had a rough night, I was not feeling my usual self and didn’t feel like doing anything with it.

We began our zoo trip with a bus tour, to get the lay of the land and pick out which animals we wanted to go back and spend more time with.

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The grounds of the zoo were really quite beautiful.  I imagine the temperate climate allows for a lot of tropical plants to be grown and it was fun seeing the different kinds of vegetation throughout the park.

One word about zoos.  Like any animal lover, I’d prefer that these animals live in their natural environments, not behind some plexiglass inside a cage.  However, we don’t live in a perfect world and I’d rather we protect endangered species as much as we can, even if that means they don’t live where they truly belong, at least for a time.  The San Diego Zoo participates in a lot of breeding programs, trying to replenish the population of endangered species and then reintroduce them into the wild.  They’ve had success with several species and I think that’s really wonderful.

One tip they gave was to make sure  that we dispose of our electronics properly.  Those materials can be recycled (like old cell phones and printers) instead of destroying the natural habitat of a lot of these animals.  It made me think it’s not just poachers who are endangering these species!

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These two grizzly bears were a riot.  They were play fighting right as we walked by them and it reminded me so much of my dogs!  They were climbing on top of each other, whacking each other, pushing each other down.  It was adorable and very amusing.

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Head lock.

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Retaliation!

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The snoozing bears were also really cute.

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I knew we had to see the Pandas, since they are one of the most popular animals at the zoo.

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They were amazing but because they were sleeping, kind of boring too.  I do think it’s really incredible to see some of these animals up close though.  (See the fan by his head?) He looked pretty comfortable, though I’m not sure I could sleep in that position!

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There were a lot of  tropical birds and flowers around the park as well.  It made me miss Hawaii bad.

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One little girl tried to feed that Pelican-looking bird, which I’m pretty sure isn’t allowed. The bird got right up to the fence though and didn’t seem to be afraid at all.

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The elephants were really cool to see as well.  They were massive! The one below is the biggest animal in the park, and she weighs 11,000 pounds! They seem like gentle giants though.  I’m not sure if that’s true, but I love them anyway.

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After the bus tour and walking around for a few hours, I was getting really hungry.  One thing that always worries me in places like this is finding something I can eat.  I was lucky enough to grab the last veggie wrap at one café, which I think was the healthiest option on the whole grounds.  It had fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese with a pesto sauce to drizzle on top.  It was awesome! It also wasn’t too heavy and it sat well with my stomach, which made me even happier.

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My aunt and I split a small order of onion rings too, with some homemade pear ketchup and a side of ranch.  I love onion rings–especially ones with a thick batter!

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After lunch, we caught a few more animal exhibits, like the non-wolf/fox looking animal (can’t remember what it’s called but it’s the only member of its genus).

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I think tigers are probably my favorite wild animal.  They’re beautiful and majestic, but they’re also powerful and kind of frightening.

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These guys on the other hand…

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are creepy…

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I do love the polar bears too though.  They’re so cuddly-looking :)

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After the zoo and a few tours around some of the gift shops, we headed to Balboa park, which is adjacent to the zoo grounds.

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Lots of beautiful gardens and stunning architecture.  Spain is one country I’ve never been to, but some of the architecture reminded me a lot of pictures I’ve seen from friends and family who have gone.

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One of my dad’s coworkers recommended we go to the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park.  It’s one of the gardens you have to pay to enter, but it was really beautiful and so serene.

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Fun fact: I’m obsessed with Zen gardens.  I don’t know what it is about them, but they are so…zen.  I’m not sure if this was an actual Zen garden, but between the lovely little pond and waterfall filled with colorful koi and the assortment of Bonsai trees, I was happy.

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After walking around the friendship garden, we took a trolley around the rest of the grounds and then decided to call it a day.  We headed back towards our hotel and stopped by the Ghirardelli shop that was near our hotel.  My aunt got a salted caramel sundae and I got a brownie sundae.  These things are huge, so I ate the brownie, some of the fudge and a little ice cream, but I didn’t even make a dent in half of it.  I should have asked for no whipped cream though.  I know this may ruffle some feathers, but I personally think whipped cream is useless.

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We spent Tuesday (our last full day) walking around Old Town, shopping, browsing, and eating more Mexican food.  I love Mexican food but I don’t want to see it for a few weeks now.   Our flight left early Wednesday morning and we got back to Denver early in the afternoon.  I said goodbye to my aunt and then drove back up to my part of town and hit a Pure Barre class later that night.

Overall, it was a great trip, even though it was brief.  It was just enough time to get out of Colorado, enjoy some quality time with my aunt, and see some new sights.

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It did make me really miss the ocean, and I’m hoping that this summer I’ll be able to get out for a real beach vacation!

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I’m going to be spending the remainder of my spring break studying for two exams and trying to get over this cold I have, as well as mourning the fact that I can’t bury my toes in the warm California sand ;)

Happy Friday everyone! Hope you all have an amazing weekend! Any fun plans?

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Spring Break 2014: San Diego

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Oh heyyy.

Regrettably, I’m back from San Diego as of a few hours ago.  Even though I was only gone for about 4 days, it felt weird to be back in Colorado.

On Friday, I had class and work as usual, then hit my last Pure Barre class before vacation.  On the way home, I stopped by Noodles & Co for some pesto pasta and ate it quickly while finishing packing.  I took a quick shower and then drove down to my parents’ house.  My mom had picked up my aunt from the airport earlier on Friday and we stayed the night at my parents’ house before my mom drove us to the airport in the morning.

My aunt Starr is one of my favorite people ever, but I rarely get to see her, so going on spring break to San Diego with her was a real treat.  It was great to catch up and tell her about school, work, my personal life, and my future plans and it was nice to hear about things that have been going on in her life.

Our flight out Saturday went well and after checking in at the hotel and freshening up, we hit the nearby Gaslamp district for some shopping and a late lunch.  We were both pretty tired so we had an early night with some lounging, TV-watching, and chatting so we could have an early morning.

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We rented a car early Sunday morning and drove to La Jolla.  There was no traffic on the road and it hardly took us any time at all to get there.  Once we arrived, we had to get out and take some pictures.  The views were absolutely beautiful.

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When I decided to go to San Diego, I remembered Emily’s trip and took a few ideas from her.  After taking some pictures down by the water, we headed to The Cottage for some breakfast.

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I had one piece of the stuffed brioche French Toast with mascarpone cheese and strawberries, topped with bananas and blueberries and it was divine.  I could have eaten about 7 more pieces of that but instead I had some egg whites, avocado, and tomato to balance out the meal.  It was great fuel for an afternoon full of walking around and taking pictures.

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After walking around La Jolla for a while longer, we headed up to Torrey Pines State Park and the Golf Course for some more sightseeing, before heading back down the coast to Coronado.

I really loved the town of Coronado.  The store fronts were all really adorable and I especially I loved the way this cute little salon looked.

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We shopped around for a few hours and around 2 started to get hungry, so we headed to a Mexican restaurant called Miguel’s that one shop keeper recommended.  I had veggie fajitas with a side of beans, rice, and guac.  I didn’t eat any of the rice but I had some open-faced fajitas and they hit the spot.

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After our late lunch, we walked towards the Hotel Del Coronado, which was beautiful.

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As we walked towards the beach, the hotel had these gardens of lettuce, fruits, and herbs.  It was cool to walk by and see all the things they were growing.

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The beach was breathtaking and I was so happy to be near the water.  Even though I grew up near the mountains in Colorado and live in Boulder now, I’m a complete and total water baby.  I need time at the beach but unfortunately haven’t been able to make it to the ocean in about 3 years!  It was nice to take my shoes off and walk in the sand, even if only for a few minutes.  It felt like coming home.

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We finished looking at the rest of the shops in Coronado after the beach, which included some great boutiques and an awesome stationary store called the Papery.

Once it became early evening and the shops started closing (it was Sunday night), we decided to head back over the bridge to return the rental car and go back to our hotel.

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 I haven’t talked about it on the blog, but I actually struggle with some pretty severe abdominal issues and was finally diagnosed with a hernia about a year ago, though I’ve had it for nearly 10 years.  It will flare up at odd times but it causes a tremendous amount of pain and unfortunately, it started to flare up as we were leaving Coronado.

When we got back to the hotel, I took a quick hot shower to try and ease the pain and ended up going to bed early.  Unfortunately, I also ended up getting really nauseous in the middle of the night and got sick early Monday morning around 4 am.  It was kind of a miserable night, but the next day made up for it! Up next, a recap of the world famous San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park!

Hope you’re all well and having a great week!

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