30 Days Of Gratitude: Day 6

Coming in under the wire today!

Today I am grateful for:

• My roommate. She is not only my favorite partner in crime, but a thoughtful, kind, and generous person. I’m so lucky to live with a truly great friend. Bonus point: she helped me make my first cake from scratch this year. It was a lemon cake with strawberry buttercream frosting and it was utterly delightful! Tart and sweet, just how I like it!

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• Living a peaceful, safe life. I remember very vividly the events of 9/11/01. I don’t think any of us will soon forget. As the proud sister of a Marine I thank God daily for the freedom we are all allowed in the United States because of their, and all of our armed forces, endless bravery.

• Redbox. Tonight the boyfriend and I rented ‘Mud’ starring Matthew McConaughey. My boyfriend describes it as a sort of modern day ‘Huckleberry Finn’ and I don’t think he’s too far off. I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely a far cry from McConaughey’s usual RomComs. And for just over a dollar, the rental is well worth it.

Phew! Halfway through the week. Hope you all are making it through with minimal discomfort – the weekend is drawing ever closer!

Namaste!

(P.S. I wrote this from my phone so I apologize for the poor formatting/grammar!)

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30 Days Of Gratitude: Day 5

I could NOT fall asleep for the life of my last night. So today I’ve been dragging, MAJORLY. I even broke my no-coffee-after-3pm rule and had an extra cup. Here’s hoping I fall asleep easily tonight. I have a feeling, it’s not going to be a problem.

Today I am grateful for:

  • Fresh flowers. I LOVE buying those cheap bunches at Trader Joes and Vons. 5 bucks and you have beautiful, fresh flowers that brighten up my living room. And everytime I walk by I smile.
  • Breaking Bad. I know. What?!?! But for the last few years my boyfriend have had a date night centered around catching up on the latest episode and it’s always one of the best nights of the week. No surprise, it’s usually complimented with a delicious dinner made from scratch. And occasionally, a glass of wine or two. Who knew a show about meth cold be so romantic?
  • September in San Diego. The tourists have gone and the beaches are ours again! I always seem to forget that September typically ends up being one of the hottest, sunniest months. And as a former desert-dweller, I’m always happy to have another chance to soak up some rays. Even if it’s just during lunch.
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The gorgeous flowers my sister and brother sent me this year for my birthday

Namaste!

30 Days Of Gratitude: Day 4

Yesterday was a good day. I absolutely KILLED it on Fantasy Football. Too bad my Vikings went down to the Lions…

Today I am grateful for:

  • A clean house. During law school, I picked up a habit of cleaning whenever I was stressed out (or just felt like procrastinating from studying). The upside, is a clean house always makes me feel better. Things look nice and are put in place, and chaos has momentarily been stayed. So Sunday mornings are a favorite of mine – lots of coffee, vacuuming, mopping, and good tunes (or football!) being played throughout the house.
  • Pharmaca. Pharmaca is my local drugstore/health store. Not only can I pick up my prescriptions from there, but they have an amazing line of organic, environmentally safe products for the body and mind. I’ve picked up essential oils, my favorite Acure Organics body line, treats like dark chocolate, and the occasional gift from there. If you live in San Diego you should definitely check it out!
  • Tree pose. It’s such a powerful, grounding pose. Whenever I feel like I need a lift in my spirits, or to gain some confidence, a few moments in tree pose ALWAYS helps.

30 Days Of Gratitude: Day 3

Sundays are always a little bittersweet. The fun of the weekend is not over, but it’s certainly coming to a close.

We enjoy leisurely Sunday morning around here.

Today I am grateful for:

  • The beach. I am so incredibly lucky to be living just steps away from one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. I often take it for granted; living so close to the ocean. But sometimes, when I’m driving down the street and catch a glimpse of the blue water, or when I take my dog for a walk, I realize just how good life is. People come from all over to visit San Diego, and I get to live here!
  • Yoga breaths. There is something about that rhythmic, oceanic, sound that completely relaxes me. Well, I suppose that something is really about the oxygen I’m receiving, the focus, and the awareness of my body. Even at night, when I am having trouble sleeping, these deep-belly breaths put me in a state of calm so that I can finally drift off to sleep. And during practice, focusing on my breaths allows me to get through difficult poses. Deep breaths people!
  • My sister. A few weeks ago, after a really stressful week, I opened my front door to find a box full of treats! We’re talking candy, new iphone cover, the lipgloss I mentioned yesterday, pretty pens, notecards, shorts, books, etc. It was one of the most thoughtful things someone has done for me in a long time and it literally brought tears to my eyes. I wish we all did things like that to each other more often. It meant so, so much to me. She’s a sweetheart.

Hope everyone had a great weekend. Here’s to a wonderful upcoming week!

30 Days Of Gratitude: Day 2

I meant to put this up earlier today, but as I was starting to prepare for it last evening my roommate walked in with another friend and suddenly I found myself in the midst of a proper Ladies Night. Girlfriends always take priority over the Internet 🙂

So today I am grateful for:

  • Girlfriends! You can never have enough and the time spent with each other is invaluable. I always come away from my time with my girlfriends feeling stronger and better about myself and my life in general. They’re good medicine for the soul!
  • Lipgloss. It sounds stupid, but sometimes just changing things up with a bright new color can do wonders for your day (or night). My recent fave is a Burts Bees lipgloss in Ruby Moon. My sweet sister sent it to me earlier this month and I LOVE how I feel when wearing it.
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My current favorite lipgloss – Ruby Moon!

  • Football. College and NFL are back! I’m not ready for fall weather, but I am so glad my favorite fall pastime is back. Thursday night’s football game was especially great since my fantasy football QB is Peyton Manning and he KILLED it! I’m looking forward to many weekends filled with football. Go Cats! (College) and Skol Vikings!

30 Days of Gratitude : Day 1

Early this summer, right as I was really getting back into running (it’s one of those interests that comes and goes in my life as it pleases), I sprained my ankle. Badly. Now, this isn’t so terrible in of itself; people injure themselves all the time, and ankles heal. The thing is, running had become something of a crutch for me. As I mentioned earlier this year, I suffer from some sometimes pretty severe anxiety (and panic and depression). So running has been one of the many tools* I use to alleviate the anxiety I experience throughout the day. Unfortunately, it became my main tool, so much so that when I was unable to run, I let my mind get the better of me and let my anxiety rule my day. Not cool.

Unfortunately, my yoga practice also fell to the wayside. It’s amazing how such a small injury can really inhibit your daily activities. And because I had come to rely on yoga and running as a source of anxiety-release, not being able to do them as I pleased was difficult. And ultimately humbling. The truth is, I could have practived some gentler forms of yoga, such as yin yoga. I could have also done as much stretching as my heart desired. Things like swimming were also still available to me. But I was stubborn and I took not being able to practice the kind of yoga I wanted to do and run when I wanted to as a failure. I quickly developed a cycle of negative thoughts based on my own stubbornness and what I perceived as a failure in myself. So here’s where my focus on gratitude comes in. One of my favorite persons on earth is Dr. Andrew Weil, and recently he wrote a post on Facebook about the power of gratitude. It was something to the effect that people who start the day thinking about what they are grateful for have reduced levels of stress, anxiety and depression throughout the day compared to those who do not. I can’t (read: don’t want to scroll through the pages) find the exact post, but it was similar to this article. This idea really resonated with me because on of my favorite parts of my yoga practice is setting an intention for that session, whether it be for myself or for another. So I figured, why not? Let’s give it a try.

A month later, it has become one of my favorite parts of my day. And so I thought I would take it a step further and share it with the world. (Lucky you!) I hope that maybe you’ll give it a try. It takes just a few minutes, can be about anything, and really, truly, makes a difference. So here we go.

Three things I am grateful for today:

  • My physical body. Sometimes it doesn’t do what I would like it to do; it has limits and (often due to my clumsiness) can get hurt. But make no mistake – my body is strong and healthy. It gets me from Point A to Point B. It rewards me when I take care of it, whether through a fantastic hour of yoga, or by squeezing into my favorite pair of jeans (you know you have one of those!).
  • My dog, Valentino. He barks too much, is way spoiled, and is my best friend. He loves nothing more than to sleep in with me on the weekends and cuddle. He never fails to greet me like he hasn’t seen me in ages. He is truly, man’s best friend. My best friend.
  • Coffee. It’s hot in San Diego right now. Hot and humid. And yet, my greatest midday treat is an extra-hot, extra-dry double cappuccino. I’m not ashamed to say that it is one of the best parts of my day. The foam, the aroma, the spike of energy…I love, LOVE it!

And there you go! I hope you do give it a try. And if not, then maybe try setting a positive intention for yourself each morning while getting ready for work/school/your day. I bet you’ll see a positive change in your life 🙂

*The reason running is so effective, or really any physical exercise, is so effective as a relief to anxiety is because as your exert yourself your body releases endorphins (the “feel good” hormones) and at the same time reduces your stress. In a way, you’re get a two-for-one deal. A decrease in stress and an increase in “happy thoughts.”

Namaste!

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Valentino practicing his downward dog

Did you know that it’s Yoga Awareness Month? What a fantastic way to jump into fall! I’ve been kind if absent from the Internet, for good reason, but this was just the inspiration I needed to ‘get back on the mat’ so to speak (clever!).

This month I’m making a pledge to dedicate more time to my yoga practice and to start my day with gratitude. For the next 30 days I’m going to post 3 things that I’m grateful for. I hope this encourages a few of you to do the same! I’ve been doing it on my own this summer and I have to tell you, it does wonders to my day. It’s an easy, and quick way to set a positive intention for your day.

Hope you have all enjoyed a happy and healthy summer so far!

Relax, It’s Just Life!

Valentino (right) definitely knows how to enjoy the moment.

I mentioned in my last post that I’ve really come to enjoy and appreciate my yoga practice. It not only eases my anxiety, but it adds a deeper level of awareness and balance to my day-to-day life. That being said, sometimes, for whatever reason, I find myself struggling to find my balance or to really get into a pose. And this causes a lot of frustration on my end. Suddenly, I’m focused on what I’m doing wrong, or rather, what I’m not doing, instead of focusing on that fact that I’m there, on my mat, doing something for myself. In these moments, it’s easy to lose my sense of self and obsess over the failings of my mind and body.

So bless my instructors heart, when the other night she so helpfully reminded us to “have fun tonight and don’t take yourself so seriously!” Umm…Duh!!! Sometimes, I just need to hear the words from someone other than myself.

We all fall. It’s a fact of life. But hey, it’s not so bad. Summer is around the corner, life is beautiful, and we’re all doing the best we can! Let’s all celebrate who we are and where we are today. Wow, I am so. darn. cheesy.

On a related note, I’m sooooo looking forward to this upcoming Memorial Weekend. I don’t have anything in particular planned, but I am looking forward to some general time at the beach and enjoying the (hopefully) beautiful weather. Hope you all have a safe and enjoyable weekend!

I Feel Strong

This is a big deal for me. As someone who barely reaches the 5-foot mark, I usually feel little…small. But after about 5 weeks of practicing yoga 3-4 times a week, I really do feel strong. This isn’t my first foray into yoga. I discovered it during my years as an undergrad as a way to alleviate the stress I felt from my Organic Chemistry and Calculus classes. Since then, I’ve practiced on and off over the years. But lately, the last few years especially, it’s been mostly off. So now, five weeks later, I’m feeling good. Apart from making me feel strong, it’s made me a better runner and most of all, it has helped bring a sense of mindfulness that I’ve been sorely missing these past few months.

I am a very anxious person, and these sessions on my mat have made a world of difference to my mental health. Focusing on yourself and your breathing, the connection between mind and body, can seem scary at first. Especially for someone who can’t stand to be quiet or still for a moment, lest their floodgates split open and their worries come flooding out in a big rush. But once you let that fear subside, maybe acknowledge those thoughts briefly and then let them go, even if only for that hour, you can truly appreciate the control you have over your body. Your body can do amazing things if you give it a chance.  The highlight of my week involved my roommate and I squatting around the living room last weekend and suddenly hitting Hurdlers Pose. Even now, it brings a smile to my face. I never would have thought myself capable of that a few weeks ago.

I’m still working off those winter pounds that crept up on me (they actually starting accumulating in Fall…) but they feel less important right now. When I look in the mirror I see someone who looks happy, confident, and I swear, taller than their 5’0 height would suggest. I know yoga has a lot to do with it.

happy girls

Things I Like – Spring 2013 Edition

Well, it’s been quite the hot minute since I last wrote, hasn’t it? I thought I’d make it until May before inspiration struck again, but alas, here I am. And here are a few things that have been occupying my thoughts/time as of late:

Le Pen

Everything is better in color, right? These sleek, colorful pens are amazing. I’ve been filling up my calendar with them, writing shopping lists, and doodling with these pens for days now. And every day I like them a little more. Bonus points for not smudging – a MUST for lefties such a myself.

I purchased these recently from Amazon for $10. Not too bad.

The Milk Carton Kids

I absolutely cannot stop listening to these guys. Especially this song:

The Milk Carton Kids – No Hammer To Hold

The fact that they give a little shout out to Minnesota (in the snow….of course!) doesn’t hurt. But seriously, they are great. I’ve been listening to both of their albums constantly over the past few weeks. The harmony of the leads voices mixed with the gentle strumming of the guitars is in a word, mesmerizing. You need to purchase their albums and see them in concert immediately.

Romantics Anonymous

Don’t mind the English subtitles. This movie is too charming to miss out on because of a silly little language barrier. Briefly, it’s about a woman and man working in a Parisian chocolate factory. Expect plenty of beautiful shots of Paris, chocolate-making montages, and of course, romance. If you liked Chocolat or Amelie then this is a MUST. A glass of wine and a piece of chocolate while watching is highly encouraged.

Romantics Anonymous

I believe this is available on both Amazon Prime and Netflix, fyi.

(My roommate get’s credit for introducing me to this movie….so glad she found it!)

Acure Organics

Recently, I’ve been making a concerted effort to clean up my eating (think less greasy pizza, more veggies and lean proteins…on said pizza). And since I’m spending the time and money to make sure that what goes inside my body is organic and good for me, it seems only natural that the things that go on the outside should be the same. Enter Acure Organics.

I stumbled upon this line a few weeks ago at my favorite local health store, Pharmaca. This all-natural line of face and body products are free of artificial fragrances, parabens, sulfates, harmful preservatives and artificial colors. The company is family-owned and based in the US, and uses fair trade and certified organic ingredients. The most expensive product is about $30, with most products in the $10-20 range, making it very comparable to most drugstore brands (but so, so much better quality-wise). A little goes a long way with these products, and I can happily say that after about 3 weeks of using the cleanser, toner, anti-wrinkle complex and facial scrub that my face has never been smoother and healthy-looking. I recently purchased the moroccan argon stem cell shampoo and conditioner and the smell is out of this world amazing. My hair feels nice and shiny after just two washes. I LOVE LOVE LOVE this line. You can find the products online and in health food stores like Sprouts and Whole Foods.

Spring

Spring! Ain’t I original? I always say that Autumn is my favorite season, but wouldn’t you know, every time April hits I get a serious hankering to be outside all day, every day? The sun is out, flowers are blooming, and the beach is calling my name. My years in Southern California (and Arizona before that) have warmed my cold-Minnesota blood and I am truly happiest when basking in the sun. Honestly, if I could be any animal it would be a lizard. Give me a hot rock to lay out on all day and I’d be a happy camper.

I only wish  had a bigger yard so I could plant even more flowers, herbs and trees… which reminds me, has anyone successfully grown cilantro? My parsley, chives, basil, etc. are thriving but I cannot for the life of me keep cilantro alive for longer than a few weeks. Is there some secret that I’m missing???

**Please note: No one has offered me any sort of incentive to mention any of the above items. I just really, really like (LOVE) these things.