Christmas in CT (plus the pre-trip packing). I hope yours was just as wonderful/crazy/perfect. Xo
Christmas in CT (plus the pre-trip packing). I hope yours was just as wonderful/crazy/perfect. Xo
I know…three posts in one week. What up?! #onfire
Anyway, this weekend I took the opportunity to go through my camera (in case you couldn’t tell) and I found these photos among others. There are some beautiful trees in my “backyard” aka the parking lot my balcony overlooks that I captured throughout the fall. Now my view is a far cry from the lake view I had in Worcester, but it has its own beauty at times… See?
Don’t forget to enter Monday’s giveaway! I received my new box and let’s just say there is now even more chocolate. YUM.
Today I’m writing to you from a place of stress + excitement. Just like pain and pleasure, these emotions are two sides of the same coin. Wouldn’t you agree?
You see over the past few weeks I’ve started to re-realize my own greatness. (My Gremlin wants to apologize for coming off as haughty; my Inner Pilot Light wants you to know that it is OK to own your accomplishments).
As some of you may have picked up through here and Facebook, I’ve been going through some dark and stormy places lately. I’ve been feeling listless and lost, down and out, scared and hopeless. You see I realized a couple weeks ago that the path I’m currently on…to create a sex-positive culture within the healthcare field…is whoa huge. I mean…this is my task…I’ve never been more sure of it, but its darn scary to know that I’m embarking on something that hasn’t been done before.
A few weeks ago I totally freaked out…in hindsight I’m realizing it was an upper limit problem. As in…I got spooked by my own greatness, by knowing that this journey I’m embarking on is huge and it could change the lives of the millions of women who are diagnosed with cancer every year. I questioned friendships, I hid away in my apartment (perks of living on the outskirts of the city, no?), and I avoided hanging out with people. This spiraled into all sorts of loneliness and angst…and then I went home for Thanksgiving.
I got grounded and centered just by being around my loved ones. I came back refreshed and more passionate, more certain, more ready. And this week I started being excited again…realizing that I have the potential to help millions of cancer survivors and thrivers live more pleasurable lives…that I can make a lasting and impacting difference through a combination of healing + teaching. I can’t help but smile even as I write this when I think about all the possibility ahead of me.
Yes there will be obstacles…but there will also be triumphs.
I’ve known for some time that I am headed for greatness. Lissa first opened my eyes to this, and I will never forget her telling me how she has created the amazing life she has essentially from nothing. Hillary helped me to see beyond the limits of my imagination, she saw the could will-be’s and the bigger picture. The one where I am leading tele-jams and webinars, doing speaking engagements, and making Passion by Kait something bigger than I ever dreamt of.
And though the growth hasn’t happened at the rate I had hoped, though at times it felt like my business was slipping away from me and it wasn’t worth it, I know that every step I’ve taken, and all those I will take, are moving me in the right direction of my destiny. Because slowly but surely I’m doing those things I want…this past Saturday I had my first presentation (the Gremlin wants you to know its “just” a co-presentation and my co-presenter created most of it but my Inner Pilot Light is shushing him like a good Italian grandma and is already preparing to shout it from the rooftops and make a feast fit for a queen because wouldn’t you know I contributed significantly and it is my presence and my passion and the empowering impression I leave that brought the opportunity to me and that alone is something to sing about). Over the January term I will be designing a sex education curriculum for fifth graders and potentially teaching part of the sex ed module for a local high school.
And all I had to do was be myself…send an e-mail or two…and trust in the Universe. (Ok so that last part isn’t always easy…)
And now all I have to do is keep taking these steps, keep being true to myself, and keep working through the dark & stormy when it comes up. Because undoubtedly it will…and undoubtedly I will get through it to emerge stronger, wiser, and with opportunities abounding.
What great things are going on in your life lately?
Yoga/beauty/this crazy life,
… is the fact that so many of these ideas which I held to be “on the fringe” … the dangers of chemicals in our food and consumer products, the idea that our egos chooses beliefs in an attempt protect us, the concept of writing down our desired outcome and having our actions adjust accordingly, and subconsciously … have long been accepted in this field. These truly are my people. And though I might take some of the ideas off to a more extreme place (specifically some of the persuasive communication theories I’m learning about), there’s something powerful to be said for a scientific-minded individual such as myself to finally be handed an abundance of evidence supporting that which she holds dear. I can’t say I hate it.
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving full of family, food, and fun. After an 8+ hour drive, I danced the night away on Wednesday before the beau and I split the actual holiday between my family and his. I feel blessed that we can so easily do this, something I hadn’t really recognized until I mentioned it to friends at school, (many of whom were surprised that we could so easily see both sides of our family).
Friday at midnight the beau, his mom, and I hit up Kohl’s for a few hours…and I was home and shopping with my mom by 8:45! Don’t ask how much sleep I
forwent got. Black Friday is a tradition for my mom and I and although this year we didn’t have any super specific purchases to make, I couldn’t let it pass. I know some people really hate the day but its about more than just great deals for me…hence my willingness to sleep for only 3 hours.
Anyway, Saturday I
relaxed at home spent much of the day learning about the Army since one of my dear friends arrived at boot amp recently. Momma had a fire roaring and I was snug as a bug before getting ready for a date night (obviously wearing items purchase the day before).
Now that you all received that impromptu recap, on to the heart of today’s post: beauty. To be honest, I’ve been having a bit of a tough time lately. Winter has historically been a tough time for me but this year it feels harder. I feel like I have zero motivation…I can’t remember the last time I worked out, my eating habits have gotten out of control, its hard to get out of bed in the morning, and homework is something that other students do. Needless to say, this break, most of which I spent with the beau, was more necessary than I even realized. I feel more grounded, more alive, and more committed to not throwing the baby out with the bathwater. One of the things I discovered over break was this plethora of recent photos on my phone, all of which captured moments of utter beauty. It was a gentle reminder that despite the darkness I’m currently fighting, there are so many wonderful things in my life…so many beautiful moments that I’ve experienced and captured, perhaps for times like these. Though the photos do not depict anything particularly stunning, the memories they hold are ones hat I will cherish.
dancing the night away at formal. girls nights. neighborly love. sharing something special with the ones I love. midnight shopping for the first time. having empowered + positive women to guide and inspire me. and so very much more.
So though the photos themselves aren’t particularly stunning, I hope you enjoy the moments they captured, their deeper meanings, as much as I do.
What beauty have you seen in your life lately?
Before I get to the heart of this post, I wanted to share some awesome photos from last week.
First, I present the World Pneumonia Day Crusaders. Yes this is real life.
Apparently it’s tradition to slip into blue spandex body suits and dance for the BioStats class…flash mob style. If you want a good
laugh pick me up, check out the video here (I’m far back left). You’re welcome.
After Thursday’s amazing performance, I had the fall formal to look forward to Friday night. AKA prom, grad school-style (read: with an open bar and plenty of taxis). Here’s some photos of
me my friends and I looking pertiful:
Now on with today’s post. I had this awesome weekend…dancing on Thursday, formal + clubbing + a sleepover on Friday, and a potluck and karaoke on Saturday. Yet Sunday, I couldn’t shake this deep sense of loneliness. The type of loneliness that literally paralyzes you, that causes you to feel completely alone in a room full of people, that causes every piece-of-shit lie you’ve ever heard and every deception you’ve convinced yourself is true… to just replay.
You see…some truths came to the surface this weekend. Nothing life shifting and nothing to be shared here but, things I’d been denying. Things I had shoved down so deep that I refused to accept their mere existence anymore. Yet they were as much a part of me as anything else. And once unleashed, they were both swift and fierce in their retribution for shoving them aside for so long. So I ruminated…and ruminated…and ruminated some more. I was smart enough to reach out to some friends and things got better once I got my ass off the couch and into their loving arms.
Yet I knew that once Monday came, the truths would still be there and it would be time to own up to them. And though I wanted to run, I didn’t. It wasn’t easy, and some of the truths that came up undoubtedly hurt, but I initiated the needed conversations (4 issues, 4 talks…that takes a lot out of a girl). And after some hugs…came more loneliness and pain. That was when I knew I needed to go back my mat, a place I haven’t been in far too long. I longed for my home studio yet I also realized that they may very well have been problematic in itself.
I haven’t let go of home…of what was…of what might have been. One common theme since I’ve moved to Baltimore is feeling out of place, in every way imaginable. I’m undergoing huge growth and well, they don’t call’ em growing pains for nothing.
I realized that I needed to return to my mat so I could let go. I needed to just dump it all–the pain, the heartbreak, the hurtful truths, the homesickness, the longing for what’s been–into the grounding, earth-red vessel that has seen me through the best and the worst of times. I needed to let my body go limp…with trust, with hope, with belief.
I headed to the one studio where I feel truly ok here. Where I know I can just be myself, modifications, loud sighs, and all. The sub, well she was perfect. Every assist she gave seemed to open me up in just the right spots. Twist deeper. Her cues, they pushed me to simultaneously push harder and listen to my body. Fold further. The readings and music she chose spoke perfectly spoke my current struggle and my next steps. Trust more.
And my mat, it was just what I needed. When I left class, my heart a little less heavy. My demon truths seemed a little more manageable. And through it all I found myself rooting for love. Because in this sometimes (often?) crazy world, there is nothing quite like finding the people who really get you. We spend so much time focusing on the hatred and the vitriol and the falsehoods that we too easily lock ourselves off from love. We say that the risk, the potential price we might pay, isn’t worth it. We run from pain and fear, forgetting that they live on the same muscle as love and joy. We must feel the pain if we also wish to embody the love.
So despite my somewhat still aching heart, I found myself wanting to reach out to those in my life. To remind them that, yes the risk may be big and yes things might be messy along the way or in the end. I’ve been there. I get it. But I don’t regret the things I do and have done for love.
Like practice yoga.
Or cook delicious food to share.
Or lose friendships.
Or stick with a long distance relationship.
Or risk everything.
“Love is a choice” one of my friends told me in one of the aforementioned conversations . Yes its an emotion but choosing to stick with it through good and bad, well that’s another issue entirely. I needed to go back to my mat, to go back to a place of self-love to remember that lesson.
So today I encourage you to choose love, whatever that means to you. Let your heart open just a small crack and let in that feeling of connection, of joy, and, yes, maybe of a bit of pain. Do it again tomorrow. And the day after that. I can’t promise you won’t get hurt…but I can promise that the alternative means not living life to its fullest.
Who’s with me? Will you choose love today?
Why I <3 Couponing
When sh*t happens…like an injured foot that requires being wrapped for the next six+ weeks…you don’t freak out about how to pay for it.
Because even though you planned on saving your extra coupons, discounts, what have you, you remember Colin’s mantra:
“It isn’t how much you save, it’s how much you spend on the stuff you need.”
And yes, you really need this.
So after making some money at the store (as in I spent $1.15 and I received $3 Extra Care Bucks…), you realize that only paying $0.99 <–instead of $5.30 for an ace bandage sure trumps having to buy kinesio tape repeatedly.
Although, the kinesio tape sure is prettier…
For someone who claims not to be religious, I pray a whole lot.
But let me back up. Because this topic requires bit of, shall we say, unpacking, to really understand where I’m coming from. SO let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
I grew up in a town where the public schools were less than stellar…or so my momma always said. Instead, she busted her butt working multiple jobs to put my brother and I through the slightly better Catholic K-8 school. While a bunch of students left between 5th and 6th grade, and though we looked at the public schools in hopes of finding something that would challenge me a bit more, I stayed. And promptly went to a Catholic high school, completed CCD, and got confirmed. By the time I graduated and went to a Catholic college, I had put a lot of distance between myself and religion in general. To me it had become about following the rules, about restricting individuals from living their lives, and about blind acceptance and ignoring of negative truths. What it wasn’t really about was how you lived your life because unless you lived your life how the religion told you to, you were wrong.
I didn’t like this vey much. Truth be told, I still don’t.
In my first semester I was required to take a religious studies class and it opened my eyes up to Judaism (and Islam although less has stuck with me). I don’t remember a ton of specifics besides the fact that sex is a mitzvah and female birth control is a-okay but I do remember that a large part of the religion is about studying…questioning…searching. Though I didn’t know it until recently, this attracted my interest more than anything (yes, even the mandated weekly sex. ). Because up until then, I was taught to blindly follow and accept, to not question, and to ignore wrongdoings.
But I still rebelled against religion. I couldn’t sync it with my political views or my scientific studies. While I still felt spiritual and often described myself as such, I built up a lot of resentment against religiousness. It became something that I didn’t really talk about because, like a petulant child, I would roll my eyes when people brought it up. Yet years of indoctrination meant I would still feel guilty over little things…like writing the word god without a capital letter, which I couldn’t do until recently and which still, truth be told, isn’t a habit.
Fast forward to June 2011. I’ve been on a journey at this point and am exploring the metaphysical world. I’ve found this group of people who talk about The Universe and I’ve read The Secret and yes you know I never stopped believing in a higher power. And I have a life changing retreat. And then I get sick…and my life falls to pieces and I retret so far into myself that when I finally come too I’ve convinced myself that I never really went way when, in fact, I hadn’t told practically anyone what was going on.
And in the meantime I’ve poured my heart and soul onto my yoga mat. I’ve found the spiritual practice that yogis speak of…after all, I had no choice since my injuries meant I had to put my ego in the corner and modify nearly every posture. I start to tell people that yoga is my religion…my practice is just a part of it. I ask my teachers how I can learn more about this community, this spiritual path that teaches truth and gentleness, the pushing of limits and the respecting of boundaries, the opening of the body and the spirit.
Fast forward to my coaching program with Hillary when she says, “I prefer to use the word God but some people like Universe better. Do whatever feels more authentic to you.” Wait, what? Not only are you telling me that metaphysics and religiousness can go together but I get to choose? It isn’t wrong to question my beliefs? I’m not doomed to hell if I do so? Its ok to believe in a higher power that I don’t call god? What world is this.
And somewhere in all of this I had found Gabby Bernstein, the girl known for making spirituality cool. And so cool with spirtituality I became. But even some of her content seemed too woo-woo for me sometimes because lets be real…GOD? Honestly people? *teenage eye roll*
Fast forward to this fall. Sometime late September/early October I look around at my group of close friends, people I’ve known for practically no time at all and yet who get me on such an intuitive level, and I realize that me…the girl who rolls her eyes when people say they are going to Church and doing mission trips (which are clearly wrong since really who are we to tell anyone what to believe?) and who talk about Bible study or Christian fellowship…has surrounded herself with deeply religious individuals of various faiths. Friends who go to church every week, who actively participate in their church community, who talk openly about a merciful God.
The situation was ludicrous. Yet I knew because it was so different that I was meant to learn from it. So I committed to keeping myself open to whatever lesson I am supposed to learn from these friends.
And slowly but surely I started to see that we do in fact speak the same language. My unwavering faith in a Universe that wants the best for us and helps us manifest all good things is not all that different from my friend’s belief in a merciful, loving God. Yes we use different words, but our prayers, be them of gratitude or for assistance, are the same. Better yet, these differences don’t stop us from being able to talk openly about anything and everything, religion and prayer included. Instead, they broaden our understanding of it. This is religion as I’ve never experienced it before: open, doable, and accepting.
I’m still not completely sure what to do with this newfound concept because it is so far from the religion I know and was taught for 22 years of my life that I’m [insert metaphor re: being lost]. But you know what? This, my friends’, form of religion, Gabby’s form of spirituality? It is pretty cool. And I can do this. In fact I do it…every. single. day. Because I no longer can imagine starting my day without silently speaking the Serenity prayer before getting out of bed and stumbling to my meditation pillow, a practice that I hate to skip, no matter how pressed I am for time, and which, if we’re getting serious, is really a form of prayer.
So that brings us to now (well the time I wrote this)…to me sitting on my couch crying and finding myself reaching out for comfort with the serenity prayer. And realizing that for a girl who still hates religiousness, I really do pray an awful lot. All the time actually…giving thanks for the flow of money and energy in…asking for help to make it through weeks where the energy is only flowing out…and seeking peace when I know the answers I need are all within me and I just need to open myself up to listening for them. For the first time in a long time, I’m ok with this whole religious thing.
So maybe this was the lesson I was supposed to learn. Maybe not. All I know is that I’ve come a long way from that scarred, indoctrinated girl who couldn’t even think about religion without a perfectly mastered eye-roll-and-sigh combo. I still identify with yoga as my religion in part because it is a way of life that is constantly challenging and supporting me. It has opened me up to so many beautiful things, including the relationships I mention here and the lessons I’ve gained. Yoga has allowed me to open up to myself, to learn to listen in, and to understand why when I do something “harmless” that in reality clashes with my values, I feel guilty. But it has also taught me to let go of that guilt.
Breathe in compassion. Breathe out suffering.
It has taught me that its ok to ugly cry…to completely release. But also that sometimes you must push through and carry on.
Breathe in strength. Breathe out doubt.
It has taught me to let others in, to be okay with imperfections, theirs and mine.
Breathe in acceptance. Breathe out judgement.
Yoga, this my religion, has taught me that religion is, in fact, simply okay.
Breathe in joy…love…grace…life…freedom. Breathe out fear…hatred…worry…deception…harm.
What are your thoughts on religion and religiousness?
This week I decided to delve into the world of couponing again. I spent a good amount of time on the We Use Coupons (WUC) forums where, clearly, I made a beeline for the Organic & Natural threads. Part of me still wishes I hadn’t.
Let me back up and say that over the past few years I’ve done the best I can to shop locally + seasonally. I’m a big believer in supporting small, local business, partially because I am one, but also because I believe they tend to be better run and more conscious (or at least the small, local companies I buy from). I know that some of “my brands” are owned by mega -corporations and conglomerates but I choose to buy their products because they are the best priced lesser of two evils. Muir Glen is a great example of this. Despite being owned by General Mills, I continue to “buy” their products for two reasons: 1) they have BPA-free cans and 2) I can usually get their products for free or, at least, less than $0.50. Ideally I would buy only BioNaturae and Eden’s Organics but as a grad student, and even last year as an entry-level worker, that wasn’t part of the budget, especially not when I use canned diced tomatoes as much as I do. One last side note, the reason I’m so picky about BPA-free tomatoes and not beans is because the acidity of the tomatoes causes more of the chemical to leach than other foods. And because I can usually get Goya beans for about $0.50/can. <–dried beans are still FTW though!
Anyway, while perusing the WUC last night, I stumbled upon this article which talks about 13 mom-and-pop natural companies now owned by mega-corporations like GM, Clorox, and Colgate. Many of them I was aware of, Tom’s and Burt’s Bees included, but some I was not. <–aka Lightlife! =( The one that disturbed me the most, however, was Tom’s. Yes, I knew they weren’t independently owned. But I hadn’t realized that a somewhat recent redesign was responsible for a huge product change…and a whole lot of outcry.
You see, each of the highlighted companies features and article dealing with the merger. While I highly recommend the Burt’s Bees one, it was the Tom’s one that struck a chord. Reading through the comments I realized that when I first bought Tom’s in 2009, I hated it. It tasted so friggin disgusting but somehow my mouth felt so damn clean. It was flavored only with real mint oils and took a couple of days to get used the lack of sweetness but once I did, I never looked back. I haven’t used “regular” toothpaste since, with the exception of a handful of trips where I used my hostess’. As a side note, when I do use “regular” toothpaste, I get a buildup of gobbly goop in my mouth overnight. I know, real scientific. ;)
Nowadays, though, the Tom’s is like a special treat, especially when compared to the Trader Joe’s which I used for almost a year straight (for price reasons). When that stopped making me feel clean, I made a deal with myself that I could buy the Tom’s when I could get it for less than $3.00. It isn’t special for this reason though, especially considering I can get that price almost always, but because it tastes so damn good compared to the comparatively lackluster TJ’s brand. Reading through the comments made me realize that things have changed…and I can’t help but think that it isn’t for the better.
That being said, I was hesitant to write about this topic for two reasons. Firstly, Tom’s still leaves a whole lot of cr*p out of their products and is committed to sustainable practices, as the above image shows. They are doing far more than most companies to give back and make a difference in this world. Secondly, it is really only because of the Colgate buyout that I can purchase Tom’s just about anywhere from CVS to Trader Joe’s. And herein lies my biggest struggle with natural products. The very reason hippies are no longer sequestered in communes, living off the land and a handful of communal shops is because “natural” has become mainstream. <–maybe a gross exaggeration but you get my point I hate mega-corporations because many of their actions go against almost everything I believe in, especially science and health, which they seem to laugh at and ignore in the name of higher profits. After all, who cares if the scientific world basically accepts as fact that ingredient x is toxic if getting rid of it means we’ll make less? But a part of me is also thankful that they have allowed me to incorporate more natural and sustainable products into my everyday life and my student budget. I think my shopping habits wholly reflect this conundrum and it is likely more my being torn over this issue than price that shapes my them.
Want more information on “who owns organic”? Here’s a great master list. as well
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. In the comments tell me, how do you solve this conundrum?
Aka things I’m currently obsessed with.
These bars (BOGO at Whole Foods) which, dare I say, I like even better than Lara Bars.
This yoga studio in Towson, MD.
This spread, which I
do could eat with a spoon.