Wednesday Revelations: The Unfinished

“Suffering is optional. Joy is a choice.”

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Janetha’s post from yesterday got me thinking: what do I have unfinished in my life?

Answer: a lot.

Unfinished MPH applications, unmade appointments (financial, physical, hand therapy, chiropractic, and dental), uncatalogued client information, the list goes on.  If you come to my house, you’ll see evidence of this unfinished business everywhere, from the receipts that need to get filed to the stacks of books, magazines, etc.  Its rather depressing, actually, when I think back on the good intentions I had (set up the reading nook, keep everything organized, etc) whose associated projects have since gone down the drain.

The worst part is, at least in my case, the only one who suffers is me.

When I miss deadlines, I’m the one who, in turn, misses an opportunity, whether it is to get into a medical school (yup, the jig’s up: I missed at least 5 application deadlines last year), volunteer at Kripalu, or something else.  When I forget to do something, its usually related to me and my life and my hopes, dreams, and desires.  <–I guess that makes me a people pleaser?  Usually it leads to more pain (like that whole needing-to-get hand therapy thing).  Fact of the matter is, my memory is shot and I usually just forget, likely a result of our get-it-now society.

Actually, scratch that, I’m living in such a zoned-out, numbed state lately that I can’t possibly remember because I’m not feeling the pain (or much of anything else, if we’re being honest).  I’m walking around like a zombie, tired and out-of-touch.  Everyday I wake up, hoping that today will be the day I cross off those things I want to do, finish that e-course or book, or not zone out on the couch.  Yet I don’t.  And, truthfully, its all my choice.  Lissa pointed this out last week.   The quote from above has been weighing on my subconscious ever since, and I’ve been constantly questioning why am I doing what I’m doing?

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Why do I waste hours mindlessly browsing the internet or watching TV when I have a to-do list a mile long?
Why do I feel so loser-ish when sitting home on a Friday night when I really do need the time to be productive?
Why, why, why?

I know that focusing on it won’t necessarily help (remember those Lessons in Non-Attachment?) but I also know that I do have to at least examine my motivation for zoning/zombieing in order to work through it.  I say I feel stuck in a state of inertia, yet I’m not really doing anything to move out of that state.  I have great ideas, I put my all into them for a while, and then they fizzle.  I don’t want to say that I’m unmotivated, since motivation is not enough, but I also don’t want to say that I’m uninspired because the ideas are inspiring.  Many of them are life-changing, for myself or others or both.  They get me pumped up, energized, excited, and hopeful.  They are awesome.  Or they could be if I could finish them.  <–does this mean I’m not a closer?

What some women do with diets, I do with motivation/inspiration/to-do lists/ideas.  I gogogogogogogo and then I fall of the wagon.  Then I start again…and fall off again.  I figured out how to get off the diet roller coaster, but can’t seem to get off unfinished train.  Yesterday, for instance, I made some progress thanks to Janetha’s posts and its reminder of the things I’ve been needing to do but haven’t.  I made an appt for my yearly physical, I got the name of a hand therapist in Worcester, and I made that appt.  Last Friday I finally found my voice with my MPH essay and sent it out to reviewers.  I love moving forward.  I’m a mover and shaker by nature (in case you didn’t figure that out) so the more I do, the more I want to do.  I blame the Aries in me! The opposite, however, is also true.  When I get into a state of laziness, I get stuck there too.  Then it gets to the point where I’m so ashamed of being behind (because of aforementioned laziness) that I weave stories or think its too late and give up.  UGH!

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Maybe today is the day I’m turning things around.  Maybe to start that, I need to be held publicly accountable.  So here’s my to-do list…and to hoping.

  • Make appt with financial adviser to sort out $$$ and get a better overall sense of my financial situation.
  • Call the chiropractor to chat and/or make appt.  <–this depends on how the above conversation goes.
  • Take 20 minutes each day to catalog client information in order to have everyone cataloged by the end of December (yes there is a lot!).
  • Edit PS and adjust accordingly for each MPH program.
  • Contact each MPH program to double check my MCAT scores will be accepted.
  • Send transcripts to SOPHAS and Johns’ Hopkins.
  • Submit MPH applications by Dec 1.
  • Figure out Google Reader so my online time can be more directed and less browsy.  <–yes I just made up that word.

I’m leaving it at that by now.  Honestly, it feels kind of juicy to air my dirty laundry.  Now you know: I gotta get a move on and do it soon.  And hopefully, through this movement forward, I’ll begin to feel unstuck, motivated, inspired, energized, and energetic.  Once those apps are in I can focus on my biz surprise that’s been swept under the rug (only for the time being).  That will be my next To-Finish List, coming after Dec 1.

I might go write it now just so I don’t forget…

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

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Worcester Weekend Discoveries: Waffles, Wisecracks, & more!

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I hope you appreciate the alliteration above.  If not, I might have to reconsider our friendship.  Just sayin’.  😉

This weekend was full of wonderful discoveries right here at home.  People, especially Bostonians (not that I’m pointing fingers) hate on the Woo all the time.  And even though I badmouthed it a little bit last week, I secretly love it.  As a smaller city, it lacks the tourist-y BS of larger cities while simultaneously offering food and drink hang-outs on-par with any city I’ve visited.  There might not be restaurants by chefs who are household names but there are gems like this and these and the ones I’m going to share with you below.

Perhaps a better title for this post would have been All Hail to the Woo?

Waffles

My life stomach has been full of waffles lately.

Yes, I’m legitimately dedicating a section to waffles.  If you aren’t interested, scroll down for more fun stuff!  Anyway, I’m dedicating this part not just to any waffles (although having them made for you while you lounge in your PJs and catch-up with friends whilst discovering your friend’s secret BA culinary skills is pretty fantastic…) but these:

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Worcester is lovingly known as “the Woo.”  Don’t ask me why – I’m not a native!  But it is easier to say and adds a bit of ghetto flair I kind of love.  Anyway, I had heard about these waffles from the VegWorcester Local Eating Guide and have been intending on trying these out for about a year now.  They’ve only been around since October 2010 so I can’t have longed for them for much longer than that!

What makes WooDaddy different?  I’m listing it for you since I’m feeling a little sassy today.  Oh, and there’s something to pique everyone’s interest.  In no particular order:

  • Location.  WooDaddy serves its waffles over at Moynihan’s Bar over on Main South (near Clark for those who are familiar).  This isn’t the “best” part of town (again, as those who are familiar well know) but on a weekend morning with a group of friends, it adds a little kick.  Moynihan’s itself is a bit of a hole-in-the-wall, my favorite type of place to eat!  Its got great wooden booths, bad beer on tap, and enough Boston sports team pride to make you vomit happy.  😉  Its a little dark and chock full of character.  You probably won’t want to use the bathrooms or stop by alone on a Saturday night, but for your hangover breakfast, it’s perfect!
  • Atmosphere. Friendly, relaxed, and glittery!  Everyone seems to know everyone else, and if you’re the newbie, neighbors will happily chat with you about anything and everything.  The servers and cooks are attentive and amicable and will make sure to tell you about all the offerings.  No one looks at you strangely if you order something sans animal products (more on that below) and, best of all, they’ve got glitter!  Actually best of all was their attention to detail, specifically noting that I had ordered all veg stuff and switching out the regular whipped cream for the vegan (coconut-based) version.  🙂
  • Food selection.  Ok obviously this is dominated by amazing, veg-friendly waffles.  Nothing mind-blowing there.  But its what WooDaddy has done with the historically-pushed-into-the-“sweet”-breakfast-box staple that truly matters.  And all the little things.  They have sweet waffles, they have waffles and eggs, waffles and tofu scramble, waffles and chicken, french toast waffles (for those who can’t give up their beloved french toast), waffles rancheros, etc.  You can get regular or real maple syrup, regular or vegan (homemade!) whipped cream, eggs or tofu, egg or banana (for the french toast batter), etc!  You see what I’m getting at?  No matter what eating philosophy you prescribe to, you can find something here.  And its all delish and satisfied without feeling too weighted down!  And now for some crappy phone pics.

Bren's breakfast: Waffles Rancheros

Mine - Pumpkin Waffles and Tofu Scramble

  • Philosophy. “WooDaddy Waffles is a social culinary venture in the center of Main South in Worcester, Massachusetts. Dedicated to not only serving our community delicious and wholly good food, but also to embodying a new form of business and living. We are working towards building third spaces that create community, build relationships and foster interdependencies in post-industrial urban spaces.”  Nuff said.  🙂

Wisecracks Comedy Club at Jose Murphy’s

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Before the beau arrived on Saturday, I knew I wanted to do something different.  So I checked out the ever handy Worcester Calendar of Events and hoped for some inspiration…which occurred when I saw the “Comedy” section.  I chose Wisecracks for a couple of reasons: it cost the least, offered a show special ($10 for a pitcher and large pizza), and, on Saturday nights at least, is found at Jose Murphy’s, brother to the ever popular Funky Murphy’s.  Basically I assumed I’d be getting a good time at a good price!

I love when my assumptions are correct!

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Jose’s is located on Water Street, which can be either sketchy or chill.  I hoped for the best and was, again, rewarded, not only with a great parking spot, but also with a chill location.  We got there a little after the show started and wound our way upstairs.  The kid gave us a discount (er, we were $2 short and he told us to just go ahead) and we were treated to over 90 minutes of not-quite-R-rated-but-definitely-not-family-friendly comedy.

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The headliner was James Dorsey, a Worcester native, husband, and father of two.  I think you can figure out how the jokes went (and in what order).  For more on Dorsey, you can check out his bio here.

Now was this the best stand-up I’ve ever seen?  Naw.  But for $34, two people get a great evening complete with laughter, crappy beer, and even crappier pizza.  I’d do it again in a heartbeat…and I think you should too!

The Dive Bar

After the comedy show was done, we checked out the beer selection at Jose’s, were disappointed, and headed out.  Neither of us were ready to go home but we were n the mood for some good brews.  Thankfully, between previous conversations with my roomie re: good beer bars and my stellar sense of direction (and google maps), I remembered another great place within walking distance.

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Like so many of Worcester’s establishments, The Dive Bar is one of multiple bars owned by the same group/people, in this case Alec Lopez and wife/biz partner Sherri Sadowski.  Both the dive bar and its younger sibling, The Armsby Abbey,  are quiet, nondescript places where beer lovers gather to chat and drink.  The Dive Bar, at least since the opening of Armsby , “specializes in American Craft Brews” from breweries like Dogfish Head, Ommegang, etc  The daily tap selections are handwritten on a chalkboard.  I’m a sucker for any bar that does this, especially if the names of beers are things like “Pretty Things Babayaga.”  <–a rockin American stout BTW.  The only “bad” thing I can say is that they are a cash only bar… =/  I get it because their prices were super reasonable but still…

After The Dive Bar, I got my dancing fix at the Perfect Game and then we gave up our primo parking spot to some lucky contender.  I “napped” on the couch for an hour and eventually managed to make it to my wonderful comfortable bed, completely unaware that my life would forever be changed the next morning with the introduction of those darn waffles.  *sigh*

Yoga/beauty/waffles,

Kait xo

Wednesday Revelations – The Need for Touch

“We need 4 hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We need 12 hugs a day for growth.”

~Virginia Satir

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A good friend of mine had this quote on her dorm room wall during her senior year.  I had already graduated but often visited or stayed with this friend when I went back to my alma mater.  The quote resonated deeply with me because I recognized in my new location, with few friends nearby and almost no coworkers my age, I was not getting enough hugs.  In fact, I wasn’t getting touched enough, period.

Yes I realize that sounds “dirty” (a phrase which bothers me at the deepest level…but we’ll leave that for another Wednesday) but let me explain: I grew up in a household where hugs, cuddling, kissing, and “I love you’s” were always available in excess.  I think this partially due to my mom’s upbringing and her concern that my big brother and I had enough affection in a single family home.  Regardless, we were, and continue to be, an openly affectionate family.

Fast forward to high school and the beginning of my awesome albeit brief acting career.  Well it might surprise you to know that theatre folk are a touchy/feely bunch.  We liked to hug and hold and grab and cuddle…a lot.  In college, my friends and I hugged whenever we saw each other, at the beginning and end of an exchange, regardless of whether it was our first time seeing each other that week or the tenth time that day.  Then I joined the orientation team, known for its touchy/feely shenanagins.

HCHS Theatre love

O-team love

H.O.P.E. Honduras Love

More O-team love

Senior Formal Love

Then I graduated and moved to Worcester.  And touch all but disappeared from my life.

Until last Saturday, I didn’t realize what a negative effect this lack of touch is having on my life and my health.  I didn’t realize that I’ve begun living for those moments, begging, at least internally, for them, when someone touches me in a way that is healing, comforting, and free from expectations.  I didn’t see that the reason I love assists in yoga is the same reason that reiki, chakra balancing, marma, and massage help so much.  I grew up with touch, had it my whole life,  and need it.

Last Saturday night this all came out while visiting some friends from school.  This wasn’t my “main” group for the four years but we grew particularly close during my (and then their) senior year since I was taking lower level courses to finish my med school pre-reqs.  I didn’t even arrive at the party until after 1 am but immediately I was greeted with hugs and how are you’s and all those little things that make friendships so wonderful.  Half of them were sleeping when we arrived but as I’m sure you can imagine, since I didn’t know this, I made quite the entrance, and they got up to greet me.  And then we all cuddled and held hands and hugged and talked about the one thing we miss about school: the lack of people constantly around us.

We kind of looked like this!  Source

This observation, in turn, led to a conversation about the lack of hugs and general touching in our lives…which led to back, hand, and foot massages…which led to me being practically pain-free ever since.  <–the very thing that made me stand up and examine WTH is going on.

And when I got to thinking about why this particular massage was so therapeutic and healing I realized it was about intention: my friends and I love and want to hug and cuddle and massage and hold each other.  Ok, so some more than others (I ADORE YOU TOO), but we intuitively “get” when the other just needs physical comfort.  And we intuitively crave that comfort too.  And I think a lack of this is part of the reason my wrists have gotten so bad…because I don’t have someone around day in and day out to hug or cuddle or touch.  Because when I see certain people who grew up without this touch and who don’t need this touch, there’s unspoken expectations that go along with anything that happens.  Because the lack of touch means that fear can pool in my body, rather than dissipating out through the touch of another.

Can you imagine what would happen if we all just touched each other more?  If we gave more hugs, high fives, and cuddles?  If we were open to the giving and receiving of massage, no strings attached, just for the pure pleasure and relaxation it provided us?  How would the world be a better place if we held each other during our tears, held hands as we walked,and cuddled while watching TV? 

How would you be a better person if you got your 12 hugs each and every single day?

How Medicine Broke My Heart

This was not a planned post.  In fact, right now I’m “supposed” to be catching up on my cheesy medical dramas from last night.  Ironic, huh?

Instead I found myself reading and responding to this.  Then I found myself crying.  Now I’m writing.  Talk about inspiration integration!

So I’m going to get straight to it: medicine broke my heart.  I thought it was just about the twenty rejection letters (yes, twenty), the almosts, the maybes, and the pure disrespect with which the system treats its applicants, its doctors-to-be.  But that isn’t all of it.  Medicine broke my heart because it didn’t turn out to be the healing system I thought it was.

Going in, I knew there were issues.  I knew the doctors were overworked and stressed.  I knew that insurance premiums were too high.  I knew that many docs had god complexes and treated their patients and supportive staff disrespectfully.  What I didn’t know was how deeply broken the system was.  I didn’t realize that its all about profits and not patients.  That its ok to spend $50,000+ on a mock-up wall of the new building but not ok to validate parking for your chemotherapy patients.  That is ok to be rude to your techs and PCAs and even your patients but its not ok to cry with them, hug them, or open up conversation about something that might be awkward for you, Doctor, even if your patient needs to talk about it.  I didn’t realize that the doctors don’t really have control anymore; most of what’s happening isn’t their fault.  I couldn’t have known that they are the only ones who can step up and change it, but only if they work together.

Most of all, medicine broke my heart because by just being involved in the minimal way I am, I already found myself hardening.  My heart breaks a little more every time I talk to a distressed patient who is unhappy with the care she is receiving or because no one told her that chemo would cause her pubic hair to fall out too.  My heart breaks every time I see a doc tear down a nurse/pca/tech/etc because s/he has the right to treat these “lowly” people poorly.  My heart breaks every time I hear a medical professional mention how they haven’t had a chance to pee all day or that the hospital is asking them to increase their already over-loaded patient census.

Medicine – you broke my heart and I’m  not sure how to go about forgiving you.  I desperately want to try but I’m so afraid of going furth  er down this path to self-destruction and unhappiness.  This is the fear I mentioned in my last post.  This is the fear that is holding me back from re-applying.

Now we all know.  The question is, what to do with this knowledge…

yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Wednesday Revelations: Lessons in Non-attachment

“Attachment is the origin, the root of suffering; hence it is the cause of suffering.”

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The theme of the last two weekend’s has been non-attachment.  What the heck am I talking about?  Well see this post for a full description.  In short though, non-attachment is the practice of letting go…of expectations  (internal, societal, or otherwise), desires, etc.  Its about being able to  say, “I’m ok with this, even though it isn’t my plan, because I am right where I’m supposed to be right now.”  Its a bit of a mindfulness practice really.

And without expectation (pun intended), the last two weekends have been super heavy on the non-attachment lessons.  Let me backtrack:

Halloween Weekend 2011

Friday: work, 1-4; get home/go to Trader’s/make Pumpkin Whip Dip; drive to CT, 7-8;  get ready; drive to Coventry; eat/drink/be merry/dominate the pong table, 9:00-12:00.

Saturday: try to figure out how the hell I’m getting to Boston later, 12:30-1:30; sleep, 1-7:30; leave CT, 7:52; arrive home where I need to shower, get ready, and re-pack, 8:56; arrive Union Station, 9:23; catch Commuter Rail, 9:25; realize I have no cash and breathlessly (from sprinting to catch said train) tell the conductor, 9:26;  arrive at VegFest: 11:30 <–30 minutes into the presentation I busted my ass to get to Boston on-time to see.  Are you tired yet?   It started to pour, one friend had to cancel her visit, the hail prevented us from getting to PumpkinFest…the list goes on and on.

So what happened instead?  I had the chance to meet aforementioned speaker, I bought lots of yummy delicious goodies, I got coupons, and a ride to my other friend’s apartment where I would be staying for the evening.   We had the chance to catch-up one-on-one, I had the chance to show off my cooking-on-the-fly skills, we found a great bar, I realized some un-integrated fears about my desire to not pursue medical school at this point (more on that later), I had the chance to try some delicious new beers (this and this), and the list goes on and on.

Sunday: the lessons continued with my 3.5 hour commuter rail ride and $30 parking fee.  This lesson I did not take very well.  I was tired, hungry, cranky, and just wanted to be home.  There may have been tears involved.  Yes, I cry when I get frustrated.  We received no updates about why we were stopped besides the Pike for 30 minutes (watching the cars speed happily along) and my great plan (to be home by 2, grocery shopping by 3, and back home to cook and relax for the first time all week by 5) went out the window.

Like I said, lessons in non-attachment.

This weekend was more of the same.  I had my mine blown by a fellow Passion consultant’s demo.  Guests cancelled, guests bought.  Vegan food didn’t agree with me <–WTH?, we missed breakfast, my libido took a vacation, the list goes on and on.

So what the heck is my point with this over share?

As humans, we like order.  We make plans and to do lists, set goals and live up to expectations, deal with an endless cycle of hope and disappointment, and try to control everything we can (and some things we can’t…like the commuter rail and the weather).  But very rarely do we just let go.  Even in situations where it is forced, so many of us are caught up in our minds that we forget one simple fact: we’re not really in control.  So instead of going with the flow and accepting what we can’t change (Newport Wine Festival, anyone?), we complain and remain stagnant in a place of suffering.

That being said, I believe that absolutely everything happens for a reason.  I also believe that sometimes we aren’t meant to know the reason and other times we just don’t want to accept the reason.  Maybe that cancer diagnoses is your wake-up call; it’s up to you to take it.  Maybe your financial difficulties occurred because your children needed to learn (the hard way) how to budget for themselves and others and now they are making a living off of it.  Now what about tragedies like 9/11 or the earthquake or the tsunami or…?  Maybe they were meant to bring us together and highlight the beauty of human nature.

My goal here is to not dismiss tragedy, personal or national, or diminish its import and impact.  I’m overly empathetic and my heart aches for my patients, be them 29 and discovering both that they are pregnant and have cancer, or 84 and just wanting to live the remainder of their lives pain-free and content.  I cry when I watch the coverage of large scale disasters.  My heart goes out to every person ever touched by tragedy.  In fact, its overwhelming sometimes to feel so much, especially if I’m dealing with my own inner demons

But we have a choice when tragedy strikes: do we allow ourselves to become attached to it and, in turn, let it in to define us, or do we mourn our loss, feel our pain, and then release, continuing to live our lives as fully as possible, recognizing that everyone has dealt with tragedy at some point?

It is something I am working on.  Sometimes I am able to just kept breathing, reminding myself that every experience was happening as it should and when it should.  And sometimes I lose it, revel in my poor situation, cry, have a fit, etc.  Its a process right?  Sometimes I choose non-attachment and its cohorts, release and contentment, and sometimes I choose suffering.  I’d like to think that lately my choices have been leaning more towards the former.

And just because I know this idea will not set well with many people, I want to provide a more personal, concrete example.

The lesson of non-attachment (although Universe knows I did not recognize its true nature at the time) was never more clear than at the movement workshop I participated in with the amazing, legendary, and more-than-easy-on-the eyes Johnny Gillespie.  I’m putting a picture below so that I can make point 3 a bit clearer…and because this post clearly needs more photos…and because photos of attractive men are always a good thing, especially when back muscles are involved. <–shutting up now

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Have you finished ogling yet?

How about now?  Ok good. 😉

ANYWAY… at one point Johnny asked those of us in the workshop to raise our hands if they were dealing with injury or pain.  My hand shot up because hell yes I was in pain, lots of it.  Plus I couldn’t really do half of the poses because of my wrists (adorned, of course, with hot pink Kineso tape) and therefore my practice was suffering…insert Gremlin-like series of thoughts.  Surprisingly to me though was the fact that almost every other individual in that room raised a hand as well.  It took all of my strength to not burst into tears right then and there.  Here I was living in my own little world of suffering and pity and pain (which I deserved to fully feel for at least a little bit…we all have our moments), so caught up that I couldn’t stop to recognize that others might be in the same position, if not state of mind, as me.

That workshop changed my life.  It changed the way I move, the way I breathe, the way I practice, the way I approach challenge, and I’m sure so many other ways that haven’t been completely realized yet.  I had a choice: allow my injury to define who I am or not.  I finally, freely decided to choose the latter.  Do I still hurt?  Yes.  Do I still complain how unfair my pain is, being only 23?  Not really.  That day I chose freedom.  I chose to release my attachment to the pain and all of the additional, unnecessary suffering which accompanied it.  I chose non-attachment.

My goal for the rest of the year is to practice non-attachment.  Unwittingly, I began this journey back in June when, after my Kripalu retreat, I began ridding my life of clutter and unnecessary physical items.  That part of non-attachment is easy for me, letting go of the clothes I haven’t worn and the knick knacks that I really don’t need to dust.  The hard part is the non-attachment to experiences (like breakfast this past weekend) and goals and dreams.

Which do you find harder?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

VegFest 2011: A few of my favorite things

Boston Vegetarian Society

So I’m about a week late with this post.  I’m still putting it up because, well, food is always relevant, right?!  😉

Boston VegFest 2011 was amazing, as usual.  I have exactly 0 pictures, which is super sad because it was so fun.  I can however, introduce you to the brands that I fell in love with, either for the first time this year or all over again.  Get a little jealous and then get prepped to go on a foodie hunt because you don’t want to miss these gems!

Emmy's Organics

Emmy’s macaroons are to-die-for!  Even my baking bestie who could taste the lack of butter in other vegan desserts (she’s that good, I kid you not), bought some.  They are soft, chewy, mouthwatering and come in flavors like ChocoChili and Coconut Vanilla.  In other words, you must find emmy’s products and buy emmy’s products and eat emmy’s products. I promise that they taste as delicious as they look here:

YUM.

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On to the chocolate!

Theo Chocolates

Honestly, this chocolate is the reason I was adamant about returning to VegFest.  I’ve had authentic (as in I bought it there) chocolate from Belgium and Germany and a whole host of other places and absolutely nothing compares to Theo.  It is rich and creamy and melt-in-your-mouth and just one bite will leave you with weak knees and a butterfly-filled stomach.  <–I can’t make this up.  On top of it all, they have the coolest, chillest, most outgoing, down-to-earth reps.  They joke and laugh and offer you more samples (that makes me a little biased, I must say) and holler out, “CHOCOLATE HERE,” auction style.  They rock.  And finally, for those who try to purchase their products as ethically as possible, Theo is the only organic, Fair Trade, bean-to-bar chocolate factory in the US.  I honestly cannot recommend their products enough.   I bought two of the classics bars (coconut and chili) and two of the fantasy bars (both coffee).  I hope 4 bars is enough to last me until the next fest!

YUM!

Next up: granola and granola bars.

Nature’s Path Organics

My feelings about Nature’s Path have gone up and down over the years.  They made the vegetarian transition easier with their delicious cereals and granola but their prices are higher and their products tend to be on the high sugar side.  Obviously, this is not as compared to many other breakfast cereals and granola bars, but still too high for my personal preferences and tastes.  However, when The Cornucopia Institute rated the company highly, both in terms of their products and ethics, I figured they were worth another shot.  <–go ahead, psychoanalyze what that means about my need for external verification from “a higher source.”  The reps were so fun and awesome, giving us extra samples and extra coupons!  Since I’ve had to restrict my food budget (see here and here), any help I can get is appreciated, especially since I only end up paying $1.99 for a box at Trader’s.  My other sugar intake will just have to be adjusted accordingly…

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Then there’s the PB.  *Sigh*

PB&Co changed my life last year with their delicious flavors and smooth, creamy texture.  I love this stuff, especially the Maple and Dark Chocolate.  What I don’t love is the price (even though its 100% worth it).  So when I found it at Ocean State Job Lot for $3.00 a jar, I was in heaven.  And I bought many many jars of it.  Now that I have dollar coupons and a Job Lot gift card, I will be buying a lot more.  PB never goes bad right?

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Oh and since their website told me so, its only right that I wish you a Happy PB Lover’s Month!  Go treat yourself to something heavenly in order to celebrate!

And, finally, the food places.

Even though one of my besties has lived in Newton for the past couple of years, we have never eaten here together.  Not quite sure why!  😉  The rep was this amazing nutrition consultant who I kind of want to be (minus the dreads because we all know I could never pull them off…she on the other hand, looks gorgeous with ’em!).  I ended up with their pumpkin flax crackers which were really the saving grace of my 3+ hour trip back from Boston on Sunday afternoon evening.  I’ve already ordered a date here with aforementioned bestie the next time I visit.  And since I know you read BB – I am totally holding you to it.

They gave me free coupons…enough said.  And I kind of wish I lived in JP or Cambridge because they apparently have an awesome selection.  *Le sigh*

The one theme of VegFest which I was extremely disappointed was the amount of processed foods that existed.  I believe that a vegan or veg diet should be a healthful one.  And while fake meats have their place (as a great transition and once-in-a-while food) I don’t think they do anything to further the vegan mission of living a compassionate, healthy life.  In fact, many of the fake meats and stuff, despite tasting delicious <–salt and preservatives anyone? I would say are as bad for you and the environment as anything meat based.  Its part of the reason I still haven’t committed to veganism.  I like cheese…and I definitely don’t want Daiya.  In fact now that I’ve tried it I know for certain that I will never ever use it because it tasted like cardboard plastic (even worse).  I know lots of veggies love it but the one bite I had definitely incited this face:

So no Daiya for me.  Ever.  And even though LightLife gave away KILLER bags, its a little too scary how much their not dogs taste like, well, real hot dogs.  I know thanks to Happy Herbivore that seasonings can make just about any food taste like its non-veg counterpart (her Italian sausages are scarily similar) but for the most part its additives and other laboratory creations that make these things taste so great.  I will, however, use the Lightlife coupons to stock up on tempeh since its a fermented soy product and therefore thought to be more healthful.

At the end of the day, VegFest 2011 was amazing, especially because I could share it with a certain sassy someone whose commentary made it all the better.  Was it still crazy crowded?  Yup.  Did we care?  Absolutely not.  Free samples, new foodie finds, and a lot of girl talk catching up.  It was a good day indeed. 

yoga/VEGGIES/life,

Kait xo

Going with Your Gut

Last week my Inner Pilot Light spoke loudly.  Or rather, I listened more intently.  We haven’t been this in touch since the weeks when I returned from Kripalu.  And it reminded me again of the not-so-simple fact: we always know the answer, its a matter of whether we want to integrate and accept that answer as truth.

Last week my IPL <–its a girl, BTW told me to go to the doctor.  I was tired, would have to take more time off from work, and didn’t want to waste the time/energy/gas/money driving to Boston 3 out of 4 consecutive days.  But she insisted.  And so I drove the hour and was ridiculed by the staff and frustrated with our medical system (seriously, why do you take notes and do dictations if no one reads them?!) and then I met the doctor.  He was wonderful.  He made me feel heard, he was reassuring (my hand and wrist bones are “beautiful” and there is no sign of arthritis, disease, or malformation!  SQUEE!), and, most importantly, he treated me like a fellow intelligent human.  He broke everything down for me and agreed with my decision to not undergo painful testing for symptoms that have disappeared.  His being attractive didn’t hurt things either.  😉

Most importantly, though, he highlighted how far I’ve already come, a fact which I was grossly missing.  During the tough weeks, all I can focus on is the pain, the deformity, and the fact that my hands no longer feel like my own.  Some days I feel broken and unable to be fixed  Some days I need to rely on others to open jars, chop vegetables, and dress.  Some days my hands ache so much I just want to cut them off.  I resent them and feel betrayed by my body which I try to treat with so much loving kindness.  But fact of the matter is, my symptoms have improved consistently since wearing the super-sexy and stylish braces.

Super happy about this situation...

My point being, I was missing this completely.  And it took a surgeon, of all doctors!, to point out that I am getting better.  I wanted to hug him, kiss, him, and express undying gratitude all at once.  I felt a glimmer of hope surrounding this issue for the first time in a very long time.  I’m starting to believe again that one day I will be able to express my crow (which I had just started “getting” when my wrist pain grew severe) once again.  I realize this is not what yoga is about, but the ability to express such strength, concentration, and peace is huge for me, a girl always on the go and who is still struggling to sit with her thoughts.  Poses like these, the uncomfortable challenging ones, are what I crave because they help to ground me.

Source

Numerous other situations have arisen this week where my IPL demanded to be heard.  I listened and everything worked out.  I spoke up for myself, stood my ground, and made my decisions.  I got to see one of my besties (that’s us below) two days in a row, I’ll be doing everything I want to this weekend, and most importantly, I’m happy and confident in the decisions I’ve made.

Newport Wine Fest -Auditioning to be the next Pop Chip girls!

Our IPL (gut, instinct, whatever you want to call it) is always there.  S/he is always pointing us in the right direction but it takes courage to truly listen in.  I’m still working on that as I think so many of us who’ve chosen this path are.  Fact of the matter is, we spend our days doing what we “should,” and going along with asinine standards that society sets for us, even if they don’t sync with our goals, happiness, morals, and IPL.  We live in our head where the IPL and Gremlin duke it out.  Once focuses on faith in the Universe and in ourselves and the other is the master of fear, whether it is of society’s judgement or letting someone down.   Moving away from that fight into acceptance isn’t the easiest decision, but it is the most rewarding.

Because our IPL will never lead us astray.  She might lead us to obstacles and dark places but she will always guide us out, leaving us with a message or lesson so profound that we will be grateful for every hardship and tear because they have led us to our greatness and our destiny.

Yoga/beauty/IPL/life,

Kait xo