Wednesday Revelations: Back to My Mat

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:

Me and one of my college besties who drove up from DC. 🙂

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?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Wednsday Revelations: On Religiousness

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?

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait

Yesterday

Yesterday I…

met some fake friends who I hadn’t seen in a long time.

procrastination. fear. regret. guilt. let down.

struggled with my gremlin the whole damn day.

he told me I wasn’t worth it…was a fake, a hoax, a phoney.  taunted and teased…incessantly.

had detox brain fog that left me unsteady.

unstable. confused. worried

struggled more than I had in a while.

and wasn’t totally sure what to do about it.

found no solace in my yoga practice.

instead i felt disconnected, disheartened, lost and loney.

missed “home” more than I had in a while.

mom’s house, worcester, MYoga, my family, my friends.

fell into old patterns I thought I had left behind.

ones I thought I’d never see again.

was not my best day.

and it also wasn’t my worst.

I survived.

and today I started anew.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Let the Cleanse Begin…again!

Hi folks!

I hope you had a beautiful weekend.  Mine involved lots of Brothers & Sisters, adeliciousinternational potluck with my classmates, dancing until the early morning hours, late night girl talks, lots of grocery shopping + cooking, a 3am shower, a trip to the farmer’s market, dancing in my car, and fantastic conversations with new friends.

And…restarting the Crazy Sexy Cleanse.

A couple weeks ago one of my good college buddies bought and read the book.  Both of us have similar struggles with our weight + eating and I had been suggesting the book to her since I did my last cleanse.  She wanted to do the cleanse and I offered to do it with her, both for some moral support (it isn’t always the easiest + she isn’t plant-based to begin with) and because I know it won’t hurt me to do it again.

So last night I enjoyed all sorts of Indian, Asian, and American food + dessert + beer (and that dancing) and today I started my day with fresh vegetable juice (carrot/ginger/beet/apple/parsley/kale/celery/garlic) from the farmer’s market, followed by some baked fresh this morning whole wheat walnut bread and sun butter, and topped off tonight with a new-to-me raw kale salad.

I forgot how good it feels to eat this way.

I won’t likely be talking about the cleanse quite as much as last time but I will be following the principles to a T.   For those just joining me, that means: no meat/poultry/seafood/eggs, dairy, sugar or alcohol.  It also means daily meditation, workouts, and dry brushing, as well as using toxin-free health & beauty products and getting enough sleep.  Kris suggests giving up gluten but I’m not quite there yet (personally or budget-wise).  Quite frankly, I think that I probably will feel even better and I’m not ready for that change.  I have no doubt that I’ll get there (and have certainly learned to never say never).

I hope you join me over the next 21 days as I work my way towards a lighter, more cruelty-free life.  My goals with this cleanse are fat loss (not to be confused with weight loss) + more focus.  I’ve been doing much better with the focus thing, often choosing to do that what needs to get done than that which I want to do.  As many of you know, this is a huge step for me and I have no doubt that cleanse will help strengthen this new muscle I’m building…plus a whole lot more.

Yoga/beauty/veggies,

Kait xo

One Week : Newport, RI

Entrance gate to the Breakers Mansion.

Newport, RI is known for many things.  Its famous mansions dazzle, the Cliffwalk leaves you breathless (so I’ve been told), and the International Tennis Hall of Fame ensures plenty of preppy eye candy for all genders and sexual orientations.  Its ritzy, its preppy, its glamorous…and home to one of my besties.

It also is where I lived for most of last week while I played house wife, slept in, drank too much, chatted late into the night, and read enough smut to make up for my lack of smutty reading till this point.  Toss in a hefty dose of yes, this is real life work (read: grad school loan stuff + client cataloging) and I’d say last week was 100% successful!  🙂

Last Monday night I drove up to the beau, spending the night at his apt en route to the Woo en route to Newport.  <–because clearly just going to Newport would have been too easy  I had a perfect Tuesday that started with yoga at my now “old” studio and concluded with my arrival in Newport.  In between I did both a Wegmans (*swoons*) and a Whole Foods run, picked up the clothes I had left at the tailor back in April (whoops!), ate Chipotle (*mouthgasm*), and visited my favorite bird (aka picked up the random stuff I left in my apt…like my razor…and my Christmas tree).

How can you not love that face?

I arrived “in time” for Glee…and by that I mean the bestie and I spent our first hour together catching up and then I missed the first half of the show because I was cooking up some deliciousness. Unless otherwise noted, the following photos are all courtesy of Trina.

Sweet & Sour Tempeh with Steamed Broccolini
(Everyday Happy Herbivore)

For all the tempeh-haters out there (I definitely fall in this category): this is the recipe for you!  Something about the homemade sweet & sour sauce just complements the tempeh so perfectly and cuts its characteristically “nutty” taste.  No overpowering tempeh flavor in this recipe!  Oh, and if you’re wondering why broccolini?  Well WF had it on sale.  Couponing is all about the flexibility people!

Most days I slept until around 10 11 then spent the day catching up on TV, cooking food, reading smut, and doing some work.  Wednesday, however, was a day of discovery.  First up, a killer perfect class at Newport Power Yoga.

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On Values, Balance, and Alignment

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I’m happy to report that my tummy troubles are mostly cleaned out.  I guess I just felt the need to take spring cleaning to another level!

Ok…the sometimes-witty-sometimes-awful poop jokes will stop now, promise!  😉

All-in-all, I am super proud of myself for stopping to recognize and honor that my body needed a rest.   This is a lesson that definitely grew out of my injury as I learned to ask for what I need, even of myself.

Anyway, today I want to talk a bit more about values, something, quite frankly, I don’t think about very often.  On my weekly coaching call last night, I mentioned my tummy troubles to Hillary and she basically stopped me right then and there and was like, “WHOA girl…tummy stuff is always emotional.”

HUH?!  I thought this was just about the fiber…  what the hell is she talking about?

So we worked through it and chatted and went over by close to 30 minutes and it was wonderful and beautiful and she gave me new exercises to put into practice to address these issues and so on.  At the end, she asked if there was anything I needed…I brought up balance, something I struggle with in a mental and emotional sense albeit not physically.  <–I find it fascinating when there is a discrepancy between my physical and energetic states!  And she said one sentence that blew my mind with its simplicity and raw truth: Balance comes from alignment.

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It is easy to see how this manifests physically, especially if you’ve ever attempted something like Warrior III.  But I didn’t see how it manifested energetically in other areas of our lives.  Hillary mentioned something about values but until this morning, I could not grasp the lesson.

I began the day with one of the exercises Hillary asked me to complete: drawing a pie chart of my life.  I drew the circle, listed the ten things to put it in and got to work divvying it up.  I let my heart guide the pen rather than my hand.  At the end I looked down, feeling proud of my work, only to realize that not only was it severely out of balance, I had not made room for everything on my list.  Things like future tripping and reading blogs have a huge chunk of my time while family and friends barely have slivers.  My Passion biz didn’t even make it on the chart.  This both broke my heart and showed me how accurate the chart reflected my current state.  As I focused my attention and awareness on this chart and how I could bring it into more balance (dare I say, “fix it”?), the word values rose from my heart.  So many lessons that I have heard and read and so many things I’ve been told bubbled to the surface as the lesson became clear.

Our lives are in alignment not when everything is going perfectly, but when we are living in accordance with our deepest values.  And so it is true that from this alignment and this alignment only, can we find balance.

I turned inward to examine my values and from this examination I drew a new pie chart, one that put no one person or activity above the other, recognizing and acknowledging the Tantric/Spirit Junkie teaching that we are all one. I grabbed markers and highlighters and colorful pens and let creativity and the Universe flow through me.  Encircling the circle are my most important values, things like simplicity, integrity, willingness, love, and peace.  I left two areas free, designating them “Miscellaneous” in recognition of the fact that this pie chart is not a static drawing, but rather a living, breathing, changing force.

The new chart looks less like the pie from your family dinner, where everyone chaotically asks for different size pieces, and more like a wheel, a hot pink,  functional wheel that has the power and the know-how to keep the bike steady.  Surrounded by the things I need and respect the most, this is a wheel that will never let me down.  It will keep moving forward, it will hold me up, and it will allow me to find balance.

This is the wheel of my life.  I cannot control everything, but I can control my mind and how I react and where I place my energy. I cannot control those or the world around me, but I can make a commitment to living in alignment with these values, knowing that they may change over time as I myself grow and change and learn and continue awakening.  This is not a static image–what circle ever is?–but rather one that will flow and grow and shrink and rotate and dance along with the ebbs and flows of my life.

Life is a journey and this is vehicle I’m choosing to travel it on.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

Wednesday Revelations: For the Rejected Among Us

Monday evening I posted the above photo to facebook with the following caption: “It only took 6 years and 23 applications…”

It blew up newsfeed apparently because in about 12 hours it had over 50 likes plus numerous comments.

Then Tuesday, while listening to The Voice at work I had a revelation.  Yes…I had a paradigm-shifting experience while watching reality TV.  Who woulda thunk it?

What about those who didn’t get in and who didn’t win?  What about the rejected?

And I immediately thought back to the picture and the caption and sent a little prayer/love note/universal hug to every person whose letter from JHSPH didn’t start with, “Congratulations…”  I held them in my heart and whispered words of encouragement and hope and love.  Because I have been there…21 times in the last two years and numerous more in the last 6.  I’ve been the “almost” girl more times than I can count and had started joking that I would fail miserably in the dating scene because, clearly, I’m a terrible closer.  😉

This is the time of year where acceptances start rolling in.  And in our moments of glory and pride and relief and joy and pure happiness, we forget that for every one of us, there are countless others who’s dreams have been squashed.  Who call their best friend as soon as they see that small envelope waiting in the mail pile and beg her to drive across the state at 11 at night with cookies and hugs.  Who are broken with pain, with diminishing hope, with inertia and boredom and fear and anxiety and pure disappointment.  Whose beliefs in themselves are being shaken.  Who are starting to think they aren’t worth it.

This post is for you.

On the night I received my rejection letter from Einstein, the last med school I was waiting to hear from, I wrote the following (ironically, found days before I received my Hopkins letter):

“My roommate left the envelope in plain site.  We both had been eagerly, hopefully awaiting the news.  I did not let its’ small size get me down since others had mentioned their good news had been packaged in that way.  Moments later I felt as if I had been ripped apart from the inside.  Every failed attempt, every forgetting obligation, every “No” I had ever heard roared through my body, filling me with despair, regret, death.  I welcomed the emptiness that followed many hours of the deepest pain I had ever felt.  This surely was personal….there is no way it could not be.  Something had to be wrong with me for I had failed yet again.  My asthma flared up, my heart raced, and I had never been so happy for my isolation as in that moment…

We make plans.  We organize our lives around these plans and let them influence what we see when we look ahead in time.  Then the Universe, or God, or whatever higher entity you choose to believe in, steps in to say, “Hold on.  Take a step back.  Let’s rethink this situation.” and we find ourselves broken, faithless, and questioning.  Those of us who consider ourselves optimists try to find a deeper meaning in the situation, hoping that good will eventually come…after all, it should be our turn by now.  So we jump back into action mode, a little late in the game, and start moving forward.  But in those dark moments when we find ourselves alone in our apartments or in the stage between wake and sleep, the gremlins in our mind begin to sneak in and remind us that we are not worth it, that we were rejected for a reason, and that we will never be good enough.

Day in and day out we move along, maintaing a smiling face and being productive.  We tell others that we are “Good” out of habit rather than truth, and never reveal the feelings of inadequacy that threaten to overwhelm us at any given moment.  We find ourselves more prone to crying when we read medical charts and start to question whether medicine is even our correct path.  For those of us who are empathetic to a fault, a season of rejections is traumatizing.  We replay every interview and reread every application, trying to discern wherein lies our fault.  We pretend that we are coping when in reality we feel lost, uncentered, and off-balance.

We begin the process of reapplying and wonder if its even really worth it.”

For me, those feeling plagued the rest of 2011.  You know…you’ve been reading along with me.  Because, for me, it wasn’t just one season of rejection letters but years.  It was a pattern. And it hurt like hell.

So I get you, the rejected, the lost, the broken.  I’ve been you more times than I wish.  And my advice is this: feel your hurt.  Let the rage and angst course through you, overwhelm you, fill you up, and break you.  Scream, sob, snot, heave, cuddle your pets, have angry sex, punch the wall, break a glass.  Do what you need.  Let yourself go numb for a while…then channel those emotions into creating something.  Write, draw, bake, dance, run.  Let others help you.  <–I know how hard this is. Don’t hide from your emotions, but rather let them fuel you.  Reassess, do some soul searching, try to find the teaching moment.

I know now that I needed another year.  I thought last year I had it all but that was before the injury, before yoga became a spiritual practice infused in my everyday life, and before I could even realize that it was not my time.  No way could I have dealt with medical school + my wrist situation.  So in a twisted way, I am grateful.  <–never saw that coming last year!

And for those who have received that long awaited acceptance: CONGRATUFRICKINGLATIONS!  Celebrate, revel, rejoice.  And when you find a moment of quiet (for me it took a couple days), place your hands on your heart and think kindly of those who were not as lucky.  Send them your love and your encouragement and whisper words of hope and comfort and peace.  Know that I am not telling you to feel bad or guilty because you got in and so many others didn’t.  Instead, I’m asking that you acknowledge your luck and fortune and hard work, be grateful, and be mindful.  Scream it from the rooftops but do so with love.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

P.S. For those wondering about the picture…the science department at my alma mater, Stonehill College, has a success board in the main lobby of our science center.  When people are accepted to schools or programs, we get our names on the board…its a huge honor and accomplishment and something we all hope to accomplish over the course of our time there.  🙂

Looking Forward: Kitchen Edition

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In case you haven’t heard, I’m moving to Baltimore in less than 4 months.

I’m all sorts of excited and terrified.  It means I will quit my job (which I’ve outgrown), leave my current apartment (my first…and you always will have fond memories of your first, right?! 😉 ), move away from my family, and go back to school.  It also means I get to move closer to other friends and have the opportunity to experiment with a whole host of new thing.  Shockingly, many of these experiments will occur in the kitchen.

Since I love making lists (I pretend like they actually help me get stuff done) here, presented in no particular order, are the Top 10 hings I’m Looking Forward to Experimenting with in My Baltimore Kitchen:

  1. Crock Pot cooking.  This is a skill I will need to develop but cannot wait to try recipes like this and this.
  2. Non-stick cookware.  I love using stainless steel now that I’ve learned how but it does take longer to clean.  Since saving time will likely be of the utmost importance, being able to wash and go will be a beautiful thing.  I intend on investing in these.
  3. Using a rice cooker.  Another make-my-life-easier appliance.
  4. Using my George Foreman again.  There will be many a summer dinners of “grilled” veggies + tofu on top of salads.  Its easier + faster than turning on the stove.
  5. Not having to share my kitchen.
  6. Having newer appliances…including an oven that doesn’t take 20 minutes to boil water or run 15-30 degrees under.
  7. Shopping at a year-round farmer’s markets.
  8. Shopping at Costco.  There is one right on the outskirts of Baltimore (er…it looks like the outskirts to me!).  Nature’s Path cereal, MaraNatha almond butter, Alexia frozen fries, 13 lb bags of baking soda, bottles of spices (and pure vanilla extract), bananas and nuts galore!
  9. Shopping at Glut.  Not technically in Baltimore, this amazing, fantastic, food-gasmic, life-changing co-op is high on my list of places to visit again and again.  Bulk everything including liquids + carob-covered amazingness + non-sulphered dried fruits at reasonable prices.  Because its a bit of a drive, I’ll probably do a stock-up monthly.
  10. Exploring all of the awesome sauce veg and veg-friendly restaurants and cafes.  Look at this list of places within 5 miles of JHSPH.  *sigh*

I want to address the likely question of why I cannot use the items listed in numbers 1-4.  Depending on how much you’ve creeped this site, you may know that I share living space with this little menace.

Kaybird!

So the short answer to the question is because of Kaybird.  The long answer is this.  The chemicals released when non-stick coating is heated include some nasty buggers called PFTE and PFOA.  The safety of inhaling these in humans is currently being explored by the EPA.  While I don’t exactly entrust my safety to government agencies (see here) and nothing may come of it, the fact that they are examining it says something.

Nevertheless, it has long been known that inhalation of these chemicals by birds is fatal. While the jury is still out on the coating in rice cookers and crock pots, my roommate prefers that any and all non-stick coating be avoided.  Since I am in love with Kaybird (you thought I was going to say my roomie for a minute there, weren’t you?  creep.  😉 tehehe), I’ve learned to cook with stainless steel and live without the other appliances.  This is fine but let me tell you…I really can’t wait to get perfect rice and meals that cook overnight or while I’m in class etc.

For more information on non-stick cookware, click here.

#6 is, of course, dependent on where I end up living but let’s just say, for now, that it looks promising.  🙂  Keep your fingers crossed for me!

I’m also eager to see how I’ll do sticking to a food budget. I apparently thrive on challenge!  Who knows….maybe I’ll end up teaching my fellow grad students a thing or two about saving $ while eating green.  I’d actually love that very much.  Caring is sharing, right?

Over the next couple of months I’ll be updating more about my move to Baltimore, my bucket list of experiences to have before leaving, etc.  I’m so excited to still be on an adrenaline rush to be walking with you into this next stage of my life!  I’ve already contacted other HLB members and made connections with friends and friends-of-friends in the area.  I’m heading down for the JHSPH Open House at the end of March and hopefully will find an apartment then.  I’m in get-it-done mode which is good for the move but not-so-good for current stuff (like, ya know, work and working out and all those other things that are important currently).  Don’t worry…you can expect to hear all about it!

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo

From My Heart to Yours

Source

Its been a long road. Without realizing it, I started this blog as a way to reach out to others and to help heal myself. Some part of me also hoped that my transparency would help others as well.

All of this has come true.

Let me back up. Yesterday I mentioned that I received oodles of good news this week. I held on to this news for a bit because I’ve learned over the years to really relish in and appreciate my news–good, bad, or otherwise–before broadcasting it to the world. I consider this lesson my earliest foray into the world of mindful living (also known to me as YOGA) for it was the first time in my life that I learned to stop and cherish life before broadcasting and rushing through it. Furthermore, when I did tell others, I did so consciously and by choice, telling only those closest to me who would share at the deepest level in my trials and tribulations.

So when I started to receive good news this week, I fought back my immediate desire to share it with the world. Instead I skipped out of the hospital, texting the beau as I went and calling momma later in the day. When I opened the package I admittedly called momma and beau immediately but then stopped and hugged myself, filling up with appreciation and pride before calling the others. I let myself smile and giggle incessantly, much to the chagrin of those around me (whose opinions, suddenly, didn’t matter one bit). Slowly but surely I disseminated the information more but, again, only to those who could fully share in my joy.

Yet through it all, I knew I needed to write about it. So many of you came into my journey at the mid-way point and you’ve been besides me every step of the way since. So here goes…

Saturday I rocked into half moon pose…on both sides.
Monday morning I was discharged from hand therapy.
Wednesday I received my acceptance letter from John’s Hopkins School of Public Health.
I’m moving to Baltimore in July.

In other words: I’ve arrived.

Every time I think about these things, I am filled with infinite amounts of joy, peace, and gratitude. As recently as a couple months ago, I did not truly believe that I would, or could, reach this point. Surgery was a viable and increasingly attractive option as I sought a way to end the pain, anger, sadness, and inner turmoil. I hadn’t gotten my shit together for applications. Even when things started to improve, I was still scared, living from a place of lack and waiting for the other shoe to drop. I had hope for the first time in months, yet I still was deeply wounded.

My discharge and subsequent marked the final step in my healing process. Let me repeat that: I am healed.

I’m not longer the “almost girl.” My letter from JH is so much more than a new opportunity. Its proof positive that I am worth it. Yes I know…I shouldn’t seek validation from outside sources. Yet I still do, especially when I am rejected time and time again (a pattern that extends all the way back to friggin high school applications, if you must know). My acceptance to Hopkins proves that it is time for me to take the next step…time to jump and leap and SOAR.

As for my physical issues, they are not gone. In fact, the opposite is true. But instead of being angry or questioning when enough was enough, I’ve come to accept that, fact of the matter is, I have flexible joints and there is nothing I can do to change that. Its how my beautiful body is built. I can stabilize many of them (e.g. shoulders, spine, hips) through strength training. I can make lifestyle modifications that will consciously protect the others (e.g. thumbs, wrists). I will continue eating an alkaline, anti-inflammatory diet, meditating daily, and practicing heated yoga (the heat lubricates and protects the joints) that emphasizes alignment over being the best.

Despite all this, new opportunities and doing best by my body, I’m not invincible. But I know I can overcome whatever else the Universe has in store for me. My big plans (which were to move to CT in May and shack up with the beau after 7 years of being apart and not really having a plan beyond that) have been drastically changed, a fact which presents new dilemmas. I’m re-entering school after 2 years off and going straight into an intense accelerated Master’s program at the top-rated School of Public Health. It won’t be a walk in the park.

But I know I can do it because I have the most amazing support network both among friends and family and the blogging community (that includes you, dear readers). I have my writing and this online diary to show how far I’ve come…how dreams can come true, even if we don’t really know they are dreams yet. And I have me.

To everyone who has listened or read about my journey, who has held me, comforted me, wiped my tears, and supported me, to those who offered words of encouragement and hope: I owe you a boatload of gratitude and love. Both have been filling me up since Monday…I’m literally overflowing with peace and joy and gratitude and general love for all that is around me, including the snow/sleet that New England is finally experiencing!

So from my heart to yours…

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

Yoga/beauty/amazing life,

Kait xo

On Meditation

My meditation space *oohhhmm*

I’m not gonna lie: meditating can be hard to do.  Some days your ass goes numb.  Some days one foot (or leg) falls asleep.  Sometimes both do!  Sometimes your brain stages a full-blown sabotage and you end up feeling like total shit.  Sometimes you panic because certainly, you’ve been here more than 10 minutes already!

And then some days you sit in total peace.  You feel 100% juicy, ripe, delicious, and vital and suddenly all of those other experiences aren’t as important.  Your body stays awake/alert/aware and you disconnect enough from your thoughts that you find internal quiet.

As I’ve learned over the past couple of weeks there isn’t such a thing as true internal quiet.  There’s internal disconnect.  There’s tuning in and the ability to think without thinking.  There is complete calm.  But there is no such thing as absolute and complete silence.

And I’m ok with that. More and more I am able to distance myself from my thoughts during meditation as I do during yoga.  My brain may be active but I’m an observer to those thoughts.  Some people describe this as watching them float by like clouds.  <–Hogwash!  Its more like not caring what your brain is doing, being aware but not invested, and focusing elsewhere.  Although, I have a feeling this experience is a little different for everyone!

During this week I’ve also come to terms with only being comfortable sitting for 15 minutes a day.  I was trying so hard for those 20, thinking that number was some magical gateway where I would find the ultimate inner peace.  Instead I was panicky…anxious…freaking.  As usual, the Universe decided to send a little message, this time in the form of Gabrielle Bernstein’s v-log, delivered each Monday morning right to my inbox.  One of the first lines in the video: “It’s not about how long you sit; it’s about how deep you connect.”  <–I couldn’t make this sh*t up!

 

Have a beautiful weekend.  Take some time for you…be peaceful/calm/non-rushed and loving.

Yoga/beauty/life,

Kait xo