Everyday, Fitness, minimalism, Running, Vegan

Living with intention

I want to live a more intentional life.  I want to eat better.  I want to love harder.  I want to exercise and get faster.  I want to cut out the crap and be more inline with my personal values.

I know today is actually June 5th, but for me it marks the start of many things.  For awhile now I have gotten a little off track with my eating (don’t worry still vegan, but being vegan doesn’t automatically mean being healthy) and with my exercise.  I want to incorporate better food choices into my diet and get back into my running after a brief, but very much-needed break.  I also haven’t been to the gym since maybe November?  My work picked up and my hours changed to a point that I couldn’t get motived to workout.  To be honest with myself, yes work did pick up, but I am still working under 30 hours a week, so not having enough time is not an excuse.  And my hours did change, but truth be told, it’s more about me not wanting to wake my ass up earlier to hit the gym!

Having a good balance between food and exercise is very important.  Even though I haven’t been eating as well, I am by no means overweight, but I have noticed that my muscle to fat ratio has changed.  Last summer I actually weighed more but the extra pounds were from the extra muscle I had built.  I would like to build back some of the lean muscle I have lost in the past 6 months.  I am not sure what I am going to do about the gym; whether I am going to rejoin or join a different one, but I am going to get back into my running, actually starting today.  I have joined an 8 week speed work program that meets every Monday and Wednesday at 6:30pm.  I don’t particularly like speed work.  It is hard and the Central Texas summer weather doesn’t make it any easier, but I am more motived to get back into it because it is a group effort.  I have a couple close friends that are joining the group and our coach, is my trainer from the gym that I have been friends with for over 3 years now.  Plus if you can run in the summer you will be in tip-top form for when the fall/winter races start back up again!

As far as food goes, I am going to try to focus more on whole foods; getting in more fruits and especially more vegetables.  Last week I went to see my new doctor (Dr. Linda Carney in Buda, TX) because I was having issues with dizziness, foggy mind, and my cycle had been going  a little wack-a-do these past few months.  Dr. Carney is a 100% plant-based, vegan doctor.  So many people have raved about her in the Central Texas vegan community.  She is located about 40 miles from where I live, but after meeting her I have absolutely no issues with the distance.  She promotes healing through nutrition and tries to steer clear of medications whenever possible.  She ordered up about 15 different blood tests for me, to help her narrow down what/if anything is wrong.  I go back to hear my results on Wednesday!  This doctors visit was the first one I was ever excited to go to.  I had no anxiety and I can’t wait to find out what blood tests say.  Dr. Carney had a great “bedside manner”.  She sat and went over a bunch of different things with me for probably over 40 minutes.  Asked a lot of questions and took notes on our whole meeting.  Her office has plant based resources everywhere.  From Forks Over Knives posters on the walls, to a book shelf full of plant based authors (many of whom’s books I currently own) and a website for clients filled with even more plant based nutrition information.

I mentioned that my female cycle has been off for a little while now.  Nothing too extreme but sometimes, somethings are just too much to let go unnoticed.  I ordered a book called:  “WomanCode:  Perfect Your Cycle, Amplify Your Fertility, Supercharge Your Sex Drive, and Become a Power Source” by Alisa Vitti.  The author takes a very close look at how what you eat during your 4 stages of your cycle (yes I said 4 stages) can affect your overall health.  While she doesn’t promote being 100% vegan, I am curious to read about what foods she suggests to eat when and then why.  I do not plan on adding animal products back to my diet but I am open to reading as much information as I can about how what we eat can affect who we are.   The book has great reviews, so hopefully I won’t be too disappointed at the mention of animal products.

One more thing that I am finding to be more and more important to my overall health and welfare is just living my own life.  Cutting out things that don’t add to it and focusing more on things that do.  I realized this past weekend that I had spent a lot of time on social media.  That time could have been used for far more important things.  I literally could have written this blog yesterday and then had time to write another one today.  I could have spent more time with all of our fur-babies more evenly (we recently got two new kittens and our rabbit I think has been feeling a little left out).  I could have went out and bought the rose-bush that we wanted to commemorate the passing of our 13-year-old kitty, Raspberry.  I could have read more.  Talked with my husband more.  Or just enjoyed the silence, that comes with the lack of social media clutter.  (OMG I just realized that I just checked my Facebook page, oh my phone, while typing this on my laptop!)  It is time to disconnect a little.  The Minimalist talk about how they both took all social media off of their phones and only allow themselves 30 mins or so a day to scroll through their feeds while on their computers/iPads.  I mean do we really need that much information at the tip of our fingers at any given moment?  No.  I know for a fact we don’t because I am old enough to say that I grew up without the internet (until I was in High School) and without a cell phone (until I was out of High School).  (OMG I literally just did it again!  Something live came across my feed so I had to click on it!)  We have become like Pavlov’s Dog when we hear our phone “tweet”;  we are zombie slaves to our little glowing screens.  It is time to make a change.  So besides changing up diet and exercise, I am going to delete all social media platforms from my phone for the rest of the month.  Hopefully I will live to share the accounts of my actions with you all.

Oh and one more thing I forgot to add is that I will also be cutting back on all alcohol and caffeine intake as well!  Man, when I set out to do something, I really know how to go to the extremes, don’t I?  Honestly, I don’t drink much of either substance.  Alcohol I am eliminating just from the weekdays, and will only have a drink with dinner on the weekends.  And the only source of caffeine I have is from my morning tea, but I also have plenty of decaf teas and herbal teas that I can use as substitutes if needed.  I love having the will power to make these changes in my life.  I am the master of going “cold turkey” and I can’t wait to see how I feel about everything in a month.  If you have changed up anything that you consider pretty drastic in your life, please feel free to share your story in the comments!

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Everyday, minimalism

Feeling grateful

Last night before I went to bed, I watched a Facebook live feed from Jason Wrobel.  The headline for the feed was “praying for what you don’t want”.  Jason talked about how so many times we tend to focus our thoughts on the bad things that are happening or could be happening in the future to us.  These thoughts are manifested into stress and anxiety and really do us no good at all.  They leave us inadvertently “praying for what you don’t want”.  Instead, he suggested that we be thankful for the things we have been blessed with in our everyday lives.  As well as to be genuinely happy for others and the things they have been blessed with.  Instead of judging people or being jealous of their gains, we should embrace them.  The more we embrace these things the more likely we are to bring those same joys and gains into our own lives.

Yesterday, I also starting reading a book called:  “Citizen Thoreau” by Henry David Thoreau.  It is a collection of Thoreau’s greatest short stories.  I know I am probably a little behind the times with discovering Thoreau.  I have heard over and over again that a lot of his work was required reading in high school and college.  Maybe he and I have crossed paths before, but I cannot recall.  In high school was probably not interested in his work because I hadn’t yet grown enough to really understand the world around me, as so many of us hadn’t at such a young age.  The main story that I was interested in is titled “Walden“.  I have only just started into it, but Thoreau touches on what our basic needs are as humans and how we forget just how little we actually require to live a fruitful and peaceful life.  We need shelter of course, and food.  Along with those things we need heat.  Heat to cook our food, warm our homes (shelters) and really not too much else.  But we live our day-to-day, working for so much more.  More luxury.  More things.  More than we ever could really ever need.  We trade our time, our lives, just to attain more stuff.

I learned of Thoreau through another set of people who I have been following, The Minimalist.  I have mentioned The Minimalist in a prior blog and have really been avid follower of them.  I have learned so much about living with less and because of that, being so much more grateful for all the things I already have in my life.  And a lot of these “things” are not things at all.

So, I woke up this morning and I got to thinking about all of the “riches” I have in my life;  that my husband and I share together.  So here I am.  I am even grateful for the fact that these thoughts brought me here today to share them with all of you.  I haven’t spent nearly as much time as I used to on my blog and that does sadden me.  I’m hoping to turn that around soon.  Today the fire was lit under me.  After having all these thoughts I just felt inspired to write.  Like if I hadn’t I would have regretted it and that was not how I wanted to choose to start my day or weekend.  So below is a list of everything (well probably not everything) that I feel grateful for today.  I hope by sharing this, maybe someone else, that maybe in a bad spot, may realize that they live a richer life then they once believed?

I am grateful for my husband.  He is a hard worker and has an amazing job.  He loves to provide for us and loves and cares very deeply for me.  We may not always get along or see things the same way but overall I know he is a wonderful man and I love growing with him everyday.

I am grateful for my friends.  I have a very (very) small group of friends but they are more like family to me.  And even though I may not spend a lot of time with them (I am more introverted in that way) I always feel like we just pick up right were we left off and that they have my back no matter what.

I am grateful for my fur-babies.  I have a wonderful cat named Sammi.  She and her sister Raspberry (who we had to say goodbye to about two months ago) have been the best little babies I could have ever asked for.  They followed me through the last 13 years of my life.  They have always been there through the good and the bad and I have always tried to do the best for them in return.  I cannot imagine life without pets.  I also have a rabbit that I love dearly.  I never thought I would be a mommy bunny but she came to us by the powers of the universe and I am glad to have her.  We are also adopting two sisters kittens next week that we are very excited about adding to our family.  We miss Raspberry dearly, but we also have too much love to give to another animal that it just seems right to give a home to these little girls.

I am grateful for our home.  We have a little condo on the very northwestern edge of Austin.  It has been the first place that I have lived in the past 13 years that has truly felt like home.  It is small by todays standards, but it is cozy and filled with love.

I am grateful for my job.  I have had many jobs in the past that I have loved, but this is the first one that I really feel like I am apart of.  I work for a small business that is steadily growing.  My boss and his business partner have been wonderful to me over the past year.  Being the only employee has been great.  Having the freedom to set my own schedule has been priceless and feeling like I am apart of something in its infant stages is wonderful.  I am so glad that I can be apart of helping it to grow.

I am grateful for my parents.  Just because they are lower on this list, doesn’t mean they have less value to me.  I could not be who I am today without them.  They have supported me with their love throughout my whole life.  They have guided me but have always let me choose which path to take at the fork.  I love them so dearly couldn’t have asked for a better two people to call mom and dad.  It makes me so sad when I hear other people say they are not close to their parents.  I cannot imagine my life in those circumstances, so again I say how grateful I am for them.

I am grateful for the money that we have in our savings.  I know that money is not everything.  I do not wish to be “rich” and money does not make you more powerful (at least not in my eyes).  But having a good foundation does make our everyday life a little less stressful.  It allows us to have the roof we have over our heads and the food we put in our mouths.  It allows us to care for the fur-babies that depend on us for literally their whole wellbeing.  We have dependable cars and can afford to eat a good meal for every meal of the day.  It keeps our house cool in the summer and warm in the winter.  It allows me the means to write this very blog on my computer using our internet.  I try to be as humble as possible when it comes to money.  I try not to let it rule my every decision and by living with less, I worry less about it.

I am grateful for my health.  I really try to do the best that I can for my body and health. I try to eat the best foods that I can afford and not waste.  I am vegan, which has to do with my health as well as the health of every living creature on this planet.  I try not to take my health for granted.  I love sweets but I try to remember that everything is better in moderation.  I always remind myself that you cannot out-run your fork and not to reward myself like a dog!  I consider myself a runner and attribute a lot of my good health to that passion.  And by learning to live a more meaningful life, I believe my health will improve even more.

I’m sure there are a lot more things that I take for granted that I am grateful for.  There are people in my life that provide services to my husband and I that I am very grateful for like our therapist and our vet clinic, hell even my hairdresser!

We sometimes forget that it can take a village to really learn how to grow.  That has become a sad fact in the past 10-15 years.  I feel like as humans, with the technology that we have available to us, have lost touch with each other.  I am grateful that I have learned of so many great leaders, life coaches, bloggers, etc. via the internet but at the same time I find myself feeling more distance from actually human interaction more than ever.  We are probably all guilty of this.  It is easier to sign onto social media and keep in touch with our “friends” through text and “likes” then it is to just sit down and have lunch or tea together.  But this form of communication can feel cold and impersonal.  I think as a planet we all need to come together for the greater good of humanity.  That’s a pretty bold statement but the sense of community is slowly disappearing and that is a very lonely thought.

So be grateful for all that you have and really dig deep and reach out to the people and places that are important to you.  Don’t take anything for granted and learn to live a more intentional life.

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Books, Everyday

You are a Badass

You are a Badass:  How to stop doubting your greatness and start living an awesome life by Jen Sincero

  • Self help
  • © 2013
  • 254 pages
  • Personal rating 3.5/5 stars

To be honest I can’t remember where or how I found this book.  It might have been suggested to me based off of other books I had purchased or it may have been cited in another book I read.  I have read a lot of self-help books over the years.  Not because I am a hot mess, but let’s face it, we could all use a little help when it comes to growing into the best known version of ourselves.  Many of us walk around with fear and self-doubt, day in and day out.  Plus I have always been fascinated with the mind and psychology in general.

I think the thing that did grab me most about the book was the title itself.  It made me think, “well this Jen Sincero person talks like someone I could relate to”.  And Jen does a great job of being just that all throughout the book.  She takes the psychology out of self-help and talks to the reader at a level that they will respect, understand and sometimes laugh out loud at.  She refers to the Ego as the “Big Snooze or BS” and spirituality as the “Source Energy”.  Jen does refer to the “Universe” in away that reminds me of the book The Secret by Rhonda Byrne but in a rough around the edges sort of way.

Basically we are all in control of our own lives and our own destinies but it is also up to us to get off our asses and get ahold of our subconscious mind because it’s what truly runs the show called our life.  She reminds the reader that we are all human and that as humans we all want to strive to be the best we can be and that what we have learned in our childhoods may not be who we really want to be.  Not that your parents and peers meant you any harm, but that they too were raised and experienced life with unrealistic thoughts full of fear, self-centeredness, and BS.

Jen has the book broken down into 5 parts and each one goes over very important roles and steps that need to take place in order to reach our full, badass, potential.  She explains how we became the way we currently are and how to deal with and defeat fear and self loathing thoughts and actions.  At the beginning of each chapter she has a line or two from a famous person, leader, or guru and she lists what they are known for and how she, herself, perceives them.

Jen provides steps and exercises to learn and practice in everyday life.  She also highlights some of the key ideas to grasp from each chapter.  Here is an example of one of the exercises I found assuming and very easy to grasp:

“Right now, look around wherever you are and count the number of things you see that are red.  Take about a minute and count them all.  Now stop, look back at this page without taking your eyes off of it, and try to think of everything around you that’s yellow.  There’s probably a ton of yellow, but you didn’t see it because you were looking for red.” page 136-137

Jen also reminds the reader, that above anything else that you could read or learn from her book is, to always love yourself.  She closes almost every chapter with that reminder and a little passage that relates back to the chapter you just finished.

I gave the book 3.5 stars because it was one of the better self-help books I have read, but it did go over a lot of the things that I have already read.  I would recommend it to a first time, self-help reader as oppose to someone who has taken any classes, been to any seminars or read a good deal about it before.  It would also be a good read for someone looking for guidance but not in a “fluffy bunny, it’s going to be a bright sunny day” way.

 

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Books, Everyday

Un Amico Italiano* Eat, Pray, Love in Rome

Un Amico Italiano (An Italian Friend) Eat, Pray Love in Rome By Luca Spaghetti

  • Memoir
  • © 2010
  • 238 pages
  • Personal Rating: 4/5 stars

“Luca Spaghetti is not only one of my favorite people in the world, but also a natural-born storyteller.” says Elizabeth Gilbert and she couldn’t be more right.

As Luca Spaghetti introduces the book and promises to his readers that he is actually a “real person” with the real surname of Spaghetti, he makes me hungry all at once.  I’m sure that’s not something he is proud of per say, but I had no idea there were so many different types of noodles!  And having the last name Spaghetti as a child makes me realize that some people have it worse than you.  (Even though I heard “Dennis the Menise” (my last name is Dennis) growing up, I cannot even imagine having a name after a tiny, thin, noodle, living in the capital of Italy!)  Kids can be so mean and things that happen in childhood can seem to haunt you through adulthood if you let them.

This book was split into three parts.  In part one, Luca tells the reader all about himself and growing up in Rome.  From his love of soccer and music, to describing the beauty and history behind Rome like only a Romain could do; he paints a picture of himself from age 7 through his 20’s.  Then in part two he tells about his travels to America and his coast to coast, Jack Keroruc style, pilgrimage.  Along the way finding a new love for American fast food and soaking in as much classic rock and country music that he can find on the radio.  And in the third part, Luca is back in Rome and this time he is the tour guide for the lovely Elizabeth Gilbert.  At first he is wondering how he ever agreed to show around a blonde, American, female, writer but over time he discovers that Liz is like no one he as ever met before and a wonderful, deep friendship is formed.

Luca makes his readers want to come and visit, or even revisit, Rome within the first couple chapters.  He tells about “secret places” that he likes to share with his friends from other countries that even some Roman’s are not familiar with.  I had to google a couple of them, such as the Piazza di Trevi and The Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola.  And I would love to have the chance to take a photograph “peaking through” the keyhole at the Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (don’t worry, it’s nothing dirty)!  Plus if you are a lover of Liz’s book, (which was my number one reason for reading this book) then it will be a great reminder of what made her trip to Rome so special.  I really enjoyed it and it was nice “behind the scenes” look into such an important character from Eat, Pray, Love.

 

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Books, Everyday

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

  • Fiction
  • © 2014
  • 258 pages
  • Includes a reader discussion section at the end (would be great for a book club)
  • Personal Rating:  4/5 stars

This book popped up as suggested reading by Amazon for people who also bought A Man Called Ove (you can read my review here).  Honestly, I probably wouldn’t have come across this book any other way, because I have a ton of fiction books on my “needs to be read” shelves at home.  So, even though I wasn’t really looking for it, I was glad that it found me.

A.J. Fikry is a cranky, depressed, widower, and book store owner in the small town of Alice Island, MA.  He and his late wife used to run the store together but now, after his loss, things are not looking to great.  His store is falling more and more behind because of the lack of tourist in the off seasons and probably a little because of AJ’s very limited taste in what makes a good novel.  AJ is not big on stocking what the newest publishing rep has to offer him and after their meeting, dismisses her rather rudely.  AJ knows what’s good and what isn’t, but the two things are very different from what sells and what doesn’t.

He does have an ace up his sleeve though.  His very rare copy of an early E.A. Poe book, called Tamerlane, could solve all his problems.  Unfortunately, it goes missing sometime during a drunken laps in AJ’s evening and what he finds in his store the next day turns his whole world upside down.  As you read the book, you will follow AJ throughout the next 15 or so years of his life and it will amazingly enough come back full circle in an “everything happens for a reason” kind of way.

At first, I wasn’t too sure if I was going to enjoy this book or not.  I thought it was going to get too deep into AJ’s views of classic literature and writing.  You know the books that you were forced to read in high school or college?  Well, I was that kid that never liked to read when I was in school.  From having a hard time with reading and spelling in grade school to feeling forced to read things that didn’t interest me in high school and college.  So to read a book about this type of literature scared me a little.  (On a side note, it’s kind of ironic that now I love reading and blogging about the wonderful treasures I have found.  Not to mention I have three plus book shelves in my “wo-man cave”, filled with the novels I’ve loved and ones that I still need to discover.)  Sorry, back to the book!

There were references to many classics at the beginning of each chapter; some I had heard of and some that I hadn’t, but it never interfered with the story, instead just showed the deep love of literature that AJ possessed and was very opinionated about.  It was a very easy read and had all the elements  of a love story, mystery, coming of age and a time of loss, all wrapped up into one.  I would compare it to many of Nicholas Sparks novels, just shorter.  I would recommend reading it but it wasn’t anything too life changing either.  Just a good, clean, fun type of read.

 

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Books, Everyday

Room

Today was one of those days when I all wanted to do was read.  I stayed up last night (or this morning actually) till midnight and started a new book called ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I’ve had the book sitting on my “needs to read” bookshelf for probably a year now.  I noticed the other day that the movie version was now on Netflix, so I thought I should read it.  I had no idea that I would wind up spending the rest of today reading it from front to back.

When I first started reading it, I didn’t really know if I was going to be able to finish it.  See ROOM is told from the perspective of a 5-year-old little boy, named Jack.  But Jack is not just any little boy.  Jack has been (along with his mother who he calls Ma), locked up in an 11’x11′ shed (in “Old Nick’s” backyard), that he refers to as “room”, for his whole life.

How he describes the world around him is a little choppy at times, but once you learn about their situation it becomes easier to piece things together.  He doesn’t understand what’s real and what’s really real.  It’s hard at times for Jack to imagine the world outside that he has never been apart of.  They do have a TV inside their small space, but he thinks of each channel as a different “planet”, rather than as anything going on in everyday life around them.  But Jack is not stupid and loves his mother more than anything.  She has done an amazing job raising him while in her limiting, and frustrating, circumstances.  At times Jack seems to know things that other 5 years olds wouldn’t, but at other times you have to wonder if he could ever make it outside of “room”.  He is a very brave little boy, and at the end of it all is his mother’s hero.

This was a very engaging novel.  I guarantee you will fall in love with Jack and will feel all the pain and struggles that his mother is put through by “Old Nick” in order for them to survive.  I don’t feel like there are any real “surprises” while you read, you just start to piece things together and the picture of their lives gets bigger and bigger and even more hard to imagine living through.  Overall it was a good book, but nothing I would run out and tell the whole world about.  I am glad I read it so that I can watch the cinema adaptation this weekend.  Books are usually 110% better than movies, so we shall see.

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Everyday

It’s gonna be a good day

Today was a really great day for me.  It started off by getting up super early to do hot, vinyasa yoga at 5:30am.  I haven’t been to that class in a very long time.  Ever since I lost my job last year, I haven’t had as much of a reason to get up that early.  But I have decided to add one yoga class back into my workout and the best one, with the best yogi is at 5:30am!  Oh the little sacrifices we make.

After an invigorating and literally eye-opening yoga session, I came home to do some much-needed cleaning.  That doesn’t sound too exciting, but I love it when our wood floors shine!  It’s the little things in life.  Plus, it was another way to get in a little workout after yoga.

After getting a quick shower, I made myself some breakfast and hot tea and sat down to finish reading one of the best books I’ve read in a long time (you can see my little review on it here).  It was one of those books that you didn’t want to end.  I love sitting and reading in the morning when it is still and quiet.  Usually one or both of my cats will join me and we will just sit and be.

I had to be at work later in the afternoon but I still got in enough time to blog and have some lunch before I left.  Today was just one of those days that I felt productive but not stressed out.  Sometimes that’s a hard line to walk.  Sometimes it’s just nice to slow down a bit and just have a good day.

Because ultimately you are in control of what kind of day you are going to have.  Sure sometimes unforeseen things happen, but I am learning more and more that how you react to those little things in life is key.  You are in control of your own light, your own inner self and who and what you give power to.  If you give your power over to the unfortunate things in life (like stress, anger, worry and sadness), you will find yourself unhappy.  But if you are aware of the control you have over yourself and only yourself, you can make happier choices even when times are hard and in turn have happier, calmer, more productive days. 🙂

 

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