vitadventure

Vitality, Adventure, Yoga and Fun!


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Distraction

One of my favorite ways to distract myself from my own insanity busy mind is reading. There is nothing I love better than getting sucked into a good book. I have spent entire weekends and 13 hour plane rides to South Africa wrapped up in a novel, only to cry when there are no more pages to turn.

For awhile there, it seemed as though I had forgotten my love affair with reading. I attribute this disconnection to the purchase of my Nook- which, while a lovely thoughtful gift from my husband a few years ago, also meant I spent LESS time in bookstores. Sure sure, I was saving trees, downloading Ebooks instead, but without a weekly or monthly stop at a bookstore, I just didn’t have the stimulation and excitement that arises from the smell and atmosphere of a really good bookstore. So I’ve decided to save my Nook for convenience during long vacations, and return to my love affair with bookstores and novels…. and I don’t have to walk much further than my neighbors’ yard.

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Have you been introduced to the Little Free Library movement? These adorable little “libraries” are popping up in yards left and right here in Denver. What a great concept! I pass by two of them in the morning when I’m walking Gus and feel inspired by the sense of community and neighborliness (is that even a word? It is now) in sharing the gift of reading.

And speaking of reading, I just finished up this book:

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I absolutely loved it and it was a great summer read. Upon finishing it, I then promptly started this one:

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Spooky

I love Jennifer McMahon’s mysteries- they haunt you just enough to keep you up at night.

Both books have been keeping me distracted during my Crazy Sexy Adventure Cleanse. After all, if I’m not drinking wine or meeting friends for Happy Hour, what the Hell else am I supposed to do with my time? Reading was a lifesaver last weekend when I was trying to distract myself from all the fun food/wine-related activities I would have otherwise been doing.

And speaking of the cleanse, I’ll keep this update brief. I just finished up Day 11, just over halfway done…and I’m hitting the “I’m done” mark. This week I’ve continued to struggle with fatigue, sluggishness and an overall sense of weakness. I’m tired during yoga. I’m tired at work. I’ve bumped up my food intake to try to get some more energy, but I think my body is just trying to tap into all of its reserves to keep me going. I’m sure this is all part of the detox. But it sucks and I don’t want to feel this way anymore. Blech.

The good news is that the only cravings I am having are for a good old fashioned latte- no sugar cravings, no wine cravings (shockingly), no dairy cravings. I really feel that I have reset my eating habits in a way that is sustainable. And even though I’m tired and crabby, I actually feel better in spirit and in my body. So I’ll keep trying to push through- although at this point, 21 days seems like a LONG TIME for a cleanse. I’m considering wrapping it up for the most part this weekend- and by wrapping it up, I mean keeping up with my juicing/vegan diet, but if I want a fucking cup of coffee or a glass of wine this weekend, I’m going to have it.

Shoot- is dropping F bombs part of the cleanse? Eh, I’m human. I’ll do my best this weekend. But my resolve is weakening… Guess I should go pick up my book and distract myself from the naughty voices in my head ;).

Happy (almost) Friday!


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Adventure Cleanse Update- Day 7

Happy Sunday! I hope you all have a lovely Sunday planned ahead.

Confession: I’m actually writing this post Saturday night, watching “Sharknado” (has anyone SEEN this RIDICULOUS movie on SyFy?) Hey, my excuse is my husband is away and I’m “cleansing”, so my usual Saturday evening activities are out of the question.

Anyway, so here I am blogging on technically Day 6 of my Crazy Sexy Adventure cleanse watching a movie about sharks in tornados in Los Angeles. Not sure if this is what Kris Carr had in mind for finding physical and spiritual vitality. But alas…..

Here’s my experience this week on the cleanse: it has been WAY easier than I expected. When I first started the cleanse, I dreaded the caffeine and wine withdrawals and cravings, temptations and hunger that were sure to come…

But after the first day or two, it seemed like I had made a commitment to myself (accountability here on my blog also helped- knowing I’d have to report back to all of you) and there was no turning back.

The caffeine/coffee has been the easiest thing to eliminate. I don’t even miss it and start my day with hot water and lemon, then green tea- a habit I will surely keep up. After drinking my cup o’ hot water (mmmmm sounds appetizing, hmm?), I meditate for 10 minutes, then neti-pot, dry brush, jump in the shower, and make and drink my green juice (usually consisting of romaine, kale, cucumbers, ginger and a grapefruit or apple) while getting ready for work. This juice keeps me actually pretty full until lunchtime- of course I’m sipping loads of water as well. If I get hungry, I snack on some raw nuts, rice cakes or GF vegan crackers. 

Lunch is a huge salad with greens, red onion, sprouts, radishes, peppers, hemp and chia seeds, tomatoes, avocado, chick peas (or some tofu if I’m extra hungry). I’ll grab a serving of low glycemic fruit in the afternoon if I need a snack and dinner consists of whatever vegetable dish I throw together (salad, steamed stir fry) with quinoa or brown rice. And mineral water instead of wine. Boo. Oh, and lots of yoga. Every day. 

What has taken me surprise is how easily and quickly it was to change my habits. And what previous habits I had that were not necessarily mindful or healthy for me. Or that were contributing to my feeling crappy in all ways. duh Lisa. That’s not to say that my diet was bad before I started the cleanse, but based on how I feel NOW as opposed to last week at this time- I was in dire need to a major change.

Of course, there have been some temptations and is hasn’t been all that easy- there were some gluten-free chocolate chip cookies (not vegan) and Nutella cupcakes (definitely not vegan or GF) that called my name earlier this week in the staff lounge. This morning after yoga class my teacher I grabbed some tea at the coffee shop across the street and there were some GF and vegan “breakfast cookies” that caught my attention, but I’m pretty sure those weren’t cleanse-friendly. ;). 

I replaced my usual Friday happy hour with a trip to Sprouts to stock up on juicing ingredients for the weekend. I drank some tea tonight when all I really wanted was a giant glass of Zin (it was pouring rain- a strange event in dry Denver- and perfect red wine/couch weather). Ah, sacrifices.

But so far, it’s been worth it. I feel more clear, lighter (mind, body and spirit-wise), and more energetic. I’m actually less hungry than I usually am (not sure if that’s a result of avoiding sugar or gluten?) and my cravings for most “crap” are gone. I even noticed a change/improvement in my yoga practice.

So we’ll see what week two brings. I’m not making any promises. I have a concert at Red Rocks to go to tonight and it will be depressing to tailgate with my sparkling lime water. I have what I anticipate to be an atrocious week at work ahead. There may be a dinner party next Friday night with some really cool friends (hi Melissa) that may involve a cocktail. 

But then again, I anticipated that this week would be awful, so goes to show you never know the road ahead until you actually turn onto it. 

Go ahead and try something new. Break a habit. Pick up a new one. You’ll feel better- I promise. 

 


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Adventure + Cleanse?

Confession:

I am thisclose to “archiving” this post and not ever publishing it. The following is one of those things that, once I put out there, I’ve got to be accountable for and stand with integrity about. Simply put, there’s no backing out.

Which is partially while I’m going to blog about it. There’s no easy exit once you put something on your blog. “Just kidding” you say, and you look like a shmuck.

So that said, I’m thinking about doing a cleanse.

Let me follow that up with my acknowledgement that it’s not really THAT big of a deal to some people. But to people like me, who like to eat and drink wine, it’s a HUGE deal.

I’ve never had any desire to do a cleanse before. In fact, for the most part, I think they’re complete malarky. I believe that if, in general, you’re fueling your body with healthy foods, it does a pretty good job of detoxing on its own. I also work daily with dieticians and know all the side effects of restricting your food intake, depriving yourself, etc- the list could go on and on about why we don’t really “need” to cleanse or detox.

HOWEVER.

I have been feeling like CRAP lately. Emotionally, physically, spiritually, mentally- a flaming pile of shit. I’m a pretty happy and energetic person by nature, but lately I just feel run down and sluggish. I haven’t been happy with how I feel nor how I look. And if I’m really going to be honest with myself, I have to admit that I just haven’t been all that healthy when it comes to nourishment.

OK, OK- that’s being a bit hard on myself. In general, I eat pretty well. I follow a plant-based, vegetarian diet. I drink loads of water. I am physically active. But I also “treat” myself a lot. I enjoy way too much red wine. And while I try to follow a guideline of 80/20 (80 percent of the time eating clean, 20 percent indulgence/treats), lately it’s probably been more like 60/40. And it’s catching up with me.

Frankly, I’m getting sick and tired of complaining to my husband about how gross, tired, sluggish or bloated I feel. I’m getting sick of feeling self-conscious about how I look- and yes, this is hard for an eating disorder therapist to admit- or having a less-than enthusiastic body image. Sure, due to my profession I’d like to say I feel great about my body and in my own skin all the time, but hey, therapists are people, too, and sometimes our body image sucks.

So I think it’s time to hit the “reset” button and kick start my way back into taking control of my physical and emotional health. And I *think* I have a plan to do it.

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Ta-Da! I’ve been a fan of Kris Carr for many years now, after watching her documentary “Crazy Sexy Cancer” and then getting hooked into her website, My Crazy Sexy Life. Several years ago, I downloaded a copy of her book, “Crazy Sexy Diet,” and absolutely loved it. It’s not a “diet” per se, but more a way of life- with an emphasis on eating a vegetarian (or vegan) diet, juicing a shitton of green vegetables, consuming whole grains/whole foods, and avoiding caffeine, gluten (if you’re gluten sensitive), alcohol, meat and dairy…. all the while meditation, exercising, dry brushing and using your neti pop like a champ.

If I’m honest, I pretty much do all of this stuff, minus the caffeine, alcohol and occasional dairy. But as I said before, I could certainly use a tune up.

At the end of the “Crazy Sexy Diet” book, there is an optional 21 day “Adventure Cleanse”. When I started thinking about doing a cleanse, I remembered this cleanse from Kris’ book and went back to research it. Once I saw that it was titled the “Adventure” cleanse, I thought, “well, there I go…. my own vitADVENTURE cleanse.”

So the Adventure cleanse is a 21 day journey that entails the following:
-Following a vegan diet and abstaining from any animal product or processed foods (check, this won’t be a problem for me)
-Replacing coffee with hot water with lemon, and then a morning green juice- in fact, drinking fresh pressed juice until lunch time. (this may be a problem for me, I get HUNGRY)
-No caffeine, no gluten, no alcohol…..eek
– Lots of fresh, raw (or lightly steamed) vegetables, beans, low glycemic fruits, grains
– Daily meditation, dry brushing and use of the neti pot…..

It obviously entails more, but that’s the jist… And I think I’m going to give it a shot come Monday… Hey, at the very least, it will give me something to blog about.We’ll see- I could still chicken out, but my husband told me to fake out my mind and tell myself I’ll try it for a week and see how I feel… Or I could just man up, drop the drama and just do it.

But that said, I’m posting from a hotel room in Boise, Idaho, and we’re heading to Sun Valley for a friend’s wedding this weekend, where there will probably be all things non-cleanse available and enjoyed…. Fun times and a phot recap to come!

Have a great weekend!


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Steamboat Fun Part 2

Alright- picking up from where we left off….

After a morning of hiking in Steamboat and lunch at Sweet Pea’s, we walked around town for awhile and did some shopping.

One of my favorite bookstores of all time!

One of my favorite bookstores of all time!

I encountered the World’s Largest Fire Hydrant.

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Ok, I don’t know if it is the World’s Largest Hydrant, I’m sure it’s not, but I was impressed!

After some money was sufficiently spent, we headed to our hotel on the mountain, The Steamboat Grand.

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Frankly, I’m not including a link here because I didn’t think it was all that “grand” and I wouldn’t waste your money. We’ve stayed at the Sheraton Steamboat before which is across the street and lovelier (in my opinion).

Overall I thought the Grand was a pretty expensive hotel for being the off-season and I found it pretty outdated- but luckily, we didn’t spend too much time there. We did pay for location, however, so I guess I can rationalize that.

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After checking in, we promptly went to the pool for some R&R.

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Catching up on my mags

Catching up on my mags

Unfortunately, the pool area was swarming with screaming jovial children- swarming to the point where it was extremely difficult to relax or hear each other- and every ounce of my being was cringing (hey, not all women yoga teachers love children, but that’s another post for another day)- my husband and I don’t have kids and aren’t used to being around them, so we decided to move on to a Happy Hour snack at the hotel bar.

Roasted chick peas with cayenne, lime and sea salt

Roasted chick peas with cayenne, lime and sea salt

The Steamboat Grand does get an A+ for having vegetarian-friendly bar apps!

Later in the afternoon, we took another stroll around the ski village before getting ready for dinner.

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Now dinner was a whole other story. We had dinner reservations at Cafe Diva (www.cafediva.com) We hadn’t been there in over 7 years, since our last trip to Steamboat, but I remembered it being elegant, unique and vegetarian-friendly.

Well, I shall make this short. It was, by far, the best meal I have EVER HAD IN MY LIFE. In fact, there are NO pictures of this experience because Tim and I were both enjoying ourselves SO MUCH that I couldn’t be bothered to take out my phone and snap away. It was THAT GOOD. You know it’s a grand meal when you don’t want any distractions from your taste buds.

We had exceptional service, exceptional Pinot Noir, and exceptional food from their summer menu. At Cafe Diva, they start you with some exceptional french bread, warm extra virgin olive oil with herbs, and Spanish olives. Usually all three of those in high-quality form is enough to make me happy. We also noshed on the corn falafel pockets, avocado watermelon green gazpacho and a Fattoush salad. I thought it was a bit risky, choosing the Fattoush salad, seeing as I’m Lebanese and a bit biased, but turns out the chef also comes from a Lebanese salad and let me just say, she NAILED IT. Even my grandmother would have been impressed. Tim also got the duck which was “oooohhhhhmmmmmmgggooooodd” (his words).

Overall, if you are ever in Steamboat Springs, you must call Cafe Diva, make a reservation and treat yourselves. You cannot go wrong.

The next day, we woke up STILL talking about the previous evening’s dinner and decided to hit the Yampa Core Bike Trail to work off the glorious indulgences of yesterday.

The Yampa Core Bike Trail is pretty much a 7 mile bike trail (one way, we doubled back to add more mileage) along the Yampa River. It’s an easy, relaxing ride and a popular route without too many hills, so it’s perfect for a Sunday “tootle”.

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The paved trail crosses over bridges, where you can get a view of the tubers going down the river, and past the botanical gardens before bringing you into downtown- where, I’m almost embarrassed to admit that we ended up back at Sweet Pea for one last lunch before hitting the road back to Denver.

Overall, it was a glorious weekend in Steamboat that included all our requirements for weekend/vacation fun: good food, great activities, and just a bit of R&R. Of course, we did hit some gnarly weather on the drive back, as well as horrific traffic, but hey, it was worth it.

Hail!

Hail!


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Steamboat Fun Part 1

Hey there and happy Sunday.
Oh lordy, where do I begin? I have an hour to kill before the season premiere of “Dexter” (any other Dexter fans out there?) so truly, where do I begin?

We are back from our fantastic adventure in Steamboat Springs. We hadn’t been to Steamboat in over 7 years so it was a long overdue trip.

We left early Saturday morning and it took us about 2.5 hours to get there ( it should take 3 minimum if there’s no traffic, but I was driving and eh, I’m a bit of a heavy foot). We rolled into town greeted by this lovely view.

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Not bad.

We drove immediately to the trailhead of Fish Creek Falls, a popular Steamboat destination. There is a short 1/4 mile hike down to the falls that is pretty much a tourist attraction (and therefore, usually would be a deterrent for us, as we prefer things off the beaten path)- HOWEVER, I had done some research and knew that there was another hike just past the lower falls that climbs 2,000 feet in elevation to the Upper Fish Creek Falls and knew that it would not be busy due to the difficulty of the hike. So we pushed past the crowds and began our ascent.

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Lower Fish Creek Falls

Lower Fish Creek Falls

After a nice photo op at Lower Fish Creek Falls, we began a pretty strenuous 2 mile ascent up. We were, however, rewarded for our efforts with glorious shade for most of the hike, wildflowers and a stunning view from the top.

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Almost to the top

Almost to the top

Wildflowers Galore

Wildflowers Galore

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Finally, about an hour into the hike, we made it!

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Glorious views from the top

Glorious views from the top

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Cooling Off with the waterfall spray

Cooling Off with the waterfall spray

We spent about 10 minutes at the top just enjoying the views before we headed back down- oh, glorious DOWN!

All in all, the hike was around 5 miles and we did it under two hours- pretty average when you include stops, elevation gain, and the heat. Of course, we were starving when we reached the car and immediately headed into downtown Steamboat Springs for lunch at Sweet Pea Market and Restaurant.

I had found Sweet Pea after doing a Yelp search for “Steamboat Vegetarian” (what did we do without Yelp?) and I’m glad I didn’t let a few of the “poor service” reviews deter me. Yes, they were busy and yes, service was a little slow, but I’d gladly wait for the deliciousness that was Sweet Pea.

At first, glance, it looks like a little market with some locally grown produce, honey, lavender and other herbs.

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Combining beer advertising and basil- LOVE

Combining beer advertising and basil- LOVE

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Such Farmer’s Market Fun! But an even better surprise happened when we walked around the corner and found a back patio on the Yampa River with beautiful outdoor dining.

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We grabbed a table in the shade and reviewed the menu. I was in heaven looking at the salad entrees.

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What to choose? I ended up with the Trifecta salad- basically I opted for a sampling of all three- I ordered the kale and quinoa, snap pea and the olive and cucumber with local feta and yogurt dressing.

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It. Was. Divine.

Tim opted for the Brie and Bacon on whole grain with a side of garlic fries (of which I helped myself to!)

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We toasted to our hard hike with some champagne, noshed on our lunch and watched people tubing down the river. It was absolutely lovely….

And this seems a perfect place to end tonight’s post…. With a full belly and aching quads…. More to come on the rest of our trip tomorrow!


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Weekend in Pics

First of all, Happy Father’s Day!

Dad and I on the Cape of Good Hope- South Africa- 2012

Dad and I on the Cape of Good Hope- South Africa- 2012

Today we celebrated our dads. My Dad, in fact, kicks some serious ass. He’s a brilliant horticulturalist who has taught me, from day one of my life, to follow my passion and follow my bliss. If you look up “passion-follower” in the dictionary (does that word even exist?), you’ll see this man:

Dad and I in the early 80s- he hasn't changed a bit- but I (and my teeth and hair color) have!

Dad and I in the early 80s- he hasn’t changed a bit- but I (and my teeth and hair color) have!

My father is passionate about nature, about botany, about vegetable gardening and fruit trees. He has embodied the very essence of the life I would like to cultivate for myself- a life based on what makes me tick. My father has taught me that life is too important to just walk through it without direction or purpose- that we all need to find what feeds our interest, our souls, and go forth and leap into that. And for that I am forever grateful to him.

Of course, my father is halfway across the country in western Massachusetts, and I am here in Denver. So alas, while I would have loved to celebrate with him this weekend, I had to make do with my husband and dog. Le sigh. T’was a difficult weekend…..

Saturday we drove north to Fort Collins and hit up a beautiful 13 mile bike ride along the Poudre River. We do this ride once a year and it’s always a winner.

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Along with our annual bike ride tradition, we also follow up said ride with a stop at Coopersmith’s Pub. I got the garden salad, which is more than a typical “garden salad” of boring iceberg lettuce and croutons. This bad boy has mixed greens, sprouts, garbanzo beans, red onion, cucumber and carrots. I always ask them to hold the hard boiled eggs- growing up on a farm with my mom’s chickens has made me a complete snob- in fact, I rarely eat eggs- maybe once or twice a year, and only if I’m back home on the farm.

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In other weekend news, my hair was a COMPLETE mess after wearing a bike helmet in hot weather for an hour and a half. I happened to get bored creative on the drive home and decided to give myself a comical mohawk. At first it was just a joke. Then I was like, “wait, this isn’t that funny, I kinda like this.” And then I thought again and reminded myself I’m 33, not 23. Thoughts?

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We wrapped up Saturday with an evening grilling pizza and playing bocce with some friends. Score!

On Sunday, I hit up a Yoga Sculpt class (our teacher Ben had made an entire playlist by the Rolling Stones in honor of his late father- also awesome!) and we did some necessary household chores. We wrapped up the day with (vegan) sushi and another round of bocce with our friend Dave.

Gus loves Bocce

Gus loves Bocce

We also enjoyed a lovely tour of our new next door neighbor’s vegetable garden. It was a good call moving next door to a vegetable gardener. Once a week, I come home to a bag of homegrown greens on my doorstep. And tonight, we reaped the benefits of his labor.

Home grown radishes!

Home grown radishes!

I hope everyone enjoyed their weekends. High five to all the Dads out there- you’re awesome!


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Inspiration… And Imperfection

Oh hey there and Happy Friday! I hope you all have had a lovely week.

Here in Colorado, the state of burning wildfires, it has looked like this all week in my car :

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That’s right. Above 100 degrees. It finally cooled off today to a whopping 90 degrees, but hey, I’m a pitta- I cannot deal with anything pretty much over 70 degrees. My body temperature and personality just burn FIRE all the time- not in a good way. I have fantasies of living in Iceland or Alaska and being quite happy- how I ended up here in Colorado? Not sure.

But alas, things are cooling back into the 80s this weekend, which hopefully helps our brave firefighters contain the fires ravaging our state. MAD.PROPS, firefighters, MAD.PROPS.

To counteract the summer heat this week, I made Angela’s “Thai-Inspired Hydrating Cucumber Salad” this week- I just added some avocado and greens to make it more of a salad. It was pretty ridiculously amazing, but that’s not a surprise- she’s a genius. I’ve said that a few times.

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I’ll get better at food photography at some point, I swear. Please hang in there with me until that magical day.

In other food news, after a LOOOOOOONNNNGGGGG day at work today, I stumbled into the house exhausted and mentally drained. Fabulous husband prepared some amazing vegan, gluten-free tacos while I decompressed with an organic cucumber vodka/soda drink (what? it’s ORGANIC and it’s CUCUMBER? It’s practically health food)……. We played a round of camping bocce for Happy Hour…. You know it’s the ultimate in laziness/decompression when it’s too much to actually play bocce ball with anything other than your “camping set” from REI.

Gus loves Bocce

Gus loves Bocce

Anyhoo, these tacos made by said husband were bomb and consisted of grilled portobella mushrooms, zuchinni and green and red onions, as well as salsa, tomatoes, fresh chopped cilantro and sliced avocado- all on a corn tortilla. Nom. Nom.

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And FINALLY, when I wasn’t stuffing my face with goodness and cucumber vodka, I was working my ass off. And it was worth it- because at the end of the week, I received this handmade painting from a patient who was discharging today.

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Gifts like this make my entire world worthwhile. I’ve said it before and will never stop saying it- my job is hard, heart-wrenching at times, and almost always stressful. But when I am met with such gratitude and appreciation, as well as the acknowledgement that I may have helped someone in their lifelong journey… well, that’s all I need…. Of course, I always throw things like this back on my patients, because it is truly THEM doing the work- there is nothing special about me or the work I do with them- they possess their own magic, I simply help hold up the mirror so that they may see their inner light. My patients inspire ME, not the other way around.

In other news, I also have been settling into my role as “yoga teacher” on Fridays from 4-5… and I gotta say, I am LOVING IT. Today I prepped for and taught a class that I was super excited for- we did a ton of shoulder and hip opening. Most of it was seated, most of it was very little movement in general. Think basic eagle arms, neck rolls, pigeon and side bends. Frankly, I couldn’t have gotten MORE basic. But I loved what I was teaching. I had over 15 patients in my class today, which is a success considering it’s Friday night and many patients either a: have passes for the weekend or b: have no interest in doing yoga on a Friday before dinner and would rather attend a different group scheduled at the same time.

Hey, 15 yogis/yoginis? I’ll take it! And afterwards, I received a lot of positive feedback. They were all swarming around, discussing how GREAT it felt to open up their rhomboids, or how they felt rejuvenated, etc. It was my first time feeling like a “real yoga teacher”. I guess I’m starting to embrace this new part of my professional identity. Yeah, I teach yoga. That’s a weird thing to own, because I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing.

But the best part of teaching at my workplace is that we’re constantly preaching about the virtue of IMPERFECTION. And part of our role as staff is to model this. So I am constantly screwing up in my cueing. Especially when I try to mirror eagle or cowface pose (side note- not a good idea to say, out loud, any word containing “cow” when dealing with eating disorder patients)- but instead, when I realize I’m on the completely different leg than the rest of them, I laugh it off, say “oh crap, whatever leg you are on is fine”, and keep moving.

Because that’s the ultimate lesson. It’s just yoga, and it’s not to be taken too seriously.

Have a grand weekend, dear friends.