letting go

I started a six week yoga program this past week. The program is called 40 Days to a Personal Revolution and it was created by Baron Baptiste, founder of Baptiste Power Yoga. I had seen it advertised at my yoga studio, Soul Yoga Lounge (which I love), but I didn’t put much thought into doing it because of the price. The teacher of the program, Alexandria, contacted me the night before the first day and asked why I wasn’t doing it, saying that she felt like I was supposed to and that she would really like to help me out if I was interested. I graciously accepted her offer and showed up to the first meeting with absolutely no idea what to expect or what I was getting myself into. Now, a week into the program, I’ve begun to form a habit of daily meditation and yoga practice. Each week is centered around a topic (this week was presence), a meditation and yoga practice, readings, journaling, and an overall consciousness of healthy living practices.

This week called for a 5 minute meditation in the morning and evening and a 20 minute yoga practice daily. I was successful this week with the exception of one missed meditation because I haven’t figured out how to meditate through tears yet (maybe I’ll learn that skill by the end of this). Next week the meditation and yoga get a little longer, and in week six, two 30 minute meditations and a 90 minute practice each day! I’m definitely intimidated by that, but I’m looking forward to the challenge.

I’m still not entirely sure why I felt led to participate in this. I have a pretty good idea. This breakup stuff is proving to be pretty hard for me still, even a few months afterward, and I think maybe this is the way I’m being led to deal with it to move on. The idea of moving on makes me deeply sad, but holding on isn’t making me happy either. I’m looking to the next five weeks to reflect on myself and my path, and hopefully to let go of the things that are no more.

Valentine’s Cupcakes

Valentine's Cupcakes

(recipe modified from smitten kitchen)

Chocolate Whiskey and Beer Cupcakes

Makes 20 to 24 cupcakes

For the Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes
1 box Duncan Hines Devils Food cake (yes, I cheated on the cake because I was lazy, but you can make any chocolate cake batter for this recipe. Just replace the water in the recipe with beer if you do)
1 cup stout (such as Guinness) in place of water
Oil and 3 eggs as the recipe on the box calls

Ganache Filling
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli dark)
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature
1 to 2 teaspoons Irish whiskey (I used more like 2+ tbsp….ooops)

Baileys Frosting
3 to 4 cups confections sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup or 4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 to 4 tablespoons Baileys (or milk, or heavy cream, or a combination thereof)

Make the filling: Heat the cream until simmering. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Let it sit for one minute and then stir until smooth. Add the butter and whiskey and stir until combined.

Fill the cupcakes: Let the ganache cool until thick but still soft enough to be piped (the fridge will speed this along but you must stir it every 10 minutes). Use a knife to cut out the centers of the cupcakes if you like. I prefer to just use my thumb and push the center in (this leaves a good bit of cake compressed at the bottom to keep all the goodness in place). Put the ganache into a piping bag with a wide tip and fill the holes in each cupcake to the top.

Make the frosting: Whip the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer, or with a hand mixer, for several minutes. You want to get it very light and fluffy. Slowly add the powdered sugar. When the frosting looks thick enough to spread, drizzle in the Baileys (or milk) and whip it until combined. If this has made the frosting too thin (it shouldn’t, but just in case) beat in another spoonful or two of powdered sugar. Still too thick? Add more booze.

Ice and decorate the cupcakes. You can spread the frosting with a spoon or pipe it like I did. I used the leftover ganache to draw hearts on mine (some of which turned out to look more like penises…. still appropriate.) Happy Valentine’s Day! (Maybe I should have made these on St. Patty’s ?)

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hello new year

happy new year!

did you make any resolutions? i didn’t specifically. i just decided it’s time to get back to feeling good and healthy. i glanced back at my posts on new year’s eve and new year’s day 2012, and i almost don’t recognize the person who wrote those posts. they are so inspired and motivated…. i don’t feel like that person anymore, and that’s my goal-rediscover her.

so in an effort to do that, i am going to start a whole 30 monday and commit to getting my butt to crossfit 5x per week during those 30 days. hopefully a month is the kickstart i need. i know these things (food and crossfit) are the catalyst for rediscovering that girl. i’ll let you know how it goes. the 30 days without alcohol is the part i’m gonna have the hardest time with…

regarding crossfit, i went today. i was terrified, as i usually am after a hiatus. i don’t know why i get so worked up about going. it’s a mixture of dread, fear, anxiety, insecurity, and excitement that is almost paralyzing sometimes. it sounds so stupid, and it IS! i’ve been crossfitting for the better part of two years now (in fact, my two year anniversary is in just a couple days) yet it still gets me every time to some extent. it’s worse now going to a new gym and having regressed so much in my fitness. it’s stupid because i know as soon as i finish the workout i’m going to walk out the door smiling, having done something awesome, and having made at least one or two new friends. how can something cause you so much anxiety and so much joy all within the time frame of about an hour?! seriously. anyway, i was still actually able to throw around a little bit of weight, despite my slacking over the last *$^% months. we did power cleans, and while i wasn’t near my max from a half a year ago, i lifted more than i anticipated. showing up is the hard part, people. just do it. it’ll make you happy.

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i had a great christmas and new year’s eve. i went home for a week for christmas, the longest i’ve spent at home in about six years probably. i didn’t do much; spent time with my family, babysat my niece, hung out with iris some, laid on the couch a lot, and ate myself silly. things were a lot different this year with my brother having a family. we didn’t wake up and open gifts but waited until his family had their celebrations, and then did a lasagna dinner and gifts that evening. i was a little bummed about the changes at the time. i’m not good at changes in tradition, but i guess that’s part of getting older. getting all kitchen things for christmas (and being excited about it) is also a part of getting older. :) for new year’s eve, i had my friends whitney and chloe over for a nice homemade dinner and drinks before going out with whitney and her friends to see the ben miller band at george’s on dickson street. the dinner was great because i got to have some girl time and share my cooking with friends. going out was also great because i was reminded that there are a lot of cool people and places in fayetteville that i have yet to experience.

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i did a lot of cool stuff in 2012. competed in a couple of crossfit events, ran a half marathon in seattle, took an epic roadtrip from tucson to seattle and back, moved to a new city, had a fun relationship, left a great job at brown egg in springfield for a cool job at tasc here, turned twenty-five, and learned a lot about myself along the way. here’s to 2013.

community

I think something that is missing in my life and maybe in our culture as a whole is real community. We all have friends and families, but how many of us spend time with mentors and sit down with other women or men and just talk about what’s really going on in our life? When I was a freshman in college I was a part of a small group bible study. We met weekly and the majority of our time was spent talking about what was really going on in our lives and then whatever bit of time was left was spent studying the bible and praying. Coming together with a group of women who I could be completely raw and honest with was a very uplifting and inspiring thing. It nourished me. I’m not so religious now, but I desire that fellowship; I always have, and I’ve never really found anything else quite like it.

There is something major to be said of the support and love and advice you can receive from other women, all ages. I was reminded of this today on a couple of occasions.

I had a work meeting with a woman at the U of A this afternoon. The director of my organization put me in touch to chat about ways we might be able to partner (she’s in charge of the volunteer program at the university). I had a feeling the meeting might be fruitful, though I didn’t expect much aside from the typical discussion about our respective programs and maybe a bit of brainstorming. After getting lost and showing up fifteen minutes late (because the UA union is beyond confusing), I was welcomed by one of the neatest ladies I’ve met in a while. I feel like I gained more personally from the meeting than I did professionally, but then again, the two are quite interrelated in my life. I felt energized and inspired as we talked, and on more than one occasion, she mentioned that she hoped I would use her as not only a resource for my work, but also personally. I fully intend to.

This evening I attended a holiday dinner for our interns at TASC. The dinner party guests consisted of myself, our director, our executive director, and three of our five high school interns, all women. We ate and chatted about a number of things, and then the girls all wanted to know a little about Heather, Dawn, and I’s backgrounds so I gave them a semi-detailed synopsis of the last eight years of my life. Talking about the journey I’ve been on as an adult is rewarding in that it is a reminder of the way things work themselves out. I believe more and more every day that each event in our lives, big and small, good and bad, is just a part of the process. It all happens so that everything else in your journey can. Even my meeting this afternoon was one of those events-I chatted about how I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and was subsequently introduced to the Clinton School-a grad school with a Public Service Masters program I didn’t even know existed. Who knows if I’ll end up doing that, but who knows if I would have ever learned about the opportunity otherwise, and who knows if I would have started thinking of ways I could make public service into a full time career otherwise? My point here is that hindsight shows just how serendipitous life is, which isn’t always easy to see when you’re smack dab in the middle of it. Back to my point, though–spending time with these women fed a part of my soul that hadn’t been in a while. I was reminded that just being in the company of women you respect and who respect you is uplifting and encouraging. Plus I got six hugs and when you are starved for companionship… :)

I know that there are women’s support groups and other various ways in which women (or men–I think this is important for men, too!) come together, but I feel like the primary way this occurs is in the church. I wonder if anything exists independent of religious small groups. I am 1000% for the church being a vessel that serves to get women together and supporting one another, but I feel like there should be options. I suppose a group must begin by coming together with a common interest (as they do in small church groups) and then the rest develops organically.  I’m not sure there is anything like this as an option in our society as a whole. I may be wrong, and I plan to look into it… maybe it’s something that needs created..

I think that’s all of the thoughts I can muster for now. My goal with this post was to express how thankful and renewed I felt after spending time with people today. Apologies that it kind of turned into a boring brainstorm toward the end, but if anyone reads this and has any input, please comment or email me. I’d love to hear other women’s thoughts on community and it’s existence or lack thereof in their life.

I often begin posts without ever finishing them. Most of the time as of late, they’ve begun with a negative or sad connotation. I live in a new town where I have only a couple of friends and my relationship just ended. I feel sad a lot of the time and I have a lot of things to say about what I’m going through right now. I think a lot about loneliness and companionship and how the absence or presence of these things shape us. I think a lot about the phases of life and social expectations. I think a lot about being a twenty-five year old single woman in the midwest, an anomaly. Some days I am able to see a lot of positive in the life I have right now; the independence, the freedom to explore, the potential. Other days I can’t see past the isolation I feel. I feel a lot through the course of a day; often too much, I think. I wonder why I’m here, what my future holds, why our hearts get broken, what the rush is, why everyone else gets to be loved…. there are probably answers to many of these questions and I’m trying to learn how to be content not knowing them, at least not now.

Right now, with all that’s going on in the world, I’m realizing that I have a lot to be thankful for. Aside from the obvious roof over my head and food on the table, I have a job that allows me to give back to the community on a daily basis and invest in the lives of teenagers. I have a family and friends who love me. Really love. I didn’t lose a child or a sister or a friend to a manic murderer last week and I get to celebrate the holidays with my family. I know what it feels like to love. I got to look at the stars this week and watch the Hobbit and see the Christmas lights in the company of someone who loves me even if it’s not the kind of love I wish it were. I have dogs who give me funny looks and wiggle their whole body when they are excited and snuggle me when I’m sad. Last night I got to meet a lot of interesting people from all over the world at a small dinner potluck and today I walked down the trail that runs along the creek by my apartment in the sunny sixty degree sunshine. I get to see videos like this and this and read things like this that make me laugh and smile and remind me there are happy moments happening all the time. I get to witness the love and joy of all the people around me beginning new families and I get to hold babies and kiss them but I don’t have to change their diapers or stay up all night with them. I get to choose what to cook for dinner and what kind of beer to keep on hand. I have a new television and a Christmas tree with presents under it and today I sat in a bookstore reading half a book about praying and then I found a cool end table for $5 at goodwill.

Maybe one of the keys to being happy is to be thankful. Tonite I am thankful.

 

thankful and optimistic

i woke up today very thankful and content. i’ve started a post a few times now about my move to arkansas, but never posted any of them because they felt long and boring and stuffy. plus, anyone who reads this probably already knows enough about my move that it’d be redundant anyway.

anyway, i’ve been feeling a little negative about the move over the past week or so. i’m feeling a little lonely/dependent and i don’t like it. it’s also putting a lot of pressure on my relationship and that’s the last thing i want to do. it’s hard to make friends when you are an adult. you have to make effort. you can’t just go to class and sit next to someone new and start chatting it up. i work with a very small group of people who all have families and babies and are in a different phase of life than i am which is awesome because i get to look at pictures of their cute kiddos and stuff, but it isn’t exactly ideal for bff making. i went to crossfit 540 the other day and met a bunch of cool awesome folks who i could totally be friends with, but i gotta get there more than once a week to do that… at this point i’m working out about half the time on my own because of time constraints so that’s proving to be a hurdle to overcome.

all this aside, i’m optimistic today. i’m feeling a little more comfortable, and i have no doubt that with time and a little effort, friends will be made. it makes me really think about and appreciate how many lovely folk i had back in springfield, and believe me, i miss you all dearly. i’m happy to be able to spend time with rex, but i do feel extremely reliant on our relationship and that was something i never intended, nor does it make me feel good. we all know that i am a pretty independent gal and i love to be able to spend time with friends. it’s not healthy to invest yourself completely into one relationship. you end up expecting them to fulfill needs that they are not able (ie-bff girlfriend time!).

so like i said–i’m optimistic. i’m also feeling pretty thankful this morning. i’ve got plenty of work and it’s all things that i enjoy. i love working with teens and doing service projects at tasc and i’m doing a sprinkle of photography (i’d like to be doing more). i’m hanging on to a few shifts here and there at houlihans, which is fun and extra money, but i’m almost wondering if it’d be more worth it to invest my time in my photography instead. i like the job at houli’s mostly for the social interaction, but i’m there so little that i’m not really building any relationships.

i’m also thankful for an understanding boyfriend. this past week i’ve made some realizations about our relationship, and they are really good things. (for example-a boyfriend who humors you by taking you to the pumpkin patch despite the fact that he’s sick is a good boyfriend). :) i’m starting to understand things about our (very different) needs and expectations which is critical to any relationship as it becomes more involved. i guess i have much less experience in this relationship department than i thought. i’ve learned a lot about my personality over the past few months, many things i don’t particularly like. it’s a learning and growing process, but i think when you find someone who’s worth it, you endure the growing pains.

that’s all for now. i’ve got lots of pictures to share soon!

 

i love blogging about myself but god it’s awful to go back and read your old posts sometimes. that last one wasn’t too bad, but i only had to go back a few before i began to cringe a little. i’m not ashamed though. love it or leave it… that’s what i always say. actually, i think that’s the first time i ever said that, but maybe i’ll start.

it’s been a couple of crazy months, but here’s where i’m at: broke, more or less living by myself (and my dogs), falling in love or something, almost twenty-five, and confused as hell about my life. all of those things are really scary, but as far as i can tell, i’m pretty much a textbook mid-twenty something so huzzah for doing something right!

i stumbled upon this article today. here i’ve posted a few of my thoughts.

19 Pieces Of Advice You’ll Need To Make It Through Your 20s

1. Knowing what you don’t want can often be more valuable than knowing what you do want.
i think at almost-twenty-five i can say i’ve begun to understand this statement. i’m curious to see how my perspective changes over the next few years.

8. Anxiety can work in two ways: It can act as your biggest motivator or keep you frozen. Always strive for the former.

i’ve been learning this lesson in the realest way lately. i have never been one to deal with anxiety, but my oh my has it been an issue the last several weeks. i feel like i am at the brink of a new phase in life, and the unknown is causing me crippling anxiety. it has 100% been keeping me frozen, but i’m trying to refocus that energy into motivation. so hard.

9. It’s important that you advocate for yourself in both your work and personal life. No one’s going to care more about you than yourself.

but it’s scary… what if i fall on my face?

12. If you’re feeling depressed and you’re not sure why, there’s a 70% chance you just need to leave your apartment and be social.

yes. more like 97% chance.

14. Loving yourself — especially during such a rollercoaster of a decade — is going to be your biggest challenge, but in the end, it will be worth it. Prioritize the relationship you have with yourself over everything else.

i feel like this is what i’ve been doing over the past year. i’m ready to love someone else now too.

15. The only good reason to go into debt is for traveling. Not Isabel Marant boots or expensive groceries.

i’m there. broke because of traveling. do i get extra points? (if we’re being honest, i’m in debt because of a college degree, but let’s not get into semantics).

17. It doesn’t matter if you’re not currently where you want to be in your life. What matters is that you’re actively trying to achieve your goals rather than getting defeated.

i think life IS an active pursuit of goals. are we really ever where we want to be? i like to think that no one has it all figured out because that makes me feel a little less lost….

19. Love as much as you can. Don’t become scared of it. Don’t let a bad experience close you off for good.

it really all comes down to this. love.

i love blogging…

happeeee

life is good right now.

really good.

it’s a curious thing how a person can fall into your world unexpectedly and lights turn on. you open your eyes a bit. your heart takes over your brain. you realize that sometimes your heart knows better than your brain. none of it really makes sense, but it’s all crystal clear.

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i met someone. someone pretty special. you probably gathered that.

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i’m leaving tomorrow to embark on a fabulous journey with a dear dear friend. my first stop is kansas city. i get to see my family for a couple of days and spend an afternoon with some good pals i met last summer in philly. i fly to tucson arizona on wednesday and sometime next weekend, iris and i will load up her car and head north through nevada, utah, and idaho on our way to washington and then back to tucson by way of the pacific coast. we will be on the road for a couple of weeks, exploring and experiencing. this trip has been a dream of mine for a while, and it’s a little surreal that it’s actually going to take place. i can’t wait to share all the fun.

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i have a lot of thoughts regarding body image, mine personally, as well as male/female of themselves and the opposite gender. i’ve had a few lightbulbs go off in my head lately regarding this topic and i’ve come across some really insightful posts online i want to share. i plan to put a little something together soon.

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i’m gonna crack another beer, turn on some good tunes, and get to packing now.

listen to this:

ciao.

6. You’re not alone.

If you’re a 25-year-old who feels safe, secure, certain, well-adjusted, and unwaveringly sure of your amazing life, you’re either blowing industrial grade crack smoke up your own ass, or you’re a self-deluding baby whose greatest accomplishment will likely be getting voted Least Likely to Achieve Intellectual, Professional, Social or Spiritual Heights Beyond the Low Level at Which Their Own Self-Satisfied Apathy Permanently Stagnated Them Into a Life of Sad Mediocrity. It’s advisable to try to be happy with your life, but if at any point you think you’ve “got it all figured out,” and you stop seeking improvement, you officially suck harder than most.

If you’re 25 and going through the brutal process of seeing yourself honestly and the many implications that echo throughout every part of your life along with that, you’re going to feel all of the following ways in the course of any given week: bitter, angry, enthralled, amazed, in love, impossibly unable to be understood, impossibly unable to understand, empowered, serene, confused, motivated, refreshingly young, achingly tired, too alive, numb, drunk, sleepy, indulgent, lazy, unstoppable, fat, horny, and simultaneously frustrated and at peace with the overwhelming chaos and unbearable lightness of all of this. And that means you’re doing 25 the right way. This is all a helluva lot to feel. Uuuugggghhh, so many feeeelings. I know, boo. So as always, don’t forget the importance of blowing off steam. God invented tequila, weed, orgasms, and crying for a reason — besides, you’re old enough to not overdo it these days, right?

this pretty much sums it up.

 

6. You’re not alone.
 I…

mental health

i’ve decided to take the next month and focus it completely on setting and accomplishing positive goals for myself that have nothing to do with my “physical” health, but solely my mental well being. i’ve focused my attention so much on reaching the goals i’ve set with eating, exercise, sleep, etc., that i’ve neglected the other parts of my life in the process. this isn’t to say i’m done focusing on physical goals, i just have to find a compromise. i have SO many interests that have been disregarded and a creative spirit that has not been nourished in quite some time. mental and physical health are necessary for the success of the other. you can enjoy the benefits of one without the other. balance. compromise.

the most obvious interest i’ve neglected is my interest in people and relationships. i used to love spending time with people, and lately it’s been a burden because it interrupts my “me” time. that’s stupid. plain and simple. there needs to be a balance, and starting TODAY, i’m going to find one. i’ve already made some changes with my work schedule i think will really help. one reason i never spend time with people is because my sleep is crucial to my productivity, so by the time anyone is ever interested in hanging out, i’m usually getting ready for bed. i stay busy with my work, and it’s a priority to me. beginning this week, i have 3 days off per week (though 2 of them are designated photography work days), but having that extra day for myself will be beneficial beyond words, and allow for me time AND other people time.

another interest i’ve neglected is art. i rarely create anything anymore. photography is just work- though fun work, it’s still work. i need to pick up my camera more for me. viv has been photographing our neighborhood lately and i can see how much fun she’s having. i miss that. i have an art degree that cost me thousands of dollars for crying out loud. i need to do SOMETHING.

sooo.. my “mental health” goals for this week are:

1. say yes to every opportunity to hang out with people AND seek out quality time with friends. daily. just typing that makes me anxious… i don’t feel like i have an hour or more every day to spend with someone else, but i know that’s not entirely true and that i can make time. today i’m going to take my dogs swimming at the river with a friend i haven’t really ever spent quality time with. stepping out of my comfort zone for sure, and i’m fully anticipating having a blast. when did my comfort zone get so damn small?

2. for my creative goal, i’m going to start kind of small because it’s really overwhelming to come up with a “project” on a whim… i’m simply going to make a point to photograph every day. with my iphone, with my point and shoot, with my slr…. whatever. take a picture every day. not that difficult. perhaps it will spark something bigger. i’ve also been itching to draw again, so maybe i’ll bust out some charcoal…

and as a by-product of focusing my energy on real life, i am also making it a goal of mine to spend less time on goddamned facebook. i’m not going to be unrealistic and say i’ll eliminate it; i enjoy keeping up with everyone/thing i follow on there. but seriously… my time is much better spent elsewhere.

i’m excited about these goals. we’ll see how this week goes and i’ll report back next week. oh, and i’m now taking reservations for friend dates! :) enjoy the sunshine folks.