A Bittersweet Day

Inhale: 1, 2 Exhale: 1, 2, 3 It’s somewhere around 6:30 am. I’ve been out here for a while and I have a couple miles left to go. I never wear a watch, so time moves strangely. Really, it’s as though I’m out of the time stream entirely. All I can feel are my feet […]

And You Can Sing Along

Coming home from a medical appointment yesterday, I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time: I sang along with my music as I walked down the street.

I still vividly remember the last time I did this. (Annnnd I’m about to date myself, good thing my about page already has that listed!) I was at the farmer’s market with my mom, listening to a Paula Abdul tape in my Walkman.

I think this is the one I had.
I think this is the one I had.

I was so excited to be alive to hear music that I loved, I was singing along out of pure enthusiasm for the moment and for my life. Here was my mom’s reaction:

You shouldn’t sing out loud in public. Especially with music other people can’t hear. You sound terrible.

Thanks, Mom.

The criticism stuck though, I spent many years thinking how bad it would be if I sang in public. So I shoved down that little spontaneous part of me who wants to sing along with an awesome song as I walk down the street.

Then, yesterday, I finally allowed myself to reconnect with that spontaneous and joyful reaction to really feeling a song. I heard those old, hurtful words in my head and just let them go.

Yesterday I reclaimed the silly part of me who sings and dances to music only I can hear while I walk down the street. Not for anyone else. For myself. For the joy of just being alive.

I found this picture from 2014 recently. That's me singing and playing my guitar. Also, I still have that shirt.
I found this old picture recently. That’s me singing and playing my guitar. Also, I still have that shirt.

How about you? Anything you’d like to reclaim today?


If you’re wondering about the song, it was “A Murder of One” by Counting Crows (Yup, still dating myself.) It begins with one of my favorite lyrics of all time:

Blue morning, blue morning, wrapped in strands of fist and bone.

Finally, yes, the post title is another Buffy the Vampire Slayer reference.

You’re Taking Notes, Right?

I can’t believe we’re already on the 8th Adventuring on a Budget post. How the heck did that happen? I’m pretty sure it’s only been a couple months since I set out to “prove” that a wellness lifestyle is not just for the privileged.

I also can’t believe that I am only now covering one of the most important parts of improving your personal wellness: keeping a journal (or 4 or 5 like I do, or is it 6?).

How can you possibly keep track of how your wellness is evolving if you aren’t writing it down? How can you science without data? Maybe you have perfect recall, which is awesome, but for the rest of us it’s a good idea to write things down.

I use my journals for almost anything. I write down business/blog ideas, I write out a daily mantra, I plan my schedule, write down what I’m grateful for, and of course, write down how things are going with my latest resolution. I also write poems and essay outlines.

I’m honestly not sure how I used to manage.

Keeping a journal was a chore for me at first. 750words helped me get over that initial hump. I loved that it analyzed my daily writing to give me cool pie charts showing my attitude, emotions, etc. Pie charts with bright, happy colors even! It got me into the habit of writing things down every day and I haven’t looked back.

Where you start is up to you. You don’t *need* pretty, pretty pie charts and word analysis to get value for your efforts. Like with pretty much everything else I’ve written about, consistency is key to getting the results you want.

Do you already keep a journal? If not, what would it take for you to start?

 

 

Was it really a failure?

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. -Ralph Waldo Emerson

My blogging streak continues! Ahem.

Last Sunday was supposed to be a pretty long run for me. I hadn’t managed to stick to my ideal schedule, but it should have been okay.

Except that last Saturday night was a birthday/going away party for one of my favorite colleagues, so I both had some wine and stayed out too late. Then, of course, my sleep was more disrupted than usual.

It all added up to me deciding to forget my training regimen and just do a straight 2.5 mile run.

Did I mention that this was my first run with my new running shoes? No? Well, that was happening too.

Somewhere between 1.5 and two miles (I’ll never know because I forgot to turn on my GPS, it really was a hum-dinger of a morning) I just… hit a wall. So I walked for 2 minutes and then finished up the last half mile at a decent clip.

There was a time in my life when I would have internalized this as failure. It would have become a giant mental club to further beat myself into the ground with. “Look how worthless you are, you can’t even go for a run. Why did you stay out late with friends and drink wine anyway? It’s like you want to fail, failure.”

That was a long time ago* though.

This last Sunday, my mental dialogue was more like this: “Huh. That didn’t go as planned. Whatever, I’m gonna go eat some brunch. I can’t wait to try again on Tuesday!”

There was no judgement or self-recrimination. I didn’t get lost in a narrative about how much I stink. I just used it as fuel to try again next time and moved on with my day. That right there? That is progress. That is a wellness adventure.

This morning was my next scheduled run, and I went out and crushed it.

There will be other things that won’t go as planned, it’ll happen a lot. I’m not concerned though, I know it’s not a failure, it’s an opportunity.

How about you? Do you have any stories you’d like to share?

The flower that blooms in adversity...
The flower that blooms in adversity…

 


*Not really, it’s probably only been a few months since I was able to fully internalize that I am made of as much awesome as everyone else I know.

Forget Perfection and Make it Work!

Recently, I outlined what a perfect morning routine looks like to me, and how I planned to start implementing it right away. That’s all well and good on a morning when I’m working from home, but what about when I’m in the office? Here’s some things you might not know about me:

  1. I have a long commute, on a good day I can get to and from work in just under an hour. On a bad day, 90+ minutes.
  2. I use public transportation, and it takes two trains, buses, or a combination to get me from Chi to Evanston with waits for each, plus just under two miles of walking (each way). My actual time on any given train or bus is generally less than 20 minutes (less than 10 on the purple line).

So, I definitely get how difficult it can be to fit in self-care in the morning!

Today “should” have been a 45-minute run followed by stretching and a moderately long seated meditation. Only I had a client first thing, and there’s no way I’m getting up at 5:00 am. Not gonna happen.

This morning wasn’t going to be perfect, but there was still time for better self-care than just a quick mindfulness meditation. I did 10 minutes of yoga while my yerba mate steeped, and then I drank the tea on my yoga mat and wrote in a journal.

In which our intrepid heroine attempts parallel feet at Howard terminal while waiting for the train
In which our intrepid heroine attempts parallel feet at Howard terminal while waiting for the train

Then I got creative. I had almost 10 minutes to wait for each train this morning; a perfect opportunity to practice Tadasana!* My yoga teacher likes to say that Tadasana, “is an everything pose, or a nothing pose”. I like to use the time I spend waiting for my train to arrive to make it an everything pose.

It’s this kind of flexibility that leads to better self-care. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you’re never going to get started.

How about you? Any clever ways you sneak in some extra care on busy days?


*This is not an endorsement for yoga journal and I am not a yoga teacher. I cannot overstate how strongly I believe that yoga should be learned in person from a qualified professional.

 

 

From Fantasy to Reality

Have you tried doing any monthly resolutions yet? I love playing with new things every month!

I know that it’s still August (happily, I am not ready for fall!), but this morning I came up with my September resolution: turning on my computer 30 minutes later in the morning. I plan to ease that up to an hour, so no computer time before 8:00 am.

What will I do with all that time?

Seems like a 10K isn’t going to run itself, so 2-3 mornings I’ll be out running (with properly paced breath, even).

Extra meditation and yoga time! I’ve really, really slacked off on my morning yoga practice on non-run days.

In my fantasy life, I do my quick meditation check-in right away, then I follow that up with a run or yoga practice, and end with a longer meditation. I keep making excuses for why I can’t have that now, why it has to wait for some magical, perfect future. Excuses about not having time. Somewhere along the line, I decided that reading my favorite blogs took precedence over yoga in my precious early morning hours.

Again, this blog is about adventure! One of the reasons I stress that so often is that it gives me framework for looking at the preceding paragraph in a self-loving, nonjudgmental way.

I let myself have different priorities up until now (let’s get real, after writing all this I am totally going to start early), and that’s fine! Today is a new opportunity, tomorrow is a new opportunity, I will have another chance to live this dream until the day I die.

It can seem a little intimidating to cut back on technology at first. When I disabled my phone’s email notifications I practically broke out in hives; yet I haven’t missed any important emails, or failed to get back to clients and readers in a timely fashion.

Choose yourself, choose adventure, choose today!

Make time for your dreams
Make time for your dreams

*This post was originally published with a different title. A terrible title. Possibly my worst ever.

Cheater, Cheater

Watchtower
I’m watching you, cheater!

First, mindful eating has changed my life. No exaggeration, I feel amazing!

Ahem, moving on…

Last week I had my first personal training session with Malik Turley at Hip Circle Studio. To say it was awesome is an understatement, but it’s an understatement Malik will appreciate.

As many of you know, I started running again this summer. It’s going well so far, but I noticed that my lungs are by far my limiting factor. My legs and heart could go forever (or at least farther than I’ve been going), but my lungs start to say “nah, we’re good with this much” earlier than I’d like.*

My mission (which I chose to accept): pace my breathing. Inhale for four steps, exhale for four steps.

Easy peasy!

I had been doing runs around 3 or 3.5 miles before I incorporated paced breathing. (Why wasn’t I doing it from the start? Ignorance, plain and simple.) My first run after that session: I ran outta steam after 2 miles. Whomp, whomp.

I’m happy to say that after this morning’s run I am back on track. It took some mantras, but I got it done. I am officially training for a 10K with new and improved breathing habits.

Has anyone else struggled with this? Did you have to retrain?


*When I was a cyclist I didn’t ever work hard enough to need to pace my breathing. Sometimes I really miss those days, but most of the time I’m really grateful for the challenge!

 

A Little Monday Inspiration

One of the reasons I decided to make this a wellness blog several years ago was because I wanted to demonstrate that it is possible to live a wellness lifestyle without spending a lot of money. (Access to things like organic produce is very complicated, of course.) “Wellness is for Everybody” is my unofficial motto around these parts.

When I read this article on Deliciously Ella last week, I was really inspired. Whenever possible from now one, I’ll include a price breakdown at the end of my recipe posts.

This blog is my trail guide to self-care. I feel more committed than ever to using it as a tool to help as many people as possible find a sustainable self-care regimen.

Keep on adventuring!

The Scary Changes

I’ve noticed that the more real and authentic I’m able to be on this blog, the more people engage with it and with me outside of it. Well, having meaningful human contact is one of the main purposes of my life, so let’s keep that up. Before we continue, I’m gonna throw up a Trigger Warning for disordered eating talk on this post.


I’ve been pretty candid in the past about my dietary experiments, namely, playing with adding and subtracting certain foods to my diet. I’m extremely comfortable (and enjoy) playing with the “what” aspect of mealtime. “How” has proven to be a much trickier subject.

I have a lot of issues with food and eating. The reasons are irrelevant, just know that they are old and deeply ingrained.

As I’ve been spending time trying to improve my wellness, I recently took a long, hard look at my actual eating habits. What I found… wasn’t pretty. It’s amazing what we can overlook about ourselves.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve gotten very serious about incorporating mindfulness practice into mealtime. It’s something I’ve tried in the past, but never managed to make a habit out of it. Asking me to take one mindful bite of food? You’re basically asking me to run my nails down a chalkboard. Do not want.

But my life is about adventuring toward wellness, not running full speed away from it. So I did what I always do when things get tough: I set a timer for 5 minutes and ate as slowly and mindfully as I could until that timer went off.

You know what? It wasn’t so bad. In fact, it felt indulgent in the best possible way to take my time over my food and really focus on it. To pause occasionally and take a deep breath in the middle of a meal. I could do this.

Now when the timer goes off I don’t necessarily stay at the table and finish my meal in a mindful state; sometimes I want to get back to my reading, etc. But sometimes I do. Either way, I eat slower than I did before, and feel way better after the meal is over.

I’m not going to lie, this was a scary change for me to make. Engaging thoughtfully with food and mealtimes felt like a mountain too steep when I was at the bottom. Now that I know I can do it, I actually want to do it. The one time (so far) I’ve forgotten to do it, I was disappointed because I didn’t enjoy my meal as much.

Sometimes following through with the scary changes can lead to a much better place. Be brave and adventure on!

 

Culinary Adventuring

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food -Hippocrates

One of the coolest things to come out of my adventures these past few years is seeing how changing my diet has changed my life. I’m the healthiest I’ve ever been, and I’ve started to really enjoy eating food that I’ve made myself.

This wasn’t always so; I was all about convenience food. I only had a couple dishes in my repertoire, and while I liked experimenting, most days I just couldn’t be bothered (ah, my old priorities!).

Luckily, there are people who love to experiment and blog about it.

Yes, this is a post about food blogs.

I love food blogs. You can find recipes for just about anything, and they can really get you out of a rut. Plus, seeing all the gorgeous pictures people post of their dishes got me to step up my presentation.

I think experimenting with new recipes gives me the same kind of satisfaction that learning anything else new does; it expands my horizons. I’ll never forget the summer I decided to learn to cook Indian food, it was awesomely fun (and tasty, but so much canola oil…)!

Here are a few suggestions to get you started, then go forth and enjoy! Culinary adventures await you!

  • Oh She Glows (this is my favorite vegan blog, everything I’ve made is delicious! be sure to check out “the best shredded kale salad”)
  • Deliciously Ella (so many awesome veggie recipes, this site got me hooked on celeriac)
  • Manjula’s Kitchen (this is where I learned some Indian dishes, all vegetarian and lots of gluten-free)
  • I Quit Sugar (this is the place I use most often now, quitting sugar has been the best!)

Any recommendations for me? How about favorite recipes?