Upcoming Workshop

Next month I’ll be giving a workshop with Marsha Smith, LCSW at Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery.

I’m so excited present my method to use a journal to build self-esteem and self-confidence, and to hear Marsha present her method of dream interpretation! We’re going to have fun while getting empowered to get in touch with our creativity.

You can find more information and buy tickets through Eventbrite here.

A bat plant! one of many awesome plants you can find at Cultivate
A bat plant! one of many awesome plants you can find at Cultivate

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?



Cheater, Cheater

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!


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?


Free Ranging It

I’ve been on the road most of this week visiting family. All the running around has left me a little tapped out blog-wise, but I have a good feeling about how quickly I’ll be inspired again.

In the meantime, I’ve just started reading a pretty awesome book that I thought I should share on here (I’m also thinking of making an essential reading list page for this blog).

Be a Free Range Human” is going to a pretty fantastic read; I can already tell and I’m only a couple chapters in.

One things that’s struck me about it so far, and that I saw in action this week, is the idea of putting of the things you want to do until later in favor of working now. So, as long as I choose something that makes lots of money, I’ll have that money to spend having fun once I retire.

I’ll take the fun and fulfillment now, thanks.

I’m excited to go through the exercises to try to tailor my work even more to fit who I am and what I want. My plan is to love my job even more than I already do, what could be better than that?

Do you know why everyone at Chicago street tests go bonkers for these guys? Because they love what they do!
Do you know why everyone at Chicago street fests goes bonkers for these guys? Because they love what they do!

A Victorious Day

Today has been a big day; I’ve accomplished three things that I feel really good about:

This morning I did my entire 60 minute kettlebell class using an 8 lb bell. Assuming that my arms are still attached tomorrow, that’s pretty exciting.

For weeks now I’ve had a weekly task to register for the weekend with Her Eminence Mindrolling Khandro Rinpoche. Today I finally got to wipe that off the dry erase board. I am so excited for this special weekend!

Do you ever have tasks that you’ve been putting off for so long that they take on a disproportionate amount of importance in your mind? I’m talking about a normal, everyday thing that other people manage to do with no thought that you’ve been putting off for so long that it starts to seem impossible? That’s what my last accomplishment today was like.

I finally, finally applied for my passport! I’ve been saying to myself for almost a decade, “I need [should, have, etc] to get my passport so I can finally leave the US”.

I decided on Monday that that was going to happen this week. Wednesday, in fact. I made it my only task for today, that’s how serious I was about it (and how much I was overthinking it, because it took maybe 45 minutes and most of that was just waiting in line). I was literally shaking with nerves from the moment I arrived at the post office until I said goodbye to the (incredibly nice and patient) woman who was helping me.

Freedom is one of my most important values, and by continually putting off getting a passport I was neglecting that part of my life.

Here’s to freedom, and learning new massage modalities all over the world!

Play Outside

Many years ago I had a gym membership. It was a nice little neighborhood gym, with very few intimidating members. It was mostly older women, come to think of it.

I lasted for about ten months, then the expense (as well as boredom) got to be too much.

Now I do most of my exercise outside (even in the winter, back when I could ride my bike, I was a 365 commuter), and I love it. It’s amazing what a difference it makes when I walk or run outdoors.

In fact, I’m pretty sure that all the walking and climbing on ice formations I did this past winter is what kept me feeling good all the way into the middle of February.

Now that it’s officially summer for us northern hemispherers, it’s great time to take advantage of the free opportunities for activity and exercise presented by the great outdoors.

Personally, I like to run over to the lake a couple mornings a week and then play in the water as part of my cool down. Evanston’s lakefront trail is cool too, they have some neat workout stations along the trail.

Pick a spot that inspires and refreshes you, and do the activity of your choice. The lack of climate control adds a nice little spice to things, and you really can’t beat the price!


Think Community

The first yoga class I ever took was a free community class held by Patricia Hyland on Sunday evenings. It was an amazing introduction to yoga; Patricia was so warm and welcoming, plus it was free! I have also gone to some amazing community meditation classes and events.

One of the aspects of yoga and meditation that resonates most strongly with me is the idea of community and generosity that so many studios and individuals embrace. In spite of needing to make a living*, there are so many options out there for people with limited means to still get the benefits of attending these types of classes and workshops.

Once again, our friend the Internet makes it easier than ever to find local resources. Just use the search engine of your choice and search for “free (yoga/meditation) your city” and give a couple classes a try. Here’s a website listing free and donation yoga classes for Chicago.

*It was such a good day when I realized that I had enough money to start paying for classes again. I get more out of them because I am paying in time and money now, so I am even more present. Plus, it feels great to make a financial contribution toward someone else living their dream.


Epic Summer Redux

All the photos in this post are from last week’s mini vacation in New Buffalo, MI. I thought it would be fun to share a little bit of that adventure here, but it seemed really self-indulgent to write an actual post about it.


Two years ago I was having the worst summer of my life: I was experiencing on and off debilitating pain (more on, sadly); I had suddenly left my job, my clients, and presumably my profession; and a close family member turned out to be very ill. Sometimes I thought it was going to crush me.

Walkway to the dunes
Walkway to the dunes

It was also in some ways the best summer of my life: it felt like I had very little left to lose and so I really lived in the moment. When I was in Chicago my besties and I would go to street festival after street festival and dance in the street like we didn’t have a care in the world; in those moments I honestly didn’t.

Little New Buffalo lighthouse behind the dunes
Little New Buffalo lighthouse behind the dunes

I have decided to try to have it all this summer in what I’m calling, “Epic Summer 2: The Return”. At first is seems like a daunting idea; seeing clients (and giving them my all), keeping healthy, blogging and staying up on social media, working on my creative writing, and then finding time to dance with abandon. Kind of the opposite of carefree, right?

A family of geese joined me for morning meditation. Such fluffy goslings!
A family of geese joined me for morning meditation. Such fluffy goslings!

Fortunately, in addition to all the other ways I have been trying to optimize my life, I have been reading a lot on time management/productivity. This article was the inspiration I needed to finally go for it.

We randomly stopped at Central Beach in Indiana to admire the Chi skyline.
We randomly stopped at Central Beach in Indiana to admire the Chi skyline.


Here’s my plan for the days I don’t see clients: during the hours when all sensible vampires and people of Irish descent are staying out of the sun as much as possible, I will be doing my computer projects like writing for this blog and my newsletter. During my original Epic Summer I spent these hours either reading about the Founding Fathers/ Revolutionary War if I was in Michigan, or watching t.v. if I was at home. I’ll use timers to help ensure that I’m using that time as productively as possible (I cannot tell you how much of a difference using a timer has made in my life already!). The rest of my time is for playing outside, or reading, or street dancing.

I just really liked this bush.
I just really liked this bush.

The days when I do see clients will stay the same. When I am at work, my time is theirs and I give them my all.

I have no idea if this plan will actually succeed. My hope is that by bringing back little pieces of that carefree summer, I’ll have even more to give during my working hours. The beauty of being self-employed is the freedom to play with things like this. The danger is not re-calibrating in time if it doesn’t work. Luckily for me, I’m an optimist.

This was the view from our balcony. I could never get tired of waking up to that!
This was the view from our balcony. I could never get tired of waking up to that!

Stories We Tell (Ourselves)

There’s a distinct possibility that as I type this post, I’m still riding the endorphin high of my first kettlebell class. Tomorrow I might wake up and regret ever being born (this is my number one go-to joke, my parents think it’s hilarious*), but for now I feel unstoppable. I’ve been feeling like that a lot lately; this sense that I am strong and resilient. I’ve been planning to start doing more intense cardio and weight-bearing exercises for a while now, but I was afraid to actually start.

What I realized almost immediately after class today was how many times I have told myself over the past few months that I’m still weak. That I need this or that issue to get better before I start working with weights. Basically, I’ve been telling myself, “I can’t”. For at least a month now I’ve been getting in my own way.

There was absolutely a time when I should not have been doing anything as strenuous as kettlebell or boxing. Heck, there was a time when I needed to be careful not to walk too many miles in a day! I absolutely needed to focus on restorative exercises for an extended period of time. I needed to be gentle with myself and baby myself.

But now I realize that all that restorative self-care has born fruit. I’m doing really well, and I’m ready to shift gears into building strength and endurance. It was taking the initial plunge and signing up for that first class that was the hardest part. I had to trust that I knew myself well enough at this point to know that if I was doing something harmful to myself that I would stop.

It felt so amazing to walk out the studio door this morning, on my wobbly legs, and tell myself how strong I’ve become. To stop that mental narrative of my own physical fragility in its tracks. Today I feel amazing. And tomorrow is my beloved yoga class.

*No they don’t. That’s my number two go-to joke.