E.

Enjoying the Ease, Painting a Memory at Port Jefferson, Long Island

Ah, ease.

I’ve been feeling a bit more appreciative and less anxious these past couple of days – and it feels amazing.  A lot of hard work has been (and is still) put in and the benefits have just been that much more rewarding.

Part of me staying at ease has been me trying to be around nature as much as I can (walking in parks, sitting outside in our little garden, etc.); it has a mysterious way of snapping me out of societal ‘pressures’ and bringing me back to the roots of ‘life’, making me really appreciate the air we breathe and the natural, non-obtrusive beauty this world beholds.  Living and working in NYC (or any other big city at that) makes ‘being one with nature’ a little more challenging.  Sadly, sometimes the next best thing to an escape that I can get to around here is standing next to a tree on the busy streets- and that’s if I can find one!  It becomes even more of a challenge considering we only get summer weather that all but a few weeks out here!

So in honor of inching a little closer to ‘nature’ and appreciating it with a much calmer mind, my husband and I set off for the day to Port Jefferson, Long Island.  It was actually half a day, but I was determined to use all of my senses and really live in the moment.

Now, I think the last time I was at Port Jefferson was about two or three years ago.  I can’t really even recall what I did out there because I took it for granted.

But that wasn’t going to happen this time.  I made sure to make my visit a memorable one and not let it be another blur, especially since I feel like I went out there with a ‘new pair of eyes’ and a, truly, ‘open mind’. Read more

F.

Fear of Popping a Balloon: Exposed

I know, I know.  It seems silly to be afraid of a balloon popping; but, truth be told, it was one of my greatest fears.  I know it may be trivial to some, but sometimes small things like these are earth shattering to others.

One of the reasons why I want to talk about it today is because I actually met someone this week that has the same fear I once had!  (I thought I was the only one!)

Living with Fear and Getting Over It
I could never be around balloons because they always filled me with anxiety.

I think my fear stemmed from when I was young and was forced to play that terrible game of ‘balloon pop’.  Many of the birthday parties I went to had the game where money would be stuffed inside the balloon and the only way to get it was to pop it.  While it seemed innocent, I was actually traumatized by cousins who would take the balloon, put a fork to it, and pop it in my face.  Left… POP.  Right… POP.  Under you… POP. “Hey Loren!… POP!”  Popping was going on everywhere!  And after many birthdays, I suddenly found myself with a fear. Read more

3.

3 Fears I Conquered at the Beach

Happy 4th of July, everyone!  I hope everyone has started to enjoy their holiday weekend!  I know that I definitely started to enjoy mine, and it’s all because of conquering the below three fears yesterday at the beach.  Here we go:

1. Wearing a bikini
I have so many of them in my closet, but I never really wear them out because, well, I don’t feel comfortable in them.  I buy them from time to time because I think “one day I will be comfortable, and when I am, I will be so happy frolicking around in one,”  but that day didn’t really seem to come.  Yet, it wasn’t until yesterday that I made that day come.  I said to myself, “You know what, if you’re waiting for that day that you will be stick thin, or a day you don’t feel bloated, or a day you finally won’t be subconscious, it probably will never come.  And if it does, will that day be in the dead of winter where, surprise, surprise, you can’t wear it because the beach is closed?  What are you hiding from?”  And it was with this in mind that I said enough is enough, put on my bikini, and headed to the beach.  Was I subconscious about my appearance, yes, a little.  But I didn’t let it ruin my day.  I didn’t let it ruin my fun.  I let go and let live.  And you know what?  No regrets.

2. Swimming in a beach… with seaweed.
A few years ago, I went out to the beach with my husband and we were swimming around just fine until I felt something wrap itself around my leg and pull at me. I started to freak out and panic.  My husband, so afraid that it was perhaps an aquatic animal (read: shark) or something, helped me up on his shoulders from the water and quickly checked my leg.  What did he find?  Seaweed.  He started to laugh about it and let me back down into the water, but I, oh, I just went into a crazy panic mode where I screamed, cried, and started having anxiety in the middle of the ocean (the shore was a little swim away).  I clawed up his shoulders, making sure I stayed there until we got back to the shore.  And ever since that day, I swore to only swimming in clear waters where I can see what’s under the ocean and never went into a NYC beach ever again.

However, yesterday was a different day and I, tired of wanting to feel that water and just afraid of doing so, decided to give it another chance.  I thank my husband for holding my hand as we walked into the ocean, seaweed and all, and made me move past my comfort zone. I’m not going to lie, as we walked I felt pinches on my feet (seashells (I’m hoping)) and I jumped and started to freak out again, but we went back in and gave it another shot.  In the end, I was standing in the water, seaweed around me (eep), but I was comfortable with it.  When I tuned it out of my mind, I really started to enjoy the touch of the cooling water up on my body, which was standing in the beating hot sun, and I smiled.  It had been years since I last swam in a beach with seaweed, but there I was, soaking up the ‘here and now’.

seaweed & beach!
Me holding a piece of seaweed 😡

3. Being buried in the sand.
There were just too many instances as a child of evil people burying you and leaving you behind.  I can recall those instances.  Yes, to them it was probably ‘funny,’ but as a child, it is actually quite psychologically damaging!  It was why I volunteered myself to go into this giant hole, that was dug up between my family and myself, and be buried.  Was it still scary?  Um, yes.  Especially since no one else wanted to do it because they, too, had childhood traumas!  But, it was a shame to see that hole go to waste and it was more of a shame to see an opportunity to let go of a fear go to waste.  So in I went.  And while I felt a little, well, claustrophobic, I was actually okay in that hole.  Yes, people kind of started to walk away, but I was mentally ready.  Because I knew that they actually wouldn’t leave me there.  I was sure of the love they had for me; which is probably why my family laughed as they walked away when I was buried in the sand as a child, because they knew that they actually weren’t going to just leave me there.  They would be there to help me out.  And through the years, I’ve learned to understand that I am loved and that no one wants to see me hurt; therefore; no one will leave me there.  Alone.  To suffer.  So why should I be scared?  I shouldn’t.  And from this experience, I grew.  And it was fun. (I actually am laughing and yelling “Nooo” in the below picture- haha!)

stuck in sand

So take this weekend to get over a little fear you have, whatever it may be.  If it’s at the beach like mine was, then cool.  Don’t like sand in between your toes?  It will wash off.  Afraid of being buried?  Ask to be buried, you will come out.  Afraid to wear that swimsuit, or hey, even a swimsuit at all?  Just go for it.  Do what makes you happy and don’t live life always holding back.  Only you know when you’re ready.  If you’re not, seek out something else that you think you may be ready for.  And only when you feel like you kind of are ready, then great, take the plunge, just do it.  You won’t regret overcoming some of your fears – even if it’s just one.  Go on, be brave, you won’t regret growing.  At least, I didn’t :).

Loren.

A.

Anxiety & Eating: How they go hand in hand (Part: II)

Putting all of the reasons why and how the food I had been eating all these years supported my anxiety behind, it’s time to focus on today and how I am feeling so much better.

For about the past two months or so, I’ve been eating smarter and healthier.  I didn’t just go cold turkey one day and change my whole routine.  Oh, no.  I don’t believe in extreme changes.  I do believe, though, that it’s all about those baby steps and patience that will get you to where you want to be.  My small weekly changes turned into daily ones that, today, are changing into my lifestyle (read: not diet, lifestyle).  So to start things off, I started drinking more water.  I found that when we are ‘hungry’ or have a ‘craving’ for something during snack times (think not breakfast, lunch, or dinner, but rather those times in between), we are actually thirsty.  So instead of reaching for a chocolate bar (which, ha, I can no longer have unless it’s dark and contains no dairy), I reached for a glass of water.  I then started to incorporate more fruits and vegetables.  I would eat a nice juicy apple as a mid-morning snack.  And those three o’clock cravings?  I nabbed them with some carrots and peanut butter (which I make myself (very easy)).  When you feed yourself every couple of hours or so with good things and keep up with your intake of water, you actually lose some of the cravings for the ‘bad’ stuff.  And this is how I started to increase my ‘good’ foods and move away from the ‘bad’.

Being told that I was lactose intolerant was a blessing in disguise, I feel, because it did force me to find better foods for my body.  I was now sensitive to a lot of things that I would have never imagined I could be sensitive to.  One example is any kind of those processed sandwich breads, even the ‘whole wheat’ or ‘whole grain’ ones.  You know, the ones that stay fresh in the plastic bag for weeks.  Red flag: that isn’t normal.  Fresh bread has a very short lifespan.  What’s keeping it fresh are the extra things they put inside of it.  When I used to eat it, I would feel excruciating abdominal pain.  And that’s when I learned to look at the ingredients list and, surprise, surprise, it contained dairy (sometimes found under its derivative names, such as ‘casein’ and/or ‘whey’).  So I stopped buying it and switched to a more ‘natural’ bread (like Ezekiel Sprouted Bread), the kind that needed to be frozen (makes sense).  When eaten, I found no pain.

Another thing that I moved away from was coffee.  I first limited my intake to one cup per day (instead of two or three) and substituted cow’s milk for almond milk.  I then found that not only was coffee making me very dehydrated, but that drinking it made me very jittery and added that extra anxious effect I didn’t need.  So I stopped drinking coffee (yes, you can survive without coffee!) and found that I didn’t need that boost in energy because I was already finding it in the good foods I was eating – the natural way.

Today I eat clean.  I eat broccoli, spinach, carrots, celery, strawberries, red quinoa, sweet potatoes, and other natural, organic, good things.  I shop the outside perimeters of the supermarket and don’t go into the middle aisles.  Or, when I do my groceries online, I only buy fresh things and rarely go into the ‘grocery’ section.  I’ve lost about ten pounds due to eating so much better.  Not only that, but my complexion now has a bit of a glow and my mood has been absolutely positive.  I should add that a friend of mine shared with me that she, too, had become lactose intolerant and found a shake (Shakeology) that was vegan, all natural, and helped with digestion.  Willing to give it a shot, I ordered it and, within a week, loved the effects it had on my body.  While it took the guess work out of my breakfasts, it gave me the chance to focus on other meals that I could improve on: snacks, lunch and dinner.  Yes, even a little dessert here and there ;).  And that’s how I started.

I have seen, first hand, that when you eat ‘clean’ you feel amazing.  And that same feeling goes to your mind and lessens anxiety.  Think about it: when you eat poorly you regret it and start to bring yourself down.  “Oh, I shouldn’t have had that extra plate of pasta, I’m so ‘fat'” or “Gosh, I hate myself.  I ate that giant piece of cake and now I suck.  The world sucks.  Everyone sucks.”  However, after eating a delicious, healthy salad (low on the dressing!) we don’t go around thinking negatively.  No, we say “Wow, I just did something amazing for my body, I am great.”

Now imagine if you continued doing this throughout the day?  Your outlook on life would be better because your outlook on yourself becomes better.  Through my own experience, I’ve learned that there is an even exchange between eating for the body and the gift of a better mind.  When I ate poorly I was, really, abusing my body.  So my body decided to abuse my mind.  I grew anxious.  None of the foods that I was eating helped me think clearer or feel better.  Yet, when I ate healthy, my body thanked me by giving me a healthy mind.  And with ‘clean’ eating, you gain a sense of clarity.  So I am eating healthy to reduce anxiety.  And it’s working!

I did lose some weight, but that wasn’t the intention.  Nor did I ever see it as ‘dieting’.  Heavens, no.  I saw it as a lifestyle change. And it started slowly, making small changes until they occurred like second nature.  I never felt like I was sacrificing anything.  Ever.

lorenfood1
My table shows what I have in my fridge and pantry pretty much all the time – how colorful! PS: Pineapples are yummy!
food2
Carrots and herbs (along with 1 cup organic chicken stock) can make a mean side to any meal!
food3
Almond milk, limes, eggs, lettuce, kale, cucumbers – all organic, all delicious!

I’ve been told that there are medications out there that can help my anxiety and my mood.  But I refuse them.  Because I want to learn the real way of living: facing some of my fears and controlling my mind.  Taking drugs is letting something control me.  And we don’t really learn that way.  Educating myself on the natural, good things will lead to a natural, good mood and way of life.  I am about two months in and am feeling an amazing difference.  I will make sure to share some of my favorite meals and tips in future posts, because I think it’s so important to help each other and see each other succeed!  Change starts from within.  I am really learning what that means now.  Amazing.

And remember: drink your water, eat your veggies, smile, meditate for even two minutes, and enjoy life.  Like many things in life, you will get out of it what you put into it.  So put lots of love and care into yourself and the result… well, the result shouldn’t be a surprise. 😉

Loren.

h.

hit the reset button with your little something

I’ll fill you in on a little secret.

Work this past week has been stressful.  And while I am getting better at managing my stress, sometimes there is just so much going on that I feel like I just want to do laps around the office and scream.  Knowing that there are two paths to consider when confronted with something that causes stress and anxiety, I always opt for the ‘taking it easy’; however, I will admit, there are days that I do slip and don’t remember that those exist.  So naturally, I get stressed out.

Yes, I am guilty.  But I don’t feel too guilty, because I understand that I am human and that I will slip and make errors.  And realizing this is good.  Because if I put myself under the expectation that I will be perfect, then I will just drive myself, well, perfectly insane.  To think that life will be flawless and that you will never encounter an uncomfortable situation is not realistic.  Every day, curve balls are thrown at us.  Truth is, we cannot control the environment.  However, what we can control are ourselves.  Yes, life will be rough, but sit and reflect.  Is there something that we can do to keep our sanity?   Because at the end of the day, we all go to bed.  At the end of the day we all have 2 or 3 minutes to ourselves to quickly plan.  What is that certain something that will jump start the trajectory to a better tomorrow? A better sense of sanity?  A better state of health?  A better you?

You know, the past few days had me almost ripping my hair out, but I sensed that tension and didn’t go home and let it just bottle it up inside of me, nor did I let it out on my husband.  No, I took the time and went to yoga on Tuesday.  On Wednesday, while in the office, I may have wanted to just throw my hands up in the air because I felt like I was completely overwhelmed, but instead I took a few minutes and meditated in the restroom.  It’s all about finding that little something that you see as an outlet to release and let go.

Now, onto my little secret.  While I love yoga and meditating, every now and then I need something else that really lets me release frustrations and allow myself to be a goof ball (not just something to calm my tensions).  Want to know what I do sometimes after work every now and then?  Are you sure?  Promise not to laugh?  No, it’s okay if you laugh.

I go karaoking.  Alone.

Screen Shot 2014-03-13 at 9.52.59 PM

Yes, I take my little self to a karaoke place, walk up and bravely say “room for one, please.”  And there I am.  In a room.  Made for singing.  But if you put a rock song on, you’re made for screaming.  And if you put on the fancy lights and the music really loud, you’re made for dancing.  The best part about this is that it’s only you and no one else.

I know, I’m silly.  And you may find this weird.  But to me, this is my little something that makes me feel so much better.  Yes, I can most definitely do it at home (and for free), but sometimes someone else is there or I may disturb the neighbors. But there is no worry inside my little karaoke room.  I find such a release in singing, and while I’m no professional, it gives me that little something that releases.

Your little something doesn’t have to be singing.  It could be punching a bag at the gym.  Maybe it’s getting a massage (think of the tension in those muscles!).  Or maybe, it’s going for a long hard run while listening to your favorite song.  Your little something doesn’t have to cost a thing.  But finding your little something is something that I hope everyone tries because once you have found it, you can look forward to this little guilty pleasure.  It helps validate ourselves.  It tells us that we are worth it.  And it’s making time for ourselves to just release.  I’ll never give up my yoga, because I find it so helpful.  But I can look forward to giving myself my own little concert once in a while, no? 😉

photo 3

Hit the reset button with your little something.
Loren.