G.

GETTING OVER MY FEAR OF FLYING

If you haven’t already, I suggest reading my first post about this and how my fear developed, which can be found here.

Bringing Me Closer to Flying:
Now, I just need to start off by saying how proud I am of myself. If anyone who has a fear of flying and still gets on a plane and is reading this, you should be proud of yourself.  And for those that are not yet ready, but want to one day be ready, you are also included in this ‘proud’ category.

When I suddenly became afraid of flying, I didn’t know what to think. But what I did know was that one day I would go back to soaring in the air.

As I mentioned in my prior post about this, my grandfather passed away and I missed his funeral because it involved me traveling down to the Caribbean and I just couldn’t bring myself to fly. Ever since that day, I became pretty sad and beat myself up.  However, I knew that my family would all go down there after one year and have a special memorial ceremony for him and visit his tomb.  And for this, I knew I just had to go.

So within the year leading up, I did my homework and I learned that my personal fear of flying could be overcome with just two things: listening to yourself and confidence. Read more

Y.

Yoga Teacher Training: Halfway There!

Yay!  I am so happy to finally get the chance to sit and write! It’s been too long, Internet, too long.

So, here’s the scoop: I have been taking yoga teacher training classes Saturday’s and Sunday’s for the past 5 weeks and it has been amazing. I am not finished just yet, but the incredible self-observing journey this has taken me on is one that I am grateful for. I, too, am eager about what this all means at the end of it!  I cannot yet generalize my whole experience since I am not a time traveler and have, well, not experienced it all, but I want to share with you my journey thus far.

I don’t know whether to say that my life at the current moment is crazy good or crazy bad; therefore, I will just label it ‘crazy’! Having a full-time corporate job, finding a new apartment, packing, starting to move, going to yoga on the weekends for 14 hours and then yoga during the week for at least 6 hours (total of at least 20 hours a week, if you’re keeping track!), attending family events, attending friend events, being a wife, and finding time to just breathe (*breathes*) has been a little… crazy! You’d think that yoga was relaxing (it is!), but this teacher training is definitely isn’t; it’s quite intensive and like a part-time job! So I guess I’ve been, for the past month, been working 1 full-time and 1 half-time job- mamma mia!  But. all. worth. it.

My Experience:
Rather than me go on about how each week was and go off on a tangent, I want to share with you my entries in my journal that I have been keeping (don’t worry, they are short and to the point!). But just see how crazy of a roller coaster ride this is (I was surprised!): Read more

R.

Rough Week, Staying Brave

*deep breath in*

This past week has been a major whirlwind, but a great teacher when it came down to learning more about myself.

Within the past couple of days, I have had many situations that really tested my bravery.  Interestingly enough, I managed to step up to the challenges.  To be blunt about one of my challenges, I had to have a serious conversation with someone about the way they were making me feel – something I wasn’t looking forward to.  When the first opportunity came to have the conversation, I actually surprised myself by not running away.  Meaning, I didn’t put it off for another hour, day, week, or month.  I didn’t give any excuses.  The situation presented itself when it did, and while I could have given an excuse to buy more time, I didn’t.  I knew that I had to ‘step up to the plate’.

I went into the conversation holding my head up high and just voiced my honest concerns.  Why must we hold things back from others and continue to carry the ‘pain’?  If you really want something to change, it’s important to be upfront about it, but always in a calm and non-accusatory fashion.  And that’s what I did.  In the end, I felt better that things were out in the open; we came to a mutual agreement and was happy we did.  But, if another conversation decides to come up, then I will welcome it with open arms, because it’s another chance to be even more confident and clear with how you want to live your life. Read more

S.

Spring Cleanup: The Purse, Your Mind

Ah, spring, you have finally decided to enjoy us! Welcome, welcome.

Now that the weather is starting to warm up, we may be putting away some of our heavier, winter clothes and pulling out the lighter garments for our wardrobe.  Today, I want to talk about something that could also get a little lighter: our purses (or satchels ;)) and our minds.

You know, I was in the subway the other day and felt tension and pain on my shoulders.  And with reason!  There were just so many things in my purse that were, literally, weighing me down.  Confession: I usually carry around three bags!

So when I got home that evening, I sat down and emptied out the contents that were in my bag.  And, voilà, it occurred to me just how much anxiety was hiding in there.  Think about it, “Ah! I can’t find my keys!” usually gets you aggravated.  You have to dunk your hand in your bag and dig them up from the land of ‘beyond.’  Or, you might be checking out at a bar or retail store when suddenly you go “OMG my wallet! I know I had it in here!  Where is it?!” and that instantly just fills you up with a great overwhelming feeling of nerves and anxiety because now your ‘entire life’ is potentially gone.  Living like this is crazy (!) (and I’m no stranger to this kind of life).  So I vowed to clean up my purse… and more.

complexity

It does, however, beg to ask the question of “How did my bag get like this in the first place?”  Well, for me, I think it’s because I, and perhaps may others out there, are always in this ‘just-in-case’ mode, where we have to carry so many things around, just for that one time we may potentially need it.  In the past, I’ve tried to leave all of the truly unnecessary things behind, but failed.  I was so nervous that I wouldn’t have that one thing that would save me one day.  So I kept them.

And this actually goes further than your purse; it extends out to your life.  An example could include perhaps an acquaintance, or friend, that you honestly cannot stand, but may keep them in your ‘back pocket’ just in case you need them one day for a favor.  Or maybe it’s that sweater that doesn’t currently fit, but may one day fit, so it sits in your closet taking up space.  Or, maybe it’s that gym membership you pay for on a monthly basis and won’t cancel because, again, maybe one day you will go back to it.  All of these things aren’t farfetched to me, because they are some of the things that I couldn’t let go of.  And, surprisingly, they were all subconsciously something I was holding onto.  They were things that were bringing me back to where I didn’t want to be.  But you have to think: why spend your energy on someone who doesn’t appreciate you or help you ‘grow’?  Why tell yourself that you’re not ‘skinny’ enough to fit into something and then hate yourself for the rest of the day?  Or why spend money on something you don’t currently use instead of putting it towards something you do use?

All of this, believe it or not, is code for a fear of ‘letting go’.  Yes, it’s hard, but you need to push yourself to make a change, because it will lead to a feeling of relief, a feeling of freedom, and a feeling of open happiness.  You need to trust yourself that you can do without all of these things and build a life that is better for you.  Here’s another expression that makes more sense to me these days: “Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders.”  Right?  It’s real.  And it’s literally on our shoulders.  That bag just gets bigger and heavier, huh?  And it drives us crazier and crazier.  Yeah, wow.

I went out for a run the other day and all I needed was my house key.  But, instead, I started to pack my cell phone, three credit cards, some cash, all of my keys, my pharmacy customer loyalty card, and a bottle of water.  Was I going out for a run for my health and well-being or was I going out to run some errands?  Running for my health.  I was going out to run for my well-being.  So I took my one key off my keychain, dropped everything else on the floor, and left the house without anything else.  You don’t know how hard that was for me.  Because, honestly, I wasn’t just leaving behind my belongings.  I was leaving behind my comfort zone.  But I sucked it up, walked outside, told myself that I was doing great, and off I went for a run.  I let physical things go, but also the intangible feelings of worry and concern.  It was me time, something that we probably don’t get too often, but something that I am learning to really, truly appreciate.  I cannot explain how great it felt to not have things bring me down!  I not only felt a sense of freedom, but also felt a sense of growth in my confidence.  Because if I can do this little thing, I know I can do bigger things.

You know, my dad always teased and said that he didn’t understand why many people (women, especially) reminded him of the ‘mules’ (you know, the animal) back in his home country.  I always laughed it off and gave him a little innocent eye-roll (what a terrible thing to compare a woman to, huh?!)  But, he said it out of fun, and to put across the point that the mules ‘back home’ would be loaded up every morning with the fruit, bread, and merchandise that would then be brought to the local market to be sold.  He didn’t understand why everyone (including me) had to carry so much weight around.  He was sure that if the mule had it his/her own way, it wouldn’t be carrying anything at all!  And I am always reminded of that (oh, dad, haha).

simplicity

So I started with my purse, because it’s a symbol and a reflection of me and my life.  It does hold some aggravation, worry, stress, and neglect.  But, little by little, I will start to let go of other things that bring me down, too.  I don’t need the extra pair of flats every day in my bag – just wear the flats.  It won’t rain every day, so check the weather and leave that umbrella home.  I carry around a small bag in my big bag, just in case I need it.  Yeah, that had to go.  And all of that loose change?  That gets heavy.  And it’s also money that is laying around.  Into a piggy bank you go and off to the bank at the end of the month you shall stay! 😉

As for my earlier examples, I’ve been working on cleaning that up: I don’t have a gym membership anymore, but instead put that money towards my yoga instructions. I also (very hard, but had to) let go of acquaintances/friends that were just bringing me down and didn’t help me ‘grow’ and make me want to be a better person.  And those sweaters that didn’t fit?  I donated them to those who would get a better use of them than my closet and mind would.

Learning to live in the present, and growing a sense of confidence in yourself, is amazing.  Because you truly are your own Superman.  Think of all of the great things you’ve accomplished thus far and just think of all the other great things you will accomplish in the future by slowly working on yourself today, for a better tomorrow.  In order for something to come in you need to make room for it by taking it out.

So spring clean your purse, spring clean your mind.  You will feel more in control, trust me – it’s so relieving!  And trust yourself; you are greater than you think you are.  Spring clean your life and, oh, don’t be a ‘mule’ 😉

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.