Happy New Year's Eve (and some fun news)

Happy New Year's Eve!  Whew...where did the past couple of weeks of 2010 disappear to?  I feel like I have so much to share with you all!

First, our Christmas was lovely.  We spent Christmas Eve at home, just the three of us (counting Basil).  We drank wine, enjoyed a wonderful dinner (penne with a garlic and white wine sauce), and opened our gifts from one another.  Jason gave me a Nook Color, which I absolutely love...I've already devoured two books on it!  We spent Christmas Day with Jason's family, and enjoyed more amazing food, laughter, and generous gifting.  I was excited to receive a yoga bolster, an essential oils starter kit, a gift certificate for a deep tissue massage, and many more goodies.  We also delighted in opening a generous gift my parents had mailed to us: a gift certificate for the tasting menu at Volt (the restaurant of Michael Voltaggio, of Top Chef renown), which we've been dying to try!

My big news is something that I actually began a couple months ago, but that I haven't yet shared here.  I have a new job!  While I wanted to focus on school for the next year, I also wanted to find ways to network within the local community, hone my business skills, and bring in some additional income.  So, I accepted a position with a company that I've long loved and admired...(drumroll please)...lululemon!  I love it so much, I can't even tell you guys.  I've already met an amazing group of people (fellow co-workers and guests to the store), and I get to talk to people about yoga, running, health, etc. all day.   And because the company truly encourages its employees to live healthy, balanced lives, we have the benefit of attending any yoga or fitness class at any gym/studio in the area - for free!  With the extra space in my schedule (it's literally a 5-minute commute and I'm working about 25 hours per week), I've had time to focus on school and fit in 1-2 hours of yoga and/or running daily.  For the first time in a long time, I feel like I've located balance for myself as a whole person (emotional, physical, spiritual) and it's an amazing feeling.

This afternoon, I'm ringing in the new year by running a 5K with Jason and some lululemon co-workers (or lulus, as we call each other) this afternoon.  I'm a little nervous, but mostly excited to get some racing experience.  Afterward, we'll get showered and dressed up to go out to dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant and then meet up with some friends before midnight.  I can't wait!

Happy New Year guys!  Thanks for helping to make 2010 the incredible year it was.  Here's to new adventures in 2011!  xoxo

Image via Come to Believe.


Reverb10: Try

December 18 Prompt: Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it?

Wow, where to begin?  I feel as if I always have tons of stuff on the "to try" list.  Some essentials for 2011 include:

-Trying new (to me) holistic modalities (esp. acupuncture and chiropracty)

-Making my own aromatherapy-infused lotions and potions using essential oils
-Eating more raw and alkaline foods (a la the lovely Kris Carr and her amazing new book)
-Different styles of yoga.  I've been hearing such good things about Kundalini yoga, which is devoted to awakening the body's energy or life force.  Has anyone tried it?
-Beginning my morning with 20 minutes of meditation
-Increased philanthropy and volunteer work with causes dear to my heart
-Daily morning pages
-Continued culinary experimentation...I'm always looking for delicious and healthy recipes to try
-And perhaps most significantly, launching my health coaching business.  My vision for my business continues to evolve in exciting ways, and I can't wait to share it with the world.  While there's certainly some anxiety (as there is with any new and unknown venture), I'm incredibly excited to try my hand at entrepreneurship in 2011!

2010 was a year of transition for me, filled with new faces, places, sights, sounds, tastes, emotions, decisions, and dreams.  Of all the things I tried, the most life-altering was my decision to become my healthiest self.  Honestly, I didn't know I was capable of making such a powerful change until I tried.  Tried going meat and dairy-free and felt a psychic weight lift from my conscience.  Tried stepping off the sugar rollercoaster and felt better than I had in years.  Tried giving up my morning coffee (something I never thought I'd be able to do), and noticed a calm and steady energy I'd never experienced in my caffeine-addict days.  Tried challenging myself to a higher level of physical activity, and, in the process, re-claimed a deep connection to and appreciation for my body and its abilities.  Throughout the process, I tried locating my "edge" (to borrow a phrase from yoga), and then tried pushing past it.  I'm so glad I did.

This post is part of Reverb10.  (Kudos to my dear friend, Kaileen Elise, for such a juicy, thought-provoking prompt!)


Reverb 10: Friendship

December 16 Prompt: Friendship
How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

My sister is my best friend.  Sometimes it's hard to believe she's the younger one; she's truly one of the wisest, coolest, most courageous people I know.  I could sing her praises all day, but what really impacted me over the past year was the example she set for me by following her passion.  She was thriving in a great job as a Technical Writer, but she knew her real calling lay elsewhere.  A talented poet, she decided to quit her job and apply to MFA programs.  Watching her pursue her creative dreams prompted me to take a good look at my own career path and re-evaluate what I really wanted in life.  My sister encouraged me to explore a career in holistic health, and with her support (and the support of other friends and family), I quit my job and enrolled at IIN.  


Reverb10 catch-up

I'm trying my hardest to stay current with my Reverb posts, but I've slipped in the past couple of days.  In the spirit of not making excuses for myself (see #10 below), I'll be honest and say that I'm finding it difficult to post on a daily basis because of the time and energy it requires.  (While Reverb participants certainly don't have to answer every prompt, I wanted to challenge myself by trying.)

December 11 Prompt: Things 
What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

1.  Clutter.  I love clean, open spaces and clear surfaces, so clutter drives me crazy.  This year, 
I need to pare down the amount of unneeded, unwanted stuff that I have.
2.  Distractions.  TV and mindless internet surfing are two of my biggest.  These things are fine in moderation, but I find that living with intention requires cutting down on "background noise" and listening to what's real. 
3.  Mindless consumerism.  For reasons of the wallet and the soul, I'd like to spend more mindfully in 2011.  
4.  Feeling guilty about saying "no."  To requests for favors, social obligations, and other demands on my time and energy.  I struggle with being able to prioritize and assert my own needs, but I'm getting better at it.  It's an ongoing process.
5. Comparisons.  I tend to compare my own life to others' lives and feel jealous of those who "have it all, " even though I realize it's impossible to really know what someone else's life is like.  In 2011, I'd like to replace comparison with compassion.  Compassion for myself and for the challenges that others undoubtedly face, even if their lives seem perfect on the surface.
6.  Self-doubt and negative thinking.  Replacing them with self-confidence and positive thinking in 2011.  
7.  Obsessing over my to-do list.  Being organized is good.  Scheduling an unrealistic number of tasks in my planner and then beating myself up when I inevitably fail to get everything done?  Not so much.  
8.  Wishing.  "I wish my living room were decorated differently..."  "I wish I had more time to paint and draw..."  Usually the things I "wish" for are within my control, and I would be better served by calling myself to action.
9. Biting my tongue.  When I find a joke or statement to be offensive and/or bigoted.  When I want to stick up for a cause or issue I believe in.  When I witness rudeness, unfairness, or general jerkiness.  There's certainly virtue in keeping the peace, but I tend to veer too far in the opposite direction for fear of being judged, and then later wish I'd stuck up for myself and/or my viewpoint.  (See #8.)
10.  Excuses.  My own and others'.  In 2011, I'd like to stop making excuses and just be honest with myself about the issue at hand.  And while I can't control whether others' make excuses, I can be more assertive about my expectations and then hold them accountable in an authentic, compassionate way. 
11.  Lack of follow-through.  I tend to get big, exciting ideas and then quickly abandon them because, honestly?  Details sort of bum me out.  I have the capacity and intelligence to deal with the details...I just find them boring.  My challenge is to realize that anything worth doing is going to require some amount of mundane grunt work, and to find the excitement in the less glamorous aspects of any given project.

December 12 Prompt: Body Integration 
This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body?  Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I can't point to a specific moment, but yoga has this effect on me.  When I'm on the mat, I feel a profound integration of body, mind, and soul.  I'm a firm believer in the power of yoga, and I think it's power lies in its ability to infuse our conscious thoughts with an awareness of our body and breath, a consciousness that, in time, begins to show up in other areas of our "off the mat" lives.  To me, this is what it means to "live your yoga."  To take that feeling of cohesion - of being fully alive and present - and to bring that same awareness to our everyday lives.  


Reverb10: Party

(Jason and I entering the reception hall.)

December 9 Prompt: Party. 
What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Without a doubt, my favorite party of the year was...my wedding!  Laughter, tears, amazing food, amazing friends and family, and lots of dancing.  It truly rocked my socks off.  You can check out more photos here.

This post is part of Reverb10.  Learn more here.


Reverb 10: Beautifully Different

(A recently rediscovered family photo of my sister and I dressed as bumblebees for Halloween.  For some reason, it felt like an appropriate accompaniment to this post.)

December 8 Prompt: Beautifully Different
Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

Sister and prototypical first-born.
Dog mama.
Student of wellness.
Morning person. 
Dog person. 
Big picture person.
Aspiring holistic health coach and natural foods chef. 
Wannabe entrepreneur.
Highly creative.
Visual learner.
Called to heal.
At home in nature.
At home surrounded by art.
At home in the kitchen.
Interested in all things food and nutrition.
Interested in catalyzing transformation in self and others.
Interested in what's real.
Interested in what's possible.
Firmly grounded free spirit.
Inspired by beauty. 
Motivated by harmony. 
Constantly evolving.
Always learning.
Avid reader.
Recovered coffee addict and sugar junkie.
Recovering perfectionist.
Learning to embrace my imperfections.
Learning to embrace my sensitivity.
Learning to embrace my curly hair.
Hunter of knowledge, gatherer of innovation.
Believes in: 
the inherent goodness of humanity; 
that we are what we eat; 
and that whatever the question, compassion is always the answer.  

This post is part of Reverb10.  Learn more here.


Reverb10: Make

December 6 Prompt: Make
What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

I've always found cooking to be an incredibly creative, therapeutic process.  The act of planning a menu, choosing and gathering the best ingredients, the meditative chopping and dicing, and the way you can create something completely new each time...it's a deeply satisfying, full-sensory experience that nourishes my spirit and feeds my soul.  As part of my quest to live healthily and with intention, I try to cook a homemade meal almost every day, and the last thing I made was last night's dinner.  Inspired by Jamie Oliver's recipe for Spaghetti con Gamberetti e Rucola (Spaghetti with Prawns and Arugula, pictured above), my husband and I created our own healthy version using brown rice penne in place of regular spaghetti.  (We also omitted the shrimp in favor of extra arugula.)

Jason puréed about 10 sun-dried tomatoes with olive oil in our food processor, while I cooked 1 lb. of brown rice penné.  We heated more olive oil (Jamie calls for "three good glugs") in a medium-sized pan, and tossed in 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and 1 tbsp. red chili pepper flakes.  As the garlic began to brown, we added the sun-dried tomato purée to the mix, along with about a half cup of white wine.  The mixture was naturally salty from the sun-dried tomatoes, so to season, I simply added a little bit of freshly ground black pepper.  When the penné was ready, we drained it in a colander, and tossed it with the sauce, along with the juice of one lemon, and 4 cups of organic baby arugula.  (It will seem like a lot of arugula at first, but it wilts down quite a bit.)  We ate the pasta with a little bit of lemon zest grated on top, along with plenty of fresh chopped basil (Jamie's recipe doesn't call for the basil, but I find it to be a refreshingly sweet counterpoint to the savory flavor of the sun-dried tomatoes.)

Interestingly, the cooking theme carries over into the second part of the question: something I want to make, but need to clear some time for.  I know for certain that I want to launch a holistic health coaching business and my studies at IIN will provide me with a foundation for doing so, however, I also know I need to create a specific vision for my business, along with actionable steps for achieving my goals.  It's an ongoing process, and not necessarily something I can just sit down and do in a single afternoon, but I have had a big revelation: I've realized that I want to incorporate a healthy cooking aspect into my health coaching practice.  Cooking is so much a part of who I am that I almost take it for granted, forgetting that there are so many people hungry (literally!) for knowledge about preparing healthy, delicious food.  So, my vision for myself as a health coach is evolving to emphasize this culinary aspect, but I still need to cultivate a specific plan and brand identity for the business itself.

One day at a time, right?

This post is part of Reverb10.  Learn more here.

Image via Jamie Oliver.


Reverb 10: Let Go

December 5 Prompt: Let Go
What (or whom) did you let go of this year?  Why?

The first thing that came to mind upon reading this prompt was the weight I lost over the course of this past year.  Since January, I've let go of 40 pounds.  It feels great (amazing, actually), but as anyone who's lost a significant amount of weight can tell you, losing weight is about so much more than the weight itself.  So, I asked myself, in the process of losing the weight, what things was I actually letting go?

let go of a way of eating that - when I got really honest with myself - was not aligned with my values of compassion, ahimsa (the yogic principle of non-violence), sustainability, and the well-being of our bodies and the earth.  After this realization, I
let go of meat, dairy, processed food, and refined sugars, and embraced a plant-based diet with an emphasis on local, organic produce.

let go of a pretty sedentary lifestyle and gave my body the activity it craved through regular running and yoga.  Eventually, my reawakened love for regular movement helped me to realize that the whole commuting/desk job thing was no longer working for me, so I let go of that to make room for a healthier, more active lifestyle and to begin classes in holistic nutrition!

Perhaps most importantly, I
let go of some self-limiting beliefs about myself, what I deserve, and what's possible for me.  A year ago today, if you'd told me I would let go of 40 pounds over the next year, I would've thought, Yeah, in my wildest dreams. But it turns out, when you let go of that same self-doubt, your wildest dreams start seeming not-so-wild, and in fact, begin bearing an uncanny resemblance to reality.

What (or whom) did you let go of this year?

Image via Sabino.


Reverb 10: Moment

December 3 Prompt: Moment. 
Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

It is early evening. A sea the colour of wine sparkles beneath the lights of the cruise ships and fishing boats anchored just off Santa Margherita, in Liguria, Italy, where we are spending a magical couple of days on our Italian honeymoon. We navigate a slow, painfully twisting road up a steep hill in a van driven by our Backroads tour guide. When we arrive at our destination, a restaurant called La Stalla dei Frati, we are greeted by beautiful candlelit tables, and a view overlooking the entire Gulf of Tigullio.

Santa Margherita’s elegant buildings are graceful silhouttes in the dark; the snug embrace of the marina wraps big white yachts and dark wooden fishing boats; and, out to sea, the silvery glow of the moon shimmers upon the midnight blue waters. The earthy scents of pine and salt perfume the night and the gentle sounds of laughter and music drift up from the bay.

Lovingly arranged on the table lies a feast for the senses. Tiny, shiny Taggiasca olives, dazzling red and yellow peppers, white anchovies glistening in pale golden olive oil and lemon juice—and that’s just the starters.

Next is real pesto, the aroma of basil billowing in the mouth in a perfect counterpoint to the homemade trofie ( a type of pasta). There follows platters of vegetables and seafood, grilled Ligurian style, drizzled with oil and lemon and couched with olives and potatoes, washed down with a glass of clean, crisp white wine.

We toast to our unbelievable good fortune to be dining on what just might be the most incredible food of our lives in the Italian Riviera, quite possibly the prettiest, most charming place in the world.  We feel so lucky, so in love, and so very alive.


Reverb 10: Writing

December 2 Prompt: Writing
What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

Today's prompt, from the great Leo Babauta, struck a serious chord for me.  I consistently avoid writing (on this blog, in my journal, or elsewhere) by telling myself that I can't take time to write until I've completed the other things I "need" to get done first.  Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, schoolwork, walking the dog...the to-do list goes on and on, and it seems to grow especially long and overwhelming during this busy time of year.  Writing, and other creative pursuits, become luxury activities that I indulge in only when all "important stuff" has been taken care of

The paradox is that, when I survey my so-called priorities, I've got it all backwards.  The creative moments, the writing, drawing, dreaming up new recipes, dancing, and otherwise romancing my inner muse...that is the "important stuff."  Yes, the dishes need to be done. The dog needs to be walked.  And God knows my sock drawer could use some organizing.  It's a constant challenge, but I'm slowly realizing this: there will always be more stuff to get done.  If I waited to write or otherwise create until that mythical moment in time that I've checked off every single item on my to-do list, well...I'll be waiting a long, long time.  And at the end of that long time, do you think I'll look back and say, "Gee, I'm sure glad I spent all those hours vacuuming"?  No?  Me, neither.

When I'm struggling to find the time to write, I try to remind myself that we do have time for what's important to us if only we are willing to get 100% clear about our priorities and then actually prioritize those thing. 


Reverb 10: One Word

December 1 Prompt: One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

2010 was, by any measure, a big year for me.  In the span of 12 months, I got married, took a dream trip to Italy with my new husband, got real about my health habits and lost 40+ pounds, unearthed my calling to help others reach their health goals, quit my job, enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to begin training as a holistic health coach, and achieved a life-long goal of welcoming a beautiful little rescue pup into my life.  When I reflect back on this whirlwind of transitions, several words come to mind, but the loudest drumbeat is one of discovery.

In 2010, I discovered.

The generosity of friends and families who helped to plan a magical wedding day.  The bliss of marriage.  That you keep falling in love, in different ways, even after you say "I do."  A country beautiful beyond description.  That I wasn't being honest with myself about my health.  The self-awareness I needed to make big changes to my lifestyle.  A reserve of dedication and courage that I didn't know possessed, and that enabled me to reach goals I'd previously believed impossible.  A passion for holistic health and wellness, and a desire to help others experience the same healing changes.  The incredible joy of being greeted daily by an unconditionally loving little dachshund (who's currently snoring on my lap, I might add.)

And the discoveries continue.  I've no doubt that 2011 holds changes of all kinds, some of which I probably can't guess right now.  However, when I imagine it's one year from today, the word I'd like to capture 2011 is perseverance.

Now that I've experienced these major transitions, I'm calling upon myself to persevere.  To do the work.  To show up for myself and the important people in my life on a daily basis.  To stay motivated in achieving the new possibilities I've created for myself.  To get ultra-clear about my career goals and what it will take to reach them.  To continue being present to my own needs.  The common thread throughout all this is the discipline to persevere.

What word encapsulates 2010 for you?  What word would you like to capture 2011?

Reverb10: Are you in?

When I heard that my dear friend @kaileenelise had joined forces with the talented @gwenbell and the effervescent @caligater to create an online initiative, I knew the result would be a powerfully creative experience, and something I'd want to be a part of.

Now the much-anticipated
Reverb 10 is here, and I'm beyond pumped to participate - and honored to spread the love as a member of The Crew!

So what exactly is Reverb 10?

Reverb 10 is an annual event and online initiative to reflect on your year and manifest what’s next. The end of the year is an opportunity to reflect on what's happened, and to send out reverberations for the year ahead.

How to participate

Prompt Starting December 1, check in here for daily creative prompts (some of which will be from published authors). You can also subscribe for complimentary inbox delivery, and watch for updates on Twitter.
Create Respond to the prompt. In a post on your blog, through a tweet, with photography, or however else you desire.
Share Participate and share your reverberations using the #reverb10 hashtag (on Twitter, Delicious or Flickr). Learn from the reverberations of fellow participants.
Click here to get started.
The first Reberb 10 prompt is live.  I'm putting water for tea on the stove and getting ready to dig in!  Check back later today for my first Reverb 10 post!


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