NIGHTLY NAMASTE: 06

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When I first began practicing yoga and meditation, a teacher once explained it like this: A lot of people do yoga or meditate expecting to see the results right away, every day. They think that suddenly, they will be calmer and more enlightened, on the regular. That’s sometimes true, but that’s not really what it’s about. You don’t see it on a daily basis, but rather during crisis times. You see your developed sense of patience and serenity when you are tested. When that happens, you won’t freak out (as much) as you used to. You will be able to use the tools you’ve been practicing. This is when it will pay off, this is when you will notice.

I was fortunate enough for a while to never have an opportunity to test the above theory out. But recently, I did. Without getting into any pronouns or specifics, it was a hard blow. Part of me wanted to crumble in my emotions and I totally did, from time to time. But something that has been helping me keep it together is everything I’ve learned from the past year or so of yoga and meditation. The breathing. The lessons. The grace. All of it is keeping me together.

I finally saw it all pay off. It’s really kind of like a preventative health measure when you think about it. Like maybe vitamins don’t give you that extra boost every single day, but in the long run, they might help your immune system fight off that cold that’s going around and suddenly, when everyone at the office has that cold, you’ll be like “nah, I’m good, thanks vitamins.” I’m not a doctor, so I may be wrong on that metaphor.

Because of this ambiguous-thing-that-happened, I was hurting. My body, especially. Which is weird, because it was an emotional thing and not something physical like a car accident. I have been successfully evading the winter colds for months now, but this week, my body gave in and I came down with a really nasty winter cold and fever. It could be a coincidence. But I also think it was because my body and self was focusing all of its energy towards my mental and emotional well being so it sort of slipped in the physical department.

Of course, being psychically sick meant a break from yoga practice. Because no one likes to hack up a lung during downward dog, you know?

But I’m excited to get back to it next week, especially now. So much, now.

As I’ve shared before, I struggle with practicing at home – so many distractions! But I’ve really been loving using the app Yoga Studio – it feels really natural and doesn’t sound like a robot. I discovered them after listening to the Brand Fever podcast with the Yoga Studio App creator and downloaded it almost instantly. Something cool, too, is that after you complete a class you get rewards like coupons for smoothies and other fun stuff. This app has been helping my practice immensely!

Goodnight & Good namaste.

14 IN 14: BOOK FOR WORK, CLASH OF KINGS, & THE CIRCLE

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I skipped writing reviews for a couple of books so this will be a recap for not 1 but 3 books. Book 3, you see, was kind of a “for-work” book. It was given to me by a client of my company’s. It was a really quick read, and while it wasn’t super relevant to me (very baseball heavy and well, I like baseball for the hotdogs) it did have some great take aways. The most important thing I got from it was that branding yourself, no matter your career, is essential. This guy owns a technical company of sorts, and he gets it. He wrote this book, which is autobiographical, and really uses it to market himself, his business, and his career. I’ve considered writing a book in the future and this read definitely propelled me to do so.

Book 4 was the second in the Game of Thrones series, A Clash of Kings, and honestly I read this so fast and sporadically and quite some time ago that I don’t think I could compose my thoughts if I tried! All I can say is if you are a fan of the show, you should absolutely read the book series. I read the first book and had a hard time with it, as it seemed very verbatim with the show and it was a little slow paced. But Book 2 blows it out of the water (if you’re a fan of the show, you will get that pun!). It’s much more action packed and while it is very close to the second season of the television series, it has MORE – if that makes sense. 

For my fifth book of the year, I read The Circle by Dave Eggers. I’m actually in the middle of reading something a little more business (Trust Me, I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday) but needed a break from something so serious, so I picked this book up. As a designer, I wanted to read it solely because Jessica Hische designed the beautiful cover. I was hesitant to buy it because it was $27.50, but as I say time and time again, books are the one thing I feel okay spending on. Their value is timeless and if you love it, you can keep it forever and if it’s eh-alright, you can resell it on amazon! Anyway, I picked it up at about 4:30 on a day off from work and I was finished with it by 9:30 PM. That’s how good it is. I’m not even a crazy speed reader, you guys, it’s just that good. If you’re a social media nerd like me, or even just you know, a human, I promise you’ll dig this book. It will make you feel like you work at Facebook for like a couple hours. Things get a little dicey throughout the plot, and for the sake of no-spoilers, I will not tell you what I thought about the ending. Hint: I hated it. But I suppose it made some sense. This is a really compelling novel about the future, technology, and the potential consequences of our society that is becoming increasingly based on shared experiences. Read this book, seriously. Read it!

Next on my list is Trust Me I’m Lying by Ryan Holiday and a slew of other books on my nightstand. I’m also dying to read One More Thing by B.J. Novak but I still need to purchase that. Also Uganda Be Kidding Me by Chelsea Handler because everything she writes/says/does is hilarious. A lot of people can’t understand how I read so much, and I feel like they think that to “read a lot” you automatically have to be reading classic literature or 10,000 paged novels. And my biggest tip is just to read what you like. And once in a while throw in something nonfiction, educational, or out of your comfort zone. But if it doesn’t do it for you, don’t struggle through it for months. Just read something you like, something that makes you laugh. Every book I’ve ever read by a comedian (Bossypants by Tina Fey, Chelsea Handler novels, etc.) have been so enjoyable and I’ve flown through them because reading them is fun and not a chore. Yeah? 

If you’re still with me, to recap, I’ve read 5/14 books for 2014. If I continue at this rate, I’m really confident that I can surpass 14 books. I’ve also just started a Book Club with my girlfriends which is amazing! I don’t really have a set number of books I’d like to read, but setting a numerical goals compels me to read more which has become increasingly habit forming. Which is good!

Previous 14 in 14 Posts:

Book 1: The Beautiful and Damned
Book 2: The Book Thief

COCONUT CONVERT

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I’ve heard the hype about coconut oil and I didn’t really get it. Of course I bought a jar of it at the health food store for like 10 bucks but honestly its just sat in my closet since then. I guess I thought just owning it would make me healthier. Just kidding. Anyway, I was telling a friend of mine about my dilemma of what to do with this supposed miracle substance. I know you can cook with it, but to be honest I really only cook dinner once a week at home and you know. She suggested using it for hair treatments, and while I was kind of skeptical at first, she was totally right, this stuff makes your hair amazing.

I’d done a home hot oil treatment in the past with hot oil (regular), some honey, and a shower cap and it was a disaster. I washed my hair three times afterwards and yet it felt greasy for literally weeks.

But this was so easy. I just took the smallest amount, maybe a teaspoon, and dabbed it onto my roots at my parts and massaged it in a little. I threw my hair up (no shower cap needed) and went about my business for a few hours and then washed it out. I did shampoo twice for good measure, but you really might be fine just doing it once, and then conditioned.

I woke up this morning and my hair is just super soft, light, and has much more volume than usual after doing this only ONCE. Call me crazy for making such a big deal, but I’m honestly astounded at the results. I know that this has been a “thing” for quite a while and I’m late to the party, but just in case anyone else hasn’t tried this yet, I thought I should share. I am officially a coconut oil convert.

14 IN 14: THE BOOK THIEF

14 in 14 is an ambition to read more books in 2014 – fourteen to be exact, and more if possible. Here I’ll share my take on the books I’m reading!

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A friend recommended that I should read The Book Thief, and I love being able to watch a movie having already read the book that inspired it, so I was immediately on board. I searched for it in the bookstore and was surprised that I couldn’t find it in the fiction section. Because it’s Young Adult fiction! I’ve always loved Young Adult literature to be honest, so I didn’t mind at all. Plus after taking over a month to get through The Beautiful and Damned, I was looking forward to a quicker read.

And it was so quick. But of course this might have been because I pretty much read it in two sittings – I could not put it down. I’ve read YA fiction on the Holocaust before – Number the Stars, Night, etc. – but something about The Book Thief was so refreshing, it was told from such a different and unique perspective that it was unlike anything I’ve ever read before. I found myself rooting for Liesel in such a real way. Her story was compelling and the characters that comprised it were so supremely real. The history of this time period definitely made up a huge part of the novel, but in a way that added to Liesel’s story and not the other way around. It wasn’t a story about the Holocaust that happened to have a young girl in it, but rather a story about a young girl living during the Holocaust.

I read this book almost in its entirety during a snow day and while you might think it could be too-serious of a read for a relaxing day, it was just right. This is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! I haven’t seen the movie yet but I can’t wait to watch it – has anyone seen it?

P.S. If you missed Book 1, check out my post here!

FATHERS BE GOOD TO YOUR DAUGHTERS

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My Dad is pretty much the best – we are really similar and because of that I’m pretty sure that we understand each other in a way that no one else really can. My Mom is super outgoing, loud, and really personable. My Dad on the other hand is very quiet, introverted, and keeps to himself. I like to think I got a solid combination of both sides of the spectrum, but truth be told, I’m much more introverted. I’m quiet, too. A lot of the time, people don’t think we’re having any fun, but we are – it’s just an internal feeling and not something we have to shout about. We’re both into photography – landscapes, especially. We can both devour a book in a day. We’re both organized. We appreciate the little things.

Yesterday, we were both home due to the snow storm. My Dad cleared our long ass driveway using his snow blower, and then went on to clear out both of our neighbors driveways. That’s just the kind of guy he is. After he finished, he suggested that we walk downtown for lunch at the Station. It’s a pretty good-sized walk and includes a hill. It was also super snowy and he had just worked outside for 3 hours but he wanted to do it. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

“We could drive,” he said, “but it’s more of an adventure this way.”

I live for this kind of stuff – walks through the snow to get to a good, warm meal. And he does too. My Dad is 63, but he’ll still walk up and down a hill and across town for adventure. If I have half of his spirit when I am his age, I’ll be happy.

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We got to the Station which is pretty much a landmark in my small town. It’s boujey and a little over-priced, but it’s a solid, reliable meal and hell, it was the only thing open. We sat in the pub which is the coziest place ever. He ordered a Southern Comfort Manhattan on the rocks with veramouth, because he always does. I love that he’s the kind of guy who has a signature drink. Who knows what he likes.

I got a glass of wine, clam chowder and we both got burgers. After we left, we paused to look out on to the icy river and I felt so content. My Dad is great company, a great friend, and a great father. I always know this, but I especially knew it today.

NIGHTLY NAMASTE: 05

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I braved the cold last night to go to Tuesday Night Yoga Class, knowing full well that Thursday night’s class will probably be canceled due to the supposedly massive storm heading our way. Although I can’t wait for the warmth of spring and being able to arrive at the studio when it’s still light out – I must admit there’s something so satisfying about being very cold and then feeling your body warm up as you practice.

I got there early since last time the room was packed. It was a reasonable crowd this time, which I honestly always prefer. This was only my second time taking this class with this particular teacher, and she once again blew me away. Something about the flow of the practice makes it go so fast, without feeling rushed. I always get a crazy good work out without too much of the “oh-my-god-when-is-this-pose-going-to-be-over,” brutal kind of feelings.

For whatever reason, my mind was so in it last night. The mental and physical seemed to blur and I was really able to get in it. Perhaps the most notable realization came when we got into crow – a pose I used to be able to do no problem but I struggled with it last night as I’m out of practice and my arms aren’t quite as strong! We were working on crow, and everyone was pretty much finishing up but I was still trying at it. I got into it and was able to lift up both legs, and then I just completely fell.

Not gracefully.

Like, eat-shit kind of fall.

And everyone saw it.

When I first started practicing, or even just a year ago I would have been completely mortified. But gradually the embarrassment of messing up or falling has really left me completely. I laughed it off and it was just a funny moment. And I’m so glad it happened because it allowed me to realize just how much I’ve grown because of yoga. When I first started, I might not even have tried this pose for fear of falling or not being able to do it correctly. But now here I am, falling out of crow and not even minding. It’s an amazing feeling to realize that messing up, not being perfect is okay – especially if you smile and laugh about it. I remember the first few times I practiced, I barely smiled. Like I actually remember thinking that it was a super serious thing and you should be stoic and calm throughout the entire thing. It was such a break through when a teacher finally told me “don’t forget to smile.” It’s such a freeing thing and an insanely important realization.

I never thought that such a huge part of my reflection would be about my mistakes rather than my successes, but it turns out, both are just as important. Namaste to that!

14 IN 14: THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED

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I finished my first book of the year – The Beautiful and Damned by Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby is my all time favorite book, and one of my goals this year is to read more Fitzgerald. I apparently, made quite a mistake by starting with this one. I should have chose Tender is the Night according to Good Reads. I have to agree. This book dragged. This book felt anticlimactic. None of the characters resonated with me, sorry Anthony Patch.

I’m not slamming it by any means, I mean, I did finish it. If not else, I still appreciated the beautiful language in which it was written. I still lost myself in the 1920′s world of going to clubs and living with a sense of leisure that is nonexistent today.

Yet, it lacked something for me. Maybe I expected too much and for that reason I felt let down. But everyone (by everyone I mean the Good Reads reviewers) agreed that this isn’t his best work, that Tender is the Night is without a doubt, the better book. So I’ll add that to my list. I also have a special edition of short stories of his that looks to be a very quick read that I can’t wait to get into. And to end with a quote from Fitzgerald, that more or less encapsulates this book:

“Here’s to alcohol, the rose colored glasses of life.”