A Year of Contentment: Reflections of a Quarter-Century-er

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Twenty-five is kind of a weird birthday. There’s nothing particularly remarkable about it. I don’t gain any legal rights. I don’t feel significantly stronger or wiser than I did at this time last year. In fact, I still have many of the same problems as I did at the ages of 23 and 24 and though I am hopeful, I don’t feel significantly closer to solving said problems. Whenever I begin to fancy myself a financially stable adult, my undergraduate student loans kindly ask me to rethink that notion. I am in the middle of obtaining a degree that will take me 5-7 years to complete while still having no clue what I want to be when I grow up. I don’t feel old, but I did have slight panic moment when I was faced with the age boxes on a survey about my latest experience with AT&T Mobile services. I realized that I could no longer, in good conscious, check the 20-24 box and I was thrown a bit off kilter. I talked to my grandma, who is notorious for snubbing any allusions to her being old or, God forbid, a senior citizen (even when it could get her a cheaper tickets at the movie theater). She asked if I felt any different. I said no, because I didn’t, but her question prompted me to consider where I am as a 25-year-old human and what I should look forward to until I hit the big 2-6.
At the age of 25, I feel good. Though I am still growing as a person, I am utterly fascinated by the process. I have 5 years of my 20s to look back on and whenever I do, I am amazed at how much I’ve changed as well as how much I’ve stayed the same. I revel in the unpredictability of it all. If someone had shown me my 25-year-old self when I was 21, I would have never recognized this person. I look forward to thinking the same thing about my 30-year-old self in 5 years. I anticipate the growth, but I would never attempt to force it – I couldn’t even if I tried. Twenty-five is not the most glamourous year – at least not on the surface – but it’s a year marked by contentment. I feel good about who I am while simultaneously itching to learn more about who I’ll become. I am grateful. I am humble. I am full of love for those who have come along with me at various points of my quarter-century journey and I look forward to those who might hop on further down the line. I am happy.  

Thinking of Health More Holistically

Hello hello!

As some of you may know, I’m currently away from LA visiting family before I start the semester. My vacation started with 6 days in Georgia, where three of my aunts live. My mom, granny, uncle, and cousin flew into the Jackson/Hartfield airport from Chicago last Thursday evening and I met them there. The weekend was occupied with events as part of an even bigger family reunion for my grandma’s side of the family and then the last few days were spent with the relatives that I know best. It was a great week full of family, laughs, and of course, delicious food, which I’ve been chronicling on Instagram. I came to Georgia knowing that I wouldn’t be sticking to my normal way of eating and while I was SO excited to eat my granny’s cooking, I was also a little nervous about it. In general, we humans have a hard time with breaking habit but I was also concerned about my body– how would my body react to eating grains, gluten and refined sugar after not having done so in so long? Not eating granny’s cooking or baking was not an option, however, so I just had to go in with caution.

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There was so shortage of sugar at this year’s festivities. My granny is Southern and stubborn and words like “gluten-free” and “paleo” do not exist in her vocabulary. Even if they did, I would never ask her to accommodate my dietary preferences. Over the two days of our trip, granny and mother made 3 sweet potato pies, 2 pound cakes, 1 large peach cobbler, 1 large pan of butter rolls (see below), and 1 German chocolate cake (with homemade frosting). I won’t even go into the list of savory foods in detail but I will say that though there were meats and vegetables, they would not have passed the snooty paleo standard to which I general hold my food (yes, I am aware that eating paleo is snootiness at its finest).

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(Butter Rolls were my favorite dessert growing up. They’re basically little cinnamon buns that are baked and then covered with a vanilla cream sauce. Crispy crusted buns of sugar and cinnamon. Warm delicious creamy decadent sauce. They are as amazing as they sound.)

The first day, I may of ate a little too much pound cake and between the gluten and the sugar, I was definitely feeling it. Because of that, I was sure to take it easy over the next few days as not to shock my system to much. Throughout the rest of the trip, I was pretty happy with my ability to pace myself, and get my granny fix without overdoing it.

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So now to the nitty gritty of this post. My experience this past weekend further unscored the importance of taking a holistic approach to health and happiness. As I said above, not eating my grandmother’s food was not an option for me. Yes, I could have bought and made my own perfectly paleo food but why would I? My grandmother helped raise me. Her food nourished me for so many years and though I might eat foods that a very different now, I still have the utmost respect, love, and admiration for the cuisine that made up my childhood. Greens, cornbread, fried chicken (fried everything!), cakes, homemade ice cream – all of it will forever have a place in my heart. Since going to college, I generally only see my family twice a year and the period of those visits seems to be getting shorter and shorter as I get older and life gets crazier. When I’m with my family, I don’t want to be concerned with calories, fat content, the origin of meats, or whether something contains gluten. I just want to do my best to soak up the time that I have with my loved ones and create the memories that will get me through until I see them again. My grandma’s food is not something that many would consider healthy by any nutritional standard but the memories that are made at her table – that have been made at her table since I was a child – nourish me more than any any paleo dish ever could. With this I hope to say, it is important to take a broad approach to health and wellness. Your diet is not everything. A few days, a week, even a month, won’t completely derail you if you’re committed to eating well. In fact, giving yourself some time to indulge might actually help you to stick to a healthy lifestyle more long term. Don’t allow a preoccupation with feeding your belly prevent you from having the experiences and making the memories that feed your soul.

That being said, I got into Chicago at 11 this morning and by 8pm tonight I will have worked out, gone to Trader Joe’s to pick up my usual whole foods goodies, and made myself a delicious, healthy meal. Right back in the saddle!

 

GWHG

Getting the Most out of a Quick Workout

My workout routine has been a bit weird this week. On both Monday and Wednesday, I failed to get in my morning workout and ended up having to squeeze one in during my lunch break at the writing center. Since I only had 45 minutes to walk to the gym, change, workout, shower, and get back to work, I had to be super efficient to make it work my time and energy.

While I prefer to have more time at the gym, the short time frame forced me to eliminate all the procrastination that usually occurs in my workouts. Casually walking to the water fountain, gently dabbing sweat from my face, pondering over what equipment to use – there was time for none of it. I put together an interval workout on the bus ride to campus and I had to go all out once I was at the gym to get the most out of the 25 minutes of actual workout time that I had. The great thing about that was that I pushed a lot harder than I do when I have more time and can thus, do more rounds. I kept telling myself that 20 minutes was all I had to give and it motivated me when things got sticky. This underscored two things for me. Firstly, it reminded me of how often I waste time during my workouts. This is something that I’m aware of but often neglect to change in the moment. When I only had 20 minutes, I felt like I had to push to make it worth my time. Secondly, it reminded me that workouts need not be an hour long to be effective. When finished my 20-min AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) workout on Wednesday, I was absolutely gassed. There was no doubt in my mind that I had gotten a good sweat session in.

This is all to say that if you’re struggling too be time to workout in your day, you shouldn’t worry about carving out a large chunk of time. Not only is a twenty minute workout time-effective, it can also absolutely grooling  when you challenge yourself. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) and AMRAP style workouts are your best friends if you’re trying to save time while working towards your fitness goals. Here are some links to some great workouts that require minimal equipment and take less than 20 minutes (Including the one that I designed for my workout on Wednesday). Have fun!

20-Minute Plyo Burn from FitFoodFinds

20-Minute Bodyweight AMRAP Workout from Pumps and Iron 

My AMRAP Workout from this Week: 

  • 400m row on row machine (can replace this with some other form of machine or bodyweight cardio if you don’t have access to a row machine – comment to ask for suggestions!)
  • 8 Box Step-ups with 15# weights (can replace with regular lunges if you don’t have a box – can also replace with box jumps if you’re about that life) 
  • 8 burpees (with or without pushups) 
  • 8 thrusters a.k.a squat to overhead shoulder press 
  • 30 mountain climbers
  • 8 deadlifts (choose your weight appropriately) 

Adjust the reps to your liking/fitness level. 

Set your timer for 20 minutes and see how many times you can loop the circuit. I got through 3 full rounds, a 4th round of rowing and 2 steps up. Beat it! 

Why I Hate Saying, “I’m Paleo”

As many of you know, I’ve been about the paleo life for about a year and a half now. Last April (2014), I decided to do a month-long paleo challenge to see what all the fuss was about and…I was sold. I loved the new relationship that I developed with food and health more broadly. I loved my new understandings of how different foods affected my mind and body. I loved the motivation to be creative in the kitchen – trying new techniques and flavors as well as varying my produce and meats. What I have enjoyed the least about “being paleo” is having to navigate awkward social/dining situations. Recently, I’ve found myself saying things like, “I’m not eating grains right now,” or “I’m staying away from gluten at the moment,” as a way of trying to draw less attention and not be the weird-eating girl. 

Like most buzz words, “paleo” functions to convey information succinctly and efficiently, but with that comes oversimplification. While telling someone that I’m “paleo” can be a easy way to give them a sense of my dietary preferences (assuming that they are familiar with the term), it can also lead to being stereotyped as a cross-fit obsessed freak who eats insane amounts of meat and walks around barefoot. 

This overly simplistic understanding of the paleo lifestyle often gives way to substance-less critiques of the paleo diet that ignore both the foundational ideas behind it and the fact that “living paleo” goes far beyond food. For example, the fact that our cavemen ancestors didn’t have very long lifespans is one of the most common critiques of paleo. This is a fact that no one who lives the paleo life would contest. We would, however, note that our ancestors also lacked the inventions of modern medicine and often encountered predators that no longer roam the Earth. While it’s easy enough to retort this critique of the diet, this conversation distracts us from thinking about the ideas that underly the paleo lifestyle. Paleo is not a nostalgic quest. It is not about resisting modernity or mimicking a pre-existing time. Rather than doing a strict compare and contrast between modern human beings and our caveman ancestors, it’s more productive to think about the framework that history provides for thinking about present day.

When we examine health historically, the positive correlation between the increased “production” of food through industrial development and the decline of our overall health is evident. Paleo forces us to confront the impacts that over-development and capitalism have had on our minds and bodies. It asks us to question the information about food and nutrition that we have been fed (pun intended) for years and to start listening to our bodies. It highlights the uncertainty of “fact” by exposing flawed scientific studies. It makes us uncomfortably aware of how our health is linked to larger social, political, and economic structures over which we as individuals have little control. 

So while I might find myself saying, “I’m paleo” as a quick reference, I do so in hopes that it will open a space to think critically and holistically about healthy living. 

What My Sundays Look Like: Meal Prep

Hey guys! 

So I can’t even tell you how long I’ve been planning to do a post on meal prepping. I’ve had one drafted for a while but I think I was trying to do too much with it. While going through my routine today, I decided that I would simply share, in a super simplified manner, what I usually do on Sundays to prepare for the week. 

1. Roast Veggies

I eat vegetables in pretty large quantities. Even though most veggies don’t take very long to prepare, 30 minutes in the oven can seem like an eternity after a long day. It’s also great to have veggies sides already made for packing to-go lunches throughout the week. For this reason, I generally roast 2-3 bags of veggies from Trader Joe’s every Sunday. I keep the flavor profile simple – olive oil or ghee, salt and pepper – since I’m not sure what meals I’ll be using them for. This batch doesn’t usually last me the whole week but it gets me through the first few days at least.

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2. Prepare Post-Workout Carbs

In addition to roasting my veggies, I also prepare 2-3 servings of some form of dense carbohydrate to have ready after workouts. I generally try to refuel within 30 minutes of finishing my workout and this makes it much easier. This is especially handy for packing post-workout meals to go. I often roast sweet potatoes along with my veggies so that I can have everything cooked in one swoop. I already had some tapicoa noodles in the fridge so I didn’t actually have to make any carbs today (which is why those in the photo are raw). 

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3. Prepare/Marinate Protein

The last, and perhaps the most important, part of my Sunday meal prep is preparing my proteins for the week. Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, paleo, the protein component of the meal is often the most time consuming. It’s hard to find good sources of protein that can be eaten in their raw form. While canned fish and legumes are great, you don’t want to be eating from cans all week. For this reason, I make sure to give my protein some thought. I generally cook or marinate 1-2 proteins each Sunday. Since I have some leftovers in the fridge, I just decided to marinate some chicken today. I generally have no interest in eating chicken that hasn’t been thoroughly marinated (it just lacks flavor if you cook it straight away) so I make sure to get this going so that I can I can just throw it in the oven the next day. 

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4. Pack Lunch

As things finish up in the oven and I begin putting them in storage containers, I just go ahead and make my lunch for the next day. Having lunch ready to go is great on any day of the week but I find that on Mondays in particular, I really appreciate having one less thing to do before I get out of the door. It makes a huge difference and helps set me up for a good week. 

Hope this is helpful. 

Sabrina 

 

 

 

Life Lately

Hey guys!

Long time, no post. The past couple of weeks have been transitional. And from what and to what am I transitioning you might ask? I’ve basically been having a hard time moving from my summer work life to my summer leisure life. It might sound weird but it’s actually pretty awkward to go from having a super crazy schedule to having a super laxed one. It’s a bit of a shock to have entirely open days where you don’t have to do anything or go anywhere particular. I know all of the non-students out there probably think I sound ridiculous but it is quite an adjustment. I’ve realized that I’m at my best when I’m either full on or full off. I struggle with the in between. Because I am working at the writing center on campus twice a week and because I should be studying for, or at least preparing to study for, my qualifying exams next year, I’m in this weird spot between summer mode and productive mode. It’s uncomfortable for me. And the past couple of weeks have basically been spent with me reveling that discomfort and consequently, being M.I.A. My days have all blurred together in a sea of yoga and Netflix and I am slowly but surely trying to find some higher definition. 

I still haven’t quite found my balance but I’m working towards it. I have set some very minimal, totally reasonable, goals for the rest of the summer. I’ll be away visiting family in Atlanta and Chicago for most of August so I’m not being too hard on myself about my lack of productivity. If I’ve learned nothing in my 24 – soon to be 25! – years of living is that things tend to come together. I always pull it together when I need to but I also require a lot of personal time and that okay. I think I may just need to take my summer as a summer rather than succumbing to the grad school pressure to constantly work. My dedication to having work/life balance has been making my question whether I want to build my life in the U.S., where the work culture can be so toxic. I’ll probably end up running off to work at some university abroad where I can be free….but I digress! This is whole other story for a whole other day. 

Somewhere in the craziness of this summer, and perhaps as an attempt to inject some structure and focus into my life, I decided to run another half marathon in the fall. On October 18, I will be running 13.1 long San Franciscan miles as a part of Nike’s Annual Women’s Half Marathon. In order to participate in the race, you have to enter a lottery and be randomly selected. I did not do this, as I had no intentions of doing a race anytime soon. There is a girl in my running group, however, who was selected and will not be able to train because of a recent injury. She posted on our FB group about someone taking her spot and I started playing around with the idea. I was really surprised that I was even considering it because, as I said, I had NO intentions of doing a race anytime soon. My relationship to running has been a bit weird lately. I typically run to yoga a couple of days out of the weeks, which is about 3 miles. On Saturday, I might do a longer run with my group, usually no more than 5-7 miles. As I walked back home, immediately after finishing an 8-miler with the crew on Saturday, I thought to myself, “Was I really thinking about doing that half? That seems nuts.” And then by the time I actually got back to my apartment, I thought, “It’s only 5 more miles than I just did, right? Why not.” And that was all she wrote. I love San Francisco and in spite of – or perhaps because of – the hills, it’s a great city for runners. I’m excited to take part in the event and have an excuse (not that I ever really need one) to get up NorCal again.

So that’s probably the most excited thing that’s happened since my last post. I’m thinking of doing some kind of journal of my training on the blog. Not sure what that might look like yet. I definitely plan on posting my plan once I organize it and perhaps some of my running playlists as those will be critical to my success. 

Ciao for now. 

Sabrina 

 

Review of One Pot Paleo + Buttered Leek Quiche (with potato crust)

IMG_0654Hey folks! 

I’m coming to you today with another cookbook review. The featured book for today is One Pot Paleo by Jenny Castaneda of PaleoFoodieKitchen. If you’re not already familiar with Paleo Foodie Kitchen, it just takes a quick look at the site to see that Jenny knows her way around the kitchen. Her blog is an awesome resource for newbie and seasoned paleo eaters alike, with amazing dishes inspired by Filipino cuisine and Asian flavors more broadly. One Pot Paleo is a collection of  recipes that is nothing short of perfection. If it wasn’t enough that the recipes are incredible, the book embodies simplicity through its “one pot” concept. That’s right, everything in this cookbook can be made using one main cooking dish. How incredible is that? As someone who lives life sans dishwasher, I am completely OVER washing dishes and thus, I am eternally grateful for Jenny’s work. The recipes in One Post Paleo is conveniently organized in sections according to the kind of dish they require, leaving those of us with tiny kitchens and limited cookware with few excuses. 

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(Dutch Baby) 

The simplicity of One Pot Paleo is evident in its short ingredient lists. This book isn’t full of recipes that require high-end ingredients or expensive cuts of meat. It instead serves as a guide for transforming a list of simple ingredients and one pot into amazingly flavorful and satiating meals. Perfect for new comers and veterans of the cooking game. 

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(Hawaiian Meatballs) 

I’m slowly but surely working through all of the amazing recipes in this book (make note of all my post-it markers!). In addition to those pictured, some of the recipes that I’m most excited to make include: 

  • Balsamic Sausage and Vegetables
  • Cauliflower Pork Fried Rice 
  • Open-Faced Sloppy Joes (on a portabello!) 
  • Korean Noodles
  • Sweet and Sour Pork
  • Filipino Chicken BBQ 
  • Weeknight Gumbo 

Be sure to stay tuned to Instagram to see all of these lovely creations! 

I chose to share Jenny’s recipe for Buttered Leek Quiche with you guys because it is the essence of the simplicity that OPP is all about. It’s super simple to make, yummy, and filling. It’s absolutely perfect for a post-workout meal as it’s backed with protein, veggies, and healthy carbs. Everything you need to replenish those muscles! I already have the leftovers packed the ready to go for my post-workout lunch tomorrow. Can’t wait!

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Butter Leek Quiche
Serves 3
Delicious leek and butter quiche with a potato crust
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 25 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
1 hr 10 min
Total Time
1 hr 25 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 lb (900 g) potatoes, shredded*
  2. 1 T (15 ml) ghee, melted
  3. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  4. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  5. 8 large eggs
  6. 1/4 C (60 ml) Coconut Milk (used canned or make your own using recipe from One Pot Paleo)
  7. 1/2 tsp paprika
  8. 1/2 tsp sea salt
  9. 1/2 tsp black pepper
  10. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  11. 1/2 tsp onion powder
  12. 2 leek stalks (white parts only), quartered and thinly sliced
  13. 2 T (30 g) cold butter, cut into small cubes
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degree F (220 degrees C).
  2. Using a nut milk bag or cheesecloth, squeeze out the excess liquid from the potatoes. Season the potatoes with ghee, black pepper, and sea salt.
  3. Arrange and press the potatoes on the bottom of an 8 x 8-inch (20 x 20-cm) baking dish until it's about 1" (2.5 cm) thick. This will reduce in half once the potatoes are cooked, so a thicker layer is necessary. Bake in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes until the top is light brown. Remove from the oven and set aside for 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce the oven temperature to 375 degrees C (190 degrees C).
  5. Crack the eggs into a large bowl. Add coconut milk, paprika, sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder and onion powder. Whisk until light and frothy. Add the leeks to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour the mixture on top of the baked potatoes. Randomly distribute the cubed butter pieces on top. Return the baking dish to the oven and bake uncovered for 25 minutes until the eggs are set. Turn off the heat and leave the quiche in the oven for 5 to 8 minutes. Cool slightly before cutting and serving.
Notes
  1. *I'm lazy and I hate shredding veggies so I just chopped the potatoes up in small-ish chucks in pulsed them a few times in the food processor (make sure it's not too overcrowded) until it got to a texture that worked for pressing it into a crust.
Girl With the Hipster Glasses http://girlwiththehipsterglasses.com/
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My Winnings from the Pumps and Iron Giveaway

IMG_0400Hey guys! For those of you who with whom I’m FB friends, you may have seen a status that I posed a while back about winning a huge prize package from one of my favorite fitness blogs. Well, that blog was Pumps&Iron. I’m sure I’ve talked about it before. It’s one of the first blogs that I started following a few years ago when I got into reading blogs. The owner of P&I, Nicole Perry, posts awesome workouts of all kinds with photo tutorials that help demonstrate the movement and the proper form. Her blog is my go-to when I’m looking to incorporate new moves into my routine or if I’m traveling and need to put something together on the go. At this point, she has a TON of workouts up and you can search for them on the site by target area, workout structure (latter, intervals, AMRAP), or the equipment that the workout requires. Super convenient! I highly recommend this site for anyone whose looking to stay/get fit and would like inspiration and ideas for how to keep their workouts interesting and effective. She also posts about fashion and food making for a well-rounded reading experience. 

So now that I’ve revealed myself as a fitness-blog-fangirl, I can show you guys all the awesome stuff that I won in the Pumps&Iron giveaway. I think I entered the giveaway back in April. It was the last of a series of giveaways that Nicole was hosting throughout the month along with a fitness challenge. I enter a lot of giveaways. Why not, right? It’s generally pretty simple of enter, just a matter of clicking a few buttons and maybe liking something on Facebook. Even though I always enter these contests, I never actually expect to win them. I usually enter and then completely forget about them. So when I opened my email (my yahoo account that I use exclusively for emails related to shopping, giveaways, and other things that would be too distracting in my main email), I was SO SURPRISED when I had an email from Nicole saying that I had won the big prize package. I was absolutely floored. The package included a $50 gift card to either LuluLemon or Atheleta (I opted for Lulu), 2 classes at a fitness studio of my choice (I chose to try Barry’s Bootcamp since it’s been on my list for a while and I still haven’t been), a piece of workout equipment of my choice (I got an ab power wheel), and a whole slew of products from NOW Solutions. And when I say “whole slew,” I mean, whole slew. 

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As you can see, I got two huge boxes full of NOW products. Here are some of the ones that I’m most excited about. 
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These boxes crowded the living room in our apartment for days before I finally figured out what to do with them. I was able to put some things away and then condense everything else down to one box (which is still in the living room). I just don’t know what to do with it all! I’m excited to try all this stuff out as well as get to Barry’s Bootcamp soon and get my core strength up with my ab wheel. My handstands are about to be ON POINT. 

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It feels awesome to win. 

GWHP

NorCal Weekend Getaway

Hey guys!

I just made it back to LA from a lovely weekend up North in the Bay. I finished TAing my summer course last Tuesday and I couldn’t think of any better way to celebrate and regroup taking a weekend getaway. I love going up to San Francisco to visit Nora and Gen but this time, one of my friends who lives in Cuba was back in town for a bit so I had to be sure to see her as well.

I got into SF on Thursday night and promptly met up with Nora and Gen in downtown SF for dinner, followed by an interesting night at The Battery. The Battery is a social club in San Francisco that holds various events throughout the year and on Thursday, it just so happens that they were having a really special event. I still don’t actually know what the theme/premise of the event was but basically, every room had something different. The club itself is absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful, elegant decor with bars and dining spaces on both floors. On the first level, there was a somewhat typical bar scene with people standing around chatting. Updaters things started to get more interesting. On a small plateau in the middle of two sets of stairs were people reading palms and telling fortunes. The line was rather long for this activity just we worked our way to it to the second level. In the corridor on the second level was an arts and crafts space. There were two tables, one for glitter/drawing/collaging and another for writing love notes to oneself. I didn’t actually end up writing a letter to myself, which I’m honestly kind of bummed about but I did make a great collage that I will be displaying in my room along with my art from random wine/paint nights.

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After arts and crafts, we ended up in a room with another bar and some singing drag queens. They were quite the life of the party. This room definitely had a more fun vibe than the bar downstairs so we hung out here for a bit. And then to finish off the night, we learned a bit of salsa in the room across the hall. Initially we were all being lamos, standing on the wall, watching everyone else dance but we eventually got roped in since there was a shortage of “followers.” I really glad that I ended up doing this. It was a lot of fun. I got paired up with a random guy to start and then we ended up doing a move where we change partners while dancing in a circle so I ended up dancing with pretty much everyone. It was a good time. Kind of made me feel like I have coordination. Kind of.

On Friday, while all of my friends were being adults, I took a day to explore the city. I started my day with a class at Yoga to the People in the Mission. I had actually first heard of YTP from my friend Kyle while I was visiting New York last year. He said that he thought I’d appreciate it. It’s basically this awesome yoga organization that is entirely donation based and operates in the Bay, NYC, and Seattle. The instructor was great. The gorgeous 5th floor loft space was absolutely drool-worthy, and the come-as-you-are vibe of it was refreshing. YTP will definitely be my go-to yoga spot whenever I in a city where they operate.

After yoga, I made my way over to Dandelion Chocolate. Dandelion is a must-go for me every time I’m in SF. They make delicious hand-crafted small batch chocolate that is dairy- and soy-free. High quality dark chocolate goes a LOOOOOONG way in my book so I made sure to schedule Dandelion into my day. While the chocolate alone makes Dandelion worth raving about, the experience was made even better by the fact that I ran into an old study abroad friend. Kaylen and I both studied together in Paris through Middlebury’s program and hadn’t seen each other since that semester ended in January 2011. It was such an awesome surprise walking in and seeing her face. It’s always so amazing to reconnect with great people.

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After Dandelion, I started making my way back to Nora’s, where I was staying. I had initially planned to take the bus back since I was about 4 miles away but it was such a lovely day in the Bay, and I was wearing my running shoes, so I just decided to walk. On the way back, I grabbed a coffee at Philz, this great local coffee chain that Genevieve has recommended to me. They had the most impressive selection of decaf options that I’ve ever come across in a coffeeshop and the blend that I got was top notch. Would highly recommend!

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I made it back to Nora’s and chilled out until meeting up with her and her friends for dinner and drinks that night. On Saturday morning and I headed to Oakland to meet up with Sarah to experience the Lake Merritt Farmer’s Market. Sarah had told me great things about this farmer’s market before and I was not at all disappointed. Great variety of fresh, local produce and hot meals as well baked goods and other edible things. I ended up coming back with four spice blends, two logs of salami, and a package of beef jerky. And I tried so hard to stick to my budget! Womp. womp.

After saying bye to Sarah, I met up with Sam, my friend who is lives in Cuba and we chilled out for the rest of the day with one of her friends. There was no real structure to the day, which I appreciated. It was just to just be in a different place with familiar faces. That evening we went out to San Jose to meet up with another one of Sam’s friends from college, Q. We went to dinner and I had pho for the first time.

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It was amazing.

We stayed in San Jose for the night at Q’s house. It was great to sit up and chat about everything that came to mind. On Sunday morning, I was up before everyone else (surprise, surprise) so I went for a short run, where I encountered this guy.

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After running, I went back to meet Sam and Q and then we headed out for tacos and cheap clothes shopping before they dropped me off at the Oakland airport. Was a perfect weekend away from LA.

GWHG

Yoga Diary 3: Find the Dance

As a finish up what was a world-wind of a 4-week summer teaching-assistantship, I’m reflecting back on the experience as well as those that came before it, wondering “how did I do that?” So much has happened in the past four weeks, in the past year, in the past two years, and despite the many challenges I’ve encountered, I somehow ended up here. It wasn’t always pretty, or graceful, but I made it to this moment. 

I continue to be amazed by how much my practices on the mat resonate with life off the mat. When I first started going to ODD (about a year and a half ago! crazy!), one of my favorite yoga homies (s/o to Alexis!) would often tell us to “find the dance” in class. While I loved the idea of imaging myself as a dancer, my lack of graceful movement and sometimes, my complete inability to perform certain poses, prevented me from fully engaging this metaphor. Over time, however, I’ve realized that the dance is not not one of pure grace. It is not moving effortlessly. It is not being able to perform every pose perfectly. Instead, the dance is what happens when you embrace life and all its realness. You tap into your human ability to adapt and respond. You find flow in the chaos. 

As I look back on my first two years of my PhD program, my first two years in Los Angeles, it wasn’t always graceful. My lines weren’t straight as they could of been, my leaps weren’t as high. But the fact that I’m here now, in this moment, looking back makes me confident that despite my clumsiness – despite the fact that my branches always blow in tree pose – I’ve found my flow. 

Keep dancing. 

GWHG