Wednesday, April 27, 2011

To be the Best

I've been a little more than busy lately. I haven't had the appropriate amount of sleep, quiet time, exercise, or spinach that is required to keep me functioning at optimal levels. The last few years I've found that I'm what you would call a "hard learner". I'm persistent to no end, quite the overachiever and, on top of it all, stubborn.

Last year in my Psychology of Addiction class we had to give something up for eight weeks. It had to be something that made you cringe at the thought of not doing it again, aka, an addiction or hard-to-beat habit. Some people gave up TV, some smoking, some sugar. I, on the other hand,  had a list full of things I was  going to give up like staying up too late and buying too many magazines and eating carbs and sugar and on and on...until it occurred to me that my addiction actually might be doing too much all the time.

I am a constant "I can do it all and I can do it all today" thinker. Case in point, 2009, the year of my own personal defeat. That was the year I worked at my normal job a bazillion hours, taught yoga, went to night school full time, decided I would read a ton of books just for the heck of it, remodeled/redecorated my new house, decided to be a mystery shopper because it sounded interesting, travelled way, way too much  (though I do not consider that a bad thing) and took my healthy approach to new heights by making two new recipes a week and working out even more than normal while fasting, which I will explain one day. During all of this I tried to maintain a normal life and hang out with my friends and family regularly. That whole year I probably slept 10 hours total and I'm pretty sure I'm still recovering from it.    

You would think I would have learned my lesson and would do everything in my power to avoid repeating myself.

It's time to walk the walk and not just talk it.

You see, I have this very simple belief system, which I must now remind myself of: To be the best boss/parent/friend/spouse/etc., you have to be the best you, you can be.

There is no possible way you can do it all and not have taken care of yourself first. It's wonderful to want to take care of everyone and everything. To be there for everyone. To make things happen. To get that list checked off. It's just impossible to do it all at the same time. Especially if you haven't gotten the right sleep, nutrition, and overall rest that you need. It is a proven fact that the brain needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep to be able to function correctly. We all know this. I personally attest to being completely insane when I get anything less than 6 hours and 59 minutes of sleep a night. I can't think right to save my life, let alone try and help anyone else. I make the worst decisions ever, I'm cranky, I forget everything and my motivation level is in the negative range. On the other hand when I get over 7 hours of sleep I'm like a happy camping triathlete.

So dear friends of mine, unite with me and put the checklists down. Turn off your blackberry's. Under-schedule yourself for a little while and breathe. Go outside and get warm in the spring sunshine. Take a nap. Play. Lay on the floor and cry like a baby if you need to. Just do whatever it is you need for you and only you. Make "you time" every day, even if it's 5 minutes to start out with. Schedule it in like you would anything else that must absolutely, positively be done, like showering. You time is non-negotiable ladies and gentleman. No one else gets that time. Besides, everything will be there tomorrow. Now is the time to be the best you.

What is one thing you can work on now to make you a better you?

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Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Self Mastery

For a final in one of my classes I had to sum up what I had learned about myself and what I wanted out of life. This is what I came up with. As you read through it, think of what you would say. What have you learned and what do you want to remind yourself of, what do you want to focus on going forward?

I want to see the beauty in the muddiest times of my life and to know that one day, from that same muddy soil, a beautiful flower will grow.

I want to sit with myself and know my truth no matter how scary, strange, or wonderful it may be. To know myself is to understand my heart, and to understand my heart is to be at peace with my soul.

I want to stand at the edge of a lake looking out at the possibilities of my future. Instead of a feeling of fear arising at what might lurk in those still, quiet waters, I want peace of mind knowing that a boat is safely docked, ready and waiting, to carry me out to the shore of my destiny.

I want to remember the freedom of childhood. To run through a meadow scattering dandelions in the air, to
find adventure in an ordinary day, to speak my truth because I know no shame of my own thoughts, and to live in the world without knowing its weight, for my purpose is not to seek out the greenest grass, but simply to play in it’s softness.

Now go write yours.

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Monday, April 18, 2011

Now We All Fall Down

Now We all Fall Down

In history
Of lessons learned
Of cultures tortured
People burned
Where unimagined
Evil’s lurked
Still we punish
Those who hurt

The blood’s been spilled
The battle fought
We always want
More than we’ve got
True satisfaction
Can’t be bought
No life is worth
A life that’s lost

No victory
Has fixed the world
Not one religion
Has the cure
No single person
Can be sure
That there’s one answer
For the earth

In all we know
In all we’ve done
With all the lessons
That have come
With every memory
Of every wrong
Still we push
And all fall down

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Thursday, April 14, 2011


The last two nights I have gone to bed only to have my dreams filled with the cast from Veronica Mars. Just this morning before my alarm woke me I was happily dreaming that Logan Echolls was my boyfriend, only to have him dump me right when it was time to wake up. I was slightly disgruntled when my eyes opened, to say the least. All this thanks to my new addiction to technology and my recent re-discovery of my Netflix que.

Prior to 2011 I would have called myself a non-technology kind of a person. I had the normal collection of all technological things, but I didn't really care about them. My un-smart phone was off 20 out of 24 hours a day, I hardly used my home computer, and I stuck to about 3 television shows a year, max, and that was pushing it. Outside of that I could just care less.

Until now, when I've apparently gone crazy.

The Past
I've had a love/hate relationship with technology for a while. When I was in high school I was pretty leery of email, the Internet, and basically all things web related. My friend, Amber, promised me it was safe, repeatedly, but when she set up my account I made her use a newly created fake name, Veronica Hunter. Nothing about my email even reflected it was me.

Anyway, over the years I've grown fond of email, mostly through being forced to use it at work. I can pretty much knock out email like it's no one's business now. Outlook and I are BFF's, except for the spell check portion of it. I have been severely dumbed down by spell check. I've gotten lazy with my formerly excellent grammar skills (as you may have noticed, I apologize) and on many an occasion embarrassed myself to all of the people I work with. For example, there was one time I was sending an email to a group of managers. The acronym we all use for their title is BCM which spell check annoyingly changed to Bums. Out went my email to 33 people, calling each of them a Bum. Yes, very funny spell check, very funny.

On many, many occasions I have left my cell phone in odd places like a shoe box, under the seat of my car, in the pantry, etc. I am actually a very organized person, believe it or not, but I could care less about my cell phone's whereabouts since I (used to) rarely use it. You see, I fully believe I was born without the girl gene requiring me to love talking on the phone. I don't love it at all. I don't. If I have something to say, sure, or if I haven't talked to someone in a while, great, but I really, truly hate talking on the phone. Which is why I love texting. Short and right to the point.

Also, I never understood technology. You know that joke, "What came first, the chicken or the egg?" Well let's just say in my case the iPod came first before the computer and Internet, which are required to put the songs on the iPod. When iPods were fairly new I had to have one. I didn't understand them, clearly, but I had to have one of those little magical music boxes. I didn't realize until after I had it that I needed, ya know, a computer and of course, the Internet to get the songs. It was 2 years later that I finally broke down and got the Internet and a computer that wasn't from the early 90's with the Oregon Trail on it.

The Present
This new found insanity of mine all started with me realizing that having a smart phone of some kind would be good for someone like me, who constantly gets lost and openly admits to loving Google. How convenient and handy! I thought for sure I could ignore it's amazing convenience all day long and only use the Internet when needed. Uh, nope, guess not.

I've turned into one of those people who ignore you at lunch because my phone beeped at me and I MUST instantly look at it, and that I hate. I've always hated it. When I used to go to lunch with my old work friends (who both had two phones, one for work and one personal) it drove me insane the way they would sit there and play on both phones. I could go to lunch by myself and have more fun watching traffic out the window! Seriously, the world is not going to end in one lunch break and if it does, I probably wont need my phone to tell me about it since I'll be dead. But now I'm the one with the two phones and the attention problem.

At my house we decided to cancel our cable. We were tired of throwing money out the window for something that had no returnable profit. Somehow that backfired on me and I'm not even sure how or why, but I'm ready to make a deal with the cable devil soon if that will fix me. All of a sudden Netflix is my new best friend. First, I discovered Kyle XY. I watched the entire 3 seasons in one week. Then I found Veronica Mars and am currently half way through it and am very seriously considering the fact that I may need counseling for this new addiction. The other day I actually got up early just to watch an episode before work. I could not stop thinking about what was going to happen next. It was like I had to get my Veronica Mars fix. Or maybe I just need some good old fashioned sleep, but heck, there are crimes in Neptune to be solved!

Even Facebook has gotten to be a little too much for me. One late night I promised myself I was only going to check my email since I knew I had some from friends that I needed to respond to. I promised myself I would not get on Facebook, aka The Black Hole of Time.  You know how alluring Facebook is though,  and five minutes later I was on it,  quietly reprimanding myself and whispering "This is not why I'm on here! This is not why I'm on here!!!!!"
I'm sure this is all spell check's fault too.

So...I feel the need right now to Just Say No.

To my phone, Facebook, email - pretty much everything except blogging for a bit. I would lie and say I want to say no to Netflix but I have 30 more episodes until I'm all the way through Veronica Mars and I just don't think my OCD will allow me to not finish it. OCD plus the endless desire to accomplish far too much is not a good mix.

Anyway...on to my point.

The Plan
A few weeks ago I went to lunch with a friend and forgot both my personal and work phone at home. For once in a very long time I didn't even care. It was so nice to get away from being connected. That same week I saw a sign that said "My phone is off for you". I decided right then and there that at least when I'm with my friends I can adhere to that policy. They deserve my full and undivided attention. Before there were cell phones we all managed just fine and I am determined to live like that again. I'm determined to get back to the simpler things in life.

I remember when one of my best friends moved to Wisconsin and she and I would write letters to each other. I loved that. I still have all of them. Email is just so...informal. You can print out the emails but it's really not the same as having a hand written letter. When I was a little girl my gramma gave me a folder full of old cards she's saved over her entire life. Cards from the 50's, 60's - decades ago. It's so fascinating to look back at them and see how things have changed. I've decided that for every card I give someone I will write something important in it, something memorable. Not just a signature, but something to let them know what their friendship means to me or a memory of some adventure we had for them to remember later on in life. Something they can actually hold on to and look back at one day like I can with my letters.

Sometimes life gets in the way of us actually living our lives. It can be too convenient at times. Too easy to stay caught up on things that don't really matter. Too easy to multitask and be everywhere at the same time, thus not really being anywhere at all. If we divide ourselves and our attention too much eventually it will backfire on us.

As much as I love Facebook, I would much rather see my friends in person. There's nothing like laughing so hard I cry, which is best accomplished in person with the girls.

As much as I love email, I would much rather have a letter to look back at and cherish years from now, when my memory has faded and my Internet has crashed.

And as much as I love Netflix, I love even more the quiet, stillness of a good book in my hands right before bed and more importantly, a good nights sleep.

And as much as I love all of you, I need to go get that good nights sleep right now, so goodnight to all of you and may your days be filled with slightly less technology and your nights not be filled with TV characters breaking your heart.


For more information (and apologies) on my adverse reaction to technology, please see the Disclaimer of Sorts at the bottom of the blog page.

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Friday, April 8, 2011

Yoga 101

As someone that has practiced/studied yoga for 9 years I thought it would be helpful to share some insight and information with you on various types of yoga, what a yoga teacher really thinks, and a few key things to be aware of. I do not claim to be a guru of any kind or the all-knowing-all-powerful queen of yoga, so keep that in mind, please. I speak from my teachings and my experience more than anything else.

The Lessons I've Learned
I have a great deal of respect for my teacher, Mary Bruce, not just because she's one of the most talented, amazing, and kind people ever, but because she teaches you from the heart. She gives you the ups and downs, ins and outs, anything and everything, so that you can form your own opinion of yoga. I highly respect someone who cares enough about you as an individual to want to enlighten you, but also want you to make your own decisions for what is right for yourself. The other thing I love about Mary is that she taught us "old school" yoga. She was the closest thing to learning it as it was meant to be taught as you can get. I respect her respect for the practice.

Some history...

Yoga was initially created by Patanjali, known as the "Father of Yoga", as a way to prepare the mind for meditation. It was never designed as an actual work out, although that is often what we in Western practice think of it as. The idea was to move the body, get the energy going and the breath deepened so that when you were done you could sit for hours and hours in deep, concentrated meditation. No buff arms or fab abs were part of the plan. It was all about the mind. Those were just bonuses.

Years and years and years later there was a little boy, B.K. S. Iyengar, who was very ill. He was riddled with various diseases including tuberculosis, typhoid, and malaria. When he was a teenager he moved to a town where a great guru helped him to heal himself through yoga. The more he practiced, the more he healed. Soon he had overcome all of his illnesses through yoga and the use of props, which in the modern day we now know as mats, blocks, blankets, etc. Yoga then became not only a tool for meditation, but a way to heal yourself.

Alignment is important. I have had a few way-too-real demonstrations of what a slipped disk can do to your body, as well as what probable hip damage can be done by walking, yes walking, incorrectly. The walking part is an easy fix - Next time you walk anywhere pay attention to the angle at which your feet turn. For hip health, and to avoid a hip replacement years from now, you should make sure your toes point straight out with every step. Not to the right or the left, but right in front of you in a straight line. I can literally spot people for miles who walk incorrectly. I was watching Limitless the other day and noticed Bradley Cooper walking with his feet pointed out and I flinched. That's how very effective and real the demonstration was in class. It truly is an easy thing to correct with a little focus and it will save your hips, so I highly recommend it.

Yoga is now mostly known as an awesome way to get a hot bod, but it's important to remember the true intent. We already live in the most fast paced, hectic country ever and making everything that way will not help us to relax and enjoy life. Just something to keep in mind. Sometimes we shouldn't change things to work for us, sometimes we should change ourselves to work for it, to gain the real benefits. I'm jut saying...

What A Yoga Teacher Thinks (or at least what I do)
1. We don't care if you fart in class. Nope, not at all. I know a lot of people worry about that, especially in Wind Releasing Pose, but teachers really, truly don't care. It does not phase me one bit to have a student let loose in class during a pose. In fact, it's what some of the poses are meant to do. That being said, I get it. I do. Before every class I would silently pray not to embarrass myself in any way, shape, or form. The prayer would include things such as  "Please do not let me make any kind of bodily noise at all, pull out the clumsy card while I'm trying to demonstrate, or forget what I'm doing and freak out."  So I understand, trust me, but as the teacher I don't mind if you do any of the above. I'm there to help you and to be a source through which you learn to appreciate yourself, not to judge. I try with all of my heart to check my ego, and my own concerns, at the door and be there solely for you.

 2. When I tell you to ignore the other students in class and pay attention to yourself, I mean stop comparing yourself to everyone else and just be you. It is not a competition of who looks the best in their yoga clothes, who can do the best downward dog, or who is the bendiest person in the group. I want you to breathe. I want you to quiet your mind and have 90 mins of you time. I want you to stay in child's pose all class long if that is what you need. I want you to feel that you are in a safe, comfortable, loving environment where you can do whatever it is you need to do for you. This is how all yoga teachers should feel if they're teaching you correctly.

3. Don't be afraid to Om with me. You're not on a tryout for American Idol and I wont kick you out of class. Besides, you really cant Om the wrong way, although there is an actual way to do it,  A(aaaa) u (oooo) m (mmmm), but really, not a big deal if you're not perfect. No need to be. Truth be told, everyone chanting actually sounds incredibly amazing and it increases the energy in the room. If you've ever been to a workshop where the entire class was Oming, you know what I mean. It's amazing! Just go for it.

4. Laughing in yoga is A-Okay. Smiling is even better. I know that when I practice I make the Serious Face. Sometimes I focus too hard. It always lightens me up when a teacher tells the class to stretch our face muscles up to the sky (smile). Closing your eyes in a pose is fine too. Sometimes it's the best way to get in touch with yourself.

5. Some great books are Light on Yoga and The Bhagavad Gita. I really enjoyed the latter as it helped me understand life in general. The teachings go beyond religion and speak to everyone as a whole. There are a lot of eye opening things to consider in it.

Types of Yoga (and my personal opinion on them)
Hatha: This is a term that really encompasses all types of yoga. A lot of classes are called Hatha. That can mean different things to different people, but it is not really a type of yoga as much as it is just yoga itself. Clear as mud, right? When anyone asks what type I teach I say Hatha. For many of the other types you actually have to be certified in that very specific name brand of yoga, where as I studied yoga in itself as a whole and did not focus strictly on one form.

Vinyasa: Again, this can apply to different types of yoga, but vinyasa is yoga with breath work and flow. I adore vinyasa classes because I prefer to flow. I like one movement to feed right into the next, where it's almost like a dance, so smooth and easy.

Iyengar: This would be based on B.K.S. Iyengar's teaching of healing using props. You tend to hold poses longer to increase healing benefits. I've only taken one class when I was studying and thought it was good. I think it can be helpful if you're focusing on healing and not just for fun/breath work/exercise.

Ashtanga: Also known as Power Yoga at many places, where the form of the class is based on Ashtanga principles. This is a class where you do poses that require strength and it is quite intense. I like it, because I like challenges and arm balancing poses, but I fall on my face a lot. Not gonna lie.

Kundalini: This is another class I've only taken once and truthfully do not have all the details on. It's main focus is breath work more than movement, from my experience.

Anusara: This is a heart centered practice. It's based on the concept of opening your heart physically and emotionally. I'm a big fan because it focuses on alignment of the body to keep you safe and sound. There is no forcing yourself into any move. It ensures that all parts of the body line up safely in the pose to avoid risk of injury while still gaining maximum benefit.

Yin: In Yin you tend to hold poses for long periods of time and focus on continual stretching. Again, only had one class of this and realized it's not really for me, but know many people that love it.

Restorative: One of my favorites. Blankets and other tools are used to prop you up in poses that are meant to be held anywhere from 5 - 20 minutes or more. Restorative poses are done sitting or lying down and focus on healing, calming, and relaxing the body. I have never met a restorative class I didn't like. It does sound similar to yin, but I find them to be widely different.

Bikram: I saved this for last for a reason. In Bikram you practice in a room heated to about 100 degrees, give or take. The idea is to let the heat help you bend/flex easier to gain maximum benefit while detoxing through the intense amount of sweating you do. I like the idea of detoxing immensely, but that can also be done in a sauna, so keep that in mind. What I have a concern with is the injury factor. Let me explain.

I've done Bikram before but three weeks ago I decided to sign up for a 30 day Bikram yoga challenge. Me and my enjoyment of challenges. Anyway, the first class was great. I was melting, but enjoyed it. The second class was irritating and by the third class I had to get up and leave because I was too mad to practice. The madness was due to the teacher repeatedly saying, and I quote, "Your back should be hurting" and "If your shoulders don't hurt you're not doing it right."

Phrases like this were repeated over, and over, and over. Maybe it's just the one studio were I live and not all Bikram teachers, which I hope is the case. I honestly don't remember them saying that years ago. Regardless, my 30 day challenge turned into a 3 day irritation. This was a few weeks ago and as much as I wanted to come home and blog my little heart out, I held back until now, when I could be much more calm and collected.

I know tons and tons of people who love Bikram. I'm not trying to put it down at all. My entire concern lies in the teachers telling you to hurt yourself, since that goes against everything yoga is based on. To me it feels like the code of yoga is being broken and I personally can't be a part of that.

Additionally, I have concern with the very serious possibility of one injuring themselves unintentionally. I know exactly how far my body can go. Yes, in a heated room I can make it go farther, but should I? If the only way I can get it to do that is in 100 degrees then I probably shouldn't be doing it in the first place. The benefit of having studied with a teacher who emphasizes on alignment is knowing when to back off so you don't end up messing up your body. It's an advantage I have that most may not. I have concern for any students who are in a Bikram class and push further than they should without knowing when to back off so as to avoid injury. I have concern with teachers telling them to hurt themselves even more. The injuries don't always show up right away either, which is tricky. So there's my soap box.

Bottom line for any yoga practice: Be careful with yourself.

This is the only body you're going to get, so take care of it the best you can. Honor yourself. Never let someone next to you, or heck, even teaching, decide what is best for you. Not even me. You innately know what you need. In all facets of life we push, push, push ourselves. All other forms of working out are strenuous. If you can, let yoga be your quiet place where you remember what it's like to be yourself without judgement, worry, or doubt. And always remember that pain is a warning. Take heed of it. Your body tells you exactly what it needs, the key is to listen.

No go forth my little yogis and yoginis and have some fun!

Any questions? Shoot me a note.

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Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Skin Health: What you need to know NOW

Ever since I was a little girl I thought it was odd how people thought the sun caused cancer. The sun that helps flowers blossom, vegetables and fruit grow, gives us the tans we all so dearly strive for. The sun that we all look forward to, to come out and melt the snow and heat up our pools and lakes so we can go swimming. I never understood this fear of the sun. Especially since I love it. I love its warmth, the way it makes me feel tingly and heats my skin up when I'm outside. There is nothing I don't like about the sun.

My whole life I have doubted the sun and cancer theory. One day, at my fabulous school (of course), I got the answers to this problem that plagued me. It's not the sun after all. Nope. Not the sun. In fact, it's actually us and the decisions we make without even realizing it.

Let me explain.

Your skin is the largest organ of your body. That means when you put anything on your skin, anything at all, it hits everything internally and all parts of you. Ever heard of the patch? When you really think about it you're putting a band-aid like object on a tiny section of your whole body and that small object somehow magically knows where to work on what part of your body to help you quit smoking or not get pregnant. One tiny square is all it takes for your whole body to respond. Interesting, right?

Now think about this: Every day you put on cologne/perfume, lotion/after shave, body wash, shampoo, conditioner, makeup/moisturizer, deodorant, sunscreen, etc. How many ingredients can you pronounce on all the labels? How many are even listed sometimes? And what exactly do they all do? Well let me tell you my friends, they cause cancer and other diseases. I know that's tough to swallow.

Here's how it works:

You put on multiple products each day that all affect the largest organ of your body, thus affecting the rest of you. These products are full of chemicals. Full of them. Then you go out into the sun. The sun, doing it's job and heating things up, heats up these chemicals on your body and these chemicals start to "react".

Heat plus chemicals is a bad thing and is only good when used in a science lab for experiments, not on your body. This is where the bad news comes in.

Day after day, month after month, year after year of doing this will hurt you in one way or another. There's actually a website my teacher gave us that lists all the chemical names and what they do to you. That's right ladies and gentleman, once again there is something out there that would be helpful for all of us to know but no one ever told us because they wouldn't make any money if we knew. Sad but true.

You might think you only use a little bit of each product, so no big deal. Not exactly. You see, it's like the patch example. Even a little affects all of you.

Think of it like this: Let's say you wake up and shower with body wash, wash your hair with shampoo and conditioner, and then put lotion on. Let's say you only use a quarter size amount, which we will call 10% for each item that you use. So right off the bat you're at a 40% rate of chemical use on your skin, the largest organ of your body. Then, you put on perfume/cologne, moisturizer, chapstick, and deodorant. Now you're at an 80% chemical use rate. Then you put on some sunscreen (I'll get to this in a second), maybe you need gel/hairspray, and maybe you're like me and you have an addiction to body spray from Victoria's Secret. I know, it's amazing stuff. I had to give that up too. Anyway, now you're over a 100% rate of chemical use, not to mention the reapplying you do throughout the day. So in any given day you are putting excessive amounts of toxins on and in your body. Scary thought.

I personally freaked out and threw everything out. Everything. I went to Sprouts, Whole Foods, and my school book store and bought everything I needed to replace with organic, chemical free items. That was three years ago and I've never looked back. The switch over is pretty easy. It's a one day task of trashing the bad and buying the good.

As for the sunscreen issue, you probably also don't know that most sunscreens are bogus. Ever been in the sun with sunscreen on and still gotten burned? That's because there was nothing effective actually in your sunscreen. It's easier and cheaper to make bogus products, so they do.

Bogus products that are full of what? Chemicals. That do what? Heat up in the sun.

The thing that's supposed to protect us ends up hurting us. When I switched over to a new, teacher approved sunscreen I never had a problem again. I like the Alba brand, but only certain ones. I don't necessarily burn easily, but I like the sun so I spend a lot of time in it...I do live in the desert after all. Not once have I gotten a sunburn of any kind since the switch. Keep in mind that getting a sunburn is still definitely bad. There is nothing good about burning your skin ever, but a lot of the danger lies in the chemicals in and on your body.

A couple of my favorite skin care lines are Hylunia and Miessence. The ingredients are listed right on the site by the product. They are expensive but they're worth it. Some less expensive products that are better than a lot out there are the Say Yes line (Say Yes to Carrots, Say Yes to Cucumbers, etc.) and the Jason line. They're not perfect, but they're affordable and still a much better option that most things out there.

Food also plays a part in the way your body interacts with the sun. I'll save that for another blog, but just keep that in mind.

I know this can be tough to hear and to make the changes. If it helps at all, I'm not perfect at this myself. Let it be known that even with this knowledge I still must have my Viktor and Rolf perfume. I've made the conscious decision that I cannot live without it. Additionally, I'm not trying to freak anyone out. Your body and life are yours to do with as you please. I just feel that everyone has the right to be informed so that they can make the best decision for themselves.

Below is the link to the site that lists all the chemicals, the good products, and the bad. Grab your products and start researching!

Skin Deep

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Fat America

The Fortress

I live in a fortress, strong and powerful. Nothing and no one can get through its walls.
I have been here a long time.
I sit high up in a room with one window.
From my window I can see for miles.
Outside of my fortress is a moat filled with venomous water snakes. They circle the castle in the dark waters.
Surrounding the moat is a wall, thicker and taller than any wall created. A wall not meant to be overcome.
Behind the wall is a field, long and wide.
In this field there are mines, invisible but deadly and alarmed.
Beyond the field is a fence. Electrifying for those who dare touch it.
Outside of my fence is the world.
Blurred images of people and love, hopes and dreams, fear and failure, all waiting for me to let them in.
From my window I can see all of this, yet I do not want to leave or to allow them entry.
From my window I am safe from everyone and everything.
No one can reach me.

I live in a fortress, dark and cold.  Nothing and no one can get it.
I have been here a long time.
I sit up high in a room with a window that has a view.
From my window I can see for miles.
I see a moat, murky and black. The water snakes have drowned in its pity.
I see a wall, old and crumbling. Vines are breaching its many cracks and the greenness of the vines stands out against its dark palette.
I see a field overgrown with ferns and daises. The mines are old and rusted, weary from waiting to be set off.
I see a fence bending over, tired of being on guard. Empty of energy for shocking all who were brave enough to try and enter.
Beyond my barriers I see the sun rise and fall. I see colors. I see life.
I see chance, opportunity, dreams. I see people.
They are waiting for me.
Even after the shock, the pain, and my determination to keep them out, they wait still.
From my window I see all of this and my heart aches.
No one can reach me.

I lived in a fortress. There I grew lonely and bored.
Nothing and no one could ever get in.
So I had to walk out.
I lowered by drawbridge to cross over my empty moat.
I climbed over the broken stones of my wall that had crumbled.
I walked through my field, picking daisies and burying mines, covering them with mounds and mounds of flowers.
I walked to my fence that was no longer whole, no longer in tact.
I saw the people waiting.
I felt the sun on my skin, the wind in my hair.
I took a breath and climbed over.
I walked to them and to everything I had kept out.
They had waited and finally I let them reach me.

I once lived in a fortress, big and tall.
I sat in a room with a window where I looked out at the beauty of the world, the adventures of life.
I had walls to protect me from this beautiful world because I was afraid.
I let my passion be overcome by fear and I let fear take me.
I longed for golden rays of sunshine on my skin, the essence of flowers in the air, the feeling of being alive.
I began to fade away for lack of living and I became a shadow in my fortress.
Until one day, one day, when I finally realized...
I had built myself a prison.

If you feel like you've created a prison for yourself, it's time to break out.

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Sunday, April 3, 2011

No Regrets

Once a month I try to get home to see my family and friends, which allows me a solid 4 hours of thinking-while-driving time. This is usually a good thing, even though sometimes I out-think myself. That being said, up until two days ago I would have called myself someone who would change the past if I could. If I had the chance to go back in time I would always, always, always take it. Until this weekend when I decided to contemplate that very idea and ended up completely changing my own mind about it.

Most people would say they'd change something. In fact, I've always doubted when someone would say they wouldn't change anything, if given the chance. Nothing? That never made sense to me. I could always find something to change, no matter how small or large. I had plenty of reasons I would accept that offer, if ever it was a possibility. That fender bender a few years back, the many times I've put my foot in my mouth, and of course the recent ridiculous falling down the stairs. Heck yes I would change parts of my past...or so I thought.

As I was driving and re-thinking this, I realized that possibly having some genie-in-a-bottle chance to go back in time and change everything was a bad idea. What if changing one tiny, little thing would make my whole life different? What if I wouldn't have the friends I have now, the experiences I have now, the wisdom (albeit small) that I have now? Those weren't the what-ifs that really got me, although those are very important. Those I've milled over before and somehow always foolishly convince myself I'd still have basically the same life. The big one, the one that made me change my mind, was the a new thought that came to me: What if I'm on my way to having an amazing and wonderful life, filled with unimaginable adventures, chances to meet new people and make new friends all over the world, and have experiences that were only things of my dreams? And what if, by undoing anything I regretted, everything I know and love now and everything to come would be completely undone by my own wishes?

That very idea left my heart and mind reeling a bit. I can only imagine what lies before me, but whatever it is, I want it. I want to see it, feel it, live it, and experience every single moment of it. There is nothing I want removed from my future because my future holds endless possibilities, which means my past is exactly as is should be. Every lesson learned was one I needed. Every mistake was a chance to improve. Everything I did wrong was a chance for me to do right the next time it presented itself. My life really has been as it should be, even when I don't understand it.

To me that means everyone has lived their lives exactly as they should have. Every action from your past has brought you to where you are right now. No matter what or how, here we are and nothing from the past can be changed. The future, however, is completely up to us. If there's something to be changed, change it. If there's something to be done to right a wrong, to fix a mistake, to mend a broken bond, do it. If there's something you've put off for years for fear that you weren't good at it (like me and my writing) do it anyway. Just as there are countless grains of sand, there are endless possibilities to the life that lies before each of us. We need to remember that, at least I do.

Your life is limitless. It's time to live it like that.

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When You Search for Me

I wouldn't necessarily call myself a religious person as much as a spiritual person. There's a lot more to this, which I will one day explain, but wrote this thinking that whoever is out there, whatever you believe, this would be the message to you. It's actually a song I wrote, but since I can't hum it to you (or because doing so on youtube would be embarrassing) you'll have to just read it out and see what you make of the rhythm.

When You Search For Me (written to a tune)

I love the way you smile even when you’re scared
I love your heartaches because you care
I hate the moments your crumble and break
But your love and compassion can’t be taken away

I made you perfect all the way through
I made you special, there’s no one like you
I gave you life and I gave you choice
And sometimes disaster helps you find your voice

When you search for me
When you look to me
Some answers you seek
Aren’t the answers you need
Your strength is determined
You’ll find your way through
When you search for me
I will find you

I love the way you think life is too hard
And I love the way you need to take charge
I love your passion, your desire and drive
Because you know the value of love in this life

When you search for me
When you search for me
Close your eyes
I am here, I am what you need
When you search for me
When you look to me
Those are the moments
I know you believe

I love the way you never give up
When push comes to shove you give all that you’ve got
I love your secrets, your wishes and dreams
And the way that you search for the meaning of things

When you’re feeling weak
When you search for me
When your questions need answers
That won’t let you sleep
When there’s more to the task
Than what’s given at hand
You believe in me
And I’ll show you the plan

When you search for me
When you search for me
In your moments of frailty
You believe

When you search for me
When you look to me
Close your eyes, I am here
I am what you need

I am here by your side
And you'll find your way through
When you search for me
I will find you

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Music to my Ears

I just got back from visiting with my family this weekend. It's always nice to go home and see the people who grew up with you and the place you came from. I'm feeling the itch to write so there may be several blogs coming out this evening. Anyway, the drive itself takes a couple of hours and for such road trips I need a serious amount of music to listen to. (Thank you Apple geniuses for inventing the iPod!)  I, however, have far too many songs on it, so every once and a while a song pops up on my shuffle that I love and had totally forgotten about. Here are a few I re-discovered on my drive.

 (This video is awesome!)