Gains in the gym? Push ups? Deadlifts?
Steps or miles walked?
Less tangible outcomes?
Body sensations? State of mind?
Feelings of agility and rested-ness?
Toast the cumin seeds in a dry pan over medium heat until they just start to become fragrant, only a minute or so. After the seeds cool, combine them with the sea salt and grind to your coarseness-liking using a spice/coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle. I blitz a couple times using the chopping attachment of our Magic Bullet. Transfer to an air tight container and keep handy for dusting root vegetables, eggs, steak, soups, chili...anything really.
If you were to write my epitaph based on my Instagram feed, what would it say about me?
She loved accent walls and dream catchers. Their windows were bare. She collected pottery and had a small but special treasure of rings. The light streaming into their home was lovely. She unabashedly paired boyfriend jeans and scarves almost daily.
Or something more like…
The desert fed her soul. So did movement. They woke early to climb on weekdays. She ate well but simply. Her bests (David, Eisley, Bodhi) were her life. They were happiest outside. She was often happy, which meant she was outside often.
From time to time I snap a screenshot of my IG feed. I find reassurance in what this snippet of my days says about my life.
Recently I’ve taken note of daily challenges on IG – participated even – and been left with the question of my intention behind IG. Prompts kindle a different creative spark; they were a clever way to share our experiences in Bali without posting a million vacation snapshots. I knew my un-styled photos weren’t the type to be featured, which was fine until the moment it wasn’t. The instance it bothered me, I stepped back and had to ask, “why am I on Instagram in the first place?”
What do I gain? What do I enjoy most? What do I have to share? To contribute?
It seems like the word intention is being thrown around a bit, so perhaps it’s losing value…or maybe it’s seen as passive to most – “oh, she was good-intentioned and all” – but I’ve found the word popping into my vocabulary often over the past few years in an active way. Being intentional means being deliberate with my choices and engaging with every aspect of my life.
It’s easy to get caught up in the stylized nature of Instagram, and then edit our lives to participate. Design. Fashion. Papery things. DIY. Material possessions arranged just so…
Ultimately, I’m less inspired by stuff.
Stuff can certainly grab my attention and linger as a distraction, but what gets to my bones is experience, honesty, wildest passions, adventure…
When you share the ways you nourish your soul and reveal the essence of your human experience through experience, I see it. I feel it. And I, in a way, am nourished by it too. Your adventures and collection of moments nudge me farther from the shallow end into the depths of my own experience. They are a reminder that life is active, and not a lifeless arrangement on the perfect white backdrop.
I Instagram to connect over shared passions. Dynamic hashtags, landscapes from your trail run, your climbing shots in Thailand, local exploration, homemade meals…inspire me to collect moments. I share my own adventures, whether epic or inserted into my weekdays, with the desire to inspire others to seek out passions and put energy into experiences over things. I stick to IG as my preferred social, because I can share and get back to the experience rather smoothly and quickly.
This is why I Instagram; it isn’t a mandate to anyone other than myself. What I urge is for you to claim your actions and not simply fall into gazing at others’ lives longingly and mimic them without cuing in to your desires.
I’ve started a couple hashtag projects over on IG to celebrate what I find not only inspiring but essential to happy living.
Hop on over, and if these resonate with you, slap them on related images - share, share, share - then immerse yourself back into the moments that make your life.
cooking | sunchokes
playing | Our frustrations have been brewing while climbing. We expect partner chemistry to have its ups and downs in any activity that requires cooperative interplay between two people. It's led us to focus on playfulness and the joy of the sport. Also, striving to improve communication (on and off the rock) isn’t going to hurt either. On that note…
learning | people can’t read my mind…and I’m sure I’ll continue to re-learn this often. I’m becoming more aware of my reactions and the expectations I have of others. It’s intense work at times, like trying to make sense of a distorted reflection…
wanting | to start a knitting project. Until I take the GRE, finalize my physical therapy school application, tackle a couple more gross anatomy exams…I don’t feel justified adding a cowl to my “free time” activities just yet.
waiting | to take a workshop in December. There is an important piece missing from yoga at large: narcissistic selfies of “advanced” yoga poses on social. Just kidding. There is a lack of understanding about how soft tissues actually respond to various forces (like “stretch”) by most students and teachers in the yoga community. A good portion of my “fun time” is spent gaining a better understanding of the human body and movement and biomechanics. One current goal of mine is to draw on my (ever-developing) knowledge of soft tissues and tie this science into safer and more effective ways of approaching yoga. My ultimate goal is to eventually share this in a teaching setting. I’m ecstatic to take in every bit of information I can from Jules Mitchell, who is writing her master's thesis on the “science of stretch”.
marveling | over the spinal cord. We performed a laminectomy in cadaver lab. Basically we removed the back part of the vertebrae to get to the spinal canal and access the layers (meninges) of the spinal cord. We cut through these to actually see the spinal cord, spinal nerve roots, spinal arteries, ganglia... AMAZING.
loving | my morning hour – I sit on the floor, facing the window before the sun rises. It’s dark, cool, quiet. A soft humming gently stirs me awake as light spreads slowly into our home… Making this time for myself significantly effects my mood for the day.
smelling | frankincense + myrrh from *this granite spray. It fills the main floor with a woody, bright scent that fits right in with Fall.
pondering | disparities of (even my favorite) brands’ advertising messages vs the marketing messages they convey through social.
moving | walking. Aiming to get 5-6 miles worth of steps in each day to counter sitting in class and leaning over the cadaver.
wearing | my version of “boyfriend jeans” + drapey tees + leather sandals + scarves + bangle that belonged to Dave’s mom.
following | I'm on Twitter now...primarily with the idea of connecting with other movement nerds…or simply other fitness and health-minded folks. Come find me if you are so inclined.
reading | October Issue of Yoga Journal “The Body Issue” – Overall I’m excited about the “makeover” and shift to ”better reflect the modern yoga”, though I’m not entirely sure what that means. I was most struck by Chelsea Roff’s article on the dark side of yoga. The provocative piece tackles how yoga can fuel body dysmorphia and dangerous behaviors, like eating disorders. I couldn’t help but read it from a teacher’s perspective, even though I don’t consider myself a teacher yet. Language is powerful, and subtle differences in the words we choose can send drastically different messages. As an alignment-based yogi, I face the challenge of unintentionally emphasizing shape or form over awakening awareness and connection to the body. I was mulling this over as I turned to the back cover to see…two yoga goddesses balancing effortlessly on each other. I actually laughed out loud. The image seemed so out of place following the thought-provoking article.
Another inspiring piece was a two-page collection of excerpts from the upcoming book Yoga and Body Image. If the diversity expressed on page 40 is YJ’s idea of better reflecting the modern yogi, I’m thrilled. From fat shaming and racial slurs to gender transition, individuals share how yoga has helped them accept and appreciate their bodies. The following page had the most powerful (for me) statement, but I nearly missed it because the image on the opposite page slapped me in the face. On the left side, Kate McIntyre Clere challenges us to change the language and bring a critical eye to the media. On the right side - the image that caught my attention – was one of the infamous Toe Sox ads of Kathryn Budig. Honestly, I’ve always loved these images and believed they were meant to “inspire and show the beauty of a body that practices regular yoga” as Kathryn once said. I’ve always found inspiration in the sort of effortless strength portrayed in these black-and-whites; but…I’m thin, fit, and athletic. During an interview in the issue, Kathryn confesses to facing the challenge of watching her “25-year-old body turn into a 32-year-old body.” Now I’m finding the images hard to swallow. How hard has it been (all these years) for women who are far from that aesthetic even with “regular practice?”
I adore Kathryn Budig. I have “followed” her for about 5 years now. Her playfulness is one of the draws that brought me to my own yoga practice. (Interestingly enough, it wasn’t the Toe Sox ads). I emailed her years ago; she actually responded. She is a beautiful, inspiring person. I’ll be following and supporting her healthy body image movement. I guess I’m waiting…hoping…for a fuller conversation from the “rebranding” ambassador. So far, it’s primarily been about accepting her “curvy girl” status. Does anyone else see a trace of “curvy girl” in the Toe Sox ads? I don’t. If those were meant to show the beautifully-artistic-yet-realistic potential of a “regular practice,” where is the “curvy girl”? If you follow her on Instagram, you can see her doing these same awesome asanas – and promoting a more balanced yoga practice overall – with her current body. I find the rawness of these images more inspiring than the ads. Maybe her body then simply was the by-product of “regular practice” and healthy choices and not the result of intense, daily routines and rigorous habits. What bothers me is a disparity between both capitalizing on the idealized yoga body and advocating for positive body imagery. If we truly hope to have a meaningful and positive impact, it’s important to evaluate how all of our messages are being interpreted and not get stuck in the stance of how we meant for them to be interpreted.
*affiliate links used; to read more about affiliate links, go to my FAQs page.
Normally I don’t take part in blog challenges, but when Faith asked me to share my writing process the timing seemed fitting. In my morning pages, I had just scribbled out a page answering why I write. This was two months ago!! I didn't finish this post during summer because I just wanted to play outside. There is something about September though that heightens my introspective side, and I’ve found myself writing in my journal nearly every morning - mostly sanity-seeking entries - but I thought I’d finally share my writing process here.
Faith Levine of Gracefulfitness is a woman who knows and celebrates her strength. Her beautiful energy radiates out, felt even through the cyber world, and she stretches her limits to redefine them. But there is also a vulnerability to Faith, and it adds power to her words. Whether she is talking about body image or “oversharing” her incidents of cervical dysplagia, she overcomes fear and insecurity to share experiences that leave us feeling connected, even supported. Thank you, Faith.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
During our recent trip to Bali I found myself drafting up “essentials” lists, including my go-to products for outdoor adventuring, as well as essentials for surviving 14-hour flights. These will be fun to share, but I’m most excited to express my current thoughts on “exercise” and how I’ve recently let go of this concept. I was also “redesigning” this blog, but I’d rather be playing outside or simply writing...and there's plenty of studying to do. Graphic design bores me. I don’t know if things will ever look – or feel different – but I am trying to allow myself freedom to write my stuff and continue to figure out what that is and how that might affect what things look like around here. I want to work in topics I’m passionate about like movement, anatomy, biomechanics…in a way that is relevant to others and easily understood.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS’ WORK IN THE SAME GENRE?
Your life isn’t meant to look like mine. I write my stories hoping to inspire others to fill their lives with passions. I show I’m a mess. My life isn’t Pinterest-perfect or Kinfolk-esque, but it’s beautiful and amazing.
By finally recognizing what my blog isn’t (a food or fitness blog), I’m allowing myself to work my passions into topics. Through my storytelling, I share what I need daily – what brings colour into my life (climbing, nature, writing, yoga, travel, movement) - but I also share painful lessons I am continually learning.
WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?
To process my own shit. Honestly, my journal is mostly a brain dump where I dive deep into the mess of my thoughts, swim around in murkiness for pages, and - if I’m lucky - surface with a bit of clarity.
Why do I share some of it though?
The by-product I hope to cultivate by sharing is to convince you to throw off the perceptions of what our lives “should” look like and dive into living the way you were meant to live. Live a rich life. Turn autopilot off and start making intentional choices.
I want to help others live happier, healthier lives as well. Free yourself from pain. Love yourself. Play often. Live simply. Move more. Get outside. Follow your passions.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
I write. In a notebook.
The physical practice of writing has always been a cathartic therapy for me, so generally, typing doesn’t work as well. I’m particular about the pens I use…and my notebooks. While I love beautiful notebooks and journals, I tend to get cheap, spiral-bound varieties with silly covers. Angry Bird Pigs. Puppies. The sillier the better. It allows me to be messy and not take myself too seriously. This works out because all of my writing usually starts as a brain dump and eventually fleshes out what I actually want to say. If it’s for a blog post, I type out a VERY rough outline from my writings…see where it lacks clarification and detail…step away…then return to my notebook to expound on these, often starting with a question or partial statement.
Often ideas are inspired by others. My “best” usually hit me while walking along the train tracks or sitting in the middle of the desert. I’m striving to trust myself more and let ideas flow through me. The more I write, the more I set my own voice free.
I’ve realized what my blog is not, which has left room to expand into more of my passions. At times it feels messy to find my voice and let it develop along with this blog space. I wonder if I’ll ever feel my voice. It’s a continual process, and I think you just have to go with it and let it happen.
Months ago Analiese Brown reached out to me thoughtfully. As nice as it was to receive her remarks, the real treat was making my way over to The Necessary Wild. Her monthly recaps are especially intimate. I find myself wanting to grab a cup of tea and just watch the sun rise with her. Her writing comes off as effortless, which is impressive considering how much depth she carries in her words. I look forward to watching her develop as a writer, and continue sharing our love for nature and simple joys. Analiese, I'd love to read about your writing process. Just follow the steps above if you're game.
My body is failing me. It’s broken. Why is it doing this to me?
Whether or not I realized it, I was approaching my body this way: as if I was separate from it and not a part of the actions causing it discomfort or stress. My body was fighting against me or resistant to functioning optimally – at least that’s how I was treating it – but we aren’t trapped inside these bodies. We embody every bit of them, every cell. If you feel trapped, take time and connect. Breathe. Scan your body. Try to feel yourself from the inside. We can battle against our bodies, or we can tune in, listen to feedback, and assist in healing. Whether it’s an upset digestion or an achy shoulder, addressing the root cause places accountability on me. It removes the “my-body-is-the-enemy” mentality. When an issue arises, we can change the relationship with our bodies by simply asking why.
It may seem unrelated, but the state of my digestion strongly influences how I feel and how I see myself. It is nearly impossible to feel strong or sexy or capable with a constant – even if minor – discomfort, which I’ve experienced for years. This has felt like a battle, and I’ve resented my body for being sensitive.
I thought I understood the concept of “food as medicine” – anything we put in the body has the potential to heal like medicine – but it is more than potential, because every food affects the body. There is no neutral food. As Melissa Hartwig puts it in It Starts with Food, every food “makes us more healthy or less healthy.” Food is the foundation – it is not just like medicine but instead was the original medicine – affecting the body at a cellular level. It’s more than recognizing some foods upset my digestion in an obvious way.
This was a big shift in the way I began to approach food. Rather than dwell on the frustrations of my food sensitivities, I began to actually treat food as fuel for my body. As I was learning to celebrate and love my body it hit me: why would I want to give my body something that harms it, even in the subtlest way? Though it started by avoiding foods that left me feeling sick or weak, it has evolved into focusing on foods that make me feel awesome and vibrant.
I feel my body healing itself. I feel my “core strength” again.
The kind of life I want to live requires optimal health and agility. I want to get outside often, explore, climb, and turn upside down. If I sweep feedback from my body under the rug, I hurt myself. The shoulder continues to ache, inflammation moves from the gut to the rest of the body, or I miss positive feedback and the opportunity to help my body – help myself – thrive. It takes awareness and aligning priorities, but being connected to your body doesn’t have to rule your life. It actually liberated me from obsessively analyzing every bit of dietary information out there and second-guessing my choices. I can trust myself - trust my body - because I’m working with myself rather than against.
Intention without obsession.
It’s led to simple, delicious meals and richer meal time experiences.
I no longer obsess over meal planning and grocery shopping. I let my body and the situation decide what will serve me best. I connect to the moment. I connect to my body. This is becoming the basis for enjoying food…and for more fully enjoying life.
Thank you for stopping by - I'm so glad you did!