Category Archives: weekdays

Yoga Class in the Car

On my way to yoga class, I’m not sure which way to go. The road splits, and my instinct says left but Mapquest says right. I ignore my gut and follow the computer’s instructions.

Oops.

Turing around in the greater Washington DC area is nearly impossible. One road leads to a twisted mass of other roads and within 10 minutes I’ve crossed three borders, hitting Maryland, Washington DC, and Virginia. There are cars everywhere. Jammed along the freeway. Weaving in front of me as they merge. And my mind races with them.

In my head I’m caught up in the emotional turmoil of living in a new city. I want to move back to our original home in California where I know the streets like the back of my hand and can walk to yoga class. The clock is inching forward. By the time I figure out where I am it’s too late. I’ve missed the class.

I’m waiting at a stop sign when a woman in a minivan bumps the rear of my car.

Argh!” I yell (okay technically I yell a cuss word, but this is a G-rated blog).

As I pull over into a parking lot my instinct says stop and breathe. This time I listen. Just because I’m not in yoga class doesn’t mean I can’t practice yoga. I have my body, mind, and soul right here in the car with me — I don’t need a mat, a blanket, or the wood floor of a studio.

In inhale deeply and lengthen my spine. I meditate on my breath and seek inner stillness. By the time I step out of the car I feel a hundred times better. The woman in the minivan is apologetic and wants to make sure I’m okay and my car’s okay.

There is only a small scrape on the back bumper.

“Don’t worry about it,” I say. “This car is 10 years old.”

We wave goodbye to each other and drive our separate ways. On the way home I continue to practice my breathing. My blue mat is still rolled up on the passenger’s seat. And the roads are still packed with cars and noisy construction and confusing twisting turns. But inside, I’m slowly finding silence.

Special Occasions

The street is cleared of traffic, the tents are up, and the vendors are selling summer squash, cherries, and herbs. It’s the second week this season the farmers’ market has been open in town, and my husband escapes from the office so we can enjoy lunch together and wander by the open-air booths. We buy bread (baked from scratch) from one of our favorite vendors and discuss what we can grill, cook, and drink over the next few days.

As we walk, I start thinking about how I’ll be spending a lot more time at farmers’ markets this summer than I have in the past – it’s easier to find local, sustainably-grown food here than at the grocery stores. I’ve always enjoyed farmers’ markets, but I’ve tended to reserve them for “special occasions.” When I lived in Los Angeles my friends and I would load up with market goodies before going to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl, or for a picnic at the beach, or if we had guests coming to town.

With over 3500 farmers’ markets in the United States (visit LocalHarvest.org to find one near you) there are plenty here on the east coast where I currently live. I’ll be visiting more of them over the next few days to get a feel for the ones I prefer, talk to vendors, and gather local meat, eggs, and more fruit and veggies. I know I have my work cut out for me this summer as I learn how to prepare meals, can tomatoes, and make my own salad dressing. But taking the first step and creating the intent to eat clean is one of the biggest hurdles. Besides, it feels good to realize that what used to be a “special occasion” will now be a part of daily life.

Scrub-A-Dub-Dub

Here’s a little secret: I practiced yoga for 12 months before I finally washed my mat . . . okay, 18 months . . . um, maybe more like 24. Yep, I’m pretty sure it was over two years before I grabbed a washcloth and filled a bucket with warm soapy water. For the record, my mat wasn’t too dirty. I tend to prefer the Iyengar approach to yoga over styles that involve a heated rooms or a lot of fast movement, so I’m usually not dripping sweat during classes. But despite that, and regardless of how often I’d wash my feet before sessions, I began to notice soiled circles where my heels pressed into the mat. I should wash this, I would think to myself during Downward Facing Dog. Yep that’s definitely dirt, I’d say to myself as I gazed at grime during Plank. After class I would roll up my mat, take it home, and promptly forget my pledge. Finally one day I plunged my hand into a bucket and went to work. It’s very easy. Following these directions, I unrolled my mat on a clean tile surface, washed it with a cloth (two cups of water to four drops of dish soap), and then rinsed it by wiping it down with a damp cloth followed by a dry one. Much better. Next class, I practically felt like I was using a brand new mat. It’s funny – sometimes when I take the time to care for something external, it feels like an internal cleansing.Š

All in a Day’s Work

The dishes needed washing. There were two huge stacks – one by the sink and another over by the stove. One downside to cooking from scratch.

“All we had was salmon and spinach,” my husband said.

“But the teriyaki marinade* was homemade, remember?” Plus, during lunch, I’d been experimenting with homemade pasta sauce.

The dishes sat overnight. Today, evaluating the mess, I realized the entire kitchen needed attention – countertops, floors, fridge – along with the dining room, family room, and bathrooms.

I’ve never been obsessed with cleaning, but even this mess was grating on me.

On the other hand, it was 60 degrees and sunny outside. And I’ve been waiting for this weather since November.

But then again my parents were coming to visit later in the week, so I knew I really should tidy up.

I wasted 20 minutes debating, which included a phone consultation with my husband:

Him: You should definitely rollerblade – the weather is great.
Me: But I was going to wash all those dishes.
Him: Well, on second thought . . .

And an internal argument over the merits of what it means to be a person who writes about mindful living:

Me: A Zen Master of Cleaning would emphasize the importance of living an “uncluttered” life.
Me: But fresh air and exercise will balance out your day.

In the end I decided to blade. The President’s Challenge is underway and I committed to participating on this very blog . . . so you know . . . rollerblading is part of my job.

~~~

*Teriyaki Sauce from The Maker’s Diet: 1 T fresh, grated ginger; 3 cloves garlic, mashed; 1 T toasted sesame oil; 1 T rice vinegar; 1 T raw honey; ½ cup of soy sauce. Whisk together.

The Tea Girl

I feel like a dog person who became a cat person . . . a skier who became a snowboarder . . . an evening person who became a morning person . . . because I drink tea now. Me. The coffee girl. Drinks tea. And I like it.

So many colors. Tons of flavors. I can drink it at night and it won’t keep me up until 3am.

I have an “emergency kit” in my purse. It contains essentials like a hair band, dental floss, an extra pair of contact lenses, and quarters. Now it also holds a tea bag. I added it after going to a restaurant the other day where they had three tea choices: icky, yucky, or gross. It reminded me of the days when I used to be a caffeine addict yet was stuck in a meeting where the only coffee option was a stale, burnt cup of sludge.

Anyway, so I now keep a tea bag tucked away for such predicaments. That’s me. The tea girl. Š

Natural Sugars

So, I’m off to see a naturopath. I’m still trying to figure out the fertility thing, and I’d like to learn more about this healing method of treatment. Diet is the first thing a naturopath evaluates (I think) – so it should be interesting to hear what she thinks of my eating habits. My no coffee, no alcohol, and increased intake of fruits and vegetables seems to be going okay (sure, there’s hiccups along the way, but not too many). But the no sugar plan? That’s tough. I’m off it, then back on it. Off. On. Off. On. OffOnOffOnOffOnOffOn. Lately, in order to satisfy my cravings, I’ve been snacking on a little sweet treat in the late afternoons (mostly chocolate). Sugar depresses the immune system drastically. And after reading up on the potential harm sugar can do to my body (feed cancer cells, contribute to autoimmune diseases, weaken eyesight, and so on) I actually felt fear rising inside me. But while fear can be a strong motivator, what really moves me into action is knowing how healthy and healed and clean I’ll be and feel when I eliminate sugar from my diet. I already know the next step. Instead of satisfying my craving with candy, I should switch to treats that have been sweetened with natural sugars, like maple syrup and raw honey. Okay . . . back to the kitchen to experiment with more recipes.

Finding Flexibility in Inflexibility

Week 2 of my six-week stint at a newspaper is coming to a close. Four more weeks to go. It’s a blessing, as a freelancer, to have the opportunity to be a part of these projects (steady work! money! live interaction with creatures other than my dog!). But man, the corporate life wipes me out.

I get home from work about 7:30 p.m., make dinner, eat, and plop into bed by 9:00 p.m., exhausted, where I drag my laptop on my lap and spend another couple of hours swaying between vegging out and trying to keep up with my other assignments. The evening yoga class I’d planned to attend? Skipped again.

The other night during one of my zombie-like states, I was flipping through Yoga Journal magazine. The question of the month just so happened to be from a reader who wants to dedicate more time to a yoga practice but finds that work leaves little time or energy to do so.

The yogi who answered the reader question suggested three options (1) back off of a less fulfilling activity and replace it with yoga; (2) spend less time working and more time practicing (which probably means adjusting your standard of living since you’ll presumably make less money if you cut back on work); or (3) make yoga a priority in your free time.

For now I’m choosing option three — switching to a weekend yoga class instead of trying to cram a class in after work when I’m tired and hungry.

Do you have an inflexible schedule that makes practicing yoga more challenging? How do you adjust?

Downhill

I carefully set out my outfit.

Organized my purse.

Planned breakfast.

Gathered the leash to walk the dog.

And then, finally, set my alarm clock.

As a writer, I’ve been working out of the home for a couple years, but Monday morning I was due in a company’s corporate offices for a six-week, on-site editorial gig. I’m not a morning person at all, so the night before, I needed to prepare.

Food-wise, the first day went okay. I ate fruit and oatmeal for breakfast, had a tuna sandwich in the office’s cafeteria for lunch, and, back home, had enough energy left over to cook a healthy vegetable-based dinner. That was Day 1. The rest of week I watched myself slide downhill. (I’d forgotten how corporate jobs suck every second of your time away – making it hard to prepare fresh meals. Oh, and the sugar. Being Valentine’s week, the chocolate overload running through that office – Oy! I ate too much of it.) By Friday, my fridge was bare (no breakfast fruit), I was still eating tuna for lunch (hello – mercury overload?), and dinner was refined pasta at a restaurant.

My throat felt a little . . . sore. OMG, was I getting a cold? Dang it. I didn’t have a single cold in 2007, and I suspect it was because my immune system was stronger due to better eating habits.

“I haven’t eaten one vegetable today,” I said to Ron Friday night. (I’m not counting a wilted piece of lettuce and green tomato slice on my tuna sandwich as real vegetables).

Saturday morning, as my sinuses clogged and my throat felt worse, I rushed my husband out the door with a grocery list. I juiced vegetables and drank the concoction down in a few gulps. I ate an orange. For lunch, I made a homemade bean soup. I ate another orange. For dinner I made a veggie omelet.

Too late. I officially had a cold. I knew the best thing I could do for myself was rest. I cancelled all weekend plans, and I slept and drank hot tea. In bed Sunday night, I figured I’d be calling in sick the next day. But miraculously, I woke up cured. Again, I blame the vegetables for the quick recovery.

This week I’m doing better (not great, but better) managing the “office” life. Our home fridge is stocked with healthy foods to choose from in the morning, I’m packing my lunch (dark leafy green salad with cranberries, walnuts, and a little goat cheese), and dinner is mapped out (today we’re having a brown rice risotto with asparagus and a mixed greens salad).

I’ll be sure to toast to good health.

Egg Rough-Muffin

When one of my writing colleagues asked me if I had any tips for driving across the country (my husband and I made the trek 18 months ago), I told her to Google all the Whole Foods across the nation and make a point to stop at a few for decent food. Also, I suggested she keep a cooler of healthy, cleansing snacks in the car.

My husband and I didn’t do either of those things, and I was blown away by our limited meal options during our trip. Fast food, fast food, or fast food anyone?

I admit I do have a taste for a sausage mc-muffin with egg from time to time, and the car ride gave me ample opportunity to indulge. But I knew it wasn’t good for my health. The other day I had a craving, and I decided to make a wholesome, at-home version of my favorite fast food breakfast.

I toasted an organic wheat English muffin (search the health food stores for brands that don’t include sugar, high fructose corn syrup, or “enriched” flour). Then I poached an egg (break and egg into a measuring cup and slide it into simmering water to cook for 7 minutes). I placed the egg on the toasted muffin, piled on a thick slice of tomato (instead of a sausage patty), and topped it off with a tad bit of grated cheese. Finally, I broiled the “sandwich” for a few more minutes. It was quick, easy, and so good that I decided to serve it for dinner the next night. Yum.

Now I’ve just gotta figure out how to make a healthy version of a big mac. Š

Halloween

I’m debating what to do about Halloween.

I loved dressing up and collecting candy as a kid. But as an adult – and someone with a growing awareness of our country’s health crisis – I don’t want to encourage the consumption of sugar, high fructose corn syrup, artificial flavorings…you get the idea.

I could hand out boxes of raisins, but I hated that as a child.

I could hand out toothbrushes, but again, that’s no fun.

I could bake something – treats using crispy brown rice cereal and natural peanut butter – but I know homemade goods would get thrown out by vigilant parents.

I have a friend who has her kids put their loot in a pile before bed. During the night the Great Pumpkin comes and Poof! their candy is turned into little games and trinkets from the dollar store. I also know a dentist who gives money in exchange for the kids who turn in their candy.

Hmm.

I was reading a recent issue of Body & Soul magazine and saw a small article on fair trade. Most chocolate, the article said, is exported from the Ivory Coast where kids aren’t going to school because they’re working on cocoa farms to help with family income. Buying fair trade products ensures that the money goes directly to the farmers and their communities instead of all the middlemen. And it just so happens that you can buy individually wrapped pieces of fair trade dark chocolate (according to some studies, dark chocolate does have a few health benefits).

Click here for a link to the article and a list of the companies.