January 16, 2013

Resolutions and a Glimpse of What's to Come

It's mid-winter and it was 70 degrees here last weekend. At this time of year, I'm used to donning a heavy coat and boots to trek out into the snow- and ice-covered city. What did I do Sunday afternoon? J and I took Tucker to the dog park and we wore t-shirts – yes, t-shirts. The occasional warm day in winter isn't all that uncommon, but this has been the norm this time around. It's so strange, and I am grappling with a sense of disorientation. It's as if I am in another world. This is my city, but it's not. As J says, it doesn't feel like a particular existing season, but an entirely new one. It reminds me of how so many migratory animals have been disoriented due to false seasonal changes and global warming – although their disorientation can bring far graver consequences.

Strange feelings aside, I find myself in a unique position in terms of plans for 2013. At the beginning of each previous year, I usually had big plans to look forward to or a defined project on which I'd focus my attention. That's not the case this year. J and I share a desire to vacation in the same place, but we've not scheduled anything or talked it over in detail. I've also been taking some preliminary steps towards some exciting educational beginnings in my future, but nothing is concrete yet. While having specific events to look forward to is so beneficial for my adrenal fatigue, not being bound to anything clears space to manifest anything my heart desires. And, manifestation is a magical thing!

As far as resolutions go, I'm not a New Year's resolution kind of girl. I see no difference between setting a goal for myself on January 1st and any other day of the year. In considering goals for myself, I choose a time when I need it most instead of a designated day that I am supposed to do it. I made a list of goals for myself on my birthday last year (which is ongoing), but I also made a smaller goal list in December which focuses on my daily activities. A few of my daily goals include exercising (in addition to any walks/runs with the dog), eating mindfully, playing piano, meditating, and writing. I don't stick to it rigidly – there are enough things on the list that it is virtually impossible to do it all on a busier day – but I use it as a guideline. It's been improving my mood and has made me much more productive. Even when I don't get all of the items checked off, I am more productive with the other things that fill my time.

Cheers to a beautiful year, one that's fresh with promise!

January 11, 2013

How I Spent My Holiday

"There are far better things ahead than any we leave behind" -C.S. Lewis

The holidays have come and gone for another year. It's 2013, the world didn't end – again – , and the blustery weather has vanished as quickly as it appeared. I'm sure you're all well into your normal routine by now (as am I), and the holidays are a distant memory. I'd like to take a look back to what I did during the holiday.

This holiday season, I was so grateful to have spent so much time with my loved ones. There were dice games with grandma, 

family jam sessions, 

vegan cake-making with dad's present from me

and late-night calls from me (and Tucker) to J whom we missed while the ice and snow storms after Christmas kept us apart.

In between Christmas and New Years, I got a short visit from my bestie who lives in Asheville. We don't get to see each other too often, so I was thrilled that she could make a slight detour on her way home from Philly. It's too bad that we are all so busy for the rest of the year, but it was nice for everything to slow down for a few weeks while we simply enjoyed each other.

In addition to my amazing company, I gave and received many gifts that will help to make this year amazing. Here are some highlights:

GGFVE is chock full of incredible-looking recipes and dynamite photography. I am a huge fan of Allyson Kramer and her blog Manifest Vegan and am excited to have so many new gluten-free dishes to make. The recipes are a nice hybrid between my preference for super healthy raw vegan eats and J's tendency to lean toward more traditional vegan comfort food.

Now that J is vegan and loves to experiment with foods as much as I do, he is excited to use Artisan Vegan Cheese just as much as I am. I love having a partner to share in my vegan culinary adventures. 2012 awakened his latent vegan spirit, and I am so thankful.

J and I were on the same page with our gifts this year. I gave J coupons for massages and 3-course dinners by moi, one for each month of 2013. He is so swamped during school that he appreciates when I get my housewife on. I knew that stress-reducing massages and fancy dinners would be a nice respite from rushing to grab a burrito between class, labs, and work. From J, I got a gift certificate to get a massage from one of my mom's besties. She uses essential oils and flower essences in conjunction with massage and can also recommend herbal supplementation for any issues. My mom treated me to a massage from her a few months ago and it was awesome. I can't wait to use this certificate.

Among some other wonderful gifts from my parents, I received these yoga dvds. I love Tara's yoga videos on Youtube, and love that I can do some great yoga sequences at home since I don't have enough extra cash to go to a studio for classes at the moment.

My brother blew me away with his gifts. I was so touched by his thoughtfulness and frankly a bit surprised by how extremely perfect his gifts were for everyone. I love him so much! When I finally got my own piano this summer, he lent me this Jack's Mannequin piano book, and I've been obsessed with it ever since. It wasn't hard for me to be reeled in by the brilliance of this book as I admire Andrew McMahon and his music immensely. I have my own copy now as well as a piano book for Fiona Apple's Tidal (pleasing the inner angsty feminist vegan piano goddess in me), and a picture-put-to-canvas of my soulmate kitty who passed away 2 years ago. That was the most amazing gift of all. The only problem I'm having is finding the best place to hang it up in my house. For now, it's propped up against the wall on my piano where I see it everyday during my practices.

My bestie, a children's librarian, gave me this awesome book called – wait for it – An Awesome Book. The title does not lie. The illustrations are imaginative and entertaining to leaf through, and the overall message of the book appeals to children and adults alike. Moral of the story: If you stop dreaming, you stop living.

She and I have both had a rather trying year. It's hard to be so far away from your friends when you need them most. When I was thinking about a gift to get for her, I remembered the best friend heart necklaces of my elementary school days. They were a heart cracked in two pieces with one piece stamped "best" and the other had "friends". I liked the concept but thought how awful it is to suggest that when you're not together, your hearts are broken. It was at this time that I came across these goat necklaces by Christy Robinson on the Vegan Cuts website and thought they'd make a great friendship necklace. I ordered one for me and one for her. Goats hold great meaning for both of us for different reasons. I like the addition of the lotus, which has historically represented nonattachment and purity rising out of chaos among many other meanings, and ahimsa, or kindness toward all beings. I felt this piece of jewelry was the perfect thing to center us and make us feel close to each other no matter where we are physically.

Christmas 2012 was one of the best holidays I've ever had. It's certainly left me with fuzzy feelings and positivity to carry into this new year. Ones that I hope will help to make 2013 the best year of my life yet!