Friday, March 1, 2013

Psssst...Over Here

Don't you hate it when you visit a blog only to find they've relocated? Try not to hate me...

I'm moving! Physically and Virtually.

You can't come to O'ahu with me physically, but please come over to my new blog. If you are a regular reader re-bookmark me as Come on over and say hello won't you? 

I'm really excited about both moves and I can't wait to see what will happen next!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Bagful of Europe

I've fully embraced the minimalist lifestyle. I don't buy much and I get more joy out of getting rid of material goods than out of acquiring them.  My philosophy is that if I don't need it, I won't buy it (and I really don't need much). I used to shop as a hobby, to fill time or to fill a void. Now I only go to a store when I have a need that can only be met by making a purchase. 

Okay okay, I confess I'm prone to wander Goodwill. I'm not a perfect minimalist. 

Soon I'll be making a move that includes crossing an ocean. I don't want to take more than the absolute necessities when I go so I've already started the elimination process. The clothes I'll be taking fit into three drawers. I've designated where much of the household items are going and I've started the Craigslist posting.

Oh but those sentimental items. They sneak up on us don't they? We are just about to put that hat in the donate pile and it nearly screams out like the sorting hat in Harry Potter, "Wait not me! Your dad gave me to you last year for your birthday!". I've found it easier and easier to let go of material things even if they have a considerable amount of sentiment attached to them. I try to remember that the love and memories remain in my heart even if the item is gone. 

Until yesterday...

I tackled the photo albums and boxes. For the first few hours I was doing great. I threw out all the needless doubles I've been carting around for years and even trashed pictures I never wanted to look at in the first place! Why did I have two copies of a fuzzy picture with a finger taking up half the shot? My new plan is to own only the very best pictures and keep them all in one box, no heavy albums to lug around.  I was totally in a groove tossing and stacking and organizing. 

Until I opened the last box...

There it was. A Bagful of Europe. What is a Bagful of Europe? Oh it's a magical bag full of wrinkled maps, ticket stubs, journal entries, hotel soaps and other various bits and pieces picked up from a month spent traveling with my sister. I looked at that bag and knew I'd met my match. It almost laughed at me in all my minimalist cockiness. The gloves I'd worn during those cold days in Paris weren't worried for a second that they'd join the other winter items in the donation pile. I gently pulled out a few scraps of paper thinking surely I could eliminate something! I was wrong. 

And so I leave it at that. I met my match in a Bagful of Europe. It doesn't matter that the memories are all safe in my heart and I have pictures to prove my sister and I created four weeks of unforgettable adventure. I'll be giving away handmade gifts and saying goodbye to books I call friends, but the Bagful of Europe is exempt. 

Sometimes right when we think we've mastered a new life skill, the universe puts us to the test. Even the universe would have to give me a B+ on this one. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Make a Wish the Sky is Falling

I gazed up from my computer screen at the dark night sky over Los Angeles.  My eyes were met with a glowing ball of fire falling in an arc and disappearing over the city. I was sitting here all alone and it was late. Although I tried to be brave and imagine it was just an average falling star, I couldn't stop the sense of fear that started to take over. My imagination went wild with end of the world scenarios since I'd been looking at the news about the meteor that hit Russia just a few days before. I texted a dear friend that I'd just seen the freakiest thing and that "The sky is falling". Her response? "Wish for a baby unicorn!"

I don't always want to jump to the worst case scenario and I doubt you do either. In any situation we can find a way to see it just as it is rather than blowing it out of proportion. We hold that power, nobody else does. 

Next time I see a fireball, I will make a wish before freaking out. 

I really want a baby unicorn.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dandy Juice & Pulp Face Mask


Just Fine and Dandy Juice:
One Cucumber
One Carrot
 Big chunk of Ginger
One fistful of Dandelion Greens


Juicing isn't cheap. It has saved me a lot of money to make my green juice at home, but the thrifty girl inside me cringes every time I throw the leftover pulp in the garbage. I've found good recipes for cooking with the pulp and I'll try a couple of those soon. 

Today I wanted to get a little more creative. I was inspired by a line of skin care products I've been lucky enough to use once or twice. Eminence Organic Skincare is delightful if you can afford and find it. What I loved about it was how it felt pure, fresh and whole. A couple of the masks smelled good enough to eat.  I'm starting to learn that if I wouldn't consume it, I should probably think twice about putting it on my skin. I hope my recipe inspires you to create your own skin pampering treats.

Cucumber Pulp
Carrot Pulp
Green Juice
Coconut Oil
Natural Bentonite Clay 
(I used Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay)

In a small bowl, blend about a tablespoon each of the carrot and cucumber pulp with a tablespoon of the oil and of the clay. Add the juice as necessary to get a thick consistency. You want the mixture to be moist enough to stay on your skin but not so wet that it falls right off. Play around with it until you're happy with how it feels. I left it on my face for about fifteen minutes.

My pores felt tighter as they always do when I use a clay mask but without feeling completely dried out. The oil and the cucumber especially helped with retaining the moisture. This mask felt great although it was a mess when I washed it off. I recommend wiping it off with a paper towel first to keep the food particles out of your drain and then rinsing with warm water.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

I Wonder What Will Happen Today

I'm not usually one to jump out of bed with loads of energy and a sunny outlook in the morning. I tend to lay there for a while and consider the day ahead. This can lead to worry and anxiety before I even see the mess of hair and my pillow-creased face. I know that setting the mood and intention for my day is the most important thing. More important than coffee? Yes, even more than that. 

The new experiment is this: I say "I wonder what will happen today" with curiosity and openness. I say it to myself or to my husband if he's here (pilot = gone a lot).  Since he loves hearing positive words out of my mouth first thing instead of "grumble coffee hrmpfh morning", he's trying this experiment with me. 

Give it one week. See how your day goes when you begin with a sense of wonder rather than apprehension.  

Friday, February 15, 2013

Confronting the Truth

“I don’t believe in the concept of hell, but if I did I would think of it as filled with people who were cruel to animals.” -Gary Larson

This week's Podclub podcast (Here if you missed it) was only one episode of many I listened to this week from Our Hen House. This is definitely a new favorite for me as a Vegan and lover of animals.  I feel like I have so much to learn and what better way to find out the truth than by listening to the witty banter and in depth interviews conducted by the lovely duo of Jasmine Singer and Mariann Sullivan. I feel like I know them after listening to them chat about their wedding day in New York. In this episode they interviewed Dylan Powell, an animal activist who is working hard to end the animal cruelty taking place at Marineland in Niagara.  

It's easier not to think about what's going on. It really is. It's easier to pay the entrance fee to the zoo or aquarium and enjoy your day looking at the animals without worrying about how they got there, where they are going or how they're being treated. I found myself in this position a few months ago. I had an L.A. Zoo pass and I knew how to use it! It only took one day to change my view entirely. 

We had ridden our bikes to the zoo with the intention of finding a nice bench and relaxing in front of one of our favorite exhibits before riding home. On that day, the elephants were finally within viewing range and we were so thrilled. The male elephant was hanging out by himself over in a corner near some chairs so we sat down to enjoy the view. What a magnificent animal! We sat there for at least a half hour wondering why he was taking a few steps forward and then a few steps back. He'd stop only to bob his head up and down repeatedly. I even joked that he was dancing for us. When we got back home I checked the Google to see why elephants bob their heads.  

Billy The Elephant
Help Billy.Org

The second my search results popped up, I knew I had two choices. I could close that window and retain my ignorance or I could dig in and start reading. I dug in. By the end of the evening I knew head bobbing is not normal and how Billy the elephant has a whole slew of people trying to get him transported to an animal sanctuary. Billy isn't the only one either. I continued reading about mistreatment of animals, elderly animals being "retired" in very inhumane ways, how no exhibit in a zoo can come close to allowing an animal to live as it would in the wild and even though we are keeping some species going, they could never survive in their natural habitat if taken there and released.

I never went back to the zoo.

This is the path I've chosen. I want to know what's happening no matter how painful. I'm aware that learning the truth means I have to make decisions I don't want to make. I have to give up things I don't want to give up. The same thing happened when I started learning about the food I was eating or the products I was using on my body. Once I knew they had a hand in harming animals or that they contained toxins that were bad for me, I had to replace them with something else.  

I'm so thankful for resources like Our Hen House and I hope you listen and learn a few things too.

That was a very mind expanding podcast for this week's Podclub meetup. Podclub is a weekly meeting of adorable ears and the smart brains between those ears. Just Jill and Soft Spiral have a lot of amazing words for you to read about this podcast as well. You should visit their blogs now and on other days too. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What if it Rains?

- Pema Chodron
Me: "What if it rains?"  

Him: "Then we'll hike in the rain" 

I say this over and over to myself all the time now. He didn't know when he said those simple words that I would end up applying them to most of the difficult situations I run into day to day. The rain I was referencing was approaching Big Bear Lake last summer. We were about to leave to hike around that area for the afternoon and I wondered if maybe we shouldn't put it off for a day or two to make sure we'd have perfect hiking weather. He packed our rain jackets and we left. The clouds did roll through but I don't remember even getting sprinkled on. Our hike was stunning and I had almost talked myself out of going. And for what? 

I didn't want to get wet. I thought it would take the fun out of the experience. I was still clinging to my idea of perfect days hiking in the woods or by the ocean under wondrously blue,  crystal clear skies. Preferably the temperature would stay in the mid 70's and only a light cool breeze would waft over us every few minutes.   

That was a light bulb day for me. If I always wait for my idea of the perfect conditions to be met, life will pass me by. Since then I've hiked in the wind and the rain. I've slogged through mud and been baked by merciless rays of sun and you know what? Those are the days that I remember. The times I've had to deal with the unexpected and learn to go with the flow are highlighted in my mind. 

Now when I see rain in the forecast, I always hear an echo from last summer. 

What if it rains? 

Then I'll hike in the rain.

Monday, February 11, 2013

I Love Animals

I love animals. I know, you're thinking "Hey, so do I!  Doesn't everybody?". I haven't always cared as much about the animal kingdom as I do now. We always had dogs and cats in our home when I was growing up, but I haven't had a pet as an adult and I don't really want one.  So far that has led people to think I don't really love animals but it's quite the opposite! I only want a pet if I have adequate attention and space for it to play outside every single day and let me tell you, "dog parks" are nothing compared to the countryside our pets roamed near my childhood home. 

Our Hen House is a podcast that caught my attention recently. I gave it a listen and loved it. I'm only surprised that I haven't been listening to this weekly show for the last three years! This week Jill is trusting me with the choice of the newest episode for our Pod Club pick. Please listen with an open mind and be entertained and informed!!


Pod Club is weekly meeting of ears and the brains between those ears. Just Jill and I pick an episode every(ish) Monday and post our thoughts every(ish) Friday.  So far we've had Leah join in the conversation and a few others that refuse to publicly comment. You know who you are! I would love it if we had a few more ears join in the fun. It's free and we always come away having learned something about ourselves and the world.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Heads or Tails

Would you let a computer program "coin toss" make a decision for you? I just did. The lovely and brave Jill asked earlier this week if anyone would join her in a little experiment being run by Freakonomics.  Before reading any further, if you want to participate on your own please go do that now. Then you can come back to see how my toss went.

First, I found it nearly impossible to pick a question! I was tempted to pick something silly or pointless, but then thought I'd rather put something out there that actually matters to me. So I chose to create my own question. I typed in the question and then almost made "yes" the choice for heads and for tails. This was the answer I needed before I even got to the coin toss. Instead, I put "yes" for heads and "not now" for tails. That way I didn't rule it out for the future, I would just take the pressure off doing it right away.  

Before I even flipped that coin after taking the brief questionnaire, I felt like I had already answered the question on my own. After having to rate my current happiness and the likelihood I would follow through with the coin's decision I didn't care as much what the result would be. I did care that I'd actually answered rather high on the happiness scale even though I'm going through an extra difficult patch right now. I cared that it didn't bother me to answer my age of 33 years old or that I'm married which is a word I used to sneer at a little bit.  Honest answers about my life didn't make me frustrated or depressed. I usually stay away from surveys because I leave them feeling strangely dissatisfied with my life. 

What does this mean for me? It means I'm learning to find happiness even on the more difficult days and not feeling like it's one or the other : happy or sad.  It means I don't worry as much about my age or my status in life and that I'm beginning to trust myself to make choices that are right for me with or without a coin to flip.

The coin was tossed and it landed on tails = not now.  This means that in the future I will write a book. It doesn't have to be today or tomorrow, but I will allow space in my life for this to begin to grow as an idea and eventually blossom into a wildflower of my own design. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Step by Step

In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.  John Muir

The climb is harder some days. I look up at that stretch of trail and shake. Will I make it to the top this time? Are my legs strong enough? What if I trip? What will I find at the top? Am I going the right way?The questions going round and round on repeat only make it more daunting. But just like yesterday and tomorrow, I take it one single footstep at a time. Each swinging of the right leg and then the left brings me closer to the top. When my muscles ache and my doubt rushes in to stop me, I pretend I'm one of those perpetual motion machines. I just keep going (and going and going).

Then, at last, one of those single steps is the one that brings me to the peak. With my head down and my determination resolute, I almost don't see the plateau until I'm standing on top of the world. I can see for miles in every direction. My mind is clear, focused and proud. 

I made it through another challenge.

(And sometimes I go for hikes too...)