I love yoga. I love it so much, but I have this uncanny ability to be critical (hopefully constructively) even when I love something and want it all to be sunshine, rainbows, and puppies… or kittens, I guess.
Here’s the yoga hill I’ll die on today. Or maybe I have two.
No group work. I talk to people all day every day, and part of the reason yoga has been so great for me is that I can go to a class full of 40 other people and talk to no one. Yoga is my opportunity to look completely inward. Something I’ve learned well, is that no one cares about the person next to them in yoga. I’m introverted, I’m shy, and I’m extremely self-conscious around new people, and knowing that no one, or at least most people are paying no attention to me, is incredibly comforting. Maybe I’m being a baby. Yoga has helped me gain a lot of confidence, but when the teacher says, “Partner up and find a wall, so we can work on our handstands,” I hear, “Partner up, so the skinny blonde next to you can see how much you suck it this.” I want to run away and never come back.
On that note, circus tricks do not belong in a level 1-2 class. Ok listen, I will accept that some of my complaints are 100% founded in my own fear of failure, and I should be more willing to try things and test my own strength. I completely own that. However, I’m also sensitive to the fact that I was once a newbie with a ton of anxieties who felt I did not belong there. I firmly believe that yoga is for everyone, and a level 1-2 class typically contains a variety of different needs and skill levels. It’s one thing to create the option for a more advanced pose when queuing a comfortable and more accessible pose for those less experienced or simply not in the damn mood that day. I’ve heard a ton of teachers do this and create an environment truly inclusive for all levels. It is possible to push people while still providing a level of comfort. That is yoga.
I criticize because I care. Thanks for reading and Namasté.
I gave up meat in August. Okay, I’m flexible with fish, because I might murder people if I can’t eat sushi every once in a while. I’m trying to keep the seafood to a minimum, though.
Harrison and I have gone to New York for Christmas to visit his family for the last 7 years, and this year I was a little concerned because of my new dietary choices. There are already a lot of dietary needs in Harrison’s family, most of which involve the Paleo diet, which is very heavy on the meat, and they hold strong opinions about a meat-free diet. On Thanksgiving, we called his parents, and Harrison planted the seed that I had recently given up meat entirely, so there would be no surprises over Christmas. His dad’s response was, “No protein!?!?!!?!?” I rolled my eyes.
Yeah…it’s like that.
The first day we were in New York, Harrison’s dad grabbed a handful of bacon and crumbled it into everything he made for breakfast. In an effort to not be rude or a pain in the ass, I spent breakfast trying to eat around the tiny pieces of bacon that had been added to my food. Harrison’s mom also made a pasta sauce that included chicken bouillon cubes. I know that none of this was malicious. They’ve never had to think about these things. They had made a lot of accommodations for me, which I greatly appreciated. They just missed a few details.
When Harrison and I went into the city for a couple of days, I was fairly adamant that we ate at vegetarian and vegan restaurants whenever possible. That ended up being pretty easy, and we ate some great food, so I thought I would share for my vegetarian and vegan friends.
I stumbled upon this place semi-accidentally after we spent a few hours at The Met. I got on Yelp to see what was nearby and saw this place described as Vegan/Vegetarian. Hooray! Harrison and I shared the Cajun Seitan Sandwich. Delicious! They also serve fresh juices (“Elixirs”) that are packed with nutrition and very tasty. I drank the Berry Harvest elixir, and Harrison drank the Flu Fighter elixir.
Vegan sushi. Who knew? Oh my goodness. I loved this place so much. I think Harrison and I got a little too excited when we were ordering because everything looked so good. We had to reign ourselves in a bit. I highly recommend the Nutty Buddy and the Spicy Mang roll.
Who doesn’t love a good burger? I have had some garbage veggie burgers since I stopped eating meat. This place is so great, and it’s really easy on the wallet. Only $6 for a burger, and they are super tasty. They can also make it vegan upon request. The Broccoli Rabe was also delicious.
This was our splurge meal. Whenever Harrison and I travel, we are fairly frugal when it comes to meals, but we might find one nice place and spend a little more on one nice meal. Modern Love was recommended by a friend who has been a vegetarian for about 12 years. We got the Tempeh Stuffed Avocado as an app. Harrison had the Bacon Cheeseburger complete with tempeh bacon, cashew cheese, and a seitan patty. I had the Mac ‘n Shews- vegan mac ‘n cheese with tasty cashew cheese, breaded tofu on the top, and some kale and cauliflower included in the dish. I think Harrison was a little skeptical, but we both left very full and very happy.
Harrison and I stopped into Other Half last year when we were visiting over Christmas on a recommendation from a co-worker. Last year, it was a tiny but very impressive place. Excellent beer. This year, we were happy to see they had taken over the space next door. They had way more space and they were PACKED. And the beer is still just as good!
Harrison and I go to the Peekskill Brewery every time we’re in New York visiting his family. We LOVE this place. Their beer is some of the best we’ve had outside of Colorado, and they also have great food. If you’re visiting the city, you’ll have to take a train ride up to Peekskill to try this place, but it’s definitely worth the trip.
I realize I should have done this about 10 days ago, but I still think reflection is a good thing… even if it’s aided by a silly survey. 2017 was a damn blur of a year, but let’s talk about it.
What did you do in 2017 that you’ve never done before?
I took a redeye flight. I visited Athens, Greece. I went to a Turskish wedding- they have fireworks. I went to a traditional Indian wedding- they are beautiful and colorful and involve dancing behind the groom riding in a white horse. I tried vegetarianism, and it stuck. Okay- I’m flexible with fish. On that note, I ate caramelized octopus in Greece, and it was delicious. I got a tattoo with color. I acquired a brother-in-law and a sister-in-law.
Ooh! I did yoga with goats!
Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I did maintain a consistent yoga practice. I did read more than I did in 2016. I did slightly better with money (I think). I think I did better with complementing and congratulating people. I felt happier overall, so that helps. I’m a little on the fence about whether I was more present and took more time to reflect. The bullet journaling thing definitely did not stick. I feel like 2017 was a bit of crazy year. There was so much happening so often that I don’t know that I let anything sink in.
I did not start cross-stitching again. I probably didn’t listen to more music. I blame Pod Save America. I’m obsessed. I’m still struggling with a creative outlet. I did go to some rallies and protests, and I plan to do the same this year. Hopefully, I’ll be able to get involved in some campaigns.
You’ll have to go back and read the linked post for any of that to make sense.
Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope! Maybe this year. SOMEONE MAKE ME AN AUNT!
Did anyone close to you die?
No. Thank goodness.
What places did you visit?
Grand Lake, CO
What would you like to have in 2018 that you didn’t have in 2017?
Legs that are the same length. Jk. That will never happen for me.
I actually feel pretty content.
What dates from 2017 will be etched in your memory forever?
January 21st – The Women’s March
August 6th- Harrison’s brother’s wedding
September 30th- My sister’s wedding
What was your biggest achievement this year?
Not murdering anyone at my sister’s wedding.
What was your biggest failure?
Maybe that I still work where I do and that I make zero progress in finding a new place of employment. I mean… it’s fine, mostly. At least I’m in a position to be picky. Unfortunately, I’m in a position to be complacent and lazy, too.
Did you suffer from illness or injury?
2017 was a pretty healthy year.
What was the best thing you bought?
My record player. It has bass.
Where did most of your money go?
It’s still food. That didn’t change.
What did you get really, really excited about?
The Womens’ March.
Eating tomatoes and olives in Turkey and Greece. It’s the little things.
Compared to this time last year, are you a) happier or sadder, b) thinner or fatter, c) richer or poorer?
I’m definitely happier.
I don’t care if I’m thinner or fatter, but I’m probably about the same. However, I’m definitely stronger. You should feel my biceps.
I wish I were richer than last year. I’m probably about the same. I guess there’s something to be said for consistency.
What do you wish you’d done more of?
I wish I would have relaxed more. It was a fairly stressful year.
What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worry. Again, it was a stressful year.
How did you spend Christmas?
Harrison and I went to New York to visit his family like we do every year. I was kind of tired of family obligated travel by that point, but it ended up being a great trip. We went to The Met, we saw a great comedy show (Janeane Garofalo was there again), and ate some delicious vegetarian and vegan food.
What was your favorite TV program?
I love television. So much good TV. I think I watched Stranger Things 2 in just two or three days. I’m so happy Will & Grace is back!
What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31! I took the day off work, and then went to see Lady Gaga! Not too shabby.
What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Same answer as last year: If Hillary Clinton had been elected President.
Who kept you sane?
Harrison. It’s always Harrison.
Who did you miss?
I got to see my grandparents at my sister’s wedding, but as I get older and realize they aren’t going to be around forever, I miss them quite a bit. Hopefully, we’ll be able to make the drive to see them in the Spring.
Who was the best new person you met?
I don’t know that I met anyone I hadn’t met before, but I was able to get to know some acquaintances better. I feel like I have quite a few people in my life that I can now consider friends.
Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.
Cutting out meat is possible and really great.
Show us one of your favorite photos from the year.
This picture makes me so happy. This is a picture of me and Harrison’s family, and our new extended Turkish family. It feels like such a special thing to be even a little bit connected to such beautiful people in such a beautiful part of the world.
About two weeks ago, I showed up for a Steady Vinyasa level 1-2 class that attend regularly, and there was a last minute substitute teacher for the class. I knew a little bit about his teaching style and that it is not something I would actively seek out. Nonetheless, I looked at it as an adventure – a chance to explore something new. I tried not to have any judgments that would impact the experience before actually having the experience.
I am generally not a fan of what is typically referred to as “power yoga.” It’s just not my thing. I prefer a slower flow where I can maintain my breath, build strength in my body, sweat (plenty), and experience the mental release and meditative side of yoga. This is also the reason I have no desire to try Bikram. If power yoga is your thing – great. Everyone is different, and I think it’s important that everyone find what works for them when it comes to physical and mental fitness. I’m not here to argue that power yoga is some culturally appropriated perversion of true yoga because I frankly don’t know enough to argue that, and realistically, any yoga class at a chain studio in the U.S. has some level of that. What I will assert is that a power yoga class is a fitness class disguised by phrases like, “Send your love to someone who needs it” or “Offer a prayer for that person you thought of at the beginning of class.” That was the last thing I was thinking about between the speed of the flow, and the poses being cued (a level 1-2 class normally does not include more than one forearm plank to dolphin pose, half moon, warrior 3, and multiple arm balances and inversions). This was not a level 1-2 class, not even close, and there was nothing “steady” about it.
I’ve been practicing yoga consistently for almost two years. I’m no sissy. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my own strength and capabilities of my body over and over again, and sometimes I can be found feeling my biceps for fun (because the novelty of having muscles I can feel has not dissipated yet). I’m strong and active, but I thought I was going to barf or pass out around minute 45, and I slumped into child’s pose for a bit to save everyone from having to scrape me off the floor.
I left the class in a worse mood than when I got there, which is the last thing that should happen after yoga. I thought about how that would have made me feel when I was just starting my practice. I got hooked on yoga because of the mental benefits I experienced. The physical benefits are a perk, but I was looking for something to ease anxiety and insomnia. And this is not unusual for yoga practitioners. When I started doing yoga, I was struggling with some social anxiety, as well, which made it very difficult to go to class sometimes. There could have been someone in that class who is like I was when I started, self conscious and scared of being seen. Going into a class like that would have been devastating for me as a beginner. Maybe I would have gone back, but I also may not have.
I felt a lot of resentment toward that instructor, and that is a weird thing to feel toward a yoga teacher. He had to have known how the class was advertised on the schedule, right? So as a student of yoga, who preaches its benefits to friends and family regularly, I plead that instructors take care to teach the class that the students came to be in, and I don’t feel that is asking too much. The physical and mental safety of your students and the future of their practice may depend on it.
Here are all the things I’ll be doing this weekend while everyone else is getting hammered in a crowded, shitty bar in face paint that is flaking off or wearing a costume five other people are also wearing.
Not waking up hungover.
Yoga and maybe more yoga.
Watching Will & Grace on Hulu. I’m on the last season.
Watching the new season of Stranger Things.
Reading a good book.
Maybe I’ll watch Hocus Pocus. That movie’s rad.
And basically not leaving my apartment except during daylight hours. Maybe.
Happy weekend before Halloween. Be safe out there!
This is what it looks like when I spend an irresponsible amount of money, but hey, when you’ve been fantasizing about something for years, it might be time to pull the trigger.
A few years ago, I went to Portland when Harrison and I were going through a tough time and were unsure if we were going to stay together. One of us needed to remove ourselves from the situation. I was in Portland alone for a couple days and then a friend met me there. It rained so much. It poured every day that I was there. I came armed with my umbrella and carrying a broken spirit. As much as I love Denver, Portland was there when I needed it. I found my independence again in those days that I was alone navigating a new city in the rain. In the past, I’ve used rain as a metaphor for feelings. You can’t ignore them. You might be able to shield yourself a bit with the help of a good friend or an everyday distraction. In a downpour, an umbrella might help, but you will get wet no matter how much you try to avoid it. Feel your feelings; feel the rain.
I still love Portland, and this year, Harrison and I were able to enjoy the city together.
If you’re in the Denver area and looking for some excellent tattoo artists, check out Certified Customs. You can also check them out on Instagram.
It’s the 4th of July, so this seems appropriate. Unless you never leave your house, never speak to other human beings, never turn on your television, and never use social media, you’ve probably at least heard about Hamilton. I’m already a bit of a nerd for musical theater as it is, but this is truly next level. There’s a reason Lin-Manuel Miranda has received all kinds of awards for this.
I never liked History in school. It was mostly memorization for me. I memorized names and dates, and that was that. For the most part, I couldn’t personalize it. I never had a teacher who taught in a way that made me feel otherwise. I’m not faulting them for that; it’s a hard thing to do.
When I listen to the music and the lyrics, our history is tangible. We are a country of immigrants, and it is immigrants like Hamilton who built this country. We would be nothing without immigrants. One of the mistakes we make is putting these people on a pedestal like they are more than human. They were men who drank, smoked, cheated on their wives, and made a lot of mistakes while doing some really amazing things.
Imperfect humans built this country, and the imperfect humans will continue to improve it.
You can listen to the Hamilton Soundtrack on Spotify.