Louisiana and Texas

There is nothing I love more than exploring a new city on foot. Early this morning I went for a 6 mile run around Shreveport and over the Long-Allen Bridge into neighboring Bossier City, Louisiana. I lounged a bit before running to the store to pick up a few things. I grabbed a kale mango smoothie and hit the road for Marshall, TX and day one of Healthfest 2015.

Some photos from my run

    

On the drive I got to thinking about what possessed me to come all this way for a health conference. This weekend was all about getting out of my comfort zone in many ways. It’s not enough for me anymore to sit in the comfort of my home reading health and nutrition websites, blogs and listening to podcasts. I am passionate about nutrition and the healing potential of a plant based diet on the body. I need to be more active in pursuing my passion.

I enjoy learning and furthering my education. I was seeking an experience that would allow me the opportunity to spend time around like-minded people as well as access to those who are not just talking the talk but also walking the walk.

I don’t remember exactly how I found out about Healthfest. I believe it was on the Rich Roll podcast. Nevertheless it was a couple of years ago when I first heard about the conference and it instantly struck a chord in me. I looked it up on line and must have signed up on some sort of email list because sometime around Christmas I received an email offering a significant discount for early registration to Healthfest 2015. When I read the line up of speakers I knew I had to go…not only was Rich Roll going to be presenting, but Dr. T. Colin Campbell, Dr. Garth Davis, Chef AJ, Ellen Jaffe Jones, and Matt Frazier as well!

OK I know most people are probably reading that list and thinking Who The ?! But I knew of them all, I’ve read many of their books, visited their websites, listened to their podcasts and subscribed to their blogs or newsletters. 

Let me stop for a moment to say that although this experience was uniquely about the benefits of a whole food plant based diet, I am not here to preach. I am not judging anyone for their decision to eat meat and dairy. I plan to share my experience at the Healthfest conference as information that might be of interest to some. I find this subject matter fascinating and thought provoking. I respect you if this isn’t your cup of tea.

Before I get into the conference I want to revisit my own transition to a mostly whole foods plant based diet. I’ll get around to why I say mostly, but first I will confess that I didn’t eat a green vegetable until I was about 23 years old (I may have eaten some as a baby, but for as long as I can remember the only “vegetables” in my diet were ketchup and corn). It was rather pathetic that I didn’t even eat salad. Prior to leaving for the Peace Corps when I was 25 years old I did begin to eat a little bit of romaine lettuce and broccoli. 

My time in Mozambique transformed my taste buds in a miraculous way. I went in with a horrible diet and emerged with an expanded palate, but best of all I craved all sorts of vegetables and became a very adventurous eater. I returned to the U.S. in 2002 but it wasn’t until 2011 that I became vegetarian after a visit to Mozambique. I had been easing into vegetarianism by then, but at some point during that trip I announced out loud to my husband that I was done eating meat. I honestly have never looked back on that decision. I truly believe it was best for me and my body.

My progression to adopting a mostly plant based diet happened because of running. As I began running longer distance races I became acutely aware of how my stomach often felt “off” on race day. I had to incorporate extra time pre-race to make sure I could get it under control so I didn’t have to go to the bathroom mid-race. Somewhere in my reading I kept coming across advice to cut out dairy the week before a race. I tried it and surprise surprise no stomach irritability. I did this for a number of races before the light bulb went on that my stomach wasn’t only irritable on race day, it was like that every day! Perhaps if I stopped eating dairy I wouldn’t feel that way anymore. So I stopped and lo and behold I began feeling better. Am I lactose intolerant? I don’t know for sure. All I know is that I feel infinitely better without dairy. 

I can’t call myself vegan because I occasionally eat small amounts of cheese, milk or butter if it is mixed in something when I’m out to dinner. This is very rare, only happens out of my home and it is the extent of my dairy intake. You can follow me on My Fitness Pal if you want a glimpse into my diet. I stick as closely as I can to a whole foods plant based diet aka fruits, vegetables, whole grains and no processed food. 

I know I’m getting closer and closer to adopting a purely vegan diet. That is my choice. I do not push it onto family or friends. Orlando is vegetarian at home as I no longer cook meat per his request. He does eat meat at times when we are out to dinner or at someone’s home and he still eats dairy. He enjoys the food I cook and likes the way he feels. Interestingly he found it challenging when he recently went home to Mozambique because he insisted on eating the way he does here and he experienced a great deal of resistance from his family. He actually had to cook for himself a few times which goes against the cultural norm in his country. Ironically Mozambique is an incredibly easy place to be vegan because of the abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables particularly the agricultural town where his family lives.

Carlos is a picky eater, much like I was until I was in my 20s. If we let him choose his diet would consist of macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets (the frozen ones not McDonalds), cheese, and bread. I call it the white diet. Fortunately he will drink smoothies with spinach. He loves fruit. The chicken nuggets he eats most of the time are actually vegetarian. Shhh! He is transitioning to almond milk as he doesn’t drink milk anyway and only uses it in cereal. Carlos is most certainly not vegan. However, he understands what it means and I continue to encourage him to eat vegetables and more variety of foods overall.

So that turned into a very long explanation of why I decided to go to Healthfest 2015 in Marshall, Texas. I hope you’ll take the time to read about my experience. Maybe you won’t agree with the information and that’s ok. Maybe you won’t become vegan or even vegetarian and that’s ok too. Do me one favor though, read with an open mind and please feel free to ask questions if you have them.

  Healthfest Day 1 coming sometime this week!

 

North to South

This weekend I will embark on a little journey outside of my comfort zone. I have been reading about various health and wellness related conferences and events for some time now. They look interesting. I am intrigued by the opportunities that I might stumble upon amongst so many other like minded people. So tonight I am off on a little adventure south to Shreveport, Louisiana where I will spend the night before heading to the small town of Marshall, TX, home of Healthfest 2015

Today actually began yesterday, Wednesday morning. I worked all day, but took a break to pick up Carlos from school. The only thing that makes this weekend bittersweet is being away from Carlos. I have only spent two nights away from him a few times. Sorry that might seem ridiculous to some, but I really hate to miss anything that goes on in his life. Sunday is his last skating session of the season. I have attended two of these ceremonies in the past, but still I’m sad to miss this year’s. Deep down I know this weekend away is as important for me as it is for Orlando and Carlos to have some time alone together. I am grateful for FaceTime though!

Back to yesterday…Carlos had a friend over in the afternoon while I finished up some work. After dinner I brought his friend home and stopped for a quick mani/pedi. Wow did that feel amazing! I was long overdue.

I finished up the rest of my work and took a short nap. I had agreed to work the overnight at the hospital weeks ago and didn’t really pay attention to the fact that I was traveling the next day. By 10pm last night it wasn’t feeling like such a great idea, but it’s always good to see my colleagues again. It ended up being an uneventful night. I enjoyed catching up with the girls.

This morning was a whirlwind of chaos. I brought Carlos to school, stopped at Whole Foods to pick up a few things because I had to whip up some kind of gluten free treat to send with Carlos to school on Friday for staff appreciation day, returned home, attended to work email, and started baking oatmeal raisin cookies. Suddenly work got busy, the oatmeal cookies were a disaster and I was staring at an empty suitcase at 12pm. I had to leave home by 2:30 to get to my mom’s so she could bring me to the airport. 

My oatmeal cookies had gone awry and baked themselves into one large sheet cookie! I ran a fork through the giant cookie after it cooled and realized I had just made really amazing gluten free granola! However, I now had absolutely nothing to send to school. My mom kindly arranged a box of biscotti from the bakery she works next to, but unfortunately they are not gluten free. I called the school to explain and apologize. Many of the staff are gluten free so they prefer baked goods be made to accommodate this need. 

For some reason the whole baking fiasco set off my emotions. I got a few work emails this morning which also frustrated my mood. This new job is very overwhelming and although I keep hearing it takes at least a year to feel comfortable, I am anxious to reach that point. I had myself a little cry and then moved on.

I finally got ready, packed and finished up with work. At last I settled in at the gate to await my flight and as soon as I sat the last two days (probably the last 4 months) hit me like a ton of bricks. I probably could have slept in that seat for a week. To be safe I stood up and waited for the plane to board.

It was an uneventful flight to Atlanta. I had a quick layover with just enough time to grab a tropical kale smoothie. I love airports that offer healthy options. The flight to Shreveport, Louisiana was aboard a much smaller plane and quite bumpy at times, but the flight attendant was great as was her coffee. The Shreveport Airport was so easy to navigate. I received an email from Hertz Rental Car as I landed. Hertz was right in the baggage claim area so I stopped there while I was waiting for my bag. They had my car ready, invoice all set as ordered online and I was in and out in about 3 minutes. The best part, no pressured attempts to get me to take all sorts of insurance. This was without a doubt the best car rental experience ever. 

I’m lounging in a large king size bed at the Holiday Inn in Shreveport watching Rehab Addiction on HGTV. I am looking forward to exploring the Shreveport tomorrow on foot before heading to Marshall, TX for Healthfest 2015. 

Week in Review: 3/15/15-3/21/15

All my intentions to blog this week fell to the wayside so instead I’ll wrap it all up in one long post.

Sunday, 3/15/15

I started the day with a 15.30 mile run. I felt like I couldn’t get my legs moving, but my heart was in it all the way so I pushed through. I actually ended my run at the grocery store. Did my shopping for the week and had Orlando and Carlos come get me!

Sunday afternoon Carlos made his First Reconciliation aka Confession. They don’t go in the confessionals anymore. Instead our parish priest invited priests from neighboring parishes. There was a mini mass led by our priest and then the kids are led over to one of the priests to confess their sins. Once they finished they returned to their pew to do their penance. Carlos was very serious. He had a doozy of a sin to confess. I will leave it at he called a friend a really bad word.

After church we went to lunch with his best friend, Tyler, and his family. Tyler came over after and while the boys played I got to work in the kitchen.

Food for an Army...or a week

I made a batch of quinoa, brown rice, roasted zucchini, brussels, butternut squash, hard boiled eggs, made a few sandwiches for Carlos’ lunches, a pot of Mozambican beans, chopped up raw veggies for soup later in the week, cut up pineapple and cantaloupe. I was on fire!! It was awesome.

Monday, 3/16/15

Back to work. I saw a couple of patients. I went for a lunchtime 3.40 mile run because the sun was out. I felt a little tight in the quads after the long run, but otherwise my legs seemed to move a lot easier. In the afternoon I had a Webex meeting about Safety and Security. The instructor was intense. I feel like I have call for back up before entering a building.

Tuesday, 3/17/15

Carlos had his 8 year old physical at the pediatrician’s office. All went well. He is healthy and growing as he should. I love his pediatrician. The office is small and cozy. There is almost never anyone in the waiting room. Th doctor is reasonable, intelligent and laid back. He also makes Carlos feel very comfortable. Plus he does a lot of world travel so we always spend a little time catching up on our respective travels.

Tuesday nights are coffee nights with my friend Kate while our boys are at karate. It’s one hour I look forward to all week even though we are often together other times during the week.

Wednesday, 3/18/15

I had to go to Worcester in central Massachusetts for a work meeting. I finished up around 12:30 thankfully and headed home. My friend, Colleen, came over in the afternoon to go for a run. It was incredibly windy out, but we made it 3.69 miles.

Thursday, 3/19/15

I’m going to vent a little about a work issue. I often have to work with an interpreter because most of my patients are Spanish speaking only. I have begun getting more comfortable with my Spanish and I am able to go alone if someone can speak/understand basic English too. Since I’m new and I haven’t met the patients yet I always take an interpreter for a Spanish speaking patient the first time. My interpreter was supposed to meet at my house shortly before 9:30. We had three visits scheduled. She didn’t show up. I texted her, no answer. I called her and was nonchalantly told she ran out of gas. By the time she arrived to my house 30 minutes later she was very apologetic. Although I was irritated, I tried to be understanding. However, I don’t really understand how someone runs out of gas in this day and age. I was frustrated that she didn’t call me when it happened. Technically if the interpreter is accompanying us then we both have to go into the visit together.

I accelerated the first visit a little and managed to make it to the second visit on time only to find no one home. The interpreter called the patient’s phone, no answer. She reached her son only to be told he forgot to tell his mother about the visit. Ugh! We were able to complete the third visit early and returned to see if the second patient had returned. No such luck.

I ended up taking the interpreter out for coffee to make up for the way the day started. I know she didn’t mean to be late. I just would have appreciated a phone call. We chatted over our coffee and ended the day on a positive note.

After finishing up some work at home I decided to go for a run because it was so nice out. I managed to do 3.47 miles with an unusually great time for me these days. I thought about the marathon a lot. I am really beginning to visualize myself running it.

Carlos had Garage Band class after school. He takes a class which teaches the kids how to use the Garage Band app to make their own music. He thinks it’s awesome. Orlando and I both went to pick him up because at 4:30 the school was hosting Evening Share for the students to show off their school work. Carlos is writing a lot of stories. We saw his report on the Earth’s mantle. He showed us what he’s currently working on in math. He goes to Montessori so the math is extremely different from anything I’ve ever learned. It’s tactile and visual. He is doing division right now in 2nd grade.

We are so proud of Carlos. It was wonderful to see his face all lit up as he showed us around the classroom explaining what he does during the school day.

Friday, 3/20/15

A rather uneventful day. We had a monthly statewide Webex meeting first thing. I had one patient to see after that.

In the afternoon I had a call with my boss. She walked me through a rather complicated situation that came up regarding one of my patients this week. My boss is terrific. I’m really lucky to be on her team.

While working from home in the afternoon I prepared a big pot of lentil soup for dinner. Super easy because I had already chopped the vegetables on Sunday. Orlando and I loved it. Picky Carlos was not thrilled.

Carlos and I went over my aunt’s after dinner to drop something off to her and visit for a bit. It was snowing out, but fortunately it was not expected to accumulate to more than an inch or so.

Saturday, 3/21/15

I procrastinated my long run until 10am. The snow was still coming down at a good clip. It was really sticking thankfully. I had to get going because I was running the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K Road Race at 1pm. This year the road race was going to be a fun run for me. No PR, no powering up the hills, just fun with friends who were running the race for their first time. So I had to get in a long run before the race. I ran 10 hilly miles around home with the snow in my face almost the entire way. How is that even possible? Surprisingly the 10 miles zipped by. I felt awesome.

I made it home with just enough time to take a quick shower so I didn’t offend my friends during the race! We might as well just walked from my house to the start of the race which is about a mile and a half away because we had to park almost a mile away. This race is huge. It was my fourth year running it and by far the most enjoyable. I wasn’t wearing headphones so I could hear the roar of the insane mass of spectators along almost the entire course. I stayed with two of my friends the entire way. There was a group of 5 of us running, but two shot ahead at the beginning and just ran with it.

Holyoke St. Patrick's Day Road Race 2015 T-Shirt
Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day Road Race 2015 T-Shirt

This year’s was the 40th anniversary of the Holyoke St. Patrick’s Day 10K. Running legend, Bill Rodgers and the inspirational running team, Dick and Rick Hoyt were participating in the race. Unfortunately I didn’t actually see any of them.

It is hugely popular, totally wild and by far the most awesome race I run every year. It’s a sea of green everywhere you look. People are dressed in a variety of costumes. I saw one guy dressed as Gronkowski from the Patriots, with a Gronk mask, the team shirt and fake plastic buttocks?!! Spectators were hopping onto the course to smack his ass. I saw a guy dressed as a banana which was actually more suggestive than the Gronk costume. There were hundreds of green tutus on men and women. Of course there were superheroes too. You get offered water, beer and jello shots at the water stations.

IMG_2039

IMG_0171

IMG_0168

After a gray morning with thick slushy snow raining down wouldn’t you know it stopped completely as I finished my long run. By the time the starting gun went off the sun was shining. I call that the luck of the Irish!

      IMG_0169

Saturday morning randomness

I’ve been up since about 5 this morning. The plan was to go for a long run, but it’s raining and it’s going to rain all day. It’s cold too. I’m making the executive decision to skip it and go tomorrow. The forecast looks better for tomorrow morning anyway.

My son slept at his friend’s last night so the house is still very quiet at almost 7am. The boys had no school yesterday so we had his friend at our house all day. They were outside in the snow, inside playing Lego Star Wars, outside light saber battling and back in to trade Pokemon. This cycle repeated all day. Fun kids!

My husband and I had a nice night. We ran to Whole Foods because I was all out of hemp seeds. Major emergency!! I’ve been using hemp and chia a lot more instead of always doing protein powder in my smoothies. Anyway on our to the register Orlando started smelling those natural soaps. He really liked one so he threw a few bars in the basket. We got in the car and I pulled out the receipt. Those little bars of soap were $12! WTH?! Turns out they were $1.49/oz not $1.49/bar like we both thought. I’m expecting miracles out of this soap.

We left and went to my favorite Esselon cafe for a light dinner and coffee. They have a few vegan options, but their coffee is amazing! I had the vegan split pea soup, a large garden salad and an almond milk latte. Everything was so delicious, but the latte was out of this world.

Work – where do I even begin? Nah I’m not even going to start. I will say one thing though, in my almost 9 year nursing career this is by far the nicest group of people I’ve ever worked with. I have to ask so many questions on a daily basis. Everyone is so helpful, kind and patient. I also deal with this one medical supply company that is superb when it comes to customer service. I seem to get a different person each time I call, but they are all friendly and they truly go out of their way to help. It makes me smile when I talk to nice people.

Some things I’m loving right now:

  • this aerolatte frother – strangely I’ve discovered I love unsweetened coffee if I froth the almond milk first. I bought the $2.99 IKEA frother which looks similar, but well you get what you pay for. This one was about $15 with a Bed Bath and Beyond coupon.
  • 14 day yoga shred on doyouyoga.com. I’m only a couple of days in, but it’s fun, different and I honestly feel sore the day after the short 10 minute workouts.
  • Serial podcast. I finished listening to all 12 episodes in a weekend. It was gripping. I cannot wait for season 2 this year.
  • Gratitude journals…Carlos and I started doing this while Orlando was away and now the three of us write something we are grateful and then share it with each other before Carlos goes to bed. It’s a simple way to end the day on a positive note.
  • Church! My grandmother just let out a gasp in heaven. Yup me! I’m enjoying going to church. My son is making his first communion in May. Back in the fall we started going to church. Sometimes we don’t go, but we do try to make it either Saturday or Sunday. Although I was raised Catholic and we now belong to a Catholic church I do not identify strongly with that religion. What I really love is the spiritual detachment from the world, our electronics, emotions and the hustle and bustle of life. It’s 50 uninterrupted minutes of time with my family. I do enjoy the story the priest or deacon tells each week. I love shaking hands with the people around me when it is time to give peace. It is uplifting to pray for others. I really like how I feel when I leave.
  • 5 minute vegan pancakes. Mother tested, kid approved. I added frozen raspberries. They were so good, easy to add to and quick to make.
  • My working bathroom fan and light! After literally years of having to open the window every time we take a shower the fan and light over the shower are finally repaired thanks to a great electrician. Thanks Kimm and Kaye for referring us to Roy!! He had it diagnosed and repaired in less than 24 hours plus he is very nice, on time, honest and fairly priced. It’s really the little things that make me happy.

Time for coffee! Have a great weekend!!

Five College Realtors 10 Miler

This was my third year running the Jones 10 Miler. That is what is has been called until this year. This is a local winter race run on the very hilly back roads of Amherst, MA. The start time has been delayed the last two years because of snow, but this is one race that is always on despite the weather. This year was amazing, the sun was out and the temperatures neared 40 degrees.

This is not going to be one of those race recaps where I wait until the end to announce a PR. This is not going to be that kind of a year. This race is a challenging course for even some of the most accomplished runners as I overheard while I was walking around the registration area in the Amherst Regional High School cafeteria. The race serves as a Boston Marathon training race especially for those looking for some hill experience. The hills keep coming at you right until the end. Mile 8 is long slow uphill steadying off to a straight stretch before you take a right hand turn as a steep hill at mile 9 stares you in the face. The scenery is beautiful this time of year which takes the edge off some of the hills.

For me this was my return to racing. It was my worst time of the three years which I expected. I’m slower now. Still, I got tears in my eyes as I ran through the finish line because 10 months ago I honestly didn’t know if and when I would run again. In my opinion I ran a solid race. I felt as though my pace was steady and smooth throughout. I pushed myself enough to feel challenged, I listened to my body, ran every single hill and only slowed to a fast walk through the water stations. My Achilles felt great, no twinges, discomfort or pain. This is one race that always makes me feel a little bad ass at the finish no matter what my time. I mean come on, 10 miles of hills in unpredictable weather at the end of February!!

Up until this race I was on the fence about running the Vermont City Marathon. This winter has made it very difficult to muster up the motivation to run outdoors and I’m really reluctant to use the treadmill after the injury. I know that’s how I injured my Achilles. I also used the treadmill as a crutch last winter. If I’m going to train for Vermont City then it has to be outdoors. This race reminded me how much I love running distance, running outdoors and racing. I’m in! Let the marathon training begin.

Sweet Valentine

My husband is visiting his family in Mozambique after a long four years away. I haven’t been at my job long enough to take time off and Carlos is in a new school this year so we decided it was best for Orlando to go alone. He is actually really busy tending to family business, renewing his passport and beginning the starting phase of building us a small house in his hometown. We are hoping to return this year for the holidays.

This morning began at 5am when my son and his friend woke up downstairs. Sleepovers are the best! I was grateful that they actually fell asleep around 10:15 last night after Laser Tag, Glow Golf, dinner, frozen yogurt, Jurassic Park, popcorn, light saber battles and Lego Star Wars on the Wii! The boys played all morning, built forts, more light saber battles, went outside, came inside… They were so busy I actually finished up some leftover work from yesterday.

I rarely talk about work, but this is worth sharing. Yesterday I called a patient to arrange a home visit for Monday. He was recently discharged from the hospital and we are supposed to visit within 72 hours after discharge. I was concerned about his well being at home so I really needed to arrange a visit soon. Anyway when I asked about Monday the patient said no absolutely not. Then he started lecturing me about the impending storm. He said I should not be on the road on Monday. I told him I would drive slowly, but I really needed to see him. So he said, “how about now?” I dropped everything and off I went. I had just enough time to sneak in the visit before picking up Carlos from school. Well when I arrived the patient summoned me to the living room in front of the TV and he made me watch the weather channel for 10 minutes to prove there really was a storm coming. It was very sweet of him to think about my safety.

Anyway back to today. After lunch we met my son’s friend’s mom and brother so the kids could go sledding. It was 12 degrees out and the snow had already started. I can’t get over how the kids do not seem at all bothered by the cold. My hands and feet felt numb within minutes of being out there.

When we got home I had to start Orlando’s car so I handed Carlos the keys to go in the house. He came running back out with half of the key in his hand. Uh oh! Thankfully I had a key to the back door. It took me a little while, but thanks to Google, cooking spray and tweezers I did not need to call a locksmith. Carlos was a little worked up about the key incident, not thrilled that he had to clean up the living room forts he made with his friend and he’s been really sad because a close friend at school is transferring schools after school vacation this week. He hasn’t take a nap in years, but when he finished cleaning he burst into tears. I hugged him and we sat on the sofa. He kind of just melted into my arms and I before I knew it he was sound asleep.

I looked down at his long eyelashes and soft cheeks still red from the cold. It’s been a very long time since Carlos fell asleep with his head resting on my chest. I always cherished those moments, but now they are more precious than ever. He is growing up so quickly, too quickly. I know I’m just a hop, skip and a jump away from a pre-teen. I sat there soaking up the closeness, listening to the soft breathing and eventually I dozed off myself. It was so nice to be present in the moment, no phone, no computer or iPad, no distractions. My darn leg fell asleep and I had to stand up otherwise I would have stayed there until Carlos woke up. Luckily Orlando called and we chatted for a bit. It was wonderful to hear his voice.

Carlos woke up a short time after Orlando called. He seemed like he was still dreaming. He went to the bathroom, came back downstairs and curled up with me on the sofa. Within minutes he was sleeping again. This child fills my heart with so much love it honestly feels as though it might explode sometimes.

Carlos finally woke up, but he was in no hurry to move off the sofa. We chatted for a little while and then he suggested watching Star Wars Episode 2. We are working our way through all 6. I really love that Yoda!

After the movie Carlos took a bath and got ready for bed. We read together before I kissed him goodnight. Carlos wouldn’t leave my side all night. It was very sweet. He kept saying that it was the best Valentine’s Day. I couldn’t agree more.

The Quiet of Morning

I woke up before 4:30 this morning. It was so quiet in the house. Strangely it seemed easier for me to wake up at this hour than it has been to wake up at 4:50 the last two mornings. I slept right through my alarm on the previous mornings and didn’t get up until Carlos woke up around 6.

I went downstairs and completed day 8 of the meditation challenge. I’m enjoying this so much. I’ve never really been able to meditate without some kind of guidance. These are short meditations which is what I need right now. Maybe someday my meditation practice will grow into longer sessions without the need for a guide, but I needed to start with something more structured.

After meditating for about 10 minutes I did a short yoga class focused on the abdomen. It was challenging. I’ve been doing a 30 day yoga challenge also on Doyouyoga.com. Erin Motz is the instructor. I enjoy her method of teaching. I like the short classes that help me to focus on few poses. Again it’s just enough to keep yoga practice in my life without overwhelming me into trying to take on too much at a time when a new schedule, new routine and other life events wouldn’t be able to sustain the change.

This morning was very productive. I chopped vegetables in preparation for my favorite vegetarian chili I’ll be making later today. I have two of my favorite friends coming over for dinner tonight. (I’m not just saying this because they read the blog!) I’m really looking forward to a relaxing evening when we can finally catch up. I truly miss time with friends, but it’s often challenging to schedule get togethers because we all have different schedules and obligations.

One thing that I’ve been doing every morning for the last month is oil pulling. I haven’t talked about it here yet because I wasn’t sure how I really felt about it. It seems kind of new age, kooky and a little disgusting. I have been reading about it for a couple of years, but I just wasn’t ready to try it. I finally read enough about it to give it a try. I won’t tell you that miracles have happened as a result. I’m a pretty healthy person (knocking on wood), but my mouth certainly feels cleaner though that could also be in part to the fact that I follow up the oil pulling by brushing my teeth with baking soda. In a nutshell the idea is that the oil serves to clean out the harmful bacteria that forms in our mouth and reduce any fungal growth. There is also the idea that cleansing the mouth properly has detoxifying properties on the entire body. This could be a post on its own.

I have been using a teaspoon of coconut oil and I swish it in my mouth for about 20 minutes. Sometimes I do it while I meditate and do yoga, but today since I had so much extra time I did it after and I enjoyed that a lot more. When I’m done oil pulling I brush my teeth with baking soda as I mentioned and then I put a little baking soda in my palm with some water and I gently scrub my face. I’m telling you it is such a refreshing feeling. While I’m doing that I heat up water.

I try to sit down for 10-20 minutes in the morning to write while I sip on lemon water. I have always had a tendency to eat breakfast soon after waking. I’m a sweet breakfast person rather than savory, but I find this sets my sweet tooth on high alert for the rest of the day. By beginning my digestion slowly with lemon water I feel more in control of my eating.

This morning was great because I folded laundry before settling down to write. I got upstairs around 5:45 before Carlos woke up. I got back in bed to write. Soon I heard my favorite morning sound…two little feet landing on the ground in the next room. Carlos’ feet don’t pitter patter so much these days as they seem to grow faster than I can keep up with, but hearing him in the morning always brings a smile to my face. He almost always comes straight into my room to climb into bed for a morning snuggle. He’s 8 and I’m genuinely grateful that he still loves to snuggle, but I’m savoring these moments because I know I will soon have a pre-teen on my hand who might not be so keen to hug his mom. He says that won’t happen and I really hope he’s right.

For now I have a smiley, adorable Jedi laying next to me. He told me to say that. Star Wars is all the rage in our house and most mornings I’m not actually sure if I’m snuggling with Carlos or Yoda! His impersonation of Yoda is quite good though I do need to mute him after a little while. I do not allow light sabers in bed…I have to draw the line somewhere!

Well this post took an interesting turn. I really love starting the day off so productively and slowly. And now it’s time to get moving.

May the Force Be With You!