Eat some fudge. It’s good for your allergies.

At least that’s what I’ve been telling myself. Let me explain. Spring has arrived to Hood River. It’s been in the 60s this week, and I’ve got a smattering of new freckles from the sunshine. I couldn’t be happier — except that my seasonal allergies are acting up. Raw, local honey supposedly does wonders for allergies, so yesterday afternoon after suffering through several hours of stratchy throat and watery eyes, I decided to try my hand at honey fudge. Yes, I could have just eaten a spoonful of honey, but Lord knows, I love an excuse to eat fudge!  (And truthfully, when I Google searched “raw honey helps allergies” for this post, I came back with a host of articles trumping the idea. Harumph!)

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Raw honey, sunshine, golden spring.

Ingredients: 1/2 cup almond butter; 1/3 cup honey (or less if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth); 1/2 banana; 1/2 cup coconut oil

Directions: Put all the ingredients in a small pot, and heat on low just until the almond butter and coconut oil melt. Using an immersion blender (or a regular blender or food processer), blend the mix until it’s smooth. Pour into a small pan (I used a tiny pyrex), and pop the pan into the freezer. The high fat content means that your fudge will harden lickety-split! This stuff is pretty deadly; a smallish size piece should do the trick.

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It may not look like much, but it’s going to taste amazing.

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Jared rightfully does not trust that I won’t splash hot oil all over myself, so…

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Don’t mind if I do!

 

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Overview: Diana is a high-powered intellectual with a secret: she’s a witch who hails from the Bishop/Proctor family, one whose magical powers are (were – her parents are dead) unmatched. However, Diana, devoting herself to rigorous intellectual study (in chemistry – what an interesting choice for a witch!) and aggressive physical activity, eschews her background. When she accidentally retrieves an ancient alchemical book from the stacks of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, daemons, witches, and vampires of all sorts begin meddling in Diana’s life leaving her no choice but to face her magical heritage. One of these nosy creatures is Matthew Clairmont, a wickedly handsome vampire who is equally attractive and repulsive to Diana. Spoiler alert: she falls for him, and their partnership leads her down a rabbit hole of magical creatures and ancient pacts to a confrontation with her own untamed power.

Novel Type: While it’s marketed as a Harry Potter for adults, it’s really more of a romance thriller.

My rating: 5/10.

Let me just get this out of the way: I don’t think I’m an intellectual snob. I conjure equal enthusiasm for Real Housewives of New York as I do for August: Osage County. Yes, my interests are certainly eclectic if not downright oxymoronic. Both Crime & Punishment and Harriet the Spy top my list of favorite reads, for example, and I enjoy grocery shopping simply for the blissful ten minutes I spend perusing the tabloids in the checkout line. But, this book just did not do it for me.

I got a kick out of Diana’s aunts, who provided some good comedic relief, and I was kinda sorta interested to learn where Diana and Matthew would end up. I mean, I didn’t NOT finish the book. So, what’s my beef? Diana basically becomes as uninteresting as Bella Swan  as soon as she falls for Matthew. Unlike Hermoine, for example, with whom she shares some nerdy traits, Diana doesn’t retain snark or independence and spends much of her time tasting wine with Matthew, describing how Matthew smells, and imagining what she must smell like to him. I almost threw the book across the room when I arrived at the passage in which Diana compares Matthew’s smell to that of “carnations – not the kind in the florist shops but the old-fashioned ones that grow in English cottage gardens” (146). Carnations are just wrong. Period. Okay? Fine, I’m a little snobbish. Mostly I found myself bewildered by Diana’s taste, with which I reluctantly had to concern myself since she was either nibbling at Matthew or drinking wine All. The. Time. For instance, she narrates, “We sipped at what Matthew called my ‘birthday wine,’ which smelled like lemon floor polish and smoke and tasted like chalk and butterscotch” (173). Huh?

Read if you: like the Twilight series or 50 Shades of Grey…in which case you should stop reading my blog*.

 

 

 

*I kid! I kid!

 

 

On BFFs

 As the guidance counselor at St. Robert Elementary School, Mrs. Thompson was hip to emoticons before emoticons were cool. In her office, an impossibly tiny corner of the computer lab, hung two posters. The first featured a desperately sad, wet cat with the words, “Having a bad day?” emblazoned across the top. “How do you feel today?” inquired the second, and it offered up a wide array of (creepy) cartoon faces representing various emotions, similar to this poster:

 

Mrs. Thompson was big on feelings, and during weekly Guidance Class, she would instruct us on various important social-emotional skills like properly identifying our own feelings and talking about them; imagining ourselves in the shoes of others; working through conflict with respect and kindness; and learning to say “I’m sorry”. She was great. And also highly ineffective — and not because of any fault of her own but rather due to my judgmental nature.

Mrs. Thompson suffered from chronic laryngitis (and also extreme height; I found myself enthralled by her choice in printed socks (neon frogs! musical notes! Prozac smiley faces!), which were invariably peeking out from beneath the longish skirts she wore, all of which were about six inches too short to qualify as truly long). Her voice was gravelly and quiet, like her inflamed, sandpaper vocal chords were being scratched at by beady-eyed mice every time she uttered a word. So, whilst Mrs. Thompson delivered another sermon on empathy and emotions, I was thinking, “Cough, just COUGH!” or, alternatively, “I like those socks.” Needless to say, because of this misdirection of attention, I spent a lot of time in Mrs. Thompson’s office looking at her posters and trying to navigate the complexities of elementary school friendships.  I was usually joined there by two other girls, because if you know anything about girl culture, you now that badness comes in three’s. Mrs. Thompson regularly mediated fights between me and my two best friends, Lauren and Anne Marie; one of us was always crying about feeling left out, and the palpable tension – and the accompanying aggressively vulnerable notes circulating among us (“Am I your first or second best friend?” or “Are you mad at me? Check yes or no.” or “Who do you like best?”) – meant that our well-intentioned teachers regularly recommended us for counseling. However, sending us to Mrs. Thompson’s office was problematic in and of itself, for her office was outfitted with only two beanbag chairs. A visit to her ushered in a whole host of new insecurities about being left out of the bean bag alliance, ganged up on, excluded.  Regardless of who was crying when we arrived at Mrs. Thompson’s office, all three of us would have cried at some point during our session, and after a chorus of blubbery “I’m sorry’s,” our triumvirate was restored (if tentatively so).

Childhood was one steep learning curve.

And I’m still learning.  As an adult, I find myself amazed by and grateful for the women in my life. I am so lucky that I have gracious, patient, open-hearted friends, and I’m humbled by their presence – truly.

Enter Julia, for instance.

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One of my very best friends (she even married Jared and me this summer), she defines drama free. Back in February, she managed to sneak away from her kids in Colorado to join me for a girls’ weekend in Portland. It was the first time she wasn’t trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding, so needless to say, the weekend was quite gluttonous. Julia, a kindred spirit, wakes up at the crack of dawn, so we managed to pack a lot in during her two-night stay in Portland. Here’s a smattering of what we did:

Friday: pedicures, city wandering, and dinner at Grassa, where we ate lemony calamari and ordered fancy drinks.

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Saturday: Voodoo donuts, of course, and hours upon hours at Powell’s City of Books. Julia is a true bibliophile. She, like me, experiences an urgency about giving good book recommendations. Here’s a text message she sent me on Saturday, for example:   Have you read Eleanor and Park? I am in LOVE with it. You need to read it ASAP!”

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After Powell’s, we hoofed it to the Japanese Gardens where the first spring blossoms were making their appearance.

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Afterwards, we walked back through the city, ate some Lebanese food, and caught a matinée of August: Osage County. Wow. If you haven’t seen this movie, see it NOW. Unless you don’t like to be reminded of the endemic quality of familial behavior.

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Saturday night we completely lucked out at getting a seat at Pok Pok. It’s a bombdiggity Thai restaurant, and when we arrived (at 5:15, because that’s how we roll), the wait was 1.5-2 hours. When we got to the front of the line to see the hostess, two seats at the bar had opened up. The meal was out of this world.

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On Sunday, we met Jared for brunch, and before I knew it, I had to say goodbye to Julia.

The weekend was pure bliss.

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I’m curious, what do you most appreciate about your adult friendships?

Happy Body: Rediscovering My Running Mojo

Hallelujah, I found my running mojo again! For months, that blissful my-body-feels-worked-but-happy-and-I-just-can’t-stop-smiling kind of feeling eluded me, and running felt more like a chore as I slogged through mile after mile on the treadmill. However, in the past month or so, I’ve felt increasingly happy to lace up my shoes and run, run, run, and I attribute the return of my mojo to these three changes in my approach to running:

1) I set a goal for myself and signed up for a couple of races to hold myself accountable.

A habitual runner, it’s easy for me to run endless miles at any easy-ish pace, and while the accumulation of miles is “nice” from a “stay in shape during the winter months” kind of perspective, it’s also boring. With my 30th birthday looming, I decided that I’d like to challenge myself to to run a good, fast race this spring. I haven’t raced for two years, and I wouldn’t exactly call my experience in the Eugene Marathon “racing”. What that experience did teach me is that I LOVE following a training plan. This spring, I plan on running the Shamrock Shuffle in Portland (I’m doing the five mile run with my cousin) and Race for the Roses Half Marathon in April. I’m hoping to go big in my half marathon. I have a lofty finish time in mind, so I’m doggedly digging away at a training plan…which brings me to the next point:

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After finishing the Eugene Marathon in 2012. My dad ran about 16 miles of the course taking pictures and then ran the last mile with me before getting booted from the finisher’s shoot by security. Praise be for fathers.

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About 3/4 of the pictures he took are of the runner in purple. He thought she was me. Since she has a mid-foot strike, I’m totally okay with his mistake.

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At the starting gates. I am wearing my good luck periwinkle running shorts, and the guy in yellow is passing gas in my direction.

2) I’ve been challenging myself with speed workouts (and trying to run more of them outside!)

Rather than pound the pavement in an endless accumulation of miles (as I am wont to do without a plan), I’ve been incorporating speed workouts two times a week. I alternate between tempo runs and intervals on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Over the past six weeks of training, I’ve developed a tentative respect for speed workouts, for though they are glitteringly painful, they are also effective. Case in point: Last Thursday, I had planned to run intervals on the treadmill between yoga classes and college counseling work. The sun was shining, it was fifty degrees outside, and there was no justification for me to run on the treadmill, which is where I admittedly do most of my winter running (and much of my reading too!). So, I laced up my running shoes and took my run outdoors. Needless to say, fresh air and sunshine are magical, especially after endless days inside with rain and snow.  I was supposed to run six miles as follows: 1 mile warm up, 1 mile at 6:45, ½ mile recovery, 1 mile at 6:45, ½ mile recovery, 1 mile at 6:45, 1 mile cool down. However, the combination of the endorphin-boosting sunshine and several weeks of diligent speed work paid off, and I surprised myself by keeping my intervals between 5:30-6:30. By the end of the workout, I was smiling ear to ear, despite feeling nauseated and entirely overworked. The elusive runner’s high was back!

3) I’ve explored new places on foot rather than relying exclusively on routine treadmill runs.

My cousin Mandy and I spent last weekend in Nevada City, California (a historic gold-mining town about an hour from Sacramento) visiting my cousin Kyra and her brand-new baby, Will (more on this later – swoon!). One of my favorite things to do when visiting new cities is to get up early, early and explore the area on foot. Yes, there’s a moderate chance I’ll get lost, but with a GPS watch and my cellphone in hand, it’s unlikely. And there’s something empowering and peaceful about discovering a new place solo before sunrise. I ran over twenty miles this past weekend in Nevada City, a town whose old-fashioned downtown strip, neighborhoods of itty bitty bungalows, and forest trails provided a charming change of pace (pun intended, definitely).

And with that, I’m off for a run!

Light Heart: On Saying “Yes” to Family and Friends

I come by my habit of procrastination naturally. My father is a master at it. For example, every single year my dad files for the maximum extension for completion of his taxes, and every year, uncompleted taxes hang over his head for months on end. The anxiety created by the unfulfilled task is relieved only by intermittent bursts of resolve to actually sit down and file his taxes, and these intermittent bursts of resolve are, naturally, overturned by habits of procrastination. Indeed, on particularly epic years, he has waited until March of the following tax year to file the previous year’s taxes.

When I was growing up, however, my dad would generally wait to complete his taxes until he had found the optimal time: the morning we were to depart for our annual family trip to Washington Island, WI. Every summer, we’d load up the minivan, drive four-ish hours to the tip of Door County, and then take the ferry to Washington Island where we’d spend the last few weeks of August at a cabin near the water. And every summer, our departure would inevitably be delayed by one day, despite my mom’s best planning and by my dad’s best intentions. From 1987-1997 (from when I was three-thirteen), here’s what the third weekend in August looked like:

Saturday morning would be spent in the flurry of activity that usually precedes a road trip. My mom would make sandwiches and pack a cooler of snacks. Hunter and I would beg for Shark Bites* early. Nelson would wander back and forth between the house and the car with his blanket (called “Gee”; pronounced “ghee”; it smelled like syrup and pee) in tow. I would figure out seating arrangements for my baby doll Elizabeth and my bear Oatmeal.** My dad would unearth the tackle box from the basement and load fishing rods underneath the seats of the van. My parents would announce, “We’ll be on the road by ten.” At approximately 9:55, my dad would say, “Okay, I’m going to go file the taxes. I’ll be done in fifteen minutes.” But before he could start his taxes, he would first go the bathroom, read a computer magazine cover to cover, and then sort the mail that had accumulated in the past year. By noon, my mom would drag the cooler onto the lawn where she, Hunter, Nelson, and I would have a picnic of tuna fish sandwiches and yogurt next to our fully loaded van. By 1:30, Hunter and I would have consumed an entire pack of fruit snacks. By 2:00, my mom would call upstairs, “George, if we don’t leave by three, we won’t make the last ferry.” By 2:45, she’d start to wonder what she could make for dinner in a house with a refrigerator purposefully emptied in preparation for two weeks of travel. At 2:55, she’d venture upstairs to assess my dad’s progress, and by 3:00, she would begin unloading the duffel bags in order to retrieve appropriate toiletries for another night at home. By 7 pm, any moodiness would be by offset by my dad’s ecstatic declaration, “Call for pizza! I’ve finished the taxes!” And by ten am Sunday, we’d be on the road, ready for days spent fishing, eating ice cream, reading books on the beach, and swimming in Lake Michigan.

Behold, some unearthed photos from Washington Island:

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On the porch of the cabin in Washington Island. Nelson is smelling his Gee, as he was wont to do.

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Hunter is terrified. For no apparent reason.

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Great kicks, a tackle box, and siblings.

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Hunter, fishing off the dock.

Dad and Sarah, beach WI

Bow at School House Beach, Washington Island

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Nelson and Dad on the ferry to Washington Island.

Needless to say, I have to fight hard against procrastination. As I mentioned in this post, when I get busy and feel bogged down by projects, my pattern is to hole up in an effort to be as productive as possible. I’ve found, however, that “holing up for productivity’s sake” transforms into procrastination in the form of Facebook, cleaning, sorting through old papers, deciding that I need to research retirement options and other mind-numbing grownup things, trying new recipes, and generally avoiding any actual work that I have to do. I am my father’s daughter after all. Recently, I’ve discovered a remedy to this pattern, and it is this: say “yes” to time with friends and family, allotting a reasonable amount of time for projects on the backend. If I give myself twelve hours to do something, it’ll take me twelve hours. If I give myself three hours, it’ll take me three hours. The nine hours I spend participating in life are necessary: they leave me with a light heart and plenty of energy to tackle a project head on.  So, two weeks ago when my little cousins, Max and Annabel had the day off from school, I decided to join them and my cousin Mandy on a trip to Portland, despite the fact that I feeling crunched for time with some graduate school homework. Our trip was just peachy. We spent a freezing morning at the Portland Zoo.

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cold morning at the zoo

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sea lions

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happy Max

We got lunch at a funky and very Portland joint called The Grilled Cheese Grill. The restaurant only serves grilled cheese, and you get to eat on a school bus. Apparently, for obedient children getting to eat on a school bus is really bad-a**.  Annabel was in heaven. Max was only disappointed because he thought the bus would be more like the Knight Bus in Harry Potter.

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Portlandia

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girls

We finished the day by eating tons of free samples at Costco where Jared and I bought a year’s supply of toilet paper. All in all, it was one of those days that reinforced how lucky I am to live near family and how important it is to “say yes” to opportunities to connect with good people. Homework can wait.

*Normally, my mom would buy the generic brand of fruit snacks; Shark Bites were reserved for special occasions.

** If you’re beginning to doubt the timeline of this story given my inclusion of Gee, Oatmeal, and Elizabeth, I can assure you that both Nelson and I were desperately attached to childhood items until our attatchment could no longer be described as “age approrpriate”. At a time when my friends were requesting makeup kits and in-room telephones for Christmas, I was still asking for dolls. Hunter was the best adjusted of the three Hoffman children, and that’s only by default. When he was seven, he accidentally left his “Candle” (a blanket with candles on it) at a rest stop in Erie, Pennsylvania. He was devastated.

The Liebster

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Jane, of Clean Fourteen , a beautiful blog that will inspire you to treat your body right, kindly nominated me for a Liebster Award, a rad nod to blogs with fewer than 200 followers. That’s me! Thank you, Jane!

So, the rules are as follows:

  • Link back to the person who nominated you – DONE! 
  • Answer the 11 questions given to you by the nominee before you – WHAT FUN! 
  • Pick 11 nominees with under 200 followers to answer your questions – THIS COULD BE A PROBLEM…
  • Don’t nominate the person who nominated you, silly!
  • Let the people you nominate know they have been nominated

I have a confession to make: I need to read new blogs and support other like-minded souls, like Jane, whose blog I read religiously.  However, outside of Jane’s blog, my loyalty extends to a few “big” blogs (like Neverhomemaker; A Foodie Stays Fit; The Nourishing Gourmet ) that I’ve been reading for a few years now. I don’t often seek out new ones. Eep. It looks like I have some fun homework!  So, while I can’t exactly complete the rules as written, I will answer Jane’s questions and vow to discover some great new reads and share them as I can. This will not be a blog where loves comes to die, no m’am. Thank you for the nod and the inspiration, Jane.

The queries:

1.  Best view you’ve ever had?

Jared and I got married in Parkdale, OR, not too far from Mt. Hood. The view of the mountain on our wedding day was breathtaking.

Hmm, now that I think about it, it wasn’t the mountain that was the most stunning view. I would say the best views of the day were:

1) looking up at Jared as we were getting married –> pure love.

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Jared you make me so happy!
photo by Sarah Costa Photography

2) looking out at all of our friends and family who shared the day with us –>  pure joy.

We did it! We love everyone!  Photo by Sarah Costa Photography

We did it! We love everyone!
Photo by Sarah Costa Photography

2. Your spirit animal:

I’ve always felt an affinity for dolphins. In fact, my love for dolphins borders on neurotic. Once, when I was thirteen, I got kicked out of the Shedd Aquarium dolphin zone. Instead of watching the dolphin show, you see, I tried to memorize the trainer’s hand gestures. After the show, I scurried down to the tank, tried my hand (pun intended) at some of the tricks, and promptly got asked to leave. I was “agitating the dolphins.”

3.  Last meal on earth?

seafood, and a cold beer after a day at the beach

Shrimp salad in Cannon Beach, OR.

Shrimp salad in Cannon Beach, OR.

scallops. yes, please.

Scallops? Yes, always.

a plate of veggies and watermelon in the middle of summer

Summer's bounty

Summer’s bounty

anything my husband makes

one of Jared's meals…salmon, veggies, great wine, al fresco

one of Jared’s meals…salmon, veggies, great wine, al fresco

4.  Best documentary you’ve ever seen?

I recently watched Waste Land for my class on Postcolonial Ecology. The film follows an artist, Vik Muniz, who decides to create portraits of the catadores, the pickers of recyclable materials, out of recyclable materials. The story takes place in Jardim Gramancho, a massive landfill outside of Rio de Janeiro, and reveals these essentially invisible people whose lives and livelihood revolve around removing recyclable material from an evergrowing pile of waste. The film will make you question your relationship to stuff, your complicity in producing waste, and how prolematic it is that excess becomes “invisible” to those of us who create the most of it.

5.  Favorite natural pick-me-up for when you’re feeling down?

A run clears my head. Being outside in nature heals my soul. Time with friends and family warms my heart.

Marathon finish with my dad.

Marathon finish with my dad.

Also, my friend's children make me smile.

Also, my friend’s children make me smile.

Family. Funny face.

Family. Funny face.

6.  Best piece of advice you’ve ever gotten?

Oofda, this is a hard question. I’m not sure it’s the best advice I’ve EVER received, but a good piece of advice I’ve received recently is to wait before responding to emotionally-charged emails. As someone who works with teenagers, I have gotten my fair share of “emotional” emails. You know the type: emails in which real human emotions like doubt and fear are masked by rude, demanding, accusatory words. My usual response to these types of emails is some combination of panic, anger, self-doubt, defensiveness, or fear. Last week, when one of these gems appeared in my inbox, I closed my computer and waited a few hours before responding. The time allowed for my anger to settle into empathy, and my response was kinder. That’s a win-win.

7.  Favorite line from a song?

“So, I’d give this world just to dream a dream with you/ On our bed of California stars” – from “California Stars “by Woodie Guthrie

8.  What you’re wearing when you feel top notch?

A dress with a twirly skirt makes my heart sing.

9.  Book that changed you?

Harriet the Spy remains the single-most life altering book I’ve read. You can read more about the impact that book had on me here.

10.  Your outlet is…

Yoga. Just yoga.

11.  Thing you’re most grateful for this year?

I am so grateful for the opportunity to live near family.  Mandy, Ben, Max, and Annabel contribute so much joy to Jared’s and my life!

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Three Before 30: Healthy Mind, Light Heart, Happy Body

a top a mountain.

Here I am atop a mountain looking at another mountain. Let’s just say this is me contemplating the imminence of my thirties. Or something.

As I’ve mentioned, my big 3-0 is imminent. Though this birthday certainly brings with it some mixed emotions, I’ve decided give a polite “no” to whining, complaining, and pre-emptive nostalgia. My dad used to tell me, “You couldn’t pay me enough money to turn back the clock,” and while I’m sure I don’t have a full appreciation for what he’s saying, I do understand intuitively that with every experience, I gain a piece of wisdom about who I am, the things that are important to me, and the ways that I can contribute to a happier, brighter, better world. I know increasingly more intimately, for example, that synergistic wellness of mind, body, and heart is the best indicator of whether I’m living authentically, smartly, and wholeheartedly. In other words, when my mind is peaceful, my heart light, and my body happy, I know I’m on to something.  Yes, this conclusion seems fairly obvious, and yet, sometimes – too often – ease, convenience, busy-ness, and old habits and patterns can get the better of me. So, in the next three months ( just about the amount of time it takes to build a new habit ), I’m vowing to honor this wisdom. I will cultivate the habits that reinforce a peaceful mind, a light heart, and a happy body. Cheers to entering my 30s wholeheartedly!

So what am I working on?*

HEALTHY MIND

I’m a person who hums and ticks, frets and angsts, ruminates and analyzes. Creative outlets – writing, acting, dancing – are essential to my having a peaceful, happily ticking mind. The best I’ve ever felt – creatively and mentally – has been during the several summers at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English, where I’m getting my M.A. in literature. There, I have achieved the balance between an active and peaceful mind through a combination of taking classes, writing daily, acting in plays, and generally investing myself in ideas and imagination. Needless to say, I’m very much looking forward to this next summer at Bread Loaf. However, in the meantime, I’m aiming to channel my energy more regularly into creative outlets. I plan to:

1) Read daily: This is not a problem for me. In fact, it’s more likely that I’ll spend too much time reading to the detriment of other responsibilities (like cleaning my closet — ugh….).

2) Create a writing habit: Oofda, this is the doozy for me. My number one goal this year is to develop a daily writing habit. I’ve got some pretty lofty goals with my personal writing, and the first step is daily practice. If I’m posting on here regularly, that’s a good sign. Right now, I’m taking a great graduate course on Post Colonial Ecology, so I’ve been doing regular academic writing as well. That’s a step in the right direction too. However, the kind of writing I want to undertake daily is fiction writing and personal essays. In The Writing Habit, David Huddle (incidentally, he’s a Bread Loaf professor!) writes, “The major difficulty a writer must face has nothing to do with language: it is finding or making the circumstances that make writing possible. The first project for a writer is that of constructing a writing life.”  My focus over the next three months is a commitment to undertaking the project of construction — more on this later, people!

3) Find space for creativity: While perhaps the more obvious outlets (dance, theatre) are not easily accessible right now, I must remember to indulge the space that I do have. Creating yoga sequences, for example, affords me the opportunity to think and move expressively.

LIGHT HEART

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Pile o family.

This year, Jared and I moved to Hood River, OR to be closer to family and to explore and nurture our priorities (like family, for instance) and to spend our first year of marriage establishing a strong foundation for our relationship . I feel such gratitude for this opportunity. Being close to family and getting to spend time with my husband has been such a gift! At times, though, I find myself falling into old habits that detract from a light heart, and these habits usually fall into two categories: my relationship with stuff and my reaction to stress. So, I will mindfully decide to:

1)  Cultivate the mantra “People not things”: This is my husband’s mantra and one that I’m working to embrace more readily. Intuitively, I know that it’s people and experiences that are the source of true joy, and yet, sometimes I find myself putting an emphasis on stuff. Blech. I plan on writing an entire post simply about my relationship to things, but for now I’ll say this: over the next few months, I’d like to spend more time with people and less money on things.

2) Say “yes” to opportunities to connect:  When I feel overwhelmed by projects, the first thing I give up is time with family and friends. However, I’ve come to realize that time spent connecting with people I love isn’t an extra, and in fact, quality time with family and friends makes me happier, healthier, more resilient, and more (not less!) productive.

HAPPY BODY

Balance is key here. I know I’ve struck a good balance when my body feels strong without feeling taxed, when I’ve found that tricky space between grit and grace. With that goal in mind, I am going to:

1) Embrace my running mojo: I’ve run nearly daily since I was thirteen years old. Running makes me feel strong in my body, clears my head, and grounds me in breath and movement. However, sometimes I find myself running out of habit more than enjoyment. For me, having a concrete goal to work towards ignites my running mojo. So, this spring, I’m going to tackle a half marathon. I’ve signed up for the Race for the Roses  in Portland in April. Light feet = happy body!

Sarah marathon with Annabel

Right after I finished my marathon. Annabel first asked me if she could eat my snack, and then she told me I must have come in last because she was waiting forever at the finish line. I did not come in last.

2) Eat more vegetables. Nuff said.

3) Practice yoga: Nothing has done more for my body, heart, and soul than yoga. I am fortunate enough to practice in a truly inspiring yoga community. When I was in teacher training, I was practicing seven days a week. Now that I’m working and not in training, I generally can make it to a class about five days/week., and I teach two classes a week on top of that. I’d like to get back to a daily practice. I plan on taking every opportunity I can to practice yoga and to deepen my personal practice and my teaching.

Sarah yoga photo copy

Yoga teacher training fun.

Ultimately, I figure that a more mindful examination of my habits and their impact on my life is a good thing in and of itself.  However, I suspect that this mindfulness will also lead to a happier, lighter, healthier heart, body, and mind — and ultimately to more wholehearted living. Cheers to 30!

* This is just an overview; I plan on devoting several posts to each of these goals.

**Wow, I could write an entire book about the impact of “stuff” in my life.

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