Living the Life List: Plant a Garden

When I was 19, I created a life list or bucket list. At the time it seemed like a great idea, but the exercise left me surprised by how little I understood what I wanted in life. Most of the things on the list are simple pleasures mixed in with a few extraordinary feats (a.k.a. Mt. Everest). One item on the list was to have a garden, and I have been able to grow something almost every year since I created the list. My current yard is mostly shade, but I found a sunny spot and took out one of the foundational plants I didn’t like to make room for some heirloom tomatoes.

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Of the three varieties that I planted, the Cherokee Purple variety has been the first type to ripen. They are delicious!

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I’m not a big fan of raw tomatoes, especially the tasteless grocery store variety. These heirlooms are beautiful and bursting with flavor. I get a real sense of satisfaction from planning, planting, and eating whatever I can coax to grow. While life list items like “plant a garden” seem mundane at first glance, sometimes I wonder if my 19 year old self was wiser than I give her credit for being. Maybe she knew that simple pleasures are actually life essentials- the little markers that shape each year and bring us satisfaction and even joy.

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Tomatoes, fresh basil (also from the garden), olive oil, salt and pepper.

Big Step or Baby Step, Give Your Comfort Zone a Vacation!

I promised myself I would get out of my comfort zone. This weekend I decided to be spontaneous and keep that promise. We headed to Montauk, New York to check out Hither Hills State Park. Knowing that campsites are typically booked months in advance, we loaded up the car and hoped for the best.

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My brother mentioned Hither Hills State Park to me a couple of weeks ago. I did a little research and was intrigued. The description of Hither Hills in a New York Times article won me over. While I don’t camp, I do love the beach. I will do just about anything to spend time there, so off we went. If this was successful, it would be the first time I had been camping since I was a little kid.

When we approached the woman at the desk to ask if there was any availability for the night, we where shocked when she said that there was one campsite left. This, we realized, was the Hither Hills equivalent to a lottery win. The people in line behind us assured us that this never happens. After celebrating our good fortune, we headed to campsite C19.

Once we set up the tent, we went to the beach just 100 yards away. It was my favorite time of day- around 4 PM. It was beautiful.

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Despite my fears, I survived the night.  I got up once and went outside to admire the constellations of the summer sky. It took my breath away. I laid on the picnic table and soaked it all in. Amazing.

We went for a run the next morning and then had breakfast at our campsite.

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Not only did I have a great time and discover a new place, but I also realized that my comfort zone is overrated. I surprised myself and had fun doing it. What’s next? What can you do to get out of your comfort zone? Big step or baby step, you will feel energized by DOING it.

Do What You Love!

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I am running again after 2 years off the road. When I was physically unable to run, I felt stuck. Lost. Finding yoga got me UN-STUCK. For me the journey back to running began when I was finally willing to let it go and to embrace something new.  Now I have both- running and yoga. My runs aren’t the longest or the fastest, but I’m running again. I am doing what I love!

Gratitude for the physical capacity to run is motivating. I get up at 5 AM and run because I CAN!

What do you love? What’s keeping you from doing it? What old love is it time to rekindle? What new love lies ahead?

Vegan Lemon Sage Asparagus & Mushroom Pasta

Last week my mom sent me a recipe from The Minimalist Baker that I couldn’t wait to try. The original recipe was for Vegan Lemon Asparagus Pasta. I made a few minor adaptations. I added some sautéed portobella mushrooms and sage. I also used less pasta because I like there to be plenty of sauce. It was delicious. Here is a photo of mine, but you should click on the link above to see the photographs on John & Dana’s website. They are beautiful.

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While I love fresh vegetables and fruit, every once in a while I really crave something creamy. This recipe satisfies the craving. Enjoy!

 

Inversions 101 with Laura Sykora

If you read Yoga Journal or Yoganonomous online, you have probably read about Instagram phenom Laura Sykora (Kasperzak). When she posted that she was going to be teaching at a local yoga studio, I jumped at the chance to attend. It was amazing!

Not only is Laura great at doing handstands and assorted inversions, she is an outstanding teacher. She started the class by making everyone feel welcomed and by telling us that she was a little nervous. She was masterful as she moved a large class of people at various levels through class. We warmed up and did a few stretches for the arms and shoulders that I hadn’t done before. She set it up so that everyone was successful on every pose. She did this two ways. First, she gave lots of alternatives. She would explain each pose with variations. One variation was for those who weren’t ready for the full pose, and one was for those who could already do the pose. Each of the inversions was like that too.

She gave warnings about using the wall as a crutch, and then shared alternatives for getting off the wall with assistance. She shared three things that are needed to do handstands.

1) Establish a consistent yoga practice. This will build up the core, arms, shoulders, and increase flexibility.
2) Stay positive. Some days you will fee like your making a lot of progress. Others days you might not be able to get up at all. It’s okay.
3) Practice. Practice. Practice.

The mantra at the end wasn’t typical, but lots of fun. “I’m a bad ass. I’m a mother f*** bad ass.” I wasn’t expecting it, but we finished with a deliciously long savasana. Perfection.

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Grilled Romaine Salad

When I lived in NJ there was a seafood restaurant that we used to love to visit. There was a special grilled romaine salad that wasn’t on the menu, but that could be ordered. The salad was delicious and came with crab and lobster meat on top. We wanted to create a vegan option. It was delicious and really easy!

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Just clean the romaine and cut the head in half. Lightly oil the lettuce before placing the cut side face down on the grill. Leave them on the grill for just a few minutes. You can top the grilled romaine with any combination of chopped ingredients that you like. This time we included avocado, tomato, and a simple chopped tapenade made of leftover olives. A simple lemon vinaigrette finished it off. Simple. Easy. Delicious.

I Choose Happiness

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“There is no distinction between means and ends. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.” -Thich Nhat Hanh

 

What do you want in life? Many people will answer that they want to be happy. What if happy isn’t something you earn or get lucky enough to experience. What if being happy is something you choose? It’s a powerful idea that I have been playing with in my mind. I realize that ego is the thing that keeps happiness from being the way for me. I’m not happy when I feel I have been overlooked or mistreated. When I take ego out of it, it’s easier to be happy.

I still notice a slight, but I try not to let it define how feel. I accept that it just…is. I don’t take it personally. I work hard, and I do a good job. That’s enough. Everything that follows is irrelevant. For now I am where I belong. When it is time to move on, I will know. In the meantime, I’m happy where I am.