Friday, March 30, 2012

Random Friday Vrittis

In yoga, vrittis are the passing thoughts and movements of your mind.  Sometimes they're conscious, sometimes they pop into your head at the most random (and sometimes inopportune or inappropriate) times.

I had the realization last night that my Random Friday Facts are really nothing more than passing thoughts that don't always happen in a logical sequence.  Random Friday Facts are really just vrittis in disguise!

Here are my Random Friday Vrittis!  This week, most of them revolve around diet.

1. My thoughts on diet, health, and weight loss have changed drastically in the past few years.  I no longer believe that calorie-restriction is the way to go--but I also am not quite sure what I SHOULD eat (and in what proportions.)

2.  I used to have a goal in my head that I'd like to lose weight so I'd get back to 120 lbs.  Now, I'm pretty sure that if I lost that much weight I'd lost muscle mass as well--which I have no interest in doing.

3.  After a lifetime of preconceived notions about diet, I still have a hard time convincing myself that fat is not inherently bad.

4.  I have never really believed in "diets," but instead strive for lifestyle changes.  

5. Duff Man wasted money paid to have Millie's DNA analyzed.  Yeah, I know.  Here were the results.
Shetland Sheepdog
Black & Tan Coonhound
EQUALS (allegedly)
 6.  I hope he can get his money back.  I think the tests are clearly wrong.  They also said that Millie is a boy. 

7. Paying to have your dog's DNA tested means you have too much disposable income to spend on stupid shit.  Or maybe just that you spend your disposable income on stupid shit.  I dunno.

8.  I really want to ride my bike this week... but I really don't know where I should go.

9. I made pizza this week.  It was AMAZING. 

10.  Spring Break starts in 2 hours and I just can't wait!!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Carrot, Quinoa, and Ricotta Muffins

The other day, I was browsing the internets in search of some "Meatless Monday" inspiration when I came across a recipe for Carrot-Quinoa Muffins from Fresh365.  The premise was intriguing--a couple of nutrient-rich foods packed into a moist and portable muffin.  I habitually run late in the morning, and grabbing a couple of muffins has allowed me to eat breakfast on the run every day this week.  This is a HUGE step for me!

When I first mixed the batter, it seemed really thick so I added water until it thinned out a little bit.  It wasn't anything runny or pourable, but just enough that I'd consider the mixture a "batter" instead of a "dough."

The results were fantastic--moist and a little bit sweet; substantial without being too dense.  This muffin recipe is definitely a keeper, although next time I might try brown sugar and possible substituting applesauce for half of the butter to bring the fat content down.  I might also try the same concept using pumpkin instead (and maybe adding some cinnamon and nutmeg too.)

Carrot, Quinoa, and Ricotta Muffins

makes 1 dozen
1 c. cooked quinoa
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
3/4 c. whole wheat pastry or white whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 c. sugar, plus 1 T for sprinkling (I used Hawaiian vanilla sugar for sprinkling)
1/2 c. butter (1 stick), melted and cooled
1/2 c. fat free ricotta cheese
1 t. vanilla
2 eggs, beaten

1/4 c. water
1 c. grated carrots

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a muffin tin with paper liners and set aside.

Combine the dry ingredients (quinoa, both flours, baking soda, and salt) in a large bowl.  In another bowl, combine the sugar, butter, ricotta, vanilla, eggs, and water.  Slowly add wet ingredients to the flour mixture, mixing until well combined.  Fold in carrots until just mixed.  If the batter seems to thick, add more water and stir until it reaches a "batter" consistency.

Divide batter evenly among the paper cups (I like to portion with an ice cream scoop), and then transfer the muffin tin to the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, then sprinkle reserved sugar over the top and return to the oven for another 5 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)

Store in an air tight container.

Nutritional Info
It's not the "healthiest" recipe, if you judge "healthy" by low fat/low cal at least.  But hey,  aren't muffins really just glorified cake for breakfast?  

I think that tweaking the recipe to replace some of the butter with applesauce or pumpkin will lower the calories and reduce the fat by about 3-4 grams per muffin while maintaining a decent amount of protein.  I'll update if/when I try it!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dontcha Wish Your Girlfriends were Hot (and Smart and Funny) Like Mine?

This weekend was simply fabulous.  

For the last few months, a bunch of my girlfriends and I have been planning to get together to see "The Hunger Games."  

We even took our nerdiness to DEFCON 5 and wore matching t-shirts.  
Afterwards, we went to The Liberty Tavern for cheese, cocktails, dinner, and more conversation. 

A note about The Liberty Tavern: The menu is full of fresh, creative fare and I had a hard time deciding what to get!  We started with a sampler of six cheeses (actually, two 3-cheese samplers)--some house made, all amazing.  I had the steamed mussel and the gnocchi--both of which were to die for!  My girl M's pizza (The Vermont: white cheddar, granny smith apples, caramelized onions, prosciutto, and sage) looked amazing and I'm going to try my take on it later this week.  I must say, I'm going to find some excuse to go back! 

During dinner, we realized that every woman at the table not only holds a college degree, but holds an advanced degree as well.  Not that we needed to whip our our credentials to confirm that my friends are among the most intelligent, beautiful, funny, and simply awesome women on the planet--but it was a pretty cool realization.

After dinner, we parted ways and then regrouped (somewhat) on Sunday morning for breakfast, more chatting, and a little bit of yoga.  

Since we were all together and hanging out, I couldn't resist throwing in some partner poses

I never realized how shiny my butt looks when I'm wearing yoga pants.
Afterwards, we ate some delicious carrot cake pancakes and discussed the movie and life in general.  

It was awesome getting to regroup with my fabulous friends (although I was sad that a few of my girls had to cancel at the last minute.  Boo!) We don't see each other very often, but when we do we have a great time.  Before we left, we were already talking about the next time we'd be able to get together--which certainly won't be soon enough!

(Thanks to M remembering to take some photos!)

Friday, March 23, 2012

Random Friday Facts: Jam-Packed Weekend Style!

I had an entire post dedicated to what I did last weekend that I never quite finished--so it's turned into my Random Friday Facts.

Duff Man hopped a plane to visit a friend in Atlanta last weekend, so I decided to get some things done around the house while he was gone.  With the amount I got accomplished, you'd think I had a time-turner or a TARDIS laying around.  Here's what happened:

1.  Last weekend, I taught one yoga class (Fun Friday!), assisted a class, and took 3 classes.

2.  My girl The Doctor posted on Facebook that she was going to the salon to get a hair cut.  I ended up meeting up with her and got my hair cut too.  Afterwards, we spent some quality time with her kiddies and husband.

3.   This was one of the kidlets' toys.  It reminded me of many a weekend in college.

4.  I cleaned the basement for the first time since this mess started--keeping in mind that Duff Man didn't cover anything in plastic before he started ripping things apart.  Cleaning up construction dust sucks.  

5.  I ripped out about 8' x 15' of floor tile so that Duff Man would agree to install laminate flooring in the entire basement living room/kitchen area.  I also down a wall of wallpaper.

6.  I cleaned the entire upstairs of my house.  I vacuumed/mopped the living room, dining room, kitchen, guest room, and bathroom, washed 7 loads of laundry, swapped out the winter duvet for the spring quilt, cleaned the bathroom, cleaned the kitchen, dusted EVERYTHING... and I'm sure there was more too.

7.  It took me so long to clean everything that I've decided to use the pennies I'm making at the yoga studio to hire a cleaning service.

8.  My total activity levels worked out to something like 6+ hours of yoga, 12 hours of construction work, and 5 hours of cleaning.  I made up for the calories burned by consuming Rita's, Haagen Daz Coffee Ice Cream w/ crushed Skor bar, Swedish Fish, and Girl Scout Cookies.  I'm not even a little bit sorry.

9.  I only slept about 9 hours over the duration of the entire weekend.  Are you surprised?  

10.  This weekend is going to be AWESOME because I am going to see a bunch of my college girlfriends in the same place.  We're planning to see The Hunger Games (complete with matching t-shirts), go to dinner, and do some yoga together.  I'm SO excited!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Random Friday Facts

1.  I was excited when I left my house one morning this week and realized that Spring has sprung.

2.  I effing hate Bradford pear trees. 

3.  As of this week, I am officially a Yoga Alliance RYT-200 yoga teacher!

4.  As of yesterday, I have officially submitted my application to go to grad school.  Again.  (Much love to my girl M for editing my professional statement of goals at 11pm last night!)

5.  My favorite rock bands are probably Incubus, Aerosmith, and Carbon Leaf.

6.  This is what's been going on in our basement for the last few days.  

New windows in the living area.
New egress window in the guest bedroom.
New egress window in Duff Man's office.
7.  In the midst of this basement disaster, a friend is coming to live with us--at least temporarily.  I'm actually kind of excited :)

8.  I am seriously considering coming up with a recipe for lamb stew with dried plums and wild rice.  I recognize it's totally unoriginal, but you get mad props if you have any idea what I'm talking about.

9.  You know what sucks?  Not eating, drinking, drowning in work, smoking, medicating, or even yoga-ing your feelings away--but sitting and being with them instead.  

10.  You know what doesn't suck?  Rita's.  

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Some Anniversaries Will Never Be Celebrated

"Yoga means that now there is no hope, now there is no future, now there are no desires.  One is ready to know what is...One is interested only in that which is because only the real can free you.  Only the reality can become liberation.  Total despair is needed... A moment comes to every human being when he feels total hopelessness."  ~Osho

I know that I posted yesterday about how calm I've been for the past month in spite of all of the stressors in my life.  And I promise, that's the norm for me.  

And then midnight hit.  And the date changed.  And, of right now, today is only 5 minutes old and I'm struggling already with the day I've been mentally counting down to for a couple of months now.

It's been 5 years.  5 years since I got the call that my mom had collapsed.  That the paramedics worked on her for an hour and got her heart started, but not her breathing.  5 years since I prayed on my rosary hundreds of times, since I brushed her hair so it would look like she was just sleeping, since I had to convince my father that she was never coming back.  5 years since I had to act as her designated healthcare proxy.  Since my father called the police to tell them the doctors were trying to kill his wife.  Officially, 5 years since she was pronounced brain dead.  On a Tuesday, just like today.  But thanks to some twisted legal ironies, it wasn't for another four days until we could donate her organs and allow her to rest in peace.  

Even being in an emotionally healthier place now than I was before or in the two years after her death, it's still hard to cope with the idea that there was more I could have done to prevent this. I had opportunities to say things... but I didn't.  I was too wrapped up in myself to say something that might have changed--and prolonged--her life.

In my head, I know I can't think that way.  I can't live with "what-ifs" and that even if I had said something, there's no guarantee that things would have been different.

I also have to consider whether I would be in the healthier place I am now had it not been for the despair of those consecutive years of loss.  When I found yoga, I was broken--only I hadn't really realized it yet.  Would I have latched onto that feeling of peace if I hadn't been emerging from such a dark hole?  And how twisted is that, to think it's possible that I'm in a better place now because of those losses?  Clearly, Osho believes that I could not have found yoga in a meaningful way without those feelings of hopelessness.  I'm not sure how I feel.

I often wonder if my mother would have been so dependent on pain medication and sleep medicine if she had found yoga too.  She was very spiritual.  She was interested in New Age philosophy and metaphysics; crystals and tarot cards.  She considered herself Buddhist.  I know she would have been drawn towards the intangible branches of yoga.  But would she have been interested in asana practice?  And if she had, would the healing components of yoga have been enough to alleviate some of her dependency of the vicodin or the methodone or the ambien?  

I know that asking these questions isn't productive and won't lead me anywhere, but I can't help wondering.

I don't really have any profound words to close out this post.  I know it's rather disjointed, but that's the way I am today.  I'll just leave you with this poem, written by my mother and used on the back of her memorial card.

I walked with an angel today
I walked with an angel today
With my hands clasped I did pray
That she may guide all of us here
And teach us not to fear
She walks in the light
She shines oh so bright.
I walked with an angel today
Now my fears are at bay
She has a gleaming smile for me
I know that this was meant to be
For She was the angel,
The Angel I walked with today.

~CAD, September 27, 1999

Monday, March 12, 2012

A Duck, A Breath, and Yoga Off the Mat.

I think I've made it clear in the past few weeks that my life can be pretty stressful.  February to March is one of the more hectic periods (which included 6 concerts in 3 weeks this year), compounded this year by construction in my home and my classroom.  Suck.

And yet, despite all of the noise in the world around me, I took on more responsibilities, maintained my yoga practice and came out with my sanity mostly intact (save for a few hours in the final days before my culminating performances.)

That's not to say I was perfect--I'm not--but I've found that in recent months that I'm calmer and can stay more focused when things go wrong.  (And boy can they go wrong.  Remind me to tell you about getting my kids to Festival on Saturday morning.  It was quite the rodeo...)  But I find I can focus on my breath and be more like a duck--calm on the surface while still treading water and contemplating the best direction to take.

One of the four defining Yoga sutras states, "Yogash chitta vritti nirodhah."  Yoga begins when the movements of the mind end.  I have noticed that in any number of situations--when I'm stressed at work, when Duff Man & I are having a misunderstanding, when Murphy's Law is working in full force and everything that can go wrong IS going wrong--these days I'm much more likely to stay calm and focused.  To do a quick kosha analysis.  To subdue my frustration at the situation and focus my energy on how to resolve the problem.

What's been most fascinating to me lately is the way I observe this form of yoga in others.  The practice of Pratyahara--turning inwards--I've seen in friends and colleagues.  It's pretty neat to be on the outside watching someone practice yoga (real yoga, not just asana) and they don't even realize it.  To talk with someone observe their statuses or tweets or posts as they realize that, in order to come to peace with a situation, they need to turn inwards and observe the qualities within themselves that are causing that reaction.

On the other hand, the opposite is also true.  It can be frustrating (if you allow it) to watch others you care about struggle and flap and flail in the water as they allow every little situation get under their skin.  

But how do you convince someone to slow down and breathe when they're not interested in that hippie-dippie-yoga-mumbo-jumbo-bullshit?

I don't know the answer--but if you find it, let me know.  I'll be sitting here treading water in the meantime.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Random Friday Facts

Good morning!  

1.  I had a nightmare last night about my big performance today.  It's dorktastic and awesome all at the same time.  Think happy thoughts at 4:15pm this afternoon!

2.  I have a bunch of fun posts thought up, I just haven't had time to write them this week.  Next week--I'll be Bach!

This is J.C. Bach, not J.S. Bach.  But the expression on his face makes up for the fact that his music is decidedly inferior to his father's.  At least, he'd like to think so.
3.  I assisted one yoga class (and then took a different one) yesterday.  It was awesome--one client actually said "oh!" (in the "oh-THAT'S-what-this-is-supposed-to-feel-like" kind of way), and another said "Wow, she's good--can we keep her?"

4.  Remember how last week I said I was surprised at how UN-stressed I have been?  Yeah, that changed for about two days this week.  A bit stressed today, but I think I have it under control.

5.  My phone at my contacts... then I found them... now I can't get them from the back-up back onto the phone.  All 218 of them.

6.  Performances tonight and tomorrow make performances #5 and #6 within the last month.  I can't wait to have a break (and to play some new music!)

7.  I ate toast with peanut butter at about 7:30am this morning.  I think that's the earliest I've eaten breakfast this year. 

8.  My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard.

9.  I don't like raisins.

10.  I think this is the fastest I've ever written an RFF post (6 minutes.)

Have a great weekend!