More food on my face and just for this weekend, okay?

Currently writing this while a mixture of egg and raw honey dry on my face. According to bad-ass Alexis Wolfer (also the woman who I wish was my big sister), this DIY face mask can treat breakouts. Raw honey (the creamy, somewhat expensive stuff) contains antibacterial and hydrating properties that cleanse the skin without drying it out. Egg white tightens skin (I feel my skin tightening this very moment!). And the fat and cholesterol in the yolk reduce the appearance of acne scars. What the what? Check out the full recipe here!

Photo on 2014-05-08 at 23.40 #2

My skin has taken a beating this semester (this entire year, actually). The massive amount of stress I felt manifested itself on my skin. This is new territory for me. I’ve never really had trouble with my skin and for the past several months, I’ve been breaking out almost every day. Alexis Wolfer’s brain children have helped me focus on not only treating my skin very gently with stuff I already put in my body, but also having fun with skin care. We can all use more fun in our lives, right?

The stress from the past two semesters has also manifested itself in my relationship to food (duh. i talk about that sh*t all the time here)…and subsequently, on my body. While the way I view food and my body has certainly improved, I still have many moments where I ashamed of and frustrated with my body. Consequently, I also have many moments where I obsess about food (am i hungry? should i eat that when i already ate that other thing earlier today? am i really hungry? WTF is wrong with you, sarah!?!?). Slow your roll, girly. In those moments, I dig deep and force gentler thoughts into my brain (the irony there is not lost on me). I stop my dark and reeling thoughts. I DO something-breathe, take a walk/run, call someone, drink water, have a 5-min dance party, so many things.

very recent example: Today, when I freaked out about how I looked in my graduation outfit (um yeah i’m graduating. hollaaaa!) and then obsessed about whether I was hungry and should eat dinner, and why the f*ck I can’t just feel peaceful and normal about food and my body, I made a big decision. What if I just committed to being peaceful around food and my body for the next three days? The next three days are celebratory; full of being surrounded by family and friends, taking pictures, recognizing accomplishments, and of course, eating food. I don’t want to miss out on any moment of the next three days because I’m obsessing about how I look in my clothes or what I’m going to eat. I want to welcome my family, show them around the city, acknowledging the fact that I finished my freakin’ Master’s, take pictures with friends, and feel excited about everything. There will be no room for body hate or preoccupation with food.

Making this weekend commitment is keeping me calm. I don’t need to worry about feeling crazy around food/my body for the rest of my life. All I need to do is strive for peace in that area for the next three days. For the weekend, I will relax about this stuff. And I will be present with the people around me. Just for the next three days. I can worry about forever later. But this weekend, a very exciting and special weekend, I’m just going to act as if I feel normal and peaceful about my body and food.

DIY facials help. Mediating helps. Iggy Azalea and Madonna help. Yoga helps. So, so many things can help us regain our sanity and focus on the sh*t that we actually want to experience in our lives.

I’m starting to believe that American women’s obsession with thinness is a patriarchal rouse to distract us from doing real sh*t, from living our dreams so that we don’t become too powerful. Thoughts?

Remember this today, okay?

Hello beautiful college kids. Happy Friday. Just want to take a minute and tell you something comforting, something that is comforting me today, anyway.

This too shall pass.

You may be feeling distraught. Stressed. Overwhelmed. Anxious. Fearful. Exhausted. Hopeless. Ashamed. Guilty. Angry. Inadequate. In any area of your life.

We often get so mired in these feelings that we cannot fathom ever feeling peace again. But you will. Today will progress and tomorrow will come, as will the next day and the next. Things change. Time heals. We get better. Everything gets figured out. So just lean on this proverb today:

This too shall pass. Okay?

And do some yoga today. That will help, too. And this.

How to survive finals

It’s that time of the semester, college kid yogis. Seminar papers loom. Reading assignments feel arduous and unfair. We cram as many To Do list entries into our schedules. Fear and anxiety whisper to us every moment.

Fear not, fellow college students. I have a solution, a way to mitigate the emotional and physical effects of this semester overwhelm. Check it:

The College Kid Yoga End-of-Semester Overwhelm Remedy:

1. Change mindset:

By changing our mindset, I refer not to positive self-talk, a technique that often feels exhausting and results in only fleeting moments of peace. Rather, I espouse an entire reformation of the way we think about schoolwork. Since returning to school, I’ve been hyper-aware of how students, myself included, discuss classes, assignments, and other academic obligations as things to “get through,” to complete before we can take a break and actually live life. Our constant complaining and the negative thoughts we attach schoolwork actually creates our reality of sleepless nights, un-intuitive eating, lowered immune system, and general sucky-ness when finals hit.

What if we had fun with our schoolwork instead? What if we found a way to make studying enjoyable, to feel peaceful throughout the day while putting a serious dent in our To Do list? When I felt myself buying into the traditional paradigm of school as something to endure, I thought to myself, “there has GOT to be a way to complete these assignments without feeling anxious, sleep-deprived, and tempted to numb out with food (or whatever your drug of choice is). I chose this; I might as well enjoy it.”

As I enter the last full month of the fall semester, I’ve decided to have as much fun as I can with studying, paper-writing, research, and reading. For example, I create a realistic list of the assignments to tackle or paper topics to research, and allot a certain amount of time for each. After I work on one item on my list, I take a short break (10-15 mins), dance to a heart-thumping song, read a cool blog, call a friend/my family, etc. I try to move my body as much as possible during this time.

To have fun and feel calm WHILE I work, I draw inspiration from Nisha Moodley. Nisha recommends using a Feminine (or masculine) Focus Object during intense work periods. Choose something that you love to look at, that brings you comfort or joy. Place it on your desk, and look at it whenever you pause in your work. This helps us avoid getting distracted by the web, our phones, etc. My Feminine Focus Object is my pretty, cute pot of lip gloss. I place it on my laptop and glance at it while I work, which helps me avoid wasting time by checking Facebook or staring off into space.

My lip gloss be poppin.’

2. Yoga. Duh, of course my remedy includes yoga. I’ve said it before and I say it again: yoga gets us out of our heads and into our bodies. When we shift our focus from our whirring, anxiety-laden thoughts onto a visceral, physical experience, we begin to distinguish what’s real (how our bodies feel) and what’s an illusion (stress, fear, overwhelm). When we identify those negative thoughts as illusions, as not real, we detach from them and can proceed with studying, reading, writing, etc in a calm state of mind.

So do the yoga. For 10 mins. Every morning. And before you go to bed (ha!).

Tara Stiles can help! Check it:

We’ve got this, college kids.

How do grad students do this?

Wowza, peeps. What an intense few days for this grad student. Many words have been written and read. The images below captures how I feel after this week; clearly my ambiguous emotions run the gamut:

This helps. And this.

Also, my love for Christan mom blogs persists. These digital spaces bring me joy and contentment. The women behind them offer us an alternative way to perceive of and live in this crazy, chaotic world of ours. Check them out. Fo real.

And of course, the yoga helps me endure the weeks of heavy reading, writing, talking, and portfolio-building. For anyone looking to build a home practice for themselves (i.e. doing the yoga in your bedroom/living room/kitchen, etc.), look no further than Tara Stiles. She posts her routines all over the web. The democratization of yoga is changing the world. Trust.

A weekend of more reading and writing awaits. Also some yoga. And food. And booze.

Boy was I wrong

Happy October, fellow yogis and soon-to-be yogis. Man, folks in the blogosphere go bonkers for this month. When I checked my usual blogs on October 1st, rhapsodies about cider, cowl necks, cool weather, and bonfires abounded. These bloggers revel in the contemplative days of fall. I can get down with that.

Currently sitting in a coffee shop preparing to freewrite my fingers off, as a paper relating blogs to Aristotle’s Poetics looms over me. I shall prevail.

Remember when I expressed some ambivalence about returning to Blue Lotus due to the slow pace of the classes? Scratch that. My ambivalence persists no longer, for I now have a pulling desire to immerse myself in the classes and philosophy of Blue Lotus.

It all started yesterday when I attended a 4pm class. Earlier that day, obsessive, destructive, dark thoughts plagued my mind, causing me to almost harm my body as a result. I felt inadequate in my classes, anxious about looming assignments, and self-conscious in front of others. I saw that Blue Lotus offered a class at a new time, so I booked it over there for some afternoon vinyasa.

Wowza. The slow pace of the class provided me the time and quietness I needed to breathe through my fearful thoughts and choose new ones.  The instructor encouraged us to notice how we transition from pose to pose, how we often focus on the end pose or result and forget about how we actually get there. I felt comforted, protected, and challenged.

In true yoga junkie style, I attended another class this morning. As I sat on my mat waiting for class to begin, surrounded by 40-ish other women, I felt a rush of love envelope me. This is not hippie sh*t. This is real, people. I sat on my mat, closed my eyes, and viscerally felt the collective energy of my sisters. I expressed gratitude for the chance to practice with and learn from them. If I allowed my self-destructive thoughts their druthers, I would have fidgeted on my mat in an attempt to conceal my body from the tiny, fit yoga bodies luxuriating in their thinness/disciplined practice just centimeters away. But I chose to take care of myself, to feel something real, internal. And the love physically rushed in. My breathing deepened, my limbs felt warm. A smile grew on my face.

Then class began. Wowza did I sweat. My muscles shook. I had all of the time I needed to notice how my body felt in each pose and transition, and to breathe through any self-destructive thoughts that entered my mind. It rocked. And like any junkie, I feel addicted, controlled by the class that made me high.

Need more slow flow.

 

Slow that flow

Although I planned to survive my grad school years with the help of Blue Lotus by attending several classes per week, my enthusiasm for patronizing that studio on a regular basis has waned. I attended two classes in the three-ish weeks since I moved to Raleigh and felt…disappointed. Not only did I have to fork over 12 bucks per class (call me unrealistic, but I think that charging more than $10 for a yoga class undermines yoga’s universality), but the folks (they really are great) at Blue Lotus teach a slow vinyasa class.

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the value of a slow yoga practice. In fact, I’ve reaped significant benefits from attending classes with instructors who teach students how to slow the heck down. And I particularly enjoyed the first class I took at Blue Lotus because the instructor spoke about setting intentions before a yoga practice, then had us consciously remember that intention several times throughout class. This I liked.

But I prefer my regular yoga practice to involve copious amounts of sweat and heavy breathing. I revel in the feeling of purity that envelops my body after wringing out every toxin inside of me, a feeling that usually accompanies a fast-paced class. I also believe that a fast-paced practice helps students, especially we college kids, focus on our bodies, rather than our anxious, whirring thoughts. When we move quickly on our mats, our bodies take over and (temporarily, at least) silence our thoughts so that we can follow the instructor. Anytime we can get out of our heads will serve us well, fellow college kids.

Nevertheless, I will return to Blue Lotus…and begrudgingly pay $12 for another class. Maybe slowing our flow is what we need. Between the papers, the meetings, the conferences, and the classes, we college students might benefit from a little slowness.

Celebrating August 16th

My Facebook status on Wednesday night read: Tomorrow: First day of grad school and Madonna’s birthday. Which is more monumental?

August 16th marked not only the birth of my hero/girl crush, but also my the first day of classes as a freakin Master’s student. While I felt compelled to spend the entire day evangelizing about the significant contributions Lady M has made to society, my classes took precedence. Because that’s what grad students do…I think.

Last year, I partied hard. Picture it: A warm summer day in 2011. Me, in my basement dancing like a lunatic to music video after music video. Me, subtly lip synching to even more songs at my desk at work. Me, paying homage to M in ways that should incite some kind of shame within me.

My party of 1 (I like to think M was there in spirit) rocked again. I watched a couple of her interviews with Letterman, including the one during which she shocked America yet again. Sure, she probably embarrassed herself and had quite a disconcerting effect on Dave and the audience. But that’s why I find her so disarming, people. She has no shame and feels no fear in telling someone to f*ck off.

I also enjoyed some of her old-school interviews with Rosie and Arsenio. While returning a few emails and completing my online direct deposit form for my TAship (oy), I watched Truth or Dare. In this documentary, Alek Keshishien films Madonna and her crew over the course of the Blond Ambition Tour in 1990. It rocks. I am obsessed with a particular scene in which M really expresses herself to her manager, sound technician, and others when her microphone went out on stage.

While my Madonna birthday celebration inadvertently excluded dancing wildly to her music videos, I did pay homage to her by attending a yoga class that evening with one of my roommates. Holy Lord did we do some planks. Madonna arms, here I come.

An appropriate conclusion to my Madonna-inspired day.

My classes were good, too.