Fall and Rise Again: Better and Stronger

I tripped, I stumbled, I fall but that won’t stop me from picking myself up from trying again and again.

Yesterday would have marked my completion of thirty days of eating whole; unfortunately, life decided to toss an edamame pod in my face. Figuratively speaking, but it did find its way through my teeth and into my mouth.

Edamame, green and steamed to perfection with a sprinkle of sea salt. It sat in front of me, sitting innocently amongst its camaraderie. Without a thought (sound the alarms), I picked up a pod and in it went. Delicious. Reaching for another pod, the realization hit me like a ton of bricks. As quickly as my brain came to grips of what had occurred, the pod slipped through my fingers, landing soundlessly on my plate. Although in my ears, it sounded like an explosion going off.

A wave of emotions rushed through me.

Anger. Disappointment. Distraught. Failure.

It’s funny, yet sad, that a single, small edamame pod could bring forth such strong emotions. But it did only because I allowed it to affect me in that manner. It was because of my commitment to this challenge. Unconsciously, my mindset changed for the worst. My purpose was no longer focused on cleansingdetoxing and healing myself, I became focused on completiondicipline, and results with no margin for error.

At that moment, eating just one pod was unforgivable and I don’t think I could have forgiven myself if I didn’t have the support that I do, my inner circle. It doesn’t matter if some are less than ten miles away while others are ten thousand miles away, they continue to provide the support and grounding that I need to stay levelheaded. The words “thank you wouldn’t even be enough to express my gratitude for them.

Looking back, it’s silly to know that something so minuscule could evoke so much negativity. So much darkness in my mind and how it easily affected my mood, all from one little edamame pod. But it is a sad truth for many where that darkness, those negative thoughts, can consume oneself. It doesn’t have to be from “failing” a challenge, there are multiple variables that could lead to that darkness, and some may not have the support and love that I am so fortunate to have.

If this is the case for anyone, don’t hesitate and be afraid. There are always people who are willing to offer a listening ear, physically or digitally. Don’t allow that darkness and negativity bring you down, take ahold of it and let the light within you shine through.

Although I didn’t “complete” the challenge, I will be taking what I learned from this process and apply it my next go-around. Leaving those negative thoughts and emotions behind, only taking along what I need to move forward, the word “forgiveness.” Everyone makes mistakes, it doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. No one is perfect and everyone is perfectly imperfect.

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Life Is…

Life is like water.

It flows calmly like a river, you may hit a few rapids along the way but those will pass and the chaos becomes calm once again.

Life is never stagnant.

No matter how strong those boulders may seem, there will always be a hole (or two) to flow through, and beyond those boulders awaits a stronger you.

In life, we will come across many rapids and boulders but like water, it will not become stagnant. From a naked eye, a body of water may look stilled but microscopically there are millions of microorganisms creating micro-movements.

Many may experience stillness in their lives, and most times that’s not a bad thing. In today’s society, we are constantly on, constantly going and sometimes we need that stillness to just catch our breaths, to slow down and be mindful.

Other times, the feeling of stillness can mimic the feeling of being stuck, unable to progress forward. But take a moment and think, who is it that is stopping you from moving forward? Is it yourself?

Lately, I have been feeling as though my life has become idle. But as I took this past weekend to reflect (with the guidance from some amazing people), I realized that it was me who is preventing myself from moving forward. It was my guilt and fears that placed me in this dormant state.

Life is flowing.

It doesn’t wait for anyoneDon’t allow whatever holding you back keep you stationary. Don’t let those “what ifs” take away your moments. Once those moments pass, it may not come back.

Take control of your life and flow with it, one breath at a time. It doesn’t wait, and you shouldn’t either.

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A Storm is Brewing

Life gives us many crossroads.

Some roads are straight and narrow while others are long and windy, which path to take is solely on you.

Sitting at my desk, staring blankly at the screen as I attempt to gather my whirlwind of thoughts. On the outside, I may look calm, composed but inside, a storm of internal conflict continues to brew, slowly becoming largerdarker as I stand in front of this pivotal crossroad.

To stay in the family business or to pursue my interest, my passion.

One path can guarantee a stable life with its sustainably and growth potential whereas the other path lies many uncertainties, unchartered lands waiting to be explored. At a glance, the answer seems crystal clear but as to each layer peels, what seemed to be an obvious choice quickly becomes murky and cloudy.

Standingstaring, searching for some sort of guidancelight (none to be found) at this crossroad that weighs heavily in my mind, my shoulders becoming heavy as the burden of guilt becomes heavier and heavier.

To leave a business where my parents gave an arm and a leg for, where they nurtured it for almost 21 years for an interest, a passion that I have yet to tap.

Life has given me a crossroad, one that has left me stuckstrandedstagnant. The murky waters and cloudy skies darken as waves begin to form as the sounds of thunder comes rolling in within me, slowly engulfing, consuming me as I struggle to find that one light.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

What lies beyond the tunnel would be calm waters, clear skies, and most importantly, a peace of mind with no signs of the treacherous storm that was once present.

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The Journey Explained

Stay focused and stay determined. Don’t look to anyone else to be your determination – have self-determination. It will take you very far. — Justice Smith

Stay focused, stay determined, stay dedicated. Those six words reverberate in my mind as I finish my first week of the Whole30 Challenge. Finishing it strong.

Since the beginning of this journey, I decided to document my progress: the good, the bad, and everything in between. Not just simply for myself, but for my audience too. Without any sugarcoating (literally).

Some people choose to attempt the Whole30 with the mindset of a diet program while others undergo this as a lifestyle change. I chose to pursue this challenge as a means to cleanse, to detox, to heal myself internally (dropping a pant size or two is always a plus).

For as long as I can remember, I always struggled with a sensitive stomach. One moment life could be fine and dandy but in a matter of minutes, I would be a world of pain, lasting anywhere between half an hour to two. It was torture, and I thought it was normal. My normal.

Prior to the start of my challenge, I ate relatively healthy and clean but those torturous moments continued to creep up every now and then when I’m least expecting it. But don’t let my current lifestyle choice fool you; before the new year rang, I ate pretty poorly and was not taking care of the one body that I have.

Rewinding back to the holidays, as it came to an end, right before the new year (new year, new me), I experienced my first death in my family. He was only 58 years young. For years, his health continued to deteriorate. Even with modern medicine, he was in pain. Though he never once voiced it, we knew. Despite his second wife and his grown son tending and caring for him, he wasn’t taking care of himself properly.

His passing was an awakening for me. I too wasn’t taking care of myself properly. His chapter closed right before the new year rang whereas my chapter open. His untimely death became a huge motivator for me to take care of the one body that I was given, to nurture and cherish it. To be active and to eat clean.

The word, challenge, can be defined as “to test one’s ability.” A perfect definition to define my reasoning to face the Whole30. I’m not searching for a diet plan nor am I seeking to change my lifestyle. I’m challenging myself, to prove to myself, that I have the focus, the determination, the dedication to complete the thirty days all the while reaping the benefits of cleansingdetoxing, and healing my body.

We were given one body, one life.

Love it, nurture it, cherish it.

To my eldest uncle — You are truly missed. I hope you are now living healthy and pain-free.

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A Grain of Salt

There are two men in your life, past and present…

A single statement that easily grabs the attention of most women; a statement that is often spoken by many psychic readers to draw women under their spell (not literally, of course).

Snaking through the countless rows of vendors as I searched for some clarity, I soon find myself standing in front of a clairvoyant. She calmly asked me, “do you want your palm to be read?

My curiosity was piqued.

She spoke that single statement that could stop almost any woman in her tracks, “which path do you want to look into, past or present?” I chose the latter. Carefully reading the lines, she begins telling me what’s lying at the palm of my hand. A well-suited man in the distant future, a couple of children (a boy and a girl), a happy marriage (sounds pretty typical), but with any positives, there will always be negatives lurking behind.

There are many negative energies surrounding you, people who are jealous of you.”

As her words sunk deep within me, my mind began filling with confusion, doubtskepticism. The energies who I encounter on an almost daily basis were anything but negative much less jealous. If she meant in the past, then I would wholeheartedly agree but the present? This came as a surprise as the energies who I surrounded myself with are from beautiful people with beautiful souls. 

The very people who helped shape me into who I am today, a person that is mindfulpresentgrounded. Without them in my life, I would be lost.

A former yoga teacher once said, “take only what you need, leave the rest behind.” This statement doesn’t only apply during practice, it can be applied in life. As the words from the medium still linger in my mind, I hold her words like grains of salt, taking what I need and leaving the rest behind as they serve no purpose.

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Searching for Clarity

Hair, makeup, skincare. Three simple yet crucial words that encompass most women’s daily lives.

Thousands of women of all ages, from all walks of life, hustled and bustled around the concrete floors of the Phoenix Convention Center where the Ultimate Women’s Expo was taking place. Some of them were there to see the newest and hottest trends in hair, makeup, and skincare while others were there to step away from their homes to spend the day crafting a new fall decor.

I came with a purpose in mind, to gain some insight. I was on a hunt for information. Information on aesthetics and permanent makeup (specifically microblading) programs, details that could guide me towards taking the first step into a new (but intriguing) field.

Currently at a career crossroad between staying in the family business or potentially pursuing my own business (more on this in another post). I wanted information, facts, answers. I wanted clarity and affirmation (from myself). Out of over a hundred vendors showcasing their products, only one was able to shine some (very minimal) light through the dark clouds within my mind. Collett Academy was the only permanent makeup school at the expo (unfortunate, but better than none).

The ladies at the Collett Academy provided some insight into their microblading program but continued to refer me to their website to check out their testimonials. It was pretty offputting seeing that I genuinely had real questions and was seeking real answers. No surprise that even after our brief chit-chat, I’m still at a loss. Those dark clouds that continue to cast doubts in my mind have dispersed slightly, but are still lingering deeply within me.

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Flowing for Charity

There’s no better way to kick start a Saturday morning than rising bright and early for a morning of mindful movement and physical and mental balance. Best of all, it’s all towards raising funds for the Make-A-WIsh Foundation. It’s literally a win-win situation for everyone.

Sponsored by Mountainside Fitness and co-taught by Taylor Wray and Karl Anderson (both are absolutely down-to-earth positive energies), it was an event that one shouldn’t miss. Not only was it a chance to practice outside facing Tempe Townlake it was also a chance for me to reconnect with two beautiful souls who helped me advance my practice to where it is today.

As the sun slowly rises towards the west, the weather felt amazing (under the shade). Unfortunately, once it raised above us, things started to quickly heat up. The good news was that I had my sunnies, but the bad news was that I only applied sunblock on my face and neck (oops), Arizona’s sun is literally no joke. No matter where you are, sunblock is a must have (protect your skin please).

Despite the not-quite sizzling temperatures, the flow (guided by Taylor) was as amazing as I remembered while Karl gave us a little present (core work, my “favorite”) during the restorative. But they say the things that you hate the most are the things that you need the most (someone must have told him my weakness).

Once awaken from shavasana, or corpse pose, hugs were shared and goodbyes were exchanged. The sequence was beyond satisfying (truly missed practicing under their guidance) and was for a great cause (the icing on top). Next time, I’ll remember to apply sunblock everywhere and replace my mat with a mat towel for better grounding (mat and grass are not best friends).

Namaste.

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Whole30 Challenge: Day 2 Recap, Part 2

 

Part 1 Recap:

But a few minutes after…

Bam. It hit me.

Fatigue slowly began creeping into my system, and I knew my dear old friend, food coma, had decided to pay me a visit while bringing their friend, bloating, along with it.

The energy that I once had has become a distant memory.

I’m no biochemist, but I’m pretty sure going from consuming carbohydrates like nobody’s business to completely cutting it cold turkey (with the exception of fruits and vegetables) is affecting my energy. Then again, it could be because it was Friday and I wanted to get my weekend rocking and rolling rather than sitting away at my desk watching the clock tick by.

But where is this bloating coming from? It’s for sure a mystery that has yet to be solved. If my memory serves me well, doesn’t carbohydrates also play a key role in causing bloating? Could it be from consuming too many vegetables (high in fiber)? I guess a simple Google search could do the trick; remember Google is (or will be) your best friend.

To combat the bloating, I fixed myself a quick and light dinner, baked salt and peppered salmon with freshly cubed avocado over a bed of mixed greens. Overall time spent, approximately 25 minutes from start to finish. As a novice “chef,” I’m pretty simple when it comes to food (fewer ingredients, the better in my opinion), and if you’re interested, take a peek at the recipe below.

Baked Salmon and Avocado Salad

What you need:

  • Olive oil
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • Salmon
  • Avocado
  • Mixed greens
  • Dill (optional)
  • Lemon (optional)
  • Pumpkin seeds (optional)
  • Sunflower seeds (optional)
  • Almonds (optional)

Set oven (or toaster oven) to 350 degrees. As the oven heats up, pat down the salmon to remove any excess liquids. On the baking tray or foil, evenly spread a thin coat of olive oil, place the salmon on the baking tray and drizzle a bit of olive oil on top to act as an adhesive for the salt and pepper. Sprinkle some sea salt and black pepper on top and pop try tray in the oven for approximately 15-18 minutes, if you prefer it to be more medium than well done, deduct some minutes. Optional, prior to popping the salmon into the oven, you can slice some lemons and place it on top to add some tang, and/or sprinkling some dill for some herby flavor.

As the salmon is baking, prepare your bowl. Slice an avocado in half, peel the skin off and cube the avocado (if you prefer sliced, feel free to keep them sliced). Grab a handful of mixed greens or two (maybe even three) into your bowl and place the freshly cut avocado into the bowl.

Once the salmon is done, carefully and mindfully (be careful, it’ll be hot so watch those fingers) begin to flake the salmon with a fork. Scoop the flaked salmon into your bowl and voila! It’s ready for consumption. Bon appetit!

Seeds and nuts are always great additions to a salad, unfortunately, I didn’t have any on hand. I also don’t really use any dressing when it comes to eating salads anymore, so I’m not confident in suggesting a dressing that would complement salmon. If you do decide to give it a try, enjoy and please let me know your thoughts!

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Whole30 Challenge: Day 2 Recap, Part 1

The second attempt at day two completed with some hiccups (legitimate ones), and still going strong.

Mornings are like any other mornings, especially during this time of the year where the sun greets us a little later and the moon sleeps in with us a bit longer. But as I strolled into the office bright and (not so) early, I felt like I had a little more energy than I had since I began my trial period. Looks like it was already going to be a start of a good day until lunch time came rolling in.

The night before, I prepared a Thai red curry with shrimp, vegetables, and cauliflower rice. It sounded delicious in my mind so why not give it a try? Being a shopper of convenience, I bought all my groceries at Safeway, from an assortment of vegetables to the Thai ingredients. Lesson learned, when it comes to Asian products, go to an Asian market. More than likely the prices will be a bit cheaper and a larger selection of brands to choose from. Safeway only carried one brand of Thai products, Thai Kitchen, which was an utter disappointment (0/10, would not recommend to a friend). After combining the red curry paste and coconut milk together, it honestly reminded me of alfredo sauce (no joke), with a minuscule hint of heat.

After a few tweaks and an addition of pineapple chunks to give it another dimension of flavor, it was complete. It tasted pretty good for a novice “chef,” until the next day, day two. Unaware that the acidity from pineapple causes the protein to lose its texture, I was in for a big surprise. The flavor was still there, but the shrimp became mushy (gross). Another lesson learned, don’t combine and store pineapples (or any acidic fruit) with a protein. Believe me, you don’t want to eat mushy proteins.

But a few minutes after…

Bam. It hit me.

Fatigue slowly began creeping into my system, and I knew my dear old friend, food coma, had decided to pay me a visit while bringing their friend, bloating, along with it.

To be continued in part two, stay tuned!

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Whole30 Challenge: Day 1 (again) Recap

Wait, what? Again?

No, this isn’t my second time around with this challenge, it’s still my first go-around. I originally began the thirty days on October 1, 2018, but right before the fourth day, I made a simple, yet detrimental (to this challenge), mistake. I drank a tall Peach Tranquility Herbal Tea from Starbucks. Sounds delicious and harmless, right? It was absolutely delicious and most definitely one of the more healthier options available. I was entranced by the thought of sipping a peach flavored tea instead of reading the description of the ingredients thoroughly. That was my biggest blunder. The tea is infused with candied peaches. So we all know what that means… I’m back at square one, but this time with an even better awareness towards reading the ingredients.

Similar to my original first day, I felt exhausted and sluggish. Maybe it was because I didn’t have my usual cup of Joe? Maybe it was lack of sleep? Or both? It’s hard to say for certain with so many variables. With similarities, there are also differences. Prior to this challenge, I snacked every now and then, never at odd hours as I also leniently follow intermittent fasting. But last night, during meal prep, I couldn’t stop snacking. I had to consciously tell myself to pause before I gobbled everything in sight. Remember, everything is all about moderation, not simply when it comes to food, but life in general.

Looking back, that slip up may have actually been a blessing in disguise. Rather than focusing it as a setback, I’m viewing it as a trial period before the real deal. If not for that bump along the road, I wouldn’t be as prepared as I currently am to face the next twenty-eight days.

Committing to the Whole30 is not just a physical challenge, it is very much a mental challenge as well, but I’m excited to document the next thirty days and see where it takes me. Sit back, relax, and let’s take this journey together.

Some general (maybe helpful) tips that I have learned along the way:

  • Even if something sounds healthy and harmless, check the ingredients as a safety precaution
  • Google is going to be your new best friend, if not already
  • If you’re a snacker like me, avoid meal prepping at night
  • If you make a mistake, don’t beat yourself over it. No one’s perfect, just breath and start anew

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