The Observer

To be present.  To be present in observing the battle for life.  To be present in observing someone you love fight to stay alive.

It is likely that descriptions of such an experience wax ripe with platitudes, “s/he is so brave.”  “The sun will rise after the storm.” “I am a turtle and so are you.” [Okay, I’m kidding about the last one.]

I wouldn’t know, really, about which platitudes are shared.  I haven’t spoken honestly with many people about what it’s like to be present while someone you love slowly, then at times in sudden bursts, dies.

I do know I’ve been told, again and again, that I’m lucky to have this time to spend with the person I love, as they fight.  The offerers of this force-fed “be grateful for what you have” are not wrong.  They’re not.  I am lucky to have extra time.  They’re also not altogether right.  Because what is it they think the time is filled with?  Leisurely park walks and picnics?  Laughter over popcorn in movie theaters?  Life as we knew it?  No.  That is not what being present in observing a battle for life is like.  Not at all.

Perhaps more sufficiently described, observing a battle for life includes the following unspeakable truths:

Dying of a horrible, incurable disease smells.  Not in the “gee, that stinks” way.  It literally emanates  puzzling and altogether dehumanizing odors.  It smells and we never talk about it.  It’s the smell, the chemotherapy wafting from pours, the vomit, that stay with you when you attempt to process what is happening.  It’s the smells that keep you awake at night.  It’s the smells that drive me to clean with never-before-seen fury.  Dying of cancer reeks.  And it is a terrifying reek.

Fighting for a chance to prolong life sounds like the periodic beep-chush-beep-chush-beep-chush of slow release chemo through a portacath.  It sounds like a body being slowly poisoned:  moans escaping clenched teeth from a dark back bedroom. Fighting to stay alive sounds like the empty reverberation of a wall clock, tick-tock-tick-tock, filling the otherwise expansive hours spent dozing like sunbathing cats.

Observing the end of a life tastes bland.  The food at the end of your life is sugar-free jello and lukewarm vegetable broth in styrofoam cups.  It is gastric tubes protruding from nostrils.  It is a delicious meal ingested and then torturously digested over the subsequent hours, observable through moans and vigil held at the ‘porcelain throne’.  There is no decadent series of last, or otherwise favorite, meals when slowly dying of gastro-intestinal diseases.  There is only, “you must eat, you must try.”

Witnessing the end of life looks like a pale, bespectacled, sloppily bed-headed pajama party.  It looks like showering every third day. It looks like the sun slowly shifting its shadow through rooms as it parades across the sky, hour-after-hour, in the quiet.   It looks forever like four PM, the hour between what could have been a day’s work and before the night’s rest, my least favorite time of day, the loneliest hour invented.

The observation of suffering feels.  It simply feels.  It feels like the impetus that caused me to temporarily lose my mind earlier this year [though not temporary enough to keep my entire universe from imploding].  It feels like the straw the broke me and subsequently the straw upon which I am rebuilding.  It feels like the comments you can’t forget, proffered during your blaze of imploding glory, “why are you letting yourself fall apart like this? Everyone’s parents eventually die!” It feels like the reason you drank to black-out for months and consequently the reason you no longer drink, at all.  It feels like, well, a cancer that runs through everything you do, pre-and post- razing your life to the ground. It feels.  But, the feeling is no longer too much to handle, no longer too much to face.  It now, just, feels, thrum-thrum-thrum, like a beating heart: “I’m-still-here. I’m-still-here. I’m-still-here.”

Observing someone battle to stay alive is something we don’t talk about.  And, in small ways, the observers feel parts of themselves slowly dying, too, in the silence. For, in every minute of every unchanging day, the world continues to no longer be recognizable as your new adjusted normal slips away again, and again, and again.

My family’s experience is at once entirely un-unique and entirely never-before-witnessed. It is, at once, a completely survivable experience and one that threatens to tear us to shreds.  It is life, the rain hammers around the experience so we cannot focus solely on coping with The Dying, life is compounded by divorce and unemployment and confusion and car wrecks and devastation.  It is also surrounded by, and survivable because of, love.  So much love.  I was never aware of the love that surrounded me and my family, because I never so openly accepted it.  Now, simply put, I cannot survive without it.  So, yes, please don’t feel sorry for us, but thank you, oh my, thank you, for loving us and teaching us how to accept that love.  Thank you for propping us up, keeping us awake, keeping us alive.  Thank you.

May we all speak with honesty.  Thank you for hearing mine.

 

The Books of 2015

Yes, it’s–more or less–that time of year again!  Like last year I will list the books I read this calendar year!

And, just like last year, why not include the following as well!

Some other bests of 2014 2015:

Movie:  I watched so few this year. . . .maybe. . . .Star Wars? (though, I fell asleep).

Concert: I didn’t go to any!😦

Job: Self-employed yoga teacher in Lagos, Nigeria!

Holiday travel: this year I added 7 new countries to the “where I’ve been list” and loved them all:  Ghana, Spain, Georgia, Benin, Togo, Argentina, Chile!

Life lesson(s): (1) Good for [her/him/them] not (necessarily) for me; (2) everything is what it is.

Now, the book list*:

*Editor’s note:  2015 was the year of really, really good literature!  I read a lot of amazing books.  A lot!  Hard to pick a favorite, but Solnit is simply magic.

**Editor’s note’s note:  Any book with a * is absolutely recommended to any person.  In fact, I beg you to read!

Best book of 2015:  A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

And, now, in chronological order, the stories that filled my mind for the past 12-months:

  1.  Euphoria by Lily King**
  2. Never Let me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
  3. Department of Speculation by Jenny Offill
  4. Every Day is for the Thief by Teju Cole
  5. The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell
  6. Missoula by Jon Krakauer*
  7. The Map Thief by Michael Blanding
  8. Empire of Sin:  a Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist
  9. A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit***
  10. A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson
  11. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  12. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng*
  13. We are Called to Rise by Laura McBride
  14. Circling the Sun by Paula McLain*
  15. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper
  16. What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty
  17. The Dinner by Herman Koch
  18. Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit***
  19. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  20. Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff**
  21. Dear Life by Alice Munro
  22. The Martian by Andy Weir
  23. Facing East by Carol Lynn Pearson
  24. The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood
  25. Purity by Jonathan Franzen
  26. The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion
  27. Zeitoun by Dave Egers
  28. The Cartel by Don Winslow
  29. The Circle by Dave Egers*
  30. Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson*
  31. Let’s Pretend this Never Happened by Jenny Lawson
  32. The Life we Bury by Allen Eskens
  33. Eat and Run by Scott Jurek
  34. Trail of Broken Wings by Sejal Badani

Things I cannot be silent about

in which I want everyone to know that YOU ARE ENOUGH.

Friends, this blog is a silly mish-mash of my thoughts on things from the more serious (see posts of years past) to the less serious (see posts about recipes and workout routines).  And, when I made this blog public almost 1.5 years ago to affiliate it with my health and wellness business, I’ve used it to both keep me focused on the positive and share positivity.
thinkdobepositiveAnd, well, today I need to call upon those magical blog forces.  Because, frankly, there’s a lot of hurt in the world, and today it weighs heavily on my heart and mind.

Our physical world is a smash of elements aligned together to simultaneously create and justify creation.  The gaps in our scientific knowledge hindering our ability to explain the natural world are, therefore, filled in by socially-constructed rules of normativity.  Ergo, we exist in a space that is at once logical and . . . well, ill-logical.  And, we are left to navigate through this thing we call consciousness, trying to make sense of the ways in which the scientific world overlaps with our socially constructed norms.

And, by so doing, I believe we’ve established structures to bestow meaning on what, at times, can be understood as little more than chaos.  And, sometimes, those structures. . . .well. . . .sometimes those structures damage people to such a degree that they never recover.  Sometimes those structures destroy people.  I have seen it happen.  I have lost people I love.  And, I think about these people every.single.day.

I cannot be silent about it.

So, in light of what I can understand as nothing short of hatred, I found myself wanting to get really, really angry.  Cry.  And, kick.

Fortunately (?), almost as soon as I had these immense feelings of anger, it resonated in me that getting angry in the face of anger does not make anger moot.  If anything, it only fans the flames of anger, letting it grow and fester.  This isn’t useful.  Or helpful.  There’s enough anger in the world.  Enough pain.  In trying to “solve” an issue, I shouldn’t add to the suffering.

So, instead of getting angry (or, in trying NOT to get angry) about certain events in the news I’m going to try, instead, to give an offering of love and genuine support.
tumblr_mkig8gpW1X1s95onto1_500Because, in spite of scientific inadequacies, knowledge gaps, social norms, cultural norms, language barriers, cosmic inference. . . .in spite of all these variables, I believe each person is enough.  Exactly as we are.  Right now.  In this moment.
you-are-enoughYou are enough.  And, there is nothing wrong with you.

You deserve love.  You deserve to share love.  You are loved.
largeWe are enough, and there is nothing wrong with us.  Right now, in this moment, exactly as we are.  We are enough.  And we are love.
polls_gay_prague_4052_541319_answer_1_xlargeAnd, please, please dear loved ones, please consider all sides (scientific, social, cultural, structural) to an issue before you levy devastating verdicts against yourself and your worthiness to fill this world with your presence.

Please, dear loved ones, give love a chance to find you.  Please, dear loved ones, listen to the #flipside if and as you’re able.  Because, negativity is not the only way.  Sometimes, or all the time, we can accept that we are simply ENOUGH.  All of us.
never_forget_you_are_lovedLove and light and hugs and puppy kisses and kitten snuggles to each of you.

I love you.
32dd6e82e2cd7c68d9af288a5f4343e4
You are enough.

Love,

Dani
8dc69e3fc6b5940202eb29a61bdaa907

Swim Workout & Weekend Update!

12196288_1050767034962948_458134562193589971_nin which Apollo says, “HAPPY MONDAY, HOOOOMANS!!!!”
And Artemis rightly replies. . . .
IMG_9494Noooooooooooo.  Not Monday!  The hooman world is just too much!

And, in their own way. . . they’re each spot on!

Alas, alas, some words of wisdom for my fur-babies.
Life is tricky. . .but it’s also full of magic!
IMG_9422.2015-10-12_095829
This weekend was glorious, as most weekends are.  Fantastic weather, no work-related tasks.  Expansive hours to fill. . .with anything I wanted!  I tell you what.  Weekends are the greatest thing ever invented.

Another greatest thing ever invented is the swimming pool.  See Exhibit A, aka my pool here in Nigeria.  I decided, among my many other workouts this weekend, to get a little killer swim workout in!  It was a beautiful, sunny, day and let me tell you, my tan lines on my back have never been more pronounced and I had a blast!
IMG_8484.2015-06-27_141430Here’s the workout that I more or less made up on the spot:

SWIM WORKOUT!
from a non-swimmer
for non-swimmers!

Warm-up:
arm swings and stretches,
plus 10 laps in the pool.

Workout part-1:
5-laps with pull buoy (what’s a pull buoy?  Click here!)
aka ‘arms only swim’

Workout part-2:
5-laps with kick board
aka ‘legs only swim’

Workout part-3:
5-rounds / 10-laps of EBEH!
aka Easy-Build-Easy-Hard!
aka one pool length swam at ‘easy’ effort,
next pool length builds on that effort, (1-lap)
next pool length swam at ‘easy’ effort,
final pool length swam as ‘hard’ as possible, (2-laps).

Cool-down:
3 easy laps to equal one-total mile swam in a 25-yard pool!

I don’t consider myself a swimmer at all.  But, really, I love swimming!  Love it!  It’s great.  :-)IMG_9426.2015-10-12_130910In other news. . . .sometimes I am amazing at ugly yoga.  ha ha ha. And sometimes (most of the time) the wall is my best friend.
IMG_9415.2015-10-10_173805I’m now one-week away from taking off on R&R #2 and I can’t wait.  That means only five more mornings of waking at 4:30 AM to get a killer HIIT workout in before work (I can workout at far more reasonable hours while on vacation!)

I don’t know how anyone can expect me to concentrate, to be honest!  Alas, alas, work duties do still call, and I must heed them.

So, I’ll leave you with something I’m pondering lately, plus loads of love and light.  You’re all ENOUGH, just as you are!
12193717_1056205141080195_5774264206262302662_nNamaste and kitten love!
IMG_9456.2015-10-14_164007IMG_9165.2015-09-08_073943

Update, Vegan Almond Cheese Recipe, & a new Workout!

Happy Humpday!

Whoosh!  Time is really flyin’ folks.  How is it the end of OCTOBER 2015?!  Didn’t I just move to Nigeria?!  Now, I’ve almost been here a year.  Half-way point, baby!  Wow!  Makes me so happy I want to stand on my. . .chin. . .🙂12140565_1044453362260982_4723019381448501915_n (1)I’m simply in the thick of routine-city.  Nothing too out of the ordinary happening these days.  Which, if I’m honest, is a welcome relief!  Get up early, workout, take care of neighbor’s animals, go to work, talk to people and write stuff, walk home from work, maybe workout a bit more, read, play with animals, go to bed.  Repeat!

I did, however, break things up a tiny bit to teach yoga to a group of Girl Scouts at the International School yesterday.  Let me tell ya, these ladies have energy!  It was a lot of fun!  With queuing like, “be a tree! jump back! be a snake!  be a dog!” how can a yoga class not be fun?!  I also wore a shirt I considered apropos for the event, that I found online at A Mighty Girl.  :-)
12046634_1048353288537656_4206147904216236184_n 12112034_10100536708698579_3852883385411190047_nGiven this, I have nothing too exciting to report, so I thought to share one of the workouts I created for myself last week.  It was somewhat long, but really fun, so it went by quickly!  Give it a try and let me know what you think!12140613_1045164212189897_7817895370484524543_n

DEATH BY ROWING!!🙂
No rower? No problem!
Substitute sprinting
for the same distance instead!

Repeat each set of two moves five times before moving on to the next!

5 Rounds For Time (RFT):
200m row
30 air squats

followed by

5 RFT: 
400m row
10 burpees

followed by

5 RFT:
200m row
30 tuck jumps / jump rope
(I switched mid-way as my hip started to hurt)

followed by

5 RFT:
400m row
30 in-and-out sit-ups on Bosu ball

IMG_9717
Love my trusty WOD Whipper!
12043103_1046354662070852_687961848382401299_n
My workout room. . .post-early morning workout self-thrashing!  :-)

In other news, I’ve been quite the kitchen aficionado lately.  I’ve successfully mastered a few new vegan recipes that I’m fairly proud of!  In my last post I introduced my homemade vegan yogurt!  I’ve made quite a few batches now and have started taking a serving to work in the morning for breakfast!  I add frozen berries, part of a banana, and some hemp hearts for fun!
image2 (1)Today, I’m stoked to introduce a new type of Vegan cheese!  Vegan Almond Cheese! I’m more or less inspired by a combination of these two recipes: one from Rawmazing and the other from One Green Planet!  Check ’em out!

I had to order a few of the items (cheese cloth, and pro-biotics for example) prior to being able to start this process.  It was a long three-week wait for the diplomatic pouch to arrive!  But when it did last weekend, boy did I immediately start cooking!  And, if I can do it, you can do it!

Raw Vegan Almond Cheese!

Total time:
Only a few minutes of work each day, but process takes 48+ hours!

Supplies:
1.  Blender/food processor
2. Cheese cloth/nut-milk bag

Ingredients:
1. 1 cup skinless almonds
2. 3/4 c distilled water
3. 2 TBSP Olive Oil
4. 3 TBSP lemon juice
5. 1 clove garlic (optional)
6. pinch of salt
7. probiotics (optional)

Directions:
1.  soak almonds in distilled water, covered completely, over night
2.  Place all ingredients above in food processor.  Blend until smooth.
3.  Poor mixture into cheese cloth
4.  Give a light squeeze and place in refrigerator over night to set
5.  If you want to create a rind, you can now place it in the oven at 250*F for 45-minutes (or until skin slightly brown/firms).
6.  VOILA!!! AMAZING CHEESE!!!!!

image1 (4)
Nuts getting an over night soaky-soak!
image2 (3)
After a whirl in the food processor, inside cheese cloth
image2 (2)
Ready to be baked for rind to form!
image1 (2)
Final, amazing, product!  I made three kinds of cheeses:
Garlic and Thyme
Rosemary and Thyme
and Chili Pepper!

Seriously so amazing, easy, delicious, and healthy!  Give it a try!

In other news, I found this while perusing the internet and loved it.  If you know me, you know I’m prone to dancing in public at any.given.moment without provocation.  It’s basically my favorite thing ever.  And, it’s true, it really is liberating!  image2 (4)And, finally, adult coloring books are, like, all the rage these days.  I was really taken by a piece I saw about this one in particular: The Time Chamber by Daria Song.  Call it an impulse order, but I simply had to have it!
image1 (1)It arrived last night, and I started coloring right away.  I cannot emphasize enough how therapeutic I found it!  Seriously, if you’re looking for something relaxing to do in the evenings while watching TV, preparing for bed, chatting with friends, etc, consider coloring instead of snacking!  How fun is that?!

Finally, we are THIRTEEN days away from our trip to Patagonia!  I can’t wait!  So, I’ll leave you with this final image, from National Geographic, here:
itinerary-header

RECIPE: Easy Homemade Vegan Yogurt!

Happy Monday, Fit Fam!

My weekend consisted of precisely three things: 1) vegan baking, 2) working out, and 3) relaxing by the pool [something you can do in October when you live in the tropics!]!
12118937_1043019519071033_7904332862341041937_nFun, fun, fun!  Yes!

Of the awesome things I learned how to make this weekend, I must say the following is by far my favorite!

VEGAN YOGURT!  Homemade!  In my crock pot!

Several months ago I bought Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter from my favorite of favorite’s: Thrive Market.
image2I’d been meaning to try it out, but simply hadn’t gotten around to it until this weekend!

The pack comes with four separate starters and instructions.  The instructions aren’t complicated, but do require very specific temperature regulation.  I wasn’t sure my attention span and patience for cooking could accommodate them, so I went online to see if there were alternative methods on the interwebs.

Alas, of course, there were.  So, I decided to try this recipe, from the blog Green Leaves & Jam.  Only, modifying it because, instead of using a can of vegan yogurt (as there isn’t any sold in this country) I substituted the starter pack!  Otherwise, I used the below more or less verbatim (I left it out more than 10-hours before putting it in the fridge, more like 14! he he).

EASY VEGAN CROCK POT YOGURT!

 Ingredients

  • 4 cups plain, unsweetened non-dairy milk, aka one quart / one boxy thing.  (Soy milk rocked my socks.  I tried Rice milk and it bombed.  The Cultures for Health starter says don’t use almond milk. I also hear that Coconut milk doesn’t work well, either.  So, yeah, soy milk, FTW.)
  • 1 pack of Cultures for Health Vegan Yogurt Starter
image1

Directions (mostly c+p from Green Leaves & Jam)

  1. Place the 4 cups of non-dairy milk in your crock pot (the milk should be at room temperature before starting this). Turn the crock pot on to low and let it cook in there for 2½ hours.
  2. After the 2½ hours are up, turn off your crock pot and let the milk sit again for 2 more hours.
  3. When the 2 hours are up, remove about 1 cup of warmed milk from the crock pot and mix the yogurt “starter” with that 1 cup of milk. Once it is well mixed, add it all back into the crock pot and stir it well with a whisk.
  4. Remove the glass container from the crock pot base and wrap it well in a towel. Place the wrapped crock pot in your oven (which should be OFF!!!) for 8-10 hours. I have also placed my wrapped crock pot inside my larger crock pot container and placed it in a cupboard on days when I know I will need to use my oven and this works great for me as well.*
  5. Remove from the oven and place into your fridge until cool.
  6. If the yogurt separated some, remove the separated liquid and then store the yogurt in your fridge.
  7. *The longer you let the yogurt sit in the dark oven the more sour it will become, but the thicker it becomes as well.

IMG_9496OILA!
AMAZINGNESS!
image3
Pretty stinkin’ proud of the way this turned out.
Nom. Nom. Nom.
image4
(remind me that I’m not a good photographer so shouldn’t try
to take ‘artistic’ photos of food.   ha ha ha.)

Seriously!  Delicious!  I already ate it all.  And am working through my second batch.  But, believe me, if I can make this, so can you!

Finally, I’m working on working on my attitude about things (feeling claustrophobic and confined lately. . .time for R&R!), and found this little picture and loooooooved it!
IMG_9502Have a happy Monday, friends!
12122798_1043770098995975_2015903343328535866_n
Namaste!

Why I am Vegetarian

Let me start by saying, I believe in choice.  I believe that all people have the right to choose their moral boundaries, predicated on their lack of harmful impact on others around them.

Likewise, I believe that how–and to a larger extent, WHAT–people choose to eat is a deeply personal thing.  Also, food options can, and are, largely impacted by a person’s external environment (be it economic, spatial, cultural, etc).ChoiceI mention this all in an effort to say, I accept you, even if you disagree with me.  In the same breath, I write this all in an effort to say, thank you for likewise creating space for me to be me.🙂

I’ve toyed with vegetarianism for years.  I went vegetarian for the first time in high school, because it seemed like a ‘cool’ thing to do.  Potential increased cool-factor is not, however, a sticking point for me, so this choice didn’t last.  I went vegetarian again a few times in college, because of a belief that it would make me ‘skinny’ (don’t get me started on my relationship to food from that angle).  I went vegetarian again while living in Thailand. . . until I started CrossFit and realized I couldn’t fit in without eating (hordes and hordes of) meat.

After my foray as an avid member of the CrossFit ‘cult’ (love and light, CrossFitters! I do love you!) I decided that I’d stop, finally stop, tinkering with my diet and just. . .eat real food.  Even meat (despite the fact I don’t like it).

And then. . .yoga teacher training happened.  And, I saw this sentence in an email orienting me to what I could expect during my Spring Intensive at Yoga District in DC:

“You are welcome to eat and drink in the studio room during lunch and other breaks, but no animal products are permitted (this is not to offend anyone, but we will explain why on the first day of training).”

I remember thinking. . . “ohhhhhhhhh no. . . . . . .here we go again!  Another fitness modality, another set of dietary rules!

And, to a certain extent, I was right.  But, to a larger extent, I wasn’t.downloadMy amazing YTT instructor introduced us to the eight limbs of yoga on the first day of class.  These eight limbs combine together to create a ‘pathway’, so to speak.  This pathway can lead us to a place where we are connected to our true selves, and likewise free from suffering (remember how I teased my CrossFit friends a moment ago about being in a cult? he he.  Yes, I’m aware how similar what I’m writing sounds!).  One of these eight limbs is the concept of ahimsa, or non-harming. BackgroundYogaSutrasCh1PreviewPatanjali’s Yoga Sutra, one of yoga’s primary texts, states on ahimsa:

2.35 As a Yogi becomes firmly grounded in non-injury (ahimsa), other people who come near will naturally lose any feelings of hostility.
(ahimsa pratishthayam tat vaira-tyagah)

or in another translation:

ahimsa-pratishthayam tat-sannidhau vaira-tyagah (PYS II.35)
When you stop harming others, others will cease to harm you.

Meaning, simply, consider not-harming other beings around you (yourself included).  When you do this, those things cease to have power to harm you.

The teacher then expounded on the yogic belief that all beings love life, animals included.  And, if we are to truly engage in the belief of non-harming, we should likewise not harm animals.

Of course, being a long-time animal lover, and summarily incapable of watching animal slaughter in any form (forget about watching the Discovery Channel.  Nope.  Never going to happen.), this resonated with me.

But, I couldn’t just give up meat eating right away.

I went through the entire training and still ate meat afterward.  But, I did begin to focus the theme of my yoga practice and meditation on my personal relationship to the concept of ahimsa.  If I were to give up meat, I wanted it to be something I felt personally convicted to.  I did not want it to be a choice thrust upon me, or gone into half-heartedly.

After completing YTT I immediately began teaching.  And, the longer I taught, the more hypocritical it felt to eat meat.  I began to really consider the life I’d ended to support my body, when, as a North American, so many other, equally-healthy, options existed.12108244_1042571485782503_1374469739414702777_nStill months passed and nothing changed.

Until finally, something clicked.

All beings love life.  01ac2d63459141cf5b0e8c072353dd02

I have access to all the nutrients my body needs in plant form.  I am lucky enough not to live in a location of famine.  I recognize the consciousness in animals around me.  I recognize their ability to think.  I acknowledge their attempts at life-saving preservation in the face of slaughter.  I find modern meat production a deplorable practice.  I cannot accept cruelty to humans, and I cannot accept cruelty to beings over which humans consider themselves stewards.  I do not need meat to be healthy.  And, likewise, I do not want to increase the suffering already present in our world.  There are millions who suffer, some say it is the human condition.  Given this, why support the institutionalization of suffering?  We cannot track the impact suffering has energetically on 1) the meat we are eating (for surely, the animal experienced pain and trauma in death) and 2) our environment, writ large (seriously, please consider clicking that link.  The meat industry’s impact on our environment is astoundingly horrific.  Earth.  Our only home.).

And, just like that, I stopped eating meat.

This was more than a year ago now.  And, I haven’t eaten meat (even in some dinners where I’ve been graciously hosted, but where my kind hosts don’t understand that meat = fish, too, and serve it to me.🙂 I politely pick around it) since the moment it all clicked.tumblr_mchyeaVITW1r6jc0lo1_500And, frankly, I’ve never felt better about a personal conviction.  It has not been a challenge to not eat meat.  Not in the slightest.  In fact, I take great comfort when hearing stories of wildlife trafficking (so rampant in my part of the world), or cruel slaughter practices, knowing that I take no part in those institutions through my vegetarianism.  It is such a relief, I cannot even describe it to you. [in fact, if I’m honest, I struggle to understand individuals who purport to abhore such practices but still eat meat.  Love and light.  :-)]11325891_676698619101047_1537373123_nLikewise, if I don’t say so myself, my muscle tone is as good as ever.  Yes, I am very conscientious about my plant-based protein intact.  It’s not easy, at first, but with access to the internet, you can take very good care of yourself without harming animals!  So, my all plant diet leaves me with the same abs as I had when eating meat (in case that’s an argument that appeals to you)🙂.
12109089_1042513639121621_5618415489822199452_nFinally, I’ll leave you with a beautifully written article that I love.  It so encapsulates how I feel about vegetarianism.

In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali gives us five recommendations, called yamas, for how we should treat others if we want to attain liberation. The first yama is ahimsa, which means “non-harming.” Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati explains that “non-harming” means “abstinence from ill will toward all living beings in every way and at all times.” The yogi tries to cause the least amount of harm and suffering to others possible.

Compassion is an essential ingredient of ahimsa. Through compassion, you begin to see yourself in other beings. Compassion trains the mind to see beyond outer differences of form. You begin to catch glimpses of the inner essence of other beings, which is happiness. You begin to see that every single creature desires happiness.  When you recognize that cows, pigs, and chickens, as well as all animals raised for food, want happiness just like you do, you recognize kindred souls. The distinction between you and other beings wears thin as awareness begins to dawn.

We cannot change the suffering that has already happened in our lives, but future suffering can be avoided. A benefit of not causing others to suffer is that we ourselves will eventually, but inevitably, become free from suffering. We may mistakenly think that to refrain from harming another brings benefit only to that other, and not to ourselves. Many non-vegans may even look upon vegans as depriving themselves of enjoyment by refraining from eating meat, dairy and eggs. But when you understand how karma works and how yoga works, you begin to realize that how you treat others now determines how much suffering or joy you experience in your future.

In the case of eating meat, fish, eggs and dairy products, the suffering may occur relatively quickly in the form of health problems like heart disease, stroke, or cancer. But most often the karmic seeds of violence, like all seeds, take time to gestate, sprout, and grow. One may not see the results of one’s harmful actions right away. In fact, the negative seeds we plant now may not come to fruition until future lifetimes.

By enslaving other animals and abusing them through lifelong torture, degradation and eventual slaughter, we deprive them of freedom and happiness. How can we ourselves hope to be free or happy when our own lives are rooted in depriving others of the very thing we say we value most in life – the freedom to pursue happiness? If you want to bring more peace and happiness into your own life, the method is to stop causing violence and unhappiness in the lives of others.  We cannot demand something that we ourselves are not willing to embody.

Through the practice of yoga and veganism, we can realize that we were meant to live in harmony with all the other animals and all of life. We come to know that our physical bodies function better without having to instill fear into others and to kill them, and that there is no nutrient that we need that we can’t get directly from plant sources or from sunlight. We come to recognize that our old bodies can be transformed and become light and whole – holy bodies, used as vehicles to bring peace. The fork can be a powerful weapon of mass-destruction or a tool to lead a movement of peaceful coexistence. Eating a compassionate vegan diet will stop war, create peace in one’s body, peace with the animal nations, and peace on Earth.

-Sharon Gannon, adapted from Yoga and Vegetarianism

Thank you so much for reading.  Thank you, likewise, for creating space for these beliefs.  Love and light and compassion abound!eyoreNamaste!
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Current Obsessions!

I’m 1.5 weeks into ‘recovery’ mode, and feeling better. . .but still sluggish with bouts of yick thrown in here and there.

Ergo, aside from work, I’ve more or less secluded myself into my humble abode, venturing outside only for the most necessary things (like sun bathing by the pool, I know, I know).

Given this, I’ve had ample time to reacquaint myself with some of my tried and true favorite things in the universe, and found a few more that I’m dying to share!

So, in no particular order, my current obsessions:

  1.  Yoga!  Probably not a ‘current’ obsession, in that I’ve long been ‘obsessed’, but a renewed one.  After being waylaid by my hip injury and infections, I’ve felt myself drawn back to yoga.  Yogis Anonymous continues to SAVE ME on this overseas assignment.  I love their classes now as much as ever.(they don’t sponsor me, I just love them that much)
    12105950_1041296295910022_697333649793841207_nYogis-Anonymous_medium
  2. NFL Game Pass!  This isn’t new, really, but it’s new to us!  We finally figured out how to get it to work here in Nigeria!  And, last night at least, we had strong enough internet to watch the Seahawks game!  (yes, I know they lost in overtime to Cincinnati, sigh) We had some neighbors over and it felt like we were in the U.S.A. if only for a few hours!
    National-Football-League_-NFL.com-Game-Pass-Be-a-World-Wide-Receiver-1 12079626_10153296921837144_1538696101495401559_n
  3. Cold Weather Company!  They’re a new band out of New ‘Joisey’ in the USA.  And I really love their sound!  I’ve been listening to them quite a lot and it makes me happy!  Seriously, check them out!  Especially if you’re on the East Coast-Beast Coast!
    images (1)
  4. Fates and Furies!  I read this book a few books ago and loved it.  Love, love, loved it.  So good!  About relationships, and honesty, and. . .well. . .all that lies therein.  I seriously loved it and recommend it whole-heartedly!  Check it out!
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  5. Chrome Cast Games! Similar to figuring how to watch the NFL in Nigeria, I can take no credit for figuring out how to play ridiculous, but fun, multi-player games on the TV with the mister.  He figured it out, and now we can play all my favorite word games, a dance-dance-revolution-esque game, and karaoke galore, all from the TV!  FUNNN! (again, not a plug.  no sponsorship!)
    jdnow
  6. PLANNING OUR NEXT R&R!
    Have I mentioned (a trillion times?) that we’re going to PATAGONIA in just under one month from now?  Have I dropped that fact yet?  ;-)  Well, we are, and I seriously can’t wait.  Not even a little bit.  I mean, aside from some fantastic treks, we’ll also, you know, be kayaking through the Strait of Magellan!  Like ya do!😉
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Likewise, two articles that I found this week that are equally interesting, awesome, thought-provoking, and inspiring:

Jane Fonda jogs in place as she joins an early morning exercise class  at her Jane Fonda Workout Studio in Beverly Hills, Calif., December 15, 1983.   She joined in on the exercises to put to rest recent rumors that she had been suffering from heart problems.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

Jane Fonda jogs in place as she joins an early morning exercise class at her Jane Fonda Workout Studio in Beverly Hills, Calif., December 15, 1983. She joined in on the exercises to put to rest recent rumors that she had been suffering from heart problems. (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)

This one on why it was easier to be “skinny” in the 1980s.  Basically, the three main take-aways are 1) we have more processed crap and chemicals in our environment today than before, 2) we take more prescription drugs, and 3) we eat more, and even more of the wrong kind, of MEAT!  Very interesting read.  I highly recommend it.  I’ve had numerous clients able to own the energy in v. energy out balance and not lose the extra, unhealthy weight.  I’ve long thought it was a result of environmental factors.  I think there’s something to it.  For sure!

And this one about this amazing United Statesian woman who plans to hike from the ends of Argentina to Alaska!  I mean, seriously, now.  How incredible is that.  I’m more than a bit envious of the concept.  We should all follow her journey with her!
Andes-Mountains-Patagonia-Argentina

Finally, I’ll leave with a thought I’ve pondered on a lot this week, as it relates to both my injury and subsequent recovery, and life in general. . .1690377_1610440399231514_844894633_n12115876_1040790522627266_8427821595853547262_nLove and light and happiness to you!

Waylaid by Infection(S); a Difficult Week

in which it’s been a very difficult week. And, finally, some fitspo I love!

I’m not super well, friends.  I’m not laying-in-death-bed ill but definitely not up to speed.  It’s been a difficult week, health-wise.  I won’t go in to the details (because nobody really wants to hear the details of an injury or illness), but suffice it to say I’ve been to one or more doctors / health units every single day since my last post, with three visits on Friday alone.12036639_10153266196372144_7372376010005299629_nThe diagnosis of infection in my hip-area is true, but the treatment I was originally placed on was not correct.  Turns out I have both pelvic inflammatory disease AND trochanteric bursitis in my iliopsoas, plus greater AND lesser trochantor!  Basically, my entire hip is inflamed and has been for the past five-weeks and I had a secret, far more serious, infection lurking in the same neighborhood.250912032442hip-anatomy-illiopsoas-trochanteric-bursaeHow I got bursitus in every busae of my hip isn’t a surprise.  4-months of running circles on concrete (not asphalt! concrete is much harder and less foriging!) will do that to anyone.  Rest is the only remedy, and now that the marathon is over, rest is what I can give my hip!

How I got pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) is still up in the air.  The google savvy among you might be blushing on my behalf, but the most common reason people get PID isn’t why I have it.  It seems possible E. Coli is the culprit.  My linguinal lymph nodes were / are HUGE, which is why the doctor originally thought my bursae were infected.  Instead, something far more serious was going on. . .unrelated to my hip. . .but in the same general area.  I had to have an ultra sound Friday, and then go immediately on to IV fluid Friday night.  I am now on enough drugs to tranquilize a horse.

So, first giardia in my gut, and now E. Coli in my pelvis.  Sigh.  Nigeria is trying to kill me!

All that to say, these two things combined explain why I’ve been in near constant pain for over a month in and around my hip area.

I believe, however, that I am on the mend.  Finally having the right diagnosis, and ruling out the more serious issues (though, left untreated, the PID could’ve become fatally serious), I feel confident everything is heading in the right direction.

Now it’s just the healing game.

And, if I’m honest, I’m a little bit scared, for the first time in my life, about my environment’s impact on my health.  Friday was really, truly rough.  I was in tears for a solid 30-minutes in the doctor’s office during my examination (trust me. . .it HURT. . and if you’re male. . .well, be glad you’re male).  And, when I got home, finally, after 6-hours with three different doctors, I was practically shaking.

So great was my fear that something could go wrong(er) I cancelled, at the very last second, a work-trip that I’d been looking forward to all week.  The doctor had told me to be sure I didn’t start running a fever in the next 24-hours, and if I did, I was to head to the ER.  Sigh.  Last thing I needed to be doing was hanging out at an internally displaced person’s (IDP) camp on the border with Cameroon when my fever spiked.

Anyway.  It’s just been a difficult week.  But, the power of positive thinking means everything will eventually be okay.
IMG_9354.2015-10-01_175119So, post-diagnosis, I’m taking it easy, taking my meds, eating extremely healthy, and drinking tons of water (while taking blurry “see, I’m fine” selfies).

Asking me not to workout (and nobody’s done that, just to take it easy) is like asking me to sever a limb, so I’m still walking on my treadmill everyday (yes, that’s my Run Salt Lake City headband! I lived in Utah for almost seven-years!) and I’ve started up a daily yoga practice again.
12011310_1034803519892633_4807013708445894586_n12074801_10153282093162144_1902608924675546836_nYoga is going to save my life, once more, I can tell.  And, my neighbor’s puppy will help, as well.  I have never been more grateful for a form of movement, over and over again, as I have been with yoga.  Yoga is such a gift in my life (yes, that’s my Dharma Yoga Wheel.  Yes, I LOVE IT.)

To keep my spirits up, while walking on the treadmill, I’ve been planning our trip, trekking through the Patagonian Andes.  It’s only FIVE weeks away!IMG_9371.2015-10-04_092138Likewise, I finally put my Tibetan Prayer Flags up in my home gym / home yoga studio.  The energy in the space was immediately lighter.  My home gym has always had an uplifting affect on me, but now it’s even better.
12143225_1038138092892509_4659633962340626653_nNow for some additional animal snuggles (note: my cats are Seahawks fans!  Smart boys!), and general self-promoted R&R and everything will be a-okay!
IMG_9236.2015-09-23_142442 (1)Love and light and some final food for thought:
12042678_1036984426341209_2566596686237390410_nAnd, this WONDERFUL video, positive Fitspo!!!!! SWEAT POWER! And, yes, THIS GIRL CAN!

When I hip, you hip, we hip.

in which I wax geriatric and discuss my injury then announce our next R&R destination followed by discussion of my favorite thing. . . exercise!

Finally went to the doctor to figure out what’s been up with my hip!  I haven’t run in over a week now, and there’s still acute pain and swelling / burning sensations when I exercise.  Le sigh.

According to the doc, though, and confirmed I’m not host to an alien or otherwise structurally damaged. Instead…I have a massive infection? Cause, that’s, like, a thing you can get in your hip? Shrug.

He gave me some medications to kill infection and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs.  I’m to take them religiously for a week and come back!

Finger’s crossed this is an infection and that this is the correct way to cure it!  It’s a bit strange to be presenting with something so . . . well. . . weird.  And, that this weirdness impacts my ability to run?  I mean. . .seriously?!  Oh well.  I do live in Nigeria.  And just a month ago Nigeria gave me giardia AND a cockroach in my pants!  WHAT?!  Life in 9ja.

But, the best news of all is that the doctor said, “don’t stop working out!

Can I get an AMEN from the crowd?!  giphy
Just in time, too, because. . . . . we’re officially booked for our next R&R adventure!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In just six-baby weeks we’re boarding a plane, again. . . .and headed here:20130320-215800Not sure where that is?  Here’s another hint:
monte-fitz-roy-patagonia-border-between-argentina-and-chile-5000x3333
No dice?  How’s this. . . .
CHILE-PATAGONIAStill no?  You’re right, you’re right. . .I’m just sort of showing off how beautiful it is.
. . .It’s true.
We’re going to. . . .patagonia_vendorhome. . .baby!!!

It’s like, a bazillion miles away from Nigeria.
[and today that’s not a terrible thing, sorry to say]

Patagonia-map-generalSay what?!?!??!??!??!?!?!?!?!  

Two full weeks of back country trekking, preceded by a week in Buenos Aires and followed by a week with my family in Arizona!  AMAZING!!!!!!!

The next month and a half cannot possibly go fast enough.  Hooray hooray hooray hooray hooray hooray!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, let this ‘infection’ thing in my hip clear itself up, and fast.  Because, hot diggity does adventure await!🙂

In other news, the election monitoring I was supposed to do in Burkina Faso has been cancelled, or at least post-poned.  There was a coup and coup reversal just last week.  Sigh.  Sad for the Burkinabe.  Sad to miss an opportunity to visit Ouagadougou.  We can only hope the elections will be rescheduled!

Finally, I’m heading out at the end of the week for another work trip.  This time to the border with Cameroon.  I’m excited for this assignment, and look forward to writing about it when I get back [for work and personally!].

Finally-finally, since I thought my hip may have structural issues for so long, my post-marathon workouts have included a lot of swimming, upper-body weightlifting, rowing, and walking of these two adora-pupps:

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Pro-tip: Want a dog?  Make friends with people who have dogs and walk them all the time to show your mister how good your are with puppies so he will eventually relent and let you get one of your very own!
My Operation ‘get-dani-a-dog’ status:  1.5 of 2 cats and 1 of 2 humans convinced it’s a good idea! ha ha

But, now that I’m on meds and the doctor says I should keep working out. . .well. . .bring it on treadmill!!!!!!  I also plan to do another Insanity video.  They’re kind of ridiculous (all spastic wiggling, it feels like.  ha ha!) but they’re effective!

Anyway, finger’s crossed the hip issue disappears and everything goes back to normal.  I’m already chomping at the bit to sign up for my next race!😀