A Recovering Perfectionist

Hello, my name is Angela and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

I recently learned this about myself while reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown. Before this book I had no idea that my strive for perfection was hurting me. It stopped me from sharing myself with my friends and my community.

I used to think that if I wore the right clothes, exercised enough, smiled enough, kept to myself enough that I could present the best version of myself. But inside I still felt like I wasn’t good enough.

I call myself a recovering perfectionist (as Brene calls herself) because I am in the process of shifting my perspective. I have reread the book, listened to her Ted Talks, and really allowed this new information to sink in.

I also took the following steps to shift my self-perspective:

  • I set the intention for joy in all areas of my life as a new year’s resolution for 2015. I follow through by (sporadically) journaling moments from my day that bring me joy, setting an intention for joy & ease during my yoga practice, and creating a life that I love to live.
  • I enrolled in Baptiste Power Yoga teacher training to become a more confident yoga teacher and make friends. Surprise! I had no idea that self inquiry would be a large part of my training.
  • I went to a therapist for the first time in my life because of the sadness I felt over my health diagnosis. Although I knew I was lucky that my problems weren’t more serious, I still couldn’t shake the grief without help. The therapist asked me where I got my support from. When I didn’t answer her, she said that was my main problem. She encouraged my to share my story with my friends. I discovered that I worry too much about what others think.
  • I hit publish and told everyone I know to read it. Vulnerability!
  • I receive feedback after every yoga class that I teach. I am constantly offered ways to improve my teaching. I don’t fear criticism (as much) anymore.
  • I’ve embraced simplicity and minimalism. The less I care about getting things right, the lighter I feel.

I can honestly say that a huge weight has been lifted off my shoulders!

Are you a recovering perfectionist? What steps have you taken to shift your perspective?

What are your tips for self acceptance?

 

 

 

IMG_4106Early morning makeup-free selfie

Bountiful, Beautiful, Blissful

As promised, I want to share the best pregnancy book ever…

Gurmukh is an Los Angeles-based yoga teacher with a positive, uplifting attitude. I desperately needed her take on pregnancy after skimming through What to Expect When You’re Expecting, which practically left me in tears. It gives the expecting mother every horrible what-if situation to ponder and worry about. No thanks. But back to this fabulous book. Gurmukh offers meditations and mantras for all stages of pregnancy. She talks about creating a sacred space, eating habits, letting go of past hurts and really preparing to become a mother. I can honestly say that I laughed and cried while reading this book (not on the same day). So if you’re planning on a baby you must order it now. And by all means, it makes the perfect gift for any lady expecting.

What are your favorite pregnancy books?

My Crush on Colleen

I’ll start by saying I adore Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. She’s talented, smart, articulate and cheerful. She gives truthful information in a logical, heart-felt way that we can all understand. My literary crush began with The Vegan Table. I bought it for the seasonal recipes and superb organization. Planning a dinner party for ten in the fall? Flip to page 181 for delicious mushroom pecan burgers that can be put together ahead of time. A spring dinner for two? Try the pad Thai on page 26 (I highly recommend both of these recipes).

I also found  personal antidotes…like how happy she was with her decision to have a vegan wedding reception, and plenty of interesting food facts. Did you know that saffron has been used as a dye, medicine and aphrodisiac?

Next was The Joy of Vegan Baking. Some recipes are healthy and some aren’t, but each one has tasted great. I love that I can bring vegan cookies to a party and everyone loves them. Thanks Colleen!

But what really sparked the idea for a post was her podcasts. I’m fairly new to the podcast world, but lately I’ve been spending a lot of time in the car. I do love talk radio but since I don’t pick the topics it can get boring. Plus there’s commercials. Click here to start at the beginning…she’s been publishing Vegetarian Food for Thought since 2006.

I’ve listened to quite a few back-to-back in the last two days. Some of it’s sad, some of it’s inspiring and some of it’s helpful. But most importantly, they’re all truthful (check back for more on truth and yoga this Saturday).

Last Saturday I briefly mentioned that I don’t eat eggs anymore, and I was amazed at the comments and support. Colleen has three great podcasts on the issue (there may be more, but I haven’t listened to all of her podcasts yet). You can find them on iTunes or click on these links:

What’s wrong with eating eggs since the chickens aren’t killed to get her eggs?

Aren’t free-range eggs better than eggs from battery-cage hens?

A Visit to Two “Free-Range” Egg Facilities

Who do you admire? What’s your favorite veggie cookbook? Do you listen to podcasts? If so, which ones?

Chemical Food

A while back I read this book:

Back in January I posted a few of her tips that I took to heart. Click here to read ’em. How have I done with Christina’s suggestions? Well I’m definitely trying new food with my CSA membership. I eat tons of local greens and make slime juice a few times a week. I’ve mostly stuck with my self-imposed soda ban and I’ve kept free from tv during meal times. I have however, been bringing my laptop to the table while dining. I guess the no tv rule needs to be extended to all tech gadgets.

Blended greens & fruit over ice

Last month Alicia Silverstone picked I’m Mad as Hell for her book club. I posted a comment and she picked it for her post. Click here to read (I’m Angela).

Since I wrote about McDonald’s on the Kind Life I thought I’d elaborate a little  bit here. I’ll preface with this statement: I love french fries and I’ll never give them up (sigh of relief). However like many of us saw in Supersize Me, a fast food french fry is not composed of oil, salt and potato. There’s loads of other crap in there like chemical beef flavoring. (That’s because until the 1990’s McDonald’s was frying them in actual beef fat. They took a lot of heat about saturated fat content so they recreated the flavor with fake stuff. Who knows what’s actually in it since they can legally patent their unique “flavor”.)

“Real” french fries from Rouge in Philadelphia

And to go with those fries? Christina quotes Michael Pollen (writer of The Omnivore’s Dilemma) on what’s in chicken nuggets from McDonald’s:

  • 38 ingredients
  • 13 ingredient are derived from corn
  • the corn comes from a petroleum refinery or chemical plant
  • leavening agents and synthetic antioxidants to keep the nuggets from turning rancid
  • suspected carcinogens like dimethylpolysiloxane added to the oil to keep it from foaming
  • Preservatives derived from petroleum (that’s right…we are basically feeding our kids lighter fluid in the form of a nugget)

So if you are going to eat chicken nuggets, or feed them to children, please consider buying organic chicken and making them yourself. One of my best friends is a busy mother of three (ages 2-6) and she gave me a recipe a few years back that I used to make for M’s kids. Click here for a similar one that’s simple, fast and easy. (I know…a chicken recipe on a veg blog. But if it keeps anyone out of the drive-through than I’m all for it.)

We all know that nuggets and fries are bad for us, but what about the so-called healthy choices?

  • A carrot walnut muffin at Panera has 500 calories, 37 grams of sugar and only 4 grams of fiber
  • McDonald’s oatmeal has the same amount of sugar as a Snickers bar
  • The red sauce on Domino’s pizza comes from Hunt’s and has MSG in it

The moral of the story is that we can’t trust these places to give us anything remotely healthy or safe to eat. Using actual fruits, vegetables or even meat would cost too much so they have to make a cheaper chemical alternative in order to keep prices down and customers happy. Quite frankly I’m disgusted. I stopped eating fast food last year, but haven’t excluded mid-range places like Panera. This just reinforces the fact that it’s much healthier, cheaper and satisfying to eat at home. I’d rather save my money for a delicious dinner at a regular restaurant than spend a few bucks here and there on chemical food crap.

Homemade breakfast quinoa is waaaay better than McDonald’s oatmeal

Have you read the book? What’s your take on fast food? Do you have any favorite homemade versions of favorite fast food items?

Joie de Vivre

I adore all things French: wine, croissants, face cream (which most often is naturally organic and sans parabens), the laissez-faire attitude, strong coffee and sexy accents.

Champagne and veggies

Last night M and I returned from four days in the French West Indies: St. Martin and St. Barth…together make one of my favorite places in the world and one of the few that get a repeat visit every year. I just love the combination of warm sandy beaches and cigarette smoke French culture. Oui Oui.

In order to get into the spirit of all things French I reread an old favorite: Entre Nous: A Woman’s Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl (I just saw that it has some pretty unfavorable reviews on Amazon, but I find it very entertaining.) Debra is a California girl who lived in France for ten years with her hubby. Her cheeky guide is full of quotes, anecdotal stories, French vocab and suggested entertainment. Among my fave tips for finding your own inner French girl:

  • Focus on quality versus quantity~whether it’s friendships, shopping for clothes, cooking a meal or buying toys for children, excess is not best.
  • Live in the moment and don’t bother to multi-task~how very un-American and probably impossible in some workplaces, but entirely possible at home. It kind of goes along with quality not quantity.
  • Simplify and enjoy life~turn off the tv and find pleasure in a good book or bubble bath. While your at it, ditch the to-do list on your day off.

I took a page from Debra’s book on this trip: no laptop, email, phone or facebook. I brought only a backpack and a small beach bag filled with clothes. I used this yoga mat, which isn’t great for flowing through vinyasas but works well enough for a few warrior poses and a nice long legs up the wall. In my opinion it was a little too hot for any more than that this weekend. I skipped blow drying and hung out in flip-flops the whole time (shiny and silver of course).

The kitty who napped on our balcony…I called her Jean

Fresh veggies

Playing French was fun, and although I’m happy with my American citizenship status I hope to hold onto some of that carpe diem.

Here are a few other fun accounts of French life:

A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke: A British bloke is hired by a French company to open a tea house in Paris. A realistic novel that makes me laugh. Check out the sequel as well.

French Women Don’t Get Fat by Mireille Guiliano: How to enjoy food and stay thin. And yes she eats plenty of meat and cheese, but anyone could use the helpful hints for mindful eating 101. She also has a sequel. I own and reread both occasionally.

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz: The tale of an American chef that moves to Paris. This is where I got my favorite vinaigrette recipe that I make all the time (vinegar, oil, garlic, Dijon mustard).

Next up for me (it’s on hold at the library as I type): Bringing Up Bebe

What are your favorite things French?

I love classic style and an emphasis on pleasure

Small Changes, Big Results

What a find! Organic & local tomatoes at Reading Terminal Market

I couldn’t resist grabbing a new book yesterday while wandering around Rittenhouse Square: I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Going to Eat it Anymore! by Christina Pirello (I really love food and yoga books!). Between last night’s hour on the train from Philadelphia to South Jersey and my break at work today I’ve read quite a bit. Even though most of the info isn’t new to me, sometimes I need a gentle reminder to stay away from all the junk that’s constantly barraged towards consumers nowadays (like the late-night pizza menu we found Saturday night…which left me with a bloated belly all day Sunday). Any-hoo, today’s a new day and I’m committed to small changes. Christina gives a few suggestions in her book:

  • Swap something processed for a new fresh item each week. There’s something inspiring about trying new produce. Last year I bought one new thing with each trip to the farmers’ market. I ended up discovering fresh lima beans and figs. Yum!
  • Ditch the “white” food at dinner. Easy enough to do at home, I’ll just save the French bread for special occasions.
  • Drink water before snacking. Many times thirst is mistaken for hunger, plus we could all probably use a little more H2O.
  • Don’t eat in front of the tv. I’m not ready to give up freshly popped popcorn with sea salt and melted Earth Balance butter, but dinner is committed to the table.
  • Go cold-turkey on soda. I’ll admit I have a little problem with coke. Classic Coca-Cola is my favorite of all carbonated beverages. But last night’s reading convinced me to give it up (again). Soda is a chemical combo that can be used to remove bloodstains from the road, eat corrosion off car batteries and make a toilet bowl sparkle after just an hour. It will dissolve a steak in two days and a nail in four days. Just imagine what it does to a human body…soda raises blood pressure, dehydrates and increases chances of arthritis. It also leaches calcium from bones, including our teeth and spines. I know we’ve heard it all before, but if you really stop and think about it, it’s pretty disgusting. So for the second time I’m quitting for good! (I lasted about six months last time, then it slowly crept back into my life.)
  • Stock the fruit bowl. 

  • Learn to use leftovers in creative new ways. My own suggestion that I’m working on. Weeknight dinners are fast and easy when the fridge is stocked with basics and simple leftovers that can be given a new spin.

In a little more than one month I’ll be celebrating my 30th birthday on the beach. I’d love to be my healthiest self possible, plus I’d be lying if I said spending time in a bikini wasn’t part of my inspiration. But mostly I want to trade processed crap for whole foods because it makes me feel so much better when I do. I’d love for you to join me on this quest and trade one old bad habit for something that will make you look and feel like a million bucks.

Is there anything you’re willing to trade?

I’m getting rid of soda and trying out plenty of new recipes. I’m also trading dairy for plant-based milk, sauces and creams.

What small changes have you already made in your life?

One of the best changes was committing to packing my lunch every day. It was hard at first, but I’ve discovered all sorts of tricks (like keeping soup in the freezer, chopping salad stuff for the week, portioning leftovers the night it’s made, getting everything ready the night before). I’m saving money, cutting waste and getting envious glances in the break room. Today’s lunch: salad greens dressed with oil, vinegar, mustard and roasted garlic along with a bowl of mushroom bourguignon. So worth the time and effort!

Quiet Contemplation

For the past two days I’ve been following a simple diet of mung beans and basmati rice. It’s an Ayurvedic way of fasting that’s much easier than a typical juice fast. I’ve also been drinking a glass of water with the juice of half a lemon in it at night and in the morning. It’s believed that lemon water cleanses and stimulates the liver and kidneys (I first read about its benefits in this book). Following a mono-diet has really given me a sense of compassion, especially when I think about how many people all around the world are lucky if they even get three bowls of rice and beans every day.

Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Yesterday morning I went to yoga while I still had some energy. On my way home I stopped at the library to browse and found two great books.

There is so much good stuff packed into this one little book! Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk from Vietnam. He was born in 1926 and is a peace activist. Interesting tidbit: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was influenced by him and nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh shares a few strategies that we could all use to reduce stress in our everyday lives.

  • Smile! It costs nothing and it brings everyone around us happiness. If you feel like you’ve lost your smile, remember that it’s not gone. Imagine that someone or something is keeping it for you.  “A smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.”
  • Exercise conscious breathing. I love mantras (words that are used to calm and focus the mind). I use them in the car when I’m driving, while I’m pushing a cart at Target, or while I’m at work. This one is so calming and happy: “Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.” Try it…instant happiness!
  • Use mealtimes to share happy thoughts with your loved ones. Refrain from gossip or negative topics while eating (well, ever. but I’m still working on that one so I can at least curb it during dinner)
  • When driving use red lights or stop signs as a reminder to be mindful. Smile at it and take a deep breath. Happiness is always available in the present moment (this is going to be a challenge, but so worth it).
Since I’m on my own little detox, why not? Kimberly’s a nutritionist for celebrities (including Hillary Duff, Drew Barrymore and Fergie) and she has a lot of great suggestions. Here’s a link to her glowing green smoothie, which she recommends as breakfast everyday. Here’s a few key points from her book:
  • The strongest animals on earth are vegetarian: gorillas, elephants, hippos, wild horses, buffalo. Humans are most similar to gorillas. We have flexible fingers (for pulling fruit from trees), flattened teeth for grinding (gorillas have sharp teeth up front for tearing plants and cracking open fruit shells) and long intestines (because plants digest quickly there’s transit time to digest minerals and nutrients. In contrast, tigers have short intestines because meat should be broken down and expelled quickly. Meat just kinda sits in our intestines rotting. Ewww…)
  • Fruit digests quickly and is best eaten on an empty stomach (I’ve read this before in Skinny Bitch). While you’re at it, skip the seedless fruit. It’s been genetically modified bland and tasteless. Fruit should have seeds, that’s the way nature intended.
  • She also advocates pairing certain foods together at meals. I’ve never considered this before but she suggests eating leafy greens and raw veggies at lunch and dinner. Basically she says to pick either a starch or protein with your veggies but don’t combine starches with protein. So for example, if you are going to eat fish or (organic, local) chicken then pair it with a salad or steamed veggies. If you are eating rice or pasta then eat it with veggies.
Well since it’s been two days of rice and beans for me, I’ve decided to slowly add in other nutritious stuff tomorrow starting with either raw fruit of fresh juice. I’ll be trying out some of Kimberly’s recipes and suggestions. This also seems like a good kickstart to #21 of my 30 before 30 list: eat vegan for a week.
Earlier today I wanted some fresh air, so here are a few pics from around town in Philadelphia.
St. Mark’s Church on Locust Street

Pretty in pink

Live music in Rittenhouse Square

Do you have any tips for daily mindfulness? What are your thoughts on fruit and digestion? Does it matter when fruit’s eaten? Have you tried combining certain foods?

30 Before 30

Curiosity is a raw and genuine sign from deep inside our tangled psyches, and we’d all do well to follow the direction it points us in. -Po Bronson

A gorgeous summer day in Atlantic City, NJ

Four years ago I started practicing yoga a few times a week. (It was love at first downward facing dog.) My curiosity, along with a gentle nudge from a friend, led me to teacher training this past winter. I started this blog and became connected into a community of like-minded friends. Last week I read about Kelly‘s 30 by 30 list. I’m inspired, and with six and a half months left in my 20’s there are a lot of things I would like to accomplish. I decided to make my own list that focuses on practical skills and spiritual growth. I realized that there are many useful things that I don’t know how to do for myself and instead of relying on others, I want to learn how to take care of my own needs. In the past I’ve been blessed to travel and try new things so I’ve purposely left out partying in Key West (it was checked off last New Year’s).

The list is in no particular order.

30 Before 30

  1. Run a 5k
  2. Simplify my living space and clear out the clutter
  3. Eat local for one week
  4. Do a headstand without the wall
  5. Go one full day without talking, texting, emailing, or facebook
  6. Complete 21 days of meditation
  7. Travel without a plan
  8. Attend a kirtan
  9. Do a cleanse
  10. Learn how to change a tire
  11. Work on a farm for a day
  12. Become CPR certified
  13. Learn how to make one kick-ass vegan recipe to bring to parties
  14. Find a charity to believe in and support
  15. Eat in for one week
  16. Learn more about prenatal yoga
  17. Sew an article of clothing and wear it
  18. Try zumba
  19. Go on a 15+ mile bike ride
  20. Attend a yoga festival
  21. Eat vegan for one week
  22. Read another translation of the Yoga Sutras
  23. Study Spanish and stick with it
  24. Hold crow pose for five breaths
  25. Write a handwritten heartfelt letter once a week for 10 weeks
  26. Master a homemade chai recipe
  27. Go on a solo hike
  28. Celebrate the seasons
  29. Attend a kundalini yoga class
  30. Make my own beauty products

What are you curious about?

I am interested in learning how make all types of delicious healthy food. I also want to make less of an impact on the environment, challenge myself and make sure I spread some love around. Animals and nature make me happy.

Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it/or would be on it?

Om

What a wonderful surprise! My talented brother sent me this gorgeous painting in the mail:

Om (in red) is a simple word with a complex definition. It’s a Sanscrit word that means everything and nothing at the same time. Read all about it here, here or here. The purple flower is a lotus, which is a symbol of spiritual awakening in Buddhism. I’m thrilled!

My brother has given great gifts in the past. For my birthday in February he gave me this book:

I really like this book because it has so much information, along with colorful photographs. It includes facts and explanations about poses, mantras and meditations. It also has short recipes and personal stories weaved throughout the pages. I’ve been using it to get ideas for yoga classes.

I hope you are having a safe and happy weekend!

Blog Watch

Flowers in Essex, CT (has nothing to do with today’s post, but pink is pretty)

I’m a newbie blogger. I just started in April, and to be honest I never read that many blogs before now. Lately I’ve been checking out other pages, and here are a few that have me hooked:

www.cupcakesandcashmere.com: This is the first blog that I started following. I read about it in Lucky magazine last year. Emily is a quintessential California girl that posts great pics of fashion, food and décor. She’s an inspiration.

www.loveveggiesandyoga.com: Averie is another cute Cali girl with great photos. She blogs about healthy food and yoga. I just read her blogging 101 page and found it very helpful.

www.yummysupper.blogspot.com: Gorgeous travel and food photos from a woman named Erin who is wandering the globe with her husband and two kids. Hmmm…idea for the future?

www.yogadork.com: The name says it all.

 www.spoiledyogi.blogspot.com: A cute take on everything yoga. I especially liked the recent post entitled: 5 Things My Dog Taught Me About Yoga.

Which blogs have you been reading lately?