Saturday, November 1, 2014

:: LIFE :: November | THE UKNOWN

It's a new month, a new day, aaaaaaand that means we have no idea what's going to happen -- yay!

When I first jumped to The Power Path site for Lena Steven's monthly forecast, I was simultaneously met with fear and intrigue. "The Unknown?" I thought. That's can't be good... or can it? I love surprises. I mean, I hate it when people even try to guess the ending to a film. What's the point of watching it?

But at the same time, I realize that fear of the unknown is probably my biggest fear of them all. For me, that manifests itself in a fear of the ocean. If you know me, you know that this is one of my most painful dilemmas because as much as I fear the ocean, I love it more deeply than anything else on this planet. That said, my fear of the ocean comes from a place that is basically the opposite of claustrophobia -- it's a fear of the sheer vastness and abysmal nature of this being. So the reason I chose the image for today is two fold: 1) it's an image that appears to have no limit -- we literally can't see/don't know what is beyond our visibility, and 2) it's the physical representation of my own personal fear of not knowing.

So I've already emailed the forecast out to a small group of my family and friends who I know look forward to it as much (or almost) as I do. And I like to try and preface it with my own takeaways, along with some additional inspiration when appropriate. I came across a quote that worked well with this month's forecast, and today's awareness practice (my favorite app, and HIGHLY recommended) also happened to be in line, so below I've included what I sent to my friends and family this morning, bundled with  few things together to remind everyone, and myself, that November's mystery shouldn't evoke trepidation, but it should inspire us to power through...

via Instagram/agirlinthelife

The monthly forecast is here, and November is THE UNKNOWN. Sounds ominous, I know. But as a continuation from last month, an open heart and open mind approach is key to letting the universe deliver that which is your highest truth. Create your foundation, find your balance, and let our most beautiful qualities, love & faith, lead you through the darkness with an optimistic heart.

Past failures, old beliefs, and stale routines breed only fear, and will prevent you from finding opportunities. Whether in lightness or darkness, there are always stars to guide us, but first we must be awake.
The light which puts out our eyes is darkness to us. Only that day dawns to which we are awake. There is more day to dawn. The sun is but a morning star.
- Henry David Thoreau

 And if you need a little help shaking off your ways of the past, try today's awareness practice:

via Transform Your Life




*c



Friday, October 31, 2014

:: FITNESS :: Hitting My Stride

As you may recall from my September forecast post, as homage to the month's theme, CHANGE, I announced my commitment to run my first half marathon.  This was obviously a change directed at my level of physical ability, but also at my ability to challenge myself, my ability to follow through, and my ability to overcome. It's been quite the journey, and I'm still going strong in the midst of my eighth week of training. Perhaps stronger than ever, actually. Last week, I finally hit my stride...
sunrise over Golden Gate Park
I also previously mentioned that I'm not a runner. It's never been something that my body would adapt to, which was expected since, generally speaking, running isn't really any body's best friend. So naturally, I've had a need to shut my body up and prove to myself that I can run... even if it means icing various parts of my body 4x a day. So like any goal worth accomplishing, it hasn't been easy, but I wanted to share my story in case there's anyone else out there with a goal that feels just beyond reach. If I can do this, you should literally be able to do anything.

My first hesitation with committing to this race was pure physical ability. In the past, the moment I started running, my body would begin to break down; like the chain reaction that unfolds before your eyes once you knock over that first domino... First came the shins -- shin splints up the wazoo that were so painful it was as if someone was hitting me in the tibia with a baseball bat every time my foot made contact with the treadmill. Yes, treadmill -- this was back in the day when I only worked out at a gym because I thought anything else would be too hard on my body. I now strongly prefer the outdoors.
as you can see, the view ain't bad -- from Golden Gate Park to Ocean Beach
Next up were the knees. I've always had knee problems due to a combination of damage from my dancing days and, the cause behind every other ailment that I endure, my own lack of awareness. My flat feet cause me to pronate, my addiction to flip flops left me with nothing to support my feet, and my past dancing experience led to a sway back and swing in the hips when I walked, all of which I took for granted and never bothered to correct. Combined, these led to poor posture and form, which means I've more or less been using the wrong muscles when walking and, you guessed it, running. Ergo, certain muscles became over developed while others were underdeveloped, which left my knees with little to no support. Oh, and did I mention I have loose patella as well? Yeah -- basically, my knees are fooked.

After the knees, came the tight calves. Again, this issue was a result of the above -- over-working of the calves in dance and poor form when walking. One day specifically, it felt like I was on the verge of a Charlie's Horse for a full 24 hrs. I even had a run scheduled that day, and I nearly broke down into tears mid run. Seriously, that shit hurts.

Lastly, if I could manage to control, or at least grit my teeth through all of the above, the second to last domino would bring things to a halt -- endurance. Even just half-hour runs would make me feel like I would pass out if I didn't take a break. How was I going to sustain myself for 2+ hrs?? I thought this issue would surely improve by week 3 or 4. Week 5 at the latest... But it wasn't until last week -- week 7 -- that I managed to complete my entire 6.5 miles without walking. My endurance had finally caught up with the rest of me, and 3 days later I ran my entire 10.5 miles (that's more than half the distance of San Francisco, btw!) without walking. Say what?!

Now, just to be clear, I've been following training guides aplenty and getting advice from fellow runners and friends who know a thing or two about the body. From day 1 of my training I've been working on my form, stretching, icing, foam rolling, etc, etc. Had I not been doing these things, I definitely would NOT still be training because my body would literally be in a pile of rubble right now. However, I'm know I'm still not a perfect runner or a perfect example even (I could stand to drink like 10 more glasses of water per day). My calves still cease up from time to time, and my shin splints may begin to flare if I drop the ball on the ice.

So why am I going on and on about my experience?

While I'm not perfect and I don't have all of the answers, the point of my experience is that I'm still going. It's hard work for me, and some days it's really fucking hard. But the thought of what I'm accomplishing, despite all the struggles, is enough to keep me going when I could just as easily say, "Maybe this just isn't for me." It's something I can be proud to talk about, and it's a goal that I can focus on when other areas of my life feel all cattywompus. I never thought I could do, much less would want to do something so strenuous. But I've not missed a single morning run -- whether it's getting up two hours before work, or after a night of drinking for my best friend's birthday (while in the mountains at 4,000 ft elevation), I've not missed a single morning run-- scratch that, I missed two due to a devil of a blister on the arch of my foot.
ouch!
and ouch...
But otherwise, my dedication to this goal has far outlasted any physical strife, and quite frankly I'm impressed with myself. And that's why I'm sharing this with you. I find the excessive icing and all the struggles frustrating, but also quite hilarious. If this is what my body is going to throw at me and I can still manage to cross that finish line next month, then what can I not do?

It's been a journey, indeed. But more than that, I've made a significant change in my life and the effects -- physically, mentally and emotionally -- will be lasting. Even when something feels totally unattainable, just take the first step... Once you get the momentum going, I promise you'll become an unstoppable force.

*c


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

:: LIFE :: October | THE THREE-LEGGED STOOL

October is here, and apparently it's going to be a circus!

I woke up on the morning of the 1st, as I do every month, with the kind of excitement that children reserve for Christmas. It's a new month, and that means the monthly forecast is here! Admittedly, I'm a little obsessed with it. It's just the perfect combination of advice, inspiration, and awareness. It's always spot on, and I feel like it's speaking directly to me. Which, of course, is all the more reason for me to give heed to what Lena Stevens transcribes every month, and I hope you find it equally as useful.

So the theme for October is the THREE-LEGGED STOOL, and sounds like a bit of a doozy, but in a frighteningly good way (how apropos). It'll be an eccentric month, producing moments of complete surprise, but this also serves as a challenge to us to see how we react to these unsuspecting moments. Do you roll with the punches and readjust accordingly, or do you retreat in fear and the feeling of being totally overwhelmed? Your reaction to what this month has to bring will determine whether you stay atop your three-legged stool (even if  balancing on only 1 leg at time), or if you will topple over...


I'll let you read through and contemplate Lena's forecast on your own, but I thought some accompanying imagery would be useful and inspiring. I found some of my favorite three-legged stools & chairs. Maybe having some of these around the house will be a reminder to maintain balance throughout your life :)


Friday, October 3, 2014

:: INSPIRE :: The Ballerina Project

So, I rarely say this, but I could have done without this Friday. Work was a bit too much for me today, so I've escaped the sometimes mind-numbing doldrums of the home office for the more socialized, sun-filled setting of my local coffee shop. Also, they serve beer.

But in the midst of the continuous influx of less-than-happy emails, I took a brief break to check my personal email and came across this little gem in Well+Good's newsletter...

http://instagram.com/ballerinaproject_

I grew up dancing -- ballet, tap, jazz, modern, contemporary, etc. -- and it was my life for a good 12 years, but I was never dedicated enough to make it into a career. Plus, my body kind of started breaking down on me (and never really stopped). However, it's still one of the greatest joys in life for me. Whether it's watching the Romeo & Juliet pas de deux, or just putting some great tunes on the jukebox and dancing up a sweat, the joy I feel from dance is matched by few other experiences in life. And given that my feet were never great, I get insanely inspired (and jealous) at the sight of a technically beautiful pointed foot..... like, seriously.

So when I came across these stunning images by photographer Dane Shitagi, I was immediately inspired. I've recently made feeble efforts to resume formal dance classes, which was an eye-opening experience (oy, my back!). And while I still plan to make dance a more regular part of my life, these images reminded me that, whether through dance or other means, I want to feel this inspired everyday, and that I have the means and the ability to do so. So even when work is challenging, I'm reminded of the reasons why I love my job. And even though I may feel generally lost or stuck at times, I remember all of the things that brings me joy and I figure out how to bring even the littlest sliver of those into my life. It may not be the prima ballerina dream that I envisioned when I was a little girl putting on her first tutu, but it keeps me on track and helps me find the appropriate version for my adult life.

What inspires you? How do you use that to keep you on track?

*c

Monday, September 22, 2014

:: LIFE :: September | CHANGE

Let me just get this out there now... I see a therapist. And I'm damn proud of it.

For some wackadoo reason (pun intended), therapy has a long history of something to be ashamed of, or something you go to only if you're depressed or crazy. Well in that case... Hi! My name is Carrie, and I'm depressed and crazy, because I'm a HUMAN BEING. Let's face it folks, humans are nut jobs. We pump our bodies and environment full of artificial products and chemicals, then, shocked by the lethal outcome, produce more artificial products and chemicals to "resolve" the previous issue. And we think taking care of your mental state is only something you do if/when you have a mental illness... Confused much? Because I am. I would be more ashamed if I was struggling through life with low self-esteem, anger issues, lack of direction or any other number of mental blocks and not seeing a therapist because I was afraid of what people might think. Again, an issue in and of itself that you should probably be talking to someone about... Do we see the pattern?? Alas, I digress.

This post is not about my therapist and I, but a little gem of a resource that she passed along to me that I would say has probably-- nay, has definitely changed my approach to life. On one hand, I've always been fascinated by human biology & psychology, and learning how and why we function the way we do. And on the other hand, I've also always been very much into the world beyond us -- philosophy, metaphysics, astrology, energies, spirits, psychics, etc. -- anything that put us into perspective. Or rather, put us in our place. You guys, the universe is big. Like, REAL big. We're wayyyyy too tiny a piece of the puzzle to be the only piece worth looking at.

Back in March, I was going through a bit of a rough patch. I was miserable at work and trying to be successful in a life that I thought I wanted but soon realized wasn't me at all. Add to that insecurities about a fresh relationship, and it was clear my boat was not only off course, but quickly losing control in some pretty choppy waters (at least that's what I thought until I got to April and May... holy shit did those months suck). Knowing that I love anything spiritual, my therapist, whom we'll call K, shared with me The Power Path's Monthly Forecast for March. It's a shamanic website where Lena Stevens publishes an article talking about a theme for every month, and what we can expect the universe to bring us. That theme is based off of (here's where I lose a few of you) the energy of that month. In March, the theme was COMMITMENT. And every single word she wrote hit home. As they did in April, May, June, July and August. I found myself eagerly awaiting the first of each month for the forecast to be published, as if I had just finished my last ration of food the week before and was starving for spiritual nourishment. I couldn't believe how much each theme was not only completely on par with where I was personally, but also how appropriate and inspiring the guidance was. Funny how the universe works, huh? ;)

Now granted this month is almost over, but the theme for September is CHANGE. And if ever someone needed a change, it would be this girl. This year has been simultaneously the best and the worst. More on that later. But basically I've come a long way this year, in a great way, and I've been needing to capitalize on that. So in the spirit of this month, I've decided to make some major changes.

For one, returning to writing is something I'm committed to. For someone who's brain & emotions run a mile a minute, I cannot even explain the benefits if putting thoughts into writing. So bare with me while I spew my brain at you via this long forgotten blog.

Secondly, I've also committed myself to (gulp) a half marathon. Disclaimer: I AM NOT A RUNNER. But my sister is and has been running halves for the last 3 or so years. I always watched her cross that finish line in awe, thinking it was something I could never do, and now I'm training my tired ass to do the same. And it hurts. Everything. Hurts. But by god, I'm going to do this!

Lastly, I'm 5 rearrangements into an apartment redo. My tiny little studio has been good to me, so I'm returning the favor. It's always been half way there (like, all 5 times). But now that I work from home, I need my place to be a better reflection of me, and completely inspiring. So photos to come soon (hopefully...)!

via rebeccakelsey.com
So if you're reading Lena's post now and thinking, "well damn, September is almost over. I can't make any significant changes in a week," then you shut your mouth right now. It's never too late to be the person you want to be. And I'm sure if you ask Lena, she'll tell you that universe sets no deadlines on improving life. If all you do is start working towards a tiny change, you'll be primed and ready for whatever next month brings. The themes always flows seamlessly together, the next month drawing strength from that which came before it. So go do it! You can continue making progress and draw even more inspiration next month. Get out of your head and start making those changes you never thought you could. I bet you'll surprise yourself. I know I did :).

*c

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

:: LIFE :: Soldier of the Spirit

Last week brought us heartbreaking news and spurred numerous conversations on a very delicate subject. Of course I shared the same anguish that swept across the world when I heard the unsettling news of Robin Williams’ death, but I didn’t think to write about it until I came across a link to an article that I found to be rather serendipitously timed. The more I thought on it, the more the combination of the two events compelled me to put my thoughts into writing. My goal in doing so is not to try to explain away a death. I simply want to celebrate a man who was larger than life, and use this time to incite some much needed self reflection for the rest of us.


We lost a great man who, despite his own battles, brought an unquantifiable richness into the lives of others. If you haven’t been on the internet in the last week, first of all I commend you, but more so, I realize that you then may not yet understand the impact that this man has had on so many lives. And so, I want to take a moment to remember Robin Williams and honor his life and achievements as an entertainer with an uncanny talent for liberating laughs of pure, absolute joy from the bellies of even the most rigid human. And yet behind the impressions and the laughter, it’s clear from the memories that have been shared in a visceral reaction to the alarming news, that Williams’ heart was much bigger than his personality.

From his numerous charitable contributions to the individual stories I’ve read, Williams was a man of tremendous empathy who, it seems, had a way of letting you know that your experience was, in every way, as much of an impact on his life as it was on your own. He knew when others felt pain and did everything in his power to make them forget it, if only for a moment of complete exaltation. He also had a tender, quiet side that he sometimes shared with us on the screen where his walls were down and he shone in front of us not as an entertainer but as a man, as deep and complex as his bag of tricks. I never had the pleasure of meeting the local legend, but I can just imagine his expressive face softly relaxing as he speaks gently in his deep, unadulterated voice, his steel blue eyes telling you that, at that very moment in time, you’re the most important person in the world to him.

Taking such an honest investment in others is a quality of character that I think is a rare commodity these days. I suspect that it’s a casualty of trying to keep up in this ever-advancing, ever-challenging rat race. A race that has a tendency to turn out the worst in people. Then there’s the rare few who, despite all the malign influence around them, are hell bent on preserving the best qualities of the human spirit. I like to think of them as soldiers of the spirit, fighting for the pure moments that make life worth living. It’s a tough battle; maybe the toughest of all. And as a result, their spirit takes blow after irreparable blow, fighting against an ailing microcosm that doesn’t seem to want to get better. They take on the weight that many others refuse to carry; an inconceivably heavy weight that most would avoid if they could, in favor of a less rocky, more “normal” existence. Yet these soldiers persist, because even the smallest victory — a smile cracked, or a helping hand received — results in momentary bliss so intense that it rivals any pleasure brought from temporal joys. And that moment alone is enough to continue the fight, until occasionally the spirit has to acquiesce.

Whether struggling ourselves, or knowing someone who's going through something you can see and feel but don't quite understand, we can never forget that we’re in this together. We all struggle with things like how to fit in, how to succeed, and how to make sense of this world that seems to propelling us towards the unknown. But we forget that we’re solely responsible for the these things and the direction that we’re heading. By shaping our own lives, we shape the lives of those around us and, henceforth, we shape the world. Of course, there will always be things that are out of our control — illness, natural disasters, etc. — but for every moment in between, when we do have the power be a positive impact and to fight for the goodness of humanity, shouldn’t we?

I definitely don’t want to give the anyone the wrong impression or make it seem like I’m suggesting that adopting a rosy outlook on life is a cure for depression, because I know first hand what a sensitive topic this can be. I know that things like depression and anxiety are medically classified as mental disorders or illnesses. And yes, they are basically the result of a biological function that isn’t technically considered normal. And yes, I know all too well that they are scary, and dangerous and should be treated. But I don’t think nature, in this case, is necessarily so stalwart an opponent that nurture doesn’t have a fighting chance in the ring.

It feels like a lot of people hear the words “mental disorder” and immediately place those people into a bucket labeled “sick” or “broken,” as if to say they don’t have control over their lives or actions because they were dealt this particular “fate." But I don’t think it’s necessarily a flaw to feel emotions with the power of a thousand suns. Inconvenient sometimes? Yes, terribly so. But defective? Quite the opposite. So I wonder what would happen if, instead of attributing everything to a medical diagnosis and assuming no responsibility, we turned back around and looked at ourselves, questioning if the lives we lead are in support of and nurturing to the human spirit. If we all carried a little more weight, is it possible to ease the heaviness of the world we’ve shaped that encumbers those who are already slated to take the brunt it?

We live in a complex, evolving world that can be hard on even the most biologically stable limbic systems. But in the same way that the mindful practice of combat breathing stops the stress response in a real soldier, being more mindful about our own emotions and spirits could have a positive impact on those of others. Rather than continuing to propagate a cycle of illness and defeat with things like ignorance and pride, we could all apply a few simple, mindful rules to our lives that, I believe, would have a tremendous impact on the human spirit. Ironically, it’s as simple as the basic rule of physics: for every action, there is a reaction, because health and happiness are contagious. By investing in myself, I am investing you. And vise versa.


This article from Psychology Today seems very simple and obvious on the surface, because it is. It explains the most basic functions of life that our ancestors lived by, before the world was littered with so much excessive, external stimuli that we’ve allowed to clog up our spiritual arteries and muddle the goodness inside us. Before we were entrepreneurs and celebrities, we were and are humans first. Why behave any other way?

For a really beautiful tribute to Robin Williams, check out my friend Chris' post. And grab a box of tissues... The Travel Journo: What Robin Williams meant to a kid born in the 80’s 

*c

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

:: BEAUTY :: Hairplay | The Deep Part

As a girl with naturally curly hair, I've struggled with my hair for as long as I can remember.  I do love curly hair... just not my curly hair (but don't we all say that?).  Sure, I've had a good curly hair day here and there, but the problem is I never know what I'm going to get and it requires much so much more work than just blowing it all out straight, so that's what I've been falling back on on a daily basis these days.  However, as someone who has the versatility of curly hair... I have to say that straight hair can get kind of boring (sorry).  So lately I've been playing around with different blow out styles and one look that I've long admired is the deep part, side-swept hair.

Whitney Port
Cara Delevingne

Eva Mendes
Amanda Seyfried
Penelope Cruz


















I've only just attempted it in recent weeks, but I have to say that I love it!  It has a way of looking uber glamorous, yet casual at the same time.  It's like, "Oh my hair?  I just run my fingers through it and give it a toss."  Meanwhile you're face is perfectly framed with a lush set of locks falling down around your shoulder.  I might also add that this look lends itself nicely to the old trick of tossing your hair about as a way of casting your scent in the direction of the cutie next to you at the coffee shop.  Just don't over do it, ladies, because we've all been suffocated by the overly perfumed.  And a quick side note: if you use anything but an oil for scent, keep it off your locks directly, as the alcohol in it can be drying.  I find that hair picks up any scent nicely if you just dab it on the back of your neck.

Anyway, this look is all about volume, and since my fine hair has a tendency to fall flat, I know I have to really work the round brush to pull this off.  I also broke out the hairspray, which I rarely use, to keep things lifted and in place.  My hairstylist recommended Paul Mitchell's Hold Me Tight, which works great and has that nice "I just walked out of the salon" smell.  I also use large round brush for my roots, to kick up  the volume, and a medium round brush on my ends to give them a nice bounce.

Here's an actual tutorial from hairstylist Anthony Turner on getting side-part bed head, à la Cara Delevingne and Whitney Port.  You may also choose to go for a more polished look, seen on Eva, or one with a little more body and curl, like Penelope and Amanda above, which is the direction I tend to go.

Have you recently tried a new hairstyle?  What's your go-to, feeling-fabulous hairstyle?

*c