If Happiness was a Light Switch

This morning as I was stalking perusing facebook, I came across this little motivational poster.

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I had to question this poster a bit.

1- What is happiness? How can we easily identify it?

2- Can we change our emotional state simply by making a change?

3- If it takes change to find true bliss, then how can we figure out what it is that we need to change?

This has been part of my struggle all along. Losing my shine, trying to find it, and recognizing what I needed to change in order to get it back. Something I learned this year: I’m the only person in this equation that can change and I’m the only one that can control how I ultimately feel.

So while happiness definitely isn’t as easy turning on a light switch or just “turning off” what is creating negativity in our lives, I have to say, I’m OK with that. But imagine if it was that easy? We would have nothing to complain about! Relationships would no longer be as tumultuous and exciting! And- Facebook would no longer exist as a place for people to air our their problems with strangers! Oh, life. I love you.

Living Outside the Box

Today I stepped outside of my comfort zone and tried Acro Yoga with my yoga partner in crime, Jess. I say that I stepped outside of my comfort zone because despite practicing yoga since May, this was different. My first question was- acro yoga? What the hell is that… Rather than explain it, check out this link for a better understanding than I could ever explain:
http://www.acroyoga.org

Another reason I entered into this apprehensively- it’s a partner class. As much as I love my friend, working with someone is terrifying. Maybe it’s that trust component that had me fearful. The class brought me back to grad school when they literally took us to Lake George and into the woods for some team building exercises. Lame? Yes. Necessary? Not necessarily. Worth it? Somehow, totally.

By the end of the class we laughed hysterically, made new yogi friends, and somehow, got a little closer. Maybe it was the Thai yoga massage training, or the fact that our heads were literally in very personal places.

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The moral of the story: step outside of the familiar. In the words of this wise person I know named Nick, the only place we truly grow in life lies outside of our comfort zone… And doesn’t that make life more exciting?!

Blog? Running? I have hobbies?

I’m a soul searcher in constant need to figure it all out. Ride out life? Allow myself to naturally grow into who I’m supposed to be, no questions asked? Never. Maybe it’s a good thing, maybe it’s a bad thing, but I always have a deep need to understand who I am.

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Mom, leave me alone… I’m questioning these awfully cut bangs. And life. I’m totally side-eyeing the camera too… Like, seriously, are we taking this picture now, I’m enjoying Barney and my Pizza Hut cup. So, back to this post and not that adorable child- can you guys believe my family told me I looked like either a gremlin or a pigeon.

Growing up I never had a true hobby. In high school I did drama club and I was voted as the superlative “most dramatic” (people’s views as to why differ, but I digress), and as much as I enjoyed acting, it wasn’t my niche. I often felt like an imposter next to the kids that viewed theater as their life dream. It was possibly my ongoing awkwardness and discomfort that made me feel that way, but I never viewed acting as a true passion.
Sports. That’s all. There is nothing to say.
Art was ok. I toyed with photography but I loathed developing my own film and back in 2003 before the overwhelming digital age we actually had to do that. I’m more of a point and shoot kinda girl.
I tried playing the guitar- boring.
Video games made me cringe.
Hiking was fine unless you actually wanted to do a serious mountain, in that case I hated hiking.
Even the most easy hobby for a high schooler, drinking and drugs, just never interested me.

I wasn’t a quitter in finding what brought me happiness, but nothing stuck. Everything engaged me for a short amount of time, but then it fell short. I didn’t have that passion that the drama kids in good old MHS had, and I craved it. I wanted something of my own. Ultimately, I allowed myself to believe that I was one of those people that would never have a hobby. And I made peace with that.

Until I met Jess and John- Jess, one of my dearest friends, and John, my main squeeze. Believe it or not, we all met on the same day as new hires and though the love wasn’t immediate, I can’t imagine my life without either of them. The two of them are hobbyists- that word exists as a real word, but it does not mean what I want it to mean, so for this post a hobbyist is a person with a lot of hobbies.

Jess will try anything- she loves (real) hiking, snorkeling, scuba, surfing, bikram, any kind of yoga, traveling, cooking (including baking), and more. I could smack her she’s so awesome. Since we began of friendlationship I have definitely opened myself up to more things, such as bikram yoga. She’s currently doing the thirty day challenge where you complete 30 days of bikram in a row. You can do it, girl! We are also doing a partner class TOMORROW. So help me, god. Basically, I love her because she’s fabulous and does things like swimming with whale sharks. You should be jealous she is my friend.

John’s hobbies date back to his youth but the one that I’m most impressed with is his guitar skills. When I first met him I never imagined he would own way too many guitars, but he does (sell some. Please.) I love that he will serenade me with songs like, Look at Talia, she is cleaning, she’s always makin’ a mess as I clean the apartment. I also love that he’s not that guy. You know what I mean, the guy breaking out the guitar while everyone is hanging out. Most people don’t even know John plays- now they do! His newest hobby is cooking, my newest hobby is eating the deliciousness he cooks. This is why we are perfect together. There is something wonderful about being with a person that likes things other than you. As weird as that sounds, I like knowing I’m not his only thing. I’m just the most special, right?!

I love surrounding myself with people like this- people that make me come out of my shell and want to find what makes me happy. I guess that’s where I found my (sometimes, when it isn’t that hard) love of running and more importantly, blogging. My dear blog friends, this is quite the outlet for me. I could write in a private journal, sure, but it wouldn’t give me the satisfaction that I get from communicating with you all. I’m regularly inspired by the newest runner, struggling like myself, or the seasoned runner who pushes me. I love the ability to relate to like minded people who are searching for themselves as well. It could be that we all are and maybe we just don’t talk about it. Sometimes this world feels lonely, like, am I the only loser that doesn’t have a hobby? Nope. Most of us are.

Do you have a hobby? What is it?! Give me something to contemplate trying!

Road Rage Optional

True Life: I Have Road Rage.

Or so I have been told. By friends. My mom. My boyfriend. An acquaintance who said, hey, you flicked my dad off the other day. 

As though there aren’t enough news reports that suggest I could be slapped in the face for this, or worse, use your imagination, it rhymes with smilled. I know this is something that I have to manage- but it’s hard!

As I walked out of work I called my mom to play catch up on my the drive home. I find the ride home easier when I’m distracted by a phone buddy, especially when it’s my mom. Soon into our conversation we were disconnected. Fate? Intentional? I tried to call her back but it wouldn’t go through, it seemed as though my practice in avoidance wasn’t going to work tonight. I decided then and there that I was going to make it home, all twenty+ minutes without my phone. I practiced some yoga breathing and felt determined to make it home without any episodes. As I typed that sentence I recognized immediately how crazy I sound. 

I drove slowly. I did not get irritated at the old man who almost plowed into me. I slowed down for the yellow light. I cut no one off. I did not flick off a single acquaintances father.

And I’m all about giving credit where credit is due. I can honestly say that running and yoga are good for so much more than a cute tush. This less stressed, less crazy me can completely be attributed to pounding the pavement. Any excess energy I have can only be exhausted on the mat or a treadmill. Ain’t nobody got time for road rage. So, thank you running for making me less crazy and less likely to be smacked at a red light.

The Butterfly: The Shape-Shifting Mascot

As a curious person I often rely on Wikipedia for my trivial knowledge, but when it comes to lupus, I love my straight up medical facts. One thing I never questioned, but never knew the answer to is trivial but wiki wouldn’t do- why a butterfly?

The symbol for lupus is a butterfly- An animal that is symbolic for rebirth, renewal, and transformation. Or- is it because we get this hideous Malar Rash across our faces (exhibit: a). And so, through my research I learned some new lupus trivia, such as, yes- it is because of the rash.

And hello- I share a disease with Millie “The Most Famous Dog with Lupus.” Question: Who is the most famous cat? 

So while I’m not ready to abandon my negative feelings towards my views of the butterfly as our symbol (it’s a shape shifting creature that has a short life span. I can’t jive with that.) I do feel slightly more knowledgeable about my own disease. Now, who is down to have a new mascot? I nominate the wolf (lupus meaning wolf!)– now that’s an animal I can feel strong and proud to be represented by!

Reynauds, Snowboarding, and My Fridge

Winter holds no purpose of existence in my life. This is coming from a New Yorker. The only reason I started snowboarding was due to my extreme hatred of this time of the year- yes I realize how ridiculous that sounds, but I needed to make myself look forward to the season in some way. For years I would get a season pass, or go to Killington, Vermont for a few days to get my fix.

Then my mom stopped paying for things.

Snowboarding, and I’m sure skiing too, but I was too cool for skiing when I was sixteen, is very costly. Board, bindings, boots, jacket, pants, goggles, helmet, and other gear and you’re totaling up pretty high- that was like five separate Hanukkahs right there. One lift ticket back in 2007 was $65, and currently it’s $90. And like I said, my mom stopped paying for things- she was like, you are 26 and have a job.

It has been six seasons since the last time I went snowboarding. Many people say “it’s just like riding a bike.” The last time I had to relearn how to ride my bike I crashed into a bush and an old man asked me if it was my first time. So I’m calling bull on this one. Unless it is like riding a bike and I’m going to crash into a bush- that’s a more likely scenario.

Last night after an impromptu friend gathering we got to talking about a February ski trip. If you have been following my blog for a while or you know me personally, you know I act on impulse. If it sounds exciting then and there, I am in, and just like that, check made out and signed. We are going to Vermont! I was so excited that I broke out the old gear. And by breaking out I mean trying on. And spinning around in my living room… as everyone else was normal and sitting on the couch.

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There she is. Making a guest appearance with my fridge. Which is giving all of my friends a guest appearance. And the Mets- that’s not my doing, it’s John’s fault.

And while I’m super excited to hit the slopes, I’m also slightly apprehensive. Lupus people or anyone with Reynauds understands how complex a relationship can be with cold weather. And just like that, an exciting hobby can be scary- Reynauds causes me to lose circulation and feeling in my extremities. But it’s because of lupus that I’ve given up so much in my life, and while I take it seriously I can’t allow it to take away the things that make me happy anymore. So lupus, screw you, I’m going snowboarding!

Any suggestions as to how to deal with the cold weather to protect my fingers and toes?!
Runners, I’m sure you have some tricks.

Nike Fuel: Review

Since I began running, yoga, and blogging, people pretty much only get me presents that are within that general sphere of gifts. I love it.

adore being a girl and I truly love girly things, but becoming an active person makes me feel pretty Sasha-Fierce. The people that love me know this and support this growing trend.

One of my gifts this year was the Nike Fuel band. I actually bought this for my dad for Hannukah this year and he was pumped about it. At 54 the guy runs a minimum of three miles a day with weights attached to his body and goes on 20+ mile long bike rides on the regular. Yeah, he’s one of those people. Who would have thought I would slowly become my father- chest hair blazing and all. Kidding about that. I hope.

When I first got the band I was immediately drawn to the clean packaging similar to how Apple packages their products. I also found it fun to set up because it required that you fill in questions about yourself, and who doesn’t love talking about themselves. It also required you to set up your own goals based on your current fitness level as well as your height and weight. I even named my fuel band.

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Fuel Band Name: Butt Kicker

So what is the fuel band? The fuel band is a bracelet (gotta keep it girly, ladies!) you wear on your wrist that tracks your movement and activity levels. You can keep it on all day and it will track steps taken, calories, and how active you are. Nike gives a preview here: Fuel Preview.

As soon as I got it I put it on around 10 p.m., there was not much activity to be had, but what I did find was that I was extra motivated to do well throughout the week with my fuel band on my wrist. When I set it up I created my goal of obtaining “3,000 fuel points” which was suggested to me as an active person.

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This is my first week in review. What I found was that as the day progressed, if I noticed I was getting close to my goal but I wasn’t there yet I pushed myself whether it was walking slightly farther in a parking lot or doing jumping jacks at 11 p.m. to reach my goal. I regularly was reaching my goal, particularly through running. One 3 mile run could get me over 1,000 points. Here is what a close up looks like for a few different days:

On this day I only ran. This was yesterday. It was snowy out so I sat around all day, then got my act together and did four miles. Other than running, I was inactive all day. It isn’t even taking into account my multiple trips to the fridge which I believe counts for something.

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This day in showing a day I went to yoga in the morning. You can see that yoga counts less than running. Sometimes I find that yoga works you out in such a different way that it should absolutely count, but the band can’t read the activity level and as a result it counts for less than it should. fuelsitting

This day is showing a day I did not go to the gym at all, instead I went into the city. I walked from Penn station to a friends house roughly 20 minutes away. I power walked because it was freezing out. My friends and I then walked further uptown. At the end of the day I walked back to Penn. The times my activity levels were down I was filling my face with some fantastic NYC eats.

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What I found interesting was a day without the gym but with going to the mall or Manhattan got me more points than a day I ran and did a yoga class. It focused more on movement throughout the day. I found this frustrating because the fuel band does not take yoga into account and it’s a huge part of my regimen. I have to admit though, I love playing with it and it’s fun to plug into the computer at the end of the day and see everything mapped out. It begins to track your progress over time, when you work out best, the time of the day, your overall weekly averages, monthly averages it even suggests goals for you and then sets them. You can also add friends and create challenges for yourself. The fuel band also syncs up with the Nike Running app which I have on my Nano. The fuel band cannot track distance which is another weakness for the runner, but as I said, it’s a fun toy. I would suggest it if you don’t care too much about the numbers. If you do care, this is not the gear for you.

Anyone else using the fuel?! What do you think of it?

Do you use something else that you would suggest to a yogi/runner?