What to become next.

As I sit here, fairly blissed out after a relaxing morning full of sunshine, a soul-warming breakfast and cozying up to my favorite beings (man and dog), I ponder this question: what to become next. It has been a very long (more than a year) since I have written in this space and so much has changed. I have changed and my direction/life goals have changed. As much as I change, my ” essential core” continues to resonate with me, yet I feel very far from the L that started this blog almost three years ago.  I want to breathe into this space and allow it to change as well. Here are a few life updates that will give you a glimpse into the direction I am moving toward:

  1. I am no longer strictly vegan. I eat plant-based almost exclusively during the week, but I eat eggs and cheese with my significant other on the weekends. Just putting that out there in the spirit of full disclosure. Don’t worry though, this continues to be a no meat/seafood zone.
  2. I have changed the focus of my workouts from training for half-marathons to being active in a way that fills me with joy. Being active is free therapy for me; it helps me focus, it makes me feel amazing and full of energy. I truly thrive when I am active. It remains a necessary component in self-care.
  3. Creating wholesome, nutrient-filled plant-based food continues to be an essential component of cultivating happiness and joy in my life. I LOVE FOOD! I have created many new recipes over the past year, but many distractions have prevented me from documenting and sharing them here. Which brings me to…
  4. This has been a year full of ups and downs. High anxiety and stress-filled periods where I become a terrible version of myself, and then amazing periods of growth and self-discovery where I move toward a much brighter-burning version of myself. I ain’t perfect; I’m simply trying to continue onward.

This space has always been where I choose to express my creativity and passion: what keeps me going, what makes me smile and what makes me tick. What I love. What I feel. Basically, the stuff I actually give a damn about. I recently stumbled across a blog post that essentially boiled down to “Stop complaining about being unhappy/not living the life you want. You have the power to make time/space for the things that you love.” Of course, it was much longer and more eloquently stated than that, but it was an “aha!” moment for me. That little wake up call coupled with this strong, underlying, constant desire to fill an emptiness – the one that is yearning for a space to nurture the bubbling, sizzling, buzzing orb of my unused, pent-up creativity – steered me toward this empty white box. Here I am. Hello. 🙂

It’s important to me for this space to reflect who I am as I write, and I wanted to bring you all along for the ride. I’m not exactly sure what this space will become next but, as Joan Didion said, “I don’t know what I think until I write about it.” Buckle up, buttercup. We’re going to do some things over here.

With warmth,

L

Don’t Talk to Strangers at the Gym

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In the spirit of Don’t Fart in Spin Class, this post is brought to you by an irritating personal experience at the gym this morning and regards gym etiquette. Let me set this up for you: I have a membership to the very nice, newly renovated fitness center on campus. I arrive the moment the doors open at 6:30 am so I can get my workout in before I start my day (also because I have to compete with the frat bros for my favorite squat rack, so there’s that too). This morning I was doing a HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) sequence to work on speed, power and agility. I was doing the second half of my workout, currently in the third and final round of:  Continue reading

Kimchi Bowl with Red Curry Almond Sauce

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Happy Tuesday all! I’m right in the middle of a crazy week of research but made this recipe last night and it was SO good, it’s a must-share. I love the idea of “throw it all together” bowls – an easy, stress-free, busy weeknight meal (as you know, lots of recipes around here follow a pretty simple formula: grain + veggies + protein + delicious sauce = booyah). My sister was the one who gave me the idea to make rice bowls for dinner when I’m super busy during the week. As a working mom of a two-year-old, she knows what’s up. She recommended that I get myself a rice cooker, as it’s a no-brainer: it eliminates one step in the prep process. You throw the rice in there, don’t even have to pay attention to what it’s doing, and it will always come out perfect. If you’ve been following along the past few years, you’ll know that I love me some quinoa, and quinoa works perfectly in a rice cooker too. SLAM DUNK.

I originally saw this recipe posted on Shape.com and found it comes from a cookbook called Vegan Bowl Attack. Right up my alley, right? I changed a few things in the recipe: I used way more lime in the sauce because I’m obsessed with lime and there is no such thing as too much citrus IMO, and I substituted black quinoa for brown rice (just cuz I felt like it). When I made it the first time, I added sautéed mushrooms and used Romanesco instead of regular broccoli. Either way – it’s damn good.

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Kimchi Bowl with Red Curry Almond Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup black quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water*
  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 1 can (15 ounces) adzuki beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon liquid aminos
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 teaspoons red curry paste
  • 2 – 3  limes, juiced
  • 1 cup store-bought vegan kimchi
  • 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds

Directions:

    1. Place the quinoa and water in a rice cooker and cook for 20 minutes or until the quinoa is soft.
    2. Bring water to boil on the stovetop to steam broccoli. Place the broccoli florets in the steamer basket and cook for 5 minutes, or until bright green and slightly crunchy.
    3. In a small pan over medium heat, mix the adzuki beans with the liquid aminos and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
    4. To make the red curry almond sauce, whisk all water, almond butter, red curry paste, and lime juice together until smooth.
    5. Divide the quinoa and broccoli among 4 bowls. Divide the adzuki beans among the bowls. Place one-quarter of the kimchi in each bowl and drizzle the red curry almond sauce over the top. Garnish with the black sesame seeds and serve.

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This recipe was STELLAR. The sauce is amazing, and it’s super simple: everything is ready in less than half an hour (which also reduces the likelihood that I will eat an entire container of hummus before my dinner is ready). And when you’re super busy (as we all seem to be) and trying to eat healthy, nothing is better than being able to whip up something super delicious with minimal prep.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! 🙂

With warmth,

L

Friday Faves

Missed me, did ya? Don’t worry – I’ve got the low down on all the things I’ve been feeling lately. Let’s begin, shall we?

  1. Lisa Frank Workout Gear unicorn crop.jpg

Say whaaaat! You’ve gotta know that my obsession with Lisa Frank runs deep (#90schild), and this workout gear is super fun and a little bit over the top ridiculous – but working out should be fun, and your gear should be too. Loving it. I would 100% wear that unicorn crop top while getting down and dirty at the gym (and probably in real life too). Check out more here.

2. Proudly American Balega Socks

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Balega socks are some of the best running socks in the game, in my opinion. Super comfortable, plush, cushiony, breathable, easy to pull on and they hold up wonderfully in the wash. If I had unlimited funds, I would throw away all my crappy socks from Target and fill my drawer with Balega socks. Also, who would not want to support their country on their feet while getting their sweat on? I love the patriotic flair. Check them out here.

3. Garmin Vivosmart HR

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Sadly, my 2.5 year old Garmin Vivosmart watch died a tragic death this weekend, and since I depend on that bad boy to let me know when to get off my rear and get some more exercise during the day/sleep quality/a rough estimate of calories burned/etc, I felt compelled to immediately get the new generation of Garmin Vivosmart, with heart rate monitor included. IT. FREAKIN. RULES. Okay, so I’ve only had it for one day (and right now I’m having trouble syncing it with my phone, ugh the struggle!). But the design is an upgrade, with an actual watch closure instead of a snap closure that tends to fly off (say, when you’re doing box jumps and your watch catches on the side of your workout pants and goes flying off toward your friend – sorry, Rel!). The display is easier to read and use, and now includes weather data, which I find to be useful. AND it comes in three muted colors that aren’t as obnoxious at the first generation (I got the dark purple, obvs). If it ends up totally being a POS, I will let all of you know that. But so far, so good! 🙂

4. Athleta Semi-Annual Sale

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YAY! Now that I’m a grad student on a tight budget, I have sworn off my obsession with Lululemon (their price increase on their pants last summer did not help, either) and have become increasingly obsessed with Athleta. Their athleisure is very approachable (I’ve gotta some really cute non-workout things), and some of their workout gear is totally Booyah-approved. I may or may not have scooped up this dress:

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You can check out their sale here.

5. Work From Home – Fifth Harmony

 

This song has been in my head for two days. You’re welcome.

Happy Friday, all!! What are you up to this weekend? Tell me all about it in the comments!

With warmth,

L

Doing Your Best

…is what life is all about. Obviously, I slightly fell off the face of Earth this summer juggling my workouts/getting back into the healthy eating groove/grad school/research/life’s responsibilities/as much fun as I can pack into every summer weekend. I’m happy to report that, despite not blogging every step of the way, I did indeed stick to “Fat Camp” aka Operation Booyah. Not every day was perfect, as you can imagine. But I didn’t give up, and even though there were many days where I did not feel like doing my workout, I managed to find a way to be active and feel like I did something toward my goal. Instead of my typical “PUSH THROUGH IT” modus operandi, I embraced a gentler, more go-with-the-flow attitude. If I had Leg Day scheduled, picked up the barbell and just didn’t feel like it, I didn’t force it. When you’ve been a fitness fanatic for the past 3 years, it’s not that hard to come up with something else to do on the fly. I learned some things throughout this process of getting back into my groove. And now I’m happy to share them with you. 🙂

  1. Fitness should be fun. Don’t force it if you’re not feeling it (maybe your body is telling you something, like take a rest day). Being active should be joyful, refreshing, challenging, and empowering but not something you dread. If you’re dreading your workout, you’re doing it wrong. Approach being active from a positive place instead of feeling obligated to stick to some kind of insane punishing workout, and your whole mood will change. Life is hard enough as it is, you don’t need to torture yourself to be active.
  2. Perfection is overrated. I did my best to stick to a consistent healthy eating plan, but I also ate birthday cake and sipped on some fancy cocktails. Hello, I’m not a monk. During the week it was a breeze, but I spent a lot of my weekends traveling to visit friends/family. Logging my meals into MyFitnessPal helped me stay on track for the most part, but I didn’t beat myself up if I missed a day or two. Life is about being flexible. And eating two loaded veggie burgers at your sister’s BBQ if you want them, damn it. 😉
  3. Stick to your mental game. When I realized I needed to change my eating and exercise habits back in May, it was easy to slip into a negative headspace. Let’s be honest, when you can’t zip up your favorite pair of pants, it’s hard to come from a Pollyanna place of self-love and see the positive side of things. Monitoring your progress in some way, and looking back to seeing how far you’ve come helps keep your head in the game.
  4. Do not let anyone else’s opinion besides your own stick in your head. I heard a lot of comments about my recommitment to healthy eating and fitness. Things like “You’re exercising too much”/ “Do you always eat that healthy?” / “It looks like you’ve lost a lot of weight” / “I could never do that. It must be so boring to eat so healthy all of the time” / blahblahblah. You’ve gotta put on your Zero F***s Given Glasses and just let all of that stuff rolllllll offfff your shoulders. Guess what? Those people don’t live in your body, only you do. You do you, and to hell with anyone who stands in your way.
  5. Celebrate each milestone on the way to your goal. Acknowledge your hard work and accomplishments, and  allow yourself to fully appreciate how much time, effort and energy you put into working toward a goal. That is not a small thing.

Since I started back in May, I have lost 8.5 pounds and one dress size, can now squat and deadlift 110% of my bodyweight, and box jump and burpee to my heart’s content. All from sticking to guns, following through with a healthy eating plan and committing to consistently working out. Changing my approach to self-love instead of self-ass kicking totally revamped the amount of stress and pressure I felt to get back into shape. Now that I’m back, I’m looking forward to creating more fun, joyful workouts and experimenting more in the kitchen.

I hope all of you have had a peaceful and fulfilling summer.

With warmth,

L

OH PS: I’ve got some sick Rosé hair now 😉

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Day 5 of Operation Booyah

So far, so good! Here are some things that have happened since Fat Camp started on Monday:

  1. My skin looks amaze. I started downing water like a pro, and not only do I get extra steps in because I have to walk to the bathroom to pee every hour on the hour, but it helps me not feel so hungry (it’s turned into my own drinking game, every time I feel something that resembles hunger, I drink aqua first). The water – it’s soo, sooo good.
  2. My body has fallen back into a very set schedule. I’ve always been like this – not only a morning person, but someone who thrives on consistency. I fall asleep at around 10 pm, I wake up at 5:50 am (almost on the dot, it’s uncanny). Which is why I’m awake, writing to you folks at 6:30 am on a Saturday. Eye-roll.
  3. Biking to campus for “work” (aka grad school, I still think of myself as part of the workforce and not really a student, since I go in during normal work hours) has been a game-changer. Not only does it wake me up and make me feel energized for the day, but it is so, so relaxing. I don’t have to worry about traffic, I don’t have to worry about getting a good parking spot, I don’t have to worry I’m going to be late because I have to get gas, etc. It is meditative. Since I leave pretty early (around 7 am), the morning dew is still sparkling on the grass, my animal friends make me feel like an animated character in Cinderella, and it’s so, so quiet. At the end of the day, there is nothing better than getting outside in the fresh air after being stuck inside all day. Some days I feel a little grumpy about it, and my car keys sitting on the counter are quite tempting, but I have stuck to it every day and have no regrets!
  4. Tracking my calories/macros is not as annoying as you’d think. MyFitnessPal is a dream come true in an app, for a Fat Camp participant. The best thing? It syncs with my Garmin Vivosmart for step counts and activities (such as runs), and then adds the extra calories I’ve burned for me to eat when I’m active (which I am). Hallelujah! As for sticking to my diet, Volumetrics is the name of the game here – I’ve been eating lots of large volumes of low calorie foods so I don’t feel starving throughout the day.
  5. The mental benefit has been the best. Even though I don’t really “look” different after only 5 days of working out and watching what I eat, I feel totally different. I have more energy, and more joie de vivre – I’m back! My muscles are sore in a good way, my insides feel better when I eat all the green things, and all those endorphins flowing are just spectacular.

The fact that I want this, and am approaching this situation from a place of love makes it different from all of my other endeavors in healthy eating/working out. I want to feel strong. I miss the feeling of being really fit – like I could run a 5K at any moment, go on a super long hike in the White Mountains without wanting to die, do a double header of classes on Saturday morning at BSC with my fave gym ladies. I miss all of that, and I want it back. So working hard for it and sticking to my macros has not been nearly as difficult or soul-crushing as I anticipated. I am working towards the best version of Booyah.

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With that, I’ll wish you all a happy weekend! It’s my first rest day since I’ve started and daaaang do I need it. 🙂

Warmth and love,

L

Day 1 of Operation Booyah

Hi, hello and happy Monday! L here, reporting live from the ground at Operation Booyah, aka Day 1 of Fat Camp (from now on, I will be referring to my journey to get back into tough as nails shape as Operation Booyah). Blogging about this journey seems to be the best way to hold myself accountable, and I will take you through my highs and lows as I continue to share recipes, tips and motivational boosts.

In order to help this process along as efficiently as possible, I’ve started tracking my meals and striving for a goal of being active for 1 hour a day, six days a week. Active doesn’t mean doing an insane HIIT session for 60 minutes every day, but includes things like hiking and even just going for a walk after work, and taking rest days when I need them. I’m optimistic but not insane, I know that going from 0 to 60 is going to be hellish (aka, I’ll be moving around like a robot) until I get over The Hump and exercise comes easy once again.

Some notes so far: 

  1. It really, really sucks to not be able to blob on the couch after work, watch Netflix in my comfy pants, drink as much wine as I feel like and eat waffle fries covered in Frank’s Hot Sauce for dinner. Even though I’m a student again, my 19 year-old metabolism is a thing of the distant past so that’s no longer an appropriate stress reliever (or something that I can do most nights without repercussion – see not being able to button my pants in my previous post, oy vey).
  2. I forgot what it felt like to be ACTUALLY hungry. If I felt distant pangs of hunger, I would eat a snack, procured from the infamous snack drawer in my office that was mostly filled with candy (Food Science people always have candy around, dammit) . Now, I am being more thoughtful with those feelings, and giving them a closer look. Why do I want to eat? Am I bored? Sad? Stressed? Thirsty? Or, am I just really hungry? Instead of shoving food in my face to satisfy those pangs, I’ve been going with the “water first” policy to reassess. Fun? Nope. Necessary? Yeahhh…
  3. Working out DOES make you feel good. See: endorphins. When you get in a rut, it’s hard to remember how rewarding it is to absolutely smash (or at least put your best foot forward toward) a workout.
  4. I’m still L. No matter how I feel, I am still the strong woman who kicked ass and ran a half marathon under two hours, crushed a Tough Mudder, had the strength to up-end my life in Boston to start grad school, all in order to work toward my goals and live a rewarding life. I will get there. It may take time, be a total effing pain in the ass, and at times not that fun, but I will get there. I am determined. Let’s keep movin’ forward.

I’ll be back tomorrow to give you my meal plan for the week. Happy Monday, all!

With warmth,

L

 

Little Miss Booyah Goes to Fat Camp

When I was in the midst of half-marathon training, push-up crushing and generally owning life, I donated all my fat pants. You know, those pants you wear when your muffin top is busting out of your normal clothes, after holidays and vacations or extended breaks from the gym. I was so deep in Booyah that I was totally in denial of thinking I would ever need those pants again. Why would I ever stop working out consistently? It made me feeling amazing, strong, empowered – I slept like a champ, I could fit into all of my clothes with room to spare. No need for those pants now that I was firmly planted in Booyahville.

Wrong, oh so wrong. When do you need your fat pants? Maybe when you stop working out because you’re in grad school and have no time or mental energy to devote to staying fit. Or maybe when you stop eating fruit/vegetables at every meal and replace your meals with Earth Balance Mac N’Cheeze and waffle fries because you just don’t have it in you to cook up something healthy that actually takes time, planning and thought. Basically, when you give up just so you can make it through your semester in one piece. Yeah. I’m there!

I did in fact make it, and crush my first semester (with only one A- ruining my perfect 4.0, 3.95 isn’t too shabby, though). And I’ve made it to summer, where my only focus is on my thesis project and doing research during normal work day hours, and my free time comes back to me in spades. Since I had only really been wearing Lulu pants, it didn’t dawn on me that I gained weight until I tried to button my favorite skinnies and it wasn’t going to happen. Well, sh*t. I made some half hearted attempts during the past two weeks to getting back on track, but this is it: I’m not going to magically recover my upper body strength or running stamina by giving it 50%. Oh no sir – we are going for it, Booyah-style.

The confounding factor here is that my asthma and allergies are at an all-time high: I get winded quickly, and now that I live in the woods the pollen is about 153198% worse than it was in Boston, so this will be an uphill battle. But I’m stubborn AF and this is happening, dammit.

With no big races on the docket, the only thing I’m training and eating for is a better and healthier ME. One that can run a 5K on a dime, do manual labor without being sore to the touch the next day and feel glow-y inside and out. So here we go, Booyahs. Get pumped. I will be tracking my meals and workouts, and focusing on being active every single day in some way, and planning my meals in advance. Back to Booyahville we go. Buckle up!

With warmth,

L

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

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Do you ever have a day where you feel like biting into a chocolate chip cookie warm from the oven would dissolve your stress and make you feel waaaaay better about life? Today I had that day. This week was a long one – full of exams and general school/life stress. It’s the final push to the end of my first semester in grad school, and I needed to whip up something good to help me to keep powering through. After not being a student for six years, you quickly forget what it’s like. 😉

Being in the kitchen is my number two favorite way to relax (clocking in right behind going for a long trail run), and I find baking to be especially soothing. These chocolate chip cookies are sooo delicious – they would fool your Grandma into thinking you made them from the Tollhouse recipe. Not only are they completely dairy and egg free, but they don’t have anything weird in them – so they are easy to whip up with ingredients on hand. I hope you enjoy this vegan treat as much as I did. 🙂

L’s Delicious AF Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup vegan butter (I use Earth Balance)
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 c semisweet chocolate chips (or the whole 12 oz bag, whatev)
1 cup chopped pecans, if you feel like it

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 or 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat (if you don’t have either of those, no worries – they work fine on regular ass baking sheets).
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Using a kitchen mixer or hand mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, sugar, water, and vanilla until fluffy. Slowly beat in the flour mixture in portions. Once the flour mixture is incorporated, add chocolate chips and pecans.
  4. Scoop about 1 rounded tablespoon of dough at a time onto the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches between each scoop. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges are golden. Let cool on the pan and serve.

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I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

With warmth,

L

Simple

It’s past 11 pm. According to my calculations, I should be deep into REM sleep by now. All of my things are ready: my gym bag is packed, my breakfast and lunch are sitting side by side in the humming darkness of my refrigerator. My teeth are brushed. But here I am. Wide awake.

Sometimes things don’t go the way we want them to. I could fill this white page with the clichés: you make plans and the universe laughs at them. Or something like that. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt a true aching need to tap tap tap on my keyboard, illuminated by the glare of my computer screen in my dark bedroom and let the words flow out of my fingertips. A loooong time. I’ll tell you something: I used to write a lot. When I couldn’t sleep, I would sit propped up in bed, a spiral notebook and a ballpoint pen, writing until I finally fell asleep, hoping that I didn’t wake up with ink stains on my bed sheets. When the words built up behind my tongue and buzzed up and down my nerves trying to tumble out, I would commit them to paper. When it seemed nothing made sense, or my mind wouldn’t quiet itself, with unspoken phrases pressing on my temples, I had to liberate my thoughts and manifest them somewhere physical. Spew them out. So let’s do this.

While I was walking to retrieve my laptop out of my impeccably packed work bag, I was thinking of what to write to all of you. Part of me wanted to apologize for not creating new recipes frequently enough. Or providing my detailed workouts on a weekly basis to inspire your own workout/activity. Instead I want to climb right outside of the box and share a (non-vegan, non-active) slice of my real life: change.

Let’s recap. At the end of 2015, I quit my job, left my life behind in Boston, moved to a new state and started graduate school. The first and most immediate adjustment was not being in a real job anymore. No one here cares if you wear a t-shirt that last came out of your dresser in 2006, or roll into class without showering after taking an 8 am spin class. It is so unnatural to not be Ms. Bostonian Senior Scientist anymore – my hands were constantly fiddling, looking for some work to do. The first few days I was here I felt like I was playing hooky from work and would eventually get caught, my manager calling me into his office. Just typing it out – that I’m a student – continues to be so weird and so foreign to me. I still consider myself a working professional, and have to fight the ingrained need to dress in business casual in order to attend Dairy Foods Processing Lab just to learn how to make yogurt. The second, and much deeper adjustment was the quiet. No, I’m not just talking about the fact that I packed up all my sh*t and moved to the woods (I did, in fact). I’m talking about the time available to reflect. My days were always full in Boston, a constant, reassuring cycle – I had my friends, my job, my home – that I took great pleasure in. Leaving all of that was a jolt, a break in a comfortable routine, making room for something new to arise in its place. Here there is time, quiet, and space to reflect on where I am heading and the present that I am creating for myself. My main man Alan Watts really says it best. It has been ages since I’ve read any of his work, until I came across this quote:

The meaning of life is just to be alive. It is so plain and so obvious and so simple. And yet, everyone rushes around in a great panic as if it were necessary to achieve something beyond themselves. 

Raises hand* Guilty as charged. For the past two and a half months, I was running around in a panic feeling the need to do, I forgot to just let go and immerse myself in the change. Sometimes we forget that. All of the things swirling around us – over analyzing, over thinking each and every one of them – cloud what is really in front of us (it’s simply us). We are only a tiny speck in the universe. We forget to embrace it, to go out and simply enjoy this beautiful experience.

Life is not so serious. If there is any way to do it right, it is simply to live life joyfully, and not worry so much about the other stuff. Create a present that you love.

 

With booyah zen warmth,

L