Sponsored by Zappos x Brooks Running
We all know this yogi is SUPER into leggings and active-wear, and can normally be found running around barefoot somewhere or doing yoga against a new backdrop. But what about when I'm not doing things for the gram? To be honest, I love playing with fashion and casual street style, and I get even more excited when my active wear and shoes can seamlessly go from one to the other. I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to try Brooks Levitate (LE) Limited Edition running shoes, and apparel from Brooks to style for my day around, as well as a workout.
I chose to go for black leggings with mesh inserts. I like the details and functionality of mesh in my leggings; it keeps me from getting over heated. Whenever I wear leggings as pants outside of fitness classes, I prefer to wear a tunic length shirt. I like to play with proportions a bit by adding a shorter (regular length) jacket, finish with a light scarf for spring and some sunglasses, and I'm ready to go! In the pictures above, I was headed to dinner with my friend. I spent a good 45 minutes walking around on foot exploring the town of Benecia, California first, and these Levitate shoes were clutch. So comfortable and supportive!
Links to my leggings and shoes.
After dinner and some time to digest, I was able to quickly switch from street style to running style. All I had to do was change shirts, stretch and I was off for a sunset workout.
Links to purchase tank and sports bra.
I really love the ease and convenience of cute fitness clothes that dress up when I socialize, and then quickly switch into workout mode. I highly recommend these shoes from Zappos x Brooks as well. I was on my feet all day between exploring and running, and they were seriously super comfortable!
If you follow me on Instagram (@cherylfyoga), you probably know that Athleta nominated me for their #upforanythingchallenge.** Please note, my class and wardrobe were sponsored by Athleta in exchange for social media posts and this honest review of my experience.
So I did cross fit...I know, right? A slow flow, Hatha yogi doing cross fit?? Yeah, I was equally concerned. But I had a rocking new set of Athleta up for anything tights, a challenge to prove I could do something new, and the fact that I had already said yes, and announced it on social media...lol.
I'll be the first to admit that I was 100% wrong about my preconceived notions of the cross fit community. I thought it was all about swinging ropes, flipping tires, and being jacked. Hence my nerves. In reality, the experience was amazing. I took a private lesson from a trainer who studied functional mobility. We started with lessons on proper form and core stabilization before moving on to the actual workout. Each step of the workout started with a lesson on form, as well. I felt encouraged, supported, and extremely motivated. Plus, I had zero questions about whether my trainer knew what she was doing; it was obvious. She even explained things to me in the way that a yoga teacher would cue a class.
I'm not going to say that this is experience you'd have at most cross fit classes. I purposely chose a small facility in a small town nearby and took advantage of their "first class free" program on off hours, partly out of nerves, but mostly because I really wanted to dive deeper into the experience than I'd be able to do in a group class. Aside from that, I will say that if you do go to a cross fit gym and they don't talk to you about the reasons cross fit works, the unique and always changing nature of classes, your overall health, and functional mobility, then it's probably not the gym for you. There's more to cross fit than is often portrayed and definitely more than I thought going in. I will also add that I'm definitely going back, because I know at some point tire flipping really is involved, and that's something I definitely want to do. lol. Regardless, I got a good workout, pushed myself harder than I had in a while, and was sore in the best of ways for several days.
Are you up to try something new? Are you #upforanything?
Many thanks to Cross fit Vacaville for this experience and Athleta (www.athleta.com) for including me in this challenge!
Over the holidays, my family got quite a few lovely bouquets with roses and baby’s breath and other cute little flowers. That really got me to brainstorming: I have all these essential oils I’ve collected over the past couple of years, I love Epsom salt baths, and I love flowers. So, I started drying out the rose petals and tiny decorative flowers, picked some lavender from my herb garden, and hopped online to research ratios for my blends.
These blends make great gifts for friends and family. They also allow you to turn your bath time into spa time, reaping the benefits of both Epsom salt soaks, and aromatherapy.
I came up with two bath soaks that I really enjoy, but this recipe makes a good base for any essential oil blend you prefer. Let this be your jumping off point! Also, if you’re like me and don’t want to wait a while for all the flowers to dry, turn your oven on its lowest setting, lay your flowers, herbs, and/or petals out on a baking sheet, and stick them in the oven. Start with 8-10 minutes and check every few minutes after that. The good thing about low temperature oven drying is that its way faster than just waiting for air to do the trick, and it preserves the color of the rose petals.
And without further ado…
The base for the bath soak is 2 cups Epsom salts to one cup of Pink Himalayan Sea Salt. I got both of mine off amazon. I also purchased 6oz mason jars for storage. One batch of this salt blend will produce 3-5 jars depending on how many additional additives you put in and how full you make the jars. Add 8-10 drops (combined) of oils, and 5-8 drops of carrier oil, then mix while slowly adding additional salt at the 2 to 1 ratio until you have the texture you want. Add flowers and/or dried herbs, mix again and pour into your jars. It’s that simple!
“I am at Peace” Crown Chakra Blend
In a big bowl, put two cups of the Epsom salt and one cup of Himalayan. Add 5 drops of your carrier oil (if you are using it), then add 3 drops of lavender oil, 3 of patchouli, 3 of frankincense, and 3 of sandalwood. Blend with ¼ cup of dried lavender, 1/8 chopped rose petals, and 1/8 cup baby’s breath (optional). Feel free to add more or less of anything depending on your personal preference. Mix well, adding additional salt to get the texture you desire. The salts should have a hint of oil to the touch, but not be clumping together or obviously over saturated. Next, pour into your jars, and done! When it comes time to using your salts, if you don’t like the idea of pouring flower petals and herbs directly into your bath, take one of the little muslin bags I mentioned above, add your bath soak to the bag, and toss the bag in your tub for a mess free solution.
“Calm and Relax Blend” from Blue Ridge Hemp
I’m a big fan of blue ridge hemp products. I’ve had my calm and relax CBD roll on for a while and love the smell of the oils. I also love CBD products, so for this blend, I decided to just pop off the top of my roll on, pour in about half the contents, and blend with my 2 to 1 salt mix. Then I added ¼ cup dried lavender, about a tablespoon of tangerine zest, dried rose petals, and some dried little flowers that I can’t identify but came in a bouquet I got. The ingredients in the CBD blend are: Grapeseed Oil, Cannabis sativa L. Extract, Lavender Flower, Valerian Root, Tangerine Essential Oil, Orange Essential Oil, Ylang Ylang Essential Oil, Patchouli Essential Oil, Blue Tansy Essential Oil, Contains Amethyst. You can purchase it here: https://blueridgehempco.com/products/cbd-infused-roll-on-oil-blend-calm-relax. I am not and have never been paid by Blue Ridge Hemp, but I did receive this product for free about a year ago.
I hope you guys enjoy this base recipe for making your own bath soaks. Remember, I used 6 oz. jars and each batch made between 3-5 jars depending on how full I made them and how many flowers I put in. You can use muslin bags for the same effect as adding the salts directly to the bath, but with the salts in the bag, there’s no chance of flowers clogging your drain. The blends I made are for what I needed for my body. Mix one is for relaxation, connecting with myself, and bringing awareness to the here and now. Mix two is for calming my mind and body. Both have multiple benefits because each ingredient (except the decorative flowers) is known to aid the body or mind in some way. Have fun with it! Experiment! You never know what you might come up with!
I’ve been living the broke but happy life for a little over a year now. Since giving up legal pursuits for yoga ones, I’ve been scraping by, but have not had nearly enough money to travel. When my long-time Instagram friend Pat Baily (aka Pat Russo, aka @patbailey) invited me to go on a retreat with her Hell Yes Agency in Sayulita, Mexico, I had to seriously pause before I considered it. This was the first time I’d had the money for a retreat in my bank account, but that would also mean nearly draining all my financial resources in the process. The fact that on my list of 32 things to do before I turn 32 renew and use my passport was something that weighed in on my decision-making process. I chose to drain my bank account and go relying on promises of some freelance work I had coming in in the few weeks after I returned.Now that I’m back and have secured my finances for the next month or two, I had the time to pause and reflect on the retreat. There was a lot I really enjoyed, some I could have done without, and a few lessons learned.
When I arrived in Sayulita at the Amor Boutique Hotel (more pictures on my travel page), I was instantly greeted with hugs and smiles. All the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful. Most spoke enough English that I could use my broken Spanglish back, and we got things figured out. I really didn’t have any communication problems. The rooms were beautiful, there was a spa, pool, yoga villa, private beach, restaurant, free bikes, free surf boards, free yoga lessons, free paddle boards, massages, etc. My villa had two other people staying it. We had a balcony, a pool, a kitchen, fresh water, two suits and one bedroom with a separate bathroom, and my room had its own entrance and exit. The loner in me was really happy with that last one. Town was only a short walk away down the road or beach (maybe ten minutes), and fairly safe.
The town of Sayulita itself is a mixture of native Mexican people and foreigners (A LOT from Los Angeles) who moved to town to surf, fish, and/or teach yoga or open another business. Most places had someone around that spoke English if needed, and everywhere I went took credit cards if you didn’t have pesos. A lot also took US dollars. Not the street vendors though! I had a fun time haggling over pesos with them.
Back to the retreat. The thing I really disliked about the retreat was actually two things that sound contradictory. The retreat was both over, and under organized. We didn’t get our schedules, for example, until after we arrived. That meant I WAY overpacked because I didn’t know what I was going to be doing. And when we got our schedules, we only had about a combined 5 hours of free time per day and the rest was scheduled between 7 am and 10 pm. It was pretty exhausting. I opted to avoid a lot of the workshops (not yoga ones) to spend some time alone strolling through town or peeking in tide pools.
What I really liked was the location and the yoga instructor. Kudos to Pat for choosing an amazing establishment. The hotel was perfectly situated at the end of the beach so we were far enough from town to avoid all the noise, and we were right on the ocean (I mean the beach under us disappeared at high tide, right on the ocean!). Seriously, I loved my stay there and everyone who worked there that I interacted with. Major kudos to Janalyn who is the retreat organizer at the hotel (Instagram @janalyn.rose). She taught us daily yoga and met up with us for all meals. She also tried to teach us to stand up paddleboard yoga, but most of us were epic failures at that. Janalyn organized a lot of cool things for us like meeting other local business owners, taking salsa lessons, and a ladies’ Valentine’s dinner with chocolates. She even went out of her way to make sure that the place we met to have our meals could accommodate my gluten allergy. They were wonderful. The place is called Tierra Viva if you are ever looking for a restaurant with good food (really good) and fresh ingredients who can cater to any dietary restriction. They were very careful for me and I didn’t have any issues. I didn’t see Janylyn as much as I saw Pat, because she was mostly meeting us off property. Unfortunately, because of the nature of the schedule, the events I missed tended to be the ones she hosted like vision boarding or heart mapping. However, she always raised interesting and deep topics of conversation at meals to keep us all talking and bonding, so I imagine her workshops were great. Her yoga classes were a great mix of static and dynamic movements and were flows that deviated from the traditional vinyasa style which I really liked. I also learned more about paddle boarding from her in 15 minutes than I have from anyone in my whole life. She really knows her stuff about anything ocean related. Oh, and she’s also a photographer.
So, what did I learn? I learned that the next retreat I go on will be one with a more fluid schedule. I also prefer activities that get me out into the town or onto the ocean instead of hanging in the hotel. While I think vision boarding, for example, is a wonderful workshop, I would have preferred if it was on the beach instead of indoors. Same for the sister circle or ukulele and yin yoga. I love nature and I love the outdoors. If I’m traveling to somewhere I can be outside all the time, I want to be outside as much as possible. If I’m given the options of ukulele and yin indoors versus sitting by the ocean and night and looking at the stars, I’m going to choose the later. If the two were combined, it would have been perfect. Note to self for future retreat hosting.
I also learned I much prefer activities with a fitness aspect or some element of excitement. Rather than touring the shops of town, I’d rather explore the hidden caves along the beaches 20 miles away. Rather than going to a famous churro stand, I would prefer to hike to a waterfall. So now I know that if I go on another retreat that I would be happier with a yoga and adventure retreat. One of the reasons I didn’t bond with my fellow retreaters as much as I could have been because I was off exploring so much on my own. Maybe that’s because I’m an introvert, maybe it’s because I get anxious when I have to follow a tight schedule that requires a lot of bouncing from place to place. Maybe it’s because I just wanted to do my own thing. Who knows. That’s a topic for another blog post. I do know for sure that I will never do another retreat without the schedule upfront, but I would travel with Pat or Janalyn again, and for sure go back to Sayulita and the Amor Boutique Hotel. Maybe I'll plan my own retreat there. I will definitely be going back to Sayulita soon; there's a certain magic about that pltownace.
Check out my travel page for more pictures of Sayulita as well as my instagram accounts: @cherylandhercamera and @cherylfyoga. xoxo!
I’m not big on celebrating my birthday anymore. In truth, I really only mark the occasion out of a feeling of obligation. I don’t think the fact that I lived 365 days deserves celebration, other than thanking my parents for creating me I mean, it is nice to be acknowledged and get a little bit of attention for no particular reason. It is nice to hear from people I don’t speak with regularly. But if I’m being completely honest, I could skip the day all together and it would not be that big of a deal. It was always a big to-do for me when I was younger, and I always made a fuss. My theory was that I could celebrate for the day before and the day after, as well. Unfortunately, having a birthday on December 6, and going to college proved futile for my birthday partying ways. From college through law school, my birthday was always right before finals week, making celebrations difficult. Instead of big parties, I switched to dinner with friends. After law school, I worked more, and went out less. I was splitting time between legal work and the food service industry, making a consistent social life somewhat difficult. Instead of massive celebrations, I switched to a small gathering of friends at a bar, drinking, dancing, and freezing our butts off in the Vermont winter. The last two years, however, that changed into going out with one or two friends the night before my birthday, toasting at midnight, and then getting beyond hammered. This resulted in sleeping through my actual birthday, too hung over to do anything but spoon my dog and whine. Productive, right? Probably not the best idea for an ex drug addict, either.
This year, being in between my apartment in Los Angeles and moving in with my boyfriend in New Jersey, I’m staying with my parents in northern California. No friends here, no desire to go out and get hammered, no real urge to do anything to mark the occasion except eat the brownies my boyfriend mailed me and get a decent gluten free meal with my parents. When asked by a few of my Instagram followers how I was planning on celebrating turning 31, I had to think for a few minutes. I wasn’t really doing anything to celebrate. I wasn’t expecting any gifts because I had not asked for anything, and I wasn’t expecting my parents to make a fuss because I didn’t ask them to do anything. I decided instead of making a big fuss about myself, I would make a big fuss for myself. I’m giving myself a present this year. I came up with the idea to make a list of 32 things to do or change about myself before I turn 32 on December 6, 2017. I will be blogging and posting on Instagram about my experiences as I check things off.
I really hope my list inspires you to go out and give yourself something for your birthday. Not a present you can buy off the shelves, but one that pushes you to try and learn new things and grow as a person. Enjoy!!
32 by 32
Best Street Art Walls in the Arts District
You've seen the pictures all over social media: beautiful murals and brightly colored walls with bloggers, yogis, and photo fanatics posing all around. There are soooooooooooooooooo (enough o's for you, because I don't know if that's enough to get my point across, lol) many murals and graffiti hot spots all over LA that it would be impossible to see them all in the time I have lived here. I mean even the city electrical boxes are artfully painted! Some of this street art changes constantly, such is the nature of painting on privately owned buildings. However, some of this art has become like an institution in Los Angeles, especially in the Art's District of Downtown.
I was fortunate to spend the last year living a short distance from the Arts District; one of the major hotbeds of street art in the city, and one of the places with some of the most iconic art. The scenery around here is constantly changing with new tags, new artists, and photographers and videoagraphers wandering all around. After all, it's an artsy place with lots of creative types and there are a limited number of walls and fences and abandoned vehicles around town. A lot of the art you will see once and come back and find covered over by something entirely new. However, the ten places below are some of those iconic Arts District photographable places that don't change (or at least not in the year that I've been going to them), and therefore guarantee you a consistently beautiful experience each time.
So where are these walls I and so many others are fond of photographing? I've mapped them out for you, and included the link in this post, but here's a written description with photos as well. Sorry guys, I haven't been able to take yoga pictures at all of them just yet. Even though I wish it was the case, every moment can't always be a yoga pose moment (pout). Also, under each of the write ups following the pictures/galleries, there is a link directly to the artist's website or social media account if the artist is known (and has an online presence). Enjoy!
1. Corner of Los Angeles and Winston Streets
One of a few very large Audrey Hepburn murals created by Free Humanity. The mural is 15 x 50 feet in size and shows a lovely Ms. Hepburn surrounded by a field of hearts. It reads "It's that wonderful old fashioned idea that others come first and you come second."
I love this wall because of Audrey, obviously. But the other great thing about it is the background. The hearts and love are truly beautiful and fit right in with the artist's mission statement: "Taking back the Humanity stolen from our minds by social manipulation and planting the seed of positivity through art and consciousness." Also, I'm a sucker for heart walls. www.freehumanity.la
2. Angel City Brewery, 216 Alameda Street
The Angel City Brewery is known for it's beer and it's art walls. The red brick features one of many of the the Heart of Los Angeles walls designed by artist Tiphanie Brooke, a.k.a. antigirl, and her partner Mike Polson. http://antigirl.la/
You probably know the brewery most, however, for it's wall featuring an installation of The Global Wings Project by Colette Miller, which has a second location in the Arts District and several others around LA. Ms. Miller founded this project in 2012 "to remind humanity that we are the angels of this earth." http://colettemiller.com/angelwings
3. EightyTwo, 707 E. 4th Place
This place is actually a really cool bar and arcade during the evening and night. During the daytime it's an awesome place to stop and take pictures! The building was done as an untitled collaborative piece between Vyal (aka Vyal One) and RISK. Vyal is a native of East LA and is known for using dark, rich colors and his signature eyes and bubbles. You've probably seen his work around town in a few places. http://www.vyalone.com/
RISK was one of the first Southern California graffiti artists to paint freight trains, helping to spark that trend which he later took to art galleries for installation work. He has another collaborative piece in Santa Monica which is instantly recognizable from a similar color scheme and painting style as the one pictured here. www.riskrock.com
4. South Hewitt Street (in between E. 4th Place and Traction)
This tiny little spot wedged in between much bigger murals is home to the very first ever installation of the Global Wings Project. It is in this spot that Colette Miller launched her world wide project. www.colettemiller.com
5. Art Share Building, 801 E. 4th Place
This building is one of my favorite spots because of all the beautiful colors. The building itself is "creative environment for [artists] to reside, develop, perform and exhibit". www.artsharela.org. Painted black with waves of teal and yellow and pink, red, and more, the building is quite lovely, and very dynamic. The artist who painted the outside of the building is an international street artist named INSA from the United Kingdom. www.insaland.com
6. Paddy's Pub, Corner of Mateo and Palmetto Streets.
So if you haven't seen It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you will have no idea what Paddy's Pub is. If you have, sweet, we're on the same page! This is actually not a decorated building in the traditional street art sense, but if you are following my walls in order from the top to the bottom of this page (by that I mean walking around looking at them), you will pass this building. This building is used for everything from pop-up sample sales, to Chase Bank commercials (I accidentally interrupted filming taking pictures outside once....ooops), to hit TV series. What I love about it is the three big brick archways with green painted doors behind them. Each door in a different state of paint disrepair and each has its own wood patterning. It's not graffiti, but it is a really cool building with a lot of screen time, and definitely worth checking out.
7. Blue (and yellow, and teal, and red...the colors change) Color Block Wall, Villains Tavern parking lot at the intersection of S. Santa Fe Avenue and Willow Street.
And literally, that's all the information I have and/or could find on this location except that the colors change relatively often, and this place is frequently used for various forms of videos and photo shoots.
8. Polka Dot Wall, The Springs, 608 Mateo St., DTLA Arts District
I don't know much about this piece of work. It's created by The Most Famous Artist, aka Matty Mo. He is a conceptual artist whose works appear all over Los Angeles. His works answer the epitome of the millennial quandary: how does one make street art into ultimate selfie backdrop or Instagram shot? He is well known in the LA street art (and Instagram and blogging crowds) for exploring how social media (and influencers) can be used to promote [street] art and business. www.themostfamousartist.com
9. Heart Wall, Broke LA, 695 S Santa Fe. Street
I stumbled upon this wall by accident. I wasn't looking for it, actually I had gone too far past the entrance to the Los Angeles River and found these hearts. I wasn't able to find much information about the place online at all, which is unfortunate. There aren't a lot of pictures on social media for this place either which makes it much more of a hidden gem (yay). My favorite thing about this place is the way the hearts spill out onto the side walk and cover all the surrounding walls. It's an explosion of hearts and colors and love.
10. Kim West Mural - 'Ode to Bohemia', 7th & Mill Streets
This work appears all over Instagram, but rarely in it's complete form. Bloggers and yogis love the lilies and irises, but I love this walking by shot of one of the walls this mural covers. It actually wraps around two sides of this building. www.kimwest.com
Bonus Find!!! Los Angeles River Access
If you've seen an action movie filmed in LA, you've seen the LA River. Specifically, you've seen this section of the LA river under where the 6th street bridge used to be. This spot has been featured in movies like: 'The Italian Job', 'Last Action Hero', 'Grease', 'Terminator 2', and more. It's also been in commercials, TV shows, and music videos. I happened to find the entrance along S. Santa Fe Avenue while walking towards the heart wall above. It is at Santa Fe and 6th Street and looks like a sketchy underpass covered in graffiti. It's often closed off for filming, photo shoots, or construction (the bridge is being rebuilt), so you may not gain access. If you do, however, it's worth the visit.
If you follow me on Instagram, you know that lately I’ve been very open about the fact that I’ve been spiraling into a depressive episode. This is nothing new for me. I’ve been dealing with a major depressive disorder since I was diagnosed with anorexia during high school.. Although today, almost fifteen years since my diagnosis, I know the signs, symptoms, and what to expect, the difficulty of the situation remains the same. What does help me is what I am about to share with you. While I lack professional experience in mental health fields, I have ample personal experience and over time have found certain specifics that aid me when I am hitting a low point. While I cannot promise you that these techniques will work for you, I can share with you what assists me when this issue arises..
When I know I’m about to fall into a depressive state, there are certain things I do to try and mitigate the symptoms. Sometimes I can head off the full on depression, sometimes I can’t. Either way, I refuse to let it wash over me and engulf me completely because that makes it worse. I have to hold onto my will to fight, for whatever reason, or I will sink completely. I’ve been to some very dark places in my life (mentally), and I know I’m lucky to have pulled myself out. Now, I do everything I can to fight from falling that deeply again. Sometimes it works, sometimes it takes every ounce of strength just to walk my dog in the morning. But at the end of the day, I know I fought a little bit for myself and that makes a huge difference.
So, what if you’re spiraling?
If you’re familiar with your depression, by now you already know the warning signs for an impending depressive episode. If you aren’t, here’s what happens to me.
I get really, really hard on myself. I’ll be sitting at my desk paying bills or thinking about upcoming work projects, and I will start to think about all the money I could have made by now as an attorney. Or I’ll think about all the things I need in order to repair my car and all the money I need for my upcoming move to New Jersey, and how I don’t think I’ll ever make ends meet. “Why am I doing this to myself? Why did I give up on years of education and schooling to choose this path? Being broke is hard. All this stress...why am I constantly adding more pressure to myself when a corporate job would be so much easier? I have the experience. Hell, I could probably make more money going back to bartending than teaching yoga at the moment. What am I doing with my life?! I’m thirty years old for fuck’s sake!!!!!”
Usually something along those lines. And then it keeps going and I cycle through all the problems in my life. Real or imagined, miniscule or magnified. This process could take hours, especially because I naturally dwell on things that bother me. And every time I think about one of the things that triggered that cycle, it starts all over again.
I also get very irritable. I will snap at anyone who looks at me strangely, or start crying at the drop of a hat. It’s 50/50 but I’m an angry crier anyways (by which I mean I tend to cry when I am mad). Usually it’s a combination of the two, with irritability winning in public, and crying taking over when I get home. Just ask anyone who has ever dated me when I go through these episodes. Tread lightly or you will get snapped at. Sorry exes (and current boyfriend)!I will cry for no reason. None at all. I could be brushing my teeth. I could be walking my dog. I could have just gotten an “I love you” text from my sister. I will bawl my eyes out and it will only stop when I have no more moisture left in my body.
I will feel guilty and apologize for everything. This goes back to me being hard on myself (and maybe a little of the Jewish guilt I inherited from my ancestors, who knows). I will apologize for things I did in high school (did I mention I’m thirty?). I will apologize for things I said in anger four years ago that others probably don't remember. I will apologize for any and everything that could cause me some level of guilt. Honestly, it’s because I feel like a lousy person and these apologies feel like something I need to do. I feel as though I don’t deserve those people in my life because of my actions. I know it’s mostly in my head, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling that way.
How do I deal with this?
First, I tell my loved ones. My mother also has depression. I love her for the fact that she never tries to fix me, she just tries to be there for me. I have friends like that too. It’s really important to have people like this around because you are not broken; there is nothing to fix even if it feels like it. That, and what works for others (especially those who don't actually have clinical depression) may not work for you. My boyfriend, as much as I love him, struggles with this. In all fairness, it is very new to him. I didn’t used to tell him what was going with me, and my depressive episodes (thank goodness) don’t happen all too often. I understand why he wants to make suggestions to improve my situation. It’s normal to want to try and help the ones you love. I have that same tendency too. However, that doesn’t actually help me. What it does is make me angry and guilty and sad and frustrated and overall, makes me feel worse about my situation for not being able to “fix” myself. I am not broken, I just feel deeply and differently. So while I will tell the fixers what is going on, it’s the people who just offer their support and love that I rely on. I need some safe space to voice what’s going on, or if I can’t, then to simply feel loved. Often I don’t feel anything inside, and the love from others eases that pain.
Next, I get outside. Aside from the proven healing benefits of sunlight, nature just helps me. The unfettered beauty, the purity of it all. I really don’t know what it is, but something about trees and mountains and waterfalls, makes everything I’m going through seem much less significant. Maybe it’s because I’m reminded that no matter what, life will go on. Maybe it’s the reminder that most of the world is much bigger than me and my struggles. Maybe it’s seeing a blade of grass break through some concrete just to survive. I really can't pinpoint it, but I can tell you that it helps me.
My pets play a huge role in my psychological recovery. My dog will snuggle with me for hours, and whenever I cry, my cat will jump in my lap and purr. She knows I need her and will sit with me to comfort me as best as kitties can. Petting her really helps me get into a meditative calm mindset where I’m not thinking about anything else but that moment. Being responsible for two living beings helps me retain my sense of personal responsibility and keeps me getting up in the morning.
I force myself to be active. Even if it’s only for ten minutes at a time. I hike with my dog or take her to the dog park just to see the smile on her goofy face. I’ll do some yoga intermittently, or go to the gym and lift weights for abit. Mostly i do things that I can do from home because getting motivated is hard. But I know from experience that exercise helps. Scientifically it stimulates the neurotransmitters in your brain that induce feelings of happiness. Personally, it makes me feel like I accomplished something and did something to better myself. And most importantly, given my eating disordered history, it helps me keep from feeling negative about my body.
Last, I always, always force myself to do something I’ve been putting off. Whether it’s paying my bills, or putting away my laundry, or even just showering, I make myself do it. It’s easy with depression to get lost in the sadness and wallow in the dark places. The only way I can get out of it is to take responsibility for myself and my life. It starts with the little things. The sense of accomplishment from doing one little thing I’ve been dreading or avoiding helps me carry on with my day to day life and helps me remember that I can accomplish things if I try.
The most important thing to remember is that everyone’s experience with depression is different, and you have to find what works for you. But you have to be the one to do it. I am depressed, but I also have anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (and a history with drug addiction and eating disorders), so my experiences might be very different from yours. In my times in between depressive episodes I have been proactive about making choices that will foster happiness in my life. It is my (and your) personal responsibility to deal with this depression. So try different things and see what works for you. What we all have in common is that hiding behind our depression or wallowing in it makes it worse. Sharing what you are going through is hard; personally, over time I’ve realized that it helps me heal. What I hope for all of you is that you can find what works for you as well. Your depression may never go away. I’m fifteen years down this path and I don’t necessarily think it will suddenly be fine in the future. But I have set up a system that works for me to help me cope with what I’m going through as well as keeping people that are close to me updated on my situation. Please remember, it’s ok to not be okay. We’re all just doing the best we can in this world, taking it one day at a time.
I had an encounter with a social media account in the past few days that really got me thinking about body image in the media and what the body positive movement is missing in its message. What happened is that recently a swimwear brand that I followed on social media posted an image that I found absolutely deplorable. The image was a girl’s chest and abs with Snapchat writing across that read “don’t get fat, you’ll get stretch marks and die”. I literally stopped in my tracks and took a screenshot of the image to look at later and make sure I hadn’t misread anything. A brand that markets swimwear blatantly fat shaming their tens of thousands of followers? I had to be wrong. Unfortunately, I was not. That image was there, and it is burned into my mind. I mentioned how deplorable I found the post, and how disappointed i was with the brand on my personal Instagram account which has less than 300 followers (significantly less than my yoga one). Instead of responding in any meaningful manner, the brand blocked me. This is coming on the heels of me reading an article about a Playboy Bunny who Snapchatted a picture of a naked woman at the gym in order to fat shame her. My initial reaction: “What is wrong with people?!” And then I started thinking about why certain people (I often call them mean girls) lash out through social media when they didn’t need to post anything at all. Even if lashing out is passive aggressive like the swimwear brand instead of blatant like the Playboy Bunny. Why do these mean girls do this? After ruminating on the matter for some time, I reached a conclusion-the recent popularity of the body positive movement has brought more figures of all different shapes and sizes to the forefront. This is amazing, but it also makes people who haven't accepted themselves starkly aware of that fact. These people are the ones who fat shame and tell the super skinny girl to go eat a burger. They haven’t accepted themselves, so they lash out at others. The journey to self acceptance is a topic I plan on tackling in depth at a later date. For now, I’d like to ask a question about the body positive moment to all of you and hopefully get some good feedback.
Body image in the media has always been tricky. The images that are portrayed follow what society’s beauty trends of the moments are. Back in the 90s, the epitome of beauty was the waif like model. In the later part of the 2000s, it became all about the booty. Now, it’s all about being body positive. So what we see nowadays are women everywhere embracing their curves and being confident in who they are, as they are. I think that’s amazing that the media is embracing women of all kinds. But often when we become highly polarized in one direction, we foster groups that become highly polarized in the other direction, such as the mean girls I mentioned above. It’s wonderful that models come in real sizes and women no longer only aspire to be thin to be beautiful. But this all begs the question, “why is blind body acceptance the goal?”
For me and my body, self acceptance has been a long road. I’m medium boned by build, and have a very small torso so changes in weight show very quickly in my upper body. I spent years fighting my genetics and trying to starve myself into the skinny I thought was beautiful. Lots of self work and self love later, I’ve changed how I approach self acceptance. I don’t fixate on the image in the mirror, and pick out my flaws, or weigh myself daily. I ask myself not if I’m thin enough, but rather if I’m healthy enough. And that’s my biggest problem with the body positive movement of today. Rather than encouraging health, it encourages embracing the physical form ignoring not only the mind-body connection that humans naturally have, and ignoring that while all people are beautiful, not all bodies are healthy. We need to move away from seeing the form of the body as the standard for beauty and move towards encouraging people to be healthy in their minds and bodies. Instead of focusing on what we look like now, we should be thinking about how the shape of our bodies will contribute to, or take away from our health in the long run. This is true for the overweight and the underweight, even though the underweight and thinner people are often left out of the body positive discussion.
I’m not saying everyone in the world should go and join and gym or run miles every day or that everyone needs to go vegan. What I am saying is that the body positive movement and the way the body is portrayed in social media in general ignores the overall picture of health and sends the message that our beauty is defined by our bodies. Yes, you can be overweight and beautiful. But are you healthy or is the added weight compressing your joints? You can also be skinny and be beautiful. But you can be thin and malnourished like I was when I had an eating disorder. Embracing your body doesn't mean being lazy about taking care of yourself, it doesn’t mean ignoring your health. What it means is that your shape does not define you. The overweight girl is no less beautiful than the underweight one, and to say anything different is wrong. Embracing your body should go hand in hand with protecting your body, which is why I think we need to take the body positive movement that one step further. #healthybodypositive Health needs to be a focus and priority for all of us.
So how do we make a change? First stop following bullshit instagram and twitter accounts that fat shame or skinny shame people. We can’t let that behavior become the norm or in any way condone it. Second, stop focusing how you look externally and start focusing on how you feel internally. Focus on your health and your love for your body will increase exponentially. Don’t fixate on the body, fixate on creating the positive.
Below are links to two other blogs that expand on these issues a bit more.
Building Wrist Strength for Your Yoga Practice
Wrist injuries are common in yoga because we are constantly moving in and out of poses that put pressure on our wrists. A lot of poses that are incorporated into the daily practices of most Yogis (Downward Dog or Plank, for example) put pressure on our wrists, particularly when moving between them. These weight-bearing movements need proper muscle strength in order to avoid injury. This is especially true if you plan on advancing your asana practice into more physically demanding postures, such as arm balances or inversions, which rely on your wrist joints to support your body. Personally, the more I advance my own practice, the more I find myself spending time putting strain on my wrists. Consequently, it becomes even more important to make sure I spend time building strength in order to avoid injury.
Generally, one of two things happen that lead to pain and/or injury in your wrist(s). Reaching the end of your range of motion (ROM) with arms fully extended in weight-bearing exercises such as a plank can place undue stress on your wrist joints to compensate for the inadequate range of motion. If you don’t have the wrist flexibility, your body will rely on your joints to support you (which is why I have included a wrist stretch at the end of my strengthening exercises). Either of these two issues can cause pain in, or injure the wrists. They are common and are easily preventable.
I decided to incorporate wrist strengthening exercises into my practice due to the reasons listed above. For me, many advanced asanas in my current practice require my shoulders to come past my wrists, like in crane pose, or pressing into handstands. When I first started, I would frequently feel pain or weakness in my wrists and knew it couldn’t be a good thing. Unfortunately, basic conditioning moves (like the ones which follow) are often overlooked in yoga classes. I chose these exercises (which I do 3-5 times per week) while working alongside my yoga teacher during my studies, as well as consulting with some of my weightlifting and gymnast friends who are similarly afflicted by such injuries. Start small, with three sets of ten repetitions per exercise, building up over time to four or five sets of ten to twenty repetitions.
All of this leads me to the following five wrist strengthening exercises demonstrated in the minute-long slideshow at the top of this post, and below in collage form, with instructions to follow (Sorry to my cell phone viewers, the location of the picture collage might be at the top of the page until I can get this location bug fixed. My apologies.) :
1. Towel Wringing
We all know how this one goes. Anyone who has ever gotten their clothing soaked or wrung out a dish towel will be very familiar with this exercise. Take a towel and hold it parallel to the ground with your arms extended in front of you. Twist one wrist forward and one wrist back as if wringing water out of the towel repeatedly. Who knew all those years doing dishes were actually helping you gain wrist strength?
I promise this is not as weird as it sounds! Extend your arms parallel to the ground and open your hands as much as you can, reaching all the way through your fingertips. Then squeeze into a fist as tightly as you can. Rapidly repeat this motion. You can also play with bending your wrists back or down to see how that works different groups of muscles in your hands and forearms.
3. Wrist Curls
For this you will need hand weights, a soup can, or a (filled) water bottle like in my slideshow above. Rest your forearm, palm up, on your leg or a table (or some other level object), parallel to the ground with your wrist over the edge. Curl your wrist up and down.
4. Pronated Wrist Curls
This is exactly the same as #3, but you will set yourself up with your palm facing the ground instead of the sky.
5. Wrist Hammers
Take whatever you were using for a hand weight and hold it by your side as if you were holding a hammer in your hand (again, arms down and by your side, or in the parallel to the floor position described in step #3). Pretend that your weighted object is a hammer and move only your wrist to tap down that invisible nail, and then bring it all the way back up, and back to neutral; again moving only your wrist. This one will feel slightly awkward at first and your body’s natural tendency will be to flex at the wrist as you move the “hammer” up. Keep your wrists neutral, not flexed during this exercise.
6. STRETCH IT OUT
Don’t forget about your wrist mobility. There are a number of ways you can achieve the same stretch as in my slideshow above, without having to stretch as deeply. Try, for example,bending one arm and using the other hand to gently flex back the fingers and palm of the other hand and then slowly extend your forearm to the ground. This is a much gentler way of achieving the same muscle release and you can build up to more intense stretches.
Thank you all for taking the time to go over my recommended wrist strengthening exercises for yogis. Remember, while I am a trained yoga instructor, I am not a doctor. If you feel pain or severe discomfort in your wrists and/or have had serious injuries, please consult a medical professional before trying any new exercise regimen.
My Top 5, All Natural Home Remedies to Soothe Chronically Itchy Skin
I have eczema, or chronic contact dermatitis, or I’m celiac and have the skin reaction called dermatitis herpetiformis. No one really knows, not even my doctor parents. But to be fair, I’ve never really been tested for anything. What I do know is that I’ve had small, embarrassing, itchy rash patches for my entire life, and after 30 years of it, I’ve developed some decent methods to calm the itch and heal my skin. I mentioned this on my social media accounts and the response was incredible; I was given so many interesting home remedies to try. There are a surprising amount of similarly afflicted people. Because of the response I got, I decided to do a little research using myself as a test subject, and wanted to share what has helped me soothe the flare ups.
When I was little I used to get small itchy bumps on my elbows and the backs of my knees every summer. Eczema and hay fever run in my family, so naturally it was assumed the problem was along those lines. I used over the counter cortisone cream to mitigate the symptoms and just dealt with it. Eventually it went away, so I figured I’d outgrown the problem. Unfortunately, about three years ago, I started getting symmetrical itchy rashes along my neck when I wore jewelry. Because they only popped up after I wore a necklace and/or collared shirts in the heat, it was assumed it was contact dermatitis. Maybe it was, maybe it was heat rash, maybe it was something entirely different...who knows. I just know that cortisone didn’t work, scratching spread it, but if I left it alone, it would fade after about a week. Fast forward to a few months ago. Symmetrical rashes began appearing on the backs of my knees, then then inside of my arms, then my neck, then my chest, then my stomach. These rashes were different. Cortisone did nothing to help, no amount of eczema lotion or allergy pills alone took out the burning, itching sensation. I wanted to rip my skin off!
Once again, doctors can’t tell me what my rash is. Unfortunately, my insurance doesn’t cover allergy testing or expensive dermatology visits so my regular doctor could only do so much. I couldn’t just ignore the problem anymore, and I knew I had to do something. Knowing that three members of my family are celiacs and that celiac can present itself in a similar rash, along with dairy and gluten sensitivities, I decided to cut gluten and dairy out of my diet in case my rash was food allergy related. It seemed to help, and until I find out the actual cause of my rashes, I’ll have to keep my diet this way (however if you can get allergy tested or see a dermatologist, do that first!!). Changing my diet has mitigated the spread and frequency of the flare ups, so far, but the itch…...and the burning…...I had to find a solution. What I found that helped immediately, is what I discovered with a little research.
1. Goodbye hot showers.
Hot showers are wonderful, but they dry your skin out and dry skin leads to itchy skin. Itchy skin leads to scratching which leads to more rash outbreaks, or scarring, or infection. Just don’t risk it! Lukewarm showers aren’t the best, I’ll admit it. But, they make a world of difference in the moisture content of your skin.
2. Goodbye fancy, fragrant soaps and lotions.
Seriously, the fancy, expensive stuff smells amazing. However, in reality, they don’t always do much to help your skin. Instead go for body washes and lotions that are approved for treatment of eczema. Or look into ones with colloidal oatmeal and/or aloe vera as these sooth the skin and help lock in moisture. Also, another tip is to moisturize as soon as you towel off after your shower or bath. Your skin is more absorbent then, and the lotion will be more effective..
3. Hello cold compresses.
Cold compresses are amazing and they will become your new best friend. If you are tempted to itch, slap, or rub your skin, put an ice pack on it. Not only will the ice help numb the pain, but also it will remove some of the redness and swelling. No ice? Use a soda can or cold bottle of water. Anything significantly below your body temperature will help.
4. Hello tea tree and coconut oils.
These two are my two new best friends. Both have soothing and antiseptic qualities and both are all natural. Tea tree oil is rather harsh, so if your skin is super sensitive, I’d recommend mixing it with your coconut oil or diluting it with water before applying it directly to the flare up. Give it a few minutes, and you should feel soothing tingles as the sting and itch fade. Personally, I cover my rash with tea tree oil in the morning, wait five minutes and then rub coconut oil all over myself. I do the same thing at night. Coconut oil can be used on its own to remove the itch and moisturize the skin and is safe to apply as often as needed. I carry a small jar around with me throughout the day and reapply whenever I can’t tolerate the itching anymore, or when my skin gets dry, or whenever I want to smell coconutty.
5. Don’t forget to keep it up.
When your flare ups fade, don’t forget to keep moisturizing. If your skin dries out and you start scratching, you might be back at step one before you know it!
I hope the above five tips help some of you out there dealing with skin problems. Effective at home remedies can be hard to find and differ for everyone. I recommend taking my above tips and doing some research on your own to find what best suits you. I am in no means a doctor or licensed medical professional, I’m simply sharing what works for me after dealing with a lifetime of itchy skin flare ups.
Here's some solid scientific research, and some more uses for both tea tree and coconut oil beyond what I mentioned above. :)
Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1360273/
Top 10 Tea Tree Oil Uses and Benefits: http://draxe.com/tea-tree-oil-uses-benefits/
20 Coconut Oil Benefits & Side Effects: http://draxe.com/coconut-oil-benefits/
I'm Cheryl. I moved to Los Angeles from Vermont in late June of 2015, gave up the path I'd spent years planning for, and started down a road to a happier, more fulfilling life. Goodbye suits and courtrooms, hello bare feet and yoga mats. I know I don't have all the answers, but I'm slowly starting to get the hang of things. :) I'm just taking things one day at a time, trying to figure out how to live my best life and help others do the same.