Food hangover + lots of R’s.

I don’t like chips. Not really. I mean, they’re okay but there are about 5,000 other things I’d eat first. Coconut anything takes the first 1,000 slots or so.

Well, two weeks ago, wandering around Trader Joe’s with a cart full of produce, a bag of sweet potato tortilla chips made their way into my cart. Not an outward sign of crisis by any means. An hour later, standing in my kitchen, purusing the internet, I pulled out the giant bag (this was no single serving packet, mind you) and I downed the entire thing without even noticing. Seriously. It wasn’t until I reached in and realized it was EMPTY that I paused to actually breathe.

Standing there, empty bag in my hand, I am pretty sure my jaw touched the floor as I tried to remember the last ten minutes of my life. What the hell just happened? Did I actually eat this whole thing unconsciously? I looked left, I looked right, and carefully tucked the empty bag deep into the garbage and walked away to pretend like it never happened.

The next day, I was back at the grocery store picking up some basil for a super clean, plant-based “lasagna” I had planned for dinner and that same damn bag of chips managed to hitch a ride back to the apartment with me. I got home, put my goodies in the fridge and…what happened next? You guessed it. Total food blackout. A second bag. Done. Gone. Finito.

This time, I sat there, staring at the empty bag completely stumped. Two months ago, I was happier than I have honestly ever been, treating my mind and body right and reaping all of the joyous rewards that come with actually caring about yourself. What the hell had gotten into me? Well, okay, I know now what had gotten into me. I was stressed. I am stressed…and I’m not putting myself first. Second. Or third.

Over the past two weeks I can safely, and sadly, say that I have woken up with a legitimate food hangover more than 70% of the time. If you don’t know what a food hangover is, let me tell you. It’s when your body feels, not necessarily looks, soooooo icky inside from treating it like shit, that you might as well be nursing yourself back to life from a freshman-sized tequila-enduced misery. Sounds like I’m exaggerating? Consider yourself lucky that you don’t know what I’m talking about. It sucks.

Out of all the things I was feeling, I didn’t dare let myself go down the road of regret, remorse or (self) reproach. In the past, I would’ve dove head first into some serious hate talk. But this time, I’m not beating myself up about these lapses in self-care. Nothing productive comes from talking negatively to yourself. Instead, figure out what is going on, why you (or in this case, me) are making choices that are not in your best interest and how to refocus and push reset.

At the end of the day, it’s not a question of the way the inhalation of bags of chips will make me look. It’s really not even about being healthy or achieving “goals”. It’s about feeling good and doing what will make me feel my best.

Along with the bag of chips, I’ve decided to put regret, remorse and self-reproach into the trash. When this happens again, and I’m sure it will happen again – not the Houdini-ing sweet potato chips, the self-care slip up, I will remind myself to do exactly this: take a step back, a deep breathe, remember to refocus on my intention of feeling good and reset.

You’re the boss and you can always decide to give yourself another chance. 

 

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It’s just one of them days.

I’ve been sitting at my computer trying to decide exactly how to say what I want to say, without much luck. Alas, I’ll let the wise words of Monica speak for me:

“It’s just one of them days, when I wanna be all alone
It’s just one of them days, when I’m angry inside
It’s just one of them days, don’t take it personal…”

Yeah. It’s exactly that.

Today is just one of them days where everything goes wrong. I’ve got some heavy life things on my mind and a whole lot of stupid little inconveniences that are managing to add up to an enormous weight. (So Virgin America, could you please get me off hold? I’ve been sitting here patiently for 75 minutes now. Love, Gina) 

Lately I have put a lot of pressure on myself to get my shit together (yeah yeah, I know what I said in my last post) and I’m paying for it now. I have been running around like a chicken with my head cut off and I can hardly breathe. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted but I can’t sleep. My brain is wired. Strung out. I’m not saying that it’s okay to sit around like a slob all day, but there is a balance, a middle ground. Somewhere. I just have to find it.

This morning I was in the middle of a 5.6 sized meltdown when I screamed out to the universe, in my head of course, (can’t scare the Airbnb guests!) what the f*** are you trying to tell me?!

Well, after a few bowls of cereal, two waffles and a serious stomach age, I think I’ve got it figured out.

The universe is trying to tell me to woosah. Take a breather. Step back. I’m pretty sure she is trying to get my wandering feet to sit still (it’s storming out, like dumping), get me to quiet my brain (the wifi isn’t working) and push the reset button.

So fine. I’ll listen. Why? Because I know deep down that taking the time to acknowledge frustrations, sadness and well, feelings, gives you the power to understand them, digest them and then do something with them. They’re actually a gift, these mini (or not so mini) meltdowns. They force us to take a look at what is really going on. 

So go on girl! Be alone, be angry. Then breathe, move forward and grow on.

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I [don’t] have my shit together.

I’ve waited a very long time to turn 30.

30 years to be exact.

Turning 30 for me always signified a momentous life shift. One in which I would either a) have my shit together or b) not have my shit together and not give a shit.

Well, as the page on 29 has turned and 30 is a blank slate (can I write out t h i r t y instead? Seems classier), I can now say with confidence that an answer was missing from the multiple choice list.

I am option c: that little in-between of not entirely having my shit together and not entirely not caring about it. Guess what? It feels damn good.

30 has certainly brought about a life shift and it’s one I’m reveling in. I can see a little more clearly now what I want in life, though the exact parameters are still a little blurry. I understand a little more clearly now what I value and what I don’t. I can map out a little more clearly now how to achieve my goals even if the route isn’t entirely evident.

As I look around at my friends, some are younger, some are older, I could easily say they have their shit together. They have strong careers, they’re building families…I respect and adore these women so sometimes it’s hard not to compare myself in the face of their successes.

It’s important to remember that we all have our own path to get to our dreams, some might off-road a little more than others. I’m enjoying every moment of this ambiguity and trusting in myself that, shit together or not, I’m doing my best to create the life I want…and that feels damn good. 

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Freedom to fail.

I am highly critical of myself. I am actively trying not to be, but as it stands, I am. I’m a work in progress.

I oscillate between being defensive of that critical nature (“How can you grow without self-critique? Huh?”) and being ashamed of my own hypocrisy. I truly believe that we need to allow others, and ourselves, the freedom to fail. Failing means you’re pushing boundaries, you’re testing new limits and you’re trying new things.

When we allow ourselves the freedom to fail, we are enabled to take greater risks…which in turn means we risk earning greater rewards. Feeling safe around potential failure gives us the opportunity to get know ourselves better and allows us to expand our minds in ways we might not otherwise have.

In a professional setting, I’ve appreciated former bosses for allowing me creative liberties and, of course, a freedom to fail. Their support allowed me to throw all sorts of shit at the wall and the stuff that actually stuck was really good stuff. In my personal life, I encourage others to fail hard. Failing hard means trying hard. Whatever it might be.

So why can’t I apply this to myself?

Because I’m scared. I’m currently in a period of transition. I’m trying to do something different with my life, something I haven’t done before and it’s scary. I don’t like failing. I really don’t. No one does. But this moment is a test for me to see if I can apply the things I believe…to myself. Because when I’ve given myself the freedom to fail, the success has been sweet.

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Travel state of mind.

As I write this, I am sitting on my couch in San Francisco, drinking a cup of tea and wearing pajamas. It is 11:35am on a Tuesday and I feel like I am on an adventure at this very moment.

As cliché as it seems, traveling is truly a state of mind. You don’t need a plane, train or automobile to travel.  The only thing between you and an adventure is, well, you. You have the power to dictate what experiences you open yourself up to, what opportunities you create and when you say YES.

The collection of new experiences we gather while away is the very reason traveling leaves such an impression on us. What we forget is that we don’t actually need to be away to try something new. We just need to be open, to say yes. Here are a few smalls steps that will help you get into the travel state of mind:

  1. Go on a walkabout. Step out your front door and walk. Just walk. Take a turn you haven’t taken before. Explore a neighborhood you don’t know much about. As adventurous as I like to think I am, I have to admit that sometimes leaving my little few blocks feels so hard. But whenever I do, I’m always happy I did. Maybe you’ll find an awesome mural, a new coffee shop or a park featuring a feast-full of people watching opportunities. Hey, this is San Francisco.
  2. Take the bus. Now, I know what you’re thinking. But trust me on this. When I first moved to Paris I had absolutely no money, no job (hence the no money) and a lot of time on my hands. So, I got on the bus. I rode the bus for hours. I didn’t look up the route on a map, I just rode. When I saw something that looked interesting, I hopped off and wandered around on foot. This is the best way to get to know a city…and the people in it. You’ll encounter all sorts of characters on the bus.
  3. Change up your routine. If your afterwork ritual involves popping open a beer and sitting in front of the TV, maybe tonight do something different. Research a local hike, a walking tour…chances are your city has more to offer than you think. Growing up we didn’t have a lot of money but my mom wasn’t going to let that get in the way of our adventurous inclinations. Instead, we played tourist. She found a deck of cards called “101 Things to Do in San Francisco” and on the weekends, I was allowed to pick three cards. We would dress up as tourists from whatever far alway land we wanted to be from that day and take off into the city for an adventure.
  4. Eat. This is my personal favorite. My priority in any new place I visit is to understand the local culture. What better way to do that than through cuisine? Try a restaurant with food you’ve never tried. Have a potluck with friends with a country theme. I love using recipes from Tasting Table to organize a “travel” dinner.
  5. Relive your travels. I don’t just mean #tbt posts on Instagram. Integrate memories of your travels into your daily life. Sitting here on my couch, the tea I’m drinking is one I learned to prepare in Bali. My pj’s are from my best friend from Paris. The blanket I’m wrapped up in was my grandmothers in the Philippines. An experience is meant to stay with you forever. Help it do just that by reliving it over and over again.

Hopefully one or some of these little steps will get you on your way to a travel state of mind. Just remember that the only thing stopping you is…you.

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Having it all.

Recently, a friend told me that I just needed to deal with the fact that I cannot have it all in life. I probably made some squinted up, what-is-that-smell face as I responded, “um, yes I can.”

The thing is, I really believe in what I said. I do believe that we can have it all. It just depends on how you define all. If you’re looking to never work, drive a luxury car, save whales in Asia and climb everest, all with a baby on your back and an Instagram-worthy hairdo, then no. Maybe having it all will be a little bit tricky. But for the rest of us, we certainly can have everything we want. It’s just a question of defining what it is you want and finding out how to get it.

I’ve read that there is a shortcut: want what you already have.

But you’ve heard that before. So have I.

I decided to take a different approach: figure out what you don’t want

By sorting through the things you have in your life that you wish weren’t there, you start to get to the root of what’s really important to you. In the process of elimination, you inevitably highlight the good things you do already have. No matter how small or how big, make a list of the things you want to eliminate from your life. From there, one step at a time, one line item at a time, get rid of the clutter and clean house.

When it’s time to start adding things in, the things you “want”, you’ll have the mental/emotional/physical space to welcome them with open arms. Hell, you might even learn that the things you thought you wanted weren’t really what you wanted at all.

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I’m a hot mess.

Today I am that girl. That hot mess of a girl, girl. For starters, I woke up late and groggy. Missed class and tried rushing out the door to catch another. Of course, as I was leaving my home stay host wanted to talk, needed me to move rooms. This was the third time in three days. So I had to run back upstairs, shove all my crap into my bags and quickly toss them to the side to be moved.

I stopped in a shop to buy a new sports bra because it’s honestly too hot to wear a shirt in class. I never thought I’d be the girl in a sports bra in class (at least not until I had abs to show off) but mother nature had other plans in mind for me. So I’m in said shop and naturally I get stuck in the bra. Very stuck. The straps are all tangled, I’m wrestling with it and myself. Mind you the “changing room” is just a curtain hanging on a shower rod that gives you about 1 square foot. Everyone in the shop saw the commotion.

Next, lunch. Finally I made it to lunch. I took a deep breathe, ordered my food and finally took a breathe for the first time in what felt like all morning. My gorgeous turmeric water came, then a very handsome looking raw salad. It was a lunch well worth capturing. I tried taking a photo from my seat but of course the lighting was off. So…I stood on my chair in a contorted pose, not knowing how to turn off the clicking sound on my camera, snapping away. Of course, no one around me seemed to have gotten their lunch yet so they could give me their full attention. I let out a little giggle and apologized.

Back in my seat, I took a long refreshing sip of this beauty juice. As I put the cup down I realize that my hand is all yellow. So is my cell phone cover. So is my fork. So is my keyboard. I slowly looked up at the girl across from me and asked her if I had anything on my face. Through a thick German accent, I could tell she wasn’t quite sure what to tell me. She hesitantly replied, “um, a little on your teeth.”

A little. A little liar she was.

Photo Booth doesn’t lie. There was yellow all over my lips, my teeth. This shit stains.

So I throw myself into my veggies and as I’m slurping away, manage to get dressing just about everywhere my turmeric drink missed.

Who only knows what will happen when I get into my yoga class today. Please let there be no funky poses, handstands or anything else that could create self-inflicted bodily harm. My hot mess-ery has already received enough public attention. Pray for me.

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Kicking the wiggles.

Tonight at yoga my teacher said something that has my head on fire. “If you pay attention, you’ll notice that there are a lot of feelings going on that you might not have noticed before.” He was referring to physical sensations but I read his words in a different way.

As I was laying down on a block in what was possibly the most uncomfortable position of all time, my mind couldn’t help but drift to the weight of what he said. The goal of the class was to draw attention to important, yet often ignored, sensations in the body. We spend so much of our time physically (or metaphorically) wiggling around pain, around problems, that we avoid them all together. He was calling for us to choose to surrender.

We do have feelings. We have lots of them. They all have a place and a purpose. Life is not always funky, groovy, fun but, of course, we never wiggle around the good stuff. It’s the anger, the hurt, the sadness that we want to avoid. And who wouldn’t? But they too have a place, too.

Traveling alone for the first time, I’m starting to recognize all sorts of sensations that may have existed in me before but I never took the time to deal with. For the first time in my life I am alone. Actually alone. I always thought I liked that. As one of 5 kids, I craved my space, my solitude. Now I’m starting to realize that maybe I only loved it so much in context. I found comfort in knowing that there would be someone home at the end of the day. But here I am in a new place, without friends, without family. It’s just me.

I want “just me” to be good enough, and I hadn’t realized that I might’ve ever, deep down, thought it wasn’t

The first 30 seconds on that block, I was sure I was headed into what would be the most awful 5 minutes of my life. In each dramatically uncomfortable position, we sat together for five minutes, in silence, recognizing our pain. No, this wasn’t some whacky hippy dippy love circle. We worked to acknowledge the existence of something hurtful.  And then we breathed through it. We realized that it wasn’t going to kill us. It wasn’t even really going to hurt us. Rather, feeling our feelings gave us the strength to deal with them.

Surprisingly enough to me, there are tons of other people here walking around, alone but not lonely…or so it seems. Conversations are started like wild fire and new plans are made before coffee is finished. But that is where I have to pause, breathe and recognize.

Do I wiggle around my discomfort with being alone by buddying up with new friends? Maybe adjust my own plans to theirs so I’m not solo?

It’s time for me to choose to surrender. I am here to pave my own path, to build my own life. It’s time to breathe, resist the temptation to avoid my discomfort and stick to my plan: just being okay with me.

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the first.

The first anything is always awkward. A first kiss, the first day of school…a first blog post. I think I’m supposed to write something witty to convince you that reading my blog is not a waste of your Sunday afternoon. But as I’m not too interested in struggling in vain, I think I’ll do what I came here to do. I’ll tell you a story. So here it goes. The first story.

It is Easter Sunday. I am in a restaurant called The White Whale, or more accurately, La Ballena Blanca. There is a gentle breeze coming through the windows, a bright blue sky where a ceiling would normally be and palm trees all around. Oh, there is also a random chicken waddling around between tables that the bartender keeps shooing away. The music on the speaker is in a language I don’t understand but the guitar rifts have a sweet Jamiroquai-esque sound that makes this Sunday more than ideal. 

Three hours ago I was on my sailboat, locked in the bathroom, in the midst of a juvenile meltdown. I felt homesick and sad that  Wasn’t coloring eggs with my family. Did I mention that I’m 29 years old? FOMO on an Easter egg hunt is probably not too common at my age. Yet, in the midst of said tear-fest, I had a breakthrough. I am growing. I am in the process of growing, of becoming a woman. Does that mean that women can’t enjoy painting eggs? No, this has nothing to do with that. It means that I’m feeling my way through the life I have chosen, sorting out sentiments as they come to me and deciding how I will react. Five months ago, I left my life in San Francisco to explore the world by sailboat. As romantic as it sounds, the growing pains of a nomadic life, and there are growing pains, are inevitable. It’s a long hard look into the mirror that you either didn’t know existed, or may have been avoiding. But this is exactly what I was searching for. I want to grow, to create myself and a life that I’m proud of.

What a poetically convenient moment for this realization to manifest? On the very day that many believe represents new life, a new beginning, I am crying over the absence of glittered eggs, becoming a woman. Today, it seems, is a great day for a personal rebirth. Over the past few months, I’ve collected a wealth of experiences to put under my belt, yet, in a way, they’ve overwhelmed me with their newness, importance and intensity. Today, and maybe this is just the two-for-one margaritas talking, I feel ready to take the reigns, put these experiences to use and grow from them. It’s time to start creating, not finding, who I am and what I want to be. What an exciting adventure for me!

As for the eggs, I, Gina, 29 year old Gina, love painting Easter eggs. So that is what I am off to do.

Happy Sunday,

xx.

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