Archives for category: challeng

i have no problems with mondays.  they’ve never stressed me out like they seem to other people.  sunday afternoons however?  stomach aches and migraines and near panic attacks.  weird, i know.  it was greatly eased by being on the receiving end of a thai massage.  kids, run, do not walk, to your nearest practitioner and GET one.

mondays are just like mini new year’s days to me.  a chance to start again, a little weekly rebirth.

everything is feeling like that lately.  we finally got a snow that stuck and the world is beautiful, blank, and fresh.

part of the wild woman project is living in a place that can truly support my re-wilding.  i could have moved to d.c. or savannah but that would have just made it so much more difficult.  instead, i’m renovating a barn on five acres of land nestled in the mountains with nothing but wild embracing me on every side.  i’ll be living here while i save up and look for my own land.  this man has inspired me enormously!  i’ve been trying to figure out how to be both a wild farmer AND a world traveler.  they seem to be opposing dreams, but, boom, just like that, he reminds me that it is a both/and universe.

right now, i’m still clearing out the barn.  i should be done with that by tomorrow or the next day.  it’s cold and probably not the best time of the year to be working outside but life that is convenient is kind of what i’m trying to get away from.

convenience comes with a very high price, sometimes obvious in the price tag, sometimes hidden only to make an abrupt appearance in the emergency room.

in related news, i hit my barefoot in the snow record today.  it was -2 when i made a mad dash for the car for something i forgot to bring in.

and, as far as habit #1 goes, i’m ROCKING that shit.  and loving it!  today was a green smoothie, yesterday was raw cheese, nuts, a persimmon(!), kimchi, and a kombucha.

i’m trying to get as much done as possible today so that i can hit the A.T. for a walk later.

so the first week of 2012 has gone by and so far so good.

there are several habits that i’m trying to instill this year.

i have a MAJOR crush on leo babauta‘s mind.  his advice to develop habits instead of create goals rubs me the very, very right way.  yep, right there.

one habit a month is what he recommends, and that is something i can handle.  i am a closet perfectionist and over achiever which i disguise quite well by appearing like a total slob and slack ass.  it will be good for me to only commit to one a month and actually doing it instead of doing them all at once and pulling my hair out.

here are the twelve habits i would like to create this year:

1. make the first meal of the day a raw one

i’ve started this one already and i love it.  i’ve been having a kombucha and some raw milk cheese most days.  i also really love green smoothies and raw egg and coconut milk smoothies.  yes, raw egg.  no, i’m not afraid of salmonella.  yes, i do fantasize about being as kick ass as rocky balboa…with cuter work out clothes.

2. wake before 7 without an alarm clock

for the past few years, getting up before 11 was a miracle.  the depression beast was largely to blame as well as a deep abiding apathy for the grinding monotony of daily life.  hmmm…maybe the apathy came from the depression, too.

anyhoo, since i’ve come back from africa, my body has reset itself so that i’m up before 8.  i want by the end of february to have trained myself to be up before 7ish without an alarm.  alarm clocks are the worst invention EVER.  EVER.  i hate them.  i hate the jarring, heart-racing terror that they cause on my fragile nervous system.  no, i’m not being melodramatic.

3. brush the dog

oh, my dog.  sweet, attached thing that he is.  he’s always at my feet in the best way.  he has the thickest coat and winter is just a smelly dog mess for it.  he deserves that i start brushing it for him once a day.  march will be the perfect time to start developing this habit.

4.save instead of spend

crap.  this is april’s habit.  april is my birthday month.  i just hope all the gift givers in my life don’t decide to start this habit that month.

5. eat something fermented every day

i LOVE fermented food so this one will really not be that hard.  but, it’ll be nice to take it from a once in a while treat to a daily indulgence.  kimchi, kombucha, cultured vegetables, yogurt,….yeah, baby!

6. read a real paper and ink book before bed

june will be the beginning of summer and later bedtimes.  this will be a good way to shift gears for bed.

i read a lot.  A LOT.  but, it’s mostly online and in my ipad.  how nice will it be to read from a BOOK again?  my childhood was formed by the books i read.  i’ve noticed my attention span has really shortened because of digital media.  i still read before bed,even, but it’s never with the gentle weight of a book on my chest and the almost sexual aroma of the paper filling my sleep space.  this habit excites me and i just may move it to a closer slot.

7. do yoga every day

it doesn’t have to an hour.  it can just be a sun-salutation.  and july will be the perfect time to bring some sun worship back into my life.

8. market myself

it’s time that all my skills and knowledge start getting more recognition….from me.

9. stretch professionally

i know this reads as if i want to become a professional stretcher, but i mean to move out of my comfort zones in the money making arenas of jobs and business.  this one will probably be the hardest one on this list.  i feel nauseous just thinking about it.

10. feed others

i love to cook and i love to ensure that people around me are well fed.  ideally, i’d love to have people over once a week to feed.  october is a good time to start this habit.  it’s getting colder and people are hungrier.  or that’s how i feel when this time of year rolls around.

11. fast once a week

today’s the first attempt at this, so i don’t know why i’ve even got this up here as a habit.  i’m starting this one today.  i’ll have to come up with another one for november.  any ideas?

edit jan 9: got it!

11. media, money, and manna fast once a week

how about taking a break from electronics, spending, AND eating once a week?  could there be a better way to really take a day off?  don’t think so.  since this is my november habit, i will not choose thursday as that day.  thanksgiving is the BEST and just look at who’s planning ahead!

12. sweat daily

hmmm….all the way in december is when i am going to instill this one?  i’ll probably be doing this by then, but daily?  probably not.  i don’t even want to workout daily as a habit.  i’d love to hit up an infrared sauna, a steam room and a hot sauna every week.  and sex works up a sweat, right?  anybody having it these days, please report.

this list will probably be amended as i go along, but it feels good right now.

because i’m completely narcissistic, my new year doesn’t begin until my birthday.  that’s when i do all that self-reflective inner work that leads somewhere:  that somewhere being a list of ways to ‘improve’ myself.

i think that that list is going to be pretty slim this year because i’m sick of the whole concept.  if i was an arsonist and a good enough one to not be caught, the self-improvement aisles of bookstores and libraries would be my signature target.  i might even become a house visiting arsonist and leave little blackened ash piles in people’s homes.  who doesn’t have a couple self-improvement books?  i just have to figure out a way to make money out of this victimless crime and i would be set for life.  a nickel per burnt self-improvement book seems about right.

resolutions tend to fall in the same bucket as self-improvement books.  generally, because people make lists of ways to go back to being something that they never were.  they are also setting themselves up for failure because they want to conquer things over which they have no control.

for example: i will lose 35 pounds this year.

will you?  you might.  you probably could.  but, that’s completely out of your control.  your body may completely disagree with you.

instead, try this: i will build the habit to eat like i’m meant to and move like i’m meant to.

this is something over which you have control.  you’re not trying to do something unnatural like “loving those who hurt you” or going down a fruitless path by “becoming a money making machine”.  it’s even better than “controlling’ anything.  it’s what your body wants to do.

so instead of overcoming your nature and trying to improve yourself, just allow that nature to develop.  it’s easier and loads more fun and i don’t have to come to your house to set fire to anything.

i walk barefoot every day.  since i was a little girl, i’ve had claustrophobic feet.  as a dancer in my teens, i spent hours in toe shoes.  that seems incomprehensible to me now, but that is what passion does for a person.  of course, i still love (LOVE) to dance but i’m so glad that i didn’t go down the classical route and have to wear those things for twenty years.

where was i?

oh, yeah.  claustrophobic feet.  there was a spell when the only closed in shoes i wanted to wear were a lavender pair of kangaroos with velcro enclosure.  now, i wear my uggs because my toes can spread apart in the shearling and get winter boots 1/2 size larger than i safely should.  but, barefoot is my favorite.

there’s been the wave lately that endorses all the health benefits of “barefooting” but more and more, i feel that being natural in one’s skin, being as animal as possible is so common sense that the “health benefit discoveries” will just pile up.  i’m kicking myself because i don’t remember where i read this, but my favorite definition of discovery is a white guy finding something that was already there.

and, yes, even though it is 17 degrees fahrenheit/8 celsius, i get some outdoor barefoot time in.  invigorating?  understatement.

p.s. that's henna, not frostbite.

on the other side of the globe, people are warming up their ovens, stuffing a large bird’s privates with bread mixtures, pulling on their elasticized pants, and getting together for family drama.

i love a day dedicated to eating and being thankful.  i am among the very, very, very lucky few that get to eat daily and have mountains of things for which to be grateful, also on a daily basis.

the past couple of days have been very tourist-y.  we took a bus tour of the city.  it hit the major highlights and although it has an on/off option, we only got off at a couple places.  it still took all day.  this city is fascinating.  my hosting friend has been talking a lot about how the past and present coexist so peacefully here.  after the bus tour, we went to smoke (take a guess?) at the hookah bar.  at the next table over was a woman sitting cross-legged on the cushions in full abaya puffing on the hookah sipping a coke and texting on her phone.

one of the places we got off the bus was the iranian souk.  it is located down at the port. on one side are the old wooden dhows and the other are the freight ships.  the souk is just 30 or so stalls jammed together with stuff flowing out of their doors-a cornucopia of goods.  since it is right on the port, the pottery, buckets, pots, pans, tapestries, plants, incense burners, etc., go straight from the ships onto the shelves.  my favorite little corner was stretched to its seams with canvas bags full of spices.

we also switched buses at the abu dhabi mall to grab a shuttle to yas island.  on the island is an amusement park with the world’s fastest roller coaster, a formula one race track with it’s own little harbor of yacht berths, and an ikea.  the amusement park is aptly titled ferrari world and it is dedicated to speed.  one of the attractions that i need to come back for is a racing car simulation.

yesterday, we headed out to the western region to pick out my hosting friend (okay, i’m just as annoyed typing that out as i’m sure you are reading it.  she will be known henceforth as K.) ‘s apartment.  ladies and gentlemen, when they say desert, they aren’t kidding.  immediately outside the city is an ocean of sand and a very straight road running through it.  the dunes are enormous.  along the crests, the sand twirls up in a wind choreographed ballet.  off in the distance we saw three camels walking.  then, we saw a superiority of them in green blankets being herded by a bedouin man.  then, there was another line of them, barebacked and free walking along the road.  in that group was a juvenile who broke into a run to keep up.  there aren’t many things that are equal parts amusing and heart-melting as watching a baby camel run.  then there were hundreds of them.  some were nearly white and others were almost black, but most were the same color as the sand, creamy with a tinge of orange.  then, there was nothing but sand.  as we drove, we saw an island of green way off in the distance.  it was an oasis.  then, an hour later, great swathes of date palms cut through.  then, nothing but sand.

the town that K will be in is another island of green in the vast stretches of cream tinged with orange.  there is a mall with all the personality of a cardboard box and a co-op that looked far more interesting.  as we drove around the town, we counted three women.  all the activity was men.  i’m sure that the women were home cooking and caring for the children…or working inside running the place?

on the way back, there was nothing to see but sand, until suddenly there was a small grove of trees.  nibbling at the rare greenery was a herd of Arabian oryx.  it was so special to me as they have just been currently been re-introduced to the wild after near extinction.  i didn’t see a male with its fierce, splendid horns, but it was really good to see them anyway.

now it is thursday morning, thanksgiving day.  i feel so fortunate that my life is being crafted into something of such bounty that every single day is beautiful and full with things for which to be thankful.  enjoy your meals and your lives.  make it awesome.

sitting at the table, puffing on the hookah, i looked around at my friends and i told them that i felt we were just on the surface of a giant rubik’s cube that someone had shifted.  everything around us looked different, but it was still just us, sharing a meal, laughing like hyenas, and feeling the breeze.

yesterday was that kind of day.  easy.  breezy.  beautiful.  (cover girl.)  i had on my black eyeliner and green scarf.  (here’s the thing about the desert: that scarf is essential.  once noon hits, it goes around my head so my head doesn’t spontaneously combust.  we went to the bank as one more link in the long chain of things that need to get done to settle my hosting friend in the country.  it was like any bank anywhere except clearly R I C H.  over in one corner was the company player flirting with two women in slinky abaya and one in western garb with an elaborate headscarf.

after that, we went to the mall to change some money.  i loathe the mall in the united states.  overweight teenagers squeeze themselves into band-aid sized shorts and waddle around, rednecks slither through, thugs duck-walk to keep their pants on, young parents glare at each other over their screaming toddlers, and there is always some horrible muzack being piped into the air so that there is no escape.  here, i LOVE the mall.  it is quiet.  everybody glides.  couples lean in to each other in discreet whispers.  and things in the shops are beautiful.

we walked across the street (no small feat, by the way!  pedestrians, who when tallied up were the four of us, do not have the right of way.) and went to a cafe overlooking the bay.  stuffed grape leaves, fried kibbeh, minty/lemon drinks were all washed down with turkish coffee and flan.  of course, there was the hookah.  it just forces one to slow down.  we sat for hours waiting out the heat of the day.  as we smoked, sharing the same pipe, our thoughts melded and we were able to finish each other’s sentences.  the light changed on the buildings.

off to the corniche we walked.  the corniche lines the very edge of the entire Abu Dhabi coastline on the bay.  we walked (and walked) until we got to the bike rental place.  it’s not a shop, just lines of bikes on either side of the sidewalk.  the (very, very good looking!) man who was renting them out picked out a red tricycle with a big white basket in the back for me.  my friends hopped onto a two seater and the boy grabbed a four wheeler.  we raced each other, wove in and out through the foot traffic, caressed the fuzzy grasses with our feet as we rolled by, slapped five onto the low hanging branches, and giggled like four year olds.  we rode to the port.  dozens of wooden dhows were docked, some nearly covered by all the fish traps on board.  several wave runners sped through and a lone sheik stood at the rail of the boardwalk and watched, his khandora catching the wind.  he looked like the sail of a ship, solitary and proud.

we turned back as the fourth call to prayer floated out of the minarets and the sun was setting.  as it drew nearer to the horizon, it heated into a brilliant red ball.  the dunes across the bay glittered, the date palms’ outlines grew sharp.  i heard someone whistling a tuneless tune.  every once it a while the whistling would stop and a giggle would burst forth.  so deeply was i entangled in my own contentment, it took me a second to realize that the whistler was me.

after returning the bikes, we took the boy back to the hotel and we headed out for lebanese food.  if i would have known, i would have prepared myself by not eating earlier that day and two days before.  we ordered two drilled meat plates, grilled chicken, an appetizer of baba ghanoush (which was called matoubal there), and avocado shakes (trust me.).  but, even before our food arrived, the manager kept sending out other plates.  he sent out a plate of olives, crudités, arugula and mint, hummus, labneh (yoghurt cheese), and a basket of pita.  the meat plates were mountains of meat.  i got the mixed grill.  on my plate were: lamb chops, lamb kebabs, grilled chicken, chicken kebabs, beef kebabs, and grilled beef.  on top were whole grilled tomatoes and a chopped parsley salsa.  i ate and ate and ate but the pile did not seem to diminish.  and then, there was coffee.  it was, so far, the richest cup i’ve had here.  and since the manager felt that coffee could not be had alone, he sent out a dessert.  it was a delicate rice pudding smothered in honey with chopped pistachios and almonds.  it took us fifteen minutes before we could walk to the street to get a taxi.

after that meal, i didn’t think i’d ever be hungry again, but the leftovers are in the fridge right now.  so, i gotta go.

when you look at the day, i just hung out with my friends, went for a bike ride and had dinner.  but the perfection is all in the details, isn’t it?  make sure the friends are worthy, the ride beautiful and the dinner delicious.  that’s the difference between mundane and spectacular.

george mallory apparently said when he was asked why he needed to climb everest, that he had to do it “because it was there”.

why must we head outside and be wild?  because it’s there….for now.  not to be debbie downer all over your day, but, the wild is disappearing.  both the external wild that beckons from the out of doors and the internal wild voice that pushes to be true to your animal self.

so, after visiting my cousin like a quadra-dozen times, i finally hiked the mountain that is only a couple miles up the road from her.

when i took off that morning to climb it, her hubby told me that he’d see me later that afternoon.  i was back in two and a half hours.  the hike itself took me about 1 hour 45 and i took my time getting to the top and hung out a little bit in the tower.  i felt like a rockstar.  and to toot my own little horn (it’s not the size, kids!), i hiked up that mountain all the way to the fire tower at the tippy top in a dress (i don’t know why more people don’t do this.  it’s SO much easier to pee on the trail!) and nearly barefoot with the pup in tow.

i loved this trail because it was so varied.  some patches were really, really rocky.  others were mossy paths.  then, there were boulders to climb.  one point, with rock walls scaling up on each side, looked like the broad gates to another dimension.  one place looked like a meadow.  on the way up, there was one 200 foot stretch that was shrouded in mist.  one the way down, the mist shattered into teeny, tiny rain drops.

my furry, feral friends, if there is an unexplored corner that exists in your familiar territory, this is the time to wander through it.  walking up this trail, sometimes actually gripping rocks to climb, hopping over snow-melt streams, and at one point getting second wind and sprinting up through a little gorge reminded me of who i truly am.  all the titles (mom, sister, daughter, student, writer, funny-girl, cousin, bla bla yada yada) fell away one by one as i climbed.  it was just my legs, my heart beating, my skin breathing, and my sweat glands earning their keep.

so this past weekend, it was a mountain.  it doesn’t have to be so dramatic.  is there a path near your house that you’ve never walked?  a trail that you’ve never ridden down?  a puddle of water you haven’t splashed through?  a tree you haven’t yet climbed (or just hugged…not to get all fruity on you)?  a corner of your backyard that you don’t haven’t sat in?

go outside today, find a new place, and GET SOME.  then, send me some pictures of your outing.

here, for your visual enjoyment, are some pics of the mountain adventure:

rock it, man!

almost to the top, it gets "meadowy"

can you tell that i'm a mom who's sick of carrying other people's shit?

the fire tower. notice the cables near the top. they were keeping that baby on the mountain.

from the top of the tower-the great sacandaga river off in the mist

resting and smiling at the top of the mountain.

"you're turning violet, violet!"*

a breeze had come through and scattered the path with white blossoms. this pic doesn't do it justice.

back to the bottom (isn't that green psychedelic? no retouching!)

yeah, me neither.  maybe smarter isn’t the right word.  wiser might be more appropriate.  of course, some people might think that a cat is at the pinnacle of wisdom.  others will say horses (hi, m!) and others will say whatever other animal they like to spend time with.

let me explain.

when it comes to health, animals just are.  they don’t count their calories.  they don’t weigh and analyze the micro or macro nutrients in their meals.  they don’t wear pedometers.  they don’t have to.  their bodies are their personal trainers, personal nutritionists, and life coaches.  generally, they only get sick if we the people intervene.  (apparently, cancer is not found in nature anywhere but among people and their pets.  someone google this for this lazy blogger to verify.)

my two greatest inspirations on this wild woman path are my dog and my cat.  both in slightly different ways.

my dog doesn’t stress about his weight.  he doesn’t worry if moving the way dogs move is the workout of the moment of not.  he doesn’t wear certain shoes to run and others to walk and still others to hike.  he wears his feet because his feet work.  he doesn’t complain about walking in the rain, runs out a full speed when he wants to and just sits down and refuses to move when he’s done.  he’ll sleep for hours when he needs to and plays like a puppy even though he’s technically older than me.

my cat is my hero because he just doesn’t give a shit.  he gets what he wants without apology.  the other night, i heard him growling in my laundry basket.  he’d caught a bird.  a few minutes of crunching and all that was left was a content cat and a few feathers.  at other times, he sits on the valley between my ribs and my hips and purrs.  he teaches me that fierceness and deep tenderness can live in the same creature.  it lives in all of us.  the more we try to deny either one, the less whole we all are.

so much of what we’re taught about being fit, healthy is really bullshit thought up in an advertising meeting.  you don’t need to buy the right shoes to go for a walk.  you don’t need to buy packaged food, formulated to have the right ratio of bla bla to yada yada.  you don’t need to count calories.  you don’t need to monitor your heart rate.

just listen to your inner pussy and do it doggie style.  get out of your cultured brain and back into your wild body.  it knows when it wants to race across the beach at full tilt.  it knows when it wants to eat half a roast turkey.  it knows when it wants a chopped salad.  it knows when it needs an extra hour of sleep or when the sunrise beckons.  it knows how to move, honey, it really does.  that’s why it was all put together the way it was.  cats are clearly predators and sensual masters.  dogs are seekers of playful pleasure and notorious nappers.  people are powerful movers and dynamite dancers.  we thrive on fresh air and in the words of frank forencich, being “massaged by the biosphere”.

take off your leash, open the front door, step outside in your bare feet and let your body lead you.

i allowed my gym membership to lapse.  yes, i did.  well, i have a membership at another, far less convenient gym that doesn’t have the things i like to do (pool, climbing wall) that i made the mistake of signing a contract with.  kids…say no to the gym contract.  it is harder to get out of than marriage.  trust me, i’d know.

anyhoo, the one gym that i was going to nearly every weekday is no longer receiving my money nor my funnily-clad presence.

it is a little panicky not to belong to a gym.  doesn’t every health conscious person worth their weight in seaweed wraps belong to a gym?  not this wild woman.

there are a couple contributing factors to this decision.  one, it is gorgeous outside.  i can be outside for a couple hours with no fear of losing toes, ears or nipples.  secondly, my workout partner (see below) has been so restless with nothing to do that we’ve had to resort to anti-anxiety medication.  he needs to run!  third, and i believe i’ve mentioned this, i hate the general gym environment.  faces drag, people religiously monitor their calories burned, no one is really having a good time.  even during zumba, there is a general lack of booty fun because the message of DANCE has been overshadowed by AEROBICS.

in celebration of my gymless self, i went for a hike.  in the woods.  near the river.  i literally went over the river and through the woods, people.  i slid down a hill.  i jumped from rock to rock over rushing water.  i ducked under low-lying branches.  i hopped over even lower-lying fallen trees.  i used the trunk of a fallen tree as a balancing beam over the water.  i scrambled up the hill.  the whole time i did this, my sense were on high alert.

i’ve heard the bears rummaging through my trash lately so i know they’re out.  i was aware of their existence.  the terrain went from deep humus to rushing snow-melt river to boulders to mossy  trail to gravel.  the light moved from full-on sun to dappled shade.  sometimes i had to take my sweater off because i was sweating and then i’d have to put it back on because i was cold.  i did all this wearing these and keeping a hold of him:

all three of my readers, i felt alive.  yes, my muscles were a little sore.  yes, i was out of breath.  these things happened in the gym, too.  but my whole being was present outside.  all of me got a workout, my mind, my senses, my muscles, my animal self…..i was wild.

here are the goals that i have as i embark on this path:

daily goals:

1. spend more time outside than i do in (if anybody has great job ideas where i could get paid to be outside, please hit me up with any and all ideas)

2. eat like a cavegirl

3. sleep at least 8 1/2 hours every night

strength/fitness goals:

1. squat 1 1/2 times my bodyweight (can it be done by lil ol’ me?  we’ll see…)

2. swim a mile in open water

3. finish a sprint triathlon….maybe this one?

4. be able to climb a tall tree really quickly

5. dance a lot (a lot.)

skills acquisition goals:

1. make jerky and pemmican

2. hunt and skin/butcher a buck (of the deer kind…calm down gentlemen)

3. get proficient with a bow and arrow

4. be able to build a fire the old, old fashioned way…basically one step away from waiting for lightening to strike in just the right place

5. be able to navigate using the sky (where the heck is north?  since the second grade when i found out it just wasn’t up i’ve had issues.)

i have a shit ton more.  i’ll be adding a page of just my goals and hopefully tick them off one by one.

i’m so curious what you want to be able to do.  comment away.