Tuesday, January 21, 2014

coffee break

So I've been taking a break from coffee now for a solid month. This was part of a personal 30 day challenge, which ended on January 19th. Now, of course, I didn't eschew all caffeine for this challenge, just coffee...so I was still drinking black and green tea during the 30 days.  I just wanted to see what would happen, if anything, if I stopped drinking coffee.   The challenge idea came to me as I was recovering from a 7 day siege with the flu.  After 7 days of feeling terrible and not leaving the house, I realized that I hadn't had coffee the entire time.  Yes, I had experienced headaches, but since I was so sick and had so many other symptoms at the time, who's to say the headaches were associated with withdrawal?  I had already gotten over the hump, why not continue it? 

I wondered how much I would miss it, how much I would crave it? Before I started the challenge, I admit to having a capp a day, sometimes two.  Most usually consumed out at one of my favorite cafe's, but also sometimes to go, or made at work on one of the fancy machines. My coffee drinking was under control for the most part, and as long as I didn't drink after 3pm, I could sleep at night without any problems.  I truly enjoyed the energy boost it gave me in the mornings.  Now, I know this is not an example of extreme coffee drinking, but I noticed it was becoming a habit and not necessarily a healthy one, so I wanted to stop it.

During the challenge, I would say that I got cravings for a cappuccino maybe 3 times.  But they weren't very strong... nothing like yearning for baked sugary goods or a cocktail or some other, unmentionable pleasurable vices.  I found that if I just asked myself, "Do I really want to break this challenge? Is it worth it?" then I would find that I didn't need the coffee drink, I was fine.  If I really wanted to have a special hot beverage, I indulged in a chai latte, made from scratch.  (Delicious!!)
Macchiato from a highway rest-stop in Spain
My sleep cycles seemed to be benefiting from the change, as well as my pocketbook.  Aside from those two results, I didn't notice any major effects from not drinking coffee. Once my 30th day had approached, I pondered extending it for another 30? But first, I would have one coffee drink as my reward and also to see if I needed to introduce this vice back into my life. 

The hot skim capp arrived and looked beautiful, I was excited to spoon the delicious airy mounds of foam into my mouth.  The drink tasted good, but wasn't all that satisfying. Though I enjoyed it, I also felt like, meh....I could take it or leave it. I guess I got a bit of a rush from drinking it, but it wasn't very noticeable at the time.  In the hours right after drinking the cappuccino, I felt pretty much the same as I had pre-cafe.  It wasn't until much later that night, when I was trying to fall asleep, that I noticed the buzz.  Lying there, trying to relax, mind racing, feeling completely wired, I could not help but blame the coffee. That evening, watching the hours pass, I felt as if I had never even fallen asleep, I decided to continue on with 30 more days of abstinence.  In the end, the cappuccino wasn't really worth it.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Down time = Creative time

I'm currently on a break from work over the winter holidays while the TV shows I work on are on hiatus.  As a "day-player" my schedule is totally unpredictable and I'm basically on call, so I'm not sure when I'll be going back to work. For the most part, I can deal with that and just enjoy my time off and not worry, knowing that I will go back to work soon.  When I'm super busy, I often long to have time to do creative projects, for it is that kind of thing that feeds my soul.  So I try to keep that in mind if I get antsy, and turn to my long list of projects that I want to do, or I head on over to Pinterest and become inspired to make something, after spending a couple of hours pouring over images, of course! Here are some pics of some of my latest creations.

I bake bread from scratch.  These loaves are made with smoked mozzarella and fire roasted tomato  

A friend had given me a dark turquoise full-length leather jacket.
 It was way too big for me but I loved the leather and wanted to
 do something practical with it.  Now I have a new case for my laptop!

This beautiful embroidered fabric was originally a poncho that I found at a thrift store!
 I've been wanting to make something with it for a while.  It finally became a pillow.  
I saw this idea on Pinterest over a year ago. I just love the idea of repurposing a pretty tin in a new way.
I made the doll head magnets years ago, but I still enjoy them!

Monday, January 6, 2014

20 day personal challenge #1

Right before Thanksgiving, I was feeling a bit unbalanced and wanting to get some stability back in my life.  I was working at 2 different TV shows with a crazy unpredictable schedule, eating nothing but catering (which is delicious, but not necessarily healthy) and averaging less than 7 hours of sleep a night while working 12+ hours a day.  I am a person that doesn't function at her best under these conditions.  I can do it, and I can stay chipper and still do a good job, but eventually it all catches up with me and my body lets me know in various ways that it is not happy.  My joints get stiff and my shoulder stays in a mild state of discomfort, my eyes are puffy and red in the morning, and I just feel tired overall.  I have found ways to keep myself feeling good, such as bathing in an epsom salt bath, taking my vitamins, drinking kombucha and cutting back on my sugar intake.  But in November, since it was starting to get cold and I knew the hubbub of the holidays was approaching, I wanted to give myself a little more help to get through the tough schedule.  I really wanted to adopt healthy habits that would give me some sense of routine, even if I wasn't able to do them at the same time every day. 
My goal was to commit to a structured challenge for 20 days, which in theory would result in a feeling of being more grounded and centered, propelling me into a better place where self-nurturing becomes a habit, and insecurity, distractedness and my dependency on technology lessens. This would of course spill over into other areas of my life such as turning to alcohol or mindless eating as a relaxing agent.  Maybe I would even lose a little weight?  But that wasn't the goal.
So I gave my challenge some thought and came up with these parameters; every day I would complete the following practices:
1) 10 minutes of writing.  I could journal or write fiction.
2) 10 minutes of yoga.  Gentle, spinal based.  
3) 20 minutes of oil pulling
4) Post 5 things I am grateful for on FB in the "Grove of Gratitude" group. I had already been doing this daily and wanted to continue
5) Neti Pot (nasal irrigation)
6) Arnica.  I decided to try the pellet form as well as the topical gel.  I did 2 rounds of pellets at 5 days each, plus the gel.

I gave myself extra bonus points for doing other therapeutic practices which would be too much on a daily basis.  Those were:
-Taking a bath in epsom salts
-Using a dry brush to exfoliate my entire body
-Face mask/scrubs
-Drinking green tea, hot lemon water, apple cider vinegar concoctions
-Doing a creative project (sewing, drawing, gardening etc.)
-Getting a massage or using the massage ball/rollers

The results:
For the most part the challenge was a total success.  I'm still writing almost every day and I feel like that exercise in particular was the most enjoyable and led to awakening my creativity again.  I'm still oil pulling almost daily, but that is a habit that I started over a year ago and have been doing off and on.  I'm also still using the Neti Pot regularly.  
Surprisingly, and embarrassingly, I slacked a little on the yoga.  For some reason I have a block with practicing.  It probably has something to do with my limited range of motion and fear of injuring my shoulder even more, added to a lack of space in my room to do it.  And yes, a little bit of laziness too!

In the end, in completing the challenge, I achieved what I wanted to and more.  I feel more centered and grounded, and in touch with my own emotions and needs.  I've redeveloped some healthy habits, and I feel strong again, strong enough to move on to my next challenge. 

costuming adventures

How could I not love my job?
Now that I have been day-playing in TV again for the last few months, I am feeling extremely thankful to be in a field that takes me to a variety of places both real and created.  Lately I've been having a lot of fun in my travels on set.  Our crews have gone to a hospital way up in the Bronx, to a night club in Queens and many a deserted warehouse in between.  I've spent time in neighborhoods that were immensely beautiful and some that seemed dangerously scary.  Here is a little photo album of some of the locations I have been to lately, thanks to the location scouts for each of the shows I have been working on.

At a shipping yard in Staten Island- the
machinery was incredible! 

At a courthouse in the Bronx.
The sky was beautiful that day.

At the Brooklyn Grain Terminal.
Distressed Beauty.

At a park in Queens.
Sadly, I don't know the name of the artist
or the park.

At a dance club in Queens.
I don't normally go to places like this
 but it was fun to do a photoshoot there during off-hours!

Monday, October 28, 2013


It has been about a month since I last blogged, but it actually feels like much longer than that because the days have been flying by.  My theatre job ended and I immediately started working in TV again as a set costumer and I have been loving every minute of it!  And there have been many many minutes.  I average about 12-16 hours a day, usually 4-5 days a week, so my typical week has been anywhere from 40-60+ hours, depending on the situation.  Occasionally I'll work 8 or 10 hours...12 seems short sometimes!  My schedule is unpredictable and always changing, and I'm always working in different locations, whether I'm working on location or at the studios.  I "dayplay" which means I work on different shows as a freelancer, and I'm currently working mostly on The Blacklist and Elementary, with a couple of days on The Good Wife very recently. To someone who does not work in TV or Theatre, this probably seems like a totally insane way to live.  And it is.  And I have to admit I love it.

I feel like my life has changed completely in the last month, and that is because it has.  I have decided to put teaching yoga on the back burner for a while.  There are a few reasons why this is the best choice for me right now, which include not only healing myshoulder situation (updates on that later) but also lots of financially based reasons.  Also, TV work is what seems to be happening for me right now, this work just sort of starting coming to me, so I'm going to ride the wave, rather than struggle with a new business in which I have very little connections locally.  Of course, I have been working hard in the costuming field for a long time, so in a sense, I have been trying to find my niche in that area for quite some time.

I just have to say that I'm very happy.  I'm feeling very connected to the shows I am working on, and feeling proud to be part of a couple of fantastic crews.  And I'm making a healthy paycheck, which is nice.  I'm socializing, meeting tons of new people, and visiting places I'd never have access to if I wasn't working these jobs.
Yoga will always be a part of my life, and I love sharing it with people and feel very connected in my soul through teaching.  Which is why I'm not abandoning it forever, just stepping away for a while until I figure out a way to make it work for me.  I'm thinking that perhaps trying to go straight to privates or to go the corporate route might be best, once I've established myself enough in the TV world to be able to have a regularly scheduled day off in which to teach yoga.  I've heard that there are a couple of ladies out there in the biz that have managed to combine the two careers successfully, and I hope to meet them and get some advice.  But for now I'm going to keep plugging away at my day job(s). 

For those of you who enjoy reading my blog just because I write it and don't care if I talk about yoga or not, first of all- I love you! second, I hope to write a little bit about my work, because it can be oh-so-entertaining!

Until then, please enjoy this photo of me in wheel over a giant fish costume that was sexed up by John Hamm a couple of years ago on SNL.  See, I was combining my yoga and costuming career before I even thought about teaching in NY!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Short list of hotel room/traveling comforts

I'm currently traveling for work and living in a hotel room for 10-ish days, writing this post on my itty bitty phone, so I will keep this simple. The theme of simplicity is right on target with living in a hotel room, and I enjoy that connection.
I may be traveling again soon for work, but for a much longer time, so naturally I am taking notes from this trip. Part of me is nervous about the possibility of being on the road for almost 2 months, given my aching shoulder situation, but the way I see it, my shoulder is going to do what it's going to do, no matter where I am.
So, here is my list of things that make living in a hotel room, working long hours and being away from home not only comfy, but maybe even therapeutic.. I would like to be able to pack all of these things for future work trips.

1) foot therapy ball. (Google it) sooo good on the arches
2) tennis ball for self massage (back/shoulders/hips) against the wall
3) yoga mat- it's so nice to have enough room in my hotel room to just leave it out!
4) wine
5) lavender essential oil. I fling it all over the room or add it to my table side humidifier- (if I've brought it). Can also be used in the bath or as perfume
6) allergy meds- at least for the first couple days. It seems to help my reaction to recirculated air and offensively stoing cleaning products- I have a super sensitive nose
7) vitamins- gotta keep the immune system healthy. Especially important is vitamin D and shoulder meds for anti-inflammation
8) journal. Quiet alone time in a hotel room can lead to much self reflection, list-making, note taking, drawing etc.
9)book to read.
10) organic coconut oil for oil pulling. It's a routine I have developed and it's nice to be able to maintain that. It could also be used on the hair for a deep conditioning treatment, or on skin for a moisturizer.
11) bathing suit for jacuzzi

Extra bonus therapeutic/comfort things aka items I wish I had brought but felt I could do without for a long week. It might be nice to bring these things for a longer trip:
1) bedside mini humidifier
2) heating pad
3) neti pot
4) manicure supplies- polish, remover, file. It's nice to be able to freshen up the nails...

Saturday, September 7, 2013

but wait, there's more...

Last night when I arrived home, there was a birthday package waiting for me.  I checked the return address and was excited that it came from Morgantown, West Virginia, home of my soul-sister, Elizabeth of BlissBlissBliss.  Elizabeth and I have shared a beautiful friendship for 19 years and I could probably write a blog post about the things I have learned from her and ways that she and her family have enriched my life, but that isn't the project for today!  Today's post is inspired by last night's phone conversation and our discussion of homeopathic remedies, yoga and pain management.

As I opened the surprise box, I snapped some photographs and texted them to her, along with my first reactions to her gifts, in an effort to share the experience.  Elizabeth has a knack for gift-giving; everything is chosen and packaged colorfully with such thought and love, and it's always a treat for the senses to receive a gift from her. There is usually a lot of colorful, pretty sparkly goodness and oftentimes good smelling items as well. Included in my present were a couple of personal items, some tea from Elizabeth's own kitchen, and a book by Jack Kornfield from her library.  This was extra special to me.  I opened the book to this page and sent the picture to E.
 It says: 1)In business, reinvest a portion of all you make, keep a portion for your use, save a portion for those in need.
2)Whatever we cultivate in times of ease, we gather as strength for times of change. 
The first quote reminded me that I probably should not shop for a new Fall wardrobe right now and felt kind of like motherly advice and somewhat nagging- ha! Still it is good advice and timely.  The second  really resonated with me and made me smile.  It made me happy for myself that I know how to have a good time and appreciate being in the moment.  I reflected on what I do during "times of ease" and made a connection to sowing seeds for a garden.  It was reassuring.

Sending photos and texting was a fun way to share a moment long distance, but soon we grew tired of typing on tiny keypads and just called each other.  During our conversation, E asked what all I was doing for my shoulder, and I listed some of the remedies/therapies I'd been practicing.  I realized that I forgot to list these in my previous post, so I'm adding them here now.

1) I've been laying on this spiked bolster, made by Lotus, NY. I first saw an ad for a similar product in Yoga Journal a few years ago, but it was a towel/meditation mat covered in these plastic spikes.  The idea is that you lay on it and, as in acupuncture, the nerve endings just below the skin are stimulated, releasing endorphins into the blood, stimulating blood circulation and increasing intake of oxygen.  I LOVE this thing!  It's super weird, and slightly painful upon first contact, but it totally relaxes me when I lean into it.  This pillow has helped my insomnia.  I lay with the bolster running the length of my spine, and have found it to be an  instant sedative.  Sometimes I lay on it under my low back, stimulating the kidneys and digestive organs, and I feel like it helps me to detox.  Sometimes I put it right around my hurt shoulder and I feel like that is helping because it's sending fresh oxygen to those muscles.  But overall, I like this bolster because it feels good and instantaneously clears my mind.

2) Rolling a tennis ball between my back and the wall*
It's remarkable how deeply I can massage my own muscles with almost no effort.  I am saving so much money and blasting out all of the huge knots in my back by standing against the wall, with the tennis ball under my shoulder blades and slowly rolling up and down by bending my knees.  This is a practice I'd like to incorporate into the restorative yoga classes I teach.
*bonus points because I do squats at the same time, multi-tasking getting more exercise into my day!

3) Arnica Gel:  I'm not sure if this is working because on the tube the directions say that it is good for fresh injuries, and mine is old, but I figure it doesn't hurt!

4)Vitamins C, E and Zinc:  I read somewhere online that these vitamins would help to speed the healing of tendons, and strengthen bones.  While I am already taking a multi, fish oil,  liquid vitamin B, and D on the recommendation of my GP (to keep my thyroid in check), I thought I would try to supplement and see if that helps too.

and the 5th item that is helping me to heal is the act of sharing love with good friends, family and animals, whenever I can.