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!