Sunday, October 19, 2014

There is No Day One

The Realities of Change

Today is not the first day of anything.  It is the next day of my life.  It is a continuation of a path toward a life I want to live, toward a Lia that I want to be.  And yet is it?  If I'm bumming around, as I've been bumming around for the last week, wondering what to do with myself, then is it a day that brings me toward a Lia that I want to be?  Why am I not that Lia right now?  I am, in fact, that Lia.  I am a yoga practicing, psychology reading, backpacking, life loving, cautiously risk-taking, Lia.  And so are you.  Well, any variety of adjectives and action words that you choose.  And you know what makes you that version of yourself right now?  By doing those things right now.  If you want to be a yogi, go practice yoga. If you want to be healthy, you can actually make a small change today.  If you want to quit smoking, you can have one less cigarette.  But why would you?

We forget that we are truly and absolutely only accountable to ourselves.  It is no one's fault for your lack of activity or lack of initiative on your dreams.  It's your own fault and it is your fault for your steps toward who you want to be.  It is your responsibility to take care of you.  Nobody else's, and in case you hadn't figured it out yet, society is NOT going to take care of you.  You are accountable to what makes you happy.  So what makes you happy?  And how can you hold yourself accountable? I've found, for example, that saying I'm going to do something on my blog does NOT make me feel accountable.  Sorry guys, but I just have never really felt compelled to do things because other people expect me to (except my family).  BUT when I write out an accountability checklist that I tick off at the end of everyday, knowing that if I check all those items off I'll feel accomplished and fulfilled with my day, I am accountable and I follow through.  I actually do those things consistently and then guess what?  I'm being the Lia I want to be.  Because, the fact remains, she has always been here.  SO find your method of accountability.  Hold yourself accountable.  You're not working toward a future version of yourself because that version is already here.

I write this in leu of the many changes in my life.  The reality of changing everything is not pretty. It's not easy, but it has led me to some amazing places and lessons.  The blessing here, for me, is that I essentially wiped the slate clean.  I'm single, jobless, and without a binding living arrangement.  This means that I can properly start over.  Most people I know dream about this opportunity.  And so, I've decided to do what I believe in and use my happiness, that true internal glow, as my compass in making my future decisions.  I spent a good 2 months wallowing and moping about.  My excitement for life has been seriously wavering and is still nowhere near where it was.  My energy levels have been steady but low, and I just haven't been caring all that much about all that much.  It will take a while for me to get excited about love again, and about so many other things, but I know I'll balance out.  Everything is temporary, including this, BUT it is time to hold myself accountable for being the Lia I already am.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Midwest Moments

Thank you all so much for your amazing feedback from my last post. It really meant so much to me to receive your comments, emails, and fbook messages. Reminds me that I'm doing something right! I've been back in the Midwest for 3 weeks and have various pictures to portray my time. I'm posting this from my phone on the tail end of my 2nd 8hr Megabus journey, so pardon any layout issues. Enjoy my visual adventures!

Amazing times at Stone House Farm in Paw Paw, IL cooking with some of my favorite people for yogis and music fans!
Friends and puppies in Chicago!
Taught lots of private cooking classes and made some amazing dishes!
Lots of time spent with the Edible Alchemy crew at their home in Pilsen with their cat. Got to fashion show a few dresses so I would have something to wear to a wedding I got to be a date to last minute in Lansing, MI. I wish I had more pictures, but my dress modeling will have to represent the whole experience. I got to pet pigs and scratch donkeys. Lots of fun. Ate the best donuts of my life at Fork in the Road. Went to the Camp Warren reunion and met people from my past who I love dearly and forever. And finally spent a total of 25 hrs on Megabus in 5 days.

A few more days here then back east! 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Homeless and Happy

Hello Friends and Family!

It's been a while I know.  It's also been exceptionally interesting and somewhat dramatic.  I'm a story teller, so I will be telling my stories on here.  Some people don't approve of my candidness at times, but it is a huge part of who I am.  So, my story.  It may ramble, and it may be a bit longer than usual, read as you like.  Let's start where we left off.

I did complete that Flirty in 30 challenge and my after pictures show some nice results.  Considering my traveling and not super strict diet.  I ate well, but certainly enjoyed a few farmer's market treats every week.  I was really happy with the whole month though simply because I love dancing and weight lifting.  It was great.  I even LOVED that feeling of working hard and knocking out at the end of the day.  3 hours of classes will do that.  I'd have loved to continue at Flirty Girl.  I did get a free month and a bunch of other awesome gifts for being one of the first 30 people to complete the challenge, but then my life got a tad dramatic.

I'm not usually one to share the dramatics of my personal life publicly, but this time around it became very appropriate.  As you know, I gave a past relationship another chance, but as my private cooking client so aptly said "Sometimes giving someone a second chance is like giving them an extra bullet for their gun when they missed you the first time."  This was like the 4th chance or something.  You'd think I would have learned.  I've been asked about my sudden departure from Chicago by many so I thought having it in one place would be convenient.

This is almost 2 weeks after I got my first proper, sealed shut black eye, couldn't work or see dimensions. My poor mom doesn't need to see the full thing again.  Let's just say it was a nasty black eye.  Now, my ex-boyfriend wasn't aiming for my face he was aiming for someone else's face and I tried to stop him from beating up someone who had nothing to do with me or with my ex.  Poor guy, just happened to be in front of my ex's face at the wrong time.  Long story short, I got a black eye, poor random coworker got a mouth full of blood and a concussion.

Domestic violence and abuse are not just about angry couple screaming at each other and hitting each other or one hitting the other.  If one party is destructive and constantly puts the other at risk for injury or death, aka indirectly causes injury to the other, it is violence and abusive.  There really is no excuse, even though I gave so many throughout, I'm never going to be okay with abusive behavior again.  Understanding, ok, but staying with, not so much. Guilting is the easiest form of manipulation that people learn as children and can use to their advantage as adults.  After this whole debacle for example, my ex blamed me for pouring his drinks too strong, for not paying him enough attention at this goodbye party (one of my work friends was leaving.  We were saying goodbye), for not being there for him when I should have been (if I had known there was any issue or tension or drama, I totally would have been).  That night was actually an amazing night with friends and coworkers. We were all very happy and relaxed.  One person was not, and he needed to make sure everyone else got on the same page as him.  Angry, insecure, and destructive.

So my amazing dad flew out here, helped me pack everything up, shipped it out to CT where him and my mom live, and basically keep me company so I didn't curl up in a ball for days on end.  I couldn't work at the restaurant, so I just told them not to schedule me anymore since I had to leave Chicago.  I got out of my lease easily because of domestic violence laws, and now I'm free as a bird.  My ex lost his job, his apartment, and his girlfriend all in one fell swoop.  I hope he learns, but considering things, he is very good at repeating his old patterns. I hope he learns anyway.

I'm not really homeless obviously.  I'm loving my life right now.  I'm happier than I've been in about a year.  Life is beautiful again and I'm excited about everything.  I'm looking forward to my days and evenings, to the people I choose to associate with, and the work I'm doing.  I'm really glad that all of this happened.  I got rid of all of my main stressors in one move.

I spent a week with my parents to stay away from the ex because I honestly did not trust myself not to see him or want to hold him again.  It's twisted, but it also makes sense in a way.  Psychology stuff.  I knew I needed to block communication and get far away, and that's what I did.  It worked well enough.  The safety and security of my family was a privileged treat.

I had an event just outside of Chicago that I had been working on with my friends at Edible Alchemy so I returned to Chicago after my wallow week at home. I spent a week in nature cooking and working with food.  I met amazing people who are full of positivity and honesty, and it was the perfect therapy for me.  I was able to really start processing and working through what had just happened.  How I had let a person like him into my life, kept him there, and even shared a home with him.  In the end you question yourself.  Where was my rational mind when I needed it?  Why did I keep giving him chances?  What did I believe about the relationship?  Never be with someone for who they want to be.  Be with them for who they are.  Even if they beg you.  Especially if they beg you actually.  I'm glad I'm out, and hopefully I won't fool myself like that again.

So now what?  I have no idea, and I love it.  Before, when I was stressed all the time, sad, not myself, I was craving stability and a clear path for work.  Now, I'm so happy to have no bills, no debt, lots of friends willing to help me and I help them, some potentially great opportunities for work this coming year, and for adventures out west next summer. I'm not worried about much these days, and that feels great.  I have my own schedule, a very modest lifestyle, but so satisfying.  I'm in no rush to enter the system of work eat sleep consume, follow expectations of society.  Just not in the mood for that right now.  And it feels GOOOOOOOOOOD!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Great Reads

For a while now I've been going through a bit of a rough patch.  Life has been stressful in almost all aspects, aside from family, which is a sweet relief.  I am back east visiting them this week in fact, and when I opened the car door and saw my mom, dad, and brother I broke down crying for a good few minutes.  They were shocked.  It's been a bit overwhelming in Chicago, trying to be happy.  it really shouldn't be so hard, but sometimes it is.  I've found some interesting articles that have given me some perspective or are just plain interesting.  I hope you enjoy and learn a few new things.

Wow, Psychology Today kind of blew my mind with this article about the fat in women's hips and why men love it so much as well as why it is so necessary for healthy, intelligent children.  Eternal Curves makes me proud of my body even more than before.  It talks about an interesting biological reason why men like certain body ratios on women and how the modern view of the stick thin model is not what men actually want (or women should unnaturally strive for for that matter).  It links the fat in women's hips to the amount of Omega-3 fats stored.  This fat is a signifier that when the woman has a child she will have plenty of Omega-3 fats to grow a big brain and an intelligent child.

On a fun and informative science website, this article about foods that prevent and cause cancer as made clear by the actual evidence. It is quite a nice read.  Short and sweet, it makes a good few points about keeping cancer prevention simple through healthy diet and lifestyle choices.

The Food Mood Connection is a nice little article identifying some great foods for lifting the mood and handling stress better. "So, if eating lots of refined carbs and sugar may exacerbate our responses to stress, are there other types of food that make us more resilient?"  This is the question posed to open the article, and it's a great one to ask. We all talk about avoiding stress causing foods and minimizing mood swings, but we don't often talk about maximizing mood stability, or focus, or or emotional wellbeing with food.  We talk about maximizing the iron or the protein in our food, but not what it can do for our mental state.

Secrets of the Creative Brain is a wonderful article that I've been afraid to even close due to fear of forgetting it.  It focuses on how creativity is correlated with mental illness and distress.  It sheds a lot of light on the creative mind and how to recognize it in yourself or in others.  One of my favorite quotations from the article:

"Having too many ideas can be dangerous. Part of what comes with seeing connections no one else sees is that not all of these connections actually exist."

Monday, July 14, 2014

Fitness and Food so Far


When I restarted my Flirty Girl membership, I attended Abs and Booty and Beginner Belly Dancing.  Abs and Booty was a serious situation.  It forcefully handed my booty to me on a silver platter of sweat, fire, and controlled breathing.  If you want to be humbled and pushed take this class.  Oh my goodness.  The belly dancing was fine.  It was dance class, not really like the typical classes there, but it really worked my abs.  It's something I've always felt connected with, being arab and all, and my mom loves belly dancing.  So I had to try this class.  Since then I've taken some seriously difficult classes.  They really don't fool around here.  You might not take it seriously with a name like Flirty Girl Fitness.  It kind of makes you think of those girls at the gym with designer gym clothes, hair and make up done, and a cell phone in hand.  This is completely different.  Though there is an overlap in the designer work out gear.

Andrea from Edible Alchemy

In other news, I will be coordinating the food at Feastival, a wonderful annual event that raises money for a local food co-op called Edible Alchemy.  I've worked with them in the past for events and helping to do ordering with farmers for the weekly shares.  It's a great team of people and a unique experience.  The party uses mostly local ingredients and gets the party goers involved in education, play, and of course eating!  I'm really excited to be more involved this time.  I might even stay past 10:00PM!  Who knows!  It does go until sunrise....

Results of my dessert workshop

I do give private cooking classes and workshops here in Chicago too, so I'll be amping those up as summer continues.  My work as a waitress is no longer satisfying my financial needs unfortunately, not because my expenses have increased, but my income has decreased by about half.  I'd rather work there less regardless, but I'd rather earn money doing these kinds of events in place of waitressing.  This year will be a time for growth.  I'm excited about it.  Now everyone in my life understands where I am at and where I need to be it is easier to make the decisions I need to make.  It is the time for change and growth.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wednesdays are the BEST

It's been a crazy week somehow.  While I love a good challenge and hard work, when we have these 3 day weekends at the brunch restaurant, I just get wiped out.  Another reason why I would love to cook more and serve less.  Managing too, that'd be great.  I had a lovely daydream while I was on my bike yesterday and in it, my boyfriend won the lottery because of a ticket I got him as a silly gift and that allowed both of us to take some time off of work and I thought of what my life would be like if I won the lottery or someone close to me gave me a bunch of money.  It was a nice little daydream.  One I hope will come to be real in the nearer future.  Though, maybe not due to winning the lottery.

Now, my doctor has me on this no added sugar and no soy, dairy, or wheat diet, and I have been feeling much steadier with my energy levels.  I would think this is mostly due to the lack of sugar in my diet.  At the end of a busy day I still seem to be holding strong and am motivated to clean, or do another activity without feeling exhausted.  That feeling is so good.  I used to just come home and be able to do nothing more than sit on the couch and watch some Orange is the New Black, which I still do because it's awesome, but now I can go meet a friend or make a more interesting dinner!  What a treat.  I also seemed to have lost some weight in the form of body fat, which I won't complain about, but I have maintained my strength and muscle tone.  All the things I've been wanting for so long but just couldn't seem to muster on my own.  Thanks Dr.'s orders!

I love Wednesdays because I have my favorite yoga class at the studio by our new apartment with one of my favorite teachers.  AND it's the Green City Market in Lincoln Park!! Yay!  So I go and have breakfast on Wednesdays and enjoy the sounds of the people, the tastes of the fresh fruit!  It makes me so happy!  Some past pictures of farmer's market treats:

Savory Crepe from Abby's Crepes
The most streawberry-y strawberry eclair EVER!!!
This week also brought with it another visit to my lovely cooking client!  I go over to her apartment and teach her how to make tasty and healthy meals, and often random dishes she requests the day of for her friends.  On Monday she wanted fresh and summery, not too much food, and something as a peace offering to her angry friend.  And so, I have some pictures, but unfortunately not that many.  We started with Gazpatcho.  We made a more savory one with the basic ingredients and gave it a bit more kick with jalepeno.  Then we made a slightly sweeter one with watermelon added in instead of jalepeno.  We prepped some peppers for stuffed peppers, which I do not have pictures of after cooking, as I left before it was all done.

Then we made a delicious black bean salad, which I completely forgot to capture, but it was so good!  We used the dressing for the salad, which was a simple lime, cilantro, and olive oil, to marinade these little shrimps in.  Made some simple BBQ skewers and quickly cooked a couple to try right away.  The rest she was bringing over to her friend's grill along with the rest of the food.  It all turned out really great!  Now I'm off to the farmer's market!

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Commitment to Fitness

Well hello again.  What a pleasure to see you so soon.  Part of my recommitment to myself and general pursuit of happiness is my recommitment to fitness.  I have always been quite active and one of the more muscular types.  I like to rough house, climb mountains, and be strong enough to beat most people at arm wrestling, it's a weird pride thing I've had since middle school.  So, compared to the average 26 year-old American lady, or Arab lady, I am fit.  BUT, I am not exceptionally fit by my standards.  I do understand the dangers of "by my standards" especially in the post-eating disorder world.  I showed you a picture of Ashley Horner yesterday and I stand by that picture and what she represents.  To me she represents hard work, commitment, and NO EXCUSES!  If you really want something, you can make it happen!  Just be happy and healthy about it.
On that note, I cannot seem to manage to get myself into the gym on these beautiful, or warm but not particularly gorgeous, days.  I want to play and be silly and, ideally, be outside.  La Fitness doesn't quite do that for me.  Also, and I know this isn't an excuse but it is a realistic psychological influence, the gym by my work is really run down and dark.  The gym by my new apartment is gorgeous and lovely and very affordable!  That gym also has a special partnership with the yoga studio I'm a member at.  So that shift is going to happen very soon.
A shift that already happened yesterday is that I committed to a Flirty in Thirty Challenge at Flirty Girl Fitness.  Flirty Girl has been one of my favorite "gyms" since I discovered it last summer.  It is all classes, though they do have a small weight and cardio room for special members.  They have dance classes galore as well as yoga, weights, and ballet style kick-your-butt classes.  The music is super upbeat and motivating and it's ALL WOMEN, which I really like.  Perhaps it is from my days at an all-girls summer camp, but I feel so much more free and comfortable when it's only women.  And so I had my butt handed to me last night and every minute of this morning has shown me new parts of my body that can feel sore.

Yes, these are my "Before" pictures.  I thought it would be fun to do a "Before & After" with these classes and my commitment to fitness.  It's harder to keep going when you don't see the results.  So this is my way of being accountable and showing myself that I can make changes.  One thing I haven't mentioned is that my new Dr. put me on a gluten-free, soy-free, sugar-free, dairy-free diet.  I have some not-so-fun chronic body issues, and he said this might help.  The soy and dairy part is really no big deal as I don't really consume them regularly, but the sugar and gluten part is hard for me.  I have a sugar problem.  I'm actually on week 2 and have impressed myself thus far with my ability to say no.  I want to stick to it though so I can see if my issues go away.  I can feel myself flagging after 2 weeks.

Here is to commitment and remembering that putting yourself first is the best way to help those around you!