The Power of a Detox

I’ve always considered myself a pretty healthy person. I try to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. I do my best to stay away from processed foods. I don’t eat meat. I have fish about once a week, but no more. I drink alcohol, but not to excess (partly due to being an incredible light weight). I do yoga daily–doing my best to fit in at least 10 minutes on my busiest days. I meditate. I walk often.

Truthfully, I signed up for the Ayurveda Detox Retreat, because I was interested in the Ayurveda aspect. A few articles in recent Yoga Journal issues peaked my interest in the ancient Indian school of medicine, and I wanted to learn more. I thought that the detox would be an extra tidbit–and did I even need it? I was perfectly healthy!

Boy, did this retreat school me on this thought!

I wound up at an Ashram in the Catskills in Upstate New York after a 7 hour drive from the DC area. After stopping at numerous toll booths (despite telling Google Maps to take me the non-toll route–that scheming Map App!), stopping at a rest stop in New Jersey for lunch, another stop at a Dollar General in New York (when I realized I had forgotten my hair brush), a wrong turn, and a missed turn, I finally made it. And wow, was it beautiful. I was overcome by the beauty and the peaceful landscape. The Ashram itself was waking up to the world–the week I had my program was the first time it had been opened since COVID shut everything down in early 2020. However, the staff were working hard to bring it back into working order. It was perched on top of a hill with the perfect view of the Catskills. Plenty of in bloom flowers graced the land. There was a pond slightly further down the hill. A large garden at the front of the ashram provided many of the greens for our meals. Away from the main buildings, paths and trails through woods and fields dotted the land, some leading to nearby temples. It was such a peaceful place to be present in.

Continue reading “The Power of a Detox”

Who am I Becoming?

What an existential question for a blog post title, am I right?

I’m in the midst of my peak Saturn Return season. A year ago, even 6 months ago, I would have laughed at the thought of being so open and public about a pseudo scientific astrological event. Like you can’t be serious that Saturn’s placement in the sky is affecting my life here on Earth.

But I feel it, this change happening within me. And you know, maybe it’s just the nature of life–we ebb and we flow, we grow and we change. For me, it makes sense that what I’m feeling is coinciding with my peak Saturn Return Season.

I’m changing. I’m feeling more myself. More sure of myself. I turned 29 this year, and it feels good. It feels like I’m really growing up this year. I mean, legally, I’ve been a grown up for 11 years. But age had nothing to do with maturity. My 20s have been rife with challenges. Loneliness. Insecurity. Lacking a sense of place in the world. Afraid to truly take up space. An emotional immaturity I didn’t recognize in myself as I was hiding behind walls I put up to keep people from truly seeing me.

In the last 2 years, I’ve been able to see those blind spots in myself and work to heal them. They’re by no means all healed. Will they ever be? But I think I’ve made a good dent in them. I rediscovered more of my self worth. I’ve been leaning more into adventure. Flexibility. But also patience. Waiting to see how my adventure will unfold. NOT being so impulsive (something I became very good at with the help of social media and texting). I’ve been working on truly trusting the future. On feeling that surprise when things seem to work out just right with minimal effort on my part.

I’ve been feeling my feelings. Honoring my emotional process.

I don’t know what the future holds. I’m trying to let go of expectations. Those always seem to trip me up in the worst way. I have my intuition and I trust it, but I’ve also learned that life is far more than my intuition. Life is living in the present. Enjoying the moment. Embracing the good moments and the hard moments alike.

Continue reading “Who am I Becoming?”

Reflections on the Ease Year

Another year over. Another year to reflect.

At the end of each year, I choose a word to reflect on and keep in mind during the following year. At the close of 2020, my word for 2021 presented itself quite clearly to me.

2020 was a ridiculously hard year for everyone, as COVID took hold of the world. I used that time to reflect a lot on my life. I spent some time in therapy. I journaled a lot. During 2020, I realized how hard I make things for myself and how that came from a place inside of me that felt I didn’t deserve anything better, easier.

Ease, then, became my 2021 word of the year.

Early on in 2021, I listened to a beautiful 10% Happier Podcast episode about self compassion that inspired me completely. Self compassion became my driving force in the early months of 2021. My outlook on life changed as self compassion became, for me, the building blocks of living an easeful life. I must have intuitively understood, though I’m only fully processing this now, that I needed to feel like I deserved an easeful life to build one. I couldn’t reach that point without finding space to show kindness to myself and where I was at in the present; practicing self compassion allowed me that.

Ease, for me, became about not trying so hard to make things work that clearly weren’t. It also became about accepting current realities that I didn’t like and could not immediately change. Ease became about letting go of what I thought my life was supposed to look like, to embrace where I was–the good and the bad–and to let the future come to fruition with time. As someone with people pleasing tendencies, ease and self compassion helped me to act in my best interest rather than in the interest of people around me, particularly in the midst of a housing situation that I realized wasn’t serving me anymore.

Learning to embrace a life of ease was certainly not easy. It was painful, emotional sometimes. It required a lot of letting go and letting be, of trusting.

In 2021, I graduated with my M.Ed. in a bizarre, virtual ceremony without a lot of pomp and circumstance. In a whirlwind summer of job searching and apartment hunting, I moved out of DC to live and work in Northern Virginia. That was not part of my plan. My plan was to continue living and working in DC. Yet, I am infinitely happier where I am now–not only to be living alone without roommates, but also due to the feeling that I am much better suited to my current neighborhood and environment–and I’m grateful that this job opportunity popped up for me to reconsider what was best for me. Full time teaching has certainly not been very easeful, but learning how to do it with more ease and less around the clock work has been a continued lesson in itself.

Continue reading “Reflections on the Ease Year”

Birth Month Reflections

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast where the guest speaker brought up spiritual bypassing. The guest explained spiritual bypassing as a way some people use yoga and meditation to escape being vulnerable and feeling tough feelings.

As I was listening, I couldn’t help but resonate. Omg this is me. I’ve been using yoga and meditation to spiritual bypass for years!

As I approach my 28th birthday, coming up this month, I can’t help but reflect on the last year. And what a year it’s been. I’ve learned so much about myself in this year. I’ve grown so much, and I think I’m much healthier overall than I was a year ago in mind, body, and spirit. And you know what? I’m EXHAUSTED. From putting so much pressure on myself to grow. Even before COVID I did this–I’ve identified myself so much as someone who actively grows that I’ve hardly been able to enjoy my life for what it is. I just want to be done growing for a while and embrace me as I am right now.

And while I do want to embrace myself as I am now, I’m also so, so grateful for how far I’ve come in the last year.

Two chief realizations I’ve taken away from this year are that I’m really bad at being vulnerable, and that I have embraced a spiritual bypassing, toxic positivity attitude for much of the last few years. And both really go hand in hand–what better way to cover up being vulnerable than with toxic positivity?

This year has taught me to be kinder to myself–and that kindness to myself translates into kindness to others. This year has taught me about boundaries. This year has taught me that the way I show up in relationships matters, but that I can also choose who I show up for.

Continue reading “Birth Month Reflections”

Reflections on the Love Year

Every year, I pick a word of the year to reflect what I hope to focus on on a broad scale during the course of that year. I choose it at the close of the previous year after careful reflection about the direction I internally feel my life is going, and how I believe I can best lean into that direction.

Late last year, I picked love as my 2020 word of the year. Looking back, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

— — —

2020 seems like multiple years and like it just started. I feel like I’ve aged lifetimes, yet I can hardly believe that my 27th year is nearly over, that it was spent almost exclusively at my house. The days at home blend into each other. Time has seemed to stop, and I find that my internal clock is confused that it’s already almost 2021. What? Wasn’t it just summer? We just pressed pause in March, right?

Yet, even though September feels like a lifetime ago now, I know that, despite the monotony this strange year has brought to my daily life, time is marching forward; furthermore, even though my body has been all too sedentary these last 9 months, my mind and soul are moving forward with time.

— — —

When I chose love as my 2020 word of the year in late 2019, I was focused on obtaining external sources of love. In fact, that is what I thought 2020 would bring: external sources of love. In some ways, it has brought that. Yet, what I didn’t realize, and what I have been slowly discovering throughout the course of this year, is that 2020 has all about learning to love myself. Furthermore, those external sources that 2020 has brought were only obtained through a serious dedication to learning to love myself.

I didn’t love myself prior to this year. Not in the way I thought I did at the start of this year, at least.

On January 1, if you would have asked me if I loved myself, I would have said, “duh, of course I do”. I would have given you a laundry list of all the reasons I love myself–I do yoga every day, I meditate, I say no when I don’t want to do things, I eat healthy, home-cooked meals regularly, I try to get 7-8 hours a sleep each night.

That list would have shown that I’ve developed an impeccable self-care routine in the past few years. While self-care is, arguably, a form of love, it also doesn’t encompass love. Self-care says nothing of self-worth. Of having healthy boundaries. Of having joyful interactions on a daily basis. Of feeling secure in oneself. Furthermore, self-care on it’s own is a bit meaningless–as true self-care is meant to reset and rejuvenate oneself in order to show up at one’s best to all other forms of love.

While I had an impeccable self-care routine, I can’t say it supported me in any of those other forms of love until I really started working on myself in 2020.

Continue reading “Reflections on the Love Year”

A Native Daughter Grieves

I am grieving for my home state. I feel no anger or fear. Just grief.

I have two thoughts:

1. People who think one person can’t make a difference haven’t seen the image of Derek Chauvin kneeling on a panicked George Floyd’s neck. One person can make a difference…for better or for worse. This is why I’m a teacher, because the next generations needs to understand that the way they move through the world as individuals matters so incredibly much.

2. To the rioters of Minneapolis: fighting fire with fire is never constructive. Why are you decimating the city? Such a beautiful, artsy, unique, lake filled city? There is no other Minneapolis out there. You are destroying a place that is uniquely Minnesota, and I grieve for that.

— — —

Unfortunately, George Floyd’s story isn’t new. It hits close to home, because it’s happening in my home state. I think the fact that the incident was recorded, that there is physical evidence of it happening, brings the incident to life, makes it seem more real. I also find the nature of the crime itself very unsettling: how can one human kneel on another human’s neck for a number of minutes, knowing full well that the other person is in pain? This is behavior that is sadistic in nature, and I find it hard to swallow that such behavior happened in a city I know and love. Yet, I know well enough that this isn’t an isolated incident. At the end of the day, whether a black man is shot or choked to death by American law enforcement, it’s all wrong, and it shouldn’t be happening. We need more faith and trust in our black men in America. Part of me fears for the black boys I’ve taught–that I’ve had the pleasure of teaching and knowing. This is the society we’re going to spit them out into?

They deserve better. We all deserve better. Senseless violence helps no one.

Change needs to happen. Why isn’t it happening? I’ve been thinking about the race riots of 1968 and wonder–is this 1968 all over again? We need to turn our collective anger and grief into something constructive, because how we’re responding now isn’t constructive. I wonder, is the Coronavirus making us lose our wits? In the words of a good friend, after over two months of staying at home and sheltering in place, “George Floyd is the straw that broke the camel’s back.” The mayor of Washington, DC, a city 1,100 miles away from Minneapolis, Minnesota, issued a city-wide curfew last night due to a growing concern about violent protests. Many other states and cities have issued similar curfews and/or states of emergency. We are a nation that is broken. Coronavirus or not, systemic racism is destroying this country, chipping away at any dignity it holds. This is not okay.

— — —

Minneapolis,

I know that you are angry and grieving. I know that the whole nation is angry and grieving, but George Floyd died at the hands of a police officer in your backyard–it’s so devastatingly close to home. Know that I’m thinking of you, and that I hope you can heal in time. Don’t forget all that you are made of, all the reasons you are a city to love and believe in. This too shall pass. We cannot change what happened to George Floyd, but I do hope we as a nation can move into a better future where black men aren’t murdered on the streets in cold blood by the police officers who are supposed to ensure the safety of all citizens.

Much love,

A Native Daughter from Afar

Lake Harriet with Downtown Minneapolis visible in the background

Mask Anxiety Is Real. Let’s Talk About It.

When I was a baby, I hated pacifiers. My parents say that the moment they put one in my mouth, I’d spit it across the room. My mom claims I could make those pacifiers fly far. Olympic gold medal far (or maybe my head is getting a bit big in considering my supposed infant capabilities). My parents gave up trying with the pacifier eventually. There was no way I was keeping one in my mouth.

Little Britta circa her pacifier spitting out days

I’ve been thinking about infant-Britta’s dislike of pacifiers a lot lately. It’s a useful comparison to the present. Why? Because upon donning a mask in these pandemic days, I usually find myself angrily desiring to tear it off my face and scream out my disgust as I fling it across the room in a way that is only socially acceptable in young children throwing temper tantrums. To put it bluntly, I hate masks. I don’t say that in a playful, “this is a mildly uncomfortable hatred but I’ll take one for the team” kind of way. Nope. This is full blown, anger fueled hatred. I despise masks. I loathe masks. In the days of COVID-19, I want to f-ing burn all the masks. Even the cute homemade ones. #sorrynotsorry cute homemade mask makers. I don’t discriminate in my hatred.

I’ve been trying to grapple with this anger in the past few weeks, because I know enough about psychology to know that anger is usually a mask–no pun intended–for deep pain. I’m not a licensed psychologist, mind you, so please don’t take my armchair psychology as gold. I am, however, a teacher, and I do think that gives me some brownie points in Basic Understanding of the Human Psyche 101.

So yes, I hate masks. And I’m angry about masks. And last weekend, as I donned my required mask before heading into the grocery store, my anger abruptly dissolved into full blown anxiety as I started hyperventilating…

Continue reading “Mask Anxiety Is Real. Let’s Talk About It.”

Hello from the Grad School Side…

Ah, hello blogosphere! It’s been a while.

Since my last post six months ago, I’ve moved to a bigger room in my house, gotten a[nother]new housemate (the fourth in the course of the year…hoping the current peeps stick around for a bit ’cause house mate searching is stressful), said goodbye to my first fourth grade class as an assistant teacher, spent a lot of summer time at the pool, wrote 8,000+ words in what I hope will become a novel (and logged many hours at local coffee shops in the process), said hello to my second group of fourth graders as an assistant teacher, and started grad school. I also got to celebrate my grandparent’s 60th anniversary over Labor Day weekend in September in Iowa with my mom’s side of the family. It was incredibly special, and I feel very fortunate to have been able to travel across the country to spend time with my family during such a momentous occasion. It’s all been very good, and I’m very happy where I’m at right now, but it’s also been a challenge. Learning to balance working full time with school and school work has been a learning curve. 

I’m in a two year elementary education and licensure program, and this year is what I like to think of as my “chill” year.  I have six credits across two classes each semester. Each class Continue reading “Hello from the Grad School Side…”

A Few Quick Updates: Spring 2019

Well, howdy there, it’s been a while.

Since I posted my 2018 recap, a lot has happened. I traveled to Germany, France, and the Czech Republic over the Christmas holiday, a much needed two week break. It was the first time I’d taken more than a week off from VIPKid since I started working at VIPKid and oh lordy was it lovely. With VIPKid, it’s so easy to get into the mindset that I should always be working, because I can work anywhere as long as I have computer and internet. I’m so glad I chose to take time off…something I wish I would have done last month while on spring break. Unfortunately, the bug to keep working got me then. In Europe, I enjoyed spending a lot of time with my family, I got to see my German friend for an afternoon coffee break (she took a break from working on her master’s thesis, which was due days after we met, to see me), and I got to cross two new countries, France and the Czech Republic, off my list. I’m officially in love with Prague, which is on my list of places to return to to explore more. Continue reading “A Few Quick Updates: Spring 2019”

2018, In Review

At the beginning of the year, I christened 2018 The Adventurous Year. 

I didn’t exactly know what that meant at the time, but I knew it would be good.

There were a couple major wins in 2018, mainly moving out of  a challenging and uncomfortable living situation to a place I actually like love, and getting a full-time job in line with my career goals. I also went above and beyond my reading goals for this year. After multiple years in a row of lackluster reading, I vowed to read 30 books in 2018. When I realized that I would complete this goal by mid-summer, I increased my goal to 45 books.

While the trip my German friend and I were talking about going on to South Africa fell through early on in the year (when I woke up from my day dreaming slumber and actually looked at my bank account to realize how NOT FEASIBLE THAT WAS on a substitute teacher who isn’t called in everyday’s pay grade), I was able to plan a trip closer to home with her. I finally got to see New York City, a place I’d been wanting to go to for years, and I also got to show her around my adopted city.

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Liberty Island, Manhattan, May

My parents visited DC a couple of times this year and my brother was in town for multiple weeks near the beginning of the year for work–we were able to spend some time together, and he took me out to dinner for my birthday. Aside from my German friend spending a week with me in DC, I also got to host one of my closest high school Continue reading “2018, In Review”

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