[Ed's Note Don't worry, friends! Alexandra wrote this before she left. She is not blogging while honeymooning! Psssssh.]
As you read this post, I am hundreds of miles from home, sitting on a beach, doing a downward dog, or enjoying a fruity cocktail. In other words, I’m on vacation. Actually, I’m technically on my honeymoon; it just took us over a year to feel like we could leave. Which got me thinking…
I can’t remember the last time I took a real vacation. Not to visit my parents or go see friends for a weekend, but a proper checkout from the world. When I was little, it seems like folks took these trips all the time. But these days? Not so much.
Of course, like many people, one reason I’m not always flying the coop to some faraway islands is finances. Money’s been tight these past few years (I know I’m not alone there), and until recently I didn’t have the security of a steady income. And yet, still. I could have gone camping just up the coast, or found a cute little bed and breakfast for a long weekend and turned my phone off. In fact, my husband and I had a honeymoon fund instead of gifts, so the money for this trip has been there.
I think the real truth is, I always felt too guilty to take vacations. Either I didn’t have full time work and felt like I didn’t “deserve” one, or I worked around the clock and lived in fear of angry bosses. Anyone else feel like this?
We talk about stress a lot, but this is a bit of a weak spot for both of us. Siobhan even made “taking a real vacation” one of her New Year’s resolutions. (And I plan to hold her to it.) So what about you? When’s the last time you threw a bikini in a bag, took a road trip, or camped out somewhere with no cell reception? I’ll let you know if it’s as good as I remember.
Oh, and here are some handy natural-breauty tricks to take with you when you go.
Sorry for the radio silence everyone, but we’ve both been in serious nesting mode this sort-of holiday week. We hope you’ve been enjoying your time too, with friends and family or whoever else has tickled your fancy.
Are we getting excited for 2012 yet, or what?! No matter what one believes about this upcoming year—and there’s no shortage of theories—we think that 2012 will be full of movement. Elections, revolutions, new kinds of awareness… There does seem to be a shift underway, one that this natural beauty thing is all about.
While progress is slow, trust in big structures of all kinds has been on the wane, and we’re seeing people moving their money back to the little guys: whether they went to a credit union, started frequenting farmers’ markets, or are now supporting some of the small beauty and wellness companies (and the women who run them) we’ve talked about here.
As so much of our lives have moved online, it’s as though there’s also a pull back to our physical communities and knowing the people behind what we consume. We like that trend.
And then there are our personal goals! The decisions we all make for ourselves that also ripple out to the world.
We all have ways in which we want to improve, and new year or not, there’s nothing wrong with setting some intentions. We want to hear where you plan to effectuate change in your life this year. Here’s where we’d like to grow…
—I’m going to listen more and react less.
—I’m going to keep working on having healthier energetic boundaries, so that I don’t feel drained unknowingly.
—I’m going to make a bigger effort to connect with people. I was a bit of a recluse in 2011 but now I’m ready to come out and play!
—I’m going to develop a gratitude practice.
—I’m going to balance my hormones! (OK, not entirely within my control but intention helps, right?)
—I’m going to take more timeouts.
—I’m going to take concrete steps to creating the present I want to live.
—I’m going to pencil in at least two proper vacations and then actually take them.
—I’m going to drag myself from my warm bed and meditate whether I feel like it or not.
—I’m going to take a ballet class.
—I’m going to trust myself.
—I’m going to invite stressy feelings over for tea and let them hang out until they’re ready to leave on their own, instead of chasing them out the door with a broom.
—I’m also going to take concrete steps to create the life I want.
—But I’m still going to have a ball.
—Just read Siobhan’s! Amen to having a ball, S. I’m in.
OK you guys, you’re up.
Speaking of animals, I know that a few of you are trying on a vegan diet for your new year’s resolutions so I wanted to share a discovery that I made this morning: the coconut milk cappuccino. [Note: neither of us is strictly vegan but we both enjoy what I'll call a vegan-heavy diet.]
After years of drinking my espresso black, I’ve recently rediscovered the decadent pleasure of a yummy cappuccino. (I blame the Dean & Deluca’s in New York where Siobhan and I ordered them on a whim this December. I’ve been on a cap kick since.) Like many people, I’m on the fence about dairy. Yes, it’s delicious and unless I really overdo it on cheese or ice cream, my stomach seems to hold up ok. But I have my reservations nonetheless, even about organic milk (which is what I use in my morning cappuccino).
So today I tried something new and made it with coconut milk instead. I realize that my obsession with all things coconut is reaching parody peaks at this point but here’s why coconut milk is great: 1) It brings fat to the party, which makes things taste better (it’s become my go-to for green smoothies as well), 2) it has a third of the calories, and 3) none of the sugar of regular milk. It also contains fewer ingredients than soy, almond or rice milk. In my opinion those tend to be overly sweet and kind of processed tasting. And by the by, a similar conclusion was reached on Mark Bittman’s blog.
Got any other great vegan tips for our brave friends? Share the love.
There’s an interesting article today on Huffington Post about how bad habits get wired into our brains, and how we overestimate our capacity to resist their temptation.
Now, this isn’t meant to be a total New Year’s resolution buzzkill. In fact quite the opposite. If we understand just how powerful our bad habits can be, perhaps it will help empower us to stay the course. From the post:
“Why are bad habits stronger? You’re fighting against the power of an immediate reward,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse and an authority on the brain’s pleasure pathway.
It’s the fudge vs. broccoli choice: Chocolate’s yum factor tends to beat out the knowledge that sticking with veggies brings an eventual reward of lost pounds.
“We all as creatures are hard-wired that way, to give greater value to an immediate reward as opposed to something that’s delayed,” Volkow says.
The article goes on to discuss the role of dopamine in conditioning the brain to behave badly, and how we are triggered by environmental cues to do the very things we swear off. You know, like pour a drink and light a cigarette during an episode of Mad Men or gorge on popcorn at the movie theatre even if we’re not hungry. It’s interesting to hear what a big part dopamine plays in compounding these fairly obvious patterns.
What’s more compelling to us though, is the expert advice on how to actually change patterns, in your life and eventually in your brain. Here’s what they culled from the brain pros:
—Repeat, repeat, repeat the new behavior – the same routine at the same time of day. Resolved to exercise? Doing it at the same time of the morning, rather than fitting it in haphazardly, makes the striatum recognize the habit so eventually, “if you don’t do it, you feel awful,” says Volkow the neuroscientist, who’s also a passionate runner.
—Exercise itself raises dopamine levels, so eventually your brain will get a feel-good hit even if your muscles protest.
—Reward yourself with something you really desire, Volkow stresses. You exercised all week? Stuck to your diet? Buy a book, a great pair of jeans, or try a fancy restaurant—safer perhaps than a box of cookies because the price inhibits the quantity.
—Stress can reactivate the bad-habit circuitry. “You see people immediately eating in the airport when their flight is canceled,” Volkow points out.
—And cut out the rituals linked to your bad habits. No eating in front of the TV, ever.
They had me at jeans and fancy restaurant, but not eating in front of the television is a tough one for me! What about you? Do you think you can you follow this advice?