I believe that at all times there is this gorgeous juicy free flowing river that gushes through us. It is a river of spirit, creativity, love, hope, joy, connectivity and bliss. As children we play in this river passionately, effortlessly. It is so simple to us to access this river at the early stages of our life because we are still so close to the river's source, to the eternal place from which we came.
As we grow older most of us lose the ability to play in the river. We move towards "the real world." We are stagnated by fear, we create separation and division between one another. We begin to believe that life is hard, that play is idle, that we must "grow up," "get a real job" and "be an adult." We dam the river up with ludicrous ideology and soon the river goes dry. But does this ideology truly serve us?
What if we chose to live in the gorgeous, juicy free-flowing river. Now. As childlike adults. What then? What would we accomplish if we gave into our childlike genius? If we stayed awake until the wee hours of the morning, or awoke at the crack of dawn driven by our passions? What would happen if we chose to live in the moment? If we focused on play more than work? If we kept our hearts open and smiles and said hello to e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. If we asked every stranger we met to be our friend? What kind of life would we be living then?
I'm curious to find out.
My wonderful 86 and 87 year old grandparents were married on June 28th, 1945. Over the course of their marriage they created a clan of eight children and fourteen grandchildren, most of whom gathered this past Saturday to celebrate their 65th Wedding Anniversary.
And if I hadn't been already contemplating marriage enough lately, what with the planning of my own upcoming nuptials and our recent "official" engagement, this special event certainly got me thinking.
What is this thing we call marriage anyways? Traditionally it was a way for clans or tribes to join forces, to establish treaties of power and wealth. Brides were offered up to the groom's family with a dowry in order to begin her new household and to safeguard the bride against ill treatment from the groom or groom’s family. Often brides and grooms were “promised” to one another at a very young age (sometimes in infancy) and may not have ever set eyes on one another until their wedding day. Even after their wedding most married couples lived their lives in very segmented ways- the men spending their days with other men and the women with other women.
This is a far cry from modern marriage, at least in the Western world. Modern marriage is no longer founded on the idea of the joining of two families, but rather on the love and friendship of two individuals. Brides are no longer expected to bring a dowry into the union and the modern couple is likely to incur the wedding expenses on their own. Usually, the modern couple has spent years dating and, more often than not, have spent time living with one another prior to their wedding. The modern couple is expected to work together as a small family unit, spending a good deal of time with one another establishing a household and a way of life that is separate from others.
Now I’m not an expert on marriage or weddings and I certainly don’t claim to be. I haven’t done any formal research on the subject, so my musings are purely anecdotal. But it seems to me that the entire institution of marriage is culturally and historically specific. And although the modern wedding industry would like us to believe that we must have the $30,000+ affair with all the bells and whistles, marriage and weddings are an ever-changing concept that we as individuals have the power to define. It is with this very notion of self-definition that Anthony and I have been approaching our own journey to the altar.
At this point in our lives we aren't very religious and we didn't like the idea of a stranger wedding us. So we asked our long-time friend to become ordained and perform the ceremony. We really don’t dig the idea of traditional readings or even traditional ceremony songs- so we’re scrapping both and going with something different. We haven’t got a maid-of-honor or a best man (but we do have a brides-man and a grooms-woman.) We’re into being green so the invitations are going out without response cards (online RSVPs only) and the wedding favors are homemade from recycled products. I’m not into bridal showers (in the slightest), so we had a backyard “6 Months till the Wedding” party instead. And while I am very much appreciative of Anthony's loving gesture, the jury is still out on whether I agree with the notion of engagement rings or down-on-one-knee proposals.
We are picking and choosing the elements of a wedding that best suit us, changing up the ones that don’t without worrying about what is “traditional” or what we “should” be doing. We are creating something that is pleasing to us because at the end of the day, that’s how we are entering into our marriage- attentive to the elements that work and chucking out the ones that don’t.
It is my belief that if we continue to move forward in this way, walking hand in hand in co-creation, that we will enjoy the same matrimonial longevity and happiness that my own grandparents have enjoyed. Maybe someday my own granddaughter will be contemplating her
up-coming nuptials as Anthony and I celebrate our 65th Anniversary. Or maybe, by then, marriage will have taken another direction and morphed into something new. I guess only time will tell.
P.S. I highly recommend Elizabeth Gilbert's Committed ,
a well researched memoir on love and marriage.
Let’s be honest. The Veggie Vixen’s [cyber] garden has not been growing lately. Not in the slightest. Blog posts have been few and far between. Emails have gone unchecked. Facebook notifications/messages have been poorly responded to- and forget about keeping up with my Newsfeed. It just hasn’t been happening.
It’s not just my cyber garden that has been full of weeds; my mental garden has been pretty full of weeds as well. I’m not tackling my wedding planning tasks. I delayed starting my Half Marathon training for weeks. I enrolled in a self-paced online course but my pace has been “0” mph. There are books sitting on my shelf waiting to be finished, phone calls I need to make, a house I need to pack and a business I need to kick off the ground. There is so much on my life “to-do” list and none of it is getting done.
It sure looks like I’ve got it all together on the outside though. I’m sure it seems like my life is sailing along with ease. And heck I couldn’t argue with you! I’ve got a great guy I’ll be marrying in less than 6 months, a good job at a reputable company, wonderfully beautiful friends, a loving and supportive family and [screw modesty] a hot and healthy bod.
But the truth is, I’ve been feeling pretty off lately. I’ve been stuck in a serious rut my friends. I am more stuck than a fly in honey, more stuck than a wad of gum on a shoe sole, more stuck than a Bostonian in rush hour traffic. Stuck. Stuck. Stuck. I’ve been feeling uninspired, unmotivated, moody and mopey. Why?
Well, because I’m not quite sure where my life is headed right now. I have a lot of things I want to do, be and have but I'm not sure where to start. I feel pulled in many different directions and as a result I’ve been living in a constant state of “blah” for months. Just enough “blah” to be annoying, but not enough to actually say “HEY, this ain’t working babe. Time to change something.” So I’ve been putting off the things I need to do most, passing them onto “tomorrow” with a shrug and a sigh. I keep putting off the very actions that will bring me closer to the life I really want.
And that just ain’t right people. I’ve got big dreams to fulfill, big shoes I want to walk in and a big life I want to create. None of that is going to happen if I keep walking around with a lackluster attitude, if I keep hiding my head in the sand. But I had no idea how to change my attitude until this weekend.
It finally clicked for me this past Saturday, as Anthony and I hosted our “Six Month Countdown to the Wedding” cookout. I had devised a Trivia game, all about the two of us, for our guests to play and win a prize. Kid Pandora was in charge of the second game, but didn't want to tell me what it entailed. So when we started playing his game, I had no idea what was going on. He instructed our guests to form a circle, blind-folded me with a red scarf, spun me around and told everyone to shout my name over and over as I searched the circle for him.
I didn't see the point of this game- how was anyone going to win a prize? I felt totally disoriented, a bit overwhelmed by all the shouting, and confused about where to step. I felt as if I was going to be groping people (and the air) for the rest of the afternoon, unable to find my bestie. But eventually I found him (thanks to my mom who started shouting “He’s over here! He’s over here”) and when he took the blindfold off me I knew something was up. He looked at me with intense tear-filled eyes and said “Marissa, You found me!” and he choked up and laughed as he said “I don’t even know was to say anymore.” Then he got down on one knee and opened a box with a ring inside and asked me to marry him. And well, DUH, I said yes!
Now my point isn’t to share our adorably cheesy “official engagement” story. My point is to explain how this little romantic moment made me realize something. I realized that need a lot more trust in my life. During this charade I couldn't see a damn thing. I had no idea which direction I was going and I felt like I had a million different things being thrown (shouted) at me. But I trusted in my loved ones and I eventually found my sweetie.
This same act of trust needs to be applied to my entire life. If I am going to accomplish all the goals I have set forth for myself, I need to trust my partner, my friends, my family, the universe and myself. I need to trust that everything is going to work out and that all will be found if I just let go of my “to-do’s”’ and just be. I need to trust that if I focus on the moment the plan will be revealed. Most importantly, I need to trust that, even though I might feel as if I’m walking around blinding right now, if I continue walking my path, I will eventually see.
What a sweetie!
VV's back. Tell a friend.
Yes that's right folks, the Veggie Vixen is back in the game. I took a serious blogging vacation, posting very sporadically at the beginning of the year until completely fizzling out in March. Here's what happened. It was a combination of:
- Being busy at work. After the initial "settling in" phase, they realized I'm a skillful and resourceful chick, upping my workload. C'est la vie.
- Planning a WEDDING. Yes that's right Anthony and I will be getting married in December on our 10 year anniversary. Cue the chorus of "awwww"'s!
- Lacking motivation. It happens to the best of us. Sometimes we fall behind and let things slip through the track.
- Feeling disconnected/ losing sight of my purpose. Early 2012 was a bit of a hibernation period as I approached my 25th birthday in deep contemplation, working to redefine my personal mission.
Regardless of my reasons (ak.a. excuses), I am back and better than ever. I hope you will forgive my absence dear readers, and that you continue to follow me on my journey as a lean, green, lovin' machine.
Light & Love,
Enjoying our green breakfast!
I know many of you are accustomed to a St. Patrick's Day filled with corned beef, beef steef, stout and whiskey, but St. Paddy's day is secretly a Vegetarian's dream! Why? Because of all that green baby! No, I'm not talking green beers. I'm talking green veggies (kale, cabbage, spinach- yum yum yum!), green fruits (apple or avocado anyone?) green soups, green salads, and green shakes. Green, green, GREEN! Excuse me while I do a little leprechaun jig.
How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day this year? Here in Worcester, we started celebrating St. Paddy's last Sunday with the Annual St. Patrick's Day parade. I wound down the day slapping together a hearty Baked Potato Soup which I slurped in celebration all week long. This morning, T-Rex and I got the party going with our lean and green Shamrock Shakes- made with IsaLean and Isagenix Greens! Each scoop of those mighty greens packs a 30 serving punch of veggies! Wahoo! Banshees be gone!
I wish you all a HAPPY and HEALTHY St. Patrick's Day! Now get out there and get YOUR green on!
Who needs corned beef?
St. Paddy's Baked Potato Soup
6 large potatoes
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup coconut milk
8 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup carrots
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup peas
Peel potatoes and poke with a fork. Place potatoes on oiled baking sheet (use coconut oil) and bake at 450 for 40 minutes. When potatoes are done place them in a clean bowl or pot and cover. In the mean time, saute onions and garlic until soft. Add vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Cook (or heat if using frozen vegetables) in a separate stove top pot. Combine half the coconut milk, half of the broth with half of the potatoes and process in a food processor (or use an immersion blender if you have one). Continue until all potatoes and broth are thoroughly mixed. Transfer back to large soup pot and add potatoes, carrots and corn. If soup has cooled, heat to desired temperature and serve!
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This week's Meatless Monday dish is adapted from a recipe Veg Kitchen
which came to me by way of my mother who shared it with me last fall. At first I thought "Broccoli? Apples? Peanut Butter? Really?" I"m a huge fan of each of these separately, but I was a bit leery about how the combination would pan out. Once I finally got around to cooking this dish, I was pleasantly surprised to find that yes, broccoli, apples and peanut butter do indeed go quite well together. If you're looking for
Broccoli, Apple and Peanut Soup
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
32-ounces of vegetable broth,
2 medium apples, peeled, cored, and diced
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon ginger (fresh or jarred)
2/3 cup natural peanut butter
6 cups broccoli florets
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Raw peanuts for garnish, optional Heat oil in a soup pot. Add onions and
sauté until translucent. Add garlic and carrots.
Sauté until onions are golden.
Add broth, curry powder and ginger. Bring to a boil then lower and simmer for 15 minutes. Once carrots and apples are tender, remove from heat. Meanwhile, boil a pot of water for the broccoli and steam to desired texture (I like my broccoli to be a bit crunchy). Transfer solid ingredients from the pot to a food processor. Be sure to not over-process, you want the vegetables to be a chunky consistency.
Stir puree back into soup pot. Add peanut butter to soup, stirring as you add. Once broccoli is cooked, drain water and add to the soup mix. Ladle into soup bowls and top each serving with raw peanuts. Enjoy!
is a social movement started by The Monday Campaigns, a non-profit public health initative. The aim to is to introduce mainstream America to the idea of living without meat for one day a week. Well going a day without meat is certainly not a problem for me, the Veggie Vixen since I go every day without it. But I realize that many of my readers might not have the same vegetarian lifestyle that I enjoy. I've have many folks this past year lament about how they just "cannot give up meat"! Well I bet you can, in fact I know you can! It's really not as hard as you think it is. So why not start by going meatless for one day a week? Just one measly day a week! You can't find a baby step much smaller than that! Check back with me every Monday to check out my new tasty suggestion for your Meatless Monday and dip your toe into vegetarianism. Trust me you'll survive.
The first recipe on the roster for Meatless Mondays is a burger. That's right, a burger, but hold the meat and bring on the deliciousness! My falafel burger recipe is a variation from "Skinny Bitch in the Kitch", a recipe book penned by the Skinny Bitch duo Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin. If you're a fan of Middle Eastern fare I suggest you give this dish a try for your first Meatless Monday. Remember, baby steps.
Falafel Burgers (Serves Two)
1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1/4 onion, minced
2 tablespoons panko breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons garbanzo flour or whole wheat pastry flour
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground corianer
1/4 teaspoon pepper
4 cloves garlic
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 lemon, juiced
2 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Two 6 inch pita breads
Burger fixings (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, avocado- your choice)
Preheat oven to 350.
Combine garbanzo beans, onion, panko, flour, parsley, cumin, coriander, pepper, garlic cloves, salt and pepper into a food processor. Pulse to form a coarse paste. Shape into 4 baseball sized rounds. Place on baking sheet. Flatten the balls to patties with a spatula. Bake 45 minutes, turning halfway. Meanwhile juice lemon. In small bowl whisk together lemon juice, tahini, olive oil, and paprika. When burgers are done assemble into pita pockets. To assemble cut off top of the pita forming a pocket, add falafel and your choice of burger fixings. Drizzle each sandwich with tahini sauce.
It was a low-key Christmas for the Veggie Vixen this year. Taking a tip from Charlie Brown, everything from the meal to the gifts were focued on the spirit of the holiday rather than consumption and commercialism. In fact, I didn't step into a single store with the intention of a Christmas purchse this holiday season. In the past few weeks coworkers have frequently asked me "all set for Christmas? Shopping all done?" to which I've replied "Yeah, I was done before I began. I'm actively not purchasing anything for Christmas this year." Hold the [vegan] mayo, not purchasing anything for Christmas? What kind of Scrooge are you?
I'm not a Scrooge at all! In fact, I daresay this year I've had more Christmas Spirit this year than ever before! Back in November, T-Rex and I decided that we weren't going to buy anyone presents- even for one another. And let me tell you, it has been one relaxing Christmas seaon in our house! No rushing around at the stores among the harried shoppers, no wrapping presents, no dwindling bank funds. Instead we chose to focus on the spirit of the season, enjoying time with family. We decorated our home and tree quite festively, sent out our holiday photo cards and invited both our families over for low key Christmas meals. And the only presents I doled out to my family and friends this year were handmade cards! But while T-Rex and I were actively not participating in gift purchasing, our wondeful families were not and we still ended up with some lovely and thoughtful purchsed present for which we are thankful.
Focusing on the present, rather than the presents gave me time to pause and reflect on the people I am grateful for in my life and allowed me to focus on the experiences I want to create in the coming year. Taking the time to slow down and downsize this year was a fantastic idea and a tradition I think T-Rex and I will continue in the coming years! I highly recommend you try a present-less Christmas for yourself next year!
Below you'll find the recipes I created for my low-key Christmas meals. Enjoy!
Christmas Eve Quinoa
1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
2 cups water
1 12 ounce jar roasted red peppers, chopped
1 cup whole olives
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/4 cup onions, diced
2 T olive oil
salt and pepper (to taste)
Combine water and quinoa in a sauce pan. Bring to boil. Chop vegetable and combine with olive oil in a small bowl. Once quinoa is at a bowl, reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Add vegetable/olive oil mix and stir. Cook another 5 to 10 minutes (until quinoa is at a consistency you like- I like mine more wet, but cook longer if you prefer the dish to me more dry). Serve alone or alongside your favorite vegetable (I highly reccommend it with portobello mushrooms!)
Baby Bella Brisket
1 10 ounce package Baby Bella "Cremini" Mushroom Caps (mince stems)
1/4 cup red onion, minced
2 T olive oil
2 T white vinegar
2 T Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
Remove stems from mushroom caps. Mince stems along with red onions. Marinate onion, stem mix in mixture of 1T each of olive oil, white vinegar and Bragg's Liquid Aminos (or soy sauce). Marinate mushroom caps in a second mixture of the same. If you have time, marinate overnight. But a half hour to an hour works fine. Once marinated, place mushroom caps in a baking pan with excess sauce mixture. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. In the last 10 minutes that the mushrooms are baking, sautee the mushroom stem/onion mixture in a stovetop pan. Spoon mixture over the mushroom caps and serve!
Simple Rice Pilaf with Cashew Spinach
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup onions, minced
1/2 cup long grained rice
1/2 cup orzo
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup water
Salt, Pepper to taste
1 package of baby spinach
1/4 cup raw cashews
Sautee onions in olive oil until translucent. Combine oil, onions, rice, orzo, water, and milk in a stovetop pot. Stir over medium heat, then add water and broth. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and let simmer for 25 minutes or until water is absorbed and rice is soft. If you are cooking with a rice cooker, use the "brown rice" setting. In the last 10 minutes that the rice is cooking place mushrooms and cashews in a large frying pan and sautee until spinach has wilted. Add salt and pepper to both dishes as desired.
Happy third day of Hanukkah friends! Last night the roommates and I celebrated the festival of lights in true old country form- with lots and lots of fried food! We served up Potato Latkes, Applesauce Donut Holes and (though technically not a Hannukah dish) Matzo Ball Soup. While I can't that our meal was the most healthy (what with all the sugar, starch and oil) but I can say that they were 100% vegetarian and vegan to boot!
The latke and donut recipes came courtesy of Alicia C. Simpson's Quick and Easy Vegan Celebrations
and the matzo recipe simply came from the side of the matzo meal box! It took a few attempts to get the latkes and donut holes fried correctly (the first batches were WAY too ugly to be photographed) but after a few tries we were frying things up to golden perfection. I'd have to admit though they provide absolutely no nutritional value, the applesauce donut holes were my favorite part of the night!
After we ate our fill of fried fare, we lit the second Hanukkah candle with the traditional Hebrew Candle Blessing
" Barukh atah Adonai, Eloheinu, melekh ha'olam
Blessed are you, Lord, our God, sovereign of the universe asher kidishanu b'mitz'votav v'tzivanu
Who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us l'had'lik neir shel Chanukah. (Amein)
to light the lights of Chanukkah. (Amen)"
Next Hanukkah I might even take a stab at jelly filled donuts! Until then, I hope everyone enjoys the remaining 6 days of Hanukkah!
3 pounds white or sweet potatoes, peeled & grated
2 egg equivalent ener-g egg replacer
1 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 onion diced
1/8 teaspoon paprika
Black pepper to Taste
Canola oil for frying
Mix potatoes, prepared egg replacer, salt, flour, baking powder, onion, paprika and pepper in large bowl until well combined. Cover a skillet with oil and warm over medium high heat. Spoon latke mixture in 1/4 cups into the oil. Use spatula to flatten them. Fry until golden brown. Serve with warmed applesauce or ketchup.
Applesauce Donut holes
Canola oil for frying
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup plain soy yogurt
1 egg equivalent ener-g egg replacer
1/4 cup dairy-free milk
1 cup applesauce
Stir together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, granulated sugar and brown sugar in large bowl. Whisk yogurt prepared ener-g egg replacer, milk and applesauce in small bowl. Pour yogurt mix into flour mixture and stir well. Drop dough 1 teaspoon at a time into hot oil and fry in small batched until golden. Drain on paper towels. Dust with confectioner's sugar.
Matzo Ball Soup
1/2 onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
8 cups vegetable broth
Matzo meal mix
1 egg equivalent of ener-g egg replacer
Put onion, carrot and celery into vegetable broth and bring to boil. Lower to a simmer and cook 5 minutes. Meanwhile mix ener-g egg replacer. Mix matzo as directed on the box using ener-g egg replacer in place of egg. Form into balls and drop into broth. When balls have fluffed up and are slightly firm they have cooked.
Today's "Streamlined Sunday" has been cancelled. Instead we bring to you an extremely overdue episode of “60 Day Sprints”. By now you should know that this blog was born out of the Veggie Vixen’s desire to whip my own own butt into shape- to get out there and finally start achieving my “Before 26 Bucket List”. The plan was to pick a handful of goals every 60 days, get ‘em done and keep a running blog documenting those goals. And while I have been pretty good about accomplishing those goals, I haven’t been very good sharing those goals with you all! So please excuse the interruption in our regularly scheduled programming as the Veggie Vixen backtracks all the way to August (I told you I haven’t been good at sharing!).
The Bathroom Goal Board
For the months of August and September I set my sights on achieving the following goals:
-Training for the Devil's Chase 10K
- Running the Rugged Maniac 5K
-Cooking a full (vegan) Vietnamese meal
- 30 Day Monkey Mind Challenge
-Begin six month challenge to go without cable or internet TV & Movies
Bow and Arrow @ King Richard's
Even without my efforts to achieve these goals, August and September were two very busy months. T-Rex and I attended summer family parties as well as various wedding festivities that preceded a giant (300 guests!) family wedding in September. We went on a fun weekend trip with college friends to Mohegan Sun, attended a friend’s wedding and went to King Richard’s Fair with our soon to be roommate (thus achieving a goal I hadn’t even had on the list for Aug/Sept- “Shoot a Bow and Arrow at a Renaissance Fair
”!) We also held a giant yard sale as we prepared to move out of my parent’s house and into our new digs. On top of all that I walked the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk
with my dear friend Kimmy! You’d think that with such a busy end to summer that I would have slipped up and skipped out on a few of my goals, but nope I achieved each one (except camping, which had been a tentative goal from the start).
Getting pumped pre-race!
I dove into a thirteen week 10k training session
, running between 30-45 minutes three times a week, with my heart set on running the Devil’s Chase on Halloween weekend (a 6.66 mile run in Salem, MA).
But as I mentioned in my post on running
, a gnarly cold, post-marathon walk recovery and the process of moving out threw me off my training schedule at the end of September and I ultimately decided not to sign-up for the official race (a good decision in hindsight since this year’s Halloween weekend blizzard had us all thinking it was Christmas!)
But while I didn’t run my 10k, I did run my way through a obstacle ridden motocross course better known as The Rugged Maniac 5K
. There were 6 foot walls, pools of water, a giant slide, a “Super Man” jump and there was mud, lots and lots of mud. When we first saw the track, observing the winded competitors winding their way up and down the hills T-Rex declared “Why is everyone walking? We’re gonna go hard! None of this walking business!” I fully agreed, but once we got out there I realized why they had been walking. That shit was tiring! I was grumbling and bumbling while T-Rex nimbly navigated the course (I swear sometimes I think he’s part videogame character or part ninja or something). Though he was clearly agile enough to have blasted his way competitively through the race, he stuck with me and we ended up finishing in just under an hour.
All swinged out.
T-Rex is a fun dude to hang with. So it’s no wonder why the Rugged 5K wasn’t the only goal I achieved with him in August and September. He also was there as I crossed “Swing Dancing
” and “Cooking a full (vegan) Vietnamese meal
” off my list. We went swing dancing one weekend in the middle of August at the Leominster Elks, where Dance2Swing Studios
hosts a public swing dancing lesson every weekend. I had been looking for an opportunity to take an inexpensive dance lesson so when I heard about this through a musician coworker
who frequently sings at the event with the swing band, I was all over it! I can’t say that T-Rex and I were any good (in fact, we pretty much bombed) but we had plenty of fun laughing as we stepped and mis-stepped all over one another.
We had much more success in the kitchen a week later as we prepared a deliciousVieganese
meal of Pho and Banh Mi. I’ve always wanted to cook a full Vietnamese meal, but since I’ve gone Vegetarian and (mostly) vegan I decided to switch it up and Veganize our Vietnamese thus, Vieganese! I didn’t miss the meat for one second and even T-Rex, a lifelong diner of authentic Vietnamese cuisine, gave it two thumbs up!
A peaceful spot of forgotten railroad
Only two of my goals didn’t include T-Rex as they were personal challenges I set myself on. One of them being a "Monkey Mind Challenge", 30 days of daily meditation sessions, while the other was the beginning of a six month challenge to "Go Without Cable or Internet Television & Movies". I'm happy to say I successfully achieved both. I began the Monky Mind Challenege on August 3rd, track, keeping track of each meditation session until September 1st. I'd dabbled with meditative sessions before, but there was something different about creating a space and time each day to simply sit in silence.
So many folks think that meditation is a hard thing to do, that they'd "love to" but they "just can't do it". I'd wager that if those same folks would see serious results if they carved out just 20 minutes a day dedicated solely to meditation for 30 days. In my 30 days I found that I could meditate anywhere, any time. Case in point, the picture at left by a broken railroad track where I enjoyed a calming out door meditation session in mid-August. I also found that I was better able to maintain levels of serenity and contentedness, even in the face of stress. And the fact that I was simultaneously staying away from media certainly couldn't have hurt my sense of peace. I chose to abstain from all forms of television and movies precisely because I found it at times to be jarring. It's so easy to sit in front of the television and lose track of time as we are inundated with mindless mediocre information. Even when we're actively choosing our programs via the internet, DV-R or on-demand there comes a sense that we have to "keep up" or "catch up" with our favorite shows. I wanted to take a rest from that to see how it would free up my time and my mind. And so far so good.
The Goal Board again
Abstaining from television and movies is something that I continued into the months of October and November as I set out to achieve the following"
-Attend a Wine Tasting
-Habitat for Humanity
-100 pushups in a row
While I didn’t complete everything on this list (namely the first two items), October and November were two very fulfilling months as the roomies and I unpacked, organized, threw a couple of successful parties and readjusted to living on our own again. T-Rex and I hosted our first Thanksgiving
, inviting my parents and grandmother over for an almost all vegan meal (there was the minor detail of, you know, the turkey). We prolonged the holiday of Thanks here at the X-Mansion with a “Friendsgiving: Thanksgiving Part II” celebration having a few folks over for T-Day leftovers (and my leftovers I mean desserts, lots and lots of desserts!).
Wine & Cheese Party
October and November were certainly the months of hosting. In addition to Thanksgiving and Friendsgiving we also had a Halloween Housewarming and a Wine & Chesse party. The Wine & Cheese party was an excellent excuse for me to knock "Attend a Wine Tasting
" off my list. T-Rex, our roomie Matt and I had gone to a "wine tasting" at a local wine shop in our neighborhood. However, I hardly can justify that as a satisyfing wine tasting event, as we sampled only a few wines. I'm not sure if an at-home wine party officially qualifies either, but there were an ample amount of wines to choose from. And while I didn't learn the finer points of wine craft or how to discern a wine's quality, I did figure out that I actually DO like red wine (or at least I know I like Nero D'Avola. The rest of the red family has yet to strike my fancy)
But Autumn wasn't all about parties and food, there was some community service and a physical challenge thrown in there too! I spent a day in in late October on a Habitat for Humanity
build site in Boylston painting my way through each ceiling in the house. I met some great seasoned volunteers and learned quite a bit about the great organization. And in mid October I set out to jack up my upper body strength, taking on the "100 Pushups
" training program, a system devised to have you doing just that- 100 pushups in a row! Initially I started out only able to achieve a mere 14, but worked my way up in 6 weeks to 60. I'm still working my way up to 100, but it's taking me a bit longer than expected so that goal'll have to roll over to December/January alone with a haircut and karaoke.
The full list of goals for December/January includes:
-(Finish) 100 Pushups
-Learn to Play Chess
- Sew Quilt of College Tee’s
-30 Days of Giving
-Save $$,$$$ by January 2012
--Continue 6 months without TV/Hulu/Netflix
December and January tend to be a hustling and bustling time of the year, but I think these goals are manageable enough to obtain admist the holiday cheer. Let's just hope that blogging about them is something I can obtain as well !:)