spiritual

I Miss Being a Missionary

Last summer, I took a gigantic leap of faith. It kept me up many nights, wound its way into nearly every conversation with friends and family, and encompassed my thoughts for months on end. The question was simple:

Should I go on a mission trip to Nepal?

When my aunt asked me about going, my immediate answer was an enthusiastic YES. Of course I would go to Nepal, on a mission trip, with my aunt and three cousins. YES, YES YES!

As time passed, however, I began to unravel what that yes would mean. My boyfriend and I had just quit our careers and started a small business together, which was growing rapidly and took up the majority of our day, every day. I had only recently began going to church in the last two years or so, and had even more recently accepted Jesus into my life. The answer to one question – should I go to Nepal? – led to many more questions, which dug very deep into my faith and self-worth.

Can my business survive my absence for two weeks? Can my relationship survive my absence for two weeks and double the workload? Am I a good enough person to do this? Am I qualified? Am I ‘Christian’ enough? Will everyone think I’m an imposter?

I did not grow up going to church every Sunday. I was not a youth pastor or leader, nor had I made regular appearances at small group. I thought that my dark past and former life would make me the weakest link of our group, the odd one out that wasn’t really qualified to work for God.

I was terrified, but I stood by my YES, raised the money, and prayed.

When I met our team, I fell in love. I clicked with everyone right away, and immediately felt warmth, love, and acceptance. I still had my insecurities and fears, and I hoped they would slowly rescind as we started working.

What happened was the opposite – they grew very loud, and then went silent. I worked through each of them like a puzzle, recognizing the small signs and miracles God was working through me. I discovered that my past and weaknesses and scars made me stronger, more sincere, and easier to connect with – they were, in fact, my strengths.

I have never found my feet more beautiful, my steps more purposeful, or my days more blessed than those hot, unpredictable, chaotic days in Nepal. I discovered more about myself and my purpose in those two weeks than I had in my entire life. I could finally see myself clearly, as if I could step away from my life and peer at it through God’s eyes.

I saw my humility, my beauty, my heart, my power. I loved every minute of it, and still reflect on those days. I miss my team with all of my heart. I truly miss our late-night prayers and psalms and self-reflection, and I’m eternally grateful for this experience. I miss it, every day.

So yes, I was qualified and ‘Christian’ enough – because that’s not really a thing. We are all anointed to do the Good Works, y’all. And yes, my business and relationship survived my absence – in fact, they both blossomed. Months later, we’re still struggling to keep up with our growing business, and thankful to God for every client and encounter that comes our way.

Where God guides, he DOES provide. In bringing me closer to Him, he’s brought my dreams closer to me.

THANK YOU.

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Thoughts

Entrepreneurial Thoughts: TAXES

I’ve encountered some scary situations in adult life, but none have been as daunting as filing corporate taxes for my small business. It’s our first official calendar year, and we handed over our beloved binder of taped and scanned receipts, expenses, and hand written notes to our CPA. We do all of our own accounting, but since we’ve never filed corporate year-end, we hired an affordable CPA willing to help guide a small business through this hurdle of terror.

As we walked away from his office, we found ourselves relieved. Little fear, no anxiety – just general curiosity about what we’d hear back from the IRS. We’d budgeted and prepared for this every day for the last year, and kept meticulous records of every penny we spent and earned. We knew this was coming, and we were as ready as we could be.

Ironically, many people in both our personal and professional lives had warned us about his moment. They told us that we would never be able to handle our own accounting; we weren’t disciplined, experienced, or possibly capable of running our own show. It was too difficult (it wasn’t), a CPA would be way too expensive (he wasn’t) and the business itself would be too confusing (it wasn’t).

2160c8ba6a06427711207386e42aeb10We had people we both respected and trusted tell us firmly, even aggressively, that we’d never make it out alive. Yet, here we are – moving along into the next year with year-end taxes being a small financial and clerical blip on the radar. I wasn’t sure if I felt lied to, or misguided. Why had people discouraged us so vehemently?

I realized that when you have an idea or new business, you have to be very careful who you listen to. We’ve always been open to advice – in fact, we still are – but this journey has taught me that people can be very defensive of the path they’ve chosen. When they’ve spent 15 years climbing the corporate ladder and you decide to deviate from the status quo and build a set of stairs, a few feathers can easily be ruffled.

Keep in mind that how people meet your idea or new business says more about them than it does about you. Maybe they are terrified of accounting and taxes, and that has deterred them from starting their own business. Or they’ve even had a bad (or terrible) experience with a CPA or the IRS, and are dutifully passing that information on to you to help you escape a similar fate. Or, they might be upset that you’ve chosen to reject the status quo when that status quo is their life – their past, their future, their choices.

Whether you’ve been building your own business for years or considering starting, there’s two things I’ve learned in this first year:

  1. anything is possible with enough research and phone calls
  2. No one – literally no one – really knows what they’re doing.

So, you might as well pursue your dreams – taxes and all.

 

 

 

Running

Yoga for Neck & Back Injuries

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As a runner, I’ve learned the hard way that stretching & recovery play just as important as a role in training as the actual runs. What we do after & between each run is equally as curcial (if not more) than the days we hit the road, trail, or treadmill.

Thanks to running, I’ve fallen in love with yoga. I actually look forward to it now on my days off and later in the day on my long runs – it stretches me out and eases the pain that takes over if I don’t sprawl out on my mat. Especially since I surf, too, which is far from easy on my back, most of my aches and pains are in the neck/back/oblique area.

These are my three favorite, easy-peasy, go-to videos for stretching out my neck & back. They alleviate the tension & pressure that build up from all my activities and help me start the day feeling energized, refreshed, & zenned out.

I usually do them in this order (the last one’s the most difficult) and they take around 45 minutes all together.

What are your favorite yoga routines for post-run recovery?

Running · Veg/Vegan

PSA: Instagram is Not Real

How often do you see photos like this on Instagram? Big booty, tight waist, strong arms – but is it real? As someone that’s been hardcore into fitness for 5+ years, I couldn’t understand these images that  kept appearing on my feed – until I played around in front of the mirror and realized its just posing. Booty popped, an awkward twist in the waist, good lighting and a little bit of dehydration and BAM – insta-model approved.

I didn’t grow up in the age of Instagram, so I worry so much about the women and girls that see these images and believe they’re real life. I would never stand, sit, pose, squat or appear this way in person,  so while the photo is me, it is not TRUE TO LIFE. In simple terms, it’s not real.

Instagram can be a great place to showcase and normalize all kinds of bodies, which is why I personally choose to show photos of mine. But when you’re scrolling through your feed and come across an image that seems unachievable, keep these key points in mind:

1.      No two bodies are the same. Even if you eat, sleep, and train exactly like the girl in the picture, it is physically impossible for you to achieve the exact same results because of your (and her) unique size, shape, genes, body composition and metabolism.

2.      These images are often the result of perfect lighting, careful posing, angles, retouching, and even photoshop – not perfect people.

3.      Most of these people are professional models/bodybuilders/personal trainers, whose job is to be fit and look the part. You wouldn’t compare your ability to cook to that of a professional chef, right? So you can’t compare your body to someone who’s full time job is fitness.

4.      Most of these images are selling something. They are carefully curated to represent an ideal that’s unlikely (or impossible) to achieve in order to promote the protein powder/leggings/detox tea/personal training services being offered.

5.      Instagram is a highlight real. It does not, and cannot, depict real life.

6.      Everyone can physically, mentally, and emotionally benefit from exercise, regardless of their weight, size, shape, age, gender, ability, etc. Do not let the images on Instagram deter you from doing something great for you and your body, if that’s what you chose.

7.      Let me repeat it one more time: fitness is for and benefits EVERY BODY.

Okay, rant over.

 

Eating · Veg/Vegan

Eating Vegan in San Fran!

During our one-week trip to California, we only spent two beautiful, glorious days in the big city of San Francisco. San Fran has always been known for its activism, openness, and emphasis on love and equality, coupled with its stunning natural beauty and penchant for the unique. From block-to-block, there’s no city in the world quite like it.

We knew we’d be spending a few short days in the city, so Terry had been amping me up about the gourmet vegan food world captivated within many of San Fran’s distinctive districts. We walked around the gorgeously forested Golden Gate Park, dotted with wild buffalo, museums, ice cream stands and winding storybook creeks and rivers.

Our first food stop was La Méditeranée in the Fillmore District, a family-owned Mediterranean restaurant that served up old-school Turkish coffee, homemade Baklava, and a full vegan menu. Open since the 70’s, the place was small, quaint and warm, with a flurry of friendly waitresses guiding us through the menu and to our table.

The waitress steered me toward the veganized Mediterrean plate, a standard hodgepodge of plant-based mid-east dishes. It featured grape-leaf Dolmas, baba gounesh, hummus, olives, mixed greens, and homemade falafel. The food was just as incredible as the atmosphere and service – straight-up perfect.

The next day we drove around the bright, rainbow-adorned Castro Dstrict and stepped through an alley of wall art, one of my favorite things to discover in a new city. Gigantic faces boldly declaring equality, unity, peace and love decorated every wall as we wound our way down the street and stepped out into the Mission District.

My friend was ecstatic to take us to Gracias Madre, an artsy tavern serving up organic, locally-sourced vegan Mexican dishes (say whaaaaat!). I was stoked to discover that they served a HORCHATA LATTE, two of my favorite things combined in one.

I was so in love with my mole enchiladas stuffed with potato and zucchini, black beans and kale that I could barely contain myself in public. My boyfriend also got cashew cheese nachos, which we’re definitely made and fried in-house. It’s been a few days and I am still super obsessed with this place!

I also grabbed some vegan ginger snap cookies from Hot Cookies, a quaint little cookie shop in the Castro District. We stopped there after a few drinks and a lot of dancing, and sadly, I forgot to take a picture.

I ate a quick, healthy breakfast at the hotel. After adventuring around the city, we drove through the Pacheco Pass, a long and windy northern California road that cuts through the region’s abundant farmlands. We stopped at a fruit stand to grab avocados, oranges, pickled garlic, eggplant and asparagus to grill at T’s mom’s house in Merced, our final destination. The prices were rock-bottom, and the fresh fruit was top-notch.

We spent the night in the quaint town of Merced, and woke up to an impressive spread of fresh fruit and locally baked bread laid out by T’s mom. I filled up on freshness and grabbed some snacks for the road back to Santa Cruz.

The last meal of our adventure was on the plane to Hawaii, after a long day of traveling. We took a bus from Santa Cruz to San Jose, then the BART to San Fran, an air train to SFO Airport, sprinted to our gate to catch a flight to LAX, then sprinted from our arrival in LAX to our plane departing to Honolulu.

It broke all my traveling rules – we didn’t stock up on enough snacks, we didn’t eat before getting on the plane, we didn’t drink enough water. We were starving, grumpy and lethargic on the plane, and decided to cave in and purchase food. I was stoked to find an all-vegan, non-GMO Tapas box from Delta. It was packed with gluten-free seeded crackers, quinoa and red pepper dip, hummus, almonds, organic dark chocolate, a lemon fig bar, and more. It was surprisingly cheap, filling and satisfying, and I was happy to vote with my dollars to keep the option around.

All in all, it was a busy and fulfilling trip that totally re-stoked my love for vegan food and rekindled my dedication to living a life of kindness. Thanks much, San Fran!

Travel

5 Keys to Happy, Healthy Travel

Whether your flight is early, late, short or long, it takes a lot out of us. Every time i see a plane land at the airport, it unleashes a hoard of tired, hungry, cranky, and dehydrated zombie-like humans that look effing miserable. If you’re trying to sustain a healthy lifestyle, flying can be even more daunting.

I’ve done my fair share of travel, and standby travel at that – so I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way. These 5 steps are easy, cheap, and help you stay happy and healthy no matter where you’re headed to.

1. BYOB

I know this one seems obvious, but it’s sooo easy to forget to byob when it’s 5am and you’re headed to the airport. Plus, airlines seem to barely even hand out water these days. I bring a full water and chug it on the way through security, then fill it back up and sip on that sizzard throughout the flight.

2. Bring Electrolytes

Not only do I bring a water bottle, I also bring an empty shaker bottle with an electrolyte packet to drink. Depending on how long the flight is, you might want to bring more than one. My personal rule is one packet per 5 hours of flight.

3. Snacks on SNACKS

Back in the good ole days, the airlines used to feed you. While they’re forced to feed you on international flights, you’re lucky if you get more than a packet of five mini-pretzels and 4 oz of water flying domestic. So, I keep myself stacked with items that won’t get taken away at security. My faves are fruits, veggies, hummus packs, Lara bars, protein packets, and nuts. I would not recommend bringing any nut butter – mine always gets taken away. Sad.

4. Melatonin is LIFE

I used to have the hardest time sleeping on planes, but was scared to take any sleep aid because most of them give me terrifying nightmares. Which, naturally, I don’t want to experience in the air.

However, personally, melatonin is my bestie during times of travel. On a 12-hour flight to china, I spaced them out so nicely that I slept for eight beautiful hours straight. For long flights, I like to take two 3-5mg tablets at first, and then take 1 every 4 or 5 hours as the flight goes on.

5. Bring a Book/Journal/Planner

I’m not sure why, but traveling – even en route – brings about a lot of clarity. There’s been many, many times when my electronics die or I’ve exhausted my playlists or the movie selection is lame (or not free) and I’ve wished I brought a damn book. Flights are a great place to plan out your day/week/trip/life, or catch up on a great book. BRING IT ALL.

Uncategorized

Thoughtful Thursday: Getting Older

It’s interesting how much I’ve changed as the years have passed. I’ve always been a spaz with big dreams and lots of them – constantly chasing after this, and then that, and then something else, and everything all at once. I wanted to build my own side business, work 50 hours a week, get my personal training certificate, train for a marathon and lift heavy in the gym – all day, every day.

Needless to say, it’s exhausting.

As the years have passed, though, a few big events have shook me out of my do-it-all cycle and forced me to rebuild my life with the most important things. I’ve shifted from short-term dreams to long-term goals. Instead of cramming as much as I can in one day, I’ve learned to ask myself, what is the best use of my energy and free time today?

I’ve learned that six-pack abs aren’t worth it, and really don’t matter; that I don’t need to run a sub-four-hour marathon in order to be a runner; and most importantly, I’ve discovered that I have time. Plenty of it. That my youth isn’t a runaway train already far down the tracks; that aging really isn’t that big of a deal.

I’ve met wanderers and travelers and runners and writers and entrepreneurs and artists of every age and every stage, figuring it out a hundred times over. I’ve learned that even if I do figure out and plan my entire life today, a million different events could destroy it all, in the best way possible.

That anything’s possible, really. And I have plenty of time to figure it all out, and I always will.