Snapshots of the Whole and Happy Retreat in Thailand

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It’s been nearly a month and a half since the first Whole & Happy Retreat in Chanthaburi, Thailand and yet my mind wanders back to that magical time almost every single day. I wanted to share a few film images and a general feel for the beautiful retreat week I spent at FaaSai Resort and Spa.

The Whole & Happy Retreat is the perfect laid back mix of travel, adventure, yoga and self exploration. Each day the retreat group met for yoga and meditation and each day a new technique, style, or focus was presented to us to play around with. As if the yoga and meditation wasn’t enough, the Whole & Happy Retreat involved so much more. We rode our bikes up steep hills, plunged into the Thai gulf waters, drank beer at sunset and toured the farm where our organic meals originated all the while still having ample time to laze about by the pool, sip papaya smoothies and trade book recommendations while devouring our current reads. breakfast-1 first-round-12

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The Whole & Happy Retreat seemed to rest in this perfect cosmos of flowed planning instead of precise scheduling. Each night there would be a new agenda and theme on the message board and every morning our group would work our way happily through the day. From farm tours to beachside bike rides, we would move through the hours crossing joyous adventures off our list and yet somehow barely checking the clock, instead checking in with each other and our energy levels.

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first-round-18As an experienced yoga practitioner, I was delighted at the variety of classes presented and how approachable and attainable the instructors made the content for the beginners in the group and yet I never once felt bored or that the classes were predictable. Beyond the yoga and meditation, it’s such a treat to enjoy new experiences with complete strangers, it’s almost like being transported back to the first day of school on the playground. You feel shy at first until a few minutes later you realize you’re having an insane amount of fun and you look around to realize the people you once thought were strangers are now your favorite playmates.

The Whole and Happy Retreat felt like an adult summer camp aimed at elevating the travel experience while incorporating yoga and introspection. As a seasoned traveler, I cannot recommend this experience enough to individuals who are a bit apprehensive about a trip abroad or solo travelers who would find comfort among company. It’s also the perfect break for someone looking to get away in order to recharge and reinvigorate themselves for a happier reintegration back into normal life.first-round-14first-round-41first-round-61

Come read books, sip smoothies poolside, bike through fishing villages, make new Thai friends and gaze up at the stars with me. I’ll be joining the Whole & Happy crew at the next retreat in Chanthaburi, Thailand from March 17-23 and I hope you’ll come. I’d love to flow with you! From now until January 15th, book with a friend and receive $50 off of the retreat cost for a total of $550 for seven days of retreat at Faasai Eco Resort and Spa. If you need help finding a flight (they’re less than $600RT from NYC right now) or help creating a budget, I would love to help, just reach out in the comments.

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Shop Live Seasoned

Yesterday we shared a sneak peak of our elving and today we’re back with more gifting ideas. You may have seen a snap or two of our new products on Instagram and now it’s official, our etsy shop, Live Seasoned is stocked with new goodies. We took a break over the summer to come up not only with new potions, but new ways to present them.

First off, we tweaked the way we stock our shop.  From now on, we’ll be offering our lip balms, salves and other potions in batches. What does that mean? Well, instead of having a few set flavors and scents, we’ll be making and mixing as we see fit. Depending on the season, our mood and inspiration, we’ll create different batches of each item in limited numbers. If you order something and fall in love with it, it’s best to order more immediately since there’s no way of knowing when we’ll create a similar batch.  Working in batches instead of trying to stick to a set inventory helps us stay motivated and feel inspired with our selection of products. It also allows us to tweak and adjust our potions as we see fit. We’re pretty pumped about this transition and we’re hoping you feel the same.

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On that same note, as the seasons sway us this way and that, we’re thinking up new products. Some silly, some serious. We love filling our homes with the scent of burning Palo Santo just as much as we enjoy stuffing cockroach soaps into our buddies’ stockings. Dino lovers in your life? We have something for them too.

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We are also introducing cardboard balm tubes, woohoo! This was something we wanted to do from day one, but were hesitant about because there’s quite a price difference between cardboard and plastic. After a year of dealing with (and not totally loving) the plastic tubes, we caved (or did we evolve?) and purchased cardboard tubes. Truth be told, we couldn’t be happier with the look and feel of these tubes. Added bonus?  They take less energy to produce and dispose of. To us, they just feel right. What do you think? We’re all ears.roach_soap If you’re on the batch bus or you’ve called your seat in the cardboard car, then hop over to our Live Seasoned etsy shop and browse our handmade line of goods for your healthy home.

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5 Ways Yoga Helped Me Heal After a Breakup

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.
-Mary Oliver


I began practicing yoga seriously after I returned from a long stint in Asia in 2011-2012. My relationship to yoga actually began after I was dumped by my then boyfriend of about five years over the phone the night I returned to the USA from Thailand. Pretty fucked up right?

I thought so too. I was sad. I was defeated. I felt like I wanted to crawl into a hole and die. See about two months before I flew home, I had sensed a shift in our conversations over Facebook. I could just tell there was something different happening with him in America, I just wasn’t sure what. I even mentioned it, but he never answered.

I took it particularly hard because I had tried (and failed) to break up with this man twice over the course of five years. I knew the relationship wasn’t meant to last forever and yet somehow we would work it out, we would be ‘better’ and the attempted breakups did make our relationship stronger so when I finally committed my vulnerable little heart to freely loving another person unconditionally, I was dumped. It was painful.

In hindsight, the breakup was so devastating because this same boyfriend came all the way to Thailand that Christmas to visit me. I felt so loved and lucky to have someone literally travel across the earth to be with me. For the first time in my life, I envisioned marriage and even my future wedding. It’s true, as I traveled Thailand by bus and a love song would come on, I would listen to the lyrics and consider it for my imagined wedding. It would take me years after the break up to be able to listen to John Legend songs and not feel pangs of hurt and rejection. I guess all this is to say, sometimes you are completely blindsided by a breakup and it forces you to sit in a sobbing puddle of rejection and just deal with your feelings.

The entire next month, my main goal was to not break down and cry in public. I would go to work, which at the time was catering parties and weddings, and I would have to sneak off to the bathroom or around a corner and mentally talk myself out of sobbing. It was really hard to keep it together. Once I got in my car or home to my sister’s apartment, I would breakdown. Watching any type of tv (even commercials), listening to the radio, even walking down the street in a neighborhood where he and I spent so much time together, felt like the most challenging task in the world. I was a mess and I had never in my life dealt with something so agonizing.

At the time, my ex and i were still texting periodically throughout the day. We had actually bought tickets a few months previous, to a huge music festival together with about 15 of our closest friends and we had agreed that we would still attend it together and try to act normal. The first day was fine as I got completely obliterated, but the second was draining. I ended up just laying in a grassy field for hours and hours while all my friends pranced and danced and my ex completely disappeared from the group and did his own thing. It was during this festival that something clicked. We are all individuals and while I cannot fathom life without this dude, it’s obviously meant to be that way. If we were meant to get back together, we would eventually, but until then, I needed to try to move on and forget about how hurt and rejected I felt.

I started by moving to my other sister’s, hours from my ex and pretty much my entire life and community I had created in Philadelphia over the past five years. I’m so glad I did this and I feel like it was a major step in my healing process. To not have to bump into him and our mutual friends in my neighborhood on a weekly basis really helped to distance myself from the breakup.

I also decided to cut off communication with my ex. At my request, we stopped sending our handful of texts each day. I remember how fucking hard that week was though, I felt like my best friend had died and I was all alone. Along with not texting, I made a concerted effort to stop looking at his or his friends’ social media because who really wants to see their ex dating someone already after a couple months. Again, this was a huge step forward in terms of starting my own life again. I will admit, I relapsed a couple times and looked at his Facebook and his girlfriend’s Facebook, but that’s how I found out he started dating her before I even moved home from Thailand. While this bit of information felt like hot lava being poured on my chest, it also gave me the ammunition I needed to mentally move on for good.

After spending a couple more weeks crying and feeling bad for myself, I found a random job, started hiking with Katie’s hound dog (he’s now mine!), and making plans with my friends again.

It was around this time that I remembered a yoga studio that Katie and I visited a few years ago. I had always felt a connection to this studio even though I only attended a couple classes there. I’ll never forget the first yoga class I attended after the break up, I looked up the schedule online, realized I had about ten minutes to get there, contemplated it for a moment and then drove like hell to make it on time. That class changed the entire course of my life. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but it’s absolutely true. I told you that entire sob story only so you’d begin to understand the power that authentic yoga (not just stretching and exercising to music and practicing handstands) can have on your life.

After a few months of yoga, I was completely transformed and in a way, reborn. Yoga teaches many lessons, but in terms of dealing with a breakup it teaches you ::

  • Self acceptance of where you are at this moment in time. Sometimes life throws us for a loop. There is no sense resisting, fighting what is currently taking place, you can only settle into it. When the breakup occurred, I was convinced it was a momentary mistake, something that would soon be corrected. Once I started practicing yoga and accepting what was being handed (or taken away) in life, I realized nothing is a mistake. Each situation is a gift to learn more and connect deeper with oneself. I also began looking back and remembering times in my life that seemed tragic and hard to deal with and I realized I prospered after those periods and I would after this one as well.
  • Your mat is your world. Nothing outside of your mat is a reflection or judgment of what is happening on your mat. You’ll hear this quite often in yoga. Do not compare yourself to others, focus on yourself, accept where you are at this moment in time, do no strive to be further along in your journey even if you’re seemingly further behind than you were yesterday. This lesson was absolutely crucial in getting over my ex. Not only did I feel like I lost a great dude (he was attractive, interesting and motivated), but I was replaced by a younger, more beautiful girl. For awhile, it was really hard not to be jealous of his new, fit and attractive girlfriend. I could immediately see that she was everything I was not, all the little things he had wanted me to be over the course of our relationship. Not only that, but they were traveling all over the place, something I would have loved to do. I felt like I lost everything and they had it all. What a ridiculous notion it is to look at what your neighbor has, covet it and wallow in your discontent. This will get you absolutely nowhere and it will create an ugly person in the meantime. Once I focused all my energy inwards and began cultivating my own happiness and directing my own journey, I was able to actually nurture love and happiness for my ex and his new beautiful partner. I don’t know this girl, but I’m positive she’s a great human. I also learned to see more clearly and to realize my ex was in many ways not the right partner for me. I gained clarity about my situation once I focused my energy inwards.
  • Connection to breath and body sensations. Basically yoga taught me to be mindful, something I hadn’t practiced before. Mindfulness was a completely new concept and to this day it has a profound effect on my psyche. Each time I found my mind wandering or getting hung up on a memory or feeling, I would bring myself back to a deep belly breath and try to not only identify my thoughts, but also to locate what sensations were arising and how they felt in my body. Being more present, connected and aware helped me to realize that often my sadness was just an autopilot state of being. If i wasn’t stimulated or even if another emotion was trying to shine through, my sadness would overwhelm me, it was as if my heart wanted to feel broken and my mind was just cruising along with it instead of thinking rationally about the present moment and my true feelings from hour to hour.
  • Disconnection from emotion and external forces. Disconnecting from my emotions was really the next step in my mindfulness practice. Once I was able to stay present and identify my emotions, I was able to question them and in a way compartmentalize them in my mind. Obviously it’s okay to feel deeply, but instead of allowing our monkey minds to completely hijack how we feel, it’s crucial to question why we feel the way we do, to think rationally about the entire situation at hand. I was so so sad day after day even though I had previously tried to initiate a break up, even though I knew the relationship was in no way sustainable, so why was I allowing emotions to run my life? At a certain point, it’s absolutely necessary to box up reactions and intense emotions and disconnect from them, to set them aside, and allow yourself to think with clarity about the situation in life.
  • Self love. Above all, yoga has taught me to love myself inside and out. Cheesy as it may sound, I believe self love is the key to a happy life full of successful relationships whether they’re romantic or not. Having love, gratitude and appreciation for yourself above all else allows you to thrive and feel comfortable in any situation. Creeping feelings of self-doubt and ugly notions of jealousy are eradicated and more space for compassion and appreciation is created. I now see endings as new beginnings and heartache as an experience to be cherished as much as mourned. In all beings and situations I search for love, any tiny speck of love that allows everything to fall into place and make sense.

Yoga allowed me to fall in love with myself again, while disconnecting from emotion long enough to process the breakup and begin to heal. I was taught to practice mindfulness and realize my expectations of the relationship and my life in general were just that, expectations, not reality. Yoga allowed me the space I needed to present with my emotions without becoming wrapped up and attached to them. I look back to the person I was ten even five years ago and I barely recognize her. Yoga has changed me in many ways and it all started with one shitty breakup. Today I’m grateful for the heartache because it introduced me to a yoga lifestyle and a set of tools that allow me to thrive in all situations. Are you going through a transition or a difficult time right now? Find your nearest yoga studio and dive in.

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Creation Inspiration: Start A Quote Book


Ever come across a passage, poem or quote that really speaks to you? How do you remember it? Do you dog-ear the page? Highlight the passage? Pin the quote to your words of inspiration board? Save them all in a memo on your computer? Read it once and let it go? I used to do all of the above until about a week ago when I finally decided to start a quote book.

I picked up a small notebook at a local shop and started by jotting down all my absolute favorite quotes from over the past few years. I dug up those random note cards, looked up all my highlights in my kindle app and wrote down all the saved bookmarks and highlighted passages that have spoke to me. It’s quite therapeutic to focus on a quote, record it and to be able to look back at all the words that connected with you at different times in your life. Think of a quote book as basically your own little playbook or pep talk. Sometimes we need a few words of inspiration to get through the day or to remember to treat ourselves properly. Our thought patterns can be chaotic. Sometimes they are a disservice. It’s helpful to bring yourself back to center with a few words of encouragement, cue the quote book!


Here are a few of my favorite quotes, passages and poems to get you started:
Talk to yourself like you would someone you love.

Home is neither here nor there. Home is within you or home is nowhere at all. – Hermann Hesse

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there. -Rumi

Cry everyday if you want, not because you’re sad, but because the world is so beautiful and life is so short.

To love oneself is the beginning of a life-long romance. -Oscar Wilde

Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift. -Mary Oliver

Peace. It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.
Desiderata by Max Ehrmann

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,

and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender

be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;

and listen to others,

even the dull and the ignorant;

they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,

they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,

you may become vain and bitter;

for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble;

it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs;

for the world is full of trickery.

But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;

many persons strive for high ideals;

and everywhere life is full of heroism.
Be yourself.

Especially, do not feign affection.

Neither be cynical about love;

for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment

it is as perennial as the grass.
Take kindly the counsel of the years,

gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.

Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,

be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,

no less than the trees and the stars;

you have a right to be here.

And whether or not it is clear to you,

no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.
Therefore be at peace with God,

whatever you conceive Him to be,

and whatever your labors and aspirations,

in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.
With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,

it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful.

Strive to be happy.

Asking Too Much by Andrea Gibson:

“I want you to tell me about every person you’ve ever been in love with.

Tell me why you loved them,

then tell me why they loved you.
Tell me about a day in your life you didn’t think you’d live through.

Tell me what the word home means to you

and tell me in a way that I’ll know your mother’s name

just by the way you describe your bedroom

when you were eight.
See, I want to know the first time you felt the weight of hate,

and if that day still trembles beneath your bones.
Do you prefer to play in puddles of rain

or bounce in the bellies of snow?

And if you were to build a snowman,

would you rip two branches from a tree to build your snowman arms

or would leave your snowman armless

for the sake of being harmless to the tree?

And if you would,

would you notice how that tree weeps for you

because your snowman has no arms to hug you

every time you kiss him on the cheek?
Do you kiss your friends on the cheek?

Do you sleep beside them when they’re sad

even if it makes your lover mad?

Do you think that anger is a sincere emotion

or just the timid motion of a fragile heart trying to beat away its pain?
See, I wanna know what you think of your first name,

and if you often lie awake at night and imagine your mother’s joy

when she spoke it for the very first time.
I want you to tell me all the ways you’ve been unkind.

Tell me all the ways you’ve been cruel.

Tell me, knowing I often picture Gandhi at ten years old

beating up little boys at school.
If you were walking by a chemical plant

where smokestacks were filling the sky with dark black clouds

would you holler “Poison! Poison! Poison!” really loud

or would you whisper

“That cloud looks like a fish,

and that cloud looks like a fairy!”
Do you believe that Mary was really a virgin?

Do you believe that Moses really parted the sea?

And if you don’t believe in miracles, tell me —

how would you explain the miracle of my life to me?
See, I wanna know if you believe in any god

or if you believe in many gods

or better yet

what gods believe in you.

And for all the times that you’ve knelt before the temple of yourself,

have the prayers you asked come true?

And if they didn’t, did you feel denied?

And if you felt denied,

denied by who?
I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror

on a day you’re feeling good.

I wanna know what you see when you look in the mirror

on a day you’re feeling bad.

I wanna know the first person who taught you your beauty

could ever be reflected on a lousy piece of glass.
If you ever reach enlightenment

will you remember how to laugh?
Have you ever been a song?

Would you think less of me

if I told you I’ve lived my entire life a little off-key?

And I’m not nearly as smart as my poetry

I just plagiarize the thoughts of the people around me

who have learned the wisdom of silence.
Do you believe that concrete perpetuates violence?

And if you do —

I want you to tell me of a meadow

where my skateboard will soar.
See, I wanna know more than what you do for a living.

I wanna know how much of your life you spend just giving,

and if you love yourself enough to also receive sometimes.

I wanna know if you bleed sometimes

from other people’s wounds,

and if you dream sometimes

that this life is just a balloon —

that if you wanted to, you could pop,

but you never would

‘cause you’d never want it to stop.
If a tree fell in the forest

and you were the only one there to hear —

if its fall to the ground didn’t make a sound,

would you panic in fear that you didn’t exist,

or would you bask in the bliss of your nothingness?
And lastly, let me ask you this:
If you and I went for a walk

and the entire walk, we didn’t talk —

do you think eventually, we’d… kiss?
No, wait.

That’s asking too much –

After all,

this is only our first date.”
I hope these words that have had an amazing impact on me touched you as well. I have so many more inspiring passages, some that come from books I read or wanderings on the internet or by way of friends, all these words are so important that I wish to never be without them and therefore the reason I created a quote book. Quote books are also an amazing gift especially if you customize them for the particular person or even more so for a particular time in a person’s life. I hope you’ll make one this year and continue to fill it until you’re forced to start volume two.

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Sarah’s Five Must See Documentaries on Netflix

Hey booboos! It’s not a stretch to say this post lacks a bit of substance, but these five documentaries are chock full. If I’m not watching adventure or travel documentaries, it seems the only type of TV I truly like is that which practically rips my heart from my chest. If I’m sitting wide-eyed, unblinking and holding both cheeks in my hands then I’m enjoying myself, even if it looks like I’m about to cry, which I probably am. I’m sure you’ve watched Making a Murderer by now. If you haven’t, kick off your ‘questioning life and existence’ documentary binge by watching it on Netflix. Making a Murderer really reawakened a true crime obsession that I’ve had for at least a decade. My family was less than thrilled that one summer at the beach when I bought five true crime books, all with various blood patterns splattered across the covers. If you’re not into true crime, don’t worry, these documentaries cover a broad range of topics, but fair warning, all are pretty dark.live-seasoned-netflix-documentary-suggestions

 

Amanda Knox – The story of American exchange student, Amanda Knox, when she is tried and convicted of murder in Italy. This documentary is enthralling because it features in-depth interviews from Amanda herself as well as her boyfriend at the time (also convicted) and the detectives who worked the case. Truly a terrifying story because I realized anyone can get caught up in a serious situation.

The Square – A current, first person account of Egyptian revolutionaries organizing against the regime. The Square shed a lot of light of a story I knew relatively little about. It’s a documentary that encourages empathy and cultural understanding by highlighting another country’s relationship with their own government.

Audrie & Daisy – Is a heart wrenching look at the effects of bullying in today’s world where photos and fibs are spread online like wild fires. Audrie & Daisy helped to remind me of the struggles that young girls and boys face each day throughout middle and high school. If you have children, this is an important documentary to watch, but not necessarily with them. Have tissues handy.

13th – The 13th highlights government policy that led to the massive success of private prisons in America and the perceived motive of those moves. This documentary serves up stats and information that will come in handy during your next cocktail party debate about the prison system in American without you having to read The New Jim Crow, which is an enlightening book that I’m constantly telling everyone to devour.

The Culture High – Possibly the hardest documentary for me to watch, The Culture High, features graphic scenes and stark realities of the war on drugs in America. The criminalization of drugs in America is a topic I’ve personally had to deal with and suffer the consequences of, which is why I cried throughout this movie, knowing how lucky I was and how unlucky others were when dealing with the same drug possession charges.

If you’re wanting more, I highly recommend these true crime documentaries, none of which are on Netflix at the moment: Central Park 5, The Jinx, and The Staircase.

Now go! Go feel pain, agony and helplessness and hopefully gain more empathy for our fellow man’s struggle.

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Sarah’s IUD Update

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Hey, hey. It’s October, which means I have 4.5 years until my Mirena IUD becomes inaffective. That’s right, it was only six months ago that I had the Mirena IUD inserted and lived to tell about it here.

I thought it would be helpful to review the first six months after I got the Mirena IUD. Initially I had painful cramps and I found myself complaining a lot. Every few days, I was grumbling to my girl friends. Two of them instantly admitted that they didn’t let me know how painful the cramps were during the first month. It was worth it they said. A few months later and I was still bitching at them, but by that time they learned to ignore me. I had always planned on giving a six month update and for awhile I thought it was going to be one big bitch fest, but over the past two months everything has changed, thankfully for the better.

First, I thought it would be helpful to review the most common side effects and then my experiences with each.

The most common side effects of Mirena are:

  • missed periods (amenorrhea) – No missed periods here. I was under the impression that my periods would disappear, but they haven’t.
  • bleeding and spotting between periods – My gyno warned me about light spotting. I basically thought my period would be replaced with a few days of spotting, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. Instead, I was bleeding and spotting every.single.day. This is totally TMI, but I ruined every single pair of underwear. It was gross and irritating and quickly became something my boyfriend and I had to laugh about because it became an awkward fact of life.
  • heavier bleeding during the first few weeks after device insertion – Absolutely. I was not prepared for this and I was worried intitally, but after a quick google search, I learned it was quite common.  Obviously as a woman, bleeding is a common occurrence, but the bummer about this was it was unpredicatable. I would spot every day, but some days I would be hit with heavy bleeding and I would be completely unprepared. Imagine me working a ritzy retirement party, running around, two cameras in hand, wearing a white dress and then having that sinking feeling of imminent bleeding. Yup. That happened. I made it through, but I was terribly anxious and upset while working, which had me hating the IUD for a few days. Finally, after four months, I’m not spotting every day. It’s magical and I feel so much better about the IUD.
  • abdominal/pelvic pain – Immediately after insertion, the cramps were horrible. The following ten days were similar to a terrible period. It was nothing I couldn’t handle, but I did find myself taking Aleve pretty often, which is rare for me. I felt desperate. The cramps did come in back waves for about five months. I just recently noticed that they’re gone. What a relief. The cramps sucked and I bitched a bunch to anyone that would listen, but now that I’ve lived at least four weeks without any debilitating cramps I can barely remember the pain.
  • ovarian cysts – Thankfully I didn’t have any trouble thus far.
  • back pain – Immediately after insertion, absolutely. During my periods I would also have lower back pain and it was so apparent and intense that I was completely confused by it until a day or two later when my period arrived.
  • headache/migraine – It’s rare that I ever have headaches and I can’t say I remember a single one in the past six months.
  • nervousness – This is interesting. There were a few moments over the past few months where I had a moment of apprehension or nervousness that I felt was out of character, but really nothing major to speak of.
  • dizziness – I only experienced this immediately after insertion.
  • nausea – Again, I only experienced this immediately after insertion.
  • vomiting – I did throw up after insertion, but then I felt much better. Another random side note: there were about a dozen times over the past six months where I had this immediate and overwhelming feeling of having to throw up. Each time it caught me by surprise (because it was completely random), but I was able to regain composure and just let the feeling pass. It was over as quickly as it came on. Once I was mindful of my increased gag reflex, I noticed I gag pretty much every time I brush my teeth something that rarely happened before the IUD. It’s not a big deal, it’s just strange.
  • bloating – Nope!
  • breast tenderness or pain – Nothing. Actually now that I think about it, my boobs are usually tender during my period, but they haven’t been feeling that way recently.
  • weight gain – I was concerned about weight gain (maybe a little excited at the thought of my boobs growing), but I haven’t experienced an ounce of weight gain and I haven’t changed my diet or exercise patterns at all.
  • changes in hair growth – I haven’t noticed anything major.
  • acne – I don’t think my skin has changed at all.
  • depression – Nothing out of the ordinary. I think I tend to lean towards depression instead of enthusiasm, but I’ve been aware of it for almost a decade so I try to be very present and combat any bouts of sadness before they feel overwhelming.
  • changes in mood – I haven’t noticed anything major.
  • loss of interest in sex – Intially I was very hesitant to have sex. I get freaked out by any medical procedures so I felt pretty vulnerable for a couple weeks. Also worth noting, sex was painful and uncomfortable for me for a few weeks after insertion. Thankfully my partner was more than understanding, but it was disappointing to try to have sex only for it to be uncomfortable and something I wanted to get over with as soon as it began.
  • itching or skin rash and puffiness in the face, hands, ankles, or feet – No rashes or changes that I noticed.
  • increased vaginal infections & UTIs – I’ve actually had two minor yeast infections since the insertion. I’m in tune with my body and once I felt a change, I bought medication from the pharmacy to combat the infection.
  • sciatic nerve pain and numbness – I didn’t realize until writing this post, but my numb, tingly legs and increased lower back pain could be caused by my IUD.

What else? The strings. Ick. Like I said, I’m a wuss when it comes to anything internal so the first time I noticed my strings, I almost fainted. I actually closed my eyes and pretended it didn’t happen and then of course I turned to the internet. I learned that the positioning of your cervix changes over the course of the month and so mine had probably shifted and my strings were more exposed. I’m not exactly sure if that’s correct, but seeing the strings really posed no threat and if anything I was happy that my body didn’t expel the device.

Now that we’re discussing strings, it’s worth noting that your partner may (mine definitely did) feel your strings with their fingers and/or penis. The strings are actually two thin braided wires. I’m only warning you of this in case you have a partner that’s inexperienced with IUDs. He or she may feel the strings and be completely shocked. It might be something you want to talk about before hand if you’re comfortable expressing your concern.

It may not be helpful to compare the IUD to the pill, but for me it has been a massive improvement. While I was on the pill, I felt wildly different from week to week. It was hard for me to maintain a baseline emotion and overall that really f*cked with me. I also experienced weight gain, vaginal dryness and a complete lack of sex drive. I haven’t experienced any of those symptoms with the IUD. The best part? I don’t have to worry about taking a pill every night or refilling my perscription, I know I’m covered for the next 4.5 years.

Overall, I’m completely happy with my IUD. If you would have asked me two months ago, I probably would have listed a host of complaints (all the side effects above), but I would have definitively said I’m pleased with it. Now that I’m at the six month mark, I’ve forgotten the pain and the bleeding that plagued my life just two months ago. I’m over the moon. I praise my decision to get an IUD. Funny thing is I lost my health insurance and ended up having to pay full price ($800+) for the IUD and I’m still absolutely certain I would do it all over again. It was worth the twenty pairs of ruined panties and the crippling cramps. They lasted four months, but I’ll have a reliable contraceptive for the next four years.

I hope if you or someone you know is considering an IUD, you’ll read my IUD insertion post as well. The original post also had a great mix of comments from individuals who liked and disliked the IUD. Please reach out if you have any other questions or if you want to share your contraceptive experience.

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Living The Tao of Pooh

“The main problem with this great obsession for saving time is very simple: you can’t save time. You can only spend it. But you can spend it wisely or foolishly.”

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Hi friends!  A couple weeks ago, I took a quick trip to Philadelphia to help my childhood friend move into her first home.  As I’m waiting at the airport, I thought of another amazing friend and sent him a quick text, ‘hey, pick me up on your motorcycle!’ I totally expected the text to be the start of another conversation instead of an actual accepted invitation. A few hours later, I’m waiting at the PHL terminal and a shiny blue motorcycle pulls up. I’m handed a helmet, I swing my leg over the seat and we’re off, speeding down I-95 towards the city of Brotherly Love.

After an iced chai and a funny catch-up chat, we headed to his house in my old neighborhood, Fishtown. I sat down and looked over his prints from a recent trip to the UAE, Oman and Turkey. While I could have looked at them for hours, the photo editor in me flipped through them insanely fast only allowing a fraction of the photos to leave an imprint in my mind. I can still imagine them today. I’m excited to see how he uses my favorites, but also the images that I may have passed by too quickly. Photos are magical in that the way in which you use them can completely alter the image and message. Saleem has an uncanny ability to work with his photographs in this manner.

While I was shuffling through the images, I kept thinking of my childhood friend, Steph, the one I was supposed to be helping move in. I was torn in opposite directions, stay and hang out with Saleem who so kindly picked me up from the airport or rush off to Steph’s since she was expecting me. I hated the creeping feeling of guilt so after a quick pitbull play session and a few minutes of chill time in the backyard I said my goodbyes to Saleem.

saleem-ahmed-turkey-1 Continue reading

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Feeling Inspired

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Can you smell fall in the air? While I’m looking forward a season of cozy days spent indoors, our camping trip last weekend and photos of the changing scenery make me want to get outside. Even knowing that tomorrow afternoon I get to sit on the sidelines and watch Alex’s soccer practice has me excited (and brings me right back to the many fall seasons spent playing soccer when I was growing up).  It’s all just a reminder of how important it is for our souls to spend a bit of time outside, especially during these transitions from one season to another. Spend some time outdoors this weekend, letting yourself take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the changing seasons. xo

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Lessons of Blogging

It has been over eight years since I first created a blog. My first post is too embarrassing to link to, but it was a montage of peace signs found around Philadelphia. Not much has changed. Over the years, I’ve written about culture, nightlife, nature, traveling abroad and random tidbits. I’ve tried out three hosting platforms, various styles of posts combining images and sometimes longwinded recolections of life events. A few years ago Katie and I teamed up to create a shared journal: Live Seasoned. The quality of past (and not so past) posts and photos sometimes make me cringe, and I probably have more typos living on the web than hairs on my head, but whatevs. I love sharing ideas and starting conversations not only with Kate, but with all of you.

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Here’s what I’ve learned:

Write about what you love – even if everybody ignores it. It happens more often than not. You’ll pour your little soul into a blog post, finish it up at 2am and deem it the best damn thing you’ve ever written. Twelve people will look at it and only four will make it through the entire post. You’ll cringe at the bounce rate, but you’ll do it again next week and your heart will feel happy. Five years from now you’ll get a random email of thanks from a stranger for that blog post and you’ll think, ‘well, at least it has 13 hits now.’

It’s takes effort to be authentic. Just like waking up every morning and striving to be an individual, it does take some effort to remain authentic. You’ll fall into a rut where every post and picture on your IG feed looks the same and you’ll think, ‘oh, maybe I should love pineapples too! Everyone else loves them..’ NO! You do not have to love fucking pineapples, if clementines float your boat, you post about clementines.

Your audience decides which posts do best, you do not. Even if you want everyone to love volunteering, they probably won’t. You want to draw attention to slave labor in Thailand? No one cares. They want what they want. Give it to them, but don’t stop posting about the things that matter to you. If it’s important to you, it’s important to someone else too.

People love the shit out of selfies. Feeling vain every time you post a selfie? No? That’s good because people eat that shit up. You’ll have to get over it. I did. Well, I’m trying. I still grumble about it to friends, but I no longer hide behind my camera, I step in front of it as well and guess what? People love that shit! They want to see you, the voice of the blog, they want to know you, so let them.

Likes mean nothing, but sharing means something. It’s true. Liking a post on social media is great, but it’s the comments, sharing and back-links that give your site traction. Be thankful for all of it, but really let back-linkers, commenters and sharers know how much you appreciate their ongoing support.

You’ll wonder why the fuck you spend so much time writing a blog. You will. There is SO MUCH STUFF on the internet. Sometimes it seems like you’re just throwing more shit on the pile, but as long as it’s good shit, helpful shit, shit that will improve someone’s life in some way, you should keep adding it to the internet. Keep creating.

You may take a teensy break. Or you may stop writing for months at a time. That’s okay. Don’t apologize for it. Life is important, you may get busy living it, but when you have a second, come back to your blog. Your readers missed you and they want to know that you’re still alive.

Be prepared to be googled and judged solely on your blog content. Sometimes I forget that everyone googles. Shit. When you post insanely personal blog posts about breakups and IUD insertion, expect colleagues, clients, long lost friends, people you met randomly for five minutes, and even potential employers to google you and see those posts where you laid it all out there. They will see them and they’ll bring it up in person and it will be awkward as fuck.

You will try to censor yourself. Write, revisit, and re-write, but don’t silence yourself. Feeling vulnerable is completely natural, but we all appreciate truth. Be brave! Also, use spell check.

There are things you could and should be doing to improve your blog. Get over it. Put forth the effort or let it marinate for a bit, but don’t feel bad about your blogging efforts.

Do you. Whatever your blog is, whatever it becomes, you do you. You’re even allowed to curse.

Photo by the lovely Jai Morton.
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