• Speaking My Mind

    Pumpkin Spice, Everything (Will Be) Nice

    These last few days have been emotionally tumultuous for me, so I’ve been recharging in Starbucks sipping on iced pumpkin spiced lattes. They’re a delicious treat and I feel a bit better after consuming them. It’s also nice to be out of my house considering I did not leave my house at all in the last two days…which is probably not healthy but I don’t really have anywhere to go these days. Not leaving my house is definitely one of the many reasons I feel emotionally out of balance as a Vata person.

    In Ayuverda, which is the sister science to Yoga, I am predominantly a Vata person. I can explain this more in a different post, or you can look it up…but to explain briefly: Ayuverda is a method of characterizing everything in the universe, and there are three Doshas that can be used to describe it all in a very detailed manner. Everything has all three Doshas, but sometimes one is more prominent. Vata is only one of the Doshas, and in regards to how this Dosha appears in people, it includes being tall and slim, physically cold, creative, and idealistic. Some of the things that imbalance a Vata person are a lack of schedule, stress, and instability. I have been experiencing all three.

    While I have stability in the sense that I have a roof over my head, clean water, and food, everything else in my life feels unstable. It’s the dance that all twenty-somethings that graduate from college have to do, and I feel like if someone were to rate my performance thus far, it’d be a lackluster rating.

    The lack of a schedule, while everyone else is busy with school and/or work, is really getting to me now that my sister went back to school. For the first time since I was born, I’m living at home with only my parents around. It’s kind of weird honestly…so I’ve been spending a lot of time in my room.

    There have been perks with that though because I’ve finally been making progress with my room. My mom bought me some new furniture to store items in and my room feels so much more peaceful. I have to tidy up my floor now and then do some more minor organizing, but I plan to get the biggest stuff finished this week. I will share pictures soon.

    Aside from cleaning my room, I’ve also been reading daily before I go to sleep instead of wasting time on social media. I have finished three books I had half-read: The Period Repair Manual by Lara Briden, The Untethered Soul by Michael Singer, and The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. I plan to finish Don Quixote next, although it may take more time considering how large the book is.

    The only tasks on my schedule lately are job interviews, which is super stressful. All of my interviews have been phone interviews so I don’t have to go anywhere and I also haven’t been getting dressed for the day because I spend so much of my time at home. My interviews seem to be going well for the most part. I did have a terrible interview experience though…perhaps I’ll talk more about that in a different post.

    I know I have said this before, but maybe it really is time to look for part-time work? At this point, based off of my interviews, I won’t be working until October 1st at the earliest, but that’s assuming I get second-interviews and then a job offer before then. If that doesn’t happen, I may end up not working until December, January, or even later. Ideally, I’d like my part-time work to be yoga related…but considering how volatile my self-esteem is these days, it’s so hard to put myself out there face-to-face with someone. My girlfriend recommended I put teaching yoga on the back-burner for now because when the time is right for me to teach, I will be able to teach. I do have a yoga audition today though…but yeah maybe I’ll hold off on it for a while.

    It feels like I’m just “holding off” on everything. I’m postponing taking the GRE, applying to grad schools, and thus, attending grad school. I am also postponing getting a yoga job and it seems like the universe has decided for me that I am postponing working full-time for at least another month.

    People don’t talk truthfully enough about the frustration, depression, and self-doubt that comes with graduating from college and then trying to get a job. I feel like people only talk about those feelings in hindsight once they get a job, so their perspective on the situation is different at that point. They see their challenges through rose-colored glasses because they had overcome the job-hunting challenge.

    Well let me be honest: post-grad life is grueling.

    College is super stressful, but this is a whole different type of stress because you will be on your own and you will be trying to be an “adult.” Plus you will get asked by everyone you interact with the dreaded “so what are you doing now that you graduated?” and as the months go by and if you still don’t have an answer, you will seem and you will feel more pathetic. All you will do is worry because you won’t want to dread that question, you will want to answer it and you will want to be excited about your answer, but you will have no idea what/when/how you will have the answer.

    Every job application you send out will feel desperate and you will just hope that the employers can’t tell. You will feign enthusiasm in every interview you manage to get, but the second you leave you will be overcome with negativity and self-doubt. Every rejection you get will feel personal, because it kind of is, and you will doubt every decision you’ve ever made in college ie maybe you should have studied something else, maybe you’re not an ideal candidate for any job because of XYZ.

    It will feel like everyone is judging you, especially your parents/guardians, especially if you live with them because everyone is judging you. “Judging” is essentially what employers do. No one will judge you as much as you judge yourself though.

    Right now, on the mental and emotional spectrum of Esther Greenwood in The Bell Jar (clinically depressed) to Don Quixote from Don Quixote (unaware of his senselessness but unwaveringly believes in himself, disregarding the ridicule from anyone else), I feel closer to Esther Greenwood. I would love to be more like Don Quixote.

    Hence why I got dressed for once to be seen in public, went to Starbucks, and got an iced pumpkin spice latte.

    Pumpkin spice, everything will hopefully be nice eventually.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Remembering

    Yesterday was the two-year anniversary of the passing of my cousin.

    It had actually slipped my mind that this anniversary was approaching because my sister was preparing to move back to school so I was spending a majority of my time with her and my mom. What caused me to remember the anniversary was that I started thinking about my cousin more than I usually do.

    I always think about her…but this was different. She was at the forefront of my mind when I woke up and thoughts of her were affecting my mood more strongly than usual. It wasn’t until a couple days of this that I remembered the anniversary of her death was approaching.

    I’ve been practicing strengthening my intuition by simply using it more, so intuitively, I felt that she was reaching out to me. Perhaps she wanted some attention or perhaps I subconsciously wanted to actively remember her, or both. So, I decided to start talking to her.

    It may seem a little unusual, it’s a little unusual to talk about it honestly….but it feels right to me.

    I talk to her when I’m driving, which is usually to my girlfriend’s house because I don’t really drive anywhere else. The drive is about an hour, thus it’s a decent amount of time to talk to my cousin about what I’ve been up to, thoughts/feelings that I have, and I also ask her some questions. Sometimes she asks me questions.

    My cousin was like an older sister to me, so allowing myself to communicate with her is…comforting and familiar. I used to call her frequently and she was always there to provide the insight that only an older sister can offer. I don’t have an older sister, in fact, I am the older sister to my sister, so the relationship I had with my cousin was and still is really special.

    Another way that I’ve been remembering and honoring my cousin is by rewatching Freaks and Geeks, which is a show she had told me to watch during my sophomore year of college, and we had talked frequently about it. It’s a perfect show to watch as autumn approaches too.

    At the end of the day, the little things I’ve been doing to remember my cousin are more focused on who she was to me when she was alive on Earth rather than focusing on how devastating it is that she is gone and feeling solemn that she isn’t growing with our family anymore.

    To me, it’s more important to remember the life one had as well as acknowledging their spirit. It reminds me of some of the African spiritual practices I’ve read about in Jambalaya, which I haven’t finished yet but I highly recommend it. So many cultures have traditions for their ancestors…I want to make my own for my cousin as well as my other ancestors. I don’t know what I’m going to do yet but I will let y’all know what I decide to do!

    Please provide me with inspiration! How do you remember and honor your ancestors?

    xx Vic

     

  • Yummy Recipes

    Summer is for Soup! – 2 Recipes Reviewed

    Perhaps it’s unusual to be cooking up soup in the summer, but I was tired of making just chicken or salmon and pairing it with other food groups. Soup, on the other hand, is a great way to get all of your nutrients in one pot!

    I’m a little tired of soup now that I’ve eaten it for two or three weeks straight though…but I thought I’d share what I made because it was so delicious!

    Today I am reviewing for you two soups: a vegan lentil and veggie soup from The Minimalist Baker and a Portuguese soup from Rachael Ray’s old show, 30-Minute Meals.

    Let’s get started!

    1. The Minimalist Baker’s 1-Pot Everyday Lentil Soup

    The reason I decided to make this recipe was due to the whole bag of lentils I had from the last dish I made! Plus, the recipe was simple enough because it used spices I had and it also called for common soup ingredients such as celery, carrots, and potatoes. I actually had leftover celery from buying it to eat as a snack, and it was going to go bad. My grandma is a big fan of using leftovers and whatever is going to go bad in a delicious soup. It’s much better to repurpose it and eat it than to throw it away!

    The lentils were the main ingredient, so here’s a picture of the green lentils I had so you can see what they look like. Apparently, you don’t need to soak them, you just need to rinse them. Without soaking, they take a while to cook. It’s not like an hour or anything, but it takes a little longer than pasta to cook. Lentils have way more nutritional value than pasta though, so I think it’s worth it!

    The How:

    All you need to do is sautee the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery for a little bit with some salt and pepper. Then you add the potatoes, veggie broth, and season it all a little more. Once the broth is boiling, you add the lentils and simmer until the lentils soften. Once the lentils soften, you can add greens. I added kale because that was what the recipe called for and I don’t ever cook with kale. One time I tried making kale chips, but I overseasoned them and burned them…it was a sad time.

    Below is a picture of what it looks like when it’s finished! It smelled so good and my parents were fans. My mom had gotten a sinus infection from sleeping in her dusty room from the construction, so she really appreciated the comforting and soothing properties of a healthy soup.

    The Review:

    This recipe was definitely a favorite! I can easily see myself making this a staple in my diet, especially when it gets chillier outside. It has protein, veggies, and healthy starch!

    I think what really made me love this recipe was the suggestion to add rosemary and thyme to the broth. I’ve never cooked with fresh rosemary or thyme before, but I learned that the aromas and flavors are divine. I didn’t use all of the fresh herbs that I had bought so I have been using them in tea to alleviate menstrual cramps. I’ll add that recipe another time!

    The only somewhat negative thing I have to say about this recipe isn’t really negative but I feel like it took longer to cook than the recipe stated. Granted, I may not have been following the boiling directions properly.

    The issue was that I feel like the lentils took longer than 20 minutes to become tender. As I mentioned in my previous lentil recipe post, I had undercooked the lentils before, so when I cooked them this time, I waited until they were very soft. This took more than 20 minutes for me, but perhaps with soaking them, it would take less time. I haven’t tried soaking lentils yet.

    Since I cooked the soup for longer than the recipe called for, a lot of the broth evaporated, as you can see in the picture above. I only had one box of broth though (I used Rachael Ray’s veggie broth), so the soup was more like a…stew. Which was perfectly fine to me, but next time I’ll be buying two boxes of broth to make this soup.

    2. Rachael Ray’s Portuguese Chourico and Kale Soup

    I had a ton of leftover kale (pretty much 1lb of kale), so I found this soup recipe which called for kale! I also had leftover potatoes, which were needed for this recipe. The only ingredient I had to buy was chourico and chicken broth.

    This recipe required less preparation than The Minimalist Baker one because I only had to chop up the potatoes and chorizo, whereas the other one I had to peel and cut the carrots, cut the celery, cut the potatoes, etc. In the video of this recipe, Rachael Ray literally throws everything into the pot, which I felt was very accurate. I recommend watching the video by the way because it’s such an old video of her, it’s great!

    img_1936

    The How:

    Doesn’t the picture above look fantastic?! It smelled and tasted as good as it looks too. Anyway, this recipe was simple. You saute the onions and potatoes, then once those ingredients are cooked a little, you add the garlic, bay leaves, and all the kale. I left about two handfuls of kale in the bag to use for omelets.

    Once the kale wilts, which took longer than 2 minutes for me probably because the stove was too low, but once that did happen, I added the canned garbanzo beans, which I rinsed unlike what she does in the video, tomatoes, and broth. I didn’t have canned tomatoes so I just chopped up two fresh tomatoes. Once again, I used Rachael Ray’s broth, but I used her chicken one this time.

    Once the potatoes are cooked, you are done!

    The Review:

    I was the only one that ate this soup, so I can’t speak on how anyone else felt about it, but I loved it! I’ve never had soup with chorizo before but I loved it because it added heat that most soups I’ve eaten lack. It was also more filling than the previous soup because the protein wasn’t just lentils. This soup had chickpeas, which are super filling, and chorizo, thus it was a more well-rounded meal for me!

    I will just say that the original recipe called for waxy potatoes, which I did not use so that may have allowed the cooking time to be about 30 minutes for me. Instead, I used the regular baking potatoes that I had bought for the vegan soup recipe, which were soft even when raw. I also did not peel the potatoes for this recipe because who has time for that??

    I made the same mistake I made previously with the insufficient amount of broth in this recipe too, despite making it several days later and realizing my initial mistake! The reason I made this one wrong too was that the recipe specifically called for one quart of broth, so that’s what I bought. Again, always get another container of broth, unless you don’t mind stew-ish soups.

    The last thing I have to say about this recipe is that it required you remove the casing from the chorizo. I didn’t do this and I don’t think Rachael did it in the video, but if casing bothers you, feel free to do it.

    So, that’s it for me on soups! I am definitely taking a break from the soup world for a bit, but when I do want more soup, I can reheat the leftover Portuguese soup I stored in the freezer.

    Do you enjoy soup in the summer? What is your favorite soup recipe? Tell me in the comments below!

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Who Am I?

    My sister and my girlfriend are going back to school this week, and for the first time in about seventeen years, I am not doing the same.

    Since I am no longer a formal student at an American institution, I’ve been reflecting a lot on who I am.

    Who am I without school?

    I’m still determining how to answer this question, but I started by creating a more detailed “about me” page. It was fun to do and while it’s not comprehensive by any means, I think it was a good place to start.

    Additionally, in the last week or so, I’ve been doing some things that I’ve put off because I was busy in school. For example, I’ve finished two books recently. I’m working on finishing two more before reading or buying a new one.

    The biggest way I’ve attempted to answer my question is by deciding not to rush grad school. It was a little scary to come to this decision because I find school comforting in the sense that I know what goal I have to achieve: to graduate. The means are provided as well such as you have to take classes and study. Without school, my goal is more focused on becoming self-sufficient… I need a job to do that but the types of jobs I can have are innumerable! To me, this goal is quite a bit more overwhelming.

    I want to tackle this goal, thus, I won’t be applying for grad school until next fall at the earliest.

    Delaying grad school would also allow my work experiences and whatever else I experience to influence which grad program I will eventually pursue. I still plan to take the GREs this year but instead of taking them in November, I will take them in December or January.

    In regards to jobs…I’ve had a ton of first interviews but it’s been slow to hear back about second interviews. I’m going to follow up with some places this week to see where I am at as a prospective employee. I will also begin to apply for part-time jobs so I don’t deplete my savings waiting for a full-time job.

    Some part-time job opportunities include teaching yoga. I’ve been postponing looking for yoga jobs in person lately but I’ll have to resume it. I just created a class about creativity because it’s something I’ve been struggling with lately, and I’m super excited to teach it! I have to fine-tune some things still, but it feels good on my body and I think it’d feel good to others too.

    I’ve been struggling with my creativity because I haven’t been using it to its full-extent these days. This is definitely partially attributed to school, which is one reason not being a student will be good for me because unless you allot time for creativity, school really hinders it. I was fortunate to have time to take two creative writing courses last year, but it has been difficult to maintain the drive to be creative because I was thrust from the cocoon of being a student to suddenly being a graduate who needs a job and wants to go to grad school and needs to study and…I was putting way too much on my plate.

    Once I decided to postpone grad school another year, I allowed myself the time to breathe and to allow my creative mind to flow. In fact, I’ve been dreaming a lot at night these days, which I think is a good sign. One thing I need to work on though is disconnecting from the internet before and after bed, because that definitely stifles creativity. Instead I want to reintegrate meditation for at least 10 minutes everyday. My goal is to then create something every three days.

    There are some other things I want to talk about and share, but perhaps that’ll be for a different time.

    xx Vic

  • Yoga

    How to Find the Right Yoga Studio for You

    I had never been a member of a yoga studio until I finished my yoga teacher training, thus, my impression of all yoga studios, up until a month ago, was that they were all like the teacher training I attended: inclusive, positive environments that value the “capital-Y Yoga,” or the Yoga practice off of the mat.

    While this may be true of many or even most places, I don’t believe that it was true of the first yoga studio I went to to try to get a yoga job. (Which they did not offer me because they never even gave me a chance to audition, but they were doing me a favor. I just didn’t realize it was a favor initially).

    I bought a new membership pass at a local yoga studio, and the first class I took was taught by the owner of the studio. As a new teacher trying to get a teaching job, I understood that you have to take a class with the owner before asking about a sub-list.

    Well, I felt like the owner didn’t take interest in me as a new student. I believe it was the front-desk woman who asked me if I’ve done yoga before and asked me a little bit about myself. During the class, the instructor did not make any corrections, verbal or otherwise, to any of the students. I feel like there wasn’t an excuse to not do this, especially considering that the class was small, with about four people aside from myself, so there was an opportunity for the class to be personable.

    Another aspect of the class that I did not like was how she incorporated “yogic” things. She used the harmonium, chanting, and a gong, which I love, but if I was a new student who was not very familiar with Yoga, it may have been very uncomfortable. The only reason I was familiar with the harmonium and the chant was because I had undergone 200 hours of training, but the gong was off-putting to listen to for the first time (although now I love it), especially because there was no introduction to it.

    Despite my ill-feelings about the class, I had the pass so I took advantage of by attending different styles of yoga with different teachers. Unfortunately, I found all of the instructors to be similar in their teaching style (probably because most of them were trained by the owner) in that they don’t make any effort to get to know new yoga students in their classes and they didn’t make any corrections during the physical practice. Due to the lack of student-engagement, I feel like the instructors were more focused on themselves than on the students, which does not align with how I interpret the “capital-Y Yoga.”

    From my yoga teacher training experience as well as my own pedagogy, I believe the purpose of teaching Yoga is to helpguide, and support students. In other words, it is about the students. It is about inspiring them, encouaging them, and helping them find their confidence. It’s about challenging their bodies, mind, and spirit. It’s about sharing with them how Yoga is more than just the physical practice, and it’s about introducing them to the spiritual and philosophical side. It is about creating a community and it’s about creating leaders.

    There are more definitions of what a Yoga teacher’s purpose is, but these are the ones that stand out to me in this moment. Regardless, as you can note, all of these definitions are about the students. None of the definitions have anything to do with the teacher. 

    Unfortunately, I do not feel like the yoga teachers at the studio I was attending were creating leaders, though. I feel like they were keeping their distance from students by not engaging with them, which then reinforced their position on the hierarchy as a teacher.

    After a month of attending yoga classes at the studio, I had the opportunity to pay a reduced rate for a regular monthly membership. I considered it for a while, but then, when I talked to my girlfriend, real shit came up. After my surprisingly explosive rant to her, I realized this yoga studio was not for me. Their pedagogy does not align with mine, and I would be better off finding a different studio.

    So, how do you find the right studio for you?

    Tip 1. Look at the styles of yoga that a studio offers.

    If you want to take vinyasa classes, you probably don’t want to go to a studio that only offers Kundalini yoga, which is awesome but entirely different.

    Tip 2. Check Out the Studio’s New Membership Packages.

    Yoga studios draw you into becoming a member with new membership deals. The prices of these deals vary, so they may or may not be pretty comparable to paying for one class.

    For example, one class at the yoga studio I attended cost $20, and the new membership cost $39. The new membership was unlimited for the month too, thus, it was worth paying an extra $19 for unlimited classes. I attended classes nearly every day, and it served a greater purpose in my life by exposing me to my local yoga community as well as providing structure in my otherwise structureless summer.

    Some new membership packages, however, are a five or ten class pack, or the unlimited month is pricier. Regardless of what the packages are though, I feel like they are a great way to become acquainted with a studio to see if you want to stick with it. If I had attended only one class, I may not have realized that the studio wasn’t for me. If I wanted to continue to attend that studio after paying for once class, I would’ve had to pay the regular membership price instead, which is a lot more expensive. Thus, I recommend doing new membership deals if it feels right to you.

    If, after a month, you don’t feel connected to the studio, try another studio and take advantage of their new membership deal! On the other hand, if you do feel connected to the studio, become a regular member if that makes sense to you.

    Bonus tip: Most studios seem to use the company MINDBODY for scheduling, prices, class descriptions, and more. You can download the app and do your research there if you like!

    Tip 3. When you attend a class at a new studio, ask these questions:

    When you arrive:

    1. First, how do the front-desk people treat you? Are they pleasant, welcoming, and helpful?
    2. If you meet the owner, do they introduce themselves to you? Do they welcome you?

    The yoga class:

    1. Does the yoga teacher introduce themself to you before class starts, or at the beginning of the class?
    2. Does the yoga teacher take an interest in you?
    3. Do they offer modifications based on your physical abilities?
    4. Do they make verbal corrections and/or hands-on corrections? (The hands-on corrections should be made with your consent and they should be combined with verbal cues. They should also be necessary for either your safety or to come into the true form of the pose. Basically, they should not be touching you just to touch you).
    5. Do they care about the “capital-Y Yoga,” or the Yoga beyond the physical practice, and do they incorporate it into their classes?

    The studio overall:

    1. Is the studio clean?
    2. Is there water?
    3. Is there a bathroom?

    These questions are the most important to me as a new yoga teacher who wants to find a welcoming environment to share and learn more about my passion for Yoga.

    If you’re a member of a yoga studio, please share any other tips you have in the comments below!

    If you’re not a member of a yoga studio, what are your thoughts on yoga studios? Do you practice yoga, and if so, where?

    I used to practice yoga by myself in my living room, which I still do, especially when I’m practicing the classes I make. I really love the energy from doing yoga with others though.

    xx Vic

  • Speaking My Mind

    Why I’ve Broken Up with My Birth Control

    I’ve waited a couple of months to write about this, and I’ll probably write more about it as time goes on. But yeah…I stopped taking birth control.

    Before I explain why I stopped, I’ll briefly talk about my experience with birth control.

    I began taking a birth control pill at age 16 after experiencing a traumatic menstrual cycle. I remember my period as always being horrendous, which is typical of young cycles that are still regulating, but one day it was truly, without a doubt, a bad period.

    I was in high school and had bled through a tampon and a pad and onto my pants. Fortunately, I was wearing dark jean shorts so it wasn’t terribly noticeable, nevertheless, I went home early and went to the doctor to figure out what was happening. At that point, I was bleeding through super plus tampons and pads (worn at the same time) and through my pants in about an hour because I was having clots way larger than the size of a quarter.

    After bleeding all over the seat at the doctor’s office while getting blood work, my doctor recommended I take birth control. She also informed me that I have PCOS, but my OBGYN did not get those same results.

    Then I took birth control regularly until I was 19. My skin had cleared up a bit and I was pleased with having a regulated cycle. But one day, in a Gender Studies class, we were talking about birth control and I realized nearly everyone was on one form or another. This upset me because I thought it was fucked up (because it is but I didn’t realize why at the time), so I abruptly stopped.

    On my 20th birthday, my menstrual clots returned, although not as severely, but I decided I needed to get back on the pill.

    I did not bleed at all until the last few months before I finally quit. During the last few months, I was spotting for months because I couldn’t take my birth control at the same time every day. I felt oral birth control was such a hassle because of this, and I was suffering from breakouts which in my opinion, had gotten worse, too.

    Then, in early 2018, I broke up with my birth control again, but this time it’s for good. Unlike the last time though, I have been reading quite a bit about menstruation and doing my best to have a happy period. So far, I’ve been successful.

    How have I been successful?

    My Yoga journey introduced me to a book by Lara Biden called Period Repair Manual: Natural Treatment for Better Hormones and Better Periods. This book has been the ultimate guide for me toward having a healthy period, in addition to other articles I’ve read online.

    I haven’t finished the book yet, but I’m more than halfway through. What I’ve learned thus far is that your digestive system and your menstrual cycle are related. If you eat poorly, your period, which is a reflection of your diet from about three months prior, will be affected. Thus, diet is essential for having a healthy period!

    There are five inflammatory foods that will hurt your menstrual cycle, and they are: sugar, alcohol, wheat, dairy, and vegetable oil. 

    Even if you don’t have sensitivities to these ingredients, they are still inflammatory to your body. So, I decided to play around with reducing or avoiding some of these food groups entirely.

    I started by limiting, and then completely cutting out dairy. I thought it was going to be difficult to avoid dairy, but for me, it hasn’t been a challenge. The only time I’ve struggled is when people around me want to get pizza or if I’m at an Italian restaurant that has a limited menu of mostly cheesy items.

    Otherwise, I’ve easily swapped out regular milk for almond or rice milk, and I haven’t missed eating cheese because I can still eat cheese! It just can’t be from a cow. For example, I enjoy goat cheese spread on toast for breakfast and I can eat parmesan because it’s such a dry cheese that any dairy in it doesn’t affect my skin.

    My skin seemed to improve when I cut out dairy, and my menstrual cycle was relatively smooth with less PMS every month that passed, and shorter cramps. While I was satisfied with the changes I made in my diet, I had developed acne on my neck, which I never had before. It took me a couple of months to realize it wasn’t my hair or my hair products, but that it must be my diet again.

    Thus, I decided to try limiting my sugar intake. This has been the most difficult obstacle for me because I love sweets! I eat copious amounts of chocolate daily, I love cookies, dairy-free ice cream, sweetened beverages, cocktails (which have lots of sugar), etc. Once I switched from eating desserts to eating mostly fruit and chocolate when I want something sweet, the acne on my neck disappeared, as well as any lingering acne on my face that kept cropping up. I also use honey instead of white sugar because while they’re both considered added sugar, I think my body responds better to honey.

    While my skin and my menstrual cycle isn’t perfect yet, I have noticed how these dietary changes have changed my body. I’m still at the beginning of this journey but I’m pleased with the progress I have made so far.

    xx Vic

    For the record, I’m not recommending that you stop taking birth control and mess with your diet without consulting a doctor first. I am not a doctor and I am not offering medical advice. Please consult a doctor before stopping birth control. 

  • Yoga

    What Yoga Is Really About

    I’m finally resting my head on my pillow after a long day in the city. It was a great day, don’t get me wrong, but it was also long.

    I went to the city to teach a community class at the studio I graduated from. I wasn’t very nervous; in fact, I was calm and I felt prepared, unlike how I felt when I auditioned to sub at a studio local to me. Because I was auditioning at that time, I was so nervous about how the studio owners were going to like my class. I had also not taught people aside from my mom in a month.

    Well, that audition went well and I’m now on their sub list. My community class in the city went well too, but something happened that inspired me to write this post.

    The community class I led consisted of five people, one of them being my darling girlfriend. All of the students were engaged and connecting their breath to their movements, which was awesome. I made adjustments, offered props, and I provided a ton of verbal support. Everyone seemed to enjoy the class, especially because they were all smiling at the end and thanked me several times. Well, everyone except for one student who had spent a majority of the class disregarding my instruction.

    First of all, one does not have to do every single thing a teacher says to do. If you are tired, you are welcome to rest. If something hurts, which it shouldn’t, but if it does, you can get out of a pose. You don’t have to do the hardest version of a pose either, you can do modifications that are offered.

    I feel like these are the general guidelines for how students act in a class. One student in my community class, as I said before, did not behave in this manner.

    I offered her a prop to more safely do a pose, but she quickly moved it away from her the second I took a step back. I then said that there is nothing wrong with probs, I use them all of the time. I should have added that the props are there to support you and to allow you to come into the true form of pose that is right for your body. Even if I did say that though, I don’t know if it would have made a difference. She hardly touched the props.

    For the inversion, I instructed everyone to put their legs up the wall and to release their hands by their sides. She had her arms crossed the entire time, which to me is an uptight gesture.

    During the entire class, she added some of her own poses that made things a little more challenging. Some of them were minor while others were a little more noticeable, such as doing dancer when that was not part of the class. Her decision to add her own poses was most notable during the final stretches and savasana though. She did her own stretches, completely disregarding my instruction, and she never took savasana. At one point I thought she was going to do an inversion. The old camp counselor/tennis instructor in me walked up to her and advised her not to go upside down. She claimed she was stretching so I moved on and focused on the people who were participating in my class, but it was so unexpected. I felt like I was chastising a kid rather than an adult in her twenties, or possibly even older.

    This experience caused me to remember what the “capital-Y Yoga” is really about.

    Yoga is not about pushing yourself during every class to go the deepest in a pose. Yoga is also not about being able to do the hardest poses.

    I’m a teacher, although a new one, but I’m not flexible nor can I do most advanced poses. I don’t really enjoy inversions and the tendinitis in my elbow from my tennis-playing days makes arm balances really uncomfortable. I don’t do chaturanga because it requires a ton of arm strength I don’t yet have, and it also flares up my tendinitis.

    Basically, I’m not the typical example of a yoga teacher because I can’t or I don’t do the “fancy” poses. You won’t see me post a photo of myself doing a deep backbend or an arm balance right now, but I’m okay with that. That mentality is part of the true, “capital-Y Yoga.”

    On the first day of my yoga training, one of my instructors said:

    Yoga is about getting with what is.

    In the case of what my body is capable of, I am content with what my body can do during a yoga practice. I focus on what I can do, rather what I cannot. Besides, I don’t have to be able to do all of the hard poses to be able to teach them. Plus, I am grateful that I’m even able to do the asana yoga practice because I’m able-bodied.

    It is worth noting, however, that the asana practice is only the third limb from the bottom of the Eight Limbs of Yoga. In other words, the asana practice is not the most important part of the “capital-Y Yoga.”

    Lastly, and maybe most importantly about the practice of Yoga, if you can do all of the hardest asanas but you are a jerk, you are not doing the real Yoga. You’re just doing gymnastics.

    The student in my community class, while she was or wasn’t doing the real Yoga is besides the point…what I think is important though is whether I was doing the real Yoga.

    I feel like I did practice the real Yoga because I was patient and accepting of her and I ensured that she was safe. I taught her what I knew and I supported her to the best of my abilities. As a new teacher who does not have a rapport with the students because this was the only time I taught them, I believe I did all that I could do.

    Plus, I don’t know her situation. As my girlfriend pointed out, maybe she can’t afford more challenging classes, or maybe she doesn’t want to pay for it. Perhaps she has an inability to relax and surrender. It’s possible her yoga practice is the only area of her life where she feels competent, so by me offering props, she felt I was insulting her. On the other hand, maybe she is a perfectionist and believes she is a failure if she uses props.

    Basically, there are tons of possibilities as to why someone would focus so much on doing poses how they think they should look as well as not participating in the relaxing and surrendering portion of the class. That is not my business though. If she was a regular, I would definitely spend a little more time with her to get to know her, but that is not the case unfortunately.

    This student also reminded me that everyone comes to Yoga from a different place. For me, I was attracted to Yoga as another form of exercise, but one that provides coping mechanisms for anxiety and grief. For others, it may be because their partner is doing it, because it’s trendy, because they want to lose weight, because they want to become more flexible, etc. I don’t know what that student’s reason for doing yoga, but it seemed that she was interested more moving rather than staying still. People come to yoga for all different reasons, but they may fall in love with the philosophy and spirituality of Yoga, as I did.

    So…I hope that the student I had eventually finds the “capital-Y Yoga.” I also hope that you learned a little bit of what Yoga is, and perhaps you can take some of this knowledge into your own lives by honoring and getting with what is.

    xx Vic

  • Mysticism

    Post-Eclipse Manifestation Journal

    Hello, everyone!

    I wanted to take a little time today to reflect and make some goals for the remainder of August, especially since the eclipse and new moon has recently happened. I encourage you all to join me in reflecting and goal-setting too! You can answer the questions I raise on your own, but I’d also love if you share some of them in the comments below.

    How do I want to feel until the next new moon?

    I want to feel content.

    I’ve been complaining a lot since there has been loud construction at my house which has disrupted my daily flow, but I want to learn how to deal with distractions like this. The reality is that life is full of distractions, so that’s where my meditation and yoga practice gets applied to my daily life. Meditation and yoga are tools, and two of the limbs of Yoga, turn into yourself completely to reach Samadhi, or bliss.

    What do I need?

    I need to continue moving toward my goals.

    Those goals include getting a job, teaching yoga, making my room my sanctuary, and completing competitive grad school applications. I was making a lot of progress until the construction started because I have allowed the disruptions to disrupt my inner state of being. Whenever I start working, I will be more tired and I will have less time to work on other goals that I have, thus, I’d like to maintain sufficient energetic movement as much as possible for the next 30 days.

    Intentions to repeat to manifest

    1. I am content where I am at.
    2. All distractions slip away.
    3. I can balance all of the goals that I want to achieve.
    4. I energetically move toward my goals.

    I’m going to repeat these intentions during meditation, which I have completely fallen off of the wagon with. Ideally, I’d like to do it in the morning, when I wake up, but I spend most mornings on social media instead. I will try to replace social media with an intentional meditation instead though!

    What are some of your intentions until the next new moon?

    xx Vic

    This journal post is inspired by Well+Good’s post as well as The Journey Junkie’s post.

  • Yummy Recipes

    Lentil-Lovin’! – Spiced Moroccan Lentil Recipe Review

    A couple of years ago, my step-grandmother introduced me to the world of lentils. She had shown me a lentil soup recipe that I then cooked on my own until high school consumed my life and I temporarily stopped cooking. I forgot about lentils after that since it’s not a staple in my mom’s Puerto Rican- cooking, or in any other heritage that I am regularly exposed to. It wasn’t until my girlfriend, who is Indian, brought Indian cuisine into my everyday life that I remembered my love for lentils.

    Plus, since I want to make more vegetarian dishes, it’s a great ingredient for a variety of meals!

    I decided to make spiced lentils that I hoped would be similar to a delicious Indian lentil dish I had had. They were not very similar because this lentil dish is Moroccan-inspired, but they were still fantastic! I got this recipe from Minimalist Baker, which is my favorite recipe site as of late. I love this website because they make vegan/vegetarian meals, and many of them are very simple to make. They usually require only a couple of ingredients, most of which I have at home, and they aren’t time-consuming either. I definitely recommend checking them out!

    This recipe called for green lentils specifically…I’m unsure why honestly. I don’t know the difference between lentils. Perhaps it’s akin to differences in beans? I’m a lentil-novice still, so my apologies that I don’t know more.

    I got these lentils from ShopRite, and I thought that compared to other lentils, the green ones were more expensive. That was also because they only had organic green lentils. I don’t know why they didn’t have nonorganic green lentils, but my girlfriend recommended that next time I go to the Indian store to get lentils.

    Aside from lentils, you also need a whole red pepper, onion (I used yellow), tomato paste, fresh garlic, apple cider vinegar, and a crap-ton of spices.

    Then, all you have to do is cook the lentils until tender and blend the other ingredients to make a sauce. Once the lentils are cooked, drain the excess water and mix in the blended sauce. Bam, that’s it!

    The cool thing about this recipe is that you can add as much of the required spices as you want so you can make it as spicy, acidic, sweet, and salty as you want! I will forewarn y’all though to taste it as you go…and maybe to slowly add the fresh spices too.

    I personally feel like I added too much garlic and onion to mine. I thought I used the required amount, although I didn’t measure anything…but because you don’t cook the sauce, the bite of the garlic and onion remains pretty intense. If you have sensitive stomachs, and even if you don’t, perhaps cook the onion and garlic a little before you blend it, or cook the sauce after you blend it…or both! I wanted to try cooking it to see how it affected the flavors, but I didn’t get a chance. I expect to make this again so I’ll try it for next time.

    Anyway, here’s the mixture of the sauce with the lentils.

    Below is the dish with my girlfriend’s spicy Indian rice as well as some fresh parsley and cilantro on top. Another time I had this fish with plain jasmine rice and then another time with my girlfriend’s not-spicy Indian rice, and those ways I had it were better. A super flavorful rice competed too much with this spiced lentil dish.

    The last thing I have to say about this recipe is that I find lentils to be a little confusing to make. The only other time I’ve made them has been in soup, which takes awhile to cook so they end up being prepared properly. In this situation, however, my girlfriend felt that I had undercooked them. I ate all six servings myself and I had no idea. I’m going to watch a lentil cooking video next time to ensure that they are prepared properly.

    Do you like lentils? How do you like them prepared?

    I’m going to make a new lentil soup this week so stay tuned for that!

    xx Vic

  • me sitting on a tree stump
    Speaking My Mind

    Life Update: Jobs, Doctoral Programs, and Teaching Yoga!

    I wanted to take some time to update y’all on my life because although this whole website is about my life, I don’t really post details of my everyday life anymore. Some interesting and cool things that I’ve been writing about since my senior year of college as well as in my oracle reading posts have been happening though!

    As of this week, I have two job interviews. One of them is today, and I have another one next week. The cool thing is that I’m actually interested in these jobs! It’s so exciting to have some potential opportunities in jobs that I actually want to do. I spent so much time my junior and senior year trying to put myself into a box of what I thought I was supposed to do and want, but it didn’t fit at all and it also didn’t feel good. While I am still on my dharma journey, or I’m still figuring out my purpose in life, I feel more excited about the jobs I’ve been applying to, and perhaps that’s translating into getting some interviews! I’m interested in research jobs because I’m a naturally curious and studious person, and I believe I’d have the most content life doing research. This brings me to my next update…

    …I am officially preparing to attend a doctoral program next fall! I am aiming to finish my GRE books by the beginning of September to provide ample time to practice until I take the test sometime in November. I reached out to my mentor from my first gender studies class, and she was super helpful! She’s doing an art history PhD program now and she knows someone who’s doing a gender studies PhD program that she’s going to put me in contact with. I’m eager to converse with the other woman about her experiences in the field thus far! I am still a little wary that I won’t be prepared in time for the applications, but I’m going to do my best by making some deadlines and goals for myself.

    The last update is that I have an audition for a yoga job at a studio near me! I’m excited and nervous, but hopefully, it’ll go really well. The MindBody App is an app that most yoga studios use for scheduling, and I’m listed as a teacher for the class I’m teaching, aka my audition. It was surprising and awesome to see my name there! Then, next week, I have the community class I’m teaching in NY, which will be good practice for me.

    The discipline and structure I’ve incorporated into my life, as well as the insight provided by my oracle cards, have been really helpful toward having these opportunities. The oracle cards have encouraged me to look at my life in a more positive light, and because they are so useful for reflection, I feel like they’ve facilitated the growth and positivity that I’ve harnessed. Daily yoga classes at a studio have also been helpful because it forces me to get up and start my day. I’m also forced to be around other people, which is super important for me to stay in a more positive headspace. Then, I added the library and Starbucks to my routine to do my GRE studying, PhD program research, and job applications. This forced me to get out of the house and encouraged me to focus, which has allowed me to make some progress towards my goals, which makes me feel better overall!

    So, that’s what has been going on with me these days. It’s nothing too crazy, nevertheless, it’s exciting and rewarding. Hopefully, some of these interview opportunities will become job opportunities, but if they don’t, that’s okay! I’ll have other interview opportunities coming my way. In the meantime, I want to be patient, be grateful for where I am now, and accept what is. I want to practice santosha, which is the Sanskrit word for contentment. It’s so hard to be content when things are going awry, but that’s when it’s most important to be content. Find contentment in discontent.

    So, I want to know…how can you practice more santosha in your life? I feel like this is a hard question, but it’s important to ponder it.

    xx Vic

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