In Limbo and on Vacation

It’s been about three weeks since I said no to my boss, turned down more responsibility and more money, and slowed down the train that has been taking me in a direction I don’t want to go. I am still on the train. I still have a job. Everything is cool with my boss. I just bought myself some time to figure out what to do next.

Things have gotten more crazy and stressful since I turned down the additional responsibility (how in the world I would have survived MORE work, I have no idea.) Luckily, I had a vacation planned. Not so lucky for the people covering for me back home in the midst of complete chaos.

But I am not in the middle of all of that chaos right now, I am in Mexico.

I didn’t think I had the energy for a fitness vacation with strangers that involves boats and sun (none of which are my favorite), but I was happy to get away from the chaos. These Escape to Shape trips are always an amazing experience, but a little exhausting (you can read about my former E2S trips to Sicily, Bali, and Hudson, NY if you are so inclined)

A typical day on my fitness vacation starts at 7:30am with exercise of some kind before breakfast and possibly climbing into a van to drive to more exercise or adventure or shopping. We follow that up with lunch and more exercise, adventure, or shopping. We might have a couple of hours of downtime or a massage in there somewhere. We eat dinner at 7pm and are all wiped out and in bed by 9pm.

When I first arrived, I was feeling very stressed and anxious about tackling all of this exercise and adventure. I was exhausted and faced an onslaught of huge cockroaches in my room on the first night. I was not a happy camper.

Then I had a couple of yoga classes and got myself grounded and decided to look at this week as an opportunity to get in the right mindset start my next life shift. Yes, I am tired, but I am going to do it anyway. Yes, boats sometimes make me seasick, but not always. It is a risk that might pan out into a beautiful day with amazing experiences, or it might completely suck. There is no way to know unless I do it. Yes, talking to strangers can sometimes be boring or suck your energy but opportunity comes from expanding your horizons and your circle of connections. Yes, cockroaches are gross but they won’t hurt me and they are flexing my creativity as I have developed a whole process for capturing and killing them (side note: I wasn’t originally killing them, just putting them outside, but I think they kept finding their way back. Now I squash them. Sorry cucarachas.)

The group I am with this week is a very sweet group of women (and one sweet young man – gay, not a prospect.) They are easy to be with and one is even going through the same exact mid-life crisis as I am with her job. Our yoga teachers are awesome and have amazing energy. Our fearless leader Erica is inspiring with her love of what she does every day.

I got my ass on the boat and some of it was not pleasant, but I did not get full on seasick and I did see a colony of sea lions in the middle of the ocean (pretty cool) and walked/swam on two different beautiful beaches on islands in the Sea of Cortez. That is an experience that I am very glad that I had. I am not, however, rushing to get on a boat again. I had to use a lot of yoga breathing and “appreciating the moment” to keep my cool through some very rough water.

I am more than halfway through the week and I said no to a couple of things (like boot camp class and a three-hour hike in the blazing hot Mexican sun) but have tackled the rest and am surprisingly, finally feeling relaxed (the one hour massage I just had might have something to do with that.)

I might just return with the strength that I need to figure out what’s next and take it on. That is a tall order, but at a minimum, I will return with some color and some beautiful photos.

I Detoxed Again

Two weeks ago, I took a 7 day break from work, television, gluten, alcohol, coffee, processed foods, and NYC. I headed upstate to a cute little town called Hudson, NY for a week of meditation, exercise, massage, healthy eating, one on one nutrition sessions, and a little bit of life coaching. A week for the mind, body, and spirit that was right up my alley.

Let me tell you, that when I got back, I felt like Wonderwoman for many days. After exercising 5 hours a day (yoga, hiking, and Pilates) I had muscles pop up that I completely forgot I had. My skin looked amazing. I felt refreshed, and pretty zen. (Don’t worry, I was not wearing this outfit around town, but I would have looked great in it if I had.)

Since I no longer have a personal chef and someone handing me a daily schedule that includes 5 hours of exercise, it hasn’t been quite the same since I returned, but I have made some changes.

I made kale chips twice and only burned them the first time.

I switched to popcorn popped in olive oil (instead of corn oil) with a nutritional yeast topping instead of Parmesan cheese.

I did the first of my (maybe) weekly one day juice cleanses to reset my system after my college women’s weekend which included french fries, non organic turkey sausage and not free range eggs, pasta (whole wheat!), wine, and some super yummy deserts.

I bought all of the ingredients for whole wheat sesame noodles and then realized I need a blender to make them so I now have a lot of ginger that I don’t know what to do with.

I bought chia seeds and put too many in my water pitcher and they took the whole thing over like aliens. (Did you know that the seeds used to make Chia Pets are actually super good for your digestive system? I am still not sure exactly what the right ratio is for this super healthy chia water, but if you figure it out, let me know.  You can also make chia pudding with them, which I will probably never do.)

Side note: If I hadn’t written this blog post, I never would have known that Barack Obama Chia Pets existed. This is something I could have lived without knowing.

I replaced my post-dinner Annie’s Bunnies graham snacks with organic dates, a delicious and sweet treat!

I have stuck to my pre-detox daily meditation practice and have almost completed month #2! Go me! I am still not sure when I will transition from 20 minutes of thinking to 20 minutes of not thinking but I will keep plugging away.

On a less positive note, I have exercised once in the past two weeks, but I do walk really fast everywhere I go!

I don’t totally feel like Wonderwoman any more, but I feel pretty good, and I have definitely decreased the toxins in my day to day life.

Tomorrow, I run….

If you want to check out this fabulous detox program for yourself (because I barely told you about it), visit my good friend Erica’s web page, Escape to Shape. I have traveled with Erica to Morocco, Italy and Bali. There is no better way to travel or detox, I assure you!

And if you happen to be passing through Hudson, NY, you MUST stay at the Hudson Merchant House run by my new friend Roy (and his partner Mike.)

Bali for my Birthday

For my 43rd birthday, I am going to Bali. Why Bali?

  1. I wanted to do something exciting for my birthday
  2. Escape To Shape was going to Bali around my birthday
  3. It seems like a magical, peaceful place where I can completely separate and get a different perspective on  life
  4. It sounds really cool to tell people you are going to Bali (this is half the reason why I ever go anywhere)

I have traveled twice with Escape to Shape and it is now my favorite way to travel.  (You can read about my trip to Sicily here). Erica and Francesco plan a perfect vacation so why would I plan one myself? It is just hitting me now that I am visiting my second Eat, Pray, Love location. Not planned.

My days will be filled with yoga, Pilates, cultural tours, hanging out by the pool, and delicious food with, most likely, single women about my age who can also afford to have someone else plan their vacations for them.

I am not a fan of the sun, sunscreen, sweating, bugs, disrupting my sleep schedule, or leaving the island of Manhattan.  This trip is taking me WAY out of my comfort zone. That was the plan for 2012. Why not? Since I have spent most of this year working (in my comfort zone), I am glad I put something adventurous on my agenda, kind of.  I am also a little scared.

I will be traveling for 24 hours to get across the world.  I am a little bit nervous about this but I am borrowing a travel pillow and I heard my airline has a selection of 40 movies I can watch at my seat (score!).

I have, of course, been obsessively planning what I should bring for months. I have spent quite a bit of pre-vacation money on clothing and sun/bug protection.  To my defense, what one wears in Bali is very different than what one wears in Manhattan and this is a complicated vacation.  I need workout clothes, touring about the island clothes, and a clean, post shower evening outfit every night! I try to be flexible about re-wearing clothes, but I am expecting everything to be covered in sweat, sunscreen, and bug spray. I am a spoiled human being.  See why I need some perspective?

I did have a mini freak out on Friday when I was reminded that there will be mosquitoes.  Mosquitoes love me and they apparently carry Dengue Fever in Indonesia.  I did not need to know this. I have since acquired an environmentally friendly-ish bug spray AND backup wipes with Deet in case I need to go hard core. I also spent about $75 on the most expensive sunscreen on the market, to avoid the sun poisoning I got on spring break on college, and a travel size aloe vera, just in case.  I then obsessed over purchasing an official sun hat to backup my workout hat because, at times, need full 360 degree head coverage. It was a busy weekend.

In addition to running around acquiring things, I have been putting the many things I have acquired in my suitcase.  My largest bag is filled to the brim so I have no room for anything I might buy (gifts for my family members for example)  This is not good.  I will have to obsessively think about what I can remove for the next four days before I leave (a perk of packing in advance.)

Surrounded by Lululemon in Sicily

I’m in Italy.  It’s beautiful.   It’s not an Eat, Pray, Love thing.  There will be eating and yoga, but no official praying and not likely any love.  I am on a group trip with mostly women and one man (who is part of a couple) and no cute guys magically appeared next to me on the plane (I swear that only happens in the movies!)  I was introduced to this travel company (Escape to Shape) by a high school friend who knows the owners.    I did my first E2S trip to Morocco 1 1/2 years ago and now I am in Sicily with 17 strangers (and Erica and Francesco who run the show and are the sweetest people and best host and hostess on the planet.)

I am way into the Escape part (and when I say “way in to” I mean terrified to fly across the world and spend a week with strangers but simultaneously excited about seeing new places and learning new things) and the Shape part is good for me and comes with the trip so I rise to the occasion.  Today the occasion involved a 3-mile walk to a small-town food market and a 3-mile walk back followed by a 1 hour lower body boot camp class (yes, after 6 miles of walking).  Before dinner we go back to the mat for yoga, then wine tasting, cooking class, and dinner.   That will add up to more exercise than I have done in a month.  I am a fan of moderate exercise but don’t have one of those “push yourself” personalities when it comes to working out.  This week I will push it a bit and I am sure it will feel great (not during of course, but after.)

As you can imagine the trip attracts mostly single women, around my age (late 30s early 40s).   Everyone is from the US and about half from NYC.  Lots of interesting women that I would never meet in my current circle of life (which is not very big.)   Magazine editor, casting director, financial planner, psychologist, professor, director of operations for the Alvin Ailey dance company, fitness company owner.  A semi-diverse group (for white women who all have enough money to buy Lululemon yoga outfits and travel across the world.)  It is a lot of time with strangers, which can be exhausting for an introvert, but also good for me and aligned with my goals to make my world bigger.  Most people don’t know each other and everyone is friendly and chatty.  I generally do more listening than talking with people I don’t know, but I have gotten in some words here and there.    It’s only day 2 so we will see how it all pans out.

I am already sore from this morning’s workout and it is time to get ready for Yoga.  I might need a little prayer to make it through this one.

Addendum: I survived yoga and Erica taught me this today:  To get across the fire, you have to take risks, and the other side is never as scary as you think it is going to be.  Awesome. Great mental and physical workout.  That is what is awesome about yoga if you do it right.  PS:  Sicilian wine is delicious as was our “pasta alla norma” dinner followed by the best Cannoli I have ever had.