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To The Roof of Africa!

8.12.2010 | 3 Comments

On January 1st, 2010 I started my journey with this blog entry:

I am going to climb a mountain. Well, I’m going to walk up one, anyway.

I haven’t done anything like this before. In fact, I can probably count the number of times I’ve gone hiking, and I know I haven’t been camping more than half a dozen times. Don’t get me wrong, I know what I’m getting into. I’ve watched videos about climbing this mountain. I’ve submitted questions about the climbing of this mountain to semi-popular websites. I have bought (although not yet read) books about this mountain. I feel about as prepared as someone who listens to a song on the radio and then starts hiring roadies to prepare for a world tour.

In August of 2010, I am going to fly to Tanzania, Africa and climb Mount Kilimanjaro as a way to raise money for the Delta Hospice. The Hospice holds a very special place in my heart, and it is my absolute honour to take on this journey to fund raise on their behalf. But this will be no simple journey. Oh no, this will be a flat-out epic.

Aside from the parent-induced membership in Brownies and Girl Guides, I have managed to avoid the outdoors quite sufficiently for about 30 years. I am the anti-camper. I do not like being cold. The sound of rain drops falling on a tent is nearly trauma-inducing. I would rather be in prison than a sleeping bag. (Some of you more astute readers may be able to pick up the subtle hints I am dropping in regards to my views on outdoor life). To climb Mount Kilimanjaro means that I will need to… oh, man… camp for 10 days.

And so, purely for your entertainment, I am going to allow you into my world as I train for this adventure. For the next seven months, I will allow parts of my life to become an open book, and permit you to laugh, cry and shake your head in total disbelief as I attempt to turn myself from Robyn the Indoor Princess, into Robyn the Sobbing Mess of Outdoorsy Semi-Competence.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!

And today, on August 12th, 2010, I am boarding that flight to Tanzania, Africa knowing that $10,000 $11, 850 has been raised (so far!) for the Delta Hospice Society.

I hiked once, twice, three times and four, five times, six times, and seven

I trained

I attempted to camp

I ate, ate, ate, and ate, and ate, ate, and happily ate, and ate, and ate, shamefully ate, ate, ate and attempted to explain sarcasm, ate, and ate, and ate, and tried to avoid eating, and thought about what to eat, and ate.

I fundraised, and had help with fundraising

I was sponsored and sponsored again

I was humbled

I remembered.

This has been an incredible journey on the way to having an incredible journey. I learned a lot about myself in these past eight months, and I learned a great deal about the power of human nature and the strength of community kindness. This whole experience has left me awed. And I am grateful for it. Thank you for letting me share it all with you. This became such a personal blog, and I’ve met some very wonderful people because of it.

And so today, I leave this blog in the capable hands of Chris, who will update it as often as he hears from me. I’m not sure how or when I’ll be able to make contact, but please know that it’s a priority for me to be able to keep you posted.

I want to thank you all so very, very much for following me and for reading this blog. It means more to me than I could ever express to know that I’m carrying your support and kindness in my heart as I scale that mountain.

And guess what?

I’m crying.

And so it begins…

Bring it on, Kilimanjaro!

xoxo

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Heart of LADNER. NIGHT. MARKET.

7.22.2010 | 0 Comments

On Saturday, August 14th, I will be touching down in Dar es Salaam to start my adventure as I endeavor to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro to raise funds and awareness for the Delta Hospice Society.

On Saturday, August 14th, the Heart of Ladner Night Market will be jumping from 4pm to 9pm on Delta St. in Ladner, with all proceeds benefiting the Delta Hospice Society. The Heart of Ladner Night Market ‘is a place where local crafters, artisans, and businesses can come together to raise money for a great cause’, and was started up by none other than my sponsor Michael Rudd at Open Space Yoga, and (Kili Gala Donor) Ali Roddam at Buttercups Children’s Boutique.

What a great idea! Get local people together to support local artists and raise money for a local organization. I mean really, what could be better than this? “Heart of Ladner”, indeed! Everyone is on-board and supportive! That’s some small town love, right there, and… wait…

What’s that?

REALLY?!

Seriously?

Nooooooooo… you’re kidding right?

Nope.

So silly. So very, very silly. You’d think the wise thing would be for the Ladner Village Market to work WITH The Heart of Ladner Night Market. But apparently not. That would just be too easy. It would give the Heart of Ladner Night Market some good press, and it would give the Ladner Village Market some good Qi.

Sadly, I am going to have to miss the Heart of Ladner Night Market, given that I, you know, won’t be on the continent.

Willingly, I am going to choose to skip the Ladner Village Market, given that I, you know, won’t be wanting to support the organization.

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RunGoDoPlanActBookResearchDoGoPlan…

7.12.2010 | 0 Comments

Closer, closer, closer…

I realized this morning that I’m running out of weekends. I only have FOUR weekends left until I’m on my way to Africa. FOUR!

That’s not many. So today my plan is to make a list of all the things I absolutely have to do before I get on that plane.

I received my Tanzanian Visa in the mail today, so I know I’m officially allowed to step off the plane when we land in Tanzania. People ask why I didn’t just get the Visa at the airport when I arrived in Dar es Salaam. I just wanted to make sure that I had it in my hands, you know?

I’m a control freak.

I’m ok with that.

So, what are some of the things that this Control Freak needs to do today…

I need to call the Travel Clinic and get one last inoculation.

I need to go to London Drugs and drop a bazgillion* dollars on a personal pharmacy to take along with me.

I need to assess my gear and see if I need anything else… (And while I’m on the subject of gear, I’d like to give a hearty THANK YOU to my sponsor OPEN SPACE YOGA for allowing me the opportunity to outfit myself with about $350 worth of essential gear. I love you, Michael!  xo)

I need to look into my pre-climb activities, and book some hotels.

I need to look into my post-climb safari, and book some lodging.

I need to photocopy all of my travel documents and itineraries and leave a copy at home just in case.

I need to ignore the ice cream in my freezer.

I need to go for a run.

Go, go, go.

Do, do, do.

Plan, plan, plan.

Breathe.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaagh!!

I SAID ‘BREATHE’!

*exhales*

Aaahhh…

Much better.

*Bazgillion may or may not be a real number

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Done and done!

6.06.2010 | 3 Comments

Well, that’s that. The Kili Gala has come and gone, and the donations are still being counted.

I just wanted to thank the many, MANY people who came out and lent a hand. My mom was there setting up tables at the beginning, selling tickets through the night, and cleaning up at the end. Good thing she won a bunch of raffle prizes to make up for her hard work!!  I went to her place this morning, and she has Tyler’s elephant photo put up on her wall already!

MJP  was a huge help, too. Bringing the slideshow, helping clean up at the end of the night, and kicking my arse in Jenga. Word to the wise: do NOT play Jenga with this guy for money.

Chris Udy was a mondo rad DJ, and thanks also goes to Fernando at Mirmor Productions for lending the mondo rad Chris the gear he needed to put on a great show.

Ali’s parents were tireless in their clean-up efforts, and they made that blah-est of tasks go by quickly at the end of the night when all we wanted to do was fall over and go to sleep. Her dad also manned the bar so that I could go get my arse kicked at Jenga.   xoxo

Ali’s brother Brian and his lovely (lucky raffle-winning) wife Pam were fab bartenders who handled the dying beer fridge with aplomb. THANK YOU!

Min Banwait came, she saw, she drummed. She set up, she made things look pretty and she helped my tireless mom, too. Thanks Mun!

Chris Bruckshaw from El Camino VolunTours was there, too! He set up a booth, chatted, gave out info, and inspired a whole bunch of people to look at vacations in a new way. Love that I’ve connected with El Camino!

And to all those that drove from afar – THANK YOU. I know Ladner is a bit far for some of you, but you came out and you got home safely, too. YAY!

Finally, I want to thank EVERYONE who came out last night. Maybe you stayed for a few hours, maybe you stayed for a few minutes… it was really, really great to have your support. That meant so very much. I can’t express my appreciation enough. I am humbled by your generosity. Truly.

And now… I need to spend the day cleaning out my car, sorting empties, cleaning my neglected home, doing laundry, walking the dogs, grocery shopping, paying bills soaking my feet and eating chocolate.

THANK YOU.

xoxo

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Better Still and… poop!?

6.02.2010 | 0 Comments

Ok, ok, ok. I know I’ve said it before, but I’m going to say it again: BETTER STILL DAY SPA KICKS BUTT!!

Yesterday, spa owner/operator Laura Gardiner presented me with a cheque to the Delta Hospice Society for $423.40 – her entire collection of tips for the month of May. Isn’t that just so phenomenally fantastic? I am still humbled by the generosity of this community, and this is yet one more reason why. A home-business making a start, and being thoughtful enough to make a donation like this. You know what? Better Still Day Spa deserves the attention, don’t you think?!

SO… if you’ve got it in your head that you need to treat yourself (or someone else!), than take it from the heart and call Laura at Better Still. You’ll be so happy that you did.

In other news…

I attended a volunteer meeting at the Delta Hospice the other night, and was given a Residence Volunteer Handbook to look through. It outlines what you’d expect: dress, decorum, scheduling, and the like. But something caught my eye and almost made me snort out loud, disrupting the meeting…

The Delta Hospice site is a lovely, well-laid out facility with gorgeous gardens. And, as you may recall, they have bunnies. Lots and lots of bunnies. They didn’t mean to have bunnies, but the bunnies did the ol’ ‘Build it and They Will Come‘ thing, and as soon as all those tasty flowers, plants and grasses went into the ground on the site, the bunnies made the Hospice their Mecca. Hoards of bunnies flowed across the street from the Leisure Centre grounds, and fluffified en masse the Hospice gardens.

Bouncing, happy, fat bunnies flit through the gardens, their bellies laden with expensive greenery planted by soon-to-be frustrated landscapers. However, the general consensus at the Hospice is this: we’d rather have bunnies than flowers. And so, the bunnies get to stay.

And as cute and snuggly as these little soft bags of bunny goo are, they tend to leave a not-s0-fantastic trail of… ummm… well… poop.

SO! In the Residence Volunteer Handbook, one of the doodies duties for volunteers to undertake  is “Bunny Poop Patrol”.  That just made me laugh like a schoolgirl when I read it. Man, I am totally going to get a jacket made for that volunteer. Instead of  saying SWAT TEAM on the back, it’ll say BUNNY POOP PATROL. Maybe I’ll donate a broom, too! One that can fit into a holster of some sort! The volunteer can swagger around like a security guard, deftly sweeping unwelcome poops off the sidewalks, before spinning the broom and putting it back in the broom holster attached to their belt.

Awwwwwwwww, yeahhh…

Wheeeeeee!

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Here’s the Rub…

5.07.2010 | 0 Comments

Last night I went to my first ‘Slow Flow’ yoga class at Open Space. I usually practice the more physically demanding Hatha Yoga, but my hips just can’t take it. Michael suggested Slow Flow instead, and man, was it great.

Speaking of hips, Michael suggesting stuff, and greatness…

I had my first appointment with Physio Flo yesterday morning! Florence MacDonald-Bain of Tsawwassen Sports and Orthopedic Physiotherapy (on 12th Ave) is pretty much the raddest physiotherapist on the entire planet. I think. I mean, I haven’t been to Uruguay, so maybe there’s someone there that’s better, but I doubt it. She has some sort of freaky physiointuition thing going on, and  can somehow figure out exactly where to jab her thumb, or apply pressure. Next time I go there, I’m going to bring her a cape. She totally deserves one – she’s the Super Hero of the Physiotherapy World. I’m seeing her next week, and I’m looking forward to it… that’s weird, isn’t it?

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyway…

Last night at yoga, a lovely woman came running up to me and said, “I saw your friend today!!”

Now normally I would be confused as to who she was talking about, but given that I have had someone else say THE EXACT SAME THING to me this week, I knew who she was talking about: one of my fabulous sponsors – Laura at Better Still Day Spa.

Turns out that people are flocking to Laura’s Day Spa in Ladner, and are leaving there feeling pretty darn fantastic. I love to hear that! I’m a big proponent of people feeling relaxed and less stressed, and I really do think Laura has the best place going for that. AND in all of Laura’s awesomeness, she has made a commitment to donate all of her tips for the month of May to the Delta Hospice Society! THANK YOU, LAURA!!

This woman who approached me at yoga last night has been going through some stressful times of late, and a lot of that is related to one of her family members being diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Of course I suggested she go to Hospice, but she was way ahead of me! She was already planning on going there. It’s wonderful to be able to have somewhere to refer people to when they are going through some of the most difficult times in their lives. Hospice just has so much to offer, from counseling to literature, from relaxation groups to a wonderful library… AND they have bunnies!

So, in honour of the lovely woman I met at yoga last night, I will now reveal the next Raffle Prize that will be available to win at the Kili Gala on June 5th – this is going to be a very, VERY cool fundraiser, you know. 100% of net proceeds are going to charity, so feel secure in the knowledge that your money is going to a very good cause. Contact me for tickets!

The next Raffle Prize is yet ANOTHER that I want to win. But since I can’t, I’m leaving it up to you to take this one home: Laura at Better Still Day Spa has donated A YEAR’S WORTH of thirty-minute massages. Oh yes, you read that right. 12 massages are on the table (pun totally intended) at the Kili Gala courtesy of the best massage artist I know. This is a prize worth nearly $500… and Laura DONATED it! Seriously, NOW can you see why I’ve been so touched (pun sort of intended) by the generosity of the people in this community??

So, if YOU want to win a year’s worth of massages, I highly recommend making your way to the Kili Gala on June 5th. Donate to charity, and get massages. Not a bad deal, eh?

xo

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The Gratitude Challenge

5.04.2010 | 4 Comments

I’ve had a rough couple of days where I’ve struggled a bit to find gratitude. Gratitude is something I look for everyday, and usually it’s so easy to find. I mean really, who woudn’t be grateful for The Hockey Song, or aluminum foil, or the fact that you really hate the taste of Twinkies (thank god!).

On July 27th, 1999 I started something that has made a huge impact on my life. Every night before bed I write down three things that I am grateful for, in a spiral-bound journal. For almost eleven years I have spent a few minutes each day focusing on a few of the things that made my day. I’m on my 9th journal now, and I have no plans on stopping anytime soon. I’ve taken journals to Mexico, Greece, Paris, the British Virgin Islands, and beyond. I’ve even had one journal stolen out of my check-in luggage while flying to San Juan (I was so not grateful for that).

Some days it’s harder to find things to be grateful for, yes. But those are the days when I know I really need to find things that I am grateful for (things like not being a tree stump, for example). But for the most part, I have many more than just three things to be grateful for (things like the perfect pen, warm toes, and taking your bra off at the end of the day – sorry guys, you’ll just never know). There is gratitude in all things, and I learned this soon after I started the first journal. I found myself seeking out and identifying things that I am grateful for throught the day.It’s all about perspective.

Now, I’m not talking fluffy-aura-positive-fairy dust stuff here. I’m talking reality. In a hurry?

“Ooooh, green light! Sweet!”

Listening to a great song in the car?

“Ooooh, red light! Sweet!”

But for the past few days I have been fighting to find those things that are right in front of me. I’m getting mad at the journals. “What am I grateful for? NOTHING.”  *humpf* Then I unhappily pout myself to sleep.

But I wanted to share with you three things that I am grateful for today. I don’t normally share these things, but I figured I just told you about taking my bra off, so what have I got to lose? My dignity? Pfffft… riiiiiiiiiiight…

Today I am grateful for:

  1. My sponsor Laura at Better Still Day Spa is donating all her tips for the month of May to the Delta Hospice!
  2. My friend Uds has graciously offered to DJ at the Kili Gala, and his friend from Mir-Mor Productions has offered to lend him the sound equipment he needs,  FREE OF CHARGE!
  3. My beautiful, driven, talented, relentlessly stunning friend Eran has honoured me greatly by making me this month’s “Featured Quester” on her brilliant blog The Quarterlife Quest!

Now, these are HUGE things to be grateful for. I’m used to being grateful for things like having just the right amount of milk left in the jug for my morning mocha, or finding a crumpled $10 bill in a winter coat.

There is gratitude to be found in everything. I have no bathroom ceiling right now, due to water leaks in the pipes being repaired. Could be worse, my toilet could have fallen through the floor or something. I’m struggling financially right now. But the reason for that is because I’m going to Africa to climb a mountain! My thumb nail broke off this morning. But it happened right before I hit my thumb on the cupboard door, which would have surely torn the nail instead. Ah, haaaaa… gratitude in all things.

And what are you grateful for today?

I hereby challenge you to find three things today that you are grateful for. And when you find three, you’ll surely find three more. I promise.

As for me… I am grateful for gratitude.

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Peace, Love, Eternal Grooviness…

5.02.2010 | 3 Comments

Yesterday Ali and I went to Open Space Yoga‘s 5year Anniversary shindig. Michael had graciously invited us to go and sell tickets to the Kili Gala, and we happily took him up on the offer. When I showed up, Michael already had a little Kili station waiting for me

Awesome, huh!? I borrowed a few of my mom’s rhinos from her collection to add a little African flair, but Michael did all the hard work, and set up a place where I could easily chat with people and accept donations without awkwardness. Thanks Michael!  xo

Open Space Yoga is truly a well-loved place, as is easily evidenced by this photo I took of the studio a mere 15 minutes after the doors were opened.

Lots of people came to help celebrate, and Michael threw a fabulous party for us all. There was a woman doing reflexology, a fantastic array of incredible food by Jini’s Ethnic Gourmet, and there were art pieces hanging on the wall from talented local painters. Oh! And there was a really talented young woman there doing henna!

There were also a couple of very talented guitarists providing background music, and we were all treated to a fabulous belly dancing performance by Fanny, who also teaches belly dance classes at Open Space Yoga! The music snaked its way around the room, and Fanny confidently and seductively showed us her moves…

How does she MOVE like that!? While watching her, I got into a discussion with a couple of women about body image, and how western culture values all the wrong things, making women push themselves to illness trying to be like the ‘ideal’ woman we see on magazine covers. And even if women DO finally achieve that look, are they happy? No. There’s no confidence, no assurance, no peace. Watching Fanny dance was a great way to remind myself to dance to the music, and not to the image. Hey Ali, Lil’ Miss Fat Girl… what do YOU think of Fanny’s performance?

That’s what I thought.

By the way, that little red cup that Ali is holding – this is what’s in it:

I had about 14 cups of it.

Which may not have been a good idea…

…wait. I’m climbing a mountain?! That doesn’t seem like a good idea at all!

But all is well. I snarfed down a few of the decadent desserts that Jini had brought, and the sugar went right to my brain and destroyed that wretched clarity. Thanks sugar!

All in all, it was a lovely afternoon. I spoke with a lot of interesting people, and met with more of the beautiful generosity that this community shares. I had people coming up and giving me whatever spare change they could find at the bottom of their purses and pockets. Every single donation makes a difference, and I can happily, PROUDLY say that $3296 has been raised for The Delta Hospice Society to date. YOU ROCK!! Thank you so much.

And even though I am continually worried about how the Kili Gala will turn out, and I constantly fret over making sure that we get all 250 people through the door, after a day like yesterday, I’m reminded of something that I so often forget to do…

I think I need to take more time to focus on my breathing. It will probably be very beneficial when I’m climbing, considering that I’ll HAVE TO focus on my breathing when I’m climbing. Practice makes perfect, right? There’s something to this whole ‘breathing’ thing. It gives you life, yes. But more importantly, it helps you live. Right eternally-smiling-and-forever-peaceful Buddha?

Right!

Happy 5th Anniversary to Michael and to Open Space Yoga – it’s a joy to have you here.

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The Best Part

4.16.2010 | 1 Comment

After a far-too-long hiatus, I went to yoga class on Tuesday at Open Space Yoga with Michael. It was a core yoga class, which I find easier than Hatha for some reason, so I knew I could take it easy. I have been genetically blessed with strong abdominal muscles, so I take to core work pretty well. In fact, it’s my favourite part of any type of training. I’m one of those weird people who actually looks forward to Boat Pose.  I think the fact that my mom put me in all sorts of sports when I was a kid really helped my body to create and maintain solid abdominal muscles. If all it took were strong abs to make it up a mountain, I’d be carrying Mt. Kilimanjaro up Mt. Everest!

… not really.

Aaaaaaaaaaaanyway… in the core yoga classes, we do about an hour of conditioning work before Michael says the magic words: “It’s time for Savassana”. He dims the lights, puts on some soft music, and we all lay there like lumps of conscious brain matter. I do love my Savassana… it’s a personal space, one where you’re relaxing, but conscious of the fact that you’re relaxing. There’s no worrying about what to eat for dinner after class, or what you need to do at work the next day… it’s just your own time to honour the space and the time that you are in at that moment.

I’ll tell you what happens when I do Savassana – I imagine that I am in Dog Heaven. Really.  I have a rustic cabin there, with a lovely porch housing a gently swaying hammock. The porch overlooks a broad, green field that is gracefully cut through by a wide, slow, clear river. There is a tall, full, green forest beyond the river, and the whole field is in a valley, where snow-capped mountains ambitiously touch the sky. There are flowers in the field. And there are dogs.

Lots and lots of dogs. All they’re all happy, whole, healthy, well-fed and endlessly loved. They play together, and lap from the stream, they run up to me so that I can scratch their fluffy, soft ears and every so often, I imagine… a bacon tree! There are at least 3 dogs fat and happy under the bacon tree.

All of the dogs had a best friend on Earth, and they are waiting in dog heaven to see that friend again. And while they wait, they can look into the stream and see happy memories of their best friend. There are lots of wagging tails in my dog heaven.

Always beside me on my porch, swinging in the hammock and softly dozing with me is my dog Jake. Jake died in 2007, and it was a very sad time. So during Savassana, as I am laying comfortably on my mat in the Open Space studio, I am actually laying comfortable on my hammock, being nuzzled by a snoring, warm, fluffy, 4-legged version of love. It is Paradise.

I have finally learned that it is ok to say goodbye to Jake when it is time to return from Savassana, because I know that I can come back anytime. I give him a pat, slide off the hammock, and leave him there to sleep, and to drink the rest of the lemonade on the table.

But the best part is yet to come. After Savassana comes to an end, we all sit quietly on our mats and take a moment to reflect inward. We bring our hands together at Heart Centre. We exhale and lower our heads. And then, with our heads bowed, and with a sincerity so true, Michael gently says my very favourite phrase:

“Bring a smile into your heart”

I smile, and I feel it in my heart. My chest warms, and that warmth spreads through me like a waving colour. More often than not, bringing a smile into my heart brings tears to my eyes. I am so grateful for that moment. It is the best part of my yoga practice.

Yoga. For the good of the body, the peace of the mind, the memories of your dog, the warmth in the heart.

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Here Piggy Piggy!

4.13.2010 | 10 Comments

In the past 2 weeks as I’ve been lying about all ill and feeling pathetic, my appetite has been somewhat nonexistant. With that, my weight dropped significantly, to where my hip bones were protruding and my cheeks were drawn in. It wasn’t a nice look. I mean, I’m all for looking fit and trim, but the whole ‘starving-coke-addicted-supermodel’ look just isn’t all that attractive.

So… I had to put on some fat. Last week I went out and did something very, very  awesome  bad: I bought a wee bucket of Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia, and then I sat down and ate the WHOLE THING.

I must say, it certainly helped pack the fat back on. I felt somewhat ill after doing it, but it was worth it. That’s why Tums were invented.

However, this morning at 3am, I was tossing and turning in bed, feeling horrible and anxious about my weight gain. I went too far. I sold my Skinny Soul for a pint of cherry ice cream.  I feel fluffy, puffy, chubby and wiggly.

Not what a mountain climber should be feeling.

So, at about 4am this morning I got up and went to the Open Space Yoga website to see what classes I could take. I may not be able to go all out with exercising yet, but I can at least try some gentle yoga to get back into it.

So, after packing my lunch this morning (brown rice, veggies and tofu), I also packed my dinner (quinoa, veggies and prawns), so that I could go to yoga class right after work. If I go home, I tend to make excuses to miss class, so I’m trying to fight that by simply staying at work until I have to leave for class. Hopefully it works.

I’m very disappointed in myself. I’m ashamed, if I can be honest with you… I feel like I’ve taken a big leap backwards health-wise, and it’s kind of overwhelming to have to start again. I’m very disappointed.

Cherry Garcia… you weren’t worth it.

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