Author Archives: michellekeefe

‘Tis the season for¬†excess vata…fa la la la la la la la la. ūüé∂¬†ūüéĶ¬†ūüé∂¬† ¬†

What exactly does that mean? Well, Can you answer yes to any of these questions:

  • Do you find yourself swinging from¬†extreme moments of frenetic energy to puddles of exhaustion?
  • Is your skin and hair dry?
  • Are your joints creakier and poppier¬†than normal?
  • Do you feel a bit irregular, maybe even constipated?

Yes? Too much vata.

Not to oversimplify an ancient science, but this is just a blog so I must.  Ayurveda is the sister science to Yoga and a fascinating, logical medical study.  Sanskrit for wisdom of life, Ayurveda approaches medicine from a wholistic perspective.  It examines the individual in her full form and determines the best methodology of living to keep the mind, body, and spirit in balance.

We each consist of 3 doshas, or energies, that make up our constitution; vata, pitta, and kapha. By keeping these 3 doshas and their corresponding physical, emotional, and mental qualities in balance we, not only prevent disease, but also live to our full potential.

This is a good place to pause and take a dosha quiz.  Try one of these:

Ok so now that you know your constitution or prakriti,  you may have determined that vata is not your primary dosha.  Regardless, even at this time you may experience some of its qualities more often than normal.  And if you do not then you can stop reading here.

This cold, dry, frenetic time of year can push our vata in excess.  Vata is air, wind, movement.  So all the functions within the body that require movement involve vata; digestion, elimination, circulation, nervous system, and thoughts.  When there is too much vata, you may feel out of balance and possibly have these symptoms:

  • too much gas (air)
  • nervous energy
  • anxiety
  • constipation
  • cold extremities

If you are feeling uprooted it is so important to get grounded especially during the holiday season.  Where is the best place to begin getting stable and calm Рwith breath of course.  Begin with some simple breath exercises; a basic inhale and exhale for a few minutes.  If you are feeling fancy try Nadi Shodhana (alternate nostril breathing).

Incorporate lifestyle changes that balance vata energy.  Like is attracted to like, so vata folks are drawn to high intensity workouts, frenetic schedules and overextending themselves.  However, at this time of year, slowing everything down will help vatas thrive.

  • Wake up, go to bed, and eat at regular times each day
  • Include¬†a daily gentle, restorative yoga ¬†yoga practice
  • Think warmth in your diet – warm soups, hot tea
  • Daily massages with almond or sesame oil

When the world around you feels like a cyclone of chaos and overstimulation, pause and consider not jumping into that storm.  It may be tempting, but instead think what it would be like if you remained out of it; calming the storm within you.  Try this:

Stand in Tadasana. Close your eyes and stand tall.  Spread the flesh of feet.  Imagine a funnel at the top of each femur.  Apana, the vata energy that drives downward movement, is swirling around the pelvis.  Can you corral the apana and organize it?  Let it pour out of the pelvic basin through each funnel.  Feel it travel down each leg and when it reaches your feet allow it to radiate out spreading its roots into the ground.  Feel the support of the earth. As the roots grow deeper and wider can you feel more stable and purposeful in the pose?  Use that sensation to cultivate a sense of calm and confidence within yourself.  Now slowly open your eyes.

A vata in balance is full of vitality, joy and creativity. ¬†Doesn’t that sound wonderful?

For more information check out Down Under’s Ayurvedic School.

 

 

oh if only the answer was so simple as yay or nay. ¬†It seems to truly depend on one’s life circumstances, which sounds a bit dramatic for a meal delivery service but it’s pricey enough that I¬†needed to properly consider the value added to our lives.

In a nutshell, we gave it the old college try and decided¬†Blue Apron was not for us. ¬†Here is my rundown on what¬†worked and didn’t work for us:

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The Yays:

  1. No thinking or planning: Anytime I have the option not to think I will seize it.  My husband and I do a lot of  weekly meal planning so this definitely took a task off our ToDo list, which I appreciate.
  2. No food waste. I am guilty of throwing away food. There, I said it. ¬†I overestimate portions and despite my best intentions, do not eat enough leftovers. ¬†On top of the leftovers, consider all the sauces, dressings, etc… inside the pantry. With Blue Apron these are portioned out to the exact amount. ¬†Say goodbye to opened¬†hoisin jars wasting away in the fridge.
  3. Tastes great: Obviously the most important consideration.  Every meal I made was delicious, even the ones I was suspicious about.  Not every meal was successful with the kids (oh did I mention they were eating this too Рthat makes a big difference).  However, the kids tried everything, and it got me out of comfort zone meals. Especially for my daughter who is an adventurous eater, she was able to explore a bit more culinary diversity.

The Nays

  1. Packaging is a semi-nay.  Many meals I make probably involve some level of packaging; whether it be a box of pasta or a bag of salad; but not nearly at the level of BA packaging. In fact at times it was laughable. Imagine one lone egg in a custom carton. This guy has a hilarious take on it.   On the flip side there is less food waste so it nearly nets out.screen-shot-2016-10-20-at-10-35-00-am
  2. Time: This is huge and was the ultimate determinant in canceling the subscription.  The simplest meals were made complicated. When sloppy joes took me 40 minutes I considered throwing the box out the window.
  3. I cook. For the last decade I have made nightly meals, some more elaborate than others. I’ve developed shortcuts and processes to streamline the operation so when confronted with a situation like the gourmet sloppy joes or a 30 minute pizza, I’m going to be mad. ¬†Note: when you have a toddler, all recipe times need to be doubled during the witching hour. ¬†So if a recipe takes me 1 hour and the final product is a pizza then it’s not going be good for my relationship with Blue Apron.

Here is who will like it:

  1. Someone who has some extra time. I could see my husband and I really enjoying this in our 20’s; before kids when we loved cooking together. ¬†Now it’s all git’er done.
  2. Someone who wants to learn how to cook. ¬†This is a great method to gain experience. There’s not an overwhelming need to sift through recipes and figure out what will work. Start with 2 meals a week. ¬†Ingredients and instructions presented to you. You just find¬†the time.

There are so many delivery services, maybe another one will¬†suit our needs better. ¬†My sister is currently trying Hello Fresh. ¬†I’m waiting for her review and will update you.

 

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  1. The media coverage has simmered but the people are still suffering. ¬†Consider donating to the victims of Hurricane Matthew. ¬†Between 2010’s earthquake, a current cholera epidemic and now the aftermath of a hurricane, Haitians have experienced too much devastation. Charity Navigator offers a list of appropriate and responsible organizations contributing to the support efforts in Haiti. ¬†St. Boniface Haiti, Direct Relief and Save the Chiildren are among¬†some of the highest rated groups helping in Haiti.
  2. Transitioning to fluffier stuff – RFK Kitchen;¬†Needham’s newest, hottest spot in town. ¬†We will be enjoying the delicious fare in a few hours.
  3. A little goal for myself is to start including restorative classes into my yoga practice. I must¬†move beyond the thought¬†that if the yoga class doesn’t challenge me physically then I don’t need it. ¬†A restorative class can be healing in such a deeper sense. Nicole Clark of Down Under Yoga is a gifted body worker and each experience with her teaching is incredible.
  4. Food for thought.
  5. Slim Aarons – ‘nuf said.

Another Gals’ Weekend on the books with my best college pals. ¬†There can be conflicting emotions when it comes to a weekend getaway with friends (do men have this problem?). Between the logistics of coordinating a weekend (finding a “good time”, getting extra kid assistance…)¬†and¬†the¬†guilt of¬†leaving the fam it can¬†feel daunting to set aside time for old friends. ¬†YET I cannot stress enough how important it is. We have now made it an annual trip (see my post on our trip to Austin) and it’s incredibly therapeutic. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or extravagant but rather just an escape from the everyday rhythm of life with people that you don’t often see¬†but love so dearly.

The three of us are traveling from different areas of the country so we try to mix up the location.  This year we ventured to Miami.  A spot none of us have visited save for the airport. We do like to indulge a bit on these vacas Рa nice hotel since we all share one room and beautiful dinners out.

Here’s the rundown on our itinerary:

  1.  Faena We stayed at this lovely hotel with phenomenal service including a room butler. The spa was gorgeous; no treatments necessary.  We used the wet lounge/hammam and that was all we needed for a good detox.                        img_4898img_4904mammoth_featureimg_4873
  2. The Standard We dined at their bayside restaurant for healthier fare and enjoyed the spa; although a little rundown when compared to Faena.  The Standard has a cool vibe especially for younger folk. We enjoyed a post-dinner fireside chat.  standard-miami-102the-standard-miami-poolimg_4954

3. Bazaar by José Andrés: Very fun and delicious tapas restaurant with Latin and Asian flavors. Our croquetas were served in a shoe.

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4.¬†Los Fuegos. ¬†If you watch Chef’s Table on Netflix you may have seen the episode with Francis Mallman – beret, funky¬†glasses. ¬†We had the privilege of enjoying his delish fiery food while he was in the kitchen!

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5. Biking via citi Bike Miami: Awesome way to scope out South Beach.  We rode along the boardwalk from our hotel to the tip of South Beach, ate lunch, and biked back along the water.

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6. Ice Skating at Basement: A skating rink in a nightclub Рsign me up!  Located in the Edition Hotel, Basement has a bowling alley and an ice skating rink for those looking for an alternative to sitting and sipping.

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An Aside: Is there a human capable of¬†visiting Miami without harkening back to Will Smith’s song?

 

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Of course I needed to catch up on my Yoga Journals by the pool!

Every year there’s a hot¬†new miracle product that everyone is touting as the elixir for all issues. Last year it was coconuts. ¬†God¬†forbid any suburban home was without coconut water, coconut oil, coconut bras‚Ķ¬†This year appears to be the year of AVC. ¬†We Americans love to choose a food, product, miracle of nature and make it tr√®s de rigueur. Never mind that said object has been around for eons. We like to think we just discovered it¬†and proceed to use it for every single purpose possible. ¬†We are strange, strange, strange.

Our ancient forebears used vinegar for pickling food, medicine, cleaning, wine making‚Ķthe list goes on for the many applications of vinegar throughout the ages. ¬†Today ACV (for those who want to be in the know – you have to shorthand apple cider vinegar) ¬†is experiencing a renaissance (buy shares of vinegar stock. ¬†We are going to be rich!).¬†Drink it, bathe in it, ¬†clean with it, pour it on your head when you’re having a bad day…ACV can solve all of your ailments. ¬†Is it truly that good?

Well, first, in my research the type of vinegar appears to be critical. ¬†The kind you get at stop ‘n shop, safeway, publix, arnolds‚Ķi‚Äôm trying to get a larger geographic demographic reading this blog‚Ķis usually a filtered, processed version. ¬†Some of the original medicinal properties may still exist but in a much more diluted format. ¬†Raw, unfiltered ACV – that is what you want. ¬†Whole Foods and other natural grocery stores sell it.

It looks like this:

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Okay moving on…why use it?

Beauty

Hair: Spray a solution of 1 cup water with 2 Tbsp ACV onto hair after shampoing to ehance shine, detangle, remedy dandruff, and remove product buildup.  I do this about once a month and it definitely makes my hair feel lighter.

Teeth & Breath: Gargle with ACV for whiter teeth and better breath.

Skin Toner: Use it in on a cottonball in lieu of harsher toners.

Detox bath:¬†I add this into my bath. I don’t know if it detoxes but mentally I think it does so that’s enough for me.

Health

Diet: Not sure about this one but I have heard of people drinking 1 -2 Tbsp a day to lose weight.  I tried it a few times and it does seem to get these moving along if you know what I mean so if your motility is sluggish this could be your elixir.  There is a burning sensation like heartburn when it first goes down but it subsides quickly.

Medicinal: Gargle with ACV to soothe a sore throat or rid yourself of hiccups

Cooking

Delish has fantastic ideas for using ACV in salad dressings, detox drinks, pork glaze, doughnuts, and many more recipes to get your fix.

Cleaning

I prefer white vinegar, especially since you can buy it in large jugs and then add a little oil to cover the vinegar smell but ACV does the same job. Check out my post on spring cleaning the healthy way for more cleaning recipes.

It’s the world’s¬†newest miracle product that‚Äôs been around for centuries. ¬† ¬†

WOOOHOOOOOOOO It’s the weekend! ¬†Not only is it the weekend but it’s also Weekend # 9 of my 300 Hour Teacher Training at Down Under Yoga. I am so looking forward to it!
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  1. Time Magazine’s most influential yogi, Patricia Walden, has been a practitioner for years, an inspiration to the yogi community, and a meticulous and methodical Iyengar teacher. ¬†She’s also¬†my teacher this Saturday for a backbending workshop. Talk about #blessed!
  2. ¬†I just devoured this raw veggie lasagna from Stacy’s Juice Bar¬†for lunch. I don’t know what’s better this delightful lunch¬†or the kale tahini salad.
  3. This powder room is really making me reconsider my current paint. I am loving greens right now and Benjamin Moore’s Vintage Vogue may be just what I need to satiate my green craving.¬†I’m doing it. I’m definitely doing it. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†
  4. So true So true.¬†It’s especially important¬†when watching the election coverage. Yikes. ¬†When my kids tease each other I reprimand the teaser but explain to the recipient that the¬†words only have power if you give them power (easier said than done, I know), but¬†a teaser only teases when there’s a response. Like everything it requires practice and patience; working on both is¬†my tapas. ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†
  5. Apple picking in MA. Here’s a link to the best and a #FBF¬†of my little lady and me picking apples.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Blue Apron: We started Blue Apron this week as an experiment. I enjoy cooking but needed a little infusion of culinary inspiration after a summer of casual meals. ¬†I’ll blog about my thoughts on Blue Apron¬†after my 4 week trial is complete.
  • Pisces Full Moon + Lunar Eclipse: I am neither an astronomer nor an astrologist so I recommend visiting Mind Body Green for a more detailed description of this phenomenon. ¬†My explanation¬†is “wow, look at that sweet moon.” This is the time to let go of things that do not serve your life. ¬†Coincidentally if you were in my class last week this was the theme.
  • Zen Shorts: I just bought this book for my kids. It tells the story of Stillwater, a large cuddly Panda, who teaches 3 children to look at the life from different perspectives. ¬†If you have kids or teach kid yoga add this to your library.
  • The Wiggles: I’m taking the 3 kiddos to the Wiggles show so our littlest guy can experience Australia’s greatest export.
  • My post-Wiggles cocktail. ¬†I mean, c’mon, I love those Aussies but a delightful refreshing St. Germain cocktail will and must be consumed after the show. ¬†photo courtesy of Chase the Flavors.

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 6.51.36 PMI just stumbled upon what is now my favorite accessories shop…Matt & Nat!¬†¬†Due to my “desperate” need for a new wallet, thanks to a certain toddler who has a promising career¬†as a pickpocket, I googled vegan wallet. ¬†I wanted the look of leather without the guilt. That is not to say that I don’t purchase leather goods, but I am focusing on companies with a conscience. ¬†Therefore when I discover a business that produces beautiful products with a strong moral compass, I’m inclined to pay attention. ¬†Power of¬†the purse…or wallet as the case may be.

There are many adorable accessories . How cute is the f15-vintage-phi-fig-2 little number
on the bike? Imagine pedaling through Park Slope with that bag leading the way.

Unfortunately, I do not live in Brooklyn so I’m skipping that bag and focusing my penny saving on the following two.

 

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Oh, wait, neither of those are wallets. ¬†Darn it. I’ve been sidetracked.

Anywhoooo, they even sell yoga mats!

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One caveat: The yelp reviews regarding shipping have not been stellar.  However, the items are sold at Nordstrom, Urban Outfitters, and ASOS, amongst other places.

You can read more about Matt & Nat’s¬†sustainability goals and¬†initiatives¬†on their site.

Our beloved dog.  The dog that spared us loneliness with his companionship. The dog that saved my husband by pulling him out of the depths of his grief by patiently licking his face and slowly curling his way into his heart becoming a best friend and confidante.  A gem found amongst a gaggle of pups at the Washington Animal Rescue League.

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13 years of excessive hours dedicated to his exercise regime and training.  A tail rehabilitation. A happy-go-lucky dog that immediately turned into my secret service the moment I became pregnant with our first child; followed by 7 years of becoming a guardian, a climb toy, a pillow, and a security blanket for all 3 of our kids.

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The day we brought the Gov home – just a wee 4 month old pup

Governor was a dream dog. The kind of dog that you imagine for your family. someone who ran with me everyday and kept me motivated because he had to have his exercise.  A big, soulful-eyed hound dog who loved to roam the woods, and swim at the beach and lap the kiddos.  He could run for hours and then would sleep for double that.  He loved to while the day away on the porch with the wind blowing through his ears.

Those close to us know how integral this dog was to our family. On our wedding day, the best man at our wedding delivered our speech as Governor having written us a letter since he couldn’t be at the wedding with us.

We will miss him and we will grieve him and we will honor that coonhound who changed our life for the better.

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   download (1)13.5 years ago I read an article in Martha Stewart Living about the role dogs play in healing grieving individuals.  My boyfriend (now husband) had just lost his brother unexpectedly and he was experiencing a deep sense of loss.  I had just moved in with him after a short courtship when this occurred, and it rocked his world. One minute happily walking to lunch and the next collapsing from a horrific phone call. In an instance he was thrown off a cliff into a pit of sorrow.  Watching someone I love get consumed into this spiral of grief was heartbreaking, and I felt helpless.

As a 23 year old who had never experienced a death like this, I read, researched and discussed with people on how best to help him during this period of anguish.  Unfortunately, grief is necessary.  I could (and can) never take that pain away from him. My role was to be present and patient.  Then I came across that article in of all places, Living.

Dogs have proven to be very healing to the human emotion. ¬†What a dog can offer that a human cannot is love without judgment, and thus a human has less inhibitions when grieving in front of a dog. ¬†Dogs don’t offer advice or words of comfort. ¬†They listen at a time when that may be what a grief-stricken person needs most. ¬†After the Newtown shootings, dogs were used to “counsel” and heal students who were¬†victims of the nightmarish event. Organizations such as Warrior Canine Connection unite¬†dogs with veterans suffering from PTSD. ¬†Developing a bond with a dog has been shown to release oxytocin, nicknamed the hug hormone, in humans resulting in feelings of trust and pleasure.

Being a dog lover, I read that aforementioned magazine article and thought this is just what he needs…what we need.  Something to love and to care for and something that will love us unconditionally.  My husband was hesitant.  After having just lost someone so close, the idea of bringing another thing to love into his life seemed unappealing and worrisome.

I played my card…I needed this dog. I need something to distract me. ¬†After a couple of months, of shelter searching I found him, and fell in love immediately. ¬†I filled out the adoption papers and then that night told my husband. ¬†He saw my desperation and trusted that maybe it could benefit us both and heck did it.

We adopted that adorable¬†dog, named him ‚Äúthe‚ÄĚ Governor and after 13 amazing¬†years we are grieving him.