Why I Love Yoga

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I really, really love yoga.  As I’ve discussed before, I may even want to do yoga teacher training at some point in the not too distant future.  I’ve been practicing yoga 5-6 times a week for the past two and a half years or so.  After my first yoga class, I’ll never forget how tired, sweaty, and sore I felt.  I don’t remember feeling tranquil or zen.  At all.  I wish I could tell you what made me want to come back to another yoga class after that.  I remember that it was a fairly quiet work week and my husband (then boyfriend) was out of town, so I just went back.  I’d say after my third or fourth class, I started to feel hooked.  The following weekend I went to the 7:30 class on Saturday morning.  I’m not really a morning person, so I was really starting to turn over a new leaf.

Before too long, I was planning my whole week around when I could get to yoga and how I could squeeze in an extra class.  I mostly practice yogahour at Capitol Hill Yoga.  Yogahour was developed by Darren Rhodes–it is “an accessible, affordable, expertly-taught flow class that offers clear and specific alignment instructions.”  It’s different from a typical power yoga class in that there aren’t as many transitions or chaturangas and there are set sequences (a ton of them, so it never gets boring!), so the poses start to feel familiar once you’ve gone to a few classes.  I like all forms of yoga, but yogahour will forever be the style of yoga that gave me a consistent practice and I’ll miss it dearly when I move to Chicago.  There are dozens of yoga studios in Chicago though, so I really do look forward to finding my new yoga home.

But let’s get to answering the question at hand–why do I love yoga so much?  Before yoga, I went to the gym maybe twice a week and really didn’t like any minute of it.  I did 20 minutes on the elliptical and 10 minutes on the rowing machine and called it a day.  It was always such a chore and yeah, I guess I felt better after having done it, but it was still a drag.

After I got over the initial post-yoga exhaustion, I realized I’d found an exercise routine I didn’t dread–I actually looked forward to it!  Seeing a pose, practicing it over the course of days or weeks, and then finally being able to do it was really exciting and something I was clearly lacking in my work out routine.  I really like how in yoga you’re totally free to hang out in child’s pose if you’re not feeling 100%–in fact, a good teacher will practically encourage it, they’ll say something very yogi-ish like, “listen to your body and honor it by taking a rest if you need to.  Be at your limit, but not beyond it.”  You definitely don’t hear that in a spinning class or a barre class.

All this is to say, I like that yoga challenges you just as much as you want to be challenged–no more, no less.  And, of course, I like the blissful savasana at the end of class.

Goodbye for meow.

My Biggest Blogging Fear

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Hands down, my biggest fear in blogging is that my friends/family will think I’m being self-indulgent.  And, they’d probably be right.  After all, so far I’m just writing about things I like, things I want, and things I feel.  I can’t be a hundred percent sure, but that seems like the definition of self-indulgent.

I’ve only told my husband and mother-in-law about my blog.  The moment I make my blog ‘public’ (by which I mean, letting my Instagram/Facebook/Twitter friends know that I started a blog), oh boyyy, that’s when my fear of judgement will really kick into high gear.  I hope I’m wrong, but the thing is, I’ve been super judgmental of other bloggers in the past.  Part of the reason I started this blog is because I’ve seen so many blogs and thought, “Hey, I think I can do that.”  Well, here we are, seven days in and it’s harder than I thought.

At any rate, this is all a long-winded way of saying: I worry about what people will think, especially those who I know.  One of these days I’ll let my friends know I actually started a blog (I’ve sure been talking about doing it for awhile)…not yet though.

Goodbye for meow.

A Goodbye Tour

In two and a half short weeks, David, Burrito, and I will be settling into our new apartment in Chicago. Our new place is great and I can’t wait to start nesting! But, I must say, I will really miss our apartment in Washington. It’s come together so nicely and now I’ll have to start all over again!

Here are a few photos of our apartment:

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The Kitchen.  Small, but gets the job done.  I’m by no means a gourmet chef, so a stove/oven, refrigerator, and dishwasher are pretty much all I need to get the job done.


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Dining Area.  We painted the dining area (and the bedroom) and I really think its made all the difference in making it feel more homey!  We eat here on special occasions.  David and Burrito typically eat their breakfasts here on Saturday and Sunday mornings while I’m at yoga.


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Living Room.  That couch is one of my favorite things we own.  Expensive, but so, so worth it.  Sadly, it appears to have been discontinued, but it’s from Crate and Barrel.  I’d say 60% of my at-home hours are spent parked on that couch.


image Office/Man Cave.  This is mostly David’s office.  He’ll have a ‘man cave’ in our new apartment too, but I think if I play my cards right I can turn it into a blogging office.


image Bedroom.  I took it for granted after looking at apartments in Chicago, but our current bedroom is enormous!  This bedroom has room for two dressers, two bedside tables, a bench, a steamer trunk for my purses, and another small table for my books, jewelry, etc.  So, yeah, a lot of room!


Check back in a month (or six) to see how the new apartment in Chicago has come together.

Goodbye for meow.

5 Things Friday

5-things-friday-1Happy Friday!  I really like when bloggers do ‘5 Things Friday,’ so here’s me giving it the old college try…

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  1. This purse.  I saw it at Banana Republic a few weeks ago–just before a particularly traumatic dentist appointment–and thought very seriously about treating myself.  Well, now it’s on sale.  So, I have to treat myself, right?  Right?!

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2. These shoes.  I’ve mentioned previously that I fancy myself a bit of a sneakerhead and I really like these.  My husband thinks they look like nurse’s shoes.  I should buy these and show him they’re just what the doctor ordered!  Hmph.

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3. These mala beads.  I ordered some mala beads (basically prayer/meditation beads that can be worn as a necklace or a bracelet) earlier this week.  Yet again, I fell prey to a sponsored Instagram post!  I know mala beds won’t make me be able to execute a perfect forearm stand or crazy inversion, but I can dream.

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4. Volunteering.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I expect to have a lot of free time in those first few weeks back in Chicago.  With that in mind, I’ve started researching places where I can volunteer with cats.  I wonder if I’ll have to change their litter…

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5. Early onset nostalgia.  I had my last meeting on Capitol Hill this morning.  Even though I’ve worked off the hill for the last two years, I still spend a lot of time there for meetings, briefings, etc.; so it was very bittersweet.  It was exciting and humbling to work on Capitol Hill and there’s a lot I’ll miss about Washington, DC–that view is surely near the top of the list.

Though, this view isn’t so bad either…

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Goodbye for meow.

Clean Face.

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Now, for a topic that has been done to death by much more qualified bloggers and experts than myself….

Skincare!

While I’m definitely not an expert, I do my best to take really good care of my skin.  I’ve always stayed out of the sun (I’m not much of a beach or pool goer…yeah, I’m a lot of fun in the summer) and wear SPF every single day.  In the year or so, I definitely started to use more skincare products and generally pay more attention to how my skin was looking and feeling day to day.  So, here are a few of my favorites…

 

  1. REN Flash Defense Anti-Pollution Mist ($38) — This could be total horse hockey, but I like to think/hope it works.  It claims to “form an invisible protective barrier to shield skin from the aging effects of pollution” and “helps to strengthen the skin’s natural defenses against oxidative stress.”  It has a nice, light scent–almost like a very faint cologne–and doesn’t sting the eyes or skin in the least.  Nearly $40 is kind of a lot for something I can’t necessarily see results with, but maybe there’s something to be said for a placebo effect.
  2. Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($15 for 1.7 oz.) — I have somewhat sensitive skin and I had to test out several cleansers before deciding on this one.  I bought it based on good reviews I’d read.  I don’t use it every night, but probably 3-4 times a week and I think it works well.  It has kind of an earthy scent, which I’m good with.
  3. Garnier SKINACTIVE Micellar Cleansing Water ($7) — When micellar water finally made it’s debut in the U.S. last year, I was thrilled!  No more make-up remover wipes that sting my eyes and leave my face feeling tight and looking blotchy.  Two cotton pads, a dribble of micellar water, and I’m ready for bed.  On especially lazy days, even if I do nothing else for my face at the end of the day, I always use micellar water.
  4. Philosophy Hands of Hope Hand and Cuticle Cream ($10) — Great hand cream for winter.  I keep this in my desk at work and use it once or twice a day.  You really only need a little bit as it’s quite thick and rich.
  5. La Mer The Hand Treatment ($90) — Very decadent, but a really terrific hand cream.  Not nearly as thick or rich as Hands of Hope though.  $90 is a lot for hand cream, I know, but I’ve had this bottle for a year and a half and still have plenty left.
  6. Mario Badescu Vitamin C Serum ($45) — I’ve really succumb to the facial oil/serum trend.  I just got this one a few weeks ago, so I have to reserve judgement, but I really like it so far.  Goes on smooth and settles quickly into the skin.  It claims that skin tone will become “more even from the brightening effects of the antioxidant vitamin C, while skin’s texture is left soft and smooth from the anti-aging powers of collagen and hyaluronic acid.”  Sold!
  7. Botanics All Bright Radiance Concentrate Serum ($10) — Another more recent purchase, but I really love this. (They recently changed the packaging, so it looks different when you click the link.  As far as I can tell, it’s still the exact same product.)  I’m a big fan of the Botanics line and I also use the All Bright Day Cream.  I alternate nights using this and the Mario Badescu Vitamin C serum.  Both serums purport to do generally the same thing (brightening/evening skin tone), just at slightly different price points.  I’d suggest giving this one a go before shelling out $45 for the Mario Badescu though.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 Goodbye for meow.

 

 

 

Leaving That 9-5 Grind…For Now

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When my husband and I move to Chicago in a few weeks I won’t be working just yet.  I’m giving myself the freedom to get acclimated back in Chicago and maybe then see what the job market looks like for ‘ole Elaine.

Like a lot of people my age (freshly minted 30-year-old), I’ve been working since I graduated college eight years ago.  I worked on Capitol Hill for six years and have worked at a foreign policy think tank for the last two years.  Not that I’m some grizzled veteran of the workforce of anything.  Believe me, I know that’s not the case.  I’ve been really fortunate to work in an area that I enjoy and am equally as fortunate to be able to take a little breather for the time being.

This is probably true everywhere, but in Washington especially, so much of your identity is wrapped up in ‘what’ you do and, in many cases, ‘who’ you work for.  It’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it makes me nervous for my ‘identity,’ going forward.  I can imagine it now…

SCENE: A cocktail party at a swanky Chicago bar

Acquaintance: So, what do you do?

Me: Oh, um, I do a lot of yoga.

Acquaintance: Oh, that sounds lovely.

Me [sensing judgement, where there is none]: I JUST MOVED HERE, OK?!? MOVING IS STRESSFUL AND YOGA HELPS ME RELAX AND I ALSO HAVE A CAT THAT I TAKE CARE OF AND SHE DEPENDS ON ME AND THAT’S A FULL TIME JOB.  Sort of.  I mean, not really.  Anyway, nice talking to you.  Better get home to my cat.

That was fun.  Let’s dig a little deeper now.  I’m equal parts overjoyed and petrified.  Let’s start with overjoyed:

  • I’ll be closer to my family and my in-laws.
  • Chicago is an amazing city!
  • I’m ready for something new, but still familiar (I grew up in Chicago, but haven’t lived there since I was 18)–I have lots to rediscover!  Which brings me to my last point…
  • Without a full-time job, I’ll have loads of time and freedom to rediscover, explore and, get settled.  For the first time in eight years, my time is fully mine and this is a luxury I surely won’t take for granted!

Ok, now onto petrified:

  • What will I do with my time?!?!  Exploring and rediscovering will be fun for about three days and then I’ll be bored to tears!
  • What if I want to start working full-time again, but no one will hire me?!?
  • What even are the part-time jobs out there?!  People tout the benefits of part-time work and a flexible schedule, but what does that really mean?!
  • What if I get super lazy and unmotivated and just hang out with Burrito all day?!

So, yeah, between the made up conversations with well-meaning acquaintances and the constant pro/con list, it’s an interesting time to be in my head.  I know everything will get figured out and it might take some time and some maneuvering.  If anyone has gone through a similar transition, please share your insights!

Goodbye for meow.

Favorite Shoes. Of. All. Time.

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I really don’t like high heels.  I’ve worked in the professional world for nearly 8 years and I can probably count the number of times I’ve worn high heels on both hands.  I really prefer a nice flat.  However, my favorite pair of shoes is by no means a professional work shoe.

This post isn’t sponsored.  (I mean, I wish!  But, I started this blog about 4 days ago, so the offers for sponsored posts haven’t started rolling in just yet.)  Allbirds sneakers are, hands down, my favorite shoes.

I got them for my birthday this year after seeing their ads pop up on Instagram.  I’m a bit of a sneakerhead, and Huffington Post claims they are the “most comfortable shoes. Ever.”  I’m a real sucker for targeted Instagram ads, so I knew I wanted these shoes.  I’d be lying if I said I was instantaneously hooked when I got them.  I wore them around the apartment and kind of thought, “these are nice and all, but I already have a lot of sneakers.”  I wore them on a weekend trip to Charlottesville, Virginia (during an ice storm) and, I’m telling you, they kept my feet dry, warm, and, comfortable the entire time.

Now, I wear them every weekend and just about every day on my commute to work and then reason with myself that by 10am I need to put my work appropriate flats on.

A few things to know about Allbirds:

  • They’re made of merino wool, which means they’re warm, but not hot, and they’re not itchy at all.  (I feared they would be.)
  • You really don’t need to wear socks with them.
  • Reasonably priced at $95
  • I suggest sizing up–I’m a true 6.5 in nearly all brands, but the 7 fits perfectly for me.

Goodbye for meow.

Meet Burrito.

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There she is!  That’s Burrito.  My friend.  My mentor.  My roommate.  First things first, I love all cats of all kinds, shapes, and sizes (even cats that might not be that fond of me).  I like dogs too, but definitely prefer cats.  I like that cats are temperamental and run hot and cold from minute to minute.  They make you work for their affection, which makes it all the more meaningful.

My love of cats was inherited from my mother, also a lifelong lover of cats.  We had a burmese named Dooley until I was 18 (R.I.P., little meatloaf) and she got Virgil (another burmese) a few months after Dooley’s passing in 2005.  You’re probably wondering how Burrito came into my life.

“Such a beautiful specimen must have cost tens of thousands of dollars!  How could you afford her?!?,” you’re thinking.

Burrito found me!  She was homeless in 2011 when she followed me home.  I always kept cat food in my apartment (there were some other cats in the neighborhood I would feed occasionally–I know that sounds weird.  And, frankly, it is.), so I invited Burrito upstairs for a little nosh.  She ate a whole can of wet food in about 14 seconds. Because she was such a friendly little thing, I assumed she had a home, so we parted ways.  But sure enough, about two weeks later we were reunited for good and we’ve been roommates every since.

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In 2015, David and I got married and we moved in with him.  She definitely prefers him to me, but that’s ok, she needed a strong male influence in her life and I’m glad he can provide that for her.

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In terms of temperament, she’s very quizzical, friendly, and, like most cats, aloof.  As much as Burrito is my favorite thing in the world, I promise to also write about other things.  Just know, it’ll be a pretty feline-heavy blog.

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Goodbye for meow.

 

Yoga Two a Day

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Today I did something pretty out of the ordinary.  I went to two–count ’em–two yoga classes in one day!  I did my normal yoga class in the morning and then tacked on a yin yoga class afterward.  I thought it might help with some knee pain I’ve been having.  I’m heavy on power yoga/any yoga that is more physically demanding, so it was nice to try something a little slower.  I don’t think it helped my knee pain, but there’s an ice pack in the freezer with my name on it that has been helping ease the discomfort.

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I started doing yoga about two and a half years ago and absolutely fell in love.  Seriously, I pretty much plan my entire week around when I can make it to yoga and, if I have to miss a class, I do my best to find a way to sneak in another class.  I’ve toyed with the idea of doing yoga teacher training, but a few things have held me back:

  • Working full-time
  • I like to keep my weekends to myself (not that I do super fabulous or interesting things, but I just like my time to be my own)
  • Most importantly, the very real fear that doing yoga teacher training would make yoga seem like a chore instead of a hobby

Moving to Chicago might provide the perfect opportunity to give it a go.  We’ll see.  I’d honestly appreciate any insights from other yogis out there who have done yoga teacher training.

And, to close things out–here’s an outtake of Burrito photobombing one of my yoga pictures.  Happy Sunday!

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Burrito sniffing around my yoga books

 

Goodbye for Meow.

 

The Leap Begins

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Elaine and my cat’s name is Burrito.  We (and my husband, David) are moving to Chicago from Washington, DC in exactly three weeks.  David and I are both from Chicago (Burrito, as a rescue cat, is from the Washington DC-area, I presume), but I’ve lived in DC for nearly 8 years.  I moved here to work on Capitol Hill in 2009 and, for the last two years, have worked at a foreign policy think tank.  Come March, we’re loading up a moving truck (with some help from my dad) and making the 11 hour drive to the Windy City!  Our families are both in Chicago, but it will still be a huge adjustment.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m beyond excited–David and I have been wanting to move back basically since we got married (in 2015) and the time finally feels right!

I plan to use this blog to chronicle that move and beyond, but also share some things I love, which include:

  • Cats, obviously (see: blog title). Specifically, my cat, Burrito.  A stunning Russian Blue-mix.  (I’m, like, 95% sure she’s a mix and not a full Russian Blue.  Any cat experts out there, please leave a comment as to what you think her breed origins are.)
  • Yoga. For about two and half years I’ve been an avid yogi.  My preferred style is a hatha-based yoga called yogahour.  Sadly, there are no studios in Chicago that offer yogahour, so I look forward to trying out many studios and settling on a new yoga home. I’ve taken a few classes at The Lab in the West Loop and have been really impressed.  I highly recommend!  (If you’re in DC, you can take yogahour classes at Capitol Hill Yoga.  It’s an amazing studio and I’ll miss it dearly when we move.)
  • Food. I mean, I’m not a foodie per se, but I do like a good restaurant and make a pretty decent eggplant Parmesan.  I don’t know, I’ll write about good restaurants and stuff.  David will provide some content on food as he is a much more voracious eater and views every meal as a competition with a clear winner and loser: him or the food.

Shopping/Buying things.  I haven’t had much time recently to go shopping, but it’s truly a passion.  I like a good deal, especially at retail stores that are constantly having sales (looking at you Ann Taylor, J. Crew, Gap, and Banana Republic).

Ok, I think that’s a decent intro.  Goodbye for meow.