Fitness, Goals, Personal, Yoga

Getting it Together

One day near the end of August I woke up with my knee throbbing.

I decided to stay home and rest. I grabbed some ice and propped my knee up and watched terrible daytime television and cried.

By 2 pm, I was bored. So I got up and drove myself to Crocheron Park, where I sat by the pond and finished reading Daring Greatly.

Then I walked over to the Bayside Marina and kept walking. And walking. Until I stood underneath the approach to the Throgs Neck Bridge. Then I turned around and walked back.

My knee still hurt. But not as much as it had when I first woke up. And I realized: I had tried to protect myself from the knee pain by being as sedentary as possible. What I’d done, instead, was pack on an extra five pounds, which my knee definitely couldn’t take. I know five pounds doesn’t sound like a lot, but I am just over five feet tall, and, at the time, weighed more than I had ever weighed before– over 147 pounds.

In the eight weeks since I took that walk along Little Neck Bay, I’ve shed 11.4 pounds. I resolved to move my body in some way, at least six days a week. I began tracking my food intake with an application on my iPhone (Lose It!), and I dug up the Polar Heart Rate Monitor my sister gave me last Christmas to track my calories burned with every work out. And so I’ve fallen into a comfortable routine. Mondays and Wednesdays, I work out at home. I do one of my Jillian Michaels DVDs (usually No More Trouble Zones because it is ROUGH), then follow up with an hour of incline walking on the treadmill I bought three years ago (which has only been used sporadically up until now). Tuesdays and Thursdays, I do cardio at the gym  (typically a StairMaster/elliptical combo since I have the treadmill at home. I do at least 30 minutes, but usually closer to an hour), then go to my regular 90-minute Hot Vinyasa Flow class. Fridays, I go to the gym for my favorite, leg day. Saturday is whatever I feel like doing– most of the time I’ll walk around my neighborhood, or do my Butt Bible dvd plus a yoga class.  This is the most consistent I’ve been about working out since I was still in law school, and routinely shirked my study duties by spending hours at the gym. My consistency has paid off.

My knee feels so much better now. Without the extra weight, there’s less pressure on the joint. And all the strength-building I’ve been doing has helped stabilize my patella so it doesn’t slide all over the place and get compressed when I bend the knee.  I spent 30 minutes on the StairMaster yesterday and my knee feels totally normal. So it occurred to me– why can’t I run?

I want to run again. I miss it terribly.  I never thought I’d miss it, but I do. As always, I don’t want to hurt myself again. So I will wait until I am under 130 pounds, and then I will start the Couch to 5k program. When I weighed myself yesterday, I was 135.8. My 31st birthday is in three weeks. My goal is to do the first day of the program the weekend after my birthday. It’s time.

And now I’m off to the gym!

Career, Goals

The Hard Questions

Sometimes Buzzfeed is good for something other than amusing (and sometimes bemusing) lists or ingeniously-curated gifs.

From a piece on former tennis pro athlete, James Blake:

His career just never seemed to click into place the way the instructions that came with the package said it was supposed to. And it did really seem like Blake was supposed to have an epic career, given his story. He was born in Yonkers, outside New York City, and as a kid played at — and heard Arthur Ashe speak to — a Harlem junior tennis program that his parents worked with. That’s an auspicious start for a black American tennis player… But despite putting together the best streak of his career in 2006, he never threatened to win a major. Just when it seemed like everything was coming together, something would come apart. You may know the feeling.

The press conference was a heavy thing — a guy seeing a three-decade life project come to a end in a largely empty stadium after midnight. There was a lot to think about: fans coming to terms with an unsatisfying end to Blake’s career, Blake coming to terms with an unsatisfying end to his own career, and (perhaps, if you’re in the mood to brood) fans thinking about the similarities between his life and their own. Thanks for speaking to us, James. Can you tell us what you feel like right now? Can you describe what it’s like to know conclusively that you will never have the thing you wanted most? Can you talk about your forehand, your serve, and the way that every day your life’s possibilities get incrementally narrower? How did your legs feel in the fifth set, and don’t almost all of us have to admit eventually that we aren’t going to be the ones who get lucky?

Read the rest  here.

I’ve been thinking about this article non-stop since I first read it yesterday afternoon.

It’s an uncomfortable thing to consider. We all want to be successful and happy, healthy and loved.

But what happens if, despite your hard work, you never quite reach your potential?

What if you never get what you want?

If you’re James Blake, you acknowledge the career highs. You accept your uncertain future with gracious, open arms.

Maybe one day I’ll learn.

Goals, Yoga

I Did It!




back row, L-R: Johnny, Olga, Dana, Tiffany, me
bottom row, L-R: Veronica, Talya, Kelly


Y’all get a li’l  bonus post this week. I just got home from my practicum.  I did exactly what I wanted to do. I used the theme I wanted to use, I played the music I wanted to play.  And when I was done, Laurie said, “Wow. I mean…just…wow.”  After it was over, two of my classmates came over and said how good my class had been.

Yup, I did that.

Congratulations to my fellow TTs. We’re yoga teachers now!

Goals, Personal

Happy New Year!

New Years Resolutions

I’ve been inspired by all the beautiful chalkboard lettering I’ve seen on Pinterest lately, so I set out to learn how to do it on my own– WITHOUT Photoshop.  Luckily, I found this super helpful post by Kellie at Nest of Posies, and my efforts yielded the above. Cool, right?

These aren’t resolutions. I’d prefer to think of them as things I’ve been meaning to do, but I haven’t gotten around to doing them just yet. I don’t want to waste anymore time!  I want to have FUN this year. A while ago, my mother went to see her friend who is a reader; her friend told her that I had forgotten how to laugh.  And in some ways, it’s true. I take myself way too  seriously sometimes. So this year is about lightening up. Learning how to fly.  This post by yoga teacher Jennifer Pastiloff  pretty much sums up the way I feel!

How about you guys? Have you set any goals for yourself as we begin this new year?

Books, Goals, Personal, Yoga

Notes on YTT

Today,  I’m celebrating the slow return of longer days simply by resting.

This week has been interesting.  It was fairly slow at work, which gave me a lot of time to think about my yoga teacher training.

I realized:

the first three months have flown by. and I’m nowhere near close to finishing my requirements.

I freaked out and bought a 2013 planner, then color-coordinated my class schedule from this week until March 17, which is the day of our final practicum.  Purple indicates a Vinyasa Flow class with Laurie.  Green indicates a Vinyasa Flow class with one of Laurie’s Prana Shakti Flow  trained teachers. Blue indicates a Vinyasa Flow class observation.  My planner is a flurry of all my favorite colors.

Between now and March 17, 2013, I must complete 8 more classes with Laurie. I must also take 8 classes with PSF teachers– I’ve decided that Lauren’s Friday open level Vinyasa and Jennie’s Saturday level 1/2  Warm Vinyasa best fit my schedule.  And after I finish up my classes with Laurie, I can begin my observations of her classes.  I’ll also observe some prenatal classes, since I am definitely interested in teaching prenatal yoga. I need to complete 14 more observations; at least five of them will be prenatal.  I’ll probably change that to include more prenatal classes, but for now,  I’m tired of fiddling with my planner.

I went to Laurie’s Vinyasa and Meditation classes last night, as has become my Thursday after-work ritual.  And after we meditated, she reassured me that I’m on the right track; she’s noticed that I’ve been in her classes consistently over the last few months.  She overhead me telling a classmate how tired I’ve been lately, and said, “Keisha. You are much too hard on yourself.  You need to get some rest. Stop thinking. Just rest.”

I took her advice. I’ve been in bed all day, snuggled up with cup after cup of green tea, the latest issue of Poets & Writers, and a few good books, including “nomad of salt and hard water” by fellow VONA alum, Cynthia Dewi Oka.  I probably won’t leave the house at all today or tomorrow.

I’m okay with that.

Have a beautiful weekend, my loves.



Career, Goals, Personal, Writing, Yoga

This Can’t Be Life

I had a really difficult time dragging myself out of bed today.

It’s been like this for weeks now. It’s not that I wake up late, because I don’t. I’m awake at 6 am every day,  before my second alarm goes off at 6:15.  I stare into the dark and listen to the muffled sound of my television. I sleep with it on because I am afraid of the dark; I am not ashamed to admit this.  The noise of it disturbs my sleep, however, so I lower the volume to just a hair above a whisper.  Then in the morning, I strain to hear the news from underneath my comforter.  I do some pranayama.  If I fall asleep with the phone next to me, I check my e-mail.  I think about what I’ll wear.  I stay in bed until 6:30, when I have to leave at 7, and it takes me at least 45 minutes to shower and get dressed.  Then I rush to get out of the house by 7:05 so I won’t be late to work. Some days, I don’t care if I’m late, and I take my time. Other days, I don’t even want to imagine staying in that building a minute past the end of my shift, so I haul ass to get ready in 25 minutes.  Those are the days like today, when I walk out of my house with my sweater on inside out, or an earring missing, with no snacks and no water.

I’m tired.

A little while ago, I  came across this letter that author Charles Bukowksi wrote to his publisher, John Martin, in which he discusses the idea of a “9 to 5”:

You know the places where I came from. Even the people who try to write about that or make films about it, they don’t get it right. They call it “9 to 5.” It’s never 9 to 5, there’s no free lunch break at those places, in fact, at many of them in order to keep your job you don’t take lunch. Then there’s OVERTIME and the books never seem to get the overtime right and if you complain about that, there’s another sucker to take your place.

You know my old saying, “Slavery was never abolished, it was only extended to include all the colors.”

And what hurts is the steadily diminishing humanity of those fighting to hold jobs they don’t want but fear the alternative worse. People simply empty out. They are bodies with fearful and obedient minds. The color leaves the eye. The voice becomes ugly. And the body. The hair. The fingernails. The shoes. Everything does.

He goes on:

I remember once, working as a packer in this lighting fixture company, one of the packers suddenly said: “I’ll never be free!”

One of the bosses was walking by (his name was Morrie) and he let out this delicious cackle of a laugh, enjoying the fact that this fellow was trapped for life.

I recently shared this letter with a co-worker (who has become a good friend).  She believes that she is trapped. She has a 3-year-old daughter to support on her own after the untimely death of her partner.  She has a small business selling homemade baked goods with her two best friends, but it doesn’t net her enough money to leave this job. And she’s been here forever; she has a fully vested pension and a 401k.  “Where am I going?” she asked.  The answer was clear: nowhere.

I said: “When you were 11 and you came here for the first time, is this what you imagined your life as an adult would be?  Because I can tell you for sure, this was a life I never wanted.”

We went to dinner and discussed the possibilities.  Her business will take off and she’ll open a bakery.  I’ll move somewhere warm, finally get my MFA and my book will be published.  I’ll travel around writing and teaching writing and yoga and I’ll be able to speak Spanish instead of just understand it sometimes and I’ll be able to do a perfect Scorpion handstand.

Sounds good, right?

I just know that something has to change.  This can’t be life.  I don’t want to be ugly. I want to be free.

P.S. Since today is Jay-Z’s 43rd birthday, I find it wholly appropriate that the title of this post bears the same name as a song from his fifth album, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, released in 2000. You can listen to a snippet of it here.

Goals, Personal


For the second time in my blog’s short history, I will quote Jay-Z.

“No matter where you go, you are what you are player/
And you can try to change but that’s just the top layer/
Man, you was who you was ‘fore you got here.”

This excerpt comes from Public Service Announcement,  which appeared on  what Jay alleged was to be his final studio album, 2003’s  The Black Album.

I’ve been thinking about this quote lately, not only because I am an unabashed Jay-Z fan who still bumps a cd that came out when I was senior in college, but also because, strangely enough, something I read in Tom Rath’s Strengths Finder 2.0  brought it to mind.

The whole premise of Strengths Finder is that people are unhappy and unproductive in their jobs because we do not do work which plays to our strengths. The book and its online assessment tool are designed to help you ascertain what your strengths are, and to help you create an action plan to find a job that utilizes those strengths.  Rath indicates that our personalities–and thus, our passions, interests, and again, our strengths– are established early on in life, and remain relatively the same. He points to a 2003 study entitled, “Children’s behavioral styles at age 3 are linked to their adult personality traits at age 26.”  In this study, scientists in New Zealand observed 1,000 3-year-olds. Twenty-three years later, they re-observed those 3-year-olds, now adults, and found that the behaviors exhibited as children were remarkably similar to those behaviors exhibited at age 26.  In another study, researchers compared teacher personality ratings of 2,400 ethnically diverse Hawaiian schoolchildren with videotaped interviews of 144 of the same students, conducted 40 years later.  Those researchers found pretty much the same thing… as Jay-Z so eloquently put it: you are what you are.

I asked Marvs what I was like as a kid. At first she said, “Oh God, Keisha, I don’t even remember what I wore yesterday.” But I pressed her, and finally, she said, “You were very quiet. Pensive, almost, which was strange for such a small child.  You were affectionate with us, but distrustful of strangers.  You were not very friendly with people you first met.  Like Cas.  He tried to hold you, you said, “No!” and crossed your arms. You were like that as a baby. No one could hold you except me, your father, or Norma.  But once Cas came over a few times, you played with him, showed him your books.  And you loved for me to read to you.  Sometimes I’d catch you going through our books, turning the pages like you were actually reading.”

She went on to tell me that I never liked cold weather, but I loved going to the beach and playing in the water. I loved dresses and had very strong opinions about what I wanted to wear.  I asked her what I liked to do as a child and she said quickly, “Read. You always had a book in your hand. I couldn’t get you to leave the house without one.  And once you learned to write, you always had a notebook to scribble in.  You liked to ride your bike, you liked to dance, you liked to swim. You liked to spend time with your grandmother, you liked talking to her a lot.  You wanted to know about her childhood.  You were very sensitive.  Cried about everything. Sometimes I wanted to slap you to give you something to really cry about.  You loved going to Trinidad, you liked traveling anywhere, really. You had fun packing.  You never cried on planes.  Never complained about walking around strange cities. You were always curious. You wanted to know everything.  You never stopped asking questions. ”

So if I am now, at almost-30, who I always was, that means:

I am a bibliophile writer, sensitive and curious, who likes to travel,  likes to be physically active, who enjoys spending time with my family, and prefers balmy weather.

It’s also interesting that my Strengths Finder assessment was pretty accurate, based on what Marvs had to say.  My top 5 themes are deliberative, input, restorative, intellection, and context.  That means I am:  careful, vigilant, private.  An inquisitive collector of words, facts, books, quotations, who loves to solve problems, loves mental activity, and looks back to understand the present.

You’d think I would know who I was by now.  I think it’s more likely that I’ve always known, but somehow managed to forget.

As I approach 30 (it’s coming so quickly!), I hope I’ll spend the next decade actually being who I am. I’ve wasted quite enough time just figuring it out.

But now that I know…you better watch out!

30 Before 30, Food, Goals

30 Before 30: Living the Flexitarian Life

I have a list of 30 things I’d like to do before I turn 30. I’ve got at least 25 items left on this list, and since I turn 30 in just over a month, I think it’s safe to say that I won’t accomplish everything on this list. However, since today is October 8, 2012, that means one thing:

I have officially gone six months without eating beef, pork, or chicken!

Initially, I put this on the list just because I wanted to challenge myself. I set a start date of April 8, 2012 and spent weeks gathering meat-free meals on Pinterest.   Although I allowed myself to eat fish and shellfish, I eventually found myself making mostly vegetarian meals– and enjoying them!  It’s been a challenging, rewarding experience.

What have I learned?

Chicken grosses me out. I do not miss it at all.  It is highly unlikely that I will ever eat it again.  My mom, who I affectionately call Marvs, baked some chicken the other day and the smell of it made my stomach lurch.

I never ate much pork to begin with; Marvs doesn’t eat pork and only cooked it for my dad. After they separated, we were a porkless environment.  The only pork I ate before this challenge was bacon, and honestly?  Bacon makes everything taste better. So I’ll probably eat bacon again. Sparingly.

I missed red meat the most. Marvs, again, doesn’t eat red meat. But dining out when I was a kid meant that my dad would get a steak, and he’d let me have a few bites, and I loved it. I love steak, I love burgers.  I just do.  It was the only form of meat I’d craved. So I’m taking myself on a lunch date to Uncle Jack’s this Friday. I just hope my stomach isn’t too angry with me.

In all likelihood,  I will not return to my meat-with-almost-every-meal ways.  I just like how my body feels when it doesn’t have to work as hard to digest what I put into it.  And eating like a vegetarian wasn’t that difficult once I got into a groove.  It forced me to be creative with my meals, to really think about what I was eating.  Eating fast food is nearly impossible when you don’t eat meat (which is great, because who really needs to eat fast food anyway?).  I won’t cook meat in my home…but I don’t think I’m opposed to eating meat on an occasional basis, perhaps every 3 or 4 months.  I guess that would make me a flexitarian?


Weekly Goals

Goals for this week:

  • practice 4 times (three classes + one at-home practice).
  • GO TO THE GYM! (I went on Tuesday and did an hour of cardio before heading to my regular hot Vinyasa flow class.)
  • Wake up at least once this week and workout before work. (As Jay-Z said, “Not for nothing, never happen…” I get up at 6:20 am every morning and if my alarm goes of before that, I laugh at it and roll over.)
  • Take the stairs up to the 7th floor every day. (I did this for four days straight, then on Thursday my body was weary.)
  • Increase water intake. I currently drink a half gallon of water every day.  I’m starting to feel like that’s not enough.  For this week, I’ll just add another 4 cups of water.  (this wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I’ve found that it’s really easy for me to drink the 8 cups before 3 pm.  Since I’m usually awake for another 8 hours,  I definitely require more water after I leave work, especially if I work out or go to yoga.
  • Finish first assignment for YTT. (Procrastinated out of nervousness.)
  • Buy 2 new yoga towels and yoga pants.
  • Ask 3 people to write letters of recommendation. (Re-thinking applying to graduate school this year.)
  • Practice some of the exercises in “Ask and It is Given.” (I practiced the Wallet Exercise.  It’s interesting. I’m going to keep doing it.)
  • Put away summer clothes and shoes. (Doing that this Friday.)
  • Finally, finally, FINALLY finish reading “Wishcraft.” (No excuse.)
  • Do just one exercise from A Writer’s Workbook. (No excuse for this either.)
  • Get a library card. (Definitely just didn’t have time.)
  • Sign up for Mint.  (scary, scary, scary. I was in a state last night. I knew that I wasn’t bringing in as much money because I joined the pension at my job. I didn’t realize it would have such a huge effect. I’m gonna have to do some serious scrimping and saving to get back to a comfortable financial position.)

Weekly Goals

I used to have a goal group. I got the idea from Wishcraft: How to Get What You Really Want, by Barbara Sher. I never actually finished the book, but I got far enough to decide that a group of my friends, dedicated to meeting about, discussing, and achieving our goals would be beneficial.  I think the last time we met was in April– it was Easter Sunday, and one of our members fell asleep, while the rest of us made a salad and drank South African viognier.  We discussed our goals for only the briefest moment, then went back to our conversation about our fun times in college. Not exactly productive.

Since our group is now, in all likelihood, defunct, I’m going to use my blog to keep me accountable.  Without further ado, my goals for this week are as follows:

  1. Schedule appointments with my dermatologist (9/20/12 at 4:00 pm), gynecologist (9/26/12 at 5:45 pm), general physician (10/5/12 at 9:30 am), dentist (I called, no answer. Will try again tomorrow!), physical therapist (9/24/12 at 4:00 pm).
  2. Attend a Weight Watchers meeting. (down 4.4 lbs., woot-woot!)
  3. Renew gym membership. (accidentally renewed for a month.  stupid Bally’s website is so difficult to use.  when this month is up, I’ll renew for another year.)
  4. Decide which MFA programs I am applying to and create  information chart.
  5. Finish reading Wishcraft!
  6. Clear out my holds by COB Thursday.

Let’s have a good week!