Thoughts on Grief

I have been so lucky to have very few experiences with death and loss. While the few that I have experienced have been incredibly difficult, the loss I experienced over the summer absolutely floored me.

The death was unexpected and quickly became highly publicized. He passed away from an overdose and his parents were so bravely open and honest regarding the circumstances. For the purpose of this post, I will call my friend M.

I remember meeting M. for the first time in high school; I thought he was one of the coolest kids I had ever met and was immediately intrigued. In getting closer with him, I became enamored and we started dating.

Looking back at our notes, letters, and text messages I transcribed in a journal, I recall what it feels like to be so deeply in love with someone. He was my rock. We texted night and day, often talking on the phone late into the night until one of us fell asleep. His songs permeated my iTunes library, his phrases pepper my vocabulary, and his comfort with himself has given me something to strive for.

I’ve learned that grief is not linear. Even now, months after his death, a favorite song of his coming up on shuffle moves me to tears. I think of his family’s holiday traditions and can’t imagine what they will be like without him. I don’t think it ever gets easier. Whenever I do feel sad, I just imagine how annoyed he would be with me; I would tell me to chill out, take life less seriously, and appreciate the now.

There’s a theory in psychology that everyone goes through five distinct stages of grief. I disagree with this idea entirely. I think it is simply a construct we set up to provide a sense of control, and create an endpoint, for our grief.

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Grief follows no step-wise process, and I don’t know there truly is any sort of “end.” I think the only way to move forward is to create meaning from the loss. For me, that meant taking action to combat addiction, even if in only a small way. I joined the board of local substance abuse counseling center and every time I attend a meeting, I feel the tiny inkling that I am fighting for M. in some small way.

M. introduced me to this song, and it fits my feelings perfectly (and provides a few laughs):

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How do you cope with grief? Do you believe in the seven steps of grief?

Ted Talk Friday: The revolutionary power of diverse thought

This talk taps into so many preconceived ideas we have about people from different cultures. I think we automatically assume we are all so different based on where we are from, but we forget about the common humanity and emotional experience we all share. Shafak does a beautiful job putting this idea into words, with a particular emphasis on political thought.

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Do you agree with Shafak?

Ted Talk Friday: Life’s Third Act

I have loved the show “Grace and Frankie,” which Jane Fonda just show happens to star in. The show features two strong older female leads living full, exciting lives. Jane Fonda does a wonderful job discussing how aging can include incredible personal benefits and new ways of existing in the world. The fact that two-thirds of how we age is a choice. We can alter, and improve, our own experience of getting older.

 

 

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Do you fear aging?

Yogohana: Yoga Community

My friend Tiffany, who I met through Sweatpink SF, invited me to an event called  “Yogohana.” I was not sure what to expect, but I left feeling connected, calm, and excited for the next Yogohana meet up.

If you’ve seen “Lilo & Stitch” you know “Ohana means family” (if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and please go watch it). After walking into the event, we were given glow bracelets and necklaces to wear. There was a nice crowd and great music going while everyone munched on snacks and drank while chatting. The lighting was low and the atmosphere was like a health-focused introverted extravert’s dream come to life. We were all connected through a love, or curiosity, for yoga or social connection.

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We were able to greet our neighbors before moving into the main sequences of the class. The low lights, music, and floating rings of light resting on limbs as we moved through Warrior II and adho mukha shvanasana (downward-facing dog) created an almost magical ambiance.

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My favorite part of the class was the amazing partner stretch sequence. I forget the power of touch–even with a stranger–and how wonderful it can be. I stretched with my fellow SweatPink SF blogger, Tiffany. With some moves we mutually supported each other, we laughed throughout some, and at points we acknowledged our own weaknesses and took a break to respect where we were physically. It was all about communication and tuning into your own body.

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Disregard my concerned expression—this is my “resting” face

After stretching we also had a wonderful mini dance series, which was followed by savasana. Afterwards, we all hung out and chatted, talked about the fitness scene in the bay area, and enjoyed the provided refreshments. I can’t wait until the next monthly event to meet new people, get deeper in my stretches, and let loose a little more bit more while I dance.

Be sure to check out the  Yogohana meet-up happening November 18 if you are in the Bay Area!

Ted Talk Friday: The Psychology of Your Future Self

Dr. Dan Gilbert is one of my favorite Positive Psychology researchers; this short talk is so engaging and fascinating. I think it is so fascinating how greatly we underestimate how much we will change during the next decade. This talk really provokes me to think about how this underestimation will impact my lived experience–from what I do to where I live. Even with this knowledge, I’m sure I will still underestimate the amount of change that will occur in the next years; while this might be a negative feature, I think it also serves to protect our sense of self.

 

 

 

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Do you agree with Dr. Gilbert? Do you expect to change within the next year? 10 years?

Gratitude in Action

We talk so much about gratitude; usually we talk about expressing gratitude, but it often revolves around reflection–or events in the past we now feel grateful for.

But what about the gratitude of the NOW? Of the present moment?

I had a surreal day where I made a particular effort to be mindful of my gratitude in the moment, and it truly enriched my experience. Living in California has been both the scariest change and this biggest blessing in my life. I had the chance to go horseback riding along a beach trail and every moment felt like a magical gift.

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I love horses. Sure, they smell and there are more flies, but these are wise animals. I feel a strange sense of security and calm when riding. It was a quiet, peaceful ride along near the beach, through a woodsy trail, culminating at a pristine beach.

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We had to leave our phones behind (a wonderful exercise for living in the present) so while we couldn’t take great selfies, we could fully embrace the beauty and experience. I felt so calm, centered, and fulfilled afterwards and will continue to seek out experiences that force me out of my routine, cut me off from technology, and let me immerse myself in deep gratitude.

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Do you practice gratitude in the now?

Veg Fest 2017

When you see a car with an advertisement for artisan almond milk, you know you’re getting close to a Veggie Fest! I went to the World Veg Festival put on by the San Francisco Veg Society last weekend.

I have been to a few similar festivals in the past, and this one was certainly smaller, but they had very high quality companies (with great samples)!

I was insanely excited to see Lakanto had a booth. I have an ongoing love affair with their sugar free, naturally sweetened line of chocolates and I was thrilled to see all their new products.

I so regret not buying the matcha latte mix! It was insanely good. They blended it with unsweetened almond milk and it was divine. I have a love-hate relationship with matcha; sometimes the flavor comes across too strong or bitter, but this was so mellow, well-balanced, and sweet.

I already knew I loved their chocolate, but I still had to sample every flavor just to make sure 😉 I love the crunch in the cocoa nib chocolate!

The drinking chocolate was new to me, and I loved it as well. It had such a rich, decadent mouth-feel with a great lasting flavor.

Aside from the taste, all of these products are so nutritious and are great alternatives for less healthy versions of an overpriced Starbucks latte, Hershey’s chocolate, or artificial hot cocoa mixes.

I have been dying to try Ripple (a pea-based milk), but I was hesitant to buy a whole bottle in case it was awful!

I finally had my chance to try it, and it was delicious. I tried the unsweetened vanilla and was impressed. It has a slightly nutty mild flavor and is a great alternative if you want to try a higher protein plant-based milk.

I have heard about Imperfect Produce, but was thrilled to see them at the festival. This company is SO cool. So you know how most produce in the grocery store looks pretty and perfect? Well nature is not perfect so all of that ugly produce usually gets grown away…

This is so wasteful, especially when we think about the hunger and food deserts that plague our country, and the world at large. Imperfect Produce works with farmers to salvage the ugly fruits and veggies and deliver them to your doorstep, like a CSA.

I signed up immediately. It is reasonably priced, supports a wonderful mission, accepts SNAP benefits, and saves the ugly produce of the world! If you live in the Bay Area, Seattle, or Portland, sign up!!! They are expanding quickly, so definitely look out for when they come to your city.

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What do you think of eating ugly produce? Have you ever been to a Veg Fest?

Ted Talk Friday: Depression is a disease of civilization

I initially watched this talk because it was given at Emory (my alma mater), and I quickly came to love it for the same reasons I love Emory. Dr. Ilardi looks at the facts about depression as an illness in a larger context–in the context of history, society, and medicine at large. I learned a great deal from this talk–I hope you do too!

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Do you agree with his opinion on depression? Do you agree that exercise is medicine?