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zoe & the beatles

just a twenty-something vegan navigating healthy, positive living with a little help from her friends john, paul, ringo & george!

this post comes in response to a post by one of my favorite bloggers: medicinal marzipan. today mara wrote this beautiful piece on self-love. i am not truly writing in response, but rather i am writing in reflection. here it goes.

one of the biggest and most important aspects of my life is happiness. i strive to achieve happiness through self-love, a topic i feel like i talk about a lot. so far though, the road to self-love has seemed less like a road and more like a round-a-bout. it seems to come in cycles. cycles i’m sure a lot of you can relate to.

my initial first step towards self-love started the moment i got off the plane from south africa almost two years ago. i was nineteen and filled with a new sense of self, of environment, of life. i felt empowered, capable, and, for one of the first times in my life, border-line beautiful (i never fully let myself believe i was beautiful during this time). something inside switched on and my perspective on the world and me in it started to shift. i returned how with a new sense of purpose and immediately surrounded myself with healthier options. i started running. i met new, down-to-earth people. i became vegetarian. i got really involved in the kitchen. i was happy.

then the slightly winding path to self-love took a sharp, crooked left and steered me into a darker direction. i wandered away from self-love and happiness. whatever newly unearthed sense of being still oozing in my chest just withered away. anxiety replaced it. depression. anger. negativity. suddenly, the person i was almost willing to accept turned into the one person i despised. the one person i could not please. the one person i did not want to be.

i took another sharp turn in another crooked direction and wound myself deeper into a hole. running four days a week became seven days a week. with added in late-night secret work outs to combat the secret binge from earlier in the night. the skipping lunch every other day turned into skipping lunch almost every day and sometimes a complete dinner, too. portions shrunk. as did my waist. but so did my happiness.

the comments of “you look great!” morphed into “you look really, really thin, zoe.” i liked the second of the two comments the best. i secretly prized those comments and didn’t believe them at the same time. because me? really, really thin? obviously they did not see the pouch i obsessed over every-single-second-of-the-day. obviously they didn’t see the muffin top, the hips, the thighs, the butt, the every-little-thing. i only just recently realized (seriously) these thin comments were not complimentary but only said out of concern.

an incredibly close friend of mine shared with me a few months ago a thought she had around this time last year, when i was sunk in the middle of my self-induced misery: “i saw you at a party one night and thought you were going to break.”

i didn’t realize how awful i was being to myself. not even when my period disappeared. not even when i cried all the time. not even when my knees hurt constantly and walking became painful. not even when i was tired and sore almost every hour of the day. not when i couldn’t focus on conversations because i couldn’t focus period. not even when i stopped eating nourishing meals. not even when i compared girl after girl after girl to myself. not even when i preferred skipping social events in favor of eating and exercising till i fell asleep.

the wickedly twisted road on which i wandered took a turn for the brighter side over the summer. something in me clicked again and i saw through a new lens. i saw my unhappiness for what it was. and it was ruining my life, my sanity. i found something in myself to start the long climb upward.

i embraced yoga. i reconstructed my vegan diet and actually started eating. i loosened up food “rules” and quit exercising in secret. in fact, i quit the gym altogether. running and i broke up for two long, months. i started conversations with my mom, my friends, a counselor, and the healing process began.

something new turned on here. something i want to call self-love. around the time of my birthday i accepted myself for who i was, inside and out. i was beautiful, one-hundred-percent beautiful, never border-line anything. everything looked and felt brighter. i felt lighter, in mood, body, and spirit. i truly felt like i was almost there, that just a little farther up the road and i’d finally run into self-love. well, that feeling faded the day after i turned 21.

a lot of things started to happen. i gained weight. my body started changing. i based my self-worth on the attention and affection of those around me and ended up losing the one person i based the most of my self-worth on. i felt like i lost control and the happiness around the corner appeared farther and farther away. now, i realize that i am caught in a cycle. and i’m back at square one again. i’m embarrassed, scared, and upset.

i am back to under eating, bingeing, compulsively exercising. i am back to obsessing, fretting, doubting. almost every day i think back to how i felt around the time of my birthday: beautiful, settled, comfortable, happy. every day i want that feeling back.

i know i can’t get it back without self-love. i can’t feel all those things until i accept myself and all the little intricacies that make me up.

mara sums it up spectacularly:

The difference between loving yourself and not loving yourself is not in the things that you do it is in the way that you feel when you are doing them. It means being honest and brave, and not spiraling into a pit of self-hatred when you donโ€™t like what you see or how you feel. It means reassessing, doing what is best, and being very, very sweet to yourself when you are scared. It means proving to your body that you are capable of providing a safe and healthy environment to grow and flourish. It means melting away the shame that youโ€™ve developed over the years about yours size. It means going to bat for yourself, the way you would for someone that you love.

i know i can be honest. and i know i can be brave. i know i can not spiral into a pit of self-hatred when i don’t like what i see or how i feel. the truth is, i just don’t want to let go. loosening my grip feels like losing control yet i know it is the right thing to do. i know in my heart it’s the right thing to do. this cycle is hellish. and it’s taking its toll on me at the moment.

the last time i went to cafe gratitude, i found a pendant at the table i was seated at. a lovely silver leaf with red streaks.

the back held a surprise for me. engraved in the silver are three words: with the current.

how brilliantly accurate. and how wonderfully timed for this message to fall into my lap. i need to stop forcing against the current, as it brings me farther from happiness and creates unnecessary unhappiness and strife in my life.

i need to trust in my self.

i need to trust that the confusion and uncertainty i feel now will eventually bring me peace of mind.

i need to believe i am experiencing what i am experiencing for a reason.

i need to remember that it takes some work to make it work, it takes some good to make it hurt, and it takes some bad for satisfaction.

most of all, i need to start loving myself and just let it be

once i do that, once i flow with the current instead of against it, well…i think self-love will be inevitable. and that path to beauty? it starts now.

here’s to health, happiness, and wholeness. truly.

namaste

zoe

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when i am stressed out or feeling emotionally drained, i do a few things.

iiiii…

work out (sweat it out, yo)
do yoga (a lot. like. alotalot)
write (like…constantly)
live in my kitchen (bakecookbakecook)
talk to friends (always a catharsis)
and i also
listen to music

a TON of music. when i am bumming in bluestown i will always blast music. sometimes it’s happy, sometimes it’s sad, sometimes it’s bittersweet. but it’s always there. music comforts my soul like no other. i love music with beautiful lyrics i can attach myself to (it’s the writer in me) and music with sounds that provide comfort. or at least fit my mood.

lately, music has started and ended my day. it’s been hard to be without it, i’m not going lie. i’m still struggling to find my balance and my center but music has eased the situation. particularly new music.

i’ve been playing mumford & sons sigh no more basically on repeat every day.

i bought more music by the strokes because i effing love the strokes…

and they just so happen to be really sexy ;)…

i only have is this it? and room on fire. both kind of rule my soul currently.

talk about soul ruling…the shins have been all over my little soul. mainly wincing the night away

just about every day this album comes on. i run to it, i cook to it, i dance to it, i do everything to it. i have no idea why it took me so long to embrace the shins but i am so glad i did. no lie, this is one of my best itunes purchases to date.

i go back to old favorites, too, for comfort. usually it comes in the form of this man:

i’ve been listening to mr.a-z (jason mraz!) since high school and his music never, ever fails to match whatever mood i am in and never fails to sooth me. lovelovelove.

additionally, i’ve been listening to florence + the machine, metric (a lot of metric), animal collective, booka shade, and, of course, the beatles! i don’t get by without my four best friends, obviously! (and, really randomly, i’ve been waking up with bad romance in my head every day for a solid week. needless to say i purchased it from itunes. it’s still stuck in my head though.)

i’ve basically been a music junkie for the past three or so weeks. and this junkie needs a new fix.

what do you listen to when you’re down? when you’re up? when you’re in the middle or in any space in between? this girls gotta get some new music!

(if you were wondering, i listen to everything (honestly) save for country (which makes my ears bleed). and, actually, most rap and hip hop i avoid unless it’s like atmosphere and more poetry-slam-y. regardless, this list doesn’t show you how much i adore classic rock, electronica (DUB.STEP!!!!!), motown (seriously love here.), and blues. i love anything that can make me move or make me feel. throw it at meee!)

namaste

zoe

it’s been an emotional week. particularly this weekend. but today…welll…

toady i ate a whole bag of baby carrots.
today i think i sped up my turning orange process.
today i drank a double soy latte because you know what? i really like coffee, damn it.
today i climbed for three hours. and beasted through new routes!
today i introduced myself to new people.
today i struck up conversations with acquaintances.
today i shared perspective changing conversations.
today i saw k.
today i cried.
today i laughed.
today i felt comfortable in my skin.
today i went from doubting myself to believing in myself.
today i decided to dedicate my time to making myself happy as opposed to making others happy.
today i let go.

today i decided every little thing is gonna be all right. because it is.

today i remembered just how worth it i really am.

what did you do today?

namaste

zoe

last night i did something very uncharacteristically me.
last night i climbed out of my comfort zone.
last night i ignored all signs of ‘NO’ and went for it.
last night i had fun.

like, i-may-have-woken-up-still-drunk-fun.

(no, i didn’t get plastered. remember, i know my limits! but i definitely tipped onto the tipsy side ;))

okay, okay. i’ve alluded far enough.

last night i went dancing!

to which you might reply: dude, seriously? all that…forthat? i know, i know. just let me explain!

last night, before all the fun, i fell into a deep funk. i felt uncomfortable, i regretted eating dinner, i forgot about the love around me and felt alone. all i wanted was to crawl inside myself. and lately, i have been. i’ve been allowing myself to wallow and occupy my time turning over thoughts in my head. i’ve been withholding life from myself. again.

so last night, when my friend called and asked if i wanted to go to womp-womp (dubstep night!) at a local bar, i quickly accepted before negativity could answer for me. i dragged myself through an uncomfortable getting-dressed-to-go-out moment, forced a smile on my face, and walked out the door.

let me say this: i love music. and i love dancing. love. i got over caring what i looked like on the dance floor a really long time ago. (sometimes i wonder why and how i can be so confident in certain areas of my life and so wholly unconfident in others. especially when one confident area can influence another.) last night i let go. i danced my little heart out. i laughed a lot. i smiled a lot. basically, i lived life a lot.

i had more fun last night then i have had in months. there is so much more to life then sitting inside my house, inside my own head. if last night showed me anything, it showed me just how much i need to break out of my self-build prison. it’s stifling the life in me. i’m proud of myself for giving myself the kick in the butt i needed to get out the door last night, bad mood or not. i need to remember bad moods last as long as you want them to.

let me repeat that: bad moods last as long as you want them to.

and i’m tired of this persistent bad mood. i don’t need to be trapped here. positivity is a choice i need to make for the sake of my life more often. particularly when it leads to fun nights like last night! so today i am saying yes.

to a hike with a friend.
to wholesome meals.
to laughter.
to happiness.
and to (possibly!) more dancing later! fingers crossed!

i apologize for the posts with lack of pictures. i know they’re not as entertaining but i haven’t been snapping much. and i find more and more this blog is gravitating toward a different direction then the one i initially set up for it. that’s life though, isn’t it? i might be overhauling soon. the end of this month marks my one year blogaversary (did i spell that right?). kind of insane. it doesn’t feel like a year yet, it is. and i’m just itching for change ๐Ÿ˜‰

have a beautiful thursday. hope the day treats you well!

have you done something recently so very uncharacteristically you? how did it feel!? tell me about it :)!

namaste

zoe

let’s get all high school english paper here and crank out a solid dictionary definition before we go any farther:

endurance
โ€“noun

1. the fact or power of enduring or bearing pain, hardships, etc.
2. the ability or strength to continue or last, especially despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions; stamina: He has amazing physical endurance.
3. lasting quality; duration: His friendships have little endurance.
4. something endured, as a hardship; trial.

endurance and the act of enduring has been on my mind lately.

it was on my mind mid-way through level three of jillian michael’s 30 day shred earlier this morning. as i sunk down into another push-up, a thought occurred to me. some little voice went, “huh, i’m not huffing and puffing like i was two weeks ago.” then it went, “huh, i seem to not be doing the modified version, either. what the hell?”

my endurance is up. across the board. my runs feel stronger, my yoga sessions more solid. while climbing i don’t feel as fatigued as quickly and recovery feels speedy. mountain climbers don’t kick my ass like they used to. am i getting stronger? all signs point to yes. thank you, strength training. you are amazing. i don’t know why i shunned you for so long!

i endured a lot emotionally during the entire month of february. now that the month has officially come to a close, i feel better. k put me into a position where i doubted myself. a lot of these doubts have left me not feeling like i am enough. doubt prompted me to say, “i’m not good enough. i’m not pretty enough. i’m not funny enough. i’m not smart enough.” worst of it, doubt told me i am not worthy enough to eat. that if i was thinner things would be different. i’ve been enduring that voice as best as i can. i know those thoughts are not true.

sometimes, though, it’s difficult to convince yourself you are worth health and happiness so you reach out for the the only thing available to you for instant gratification. which, in this case, is converting back to old, awful habits that bring you nothing but a twisted, unreal sense of happiness. i know i need to eat and i know that not eating is unhealthy, but i’m still finding myself avoiding certain foods and feeling an uncomfortable, familiar sense of panic when confronted with them. example? for lunch i planned on eating a gluten free, brown rice wrap filled with veggies and beans. but when it came time to take out the wrap, i chickened out and stuck to the veggies and beans. it was kind of a downer.

the positive parts about this are i know these feelings of doubt will leave me soon. very soon. most already have. i feel loads better than last week. each day brings a stronger sense of renewed happiness. i credit this shift in attitude to friends and my family. sometimes i forget the support system surrounding me. i also credit this to the fact that i am seeing the situation realistically. this has nothing to do with me.

so on that note, i’m going out for a low-key bike-ride. i’ve got new music on zee old ipod (mumford & sons officially owns my soul, by the way) and i’ll bring along my camera, too. it’s beautiful outside in an almost-spring-but-still-winter kind of way. i can’t wait to show you! i hope you are all having a spectacular tuesday. i’ve got work later tonight but also a chance to see my friends as well. it’s shaping up to be a decent tuesday! (my least favorite day of the week!)

how do you endure? do you rely on yourself, or do you have a support system? have you seen any physical endurance changes? are mountain climbers not kicking your ass anymore, either?! :)!

namaste

zoe

(oh, and here’s a little mumford & sons action for you!)

but first. remember this?

woke up singing this. TLC was so cool, man.

but anyway…

tomorrow marks the start of march. march. can anyone else quite believe that? march, 2011. already i feel the year quietly slipping passed. sadness. however, i’m happy to close the book on february. it’s been a long month and i’m ready to leave it behind. in march i’m really going to concentrate on a few things. like happiness. and health. and the forthcoming spring. because after spring comes summer (!). and constant sunshine, shorts, tank tops, the beach, late nights, friends, swimming, out side climbing and i-could-go-on-and-on. for now though, i’ll concentrate on the present ๐Ÿ˜‰

and the present hasn’t been entirely too interesting. last night i caught the end of the oscars with my friends and a bottle or two of wine. i missed the entire red carpet business so i missed all the glitz and glam. but still…can we talk about how beautiful natalie portman is? for serious. girl crush!

and how cute were these two?

boycrushes. for sure ๐Ÿ™‚

and since i have little else to talk to you about on this dreary monday morning (arch nemesis rain expected later this week!), i’ll share some new information with you!

question number three! my thoughts on drugs and alcohol.

confession: i actually posted a long, detailed post about my thoughts and experiences. but the comments i received lead me to delete it. so this time around, i’m not going into detail. sorry, i know i’m all for honesty, but it seems like some people were not so down for the honesty i was offering. so here it goes.

i am not a stranger to drugs and alcohol. i don’t think anyone really truly is. we’re all affected or influenced by drugs in some way, directly or not. i can tell you my experience with drugs and alcohol started in high school. nothing scandalous and nothing on a large scale. i’ve never been one to get carried away. i know my limits and stick with them. the nothing scandalous things i became acquainted with followed me into freshman year of college and sophomore year. and junior and senior. however, sophomore year is when i dabbled a bit more in other areas of the drug world. so yes, i am familiar with some things i know other people look down on, especially in the “healthy living” community.

but honestly? i’m not an idiot. i know my limits and stick with them. i’ve never been one to alter my character just to look cool for another person or group of people. i’ve definitely been around people doing drugs i chose to not try. i’ve definitely turned down a hit, a glass, a pill. and that’s because i know myself. and i know what i am okay with and what i am not okay with. most importantly, i know that it’s okay to say no.

do i regret my experiences? absolutely not. they changed me for the better. my perspective on life took a 180. i see the people, things, and happenings in my life through a completely different lens. i am more patient, understanding, and less angry now. and no, i’m not going into any more detail than that.

so that’s it! i don’t drink very often and when i do, i stick to beer, wine, and tequila. not necessarily all in one night ๐Ÿ˜‰ basically it comes down to this: to each his own and as long as your habits are not infringing on my happiness and health, keep on keeping on!

that’s my plan for the day. keep on keeping on, i mean. i feel much better than yesterday. i went on a long, near seven mile run. it was some kind of magic, i’m telling you. i would have kept going but my knees were screaming at me. taking that as a sign to rest today. cause, you know, i actually take those cues from my body into consideration now. regardless, it felt amazing to just go.

i’ve got work at seven so i’ve got all day to do a whole lot of nothing. one thing about being out of school while everyone else is in it? not too many adventure buddies readily available. good thing i’m okay with spending time with only myself ๐Ÿ™‚

have a beautiful monday!

what about this up-coming new month are you most excited about? any goals, plans, randomness you want to share? go for it, i want to hear it :)!

namaste

zoe

i’m not crazy.

um. yeah. i know it’s a weird song.

but i’m feeling hella nervous. hella hella hella. okay, well maybe not nervous. but anxious. thought my anxiety levels were under control? me too. until last night.

last night our store had a meeting. so of course i saw k. i, maybe immaturely, did not say a single word to him the entire time. i didn’t even look at him. i figure his actions speak louder than his words. by ignoring me as he has recently, i figure it’s what he wants me to do as well. so i did. and it was not easy. later, while at work (i closed), i texted him to see if he was going to be home when i was off. i was picking something up from his roommate who wasn’t home and i never got a text back. this is when my anxiety started to sink in after an entire day free from it.

i drove to his house after work to talk, to ask him why he felt it necessary to ignore me, especially when we decided to be friends. his car wasn’t there. crazy person that i am, i drove to his ex-girlfriend’s apartment complex…and saw his car parked out front. talk about a punch in the stomach.

just to clarify — i never creep around trying to figure out where people are. but for the sake of my through-the-roof anxiety, i needed some answers. if k was going to ignore me, i knew it was up to me to just figure the whole thing out. it sucked to discover, but i had a sinking feeling it was happening anyway. at least i know now and can waste no more time worrying about the potential of getting back together. it’s not going to happen.

regardless of knowing now, i’m still feeling an incredibly amount of anxiety. for me, anxiety feels terrible. it seems to simmer my stomach bile and make me essentially live in the bathroom. my chest feels ready to explode and the urge to vomit becomes strong and difficult to ignore. recently, i’ve also realized my anxiety makes me cold. i find it really hard to stay warm. example: i’m under four blankets right now and i’m still shivering. all this makes eating difficult to do. everything i manage to put down wants to come right back up. the only way i know how to manage these feelings is to move. and constantly. i ate a smoothie earlier (but couldn’t finish it) and am planning on taking off on a long, long run shortly.

i feel used. and cheated. and really, really hurt. not only did i just lose a boyfriend, but i lost a friend. if they’re back together (which i’m basically sure they are), i know she will not let him hang out with me. i know this because i know her and how much she loathes me. if anything, i learned a very valuable lesson here: always give people time to heal from past relationships before allowing them to jump into new ones. especially with you.

i know deep down in my heart k still cares about me. i know he likes me. i know he has a difficult time being alone. most importantly though, i know i deserve better than this and like me or not, i’m washing my hands of this entirely. these are silly games i stopped playing in high school. last night i kept asking myself “what am i lacking? what am i not enough of for him?” doubt cornered me and threatened to keep me up until sunrise. after a lot of thought and a lot of text messages with my lovely, amazing, supportive friend victoria, it came down to this: nothing. i am not lacking anything. k is immature. and selfish. and i am worth more than immaturity and selfishness. just like you are, too.

to reaffirm these thoughts, i wrote them out, over and over again. sometimes writing things makes them real. i wrote “this is not about me” and “i am worthy of all good things” over and over and over. i covered a page with these words. and hearts.

i know it might look silly, but words are very powerful for me. it’s why i write. they’re a coping mechanism for me.

so do i feel lacking this morning? sort of. i know it’s not true. but i’m still sad. this is going to be difficult to work my way through but i know i have an amazing support system available to me. i’ll get through this. just with a little help from my friends.

how do you remind yourself of you’re worth only all good things, always?

have a wonderful sunday.

namaste

zoe