Tuesday, January 18, 2011

hira: dwindling days on the mountain

current location: last days on the mountain

i'm just going to say it--i really hate snow. sometimes it looks magical and the beautiful white snowflakes land gracefully onto my hair and coat. but then all i can imagine is the ugly, grey slush it will soon become. ok so appearances really isn't the root of this; in fact, its the inconvenience. while snow in torino meant a weekend spent in the montagna (mountain) with skiing and lots of cozying in the cabin, snow in Maryland and DC just means icy roads and missed brunch dates (my apologies, diana). so here's to hoping for some clear skies and warmer temperatures stat.
while the cooler weather has tempted me to stay indoors and be lazy, i had made some goals last week and have been sticking to them: more tea and water, daily activity, applications. i'm happy to report that my application-all 125 pages-has been sent in to DC, i've been loving a daily practice of sun salutations and vinyasa flow, and have been downing the green and white peony teas. eating kale, mushrooms, and spelt pasta. loving on my family. i even got a job offer this week :)

at home, in my living room...

or at the studio downtown (www.anandashala.com)

nael, my adorable nephew.

moving back to uni this thursday, i am slightly nervous, but mostly exciting for the coming adventures. i'll be moving into CHUM (Co-op Housing at University of Maryland); the community based living style, not-for-profit byline and cooperative, shared space speaks mountains of what is possible in terms of student housing. things to look forward to: being surrounded by intelligent individuals and fellow activists with like-interests, not having to leave my house for various meetings and event-planning and being around healthy (mostly vegetarian/vegan) food. mmm.

perhaps a DC-area blogger meet-up is necessary soon?

Monday, January 10, 2011

hira: a new year

a new year brings hopeful lists, extensive planning (in a brand spankin new planner), exciting classes and scary milestones---2011 looks to bring in all of these things. 2010 was a monumental year for me: 1/3 spent at the University of Maryland/DC, 1/3 spent at home on the mountain with my best friend, and 1/3 spent living in torino, italia. 12 months of adventure and newly formed friendships has left me happy.

with the approaching semester being my last at UMD, i'm determined to leave this school feeling the healthiest. not settling for satisfied. not settling. exploring ideas and entertaining thoughts that have previously frightened me or had been deemed impossible. i'm getting selfish in the best way possible.

new years resolutions have always been pending letdowns, a looming shortcoming if you will. i simply cannot imagine lofty, general goals to be achievable because i haven't outlined a precise method---my infamous love of all things lists has revealed the broader realization that i need shorter, frequent goals and commitments. these can be steps to a larger goal (one that we won't think about for sake of mental sanity). ergo, my goals for january:

1. successfully complete an application for a year of intensive language study and cultural immersion in Alexandria, Egypt (due friday)

2. move into a new house. new roommates, new experiences. a co-op house. details to come.

3. drink more green tea. all teas. in the aftermath of my semester abroad in italy, american coffee doesn't do it for me. while i can find quality caffe in certain places, i want to embrace my (forgotten) love for tea. simple.

4. reintroduce fitness into my life. for the last 6 months, my life had taken a completely new direction and forced me to reorganize my priorities in a new location. doing something everyday--whether it be my beloved yoga, a sweaty session at the gym, or a walk around DC--every day is a new chance to recommit myself to healthy living. taking the mountain with me.

5. invest more time into this blog. this speaks for itself.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

elyssa: recommitting

location: snowy toronto

christmas and new years have come and gone. i'm back at school for my last semester of law school. it's time to reset goals. reaffirm. recommit.

2010 was a year of great pride for me. since the month of may, ive maintained a regular fitness schedule. 8 months marks the longest period of continuous progress in my 5 year on/off love affair with fitness. i've discovered that exercising 6 days out of 7 keeps me feeling my best. what's important is not what i do - but the fact that i do something to get the blood flowing. yoga on easy days. cardio circuits on hard days. after 8 months of commitment, i feel the healthiest i've ever been. hardly succumbing to colds. and benefitting from much needed endorphins. i've become convinced that keeping active is the key to a happy life.

home for the holidays brought christmas trees. festivities. cakes. biscotti. and of course the inevitable 5 pounds.

5 pounds, however, that we're gained happily in the company of loved ones. and intermixed with daily exercise - either by doing a workout dvd at home with the boy or taking a yoga class in a downtown studio. sometimes a quick 30 minutes of elliptical in front of the tv. or just a walk through the forest.

in the past, a cookie and mug of hot cocoa would have been my signal to spend the rest of the day on the couch. this year, i took my cookie and cocoa to the couch like any other year - but at the end of the day, i kept moving - and as i return to regular exercise in the new year, my body is thanking me for never giving up.

my goals for the following year are as follows:

- to continue to practice the art of exercising for health, not for weight
- to resume regular yoga (december was by and large a yogaless month - and my aching body knows the difference)
- to try new things (run a race perhaps?)
- to pay attention in school and relish the dwindling days of my academic life
- to plan for the future in a way that minimizes stress and maximizes the endless possibilities that lie ahead
- to cultivate a constant awareness that in every step i take i am never alone

Friday, December 17, 2010

elyssa: chez cafe nola

location: back on the mountain

studying furiously in anticipation of christmas, and everything this next week will bring :)

just a quick post to let you know that im at our place. dont worry - im holding down the fort.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

elyssa: exams and snow

location: toronto (hardly leaving the apt)

winter is in full swing

grilled cheese is the lunch du jour.

goat gouda with leftover thanksgiving cranberry and sweet potatoes. mmm.

studying the night away. keeping to my 1 hr daily gym goal. the gym has never felt so good.

current obsessions: fava beans. lupini beans. what to get my loved ones for christmas?

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

elyssa: thankful

location: toronto (post-family departure)

apologies for the belated t-day post - it has been a wonderful start to the holiday season. i am so thankful: for the beautiful food consumed this past week. for the loving hands that prepared it. for friendships undeterred by distance. for a surprising turn of events. for my faith. for love.

oh and for the hope that this time next year the holidays will no longer go hand in hand with the ominous cloud of exams. it's definitely time to seriously hit the books.

all day i've been carrying with me the warm and fuzzy afterglow of our 6 day thanksgiving festivities. definitely not conducive to productivity - so i'm off to starbucks to shake off those cozy vibes and get to organizing the next 20 days of studying frenzy. stressful - but nothing that cant be solved with a good list/calendar combo.

for now, a thanksgiving week recap:

most days started off with breakfast in the apartment. a frittata seemed like a good and easy way to feed all 6 of us.

cheddar, bell peppers, tomato, basil

clearly high-fashion was a must.

at least we clean up well.

lovely dinners out.

but nothing compared to the big day.

t-day preparations started bright and early. we took turns. shared and helped. the day flew by and culminated in a beautiful feast enjoyed by 20 friends and fam. so. much. food.

enough left over for a turkey pot pie whipped up by my mom just minutes before she left for the airport. aaannd enough turkey and fixins in the fridge to feed an army of exam-season starving students.

new goals:

unfortunately, my abs and bum challenge (previous post) is going to have to take a back seat to exams. no biggie. for now, the goal is to maintain a daily exercise regime during the busiest time of the year. regardless of how much i can do, the idea is always to do something. it makes me feel better. it makes me think better. i really think exercising makes me smarter. so i'll keep at it.

current obsessions:

goat yogurt. finding the perfect new years dress. surviving exams.

ps happy belated dearest bff. wish i could have celebrated with you.

Monday, November 29, 2010

hira: we all float on alright

current location: SAA library, at uni. blogging in increments, in-between writing essays and practicing my italian conjugations.

a new week brings a chance for mending relationships--relationships with others, but just as vital, relationships with oneself. rites of passage. new chapters. closed doors. this last week was officially deemed 'birthday week, version 21', and it was filled with wonderful surprises, dinners, and late-night renditions of classic hits (i.e. spice girls and oasis), and plenty of long walks, writing, and a trip to sardegna. yes.

before i leave you with a slew of photographs from the birthday festivities, there is one last thing for which i am grateful. something that i did not post about in my previous thanksgiving post--that of community. community in italia--because when surrounded by a group of friends with the same information, the same passions but differing means of achieving similar goals, you are moving in the same direction. you not only make yourself* but also tap into a stronger and swifter current; a current that has moved past the great thinkers behind you and surely will move those who come later. i am grateful for running into strangers on the other side of the world, looking for the same things and are willing to keep me company. italians love their routines, their regulars--regular customers, regular bars, regular markets. i have definitely found this in my neighborhood gelaterria, pizzeria, pane e amore cafe, salon, palestra, pub, uni, etc. we are all telling each other's stories.

fifty years ago, Simon and Garfunkle produced a chart-topping album retrospectively described as "a meditation on the passage of life and the psychological impact of life's irreversible, ever-accumalating losses". this last week was just that. a long, drawn-out and active meditation. that's how i like it. I just finished a book called Reflections on Fieldwork in Morocco, a nonfictional account of Paul Rabinow's time in Morocco in the 1960's, and I came across a ringing bell: dépaysement. this French word was similar to an Italian word I'd discovered with delight some days before, spaesato, in a magazine article about the plight of Italy's current youth generation. I noted paese, or country, and the prefix s, which usually indicates an opposite like un- or dis- in english. un-countried. the electronic dictionary told me it meant 'out of one's element; uncomfortable.' a state of unease for lack of being in one's own homeland. Rabinow, describing the various personal and historical reasons for setting off for North Africa, was compelled by Lévi-Strauss's obscure concept of dépaysement, a "paradoxical call for a distancing that would allow one to return more profoundly home."

yes, that sounds about right.

anyway, so i turned 21. i celebrated with friends here in torino, and then flew south to italy's second island Sardegna--to it's capital, Cagliari. here is evidence.

pizzeria on genova. my favorite.

nelli and valentina.

an after-uni surprise on my bed--balloons, a card, and an apron from venice. they know me well.

this is awk.

insert about three hours of sleep, and exam, and then...

boarding pass for cagliari, passport, and a side of pasolini's A Violent Life

views from atop the bastione di saint remy.

there are lots of stairs and hills in cagliari.

beautiful streets in the city's Castello region

piazza porta palazzo, Castello region, views from the duomo

three days of an un-lonely solitude. it was an adventure.

oh, before i forget: my coffee in the cuneo airport on the way to sardegna--a heart.