Messin’ with Texas

In August of 1993 I traveled to Irving, Texas to visit one of my college roommates – a darling of the rolling hills of Roanoke, Virginia hailing from Harrisonburg – home of my beloved JMU Dukes.  Roya took me to the Stockyards in Fort Worth, a Dallas Cowboys pre-season game in their (then) new stadium, introduced me to restaurants galore, and is responsible for my previously rejected now unbreakable addiction to guacamole.  We enjoyed cold beer (have you ever been to Texas in the summer – hot so hot) and while listening to great music we were mesmerized by this big, beautiful world into which we were catapulted just a few years before.

In 1990 we had matriculated from James Madison University completely wide-eyed and (a little) wild for life ahead.  My Roya and I spent many a early morning in our rambling off campus abode contemplating life over tea (me) and coffee (her).  The sounds of the Today Show with Katie Couric’s Virginia roots inspired conversation of the big lives we had before us. When Roya saw an opportunity to move west to Texas she said ‘yes’.  She currently is on a quest to keep inspiring ‘yes’ from our precious group of Dukes.  And it’s working.

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Roya, in the middle under the ‘armpit’ made us stop and pose for a selfie during a recent reunion trip to Florida.  We said yes.

Since her ‘Yes Quest’ some of us have (among other things): started or restarted a yoga practice, made plans to see the Gin Blossoms, enrolled in a Body Combat Sculpting Class, traveled to Whistler for skiing, continued to be badasses at work, and started the essential contemplation of ‘what’s next?’, and ‘what do you want and need to do?’, ‘how will you get there?’

I am currently training for Ironman Texas. A plan already in the works, there is a precious spot (for me) where (before the plane tickets are purchased) one can NOT say yes to Texas (or any Ironman) and enjoy some fitness for a bit because training has certainly kinda begun.  The tickets are bought and the proverbial hay is making its way to the barn.  I am messing with Texas where everything is bigger – like the life I have because I know and love my Texas Roya. She is adventurous, crazy/scary smart, gets up before the Longhorns and sees life as a gift to be lived.  Her heart is bigger than Texas and I am inspired by her to say Yes everywhere I can.  Thank you, my dude!

So on April 29 and beyond, when I am asked if I am glad I messed with (Ironman) Texas, what do you thing the answer will be?

Watch Party

A fan of Ice Cube, Tiger Woods, the James Madison University Dukes, Running, Ironman and all things Yoga, it was a good day.

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Running

It wasn’t good just because I ran 7+ miles with my Iron-mommas and tri-babies plus one Navy Seal in the making. A display to admire, this guy upped his fitness game by strapping on a 20 pound vest and still schooled us all finishing the route with barely a pant or sweat bead forming.  I love him.

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Tiger

It wasn’t good because I was moved by Tiger Woods’ come-back-ability.  An athlete and person down, way way down, he impresses the best with a return performance that reminds me how brilliant the human body is.  Couple that body with indomitable spirit and it’s a let’s-see-where-this-takes-us show to behold. Like or hate the man, people like me who think the human body is brilliant and resilient see past the past and enjoy God’s grace in gracing us mortals with this exquisite structure to hold our soul.

 

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Tiger checks his shot at the Hero’s World  Challenge

I will just keep fighting.  It is what I have always done.  – Tiger Woods

I get what he did. Don’t worry I won’t suggest Lance Armstrong explore pharmacy as a comeback career.I have my limits.

 

James Madison University Dukes

Alum and football fan this is my true Good Day Maker. First, I had a virtual football Watch Party with them:

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JMU Alumni and Colorado Besties

Two thousand miles apart and with the brilliance of texting, we simultaneously cheered/sipped our Dukes to a quarterfinal victory.  Six days later, I witnessed our Dukes berth into the semi final game – IN PERSON.

With one second left, a field goal sealed our deal one step closer to Natty #2 (that’s coolspeak for National Championship) in Frisco, Texas.

One game to Friso – Frisco (can’t you hear Dr. Dre singing the riff in California, the iconic 2Pac Anthem?) I like Dre too.

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Fingers crossed. Looks like next week, there will be another virtual watch party.

Join me?

Oh, and yoga?  Every damn day.

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Gum doesn’t work.

With Ironman Chattanooga almost two weeks in my rear view, I hasten to document the experience of taking my body over 144.6 miles by water, by wheels, by feet.

I am starting with thank you:

God.  For blessing me with a healthy, mobile body and a heart for endurance. For the beautiful planet we inhabit including the soil and mountains and water that reside in your gorgeous city of Chattanooga, TN.

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Cameron. For asking your soldiers to change the world in a way that is changing us.  For giving your SpeakUp race team purpose and push and hope.  For your smile and hug that I miss so much.

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My husband and children. For never complaining about the time Ironman training took away from you.  For believing in me 100% of the time. For being proud of me when I couldn’t be.

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My teammates. So much life lived together. So much more to go. For the symbiosis that became one body, one heart on that course.  Same tears. Same smiles. Same pain. Same purpose.

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My friends. You know who you are.  You texted. You called. You posted. You sent your positive vibes. You donated. You stayed up late, very late waiting to see me finish. You told me you were proud of me.  You made me feel special even when from the back of the pack, I couldn’t feel it so much.

Race Summary.

Swim. With the aid of a downriver current. It was amazing.  The usual slug fest from hundreds of arms slicing out a freestyle stroke to get to T1 had me sending light and love to the dude who slammed my head 4 times.  GET IN YOUR LANE. Oh wait we were sharing one big lane.  Best part was starting with my sister. Staying close until we knew we were each okay was a highlight. And guess what, once we told each other ‘I Love You, I’m okay.’ It was head down and GO.  We still finished within a couple of seconds of each other.  I’ll take her pace any day of the week. I’ll take her courage and heart and light. If only.

My baby sister… no words.

Bike. Beautiful hilly course with a ton of elevation change.  I felt strong. I made some decisions that cost me some time but mostly I was prepared and confident. I still don’t know why Chattanooga requires 116 bikes miles instead of the usual IM 112.  I need to work on nutrition but mostly I was glad it was done and felt lucid enough to smile as I started the gawd-awful run.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 6.28.26 AMRun. After about 7/8 miles of relatively flat, there are 3 hills so steep they punch you in the chin.  And you get to do it twice.  At the half marathon mark, athletes have access to a ‘special needs’ bag which contains items to help you stay strong and motivated to keep (in my case) slogging it out.  When I packed my special needs bag,  I decided that Trident, bubble mint gum might be just the thing to motivate me to keep going.  I love gum. In this case, gum doesn’t work. I was wrong.

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About halfway, I experienced GI issues that NOTHING seemed to cure.  After stopping 4 or 5 times to preserve the color of my shorts for the finish line pic (gross.  Sorry for the non running readers. There is no dignity left.), I started to see that indeed I would make it.

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Not before I enjoyed this script on auto pilot in my head:

Here I go again.  I am so slow all my teammates have to wait a VERY long time for the likes of me to finish.

This is the stupidest thing I have ever done.  Who do I think I am?

I did NOT want to go this mentally low since my Challenge Roth experience, and here I am, again.

YES, Indeed.  Here I am, again.

I am here.

Lucky, lucky me.

 

 

3 Shots of Tennessee Whiskey

I had every intention of practicing yoga on my recent trip to Nashville. I researched studios in a trendy ‘hood called the Gulch, a dynamic area of urban development and redevelopment located between Music Row and Downtown. The Gulch is an exciting combination of the old, the adapted, and the cutting edge. It pulsates with opportunities for the very best Nashville experience.  I almost went here.  Almost.

I was too busy having epiphanies and getting out of my comfort zone to bother.

They did not come as after-effects to shots of Tennessee Whiskey though I think one could argue that such a drink or song could cause hallelujah moments. Amen??

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Whiskey in Tennessee is like coffee  most places. Consumed with anticipation of its sweet and smooth effects.

I am not a whiskey drinker which I kept secret in its capital. I did, however, feel what I imagine to be similar ripple effects from shots of such. I felt more calm, more capable and happy with hope and anticipation for life’s next chapter(s) after shots of a different kind. All thrown back in Nashville, my  new favorite city (for now).

Shot #1

A conversation with her:

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There is nothing like a heart to heart conversation with an old friend to take the adhesive off a ‘stuck-feeling’ outlook. Thanks, Beth for a million years of friendship. I can see clearly now one should dream, prioritize, make a task list and act. Duh!! Thanks for not, saying ‘DUH’!!

Shot #2

I did my best to stick to my Ironman training plan by taking a ride on this:

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Twice. For a total of 2.75 hours, 2 of which were in HR zone 4 and sometimes 5. The endorphins and sense of accomplishment is a hangover I welcome.

Shot #3

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I did not have Justin Timberlake or Chris Stapleton (at least in the carnal sense) as they belted out the sweetness of strawberry wine. I did however spend the evening in the Country Music Hall of Fame for a business dinner and private concert (300 people) by him:

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That’s Richie McDonald of Lonestar fame. Though they have many hits in their own right, I did not realize that he wrote Walking in Memphis, sung by Marc Cohn – which is one of my  all time favorite songs. My maiden name is Handy, no relation to WT. I do however have a prayer in Memphis Nashville.

Here are some some after-effects of my 3 shots:

I bought boots.

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I stayed out very, VERY late. (I did not drink Miller Lite – I am discerning.)

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I opened my mind. I closed out the weekend with a beer. (I don’t like beer.)

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That Fat Fire is for you, Beth. The actual epiphanies, that’s for a later post.

Cheers.

Do you practice yoga and train for long-ass races while on vacation?

 

5 Lessons From a Juice Cleanse

Recently some friends and I did a 3-day juice cleanse offered by the cool folks at Bikram Yoga Richmond where, besides offering mind-blowing, sweaty yoga, they sell amazing fresh made juices for post practice pick-up on a regular basis. From time to time they do a full-on cleansing program where the daily diet includes 3 juices, one shot of juiced ginger and one smoothie. All were fresh, marvelous, and packed with nutrition. Whereas I would totally do it again and look forward to it, here are some lessons from my first juice cleanse which  may make the next one even better. 

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  1. Hunger Games – If you are considering a juice cleanse, do it with friends – keep your phone nearby so you can text each other constantly. Let the quips fly.  It’s fun and funny to give your intestines a nice flush.

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On a cleanse, apparently hunger doesn’t build, it comes in waves. Have some good books on hand to occupy your mind when it does show up. I recommend each of these wholeheartedly.

2.  Beets still make me want to vomit – Each juice had a number of plants in them but there is one marquee item like carrot, spinach, or beets. All were to-die-for delicious unless you have an aversion to one of the main plants. When I was 19 I went on a 3-day diet that included a lot of beets. The evils of quick weight loss fads did not resonate with me back in college. I did lose 4 pounds in 3 days but mostly from having to plug my nose to swallow the beets. After a while, I gave up eating them altogether. That was back when a girl might take Dexatrim or a good diuretic to get rid of the beer bloat.  Ahhhh memories.

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3.  You don’t need as much food as you think. For some, hunger is associated with panic. Do your research ahead of time to keep your fear away. You can and will survive a juice cleanse and will likely feel better on the other side. There are many proponents of a limited calorie diet or occasional fasting program to encourage mental clarity, good digestion, and weight loss.  This study is convincing. I am thinking of making it part of my regular cycle of eating.

4.  There is a spiritual aspect to hunger. When a wave of hunger came I was forced to be in the moment, not react, have faith that the discomfort would pass and know that all is well. Deep breathing, reading and tea helps. Sounds a lot like yoga and mediation. If the practice was triggered by hunger, then hunger is good.

5.  Chewing is fun. I need to masticate everyday. Just a little. Raw almonds are perfect. Toss a few back and that impulse is satisfied.

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Afterwards I had more clarity, felt victorious and knew my pipes were clean and functioning well. And my 3-baby belly was flatter.

Can’t wait for the next cleanse. Cheers.

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Iron Maidens

On December 23 I drove 34 miles at 5:15am to swim 2,000 yards with my race team. On this day, Dave Murray – guitarist for Iron Maiden turned 59. I am not a fan of British heavy metal music but I am of events that inspire a good headline. This one is truth indeed.

Here they are:

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My teammates extraordinaire (plus one not pictured, here) – the best of the best in heart, tenacity and inspired purpose. It’s never easy for me to get up in the 4’s as I call it… but getting to see my own personal Iron Maidens makes me smile each and every time no matter the ungodly hour.

And so it’s a year of such. Lucky me. Two long distance triathlons when I haven’t done even one.

2016, I  have you by the fitness horns.

Led by a Coach and an angel, our team will blaze a trail 140.6 miles long and make a difference in the lives of those effected by depression and anxiety. We are  finishing the work of a beautiful maiden whose iron will and determination to live her truth and help others remains tattooed on our purpose.

One of the jewels of our training can be a regular yoga and mindfulness practice. I eat this up as a yoga teacher and new triathlete would. I will be serving it by the bucket loads to my team mates. Mostly, I think they are up for it. Just maybe not in the 4’s.

Athletes, do you incorporate yoga in your training?

Yogi’s, do you also love a good swim, bike, or run?

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Let’s finish this.

This one’s big

I am learning some big, big things right now.  The biggest one comes at the end. 

Kids, work, husband, carpools, bill-paying, training, all the usual and some not so usual life-stuff has put a lot of space between posts.  My last one was Easter Weekend – one of the hardest of my life.  Here’s why:

My niece had fresh wings.

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My spiritually and emotionally war-torn, heartbroken sister and her precious family was trying to breathe thousands of miles away from me.  (Lord, don’t let me lose them too – bring them back from the abyss!))

My siblings and friends were pitifully trying to wrap our minds around our profound, knife-in-the-gut-loss.

I honestly do not remember EVER feeling so viscerally frozen with with sadness, grief and depression.  And then I remembered her mantra: Fight the good fight.  Finish the Race.  Keep the Faith.  I remembered how to breathe. 

So here are a few things that went down:

I did my first Sprint Triathlon with my beloved sister, mother to 5 including our angel girl.

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My husband and I became vegan-leaning vegetarians (We lost 25 pounds collectively – another post).

My family and I raced for Cameron at a brewery. 

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Along with my hero sister and brother in law and some terrific friends, I signed up for this:

Lord, help me.  I am crazy!  Happily nuts.  Off the deep end and training like a fool. 

And so last week we did our first open water swim.

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I was scared sh*tless.  Here’s what saved me:

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L’Oreal Silverstone Lipstick.  I never go anywhere without it.  I got nailed for applying said lipstick before the goggles went on.  My beloved sister laughed.  (Did you see that??:  She laughed at me)  Why would anyone polish their lips when they’d be submerged in river water for a couple thousand yards?  “You are ridiculous.”  She said.  She laughed. So here’s the lesson:

Never, ever swim in open water without your lipstick!

I have a feeling Cameron is laughing too.

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Good to Great Friday

It’s Good Friday.  Having grown up Catholic with 13 years of parochial school under my belt, I know how to have a good Good Friday.  Customs include:

  •  Fasting for the day
  • Adoration of the Cross
  • Worldwide silence at 3 PM (the noted time of death of Jesus)

As I have done for many of the past 40+ years, I will observe each.

This may be difficult as we are on Spring Break.  However, we are doing our best to keep the holy in Holy Week.

My son (right) is in Florida.  (Though some of have been called to be fishers of men, he is a fisher of fish.)

Normally a Holy Thursday tradition, My girls got their feet washed toes painted before we left for the Outer Banks of North Carolina (a heavenly and spiritual place) on Tuesday:

I held a beautiful baby boy – a joy Mary shares.

My daughter worked with clay and remembered an angel:

There she is in white:

I cried and remembered much.

I have not yet mentioned yoga or running.  I have done each many, many times this Holy Week.  With it, everything, including Good Friday went from Good to Great.  Always does. 

Happy Easter.

How’s your week been?

 

Yes, bartender I’ll have another!

Have you heard of Kombucha?  The Chinese call it the “Immortal Health Elixir?” It’s been around for more than 2,000 years and has a rich anecdotal history of health benefits like preventing and fighting cancer, arthritis, and other degenerative diseases.  (Source:  The Food Renegade)

I tried my first bottle this past week.

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The ingredient list includes ‘trace amounts of alcohol’.  No wonder I like it.

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Me (2nd from left) and my blogging buddies (which includes Beth from Shut Up and Run!, 2nd from right) are not afraid to leave a writing conference for libation nutrition.

What is Kombucha?

Kombucha is a drink made from sweetened tea that’s been fermented by a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast.  My bottle said it had trace amounts of alcohol in it.  SCORE!

I drank the brand on the right in the blueberry flavor.  My children think it tastes like PAAS Easter Egg dye. (Not that they’ve ever ingested it.)

 

The beautifully gilded shells that encase the eggs are not edible once decorated with this potion.  The imagined taste of PAAS matched the real taste of Kombucha for Kathleen, thus explaining her forced smile as I forced her t hold the bottle of Kombucha.

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Kathleen did not love it.

(She is not old enough to drink.  No wonder.)

Here are the health benefits of the “Immortal Health Elixir” – Komubcha.  They include (in less detail than the source):

 #1 — Detoxification

Detoxification produces healthy livers and aides cancer prevention.

#2 — Joint Care

Kombucha contains glucosamine, a strong preventive and treatment all forms of arthritis

#3 — Aids Digestion and Gut Health

Because it’s naturally fermented with a living colony of bacteria and yeast, Kombucha is a probiotic beverage. This has a myriad of benefits such as improved digestion, fighting candida (harmful yeast) overgrowth, mental clarity, and mood stability.

#4 — Immune Boosting

Kombucha is extraordinarily anti-oxidant rich, and you all know the benefits of anti-oxidants for boosting your immune system and energy level.

This and alcohol.  That’s good  great stuff.

I was compelled take a shot of Kombucha give Kombucha a shot, when an experienced vegetarian friend gave me and  my newly meatless American Sportsman husband (Digest that!!) advice on ways to sustain our new lifestyle.  We are No Meat Athletes (or we think we are!).  Collectively we have lost 16 pounds in one week.  For now I am happy to have my husband along for a ride I wanted to take for sometime.  Who knows where of if this vegan train stops?

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I don’t really care.  All we have is Now.  And that’s enough. Plus, I rode her for the first time today:

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Happiness.  And forever miss of my Cameron.  Fight.  Finish.  Faith.  That’s all I got.

Bartender, can I have another?

5 Favorite Things and My Weekend at an Ashram

The Ashram Experience – Yogaville

I am still in la-la land over my weekend with 10 powerhouse beauties at Yoga Camp – This term we coined to describe dorm life of the Om genre.  Complete with covert happy hours, coffee contraband and making fun of the die-hards we experienced:

“A little bit of weird and a whole lot of wonderful.” Jessica, Publisher of Natural Awakenings and Yoga Camper

Tucked away in rural Central Virginia, Yogaville is a retreat space for main-streamers and a monastic opportunity for folks desiring total withdrawal from ‘real life’.  The two mix in this austere setting seeking oneness with The One and to raise the loving vibration of the planet.  This is a little ‘woo-woo’ for many – our group included, educators, managers, mom’s, sports marketers, extreme adventure athletes, master gardeners, professional body builders, business owners, physical therapists, yoga teachers, writers, marketing specialists and publishers.  A mixed bag of real people from real walks of life.  The bond we hold is the light inside seeking spiritual expansion and a damn good time.  Each was attained in varying degrees.  Moment to moment.  We giggled and gasped for air at times (pranayama exercises anyone??) had gas (good Lord the food! – any more roughage and the yoga classes would NOT be silent.

Sinners and derelicts that we are, we escaped left willingly to find pizza and beer on night #2.  So fun.  I felt so Bad, in A Good Way.

Many programs can be found here.  Also renown facilitators and teachers from all over the world use the Yogaville space to hold their rich workshops.  Our program was for real ashram beginners.  Called the ‘Welcome Weekend’ the offerings showed the broad range of opportunities.  The result was kind of vanilla.  Unremarkable, except of course the head scratching concept of raising my family here.  Couldn’t do it.  Would I go back???  Perhaps for another more focused/intense program in a while after I’ve recovered from the little bit of weird and remember only the whole lot of wonderful.  I have not missed the little gnome that walks the halls at 5:00 AM ringing a bell and chanting:  Hari Om!  I prefer my own alarm clock.

The intention of the space is awesome and amazing and so worth a look.  Especially on a Groupon.  What a deal!!  $85 for all the vegan gas.  Yes!!

5 Favorite Things

1.  mag cover

This publication is an old love that has come back into my life with a vengeance.  Natural Awakenings is in 90 markets across the county – if you are lucky, in one near you.  It promotes a healthy life and healthy planet with real world opportunity to live as such with local resources within kickass and cool community and the most diverse and interesting advertising supporters around.  Check it out  or email me and I’ll send you a copy.

2.  Gaiam purse

My new purse from Gaiam.  I have never ordered from their catalog and I took a chance and purchased a cute dress, this purse and a hade made Fair Wage necklace all for 103.00 with free shipping.  This purse is perfect for my daily shenanigans.  Yoga, meetings, and all the jank.  I love the steel gray color too.

3. 

These ginger snaps.  I gave up sweets for Lent and I am  cheating with these.  Ginger is a spice, not sugar.  So there!!  Delicious, extra crunchy but not hard or gummy.  Love.

4. 

My yoga students and I love love love this fragrance both before and after class.  A little pricey ($30) but it lasts a very long time.  Your family will be nicer and more organized if you spray your home with it.

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5.  Back bending against the wall.  Spring is coming.  Can’t wait to unleash the beast in the spine.