Monday, June 23

Go W/ The Flow

Yesterday, my friends Macy and Lizel and I went to a really cool event called "Go W/ The Flow." It's a yoga event where this guy (Ben) plays music while this girl (Tori) guides us through a yoga sequence. I don't know exactly how long the yoga lasted for, but I would guess about an hour. An hour of strength, shaking, and willpower!

The event was at Jasper Winery and it could not have turned out to be a more beautiful evening. The yoga involved a lot of group touching at the end, which I personally found really moving and intimate! I left feeling so loose and sore and connected and happy. I watched the sun set over the vineyards with my friends while we drank wine. It was a really, really cool night.

One thing that really stuck out to me was Ben's explanation of "go with the flow." He joked that you never see a real jerk and say, "Oh yeah, that guy really goes with the flow!" So true.

Law school can be strange because there are sooo many Type-A people in one building. Sometimes I feel out of place because I'm more relaxed and informal. I don't understand the point of being competitive and mean-spirited, even if it means getting better grades. I'm the kind of person who's going to keep trying to be nice to you, hoping that you'll eventually be nice back. I try to go with the flow. Sometimes I forget (as we all do), but this is going to be my mantra from now on.

In other news, I apologize for Friday's blog post coming down! I found some problems I needed to fix and haven't been able to get around to it yet!

Because... I have a really, really busy week coming up! On Wednesday, I fly out with the attorneys in my office to Boston for the National Employment Lawyer's Association! It's from Wednesday to Saturday, so I'll be a really busy gal for the next few days. I want to get a lot done at work before I leave, and I was out all day at depositions!

Since I'll be gone, I don't plan on posting until at least next Monday! I might find time to squeeze a post in, but I don't plan on it. I plan on spending lots of time with really cool, smart, fun people and enjoying every second of it! :)

Are you doing anything fun this next week? What's your mantra? Can you think of a better combination than wine and yoga?

Wednesday, June 18

Life Lately {vol. 23}

I've been reading like a maniac lately, and I just finished this a few days ago! It was a really great, easy, thoughtful read and I'd definitely recommend it!

I got my hair cut and re-colored by Chelsea at Art of Life Aveda Salon! Not only is Chelsea adorable and perfect in every way, but the girl knows how to refresh some color and turn my dirty, low-maintenance hair into something beautiful!

I also checked out Power Life Yoga for the first time and got my butt kicked during my very first workout there! Wowza!

On Friday, J drove down from Iowa City and we went to Mixology at the Science Center! It's basically an event where they open the Science Center up to 21+ only and serve alcoholic drinks while all the "adults" have the run of the entire building. This mostly entailed playing with lots of kids toys. It was an EXCELLENT decision.

We are very, very cool. As you can see.

While shopping for wine, I felt compelled to take a picture of the Hawkeye Vodka. No one from law school understands what Hawkeye is except my good friend Erin, who's from South Dakota. She understands. You might as well buy rubbing alcohol, but this made up more of my college years than it probably should have, haha.

Centro is one of my favorite restaurants in Des Moines, and it never disappoints!

J ordered this vegetarian gnocchi, and boy did I wish I could have eaten his entire plate of it. WOW. Quickly becoming obsessed with gnocchi.

I got a really sweet card and box of cards from Pilot Pens!

What was intended to be a simple Snapchat turned into one of my favorite pictures of the two of us. I'm pretty sure this exemplifies us as people.

We went out to Oyama to celebrate my acceptance into the Daniel Webster Scholar program (and because Oyama is the best sushi ever), and the sushi chefs gave us another free appetizer! They're seriously the nicest people there!

Sometimes I think my boyfriend can't get any cuter, AND THEN HE DOES.

After dinner, we headed over to Petland to play with puppies. I hate Petland, but I love puppies, so I figure it's morally okay to play with them as long as I don't buy things there and contribute to puppy mill culture. Anyway, we found these two boxer puppies which I insisted we play with together. It was a really, really good choice.

They were seriously the most adorable puppies. They were brother and sister, very rambunctious, and to-die-for cute!

Also, this puppy exists. Like, it's a real, living being while being impossibly cuter than anything else on earth. It seriously looked like a stuffed animal.

It was really hard to leave J and the kitties and drive back to Des Moines on Sunday. I basically won't see J until we're about to fly to Hilton Head on the 4th! :(

Monday night, Des Moines experienced some pretty crummy weather. Enough that the tornado sirens went off - apparently they also go off when the wind is strong enough, which I guess is understandable but MAYBE get a different siren for that compared to a tornado, because I was so scared I was shaking. I haaaate tornadoes. :(((
Because I was so scared and wired from the adrenaline, I couldn't sleep... So I ended up reading a ton! I'm reading this AMAZING book on Catherine the Great right now, and I couldn't put it down!
Between the stress of storms and reading well into the night, I only got 4.5 hours of sleep Monday night. Starbucks wasn't just a luxury Tuesday morning - it was 100% necessary to keep me awake and productive!

 My mom got be this beautiful green dress the other day, and I finally had an excuse to wear my sweet "cat lady" pins! I love how the green of my dress and the red of my hair look together! :)

It's been a really long, interesting few weeks! Work's been going really well and I've been learning a lot. But to be honest, I did not miss the storms back in New Hampshire. It was nice to just be able to enjoy the thunderstorm without worrying that a tornado was going to form. 

I was sooo exhausted when I got home from work last night (again, that whole, 4.5 hours of sleep thing). I managed to read my book on Catherine the Great while I made dinner, but at 7:00 last night, I gave up and went to bed... and slept until 6:30 this morning. 11.5 hours of sleep, and I'm feeling pretty great today. I still need coffee, but it felt so good!

How has your week been? Do you hate tornadoes as much as I do?

Tuesday, June 17

12x12: Good Girls, Bad Girls

Good Girls, Bad Girls: The Enduring Lessons of Twelve Women of the Old Testament
T.J. Wray

I got this book a few years ago on the annual Religion department field trip to Minnesota! We went to Luther University, which happens to have a pretty sweet book store. I found this, was instantly hooked... and then never read it. Typical, M. Very typical.

What I Loved:
  • The question should really be, what didn't I love about this book. It definitely takes a more academic approach to the Old Testament, which was really comforting to me because I haven't taken a religion class since 2008. It felt like coming home to Simpson.
  • The author took context into account in every story, which was a really great way to read deeper into it. I learned a lot about how biblical women lived day-to-day, slightly deeper than what I heard about in college.
  • The chapters are separated by woman/character, and then by the actual text, some background, what the story can teach us, and lessons to be learned. It actually reads a lot like a sermon, especially when you get to the end of each chapter and the "lessons" we can learn by each woman. Some people might think the lessons were a little cheesy, but I liked them.
  • The author definitely took a different perspective with several "bad girls" than we usually see in biblical literature. For example, in Delilah's story (the one with Sampson), she writes a lot about how Sampson was basically this loose canon, Jewish terrorist, going around killing mass amounts of people whenever he felt like it. When Delilah asks him how to take away his strength, she never lies to him. He's the one who keeps lying to her about how to do it. While we all (probably) grew up seeing Sampson as this mythical hero, he's kind of a huge asshole. If we look at the story from Delilah's perspective - a single woman under pressure from the authorities to turn over a known terrorist who she doesn't even love, the story has a much different feel to it.
What I Wasn't Crazy About:
  • I wish it was longer and included New Testament women too.
Would I Recommend This Book?
  • Yes, yes, yes! I love it when literature makes me look at a well-known story from a different perspective, and this book does it in spades!
  • Now, if you have a more conservative, literal, fundamentalist take on the Bible, I don't know if you'll like this book. It's not that the writer is "liberal," but she definitely looks at that history of biblical women and keeps everything in historical context. She doesn't assume every story is factually true - to the contrary, she often mentions how these stories are written hundreds of years after the fact, and they all serve a political purpose or valuable lesson (like to warn against foreign wives and influences). This news isn't really news to me, but it may be contrary to some beliefs. Maybe that's a good reason to read it, anyway.
  • While this book wasn't life-changing or world-rocking for me, it was a really interesting book and I liked literally everything about it. I'd definitely recommend it!
Have you ever read this book? Would you recommend it?

Sunday, June 15

Review: Power Life Yoga

After my first class! Red-faced and sweatier than I've ever been ever.
I'm not really sure how to describe my health & fitness right now. I'm not really overweight, but I'm not athletic. I can maintain my weight, size, and shape by eating well and watching my portions (which I pretty much do naturally), so I can go months without working out and be fine.

But I think it's safe to say I'm out of shape.

By that, I mean that I'm not particularly muscular or strong or toned. And that's okay. I have a history of poor body image, and although I feel so happy with my body and soul right now, I've always wished that I was strong and toned. That's totally feasible. I feel good after a good workout.

I started looking for a gym almost two weeks ago. It turned out that the one I used to go in Urbandale has closed down. Then, on the way home from work one way, I spotted a place on High Street - Power Life Yoga. It had a studio that faced the street, so I could see people doing yoga while I drove past. I googled it that night. It turns out they did heated classes so that you get extra sweaty and work harder. They also had barre classes. I was hooked.

When I first went inside to scout the place on a Thursday, I talked to a very adorable, very small blonde girl at the front desk. She was super friendly and explained that they do a week free trial, so you can test the place out and see how you like it before you commit to paying for classes. The place smelled like incense and was pretty warm and muggy inside. I agreed to the free week and filled out some paperwork. I decided I was going to go to my first class the next morning - a "power sculpt" class at 5:45 in the morning. Ooof-ta!

Power Sculpt:
Friday morning, I got up bright and early at 5am so I could get ready, eat something, and make it to the studio on time. I arrived, put my stuff in a cubby in the gorgeous, clean women's locker room, and got my yoga mat and water bottle set up in the room with the windows. I didn't even think to bring a towel. No one was very chatty, but it was before 6am, so it was understandable. About 10 people showed up. I was not prepared for how hot that room would be... before we started working out, even.

I can easily say that it was the hardest workout I'd ever done. "Power Sculpt" is a mix between yoga, weight-lifting, and cardio. We started out with some yoga, then added in small weights (I used 3lb weights). Between exercises, we did some cardio bursts. Needless to say, it was intense, especially for 5:45am.

There was probably 30% of it that I couldn't physically do because either (1) my legs were literally giving out or (2) I was about to faint or throw up from the heat and exhaustion. I was not going to be the girl who threw up in class. Nope. So I listened to my body and stretched on the mat when I felt like I was going to be sick until I felt like I could join the class again. I pushed my body further than I thought I could, and I have never been sweatier in my life. 

After class, I showered off in the locker room and got ready for work. There was plenty of room and everything was so clean.

Power Barre (Express):
The next class I went to was the next day, on Saturday at 11:45am. It was pouring out rain, but despite that, J went running around Sherman Hill while I went to class. I got there super early, and set up in the smaller room while I waited for people to show up. The class was filled with all girls, and they were much more talkative. A ton of them were really nice and friendly, and no one seemed to look down on me for being a beginner.

The instructor of the class was amazing. Her name was Satine and she was a real-life dancer with this tiny little dancer body. Along with clearly knowing her stuff, she was so encouraging and happy! She constantly complimented us on being so tough and her attitude totally made the class. 

The barre class itself was great. It was an "express" class, which meant it was 45 minutes instead of an hours. Definitely one of my favorites. I made it through the entire class without stopping, and I was sore for days afterwards! The class had a great vibe to it and it was a great mix of yoga and barre/pilates moves. I got a really great workout, and it was a really great fit for my expertise and strength level.

Cardio Barre (Express):
I took Sunday off, and went to this class on Monday at 5:45pm. I was expecting it to be a lot like the Power Barre class, except with more cardio (therefore waaay harder for me). Like the other barre class, the ladies in the room were super friendly and we talked a lot before class. It was really fun to meet new people who were so open and friendly!

I made the mistake (once again) of forgetting my towel. All the classes I had taken so far were heated to about 90-95 degrees, but this one seemed especially hot. Afterwards, someone else asked the teacher if she had made it extra hot in there, and she said she'd actually lowered the temp to 90. It was just a muggy, hot day outside and made the room seem even hotter. Lucky us, haha. It turns out I had also chosen the hottest spot in the hot room. I pick 'em well.

The Cardio Barre class was definitely a challenge for me. About 3/4 of the way through the class, I started feeling light-headed and dizzy, so I stretched on the mat for the few minutes. Like with the Power Sculpt class, I tried to keep it even on both sides, but also tried to do minimized forms of the exercise if I felt like I was going to faint. I'm taking time out of my day to do this - I might as well finish, right? The instructor was less warm and fuzzy than Satine, but still really great. She definitely pushed us all, which was awesome. She thanked me afterwards for listening to my body instead of fainting, and fanned us all down during the cool-down.

Like the Power Sculpt, this class really pushed me, and I even though I couldn't finish every exercise, I really like that I was being encouraged to work past my comfort level.

Power Yoga 1:
This was the last class I took (do to some scheduling conflicts later in the week), which I did on Tuesday. It was right after work at 4:30pm. This was easily the least challenging class I took. It's the lowest level yoga class they offer, and it's unheated. I thought I might as well experience the "basic" class before I decided to move on to the harder yoga classes!

The instructor for the class was a sub, and she was very sweet and kind. She helped adjust my form in a few poses. Most of the time, I really hate when strangers touch me, but I don't know what it is about yoga: I can't get enough of people's touch during yoga. She helped adjust my pose, helped me sink deeper into another one by pressing on my lower back, and gave everyone in the class little neck rubs during our cool-down. Freaking heavenly.

Most of the poses were very basic, but I did try and do crow for the first time! I think it's safe to say it was a disaster, haha. The good news is, I now want to learn to do crow SO. BADLY.

I definitely wasn't as sore afterwards as I was with the other classes. Compared to the others, it was much more relaxing and soothing, but hey - it was yoga. It's kinda supposed to be, haha.

Ultimate Impressions:

  • There are a lot of classes at different experience levels, which is great! In addition to the ones I mentioned, they also have Power 1.5 and Power 2 yoga and kids classes!
  • The instructors have all been non-judgmental and very understanding.
  • Anything with "cardio" or "sculpt" in the name is going to be very hard.
  • You will sweat like you never have before.
  • Definitely bring a towel and a water.
  • The people who attend classes are mostly very friendly, especially the barre classes.
  • Instructors each have their own style and will teach in different ways. Even similar classes will be completely different depending on who teaches it.
  • The facility smells great and is very clean.
  • The showers are beautifully clean - a very important point for me.
  • I have heard from a friend that the area downtown is a little rough, and that you should always lock your car and keep your purse safe during class (if you wouldn't already).
  • It's pricey to get a pass, but students get a discount.
  • They offer a free Power Yoga 1 class on Saturdays at 11:30am.
I haven't decided which package I'm going to get, but I think it's safe to say I will be attending classes a few times a week at Power Life Yoga! It has a great vibe to it and I haven't gotten workouts like that EVER in my life. 

I keep joking with J that I'm going to be ripped at the end of this summer. I'm joking, but I'm also not if I keep doing this. After 4 classes, I could feel my body firming up and myself getting stronger. It was a great feeling! And I hope I can keep it up for the rest of the summer. :)

Have you ever been to Power Life Yoga? Do you take barre classes? Which class sounds the most interesting to you?

Wednesday, June 11

Cemetery Drive

Winter is coming...

This past weekend, J and I decided to head to this huge cemetary right on the outskirts of Des Moines. I grew up driving past it almost every time we headed to the city. I remember holding my breath as we went by... I guess so ghosts couldn't get you?

I'm by no means a morbid or dark person, but I suggested we check it out. We had a few hours until dinner, and it was shaping up to be a pretty nice day outside, so we decided to walk around. Again, I'm not usually up for talks about death or darkness, but it was legitimately beautiful and I had been wanting to go... Looking back, it doesn't seem any more strange that exploring the cemeteries in Savannah, which I've done several times.

J, being the handsome troll he is, found a headstone with his last name on it almost immediately. And then another one. And another one. He insisted we take a picture by each one, which turned out to be hilarious. He was extremely picky and careful about where we were stepping so that we weren't disrespectful.

In front of one of the last graves we saw, there were eggplants, a full bottle of wine, and candles. Obviously we had no iea what it meant, so J googled it later. Turns out those are pretty token voodoo objects to place in front of graves to gain favor from the dead or to show respect to a voodoo goddess. I had no idea voodoo was being actively practiced here, but I guess it's not that surprising. Iowa's a pretty diverse place, given that it's in the middle of the Midwest.

For being darker than my usual activities, I actually had a great time at the cemetery. It was really cool to see the history - the oldest gravestones, where you could barely read the words, to the "fashionable" gravestones, to the mausoleums. There were a bunch that were shaped like tree trunks, which I recently found out was because they were part of an organization called "Woodmen of the World." There were ones with Freemason symbols on them too!

I especially loved looking at the names. I discovered that I love the names "Ida" and "Fannie" (no surprise to my fellow Pi Phi's out there). Old lady names are my favorite, apparently. It was heartbreaking to see the baby tombs, as well as how many kids are burried out there. Thank God for modern medicine, right?

What are strange places you love to explore? Would you feel comfortable walking around a cemetery?