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How Israel Saved My Life

27 Jan

There are so many reasons that I shouldn’t have gone Israel this summer. Heck, by the time the trip came around, I was 10 days past the age cut-off! Travelling with complete strangers, without the security blanket of familiarity, put me out of my comfort level, to say the least. At JFK, I constantly called E, sobbing, asking him to let me come home. I was grateful for the opportunity, but so unsure of why I had it.

I’ve been home for almost 6 months, and it’s taken me this long to fully absorb the situation, to understand the why’s instead of the how’s. Long story short? It was meant to be.

In ten days, I saw so much of the country, and was constantly on the move. I learned to make a tour bus feel like home, to have almost 30 strangers feel like family.

busdawnjeepFriends3medfalafel

I was surrounded by art, mysticism and amazing falafel in Safed; rode a camel in the middle of the desert. I prayed at the Western Wall, sat in the same place on Mount Masada where I was Bat Mitzvah’d. I had (a vegetarian!) dinner in a Bedouin tent and swam in the Mediterranean. I cried at Yad Vashem, and  laughed loud and long, covered in mud, and floated in the Dead Sea.

ArtisrColony

 

Camel

 

 

DeadSea

 

 

Bedouin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I hiked, swam, rode and rafted; sometimes in the front, and others in the back. Not once was I alone, physically, emotionally or spiritually. When I struggled, there was someone to carry me through, and at times, I was that person for others. Not once did I count a calorie. Not once was I ashamed of my arms, stretch marks or thighs. Not once did I hold back from a conversation or activity out of fear  or feelings of not being good enough. Not once was I ever not good enough.

Pictures may say thousands of words, and for the first time in a very long time, they’re written all over my face. See that smile? The one in every picture? 100% genuine, my friends.

I went to Israel, looking for a free trip, and I ended up taking quite the journey. At some point, at some time, that nagging little voice inside my soul went silent, as if the Universe was whispering, “shhhhhhhh”.

Don’t get me wrong, I still struggle. It’s work to get through the day, and it takes prioritizing, evaluating and learning to step back in order to do it. The difference between before Israel and after Israel? I want to make it work. I want to grow, to breathe, to be better. I want to be the kind of person that others look up to, and be involved in my community. I want to be a positive force, and be a wife, sister, daughter and aunt that my family is not only proud of, but likes and respects. It’s not about the next 10 pounds or 5 years, even though I’m still aiming for those. Some days might be awful, and some may be filled with light and laughter. And that’s okay. It’s okay to have good days and bad, and even ones that are just okay. I’m not making excuses or giving up; I’m allowing myself to feel, and to be human. Now that I’ve tasted happiness, I’m not willing to give up the craving.

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Eretz Yisrael

20 Jun

I’m sitting at the airport, waiting to board my flight to Washington, then JFK, where I’ll meet up with 40 strangers, head to Madrid, and eventually Tel Aviv.

No laptop, no SparkPeople, no tracking, and worst of all, no E. I’m struggling with being out of my element, and doing it on my own. The day we became husband and wife, I promised Ev that I wouldn’t leave him again, and now here I am. It’s silly, I know, and the next 10 days will fly by, but I feel like a bad wife regardless.

I’m excited to try all these crazy new things, like hiking Mt. Masada, making pita with the Bedouins, and riding various animals (camels, donkeys and the like). I’m excited to see my cousin Amanda and her husband Aaron, and maybe meet up with my cousin Lois and her family. I’m looking forward to meeting new people in the Holy Land, and seeing it with open eyes.

I just wish I was doing it with E.

I have some guest posts lined up for y’all, so enjoy them – I’ll see you in 2 weeks!

–C

St. Louis and Ethical Eating

16 Apr

This past weekend, I was in St. Louis to help celebrate my friend Amanda’s wedding, which was a blast, but one of the harder ones of the last year. I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of options for me as an ethical flexitarian, but decided in advance to make the best of it. I wanted control over my food choices and my budget, so I made sure to bring along some corn thins, a packet of Justin’s honey peanut butter, a couple of Luna protein bars and some oatmeal, figuring I’d at least have breakfasts and lunches covered. I ate one of the protein bars on the way there, and decided to have oatmeal for lunch. When I arrived at the hotel, I quickly discovered that there was no coffee maker or microwave, and the hot water was permanently set to around 80 degrees – hot enough for showers, but not for oatmeal. Strike one.

I ended up heading to a Walgreens with Amanda’s mom and aunt to pick up some snacks for her son, and bought some dried fruit, a spicy V8 and a cheese stick. Not the best options, but having landed at 9:30 am and it being almost 3 pm, I was starving!

Then the rehearsal dinner came around – let me preface this by saying that I in no way ask, demand or expect to always have my food choices catered to – and it was really hard. Pizza and Applebee’s appetizers were served, and I realized that I had three choices: eat in a manner that would go against my ethics, eat crap that would make me feel bad both mentally and physically, or just not eat. Option 3 just wasn’t going to happen. Option 1 meant that I could eat chicken breast and the beef out of some burgers, and make do, but the thought of it literally made me gag. Option 2 meant eating pizza and mozzarella sticks, with a few sticks of celery on the side.  Guess what I went with? Option 2. I decided that eating meat was just as ridiculous a decision for me as not eating at all, and couldn’t bring myself to do it. So I ate the celery (which quickly ran out), the pizza and the mozzarella sticks. I’m not proud of it, nor am I proud of how much of it I ate. It was, however, the best choice at the time – I’m glad I followed my gut. Plus, I knew that I’d be doing C25K the next morning, which would at least negate a slice of pizza 🙂

I got up bright and early the next morning to “run”, and guys, it was rough. Between the fried foods and the dehydration issues from the night before, I was lagging, and every interval was painful. 15 minutes and that was it. I called it quits, and headed back to the hotel. I noticed there was a Starbucks in the hotel lobby, so I grabbed an iced coffee and a cup of hot water and headed upstairs for some oatmeal, and it was glorious! The rest of the day went pretty well; went to the salon with the rest of the bridal party to get our hair done, had lunch with the bride, groom and their families (they had egg whites and fruit, thank G-D!), and helped Amanda get ready. The wedding was beautiful and went off without a hitch, and then it was party time!

The reception turned out to be even tougher than the rehearsal, and my dinner consisted of cheese, crackers and fruit. Even though I know I did the right thing, it was really hard watching everyone enjoy the delicious meal, and choosing not to partake in it – I’m starting to understand how tough it can be for E as a vegetarian. I made a choice on what I choose to eat and how I choose to spend my dollar, and it’s not always going to be easy, and this weekend was a great way to learn that lesson. By the end of the night, I’d devoured two pieces of wedding cake – tasted awesome, felt horrible. I’ve been hearing about this cake for months, and wanted to try both flavours. I usually split with E, but since he wasn’t there, I figured I could half of each slice. It’s times like this when I forget about ED, and I was quickly reminded. Emotion and stress overtook, and it was like I had no control over my fork or the hand that guided it, and it sucked. It sucked real hard. It was bad, but it could’ve been much worse, and I’m thankful that I was able to stop myself before I had a full-out binge.

The next day, everything was good again – headed to the airport, hopped on a couple of planes, ate some tofu and veg at CVG which was very necessary, reconnected with E, and all was well with the world.

Long story short: had a great time and was glad to be there, but I’m glad it’s over!

Picture Time:

Room Tour!
The entryway

The bathroom –
modern, clean and see the shower behind me? 
Amazing!
My blogging station/classroom,
thwarted by the $9.95 daily internet fee

4 pairs of shoes for 2 days – 
I obviously like to be prepared for anything!

Rehearsal dinner-ready
The bed

The beautiful view from my room

Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals and the ceremony location

Meet Me in St. Louis

9 Apr

Happy Friday!

I’m writing this en-route to St. Louis, where I’ll be playing bridesmaid for the first time for my dear friend Amanda. The wedding’s taking place at Busch Stadium, home of the Cardinals – so excited!

Started the day off with an early morning wake-up call, heading off to Huntington Tri-State Airport, with a quick coffee stop along the way. I don’t know who was more in need of the have – me or E!

The leg to Cincinnati was uneventful, except for two things: the Luna Chocolate Cherry Almond protein bar I munched on, and this, the most awkward thing I’ve ever posted online.

No seat belt extenders for this gal! Despite it being unflattering to the mac, pictures like this remind me how far I’ve come. Not only can I fit comfortably in the seats, but folks chat me up when I sit down next to them instead of running away in horror. It’s all about the little things, folks!

I was still hungry when I landed in Cinci, so I grabbed a quick breakfast at Moe’s Bar & Grill. Sitting there and listening to Celine Dion, I felt like I’d been teleported back home to La Belle Province. It was a nice reminder of home.

I ordered a cheese-less veggie omelet that was stuffed with roasted red pepper, broccoli, onions and tomatoes, with sides of dry rye toast, home fries and black coffee. I had 2/3 of the egg, all the veg, half of the potatoes and 1 slice of toast with strawberry jam. It hit the spot!

Now I’m listening to Green Day, and enjoying a Fresca and staring down some Biscoff that I intend to save for tomorrow’s oatmeal – I feel like Kath!

I have some posts I’m working on which will hopefully get uploaded this weekend. Have a great weekend, and enjoy your Fist Bump Friday!

remember me?

29 Oct

Hello lovelies – you have no idea how much I’ve missed you!
Thank you to everyone for all of your support and kind words after the mini-tri; it’s meant everything to me!
Tons has happened since my last post –

I tried my first macaron – amazing!

Also found my BFF from back home – say hi, Tim!

It’s still a little awkward for us to meet up 900 miles from home, so we don’t see each other much.

E and I had a garden, after all. We ended up with a mass of herbs, some jalapenos, and a few tomatoes. We also had raspberries, but we let the bees keep most of them.


We got to get a guard ‘dog’ to keep our veggies safe. Meet Porter.

Celebrations!

The big 2-6 and the big sangria.

Final game of the Stanley Cup at Pittsburgh’s finest


giving in to my deepest, darkest secret – being a housewife!

Trying out some goodies…


and some not-so-goodies….excuse the awkwardness that apparently is my hand…

plus, who could forget hanging out with E’s dream gal and a few of her co-workers?


A lot’s changed, guys – some for better, some…not so much.

Finally got my permanent residency, which means that I’m now employed and in school. I’ve enrolled in a local community college to up my GPA to get into the program of my choice in a year or so at the university level, which may or may not be dietetics. I’ve also figured out the bus system, which means that my car’s still staring at me from outside the house, wondering why I can’t man up and drive already. Me too, car, me too…

I went home in September for the first time in over a year. It was awesome to see my peeps, but I’m bummed that I couldn’t see everyone. Unfortunately, I came back home less than a month later – my best friend lost her dad. It was one of the most tragic losses I’ve ever experienced, and being there was a really tough thing to do. I also learned that one of my cousins is in the last stages of cancer. Not a happy month over here, but I’m hoping that from now on, every time I go home, it’ll be for a happy occasion.

So, what have I been eating? Everything! Between the stresses of a so-called new life, traveling, family issues and more, I’ve done the opposite of “eat less, do more”. Thankfully, I haven’t gained a pound (weird, right?), but I can definitely feel the difference. I’m grouchy, lethargic, and feel downright pudgy! I just plain feel unhealthy, no matter what I eat. It’s been a wake-up call, my ah-ha moment. I always thought when I was really obese that I might’ve been fat, but that I was healthy. Well, guys, I wasn’t healthy at 294 lbs. last December, and I’m not healthy at 245 lbs. now. Am I a size 18 instead of a size 24? Yeah. Is that healthy? For me, not so much. Sometimes, life is just about what feels good, and being this big just doesn’t feel right. I’ve started to journal again, and just make better choices. I’m also starting to get back in the gym, slowly but surely, and it’s making a big difference. I just plain feel better – about myself, e, the world. It’s funny, a year ago, I would’ve been thrilled to feel this good, and now, it’s not good enough. I couldn’t miss something I didn’t have, but now that I’ve had a taste of this kind of life, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

What’s been your ah-ha! moment in life?