06 Jan

2015 Trade-Offs

The Best is Yet to Come

 

It’s 2015 and I haven’t set any resolutions for the new year.

There are a lot of things that I should do more of and a lot of things that I should do less of.

I should read more non-fiction and less fiction.
I should eat more salads and less cookies.
I should meditate more and use facebook less.
I should donate more often and shop less often.
I should floss my teeth more and eat candy less.
I should give more hugs and less criticisms.
I should keep a gratitude journal.
I should use conditioner.
I should slow down.
I should, should, should.

But these are all things that I know already before I make a choice.

Sometimes I regret my choices– like when I have to spend 20 minutes combing tangles out of my hair because I chose not to use conditioner– but mostly I can live with them and, would I do them again? Of course.

Life is about little trade-offs. It’s about giving in to guilty pleasures that bring you joy but only up until the trade-off point, the tipping point where they start to make you feel just plain guilty. No pleasure.
Like the point somewhere between mmmm, cookie dough! and oh god, why did I eat all that cookie dough? Or the point where alone time turns into neglected relationships. Or the balance between interested collector and hoarder.

Life is about finding that point where the least amount of guilty pleasure that can keep you happy without over indulging. The key being “keep you happy”.

Doing a juice cleanse and 7 days a week of boot camp, or giving up sugar for the rest of my life, or restricting my reading material to biographies of famous political figures, or whatever the hell else people resolve to do around this time of year will not keep me happy.

I don’t want to be a “new me”. I don’t want a fresh start. I want to embrace all those bad choices I’ve made and know I can make them just a little better next time if I want to.
I want to optimize my happiness with minimal indulgence

So, no, I’m not making resolutions. I’m making trade-offs.

31 Dec

Links for a New Year’s Day

Happy New Year

13 Food Trend Predictions for 2015 – Bon Appetit

Baccalà is old (yet tasty) news for this Furlan girl.
What is Nitro Coffee and where can I get some?
Please don’t put drugs in my food, kthanksbye.

The 40 Funniest Tweets of 2014 – The Telegraph

With such gems as: Wear only a towel around your waist and you can get into just about anywhere if you just repeat “so sorry so sorry” and keep moving forward.

20 Best Lists of 2014 – Rolling Stone

Sports’s Illustrated’s Fittest 50 is the most interesting on this list, though I do question their scoring model.

Longform Best of 2014 – Longform

Some great long read journalism from around the web that will keep you intrigued. Of course I haven’t read them all yet. Come back here and tell me your favourite.

2014 Search Trends – Google

I found the day-to-day life searches to be most interesting. Apparently,
this year we searched for ‘recipes’ less and ‘restaurant’ significantly more. If we do cook, we can’t get enough of pancakes, our top global recipe search in 2014.

Pancakes? Really?

The Year of Outrage – Slate

An interactive chart of a different thing that sparked outrage for every day of 2014. Some were absurd and some were legitimately outrageous.

Destinations to Watch in 2015 – CN Traveller

Toronto and Detroit both make the list. Nice.

31 Dec

A 2014 Recap

New Year’s Eve is here and I find it to be the greatest time to look back on all the awesome things that I did throughout the year. That’s easy for me because, frankly, I’ve had a pretty awesome year.

That’s not to say I haven’t had my share of horrible, unbearable, I-want-to-forget-it-ever-happened kind of years. I’ve had my share of years where the best thing about them is the fact that I won’t have to relive them again. But from those tough years I discovered that I have this intense resiliency inside me keeping me pulled together when things are terrible. I somehow manage to get up, dust myself off, and say that things could always be worse, that these experiences only prove to make me more formidable, not weaker.

I’m optimistic about 2015. I have a good feeling about it. And even if it turns out to be one of those terrible years then at least I know that I’ll come out the other end stronger.

I don’t know how I suddenly spun having a thumbs-up, totally awesome, look-at-me-go! year into a tale of resilience in the face of adversity but there you have it. And before I let this all get too heavy, here is the recap of my thumbs-up, totally awesome, look-at-me-go! year in 2014.

My 2014 Favourite Posts

Most of my posts this year were content curated by me and posted on my (mostly) weekly Links for a Sunday Morning, which have been popular.

As for original content, these are just a few of my favourite posts that I wrote this year for their content or humour or both.

Getting Caught up in the Visuals

Your friendly reminder to stop thinking of yoga as a sport for lithe white female contortionists. “This idea needs push back.

Things I Learned from 30 Days of Backbends

With such wisdom as: “Some days you just shouldn’t do a backbend”.

Fotor0402211530_thumb.png

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Beer Store

Note to self, make more frequent trips so as not to look like an alcoholic.

Hollaback Street Harassment Video

The number of men who have approached me sympathetically after I posted this was astonishing. Thank you.

My Favourite Recipes

Two of my favourite dishes that I posted about this year.

Mustard Sole with Lentils

Perfectly balancing protein, carbs, and fat this recipe is delicious (thank you, butter) and so easy that it regularly pops up on my weekly menu.

Mustard-Sole-with-Lentils-from-Downton-Abbey-Cookbook-SamanthaMenzies.com_thumb.jpg

Swedish Tea Ring

The cinnamon bun, perfected. Thank you, Sweden. (Or, I should say, tack Sverige)

Swedish-Tea-Ring-4_thumb.jpg

Accomplishments

Things that I happened to achieve in 2014. Some were goals, some were happenstance, and some were inevitable.

I turned 29 and lived to tell the tale.
I meditated with Zen Buddhist monks.
I fed a monkey.
I bench pressed my body weight.
I got naked in front of other women without feeling totally ashamed.
I completed Prenatal Yoga teacher training.
I was Teacher of the Month at Breathe Pilates & Fitness Studio.
I landed myself in Yoga Journal.
I also landed myself in The Windsor Star.

20 Dec

Links for a Sunday Morning

Andrew Luck: The NFL’s Most Perplexing Trash Talker – WSJ

Luck has become famous for congratulating—sincerely and enthusiastically—any player to hit him hard. Any sack is met with a hearty congratulations, such as ”great job” or “what a hit!”

What is Fatigue? – The New Yorker

Your limit is probably never truly reached. Fatigue is simply a balance between effort and motivation, and that the decision to stop is a conscious choice rather than a mechanical failure.

I’m 40. I Don’t Want to Be a Mom. Now What? – NY Mag

“Breaking up with motherhood is more complicated than simply not wanting children. It is breaking up with our perceived use-value. It is looking at what we as single, childless women, unfettered by traditional roles, want to offer the world.”

Tea Rituals Around the World – CN Traveller

A cup of tea isn’t merely a drink: It’s the history of the world itself.

The Kids are Alright – The Atlantic

Teens are using less drugs and alcohol than before, even though they’re less likely to think the substances are harmful.

Why This Company Sent Poop to 30,000 People for Black Friday – Time

But how did the makers of Cards Against Humanity get the poop in the box? “Well, we didn’t do anything that anyone else couldn’t have done,” Temkins says. “We went on Google and were like, ‘Can you buy bullshit? Can you sell bullshit?’”

Young weightlifters breaking stereotypes – Metro News

“It has nothing to do with strength. It’s timing, rhythm and flexibility. It’s how you move the weight and line it up on your bones.”

Travelling to School Shouldn’t be this Difficult or Dangerous for Children – Quartz

According to a June report from UNESCO, 57 million children aren’t going to school—or 11% of all children of primary school age. Almost a quarter of those children had attended school but dropped out. One reason is because the journeys are too long, difficult or even dangerous.

We make exercise way too complicated. Here’s how to get it right. – Vox

Incredibly, with all the science that has been done on how to exercise, what we know about what works for fitness is almost embarrassingly simple — yet we have invented myriad ways to cloud, over-complicate, and obscure these basic, common-sense truths.

17 Dec

Holiday Fun

I tend to anxiously anticipate Christmas, but this year it’s flying at me at an alarming rate. I don’t even feel in the Christmas spirit yet even though I’ve finished my shopping, gone to Christmas parties, and put up a tree. And even though I’ve been extra festive this year by doing Christmas-y things like seeing the Nutcracker and going to Holiday Nights.

The Nutcracker

Nutcracker BalletMe and Victoria

My sister and I went to see The Nutcracker at the Detroit Opera House a few weeks ago. It was the first time at the ballet for both of us, and The Nutcracker seemed to be the most natural foray into the world of ballet.

Nutcrakcer

The costumes were gorgeous, the scenery was well done, and the dancing was impressive. Victoria and I marvelled at how anyone could possibly dance right on their toes and spent time the next day Googling pointe shoes and how they work.

Needless to say I’m keeping my eyes peeled for the next ballet that rolls into town.

Holiday Nights

This past weekend Matt and I and three other couples went to Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn for the Holiday Nights event which runs every year.

Holiday Nights

Greenfield Village is a collection of authentic homes, workshops, cabins, and other buildings from the 1600s to 1800s. In December the village is open at night for Christmas themed festivities in an event that sells out every night.

Holiday Nights

They line the paths with candle lanterns, and there are actors in period costume throughout the village including Santa and live reindeer (for those who thought reindeer were fantasy, they do exist).

There are special Christmas themed exhibits, displays, and demonstrations.

There are carriage rides and Model-T rides and a small ice skating rink.

Holiday Nights

Live carolers, brass bands, and mummers provide entertainment. When you get peckish there are stews (delicious!) and hot roasted sandwiches and chestnuts and cocoa and cider available too.

Holiday Nights

The night wraps up with a Fireworks Finale after which the whole place swiftly shuts down (and I mean swift) and you can’t get a beer anywhere. We tried.

I hadn’t been to the Village before (just to The Henry Ford Museum) but I’d like to go back sometime when it’s less busy so I can spend more time looking at the historic buildings.


You’d think that by partaking in such festive activities, I’d be fully ready for the holidays next week, but still I’m not quite there. I have presents to wrap and cookies to bake and a Christmas Eve menu to put together.

I am pleased to say that I have nothing to do all day on Christmas Day until dinner and Boxing Day will be completely free. That’s two whole days of chilling and doing absolutely nothing. Sounds great in theory, but can I handle such idleness? We’ll see in a mere week.

14 Dec

Links for a Sunday Morning

Second Cup Coffee Co. Gets and Overhaul – BlogTO

Here in Canada, Second Cup had been seeing financial losses for some time, and last February took on Alix Box, who held senior positions at Starbucks and Holt Renfrew, as new president and CEO. She’s been aggressively trying to bring new life to the company ever since; if this new location’s redesign is successful, all the franchises will see a revamp along these lines.

Why do Brits say Maths and Americans say Math? – Slate

Both versions are correct, if complicated by the fact that while mathematics sounds plural, it may actually be singular.

Relief for Tight Hamstrings – Yoga International

Back pain is not the only negative result of tight hamstrings. Many people suffer chronic pain deep in the buttocks, which actually arises from this tension in the upper hamstrings.

YOGA ON THE BIKE – Mantra Magazine

Cycling is a mindful mode of transportation. As you pedal, all senses are engaged in moving meditation.

How Successful People Stay Calm – LinkedIn

The ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance.

How to Stay Grounded for the Holidays With Yoga – US News

If you’re stuck in holiday traffic or a conversation gets heated, pause and deepen your breath. Use the yoga-breathing technique of inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose and deliberately deepening your breath. This exercise trains your mind to respond rather than to panic or react negatively.

 

10 Dec

All I Want for Christmas 2014

All I Want for Christmas 2014

My 2014 Christmas Wish List:

Left to right, top to bottom

1) Yoga Mat Carrier- I loosely carry around my yoga mat like a chump. I have a Manduka black mat that weighs about the same as a toddler, so it’d be nice if I could carry it on my back from time to time. I don’t really need a mat carrier since I tend to not carry my mat any farther than the distance between my parking space and the studio door, but at least this will keep my mat from unraveling in the back seat of my car. (Go Play 2.0, Manduka, $32)

2) Compass - An epic hiking adventure just may be in the works this year and it requires a compass. I need to practice my compass and topographical map reading skills that I haven’t used since I was 14. (SUUNTO M?3DL NH LEADER BASEPLATE COMPASS, MEC, $28)

3) Cardigans – My life philosophy is that you can never have too many cardigans, or cookies. Chalk it up to the cubicle farm life where the temperature switches from sweltering to frigid faster than you can say “At the end of the day, it is what it is.” (Any cardi will do, but I’m partial to v-necks with buttons like this AEO Boyfriend Cardigan, American Eagle, $34)

4) Athleta Stripe Fast Track Tank – I tried this on months and months ago and I regret not shelling out the $50 to buy it. It fit amazingly. It was perfectly stretchy without being clingy, light, and comfortable. It doesn’t look like they carry my size any more but I need to keep an eye out for a similar tank and snatch it up. (Stripe Fast Track Tank, Athleta, $49)

5) Wool Base Layer Top - I could use a mid-weight base layer for the aforementioned future hiking adventure. I like merino wool the best because it’s warm and dries fast. I find good wool stuff is worth shelling out big bucks. (Oasis Long Sleeve Half Zip Hood, Icebreaker, $130)

6) Sweat Pants – Because I always dress to impress and sweat pants always impress. . . actually I just need something warm to put on over my yoga pants in the winter. (Pocket Original Sweatpant, Roots, $68)

7) AE Artist Jeans – I only wear American Eagle Artist Jeans. I currently have two pairs with holes in the crotch. I have nothing against other companies or jeans, but constantly re-purchasing a style that I know looks good means less shopping, and I hate shopping. You’d think I’d look for a new brand that’s a little more durable since my thunder thighs consistently burn holes in the groin area but, again, that means more shopping. (AE Artist Jean, American Eagle, $51)

8) Tea for One – I drink tea on my own and preferably with biscuits whilst watching British television. Making an entire pot just means it goes cold or, even worse, I drink it completely and spend the next hours making repeated bathroom trips. A teapot for 8 to 16 ounces would be perfect. (Brown Betty Teapot – 2 Cup, English Tea Store, $32)

9) Moccasins – I wasn’t going to put them on my list this year but I still don’t own any and I still would like to. I guess I’ll continue to put them on my list every single year until I get them.

What do YOU want for Christmas this year? Maybe I’ll buy it for you!*

*Under no circumstances am I obliged to buy you anything for Christmas.

07 Dec

Links for a Sunday Morning

If Eric Garner Were White – The Atlantic

His death would be a Tea Party crusade. Think about it. The police hassled Garner because he had a history of selling untaxed cigarettes. It’s the kind of big-government intrusion that drives Tea Partiers nuts.

The Case Against Positive Thinking – Wall Street Journal

Positive expectations are fine, and positive fantasies are too when you have no real control over whether something happens. But when it comes to something you want to achieve, and fulfilling these wishes, positive fantasies are problematic because they relax you. They don’t provide the energy and effort necessary to help you in your goals, because you feel that you have already attained the positive future.  They are dangerous when you actually want to achieve that future.

The Messed-Up Ways People Talk About Shia LaBeouf’s Rape – The Atlantic

Comments that LaBeouf’s claims are “absolute baloney” echo the all-too-frequent refrains aimed at female and male sexual assault victims alike who are told their rapes aren’t real.

The Daily Routines of Famous Creative People – Podio

I never could have done what I have done without the habits of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination to concentrate myself on one subject at a time. – CHARLES DICKENS

Prescribing Vegetables, Not Pills – NY Times

Doctors provide families in the FVRx program with a “prescription” to eat fruits and vegetables. The families also are given nutritional education, recipes and, most important of all, so-called Health Bucks that are redeemable for produce at a local farmers’ market.

How to Really Understand White Privilege – Quartz

Here’s our real-world take on the concept of privilege, which turns out to not be so simple after all.

Quiz: What Style of Yoga Is Best for You? – Greatist

Ashtanga, Bikram, Hatha, Iyengar, Vinyasa, Yin. What are they all about?

Exercising but Gaining Weight – NY Times

Scientists have had little understanding, however, of why exercise helps some people but not others to shed pounds or whether there might be early indications of how people will respond to an exercise routine.

A Nationwide Conversation About Sexual Assault Has Begun. Finally. – Maclean’s

Too many women and men do not report sexual assault to police because they think it will be too painful to relieve the experience, their motives will be questioned, or their efforts will come to naught. We need to change the attitudes, beliefs and procedures that surround sexual assault to ensure each and every case is properly reported, investigated and dealt with appropriately by the legal system. But, most important, we need to ensure sexual assault is no longer considered everyday behaviour in Canadian society.

Is Meat Unhealthy: Part III – Whole Health Source

There is a lot of evidence we can bring to bear on this question, and not all of it is consistent.  This inconsistency is why we see different groups interpreting the research in opposite ways.
. . .So, does eating meat increase cardiovascular risk?  Yes!  And no!

02 Dec

Teacher of the Month

This is it. I no longer teach at Lifestyle. I’m very sad and a little lost as to spend my evenings now. I pretty much ran around like a chicken with my head cut off during the last few months working, weightlifting, cooking, eating, planning classes, teaching, sleeping, and repeating. Now I have two less classes and I feel like I don’t know how I’ll fill that time.

One way is by turning my focus to the other classes that I teach, especially at Breathe Pilates & Fitness Studio which is where I am teaching 4 classes per week. It is also where I have recently been nominated as Teacher of the Month!

Here’s the bio that’s gone up on the studio’s facebook wall and on the literal wall in the studio.

BIO - Samantha Menzies

I’m so excited that I’ve been featured. It’s been great to see my classes at Breathe growing in number and the students growing in strength.

If you’re interested in practicing with me, check out my schedule on my yoga page.

30 Nov

Links for a Sunday Morning

I Don’t Have Babies But I’m Obsessed With Baby Names – The Atlantic

Unlike the majority of words—which possess, more or less, one definition—names are constantly changing with the era, stockpiling references, nuance, and weightiness in society’s mental bunker.

This is Your Body on Caffeine – Experience Life

Infographic: Here’s what happens when you down a caffeinated drink and your body gets hit with the jolt.

Achieving a Headstand in Yoga – News Press

“My toes didn’t leave the ground. My shoulders and upper back were on fire, and I was stuck in headstand prep.”

Americans ruined yoga for the rest of the world – Quartz

Yoga has been the place where the super-fit, super lean go hangout together. Only in yoga will people chant in a foreign language, oblivious to the meaning of the words and then closely examine their curves in pants now worn by porn stars.

Can meditation help keep you from getting sick? This study says yes – Globe and Mail

As an exercise physiologist, I would have bet that exercise would be more powerful than meditation for preventing the flu. I was wrong. Both meditation and exercise reduced the number of people who got sick by about 25 per cent.