Alaska in July

Location: Kenai River, AK, Homer, AK and Saldotna, AK.

July 2012

New Project: The Rocky Mountain Review – Adventure Incarnate

It has been many years in the making, but I am finally getting organized and working towards officially opening The Rocky Mountain Review for submissions.

 

 

The Rocky Mountain Review will be a bi-annual literary journal, publishing winning non-fiction and photographic submissions on the topics of American travel and adventure.

My dream for this publication, is that it will one day evolve into a monthly magazine, publishing articles, interviews and photos from up and coming authors and artists, presenting young talent with an outlet for gaining exposure as well as giving readers access to a community of fellow thrill seekers, writers, athletes, adventure junkies.

Check out my new website:

http://therockymountainreview.wordpress.com/2012/07/20/hello-world/

Please reach out with any questions or comments!

Thanks -

Dayna

Salad for Breakfast?

I am reading a book right now called “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, and in it, he talks about the benefits of eating salad for breakfast – claiming that many of the worlds most accomplished super athletes, ultra-runners, Olympians are actually vegans. The book is great and I highly recommend reading it, whether you are into running or not. And while I am no great runner, McDougall’s advice about starting the day with a big plate of greens made sense to me- it did not necessarily sound appealing, but it made sense. So, I thought I’d give it a shot since I am trying to make strides to cleanse my body and find new ways to feel strong and healthy.

So, this morning I woke up and leisurely sipped a full glass of room temperature water with lemon. I finished that and then, because the life of a mother with small children necessitates at least some sort of caffeine, I poured myself a beautiful cup of coffee with organic half and half but NO sugar. This was a change for me, as lately, I have been adding a solid Tbsp. of white sugar to my coffee every morning, and then drinking 2 and a half cups of it; a borderline crack habit! But since I knew the value of my one cup of coffee, even though it was without my sugar, I enjoyed and cherished that java and felt empowered by it.

So, moving right along, I opened my cupboards to see what breakfast had in store. I started reading labels on the cereal box, the peanut butter jar, my yogurt – even though it was some of the healthiest, organic foods you can find, it all still had sugar, and since I was trying to start my day in less of a tweaked out hysteria, I was determined to make a meal without sugar, of any kind. So, that pretty much left eggs- but eggs by themselves? That’s not a very complete meal. Usually I would cut up some strawberries or an apple to go with my 2 hard boiled eggs, but again with the sugar! So, I thought about the ultra-runners in “Born to Run” and their breakfast salads. Okay, I thought. I’ll give it a try!

So, in addition to my 2, free range, organic hard boiled eggs, I threw together a fresh, simple salad of organic greens, organic spinach, avocados, tomatoes and balsamic vinegar. Top it all off with some freshly ground sea salt and black pepper and I chowed down.

Okay – salad for breakfast sounded really sad, but I have to say it was AWESOME! Not only did it taste great, but I feel incredible. My mind feels clear, my body is almost pulsing with energy. My stomach and digestive system feel light, not churning or gurgling to try to digest sugar or processed carbs. My mood is up and I feel like I can take on my day. I highly recommend trying a salad for breakfast. I WILL be doing it again tomorrow.

Day 2 Accomplishments:

Significantly cut out my sugar consumption (none so far today)

Limited myself to one cup of coffee

Started my day with lemon water and continued in a good pattern

Day 2 Goals:

Epsom salt detox bath

Research dry body brushing

Yoga and a Walk

Summer Cleanse: “Leaning into it”

One of the more accessible and appealing cleanses I’ve read about is called the “Quantum Wellness Cleanse,” a book by Kathy Freston. In her book, she talks about “leaning into” a new, healthier lifestyle slowly, instead of jumping in head first. I am taking her wise advice with the changes I am attempting to make in my end of the summer cleanse and it is much more forgiving than the “all or nothing” approach.

For instance – just as I decided to start a “cleanse” my wonderful husband offered to take me on a date – movie night – which usually includes popcorn and soda and candy, etc. Not very cleansing. But it’s so rare that my husband and I can get ourselves together and go out to enjoy ourselves, so I didn’t want to cheat myself either. So, I compromised – instead of the salty, buttery popcorn and liter of soda, we went to an upscale movie theater that served a menu of gourmet, nutritional food – so I opted for a chicken, goat cheese, cashew salad with poppy seed dressing, a glass of white wine and dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds. I got my antioxidants and had an incredible time without overeating and shocking my system with processed foods.

So, as far as my cleanse is concerned, I have not gone completely gung-ho, but am “leaning into” some healthier choices and feeling better for it.

Day 1 successes – I avoided excess salt and sugar, got my exercise, drank more water, went to bed early. One perk I noticed is that I fell asleep easier and stayed asleep until 6:45am instead of tossing and turning all night and waking up with a stomach ache.

Day 1 failures – coffee, too much coffee, 2 and a half cups?

Day 2 goals – an hour of yoga, seriously more water, limit myself to 1 cup of coffee and try to fit in some meditation, somewhere!

Any healthy tips or tricks you’d like to share? I would love to hear about what’s worked for you!

Starting a Summer Cleanse

The time has come for a summer cleanse. Lately, I have been feeling sluggish, tired, cranky, altogether ‘unwell,’ so something has got to give.

I have tried “cleanses” in the past without much success and that’s probably because most of them included some form of starvation. Whenever I’d start a cleanse in the past, it was usually in an effort to lose weight, and when that inevitably didn’t work, I’d hit the bag of potatoes chips hard and pour a big glass of wine. Fail.

But, this time, I don’t feel the need to lose weight – I am a healthy, happy weight for the first time in years! But, I do feel like giving my body a rest to clean out the sugar, caffeine, salt, alcohol, saturated fats, etc. and I feel like that will help me to refocus and feel strong and centered again. I have been doing a ton of research on the subject of healthy cleansing and this is what I have found. (I think I can try most of these things)

Best ways to Detox, Naturally

1. Eliminate or drastically cut back on toxins such as sugar, caffeine, alcohol, yadda, yadda, yadda.

2. Exercise

3. Meditate

4. Dry Body Brushing (hm – perhaps more on this later)

5. Hydrate

6. Hit the Sauna

7. Take Supplements to aid in the detox process

8. Laugh (this sounds much more appealing than drinking cayenne pepper)

So I am not going to do a 30 day thing, or drink just juice until I lose my mind, but I do think that taking a few days – maybe just three or so- to rest and be kind to my body might work wonders!

Here are some of the symptoms I hope to eliminate by going on this brief cleanse:

-Headaches

-Sluggish Digestion

-Grogginess and Fatigue

-Body aches and pains

-Bad mood

-Tired eyes, skin

-Constant stomach aches and grumbles

-Stress, anxiety, restlessness

I will report back throughout the next three days to update on these symptoms.

Marriage Is: Comparing Love Handles

I am no expert on marriage. My husband and I are still four months short of our first anniversary. But whether I like it or not, everyday I am learning more about what it means to be a wife, what it means to be yoked to another human, what it means to fulfill another’s need for love and beauty.

The following statements are what I have found to be true of marriage, thus far.

1. Marriage is: Comparing Love Handles

I met my husband when I was fourteen years old. He was a sophomore and I was a freshman and no one was more handsome or fit. I wasn’t too out of shape, myself, weighing in at just about a buck with long brown hair and dewy, young skin. Fast forward nine years, and we’re still both young, and marginally attractive, but things certainly don’t look the way they used to. Picture two comfortable twenty something’s standing in their underwear, brushing their teeth, plucking their nose hairs, applying zit cream, comparing love handles. Marriage is: humility.

2. Marriage is: Flatulence Warfare

Everyone has gas. Some use theirs as a weapon. Marriage is: laughter.

3. Marriage is: Having Someone to go to Costco With

Because let’s face it, a single person has no business shopping in bulk. Maybe we are simple and boring, but it feels good to be consumers together. Giant bag of dog food, check. Giant palate of NY Strips, check. Giant package of toilet paper, check, check. It’s not just Costco, either; the library, the bank, the gym, the gynecologist. I consider it a good sign for our marriage that I want to spend every waking second with my husband and he wants to spend most of his time with me. But it’s not that bad. I don’t actually make him come to the lady doctor with me and he let’s me off the hook when he watches TopGear. Marriage is: a best friend, a partner, a family.

4. Marriage is: Someone to Tell You When You Have Eye Boogers

One of the best compliments I have ever received was given to me when I was away on a school trip with my classmates, sharing a hotel room overnight with the other flute players in the band. Kate said, “You look amazing when you wake up in the morning when most of us look like we just went on a month bender in Vegas.” I consider that one of the most generous things anyone has ever said about me. Imagine my false sense of security when waking up next to my new husband years later, pillow face, crusty eyes, morning breath; really attractive. Further more, imagine my surprise when he leaned over, kissed my eyebrow and told me how beautiful I looked in the morning. Oh, and that I had an eye booger. Love is: blind.

And so it seems that marriage is turning out to be a little less glamorous and romantic than I had always imagined. There are more disagreements about money and less candlelit dinners than I thought there would be. We are finding that there is serious work involved. And we’re still new at this. But in these last nine months, bound in holy and unpredictable matrimony, I have learned that marriage is: such a gift.

Falling Short of Beauty: Thoughts on Vanity

Women do crazy things for beauty. That’s no secret, although we’d like to think it was.

I recently began and subsequently finished a book by famous chick flick creator Nora Ephron, who is also responsible for such films as: When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle and You’ve Got Mail. The book was called: I Feel Bad About My Neck. Let me just say, the book made me feel bad about my neck, which I think was perhaps not the point.

While funny and of course, expertly written, the book was 120 pages of embarrassing admissions of the secret things women do to become beautiful and stay beautiful; waxing, plucking, crimping, dieting, wrapping, pinning, stretching. The whole time I was reading, I could feel my self esteem slipping further and further into submission. Yes you’re right, if I let them, my eyebrows would become tangled shrubberies casting shadows over my tired eyes. Yes, I too currently have eight bottles of shampoo in my shower, none of which do their job. Yes, I, like so many other American women, am guilty of devoting hours and days and weeks to an obsession over my physical appearance. I kept reading and I kept waiting for the epiphany in the story, but it never really came.

Of course, I enjoyed the book, and surely Ephron is a brilliant, award winning author, but as such, she didn’t offer much support for the strong, intellectual, and most importantly beautiful demographic that she was writing to; the modern American woman. After all of the success she has encountered as a sort of feminist writer, is this the most confidence she can muster?

The whole thing really made me think about self esteem and beauty and what it means to be a woman today. Let me preface this by saying, I do not consider myself a feminist, and I by no means advocate hairy armpits, baggy pants or going bra-less, but I do have a problem with fake hair, fake nails, fake tans, fake boobs, fake teeth….at what point does the word fake define you?

At the time I finished this book I will admit that I was enrolled at a monthly tanning salon, had more than $200 worth of makeup in my bathroom drawer, yes, eight shampoos in my shower and still spent hours of every day feeling as though I was falling short of beauty, somehow.

I thought back on the times in my life that I felt most beautiful and recalled moments, smiling in the sun, sweaty after running six miles on a hot blacktop in August. It’s where I met my husband. My legs were muscular, my cheeks were flushed pink, my hair was in a knot on top of my head and my dimples were on display. I wasn’t wearing makeup or tight jeans, I was just how God made me and I felt probably even more beautiful than I would feel on my wedding day, years later.

Well I was seventeen, and it’s been a few years since then, only a few, though. Could I get back to that moment, back to my most basic beautiful self?

I’ve been thinking about that girl on the black top a lot lately. Somewhere along the road to womanhood, I lost that purity but I have to believe that being a woman in America amounts to more than maturing into a bitter, older version of our most insecure selves. Am I to believe that if I am successful enough to make millions of dollars writing hit films and best selling novels, I will, in the twilight of my life, still feel embarrassed by my natural self?

So I threw away some shampoo and canceled my contract at the tanning salon. It’s a meager start, but underneath the orange paint, I am starting to recognize myself again and yes, she is pasty, but she is real.

Product Review: Bumgenius All-in-One Cloth Diaper

(Photo Credit: Bumgenius.com)

I used disposable diapers on my son for the first four months of his life, and I was continuously disappointed in them. They would leave those little chemical crystals on my baby, and they even left uncomfortable rashes on his thighs. It took me awhile to work up the courage to make the switch to cloth diapers because I had heard such horror stories. It was my understanding that cloth diapers were going to be way too much work, way too expensive and just all around, impractical. A friend of mine convinced me that if you buy the right ones, cloth diapers can actually be better than disposables in so many ways. So I did my research and I waited until the Bumgenius All-in-one, one-size diapers went on sale and I bought twenty six. The Bumgenius diapers seemed to get the best reviews across the board, in durability, comfort and ease of use.
Since we made the switch eight months ago, I must say I am so glad we worked up the courage to try cloth diapers. They really are better in so many ways, and the Bumgenius’ really do make it so easy. The snaps are durable and I can adjust the size to grow with my growing boy. I add a few overnight boosters to get my son through 12 hours of sleep and we don’t have the obscene amount of garbage that we used to have with the disposables. I would highly recommend the Bumgenius All-in-one diaper to any family who was considering cloth diapers, and even to those who weren’t! Learn more, here: http://www.bumgenius.com/

I Will Never be on the Oprah Winfrey Show

It recently occurred to me that The Oprah Winfrey Show was in its final season. This wasn’t exactly news, I had been aware of this fact all year, but it did occur to me, rather, that because the show was in its final season, I would never be a guest on it.

I never told anyone that it was one of my greatest aspirations, to be on The Oprah Winfrey Show. I never uttered the words aloud. It’s a strange aspiration, I think. I didn’t care how I got there, I just knew I wanted to do something worthy of being interviewed by the talk show legend.

Oprah was there from the beginning; on the air since 1986. I was born merely a year later to lower class parents in an industrial, concrete city in upstate New York. My dad worked for the concrete company, in fact, and my mom stayed home and watched the neighborhood kids after school for something like twenty dollars a week. At 4pm, while the other kids were playing kickball in the empty lot next store, my mom and I watched the Oprah Winfrey Show on CBS from the comfort of our denim couch.

Over the many years, I became quite familiar with the formula that Oprah used. Some episodes were aimed towards fun; an interview with a movie star about their latest roles and relationships or a show following her and her side kick, Gayle on an exotic vacation to Fiji or South Africa. Some episodes were tear-jerkers, usually the ones that aired on Mondays. She would interview a woman who’s dog had been killed as her house burned to the ground after being fired from her job after refusing to have sex with her boss who was actually her step father; some messed up stuff. There was Oprah’s Book Club, Oprah’s favorite things, and then, there were the really inspiring episodes, where Oprah would interview people who were doing incredible things in the world; sending orphans to college, feeding homeless people displaced by natural disasters, overcoming great obstacles. Oprah would end up donating money or food or supplies in obscene amounts and someone like Celine Dion or Andrea Boccelli or Bono would sing at the end of the show.

At times in my life, I imagined Oprah sitting in the cream colored leather chair across from me and saying something like: “How did you survive?”

I imagined telling her about how hard it was to grow up poor, witness to alcoholism and drug abuse, in a neighborhood infiltrated with skinheads. I imagined telling her about how I overcame all of my great adversities to become an opera singer or a surgeon.

At other points in my life, I could see myself on Oprah’s little stage, telling the story of my work in the inner city with abused teenage girls. A video would be playing in the background – a montage of moments with images of me playing soccer with middle school girls, me helping them with their homework, me making their dreams come true. The camera would pan to Oprah’s audience and they would stand and clap and some would cry.

It really didn’t matter to me how I got there or what story I would be telling when I did, but that was success to me. If I could just do something worthy of talking to Oprah about, I would consider my life “fulfilled.”

But now, it seems I’ve missed my chance for greatness. After being taken for almost 25 years, the 4pm slot will be replaced with a new talk show about doctors or plastic surgery or something vacant like that.

I did think I would have a little more time. After all, I am only twenty three years old, and haven’t even started to write my Pulitzer Prize winning novel, yet. I haven’t really begun to accomplish any of the things I hoped I would. Barely scraping along with a part time job and $17,000 worth of student loans, I have no pending projects, no charitable work, no notable accomplishments to speak of.

It is a sad realization; that I will never be on The Oprah Winfrey Show, for any reason. But I don’t think I will ever stop daydreaming about our imaginary interview. I still want to do something with my life that is worthy of her time. She is the cornerstone on which I have based all of my ideals. I may have run out of time to earn a segment on basic cable, but I still have time to write that best selling self help book, and maybe I’ll use the money I make to build a ¬†recreation center that mentors juvenile delinquents or to develop a program that teaches homeless individuals job skills. I still have plenty of time for all of that.

But I have to wonder, what will the world be like without Oprah? Will anyone’s generosity be praised? Will anyone get to tell their story of survival? And if not, will people stop being generous? Will they stop overcoming adversity? I fear for the future of television, and thus the future of our culture if the 4pm slot is filled with celebrity gossip shows or political propaganda. I hope someone steps up to tell the good stories.

Are You Called to Create?

One of my favorite authors, Don Miller (Blue Like Jazz, Searching for God Knows What) wrote recently on his website about the characteristics of a creator. He suggested that the following were true:

1. A Creator loves what they do.

2. A Creator knows how to do what they do.

3. A Creator does what they do.

These facts seemed pretty obvious but when I compared them to how I was living my life as a “creator,” I realized that I fell a bit short. I felt the need to examine these three facts in the context of my day to day life.

1. Do I love what I do?

- I do love writing as a process of self discovery, which is why I enjoy writing narrative non-fiction, the most. Yes, the simple answer is: I do love writing, but I think that so much of the time, I sit down to the computer seeking the instant gratification of reaching the end, perhaps because I am seeking closure in the story that is actively happening in my own life. It is a complicated, dependent kind of affair.

2. Do I know how to do what I do?

- Sometimes I really feel like the answer to that question is: NO WAY! I wonder, really struggle to understand how a person can ever finish a book. Taking a look at the NewYorkTimes BestSeller List, I ask myself, how is it that Paris Hilton can complete a book , but I haven’t the foggiest idea how to even begin Chapter One?

I am easily overwhelmed by the enormity of completing a project, but the question asks: Do I know how to do what I do? Not: Do I know how to make money doing what I do? So, I must remind myself, that – Yes, I do know how to write. I did spend $40,000 and four years of my misguided youth earning a degree to prove that fact. And I got A’s.

3. Do I do what I ….do?

-Well I certainly don’t get paid to do what I do. Not yet, anyway. But that is not the question, I suppose. I get a little caught up in this question because I feel like if you are passionate about something, it shouldn’t feel like work. I am learning that this is the very wrong attitude to have, especially when it comes to writing a book.

On occasion, I feel inspired to “do what I do.” It will hit me suddenly, often when I am driving in my car, and something poetic will just come to me – sense from nothing at all. I sit and write for maybe thirty minutes, maybe three hours, and usually end up deleting eighty percent of what I came up with or editing it down to five or six sentences.¬† Slow but it’s something.

Other times, I will feel obligated to put something down on the page. I will think about Paris Hilton sitting in front of her laptop with a thesaurus and a cappuccino, typing paragraph after paragraph of best selling bubble gum, and I will feel the need to contribute another few paragraphs to my “portfolio.” So, I drive to the library and sit amongst the other daytime dreamers and sometimes I strike gold, but a lot of the time I start a new open ended vignette that I will very likely never return to.

Why is this important?

I think it’s important to analyze the motivations behind our creative urges because at the heart of them, I think that they can be inspired by a desire to worship and praise a greater beauty or they can be inspired by a desire to pursue our own, selfish glory. So often it’s the latter, at least in my case, and this is where I get caught up in insecurity, anxiety and doubt. As someone who feels called to create, I must keep in mind my ultimate motivations. What do I seek to achieve and why?

Are you called to create? How would you answer these three questions for your life’s calling?