I passed my board exam.
I am beyond thrilled to be able to cross that one off the list.
Those many heavy books are going on the shelf! ...to be easily retrieved when I need to consult them. Alas, learning never stops.
A personal, health, food and travel blog.
The personal section of The Hungry Gypsy: a personal, health, food and travel blog.
Here are my personal musings on living. Let's have conversations about what it means to be beautiful beings on this planet. Maybe I'll talk about pop culture. Maybe I'll go on a rant about silly things. Mostly I talk about my experiences and subsequent thoughts about them. Either way, this is where I write and hopefully have something to say that is worth reading.
I passed my board exam.
I am beyond thrilled to be able to cross that one off the list.
Those many heavy books are going on the shelf! ...to be easily retrieved when I need to consult them. Alas, learning never stops.
I don't know about you, but I get a little tired of all of the articles about how to get through the holidays without "blowing your diet" or gaining a bunch of weight. It seems to me that we may be over thinking it a bit. There are parties other times of the year, after all, and just because it is the holiday season, which inevitably involves a lot of baking, doesn't mean that everyone is defenseless against an urge to double their calorie intake.
Granted, if you are actively trying to lose weight, then most likely there is some degree of hunger, or at least a lack of fullness, that makes being surrounded by tempting treats especially hard. And for that, yes, a few strategies to make it easier are great. They are rather obvious, but they bear repeating: stay away from the food table and socialize with friends instead; make a conscious choice to only eat your one favorite treat; avoid alcohol or go for healthier choices such as wine over sugary mixed drinks, if there won't be healthy options at the party don't show up hungry; and of course eat mindfully.
Those are honest and intelligent tips, and they technically apply to anyone for whom the holidays pose a challenge.
My point, though, since there are plenty of articles out there that mention those tips and others is that maybe we are imposing a problem upon people for whom they don't actually need to be worried about holiday eating. I don't like the implication that everyone innately has a desire to consume way more energy than they are expending at holiday time and that this is an urge that must be fought!
I don't think that mentality is empowering to people. I also think that, for many, it sets up a self-fulfilling prophecy.
What if we didn't tell people that they are going to have a strong desire to eat the entire pie and that they must arm themselves with strategies to fight the good fight? Would people be able to naturally eat mindfully? Would people not feel like they want to eat all of the treats instead of just one or two of their favorites if we don't tell them they will want to eat everything? What about the implication that this is a special time of the year where eating habits always change- which could mean "take advantage of the crazy foods before they're gone!" or "eat until you're sick, that's the point!" Or, and this a controversial one: what if it didn't seem completely horrific to gain a couple pounds in the winter and lose them in the warmer months? There is still a lot of research to be done in this area, but maybe we naturally have slightly larger appetites in the winter and smaller appetites in the summer and being the exact same weight year round isn't important.
I don't actually have the answers to these questions, most likely because it doesn't apply the same to everyone. We are all different, unique individuals for whom there is no one right diet that fits everyone. That includes the holidays. There probably are some people for whom the holidays do entice them to eat a lot more, and it is partially due to societal influence. Not everyone, but some. Since that is a less discussed topic, I'd like to offer a new perspective for the good of those people: chill out and just enjoy the holidays.
Jack Savoretti, Written in Scars
Marcus Foster, I Was Broken
Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95. He certainly left his mark on society and inspired humanity to do and be better. Below are some of his inspiring quotes as a reminder of what he stood for and to honor the late leader.
Laura Marling, Ghosts (yep, that's Marcus Mumford performing with her)
Trevor Hall, The Mountain
Ray LaMontagne, You are the Best Thing
It hit me. The HOLY CRAP I'm really doing this! I don't even have a departure date set and I'm already feeling panicked.
I started thinking about all of the things that I will need to accomplish before I leave:
All of that can feel like a bit much, but honestly I think what really got to me was a panic about money. I'm pretty sure it all started with the realization that my current Bank of America account has a minimum balance requirement. That just cut into my travel fund!
I really ought to calm down because the truth is that I can simply close that account. If I want a separate savings account to store some cash while I'm off, I'm probably better off opening a CD or something that might get at least a minuscule amount of interest anyway.
So okay, I'm starting to talk myself down. But DAMN, it's amazing how easily and quickly I can freak out!
I'm trying to trust life. I'm trying to trust the words of all the wonderful travel bloggers out there who promise that it will be alright, that I will figure this out as I go. I'm also trying to remind myself that anytime I've started a new adventure, whether it be stateside or overseas, even though it ended up being AMAZING it was terrifying and tough at first.
I suppose that is the way of truly worthwhile experiences. They move you out of your comfort zone and into a place where you can grow.
I have a notoriously chatty mind. Trying to get it to just shut up and be quiet already is not easy. But maybe I shouldn't be trying to fight it as much as work with it. Maybe learning how to embrace the part of me that over-thinks instead of wishing I would just chill out is the key.
An ability to think about different possibilities and plan for those possibilities is actually a strength. It is just the fear and paralyzation that can come with it that is the problem.
Perhaps that is the lesson: getting the head, heart and gut to all work in tandem.
I found this video on Sarah Wilson's blog and wanted to share it here.
I don't doubt that most people have some sort of current opinion about Russell Brand. Be it quite positive or quite negative, I'm guessing you have one. That's what happens when someone is outspoken and prolific.
Knowing that, I'd suggest playing a little game. Try to drop whatever story you have about Russell in your mind and watch the video below. See what comes up for you. Then watch it again allowing yourself to completely buy in to your previous opinions about him. Did your experience with the video change? Has your opinion about Russell or the ideas discussed in the video been altered in any way?
Clearly, I'm sharing this video because I appreciate what is said in it. I also happen to fall into the Russell Brand-positive camp. It's okay if you don't.
I'm guessing that this video is either really on par with your thoughts or completely misses the mark with you.
I'm not interested in discussing the personal lives of celebrities, and I certainly have never met Russell. But I do find it interesting how much public opinion of the messenger can affect how a message is perceived.
I'm guilty of it myself, of course. I'm not a fan of hypocrites and someone who preaches a way of being while acting in direct defiance to that way is, shall we say, "extremely uncool" in my mind.
I don't really know if Russell truly lives his life as a tolerant, respectful being who views us all as one. But I hope he does. My story is that he does. Regardless, I really enjoy that video. Maybe you did as well.
I am very thankful that I was able to spend this day with my family, in a warm house, preparing delicious, nutritious food.
I am thankful that I was surrounded by cuddly, furry friends who seem to embody love.
I am thankful for the wonderful people in my life, who although they send me love and appreciation always, took the opportunity today to reaffirm this.
I am thankful that today exists as a reminder to be grateful and thankful, to think of others, and to offer compassion and assistance to those who are in need.
Today I sent off my current passport, the application, a check for $110, and a photo (taken under massively bright florescent lights...awesome) to have my passport renewed. It's one of the many steps I am currently taking in an attempt to make this plan of upcoming travel a reality. If this is going to work then I need to actually put the pieces in order.
Planning long term international travel can be exciting, intimidating and overwhelming. If you are prone to overwhelm, I suggest taking it in steps. That's what I am trying to do. Breaking down some of the various aspects of travel into categories. Perhaps the following (in no particular order):
It definitely pays to do your research ahead of time and figure out some logistics. For example, your passport needs to be valid and shouldn't be set to expire within the year. Some countries won't let you in if your passport will expire in less than 6 months. You will want to see if any of the countries you are planning on visiting require visas and what the process is of getting them. A lot of countries provide short term visitation visas upon arrival, but some require pre-approval. Also, some countries only provide very short term visas, so if you were originally intending on spending months in one place, you need to make sure that's allowed. In that same vein, most countries offering limited visas will require proof that you will, in fact, be leaving. Meaning you will have to have bought a ticket out of the country already.
Here's a few helpful sites for travel info that I'm currently using.
Those are professional travel information sites that have a lot good info on them, but I also seriously recommend reading travel blogs. I have learned so much about the reality of being on the road and gotten really good travel tips from the following:
I'm trying to breathe through all of this. It is daunting trying to sort this all out. I think a big part of it is that I need to answer a few really important questions first. Important questions such as where am I going?!
Kind of key that question.
I think once I have that first location set down it will feel clearer. I am trying to take care of the things that I can take care of in the meantime while I'm still shifting about in my mind about exactly what I am doing and where I'm going, so that an opportunity may actually be able to present itself. I'm pretty certain that's manifesting 101- acting as though it is already received.
photo credit: airplane-collectible-best-net-resource.com
Ben Howard, These Waters (Live)
James Vincent McMorrow, We Don't Eat
Matt Corby, Resolution
When I graduated high school, we made tri-fold poster boards. I honestly don't remember what the purpose of these boards was, but essentially they were supposed to capture and highlight our high school experiences.
Everyone picked a title or theme for their board.
I picked this cartoon from Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson.
The title of my board was "It's been a long day."
I own multiple Calvin and Hobbes printed books. I absolutely love them. For some light reading the other night, I was flipping through my Calvin and Hobbes The Sunday Pages 1985-1995 and came across that cartoon.
I ended up reading the entire book (it's not that hard to do, it is full of comics after all) and the very last strip in the book is the final Calvin and Hobbes strip of the series.
It's beautifully minimalist. And personally, that's the strip I want to inhabit. Let's go exploring.
It is a touch anti-climatic.
Months worth of studying priming my mind just to be able to fill in 200 bubbles with pencil. (#2 only!)
I think I may be detoxing from the stress. Stiff neck, exhaustion, overall feeling of queasiness. It is slowing sinking in, however, that I may actually be able to move forward. That I can close those books.
That possibility is exciting.
Instead of letting the pressure come crashing in with endless "Now whats?" and "Hows?" I'm going to try to release into a little bit of weightlessness. If only for a little while.
photo credit: Pinterest
I've decided to start My Weekly Three.
Since I love music and promoting lesser known bands that speak to me, every week I will share three songs that I'm currently listening to. Enjoy.
The Oh Hello's, Cold Is The Night
Lucy Rose, Night Bus
It's a tough business trying to get ideas off the ground. Especially trying to chart new territory. I find myself waxing and waning between moments of certainty and determination, and moments of hesitation and self-doubt.
Trying to stay in that space of hopeful presumption. Time for a conscious choice.
I'm choosing to let go and move forward from my negative thought patterns. I'm acknowledging them, honoring the place in me that they derived from, and visualizing them leaving. Out my window. Through the door. To the wind. Gone.
I don't need them any more.
I'm sure fear has its place. Warning of dark caves where literal hungry beasts could be hiding in the days of cavemen and hunters, a fearful pit in the stomach would be helpful. But this is not that. This isn't intuition's alarm bells, either. This is negative, critical self talk.
While I believe in independence, inner strength and a general "I don't care if you like it" attitude to doing your own thing and following your own bliss, it is massively helpful to be around encouraging souls.
Confidence is contagious.
So is fear.
Therefore, I'm making the choice. I will spend time talking to people who drive my ambitions not those who indulge my hesitation. I will listen to Abraham Hicks because it brings me joy and moves me into the vortex. And I will say words like "vortex" without irony or haughty derision because I genuinely talk like that.
Being in your twenties is universally hard. Or at least that has been my experience and the experience of my friends, family, pretty much anyone I talk to. There is typically an expectation now that one is an "adult" the previous self-discovery type quests and questions have been undertaken and answered. Nope. I'm still figuring it out. I'm fairly certain most of us are still figuring it. But I'm done comparing myself to others and questioning my desire to take the road less traveled.
I'm inspired by people who take different paths. I feel drawn to have an adventurous life. I don't think that is wrong. I think it will make me happy. And I believe that when someone is happy, everyone wins.
I have goals, aspirations and desires to live my life in a way that is true to myself.
Those of you who feel compelled to live a life that may be considered by some to be more radical, I hope you choose to be your most authentic self and listen to your inner cheerleader and not the inside (and outside) voices of doubt.
photo credits: Pinterest
I think I temporarily threw out my back yesterday. Sitting in a chair. WTF?!
I have a newfound respect for the power of a chair to destroy a person.
I was at the library. (Yes, I hurt my back at THE LIBRARY. Ok, seriously, how old AM I??) Sitting in a, yes, god awful wooden chair for a couple hours straight, but I am 27! And I take good care of my body! (At least I thought so. Maybe I need to get back into a regular yoga practice.)
I don't know what I did, but clearly I tweaked my back somehow sitting (in a definitively non-ergonomic chair) and abruptly my whole back was in pain. On top of that I was suddenly overcome with nausea. Not fun. I remedied the situation by crouching in a hip opener pose next to the evil chair for about five minutes until the nausea and pain subsided. I'm pretty sure the studious nerds at the table next to me were a little uneasy about the strange actions happening beside them. (And btw, I'm not judging their studious nerd-ness, as I am clearly one of them.)
So how did this happen? Well, for one, I did break my self-decree of getting up every half hour or so when studying, working on a computer etc and at least walking around for a bit or stretching. But that mandate easily applies when I'm at home. I was in a public place with stuff. Valuable stuff like a computer and phone. And while I probably could have trusted the people who were VOLUNTARILY AT THE LIBRARY in the middle of the day, the "never EVER leave your stuff unattended" mentality of a post 9/11 America trumped my sense of body awareness and I remained seated the entire time. Until the pain.
The funny thing is that as a nutrition professional, my mind went, "maybe it's because I haven't taken magnesium recently." Which, I still kind of stand by (or crouch by, as it were) since I have a well documented history of magnesium deficiency that is worsened when I'm stressed, (say studying for an exam) and I had forgotten to take my magnesium supplements. It feels a little fast acting for neglecting to take a supplement a mere couple days, but I don't know, maybe. Nausea and muscle cramping are symptoms of magnesium deficiency. Regardless, I seem to be okay today, having since taken magnesium, but I will certainly make a point of getting up and walking around regularly at work. I suppose the take away from this rather disconcerting ordeal is to always remember to pay attention to my body. Because I totally wanna be this lady when I'm 80:
photo credit: Pinterest
Yesterday I did something that I haven't done in a while. I gardened.
My mom is an avid gardener; in fact, she was the president of her local garden club the past two years. My Mom, unfortunately, took a spill the other day, thanks to our dog feeling a bit rambunctious, and hurt her hand. As a result, my Mom isn't really up to digging in the earth at the moment. Normally this would just require a gardening hiatus, but she had recently purchased some bulbs that needed to be planted ASAP. Enter me. I agreed to do the heavy digging.
There is something healing about working in the ground. Whether it is the transfer of electrons that many proponents of "grounding" or "earthing" speak to, or some other yet to be understood healing property of nature, touching earth feels good.
Our overly indoor existence is probably at least partially to blame for a lot of depression among us creatures of westernization. Realizing that I have been spending most of my time recently staring at computer screens, partially for this website, yes, but mainly due to studying (thank you electronic versions of books and study guides), I was excited at the prospect of feeling the land beneath my knees and hands.
Where we live we have a substantial amount of clay in the ground, not to mention rocks and roots, so digging turns out to be a lot of work. It's that deeply satisfying kind of effort, though, that only comes from accomplishing something through sheer physical exertion. After a couple of hours of unearthing orange clay, silver rocks and a few pissed off worms via hand and spade, we successfully planted four different types of plants that will hopefully bloom in the spring.
We set aside the really large chunks of clay and replaced them with the most beautiful soil fresh from our home compost. What was once food scraps, fallen leaves and pulled up weeds has become the sweetest smelling pure, earthly soil. MMMM...Petrichor.
I highly recommend composting. Whether you can do the large scale outdoor-style bin that my parents do, or a mini indoor apartment-style bin, everyone can compost. Waste disposal is becoming a problem in this country. Landfills are filling up. Start a home compost and be a little bit of the solution.
And lest you fear that composting is complicated and hard, it's not. Really. There are plenty of ways to fancy up composting, your innovative urban farmers tend to have truly impressive systems, but it pretty much takes something brown and something green. That's the basic rule. Brown and green, then pile it up. Organic materials only, and no oils, meats, fish or dairy. If you are going to keep the bin inside or anywhere that is not literally outside on the ground, I would recommend buying a bin that is designed for composting. They are pretty easy to find at any garden supply store. They even sell cool outdoor composting containers that simplify the outdoor process too.
So that was yesterday. Today I am back to the decidedly ungrounded side of things, staring at computer screens and applying artificial tears to cure the subsequent dry eyes that come along with it. BTW: How rife for discourse is the notion of merchandizing artificial tears. Something about human artificiality and society being emotionally stunted. I feel there is such great social commentary in that. You know, if you ignore the boring germane purpose of easing eye discomfort. Alas, a conversation for another day. I must be off to work now. I hope you are having a wonderful day. Take a moment to touch the ground if you can.
(P.S. Here is an awesome infographic on treehugger.com about different types of composting.)
Sometimes I struggle with being in the present. I forget to appreciate the beauty of everyday pleasures. I don't just mean a divine cup of coffee or the birds melodically chirping outside, although those count. I find that I am actually better at noticing and appreciating tiny indulgences and nature's backdrop than I am at the bigger security net of my life.
I woke up today in a bed with a mattress, pillow, clean warm sheets, multiple fleecy blankets and a comforter. This bed is located inside of a house that has electricity, running water, an interior heating/cooling system and advanced fiber-optic technology courtesy of Verizon. Let's add to the picture the fact that I woke up in a place of safety, without fear of where my next meal would come from or if a militant mob would bust down the door guns blazing. That's not to say that there isn't plenty of propaganda out there assaulting my eyes and ears on a daily basis, warning me of larger than life dangers that threaten to collapse all that I have previously mentioned as complete anarchy envelopes this country, in what has become truly epic fear mongering brought to us through the relatively recent development of news as a commercial product streamed live into our set top boxes and mobile devices.
Alas, it seems quite logical then why I tend to forget from time to time just how good I've really got it. I'm constantly being shown images of those who supposedly have more than I do (and told that I should want it) while simultaneously being threatened with potential loss of all my "less than" current holdings. It's absurd.
I suppose I am having this mental dialogue 1. because it's something other than studying for my exam and 2. because I am thinking about traveling in the future where many of my current conveniences may not be available. I'm taking a moment and appreciating that on the road it is going to be different. Depending on where I'm at, life could be very different. Granted, I do not plan on venturing into the Congo- but seeing as how I plan on continuing this website throughout my adventures, I've been thinking about internet access. It may not be so easy to come by in some places.
And what about stuff? For anyone who has not seen George Carlin's hilarious bit about "Stuff" go watch it now.
As for Carlin's all-too-accurate description of our stuff versus other people's shit, we really do own a colossal amount of crap. In that vein, I actually am a big fan of living more simply, and am looking forward to forcibly owning less. That said, making sure to have everything I need, especially safety and health-wise will be a big deal. I also will truly not want to lose/have stolen anything important. I do believe that people are remarkably overzealous with their concern and fear about what can happen somewhere else, but it pays to be smart.
Of course, at this stage in the game, I don't even know where I will be going and under what circumstances. Will I be going into a country after already having procured employment? Will I just pack up and go and figure out income on the road?
All of these thoughts are dancing around my brain when I really should be studying. So very much on my mind these days. The joy of a quiet mind. What's that like?
photo credits: Pinterest and simpleijustdo.com
Today is this site's birthday.
I officially jumped in. The Hungry Gypsy is live. No longer just a trial site for my eyes only, these words can be accessed on the world wide web. Yikes.
You see, I actually wrote the previous posts while designing this site before it was truly viewable online. Now shit gets real.
My original plan was to start this post with a disclaimer. I'd talk about how this site is a work in progress, and how my tendency to get caught up in minutiae inspired me to avoid being trapped by my own detail-oriented self-spiral and just make the damn thing live already. (That and the web hosting site may or may not have forced my hand by expiring my trial and requiring me to woman-up to the real thing.)
Instead I'm gonna move past it and just make those changes as I go.
The latest with me is that I am still studying for my board exam, feeling all kinds of unprepared. It is NOT super fun to feel like after drowning in "learning" for the past two years, my actual retention of such classically favorite subjects as organic chemistry, biochemistry and physiology is less than stellar. The woes of overly-compressed learning and taxed adrenals.
This exam is going to be one of those fun "memorization-based" tests. In "real life" we do not need to have micronutrient fact sheets memorized. You just need to know where to look that information up. Real life has books. Exams do not. Granted, I'm not discounting the education portion- a layman may not only not know where to look this information up, but may not know what it meant even if he did. Owning a book and having truly studied a subject are not the same thing. I'm just saying that it is a pain in the tukkis to memorize so much information for such a comprehensive test. Basically I'm just bitching.
But on to happier things: The plan seems to be that after (hopefully) passing this exam in November, I will stay through the holidays and then start a year of adventure in the New Year. I'm so excited! Where should I go first??
photo credits: Pinterest
Update time: When I completed my master's degree I completed the first step in becoming a Certified Nutrition Specialist with the Certification Board for Nutrition Specialists (CBNS), which is a national organization that allows its members to be licensed nutritionists in all of the states that recognize it. If I want to act as a licensed nutritionist, which allows me to actually make nutritional diagnosis and allows my clients to seek insurance reimbursement if their insurance plan covers nutrition counseling, then being licensed is a good idea. Not to mention that it makes my knowledge more creditable. The next step in the certification process is passing the board exam. I originally thought that I would not be able to sit for the upcoming November exam since I would not have been able to get my application in before the September deadline. The CBNS apparently got a number of requests for application deadline extensions. They decided to extend the deadline, and now I can apply to take the exam in November.
So that is my new plan for the next month or so. Stay put and study my butt off to try and pass the Exam in November before high tailing it out of here. It's not a super fun plan, but it has the upside of feeling like the smart thing to do. Also, autumn is my favorite season in Maryland, so I suppose hanging out and watching the leaves change and the air grow crisp isn't a terrible fate.
photo credit: blogs.qut.edu.au
OK, truth time. I wrote that first post well over a month ago and I just now posted it. Man, am I victim of my own inner critic or what?! I literally said to myself WEEKS ago that my procrastinating was bullshit, and I kept procrastinating! So, here I am writing to say that as of this week, I’m done.
I thought about editing that last post to exclude the comments about graduation being a month-ish away, but that felt wrong. It felt like a cover up of my own lame continued procrastination and I didn’t want to do that. I want to be honest and say, yep, I talked a good talk there for a while and I still had nothing to show for it. But NOW that ends. I’m putting this together and I’m putting this out there despite the fact that I still feel remarkably unsure of myself. I have such dreams of grandeur for this site, and one day it will look like and be all that I’ve imagined, but for now it’s a work in progress that I’m OWNING right NOW.
This week has been hard. With the official completion of my Master's degree, I'm having one of those classic "...and now what?!" moments.
So, next step?
Ummm….keep applying to jobs? Save up some money? Get my ass on a plane?
That last one needs to happen. But exactly how? Should I get a "real" job and save up money for a bit and then hit the road (or air)? Or should I go ahead and jump on a plane to a low cost of living country and figure out a source of income on the fly? How about Peacecorps? Joining the Peacecorp has been an idea of mine for many many years, and I'm thinking that it may be an excellent way to see the world, be of service, and gain priceless life education. But it is a 27 month commitment. Is that what I want?
Time to do some soul searching and see what comes up.
photo credits: Pinterest
This website is my personal journey. All content is for educational and informational purposes only.
Credits: Images on this site belong to The Hungry Gypsy unless otherwise sourced.
Copyright © 2015 The Hungry Gypsy, All rights reserved.
The Board for Certification of Nutrition Specialists owns the certification mark Certified Nutrition Specialist® in the United States, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete the initial and ongoing certification requirements established by the BCNS.