Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Cove & The LA Marathon

Matt and I watched the most amazing movie the other night – The Cove, which won best documentary at the Oscars this year. I cried at the end! Out of happiness by the way. And it takes a lot to get me to cry at a movie. It was so touching, and I would definitely recommend watching it.

Life has been turned upside down. So much is going on! I haven’t been feeling well, which is why I haven’t written in a while, but Matt and I are otherwise doing well. Matt has had several interviews and is working hard to find a great job. The biggest news I have is that I’m going to the Hoffman Institute on May 7th! It’s basically an 8-day retreat in Napa Valley where you look into thoughts and behavior you have that isn’t serving you well. Last year, our life coach recommended that if Matt and I were interested, we should go before we have kids. Apparently it helps you avoid passing your crazy behavior onto your kids. Anyway, we decided that it’s now or never so I’m going in May and Matt is going in June. I am super-excited for the opportunity to do something like this.

A few weeks ago, Matt and I ran a mile of the LA marathon. What a trip! We did this with an organization called Sunshine Kids, which holds fun, confidence-building events for kids with cancer. Each kid gets to run/walk a mile of the 26 miles of the marathon with a torch, their family and at least one volunteer. It was so cool to see these kids take part in the marathon. The other thing I couldn’t believe is how many people are there running! It warmed my heart to see people of all ages, races, shapes and sizes doing such hard-core exercise. Especially when you see and hear about so many people who don’t take care of themselves. I loved being there. The route this year was also fab. It went from downtown LA, through West Hollywood, Hollywood, Beverly Hills (down Rodeo Drive) and then out to the pier at Santa Monica beach. Our mile was #10, which was right in the heart of Hollywood. I told Carla, the girl I was running with, that it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to get to run down Hollywood Boulevard in the middle of the day.

Last but not least, I am dying to read a good novel, and I would love your suggestions. Old or new, obscure or popular – I’m open to anything you recommend. Hope you are having a great day.

Jessica O.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Things are really looking up lately. So nice!

First and foremost, I finished 60 days of yoga on March 1st. We went to our 60th class and Matt and I were the only ones there! I told our teacher that we were celebrating the 60th day, which was even more fun. And I've been keeping it up. I can't tell you how good I feel when I leave the studio. I feel so good, I drag myself out of bed at 6:20 to go to class and we spend either a morning or an afternoon at the studio (usually) both Saturday and Sunday. I love it, and I feel like it has become an integral part of my life.

Another thing that is so great is that Matt and I are working on paying off all of our debt (well, all but the investment property which is currently paying for itself). But when I say all of our debt, I mean everything. Including our student loans that started at around $140,000, our prius (lease) and credit cards. And we will be no longer leasing a car. In December when our lease is up, we are going to buy whatever car we can afford - hopefully the prius, but we'll see what we have saved. We have actually paid everything off except for the loans, but we are working on my private loan right now.

And this is such a different way of thinking about money. My way, and what seems to be the American way, has been thinking about whether or not we can afford the monthly payment. The new way is thinking about whether we have the cash to buy the thing or not. So different.

And can I also tell you, I love spending cash! Before this, I put everything I spent on a credit card. At first using cash was difficult because it's a lot harder to turn over two $20 bills than it is to give your credit card, but can I tell you that I appreciate every single thing I buy now. I'm not kidding. I know what it took to earn that cash, so I only buy what I really want, and I really appreciate that I have it.

Did I mention we cut up our credit cards? I know this sounds crazy, but we took all of them out of our wallets and cut them up. Here's proof. It was scary to do, but I haven't regretted it once.

Now I know that it's not really socially acceptable to talk about money in public (especially on a blog), but you are my friends and family. I really wanted to share all of this with you because it has made such a drastic change in my life. We have been on this plan for a few months, and I can't tell you how much peace it has given me already. I didn't realize it, but having debt is stressful. The mere thought of one day having no debt and only spending what I choose to each month is so exciting, I almost can't believe it. And I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The lovely light of freedom.

I can't claim that I made all of these major life changes on my own. Matt is totally in on this too, but we were both inspired by reading a book by Dave Ramsay called Total Money Makeover. It's super-easy to ready and full of really great information.

I added this photo because this is how I feel inside. That's all for tonight. Sleep well.

Jessica O.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Hello friends and family! I’m still here! I have been out of commission for so long because life has been busy. Really busy. Work has picked up, which barely leaves time for making meals and daily yoga. On that note, I have done 53 days of yoga as of today!! It has really been the most fantastic experiment. Matt and I are doing both kundalini and hatha yoga, which is a perfect mix of working out, meditation and spirituality. I definitely plan to keep it up after 60 days are over.

I have also been busy with visitors. My mom was here two weeks ago and my brother and Laura have been here since Friday. It is the best to have family here!

Other than that, life is good. I’ve been feeling so peaceful and centered the last few weeks. A lot less stress, racing thoughts and guilt than I usually have. I think it’s because of the changes in eating, but it must also be the yoga. A few weeks ago Matt and I were taking a walk and I told him that for the first time (maybe in my life!), I find myself thinking that life is really good right now. It’s not that I’ve ever thought I had a bad life, it’s just that I have always wanted more, bigger or better. I am still reaching for those things, but I feel like I am in a place right now where everything is ok just the way it is – even if the situation is not what I would choose if I were given the choice. I have been spending my time how I want to and with the people that I want to, and I’ve been feeling comfortable with who I am. It’s a nice feeling! And I’m just so grateful for everything. Sometimes I get the feeling that I am overflowing with gratitude. So I’m really enjoying the ride for now. Thanks to you for being a part of it.

Jessica O.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Alicia Silverstone rocks!

I watched Oprah yesterday, which was all about food – where it comes from, what we are eating, and why our food is the way it is. Oprah talked about Food, Inc., a documentary on food in the US, and showed clips from the movie.

Her first guest was Michael Pollan, who wrote the Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food. Both fantastic books. Pollan was also featured on Food, Inc. He gave tips like "eat all the junk food you want as long as you make it yourself" and "don't eat anything that your grandma wouldn't recognize as food." Such simple suggestions but super-helpful for making healthy choices at the grocery store.

Alicia Silverstone was the next guest. She talked about why she became vegan (she loves animals) and about her new book, The Kind Diet. She was so excited to be on the show and talked all about how before she became vegan, she thought giving up animal products meant being subjected to a life of tasteless food. But now she has come to realize that there are so many ways of preparing a wide variety of healthy (and tasty!) dishes. Her book is about a vegetarian lifestyle and includes recipes.

So I think Alicia Silverstone is the best because she is a spokesperson for healthy eating and for taking care of yourself. But even more so, she is living an inspired life. Her excitement about this way of eating beams through everything she writes and talks about. She has a genuine passion that she is encouraging others to explore by using a positive message. Could there be a better way to inspire other people? Not using fear or anger, but through excitement and enthusiasm. Such an inspiration! If you are interested in reading more, she has a blog called The Kind Life.

I was so excited that Oprah did this show about food because it's something that I've been talking about with anyone who will listen for a while now. (Including you!) It seems like people across the country are becoming more conscious of what they are eating and how that affects their bodies and our planet. Such a fantastic development!

On the food note, our macrobiotic eating plan is going well and getting better every day. Honestly I feel great. I haven't been doing the plan perfectly - by any means- but generally I have been eating tons of whole grains and lots of veggies. Last night we ate radicchio pizza with truffle oil, which was AMAZING, and we have been trying so many new foods. Even when I eat a lot (like last night), my stomach doesn't hurt.

I do still crave sweets and cheese. But I read yesterday that cheese actually triggers something in your brain that gives you a mini-high, just like sugar! I didn't know that, but it sure explains my cheese obsession. So besides my occasional cravings, I feel good physically, and it's so nice to eat as much as I want without worrying about fat and calories.

Overall, after 11 days, I am feeling great about our macrobiotic experiment.

Jessica O.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Doughnuts for Breakfast

Don't let this photo of Matt at our first macrobiotic meal deceive you, I ate a doughnut this morning! My office has bagels, doughnuts, and fruit on Fridays, and I caved!

It started this morning when I woke up and told Matt I was sad I wouldn't get to eat a bagel at work. He pointed out that macrobiotics was about freedom, and that I could have a bagel if I wanted - just as long as I enjoyed it while I was eating. Well that bagel turned into a doughnut once I got to work. It made me feel pretty bad after (physically), but I'll admit, I enjoyed every bite while I was eating it.

I guess after all of my talking about macrobiotics I felt the need to disclose my slip, but I'm ok with it. And I'm back on track! In fact, we are getting together with friends this weekend, and we asked them to come over so we could cook for them instead of going out.

The other two photos are of the graffiti we saw near Annie and Cortney's house in San Diego. I thought it was lovely.

Enjoy your weekend!

Jessica O.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Everything New

This weekend we went to San Diego to see Annie perform in the annual Cabaret dances. On the way down, we stopped in Carlsbad to meet Mieke, Nate, and Natalie for lunch at the Pizza Port. It was such a nice afternoon – we at outside, had fantastic pizza, good conversation and beer made there at the restaurant. (I also ate cheese sticks, which I couldn’t resist seeing that we were starting the macrobiotic diet on Monday!)

From there, we drove to Annie and Cortney’s and hung out for the afternoon until we went to see Annie dance at the 8:30 show. She was amazing as always! After we went back to their house and talked and laughed for hours. It was one of my favorite visits with them yet. On Sunday morning, I was up at the crack of dawn. So I took Odin out to the beach and let him run around. He had the best of times rolling in the seaweed, running up to the water but not quite going in, growling at other dogs, and just running around. So cute! Matt met us there and we walked over and took some pictures of the coolest graffiti art, which is right around the corner from Annie and Cortney’s apartment. We visited some more and then made it from San Diego to LA in record time – exactly 2 hours!

On Monday, we spent hours shopping for new ingredients for macrobiotic recipes. We went to Trader Joe’s and Erewhon, a natural foods store, both of which were like new experiences. Erewhon actually has a macrobiotics aisle if you can believe it. The whole day was slightly overwhelming because we had a huge list for many recipes and because we were buying so many things that were new – many that we had never even heard of before. Even for things we had bought before, it was like a whole new experience looking at ingredients to make sure they were all actually foods. We finally made it home and started on two recipes. Luckily, we bought a prepared packet of brown rice and a bag of beans from Trader Joe’s that you can heat up on the stove (still macrob. with nothing but the rice and beans in the packets). So we had that with a veggie for dinner. We ran out of time for a homemade meal since beans have to soak overnight and rice has to soak for a few hours before cooking. This involves lots of preparation, people! But we did make two dishes that we have been eating for the last few days. We also had a homemade bean soup in the freezer that we are eating as well. So as of day 3 we’re doing well!

Yesterday was the first day of 60 days of yoga that I almost didn’t do it. I had a terrible day and by the time I came home, I was depressed and not at all in the mood. Luckily, I was able to pull it together enough to do 25 minutes of a DVD. So I’m still on track for yoga. This morning in class I also realized that today is day 20 of 60! One-third through! We also started at a new yoga studio on Monday called Golden Bridge Yoga Center. Most of their classes are kundalini yoga, which seems to be more meditation and moving poses. It’s really interesting and very different from the studio we were going to in Larchmont.

The only other news is that it has been pouring rain in LA. We have so little rain that when it does rain, it makes you feel like curling up in front of the fire. Actually, that sounds pretty good. I think I may do just that tonight.

Jessica O.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Our Apartment

Here are some photos of our new apartment. I woke up at 5am for some reason last week and saw the loveliest sunrise. So, the photo above is the sunrise from our balcony, and the one below is of our building. (You can see my tiny plants on the balcony.)

Jessica O.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Macrobiotics Is Not What You Think

The cooking class this weekend was so interesting! It lasted five hours, and I was exhausted when it was over. But there was tons of information, so it was well worth it. The first part of the class was about cooking and preparing several macrobiotic dishes with protein (mostly beans). We watched while Warren Kramer and several others cooked and discussed food preparation, different recipe options, the art of cooking (and the creativity involved), and macrobiotic principals. Then we had lunch, which was great because I got to talk to several people who are macrobiotic and several others who are thinking about trying macrobiotics (more on that below). After lunch, Warren gave a speech called “10 Steps to Strengthening Health,” which I think was basically the principals of macrobiotics. The beginning was about macrobiotics generally –that it is a way of finding balance through the food you eat and the structure in your life. Here are the principals and what macrobiotics is all about.

1. Meals. Sit down to eat and eat at regular mealtimes.

2. Eat slowly, chew well. Chewing stimulates the brain and gets digestion going.

3. Don’t eat for 3 hours before you go to bed.

4. Try to have soup at least one time per day. It relaxes the body.

5. Have variety in what you eat. It helps to keep the body relaxed and ensures that it gets enough nutrients.

6. Have a whole grain and vegetable at every meal.

7. Body rub. Fill the sink with warm water and use a cotton cloth to lightly scrub your body. Especially in the areas where skin cells and toxins collect like the elbows, knees, between your fingers, etc. Over time, this is supposed to release toxins that your skin holds.

8. Take a walk every day (apart from your exercise).

9. Wear cotton whenever possible.

10. Put a green plant in your bedroom, which provides extra oxygen as you sleep.

I think the most interesting part of the whole thing was talking to people who are macrobiotic. The thing that I noticed instantly is that everyone looked so healthy and much younger than they actually were. Since I used to be a make-up artist, I always notice people’s skin. Each one of these people (ages 25-55) look amazing. Gorgeous, bright, clear skin. Each person also talked about how they have energy (both physical and mental) like they’ve never had it before. The energy part sounded like something that is almost indescribable to someone who is not macrobiotic. People have been cured from terminal cancer by eating a macrobiotic diet.

Anyway, I was so inspired by this, that I decided to try this way of eating (and the lifestyle) for 90 days. Another macrobiotic nutritionist who was there said that if I ate this way for 90 days, I wouldn’t want to go back to how I eat now. I just have to try this out.

For anyone who thinks this sounds like craziness, I have a few things to say. It sounds slightly strange to me too! But, think of it as trying to eat and live more naturally. There are also some other things. First, I can still go out to eat. This way of eating isn’t so rigid that you have to go to a vegan restaurant or not eat out at all. (Some macrobiotics do eat fish and there aren’t things that you have to eat, besides a grain and a veggie, at every meal.) Second, and sort of going with the last point, the idea with the diet is not eating processed foods or sugar and of course, having a whole grain and vegetable at every meal. Finally, it’s only for 90 days! If it’s the worst, I’ll go back to how I eat now in 3 months.

I’ll admit, I get a little nervous when I think about it. The idea of giving up my occasional treats (cookies, cupcakes, whatever my sweet tooth calls for at the moment) makes me a little sad. I’m also nervous about finding a variety of dishes that I like and that don’t take hours to cook. I often eat Trader Joe’s premade meals for dinner…so, I’m sure I’ll write about it all here. New year, new me! I’m going to think about this as an adventure, as something that could really make a positive change in my life.

Here is an interesting account of a woman who decided to become macrobiotic (click on these words): Macrobiotic Diary

Also, my friend Erika has a fantastic blog and wrote a post about food, eating, and her experiences with healthy eating and losing weight. If you’d like to read, here it is: Erika's Blog

Jessica O.

Friday, January 8, 2010


It’s Friday! I am so excited for the weekend. Tonight Matt and I have a business meeting to talk about goals, planning, 2010, etc. We are on a roll with this! Tomorrow I am going to a macrobiotic cooking class (again with Warren Kramer) and of course, to a yoga class.

I watched a DVD yesterday with a presentation by Wayne Dyer. He is a self-development author and speaker who is really fascinating. At the end of the presentation, he actually had the audience sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and went on to describe it as an analogy to life. His points were that we all need to be rowing our own boats and not trying to row anyone else’s, and that we should be moving forward with the current of life and not against it. (Singing this nursery rhyme sounds a little nuts as I write this, but just know that it was really effective after everything that he had been talking about.) Anyway, it really struck me that I haven’t been very good at rowing my own boat. Matt and I talk endlessly about our goals, his work, etc., but I have not really figured out with myself where I want my life to go. What direction I, as an individual, am heading. And then I realized that it’s a lot easier to try to row someone else’s boat (that is ultimately an impossible task but uses up so much energy) than it is to figure out what direction I want mine to go in…and to take it there.

Enjoy your weekend!

Jessica O.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

What is Macrobiotics?

Last night Matt and I went to hear Warren Kramer speak about macrobiotics. It was so interesting! I thought macrobiotics was some scientific way of eating where you had to be vegan and eat mostly raw foods. Not true at all. Macrobiotics means “great life” and is a structured approach to life, health, and living well in the environment in which you live. It is a way of eating and overall healthy living that gives you the freedom to do what you want in life. The study of macrobiotics also includes health care, cooking, health problems diagnosis (using external cues from the body), and body work (shiatsu, acupressure, etc.).

The other thing that I couldn’t believe was how healthy each of the people’s skin was who practiced macrobiotics. It was like their skin was dewy and glowing. So, Warren is hosting a cooking class on Saturday, and I decided to go. I'll write more this week.

Jessica O.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

"We understand how dangerous a mask can be. We all become what we pretend to be.”

The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss

I finished this book last week and was struck by this quote. We all become what we pretend to be. If I pretend to be someone I don’t necessarily want to be (i.e. to impress a boss or a friend or to get ahead at my job or to get my way), this idea suggests that enough pretending may turn me into the very person I don’t want to be. On the other hand, if I pretend to be someone I do want to be (i.e. successful even if I’m not actually there yet or vegetarian even if I like meat), presumably I will eventually become just that. The concept also struck me because I know plenty of people who don’t like what they do for a living. They feel like it’s a way to collect a paycheck, but beyond that, they are really unhappy with their profession. Does this mean that they become unhappy? That the profession becomes a part of them no matter how they try to avoid it? What about success or happiness? Does wearing a mask of happiness over time cause you to be happy? Either way, I think it’s a great point on how important it is to be true to yourself and to always, with others or alone, work towards being the person you want to be.

Today is day 6 of 60 days of yoga – 10% down! The classes don’t seem like vigorous exercise, but I have been sleeping like I’m in a coma. Seriously. After 8 or 9 hours of sleep I can hardly get myself out of bed. I really like doing this project. It’s strange having this activity that I have to do every single day, but it also feels good to challenge myself to keep up with it and to challenge my body in such new ways. I have definitely done yoga before – DVDs, at the gym, at a studio. But I’ve never done it regularly. Another benefit I’ve noticed is that I’m thinking more clearly. Maybe I should say I’m able to focus more. The yoga combined with the new year has made me think about what’s important in my life. It’s starting to put a lot in perspective. I like it.

I began with a quote, and I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite renaissance men:

“The greater danger is not that our hopes are too high and we fail to reach them, it’s that our hopes are too low and we do.”


Jessica O.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Year's Eve 2009

We had so much fun on New Year's Eve! Our friends Jen, Steve, Jen, and Peter joined us to celebrate.

Everyone brought something and we had a great dinner, lots of champagne, interesting conversation, and confetti at midnight. Lots of confetti at midnight...I was in heaven!

I actually couldn't have enjoyed myself more.

Yesterday Matt and I started off the day by going to our first yoga class at Liberation Yoga. The instructor spent most of the class talking about new beginnings and reflecting on the challenges of 2009. It was so uplifting - a perfect way to start off the new year. My favorite thing that she said was that 2010 is a blank book. We have 365 empty pages - how do you want to fill them? I loved hearing that. The year is ours to make whatever we want out of it.

After class, Matt and I walked to the Grove to eat lunch at the Farmer's Market and talk about our goals for 2010. We also talked about what we have learned in the past year. Then we spent an hour in Barnes and Noble picking out magazines for our visualization boards. I will post a photo of mine when it's finished. Overall, I have such a hopeful feeling for this new year. I am so grateful for the opportunity to have a chance to start over, even if it really is just a mental reset. The year is already off to a great start.

I hope you had a wonderful new year's celebration. Off to yoga.

Jessica O.