Chips & Yoga

Because I always need yoga...and I sometimes need chips.

Featured Posts Slider


My 2017 Book Reviews, Part 2

Better late then never, I guess.

Picking up right where we left off!

Here are my (completely biased) book reviews from what I read in 2017!

1) A Storm of Swords: A Song of Ice and Fire, aka Game of Thrones 3 - It takes me on average 18 months to read one of these. Because I'll read half the book, and become so OVERWHELMED that I have to set it down for a while. Then of course when I pick it up again a year later I'll have no idea what's going on since there are 4,000 characters with really long names and 7,000,000 plot lines (the reason I put the thing down in the first place), but I always end up very glad I committed to it. The writing is so juicy and SO GOOD, and yes the books are insanely better than the TV show, which is also insanely good. Book 3 features THE RED WEDDING, and it's so so riveting! My goal is to read the fourth book this year. As in, pick it up in 2018 and finish it in 2018. I will of course report back on this. I realize I just gave you zero synopsis, but I wouldn't even know where to begin? Arya is awesome, Tyrion remains my fav, Jon Snow broods a lot (but is a total babe, duh.), the red lady is evil, and Joffrey is the worst. Cool?

2) All There Is - This is a cute, heart-warming, easy read. StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world. They interview people from all over to hear their stories, and this book is a collection of stories about love, divided into three sections: Love Found, Love Lost, and Love Found at Last. It's a very short compilation, filled with wonderful stories.

3) The Four Agreements - I've had this book for a while, and it ended up being on our required readings list for Yoga Teacher Training. I started it a while ago, and it seemed a little hippy dippy for me (says the woman who eats tofu and lights incense), so I never finished it. Boy, am I glad we read this for YTT, because it's so great. The book outlines four basic agreements, or basic rules to live by, and I find myself referring back to them every day. It's a quick read, and a very powerful book!

4) The Handmaid's Tale - People were going crazy over the TV series, so I had to read the book! This novel falls into the dystopian genre, a genre that I absolutely love. Published in 1985, this classic book by Margaret Atwood takes place in the [very messed up] future. The main character Offred is a Handmaid, whose main function is to produce a child for men who are high up in rank. Touching on classist and feminist themes, the book is disturbing, powerful, and an excellent read.

5) The Reminders - What a quirky, delightful, and heartwarming book! I hadn't heard much about this novel, so I didn't know what to expect, and I was pleasantly surprised. Joan is 10 years old and has a condition where she can remember every detail of her life very clearly. Her parents' friend Gavin recently lost a loved one, and he makes a deal with Joan - If she will clearly tell him every memory she has of his loved one, he will help her write a song to enter into a songwriting contest. If you are looking for an easy read that will make you smile, this novel is it!

6) Into the Water - I absolutely loved The Girl on the Train, so I had high expectations for this one. The novel is a mystery surrounding the death of a woman in a small town. I was completely hooked for the first 80% of the book, and then I found the rest to be predictable (and I'm someone who can never predict endings of books or movies). Even though I was a little disappointed by the ending, I would still recommend the book because I was so enthralled by most of it. I also am a big fan of books with feminist themes. Paula Hawkins knows how to engage the reader.

7) How to Win Friends and Influence People - Originally published in 1936, this self-improvement book on how best to interact with people has stood the test of time. While some of the language is a bit dated, the principles are still very relevant. I find myself using many of these techniques, specifically at my job. Definitely a worthwhile read.

8) The Nightingale - Awesome awesome AWESOME book! This World War II novel was definitely one of my top 5 favorite reads in 2018. The story centers around two very different sisters in German-occupied France. One sister joins the resistance, while the other stays home with her family and fights the war in other ways. It's a beautifully told story and an excellent read. If you liked All the Light We Cannot See, you'll definitely be a fan of this one! (Also the picture above reminds me that I need to return this book to my friend Lindsey, who I borrowed it from!)

9) Damage Done - Whew, this book gave me the heeby jeebies! This young adult novel centers around the life of a teenage girl who experienced a tragic event, and is now living a new life with a new identity. The book has a lot of twists and turns, though I did end up figuring out the ending. If you like to be disturbed, this book is for you. If you don't (I don't), then feel free to pass!

10) Eat Right 4 Your Type - I had mentioned this book before when discussing my New Year's Resolutions. Eat Right 4 Your Type was all the rage during my Yoga Teacher Training, so I wanted to check it out to see what it was all about. The idea behind this book is that every blood type is different (duh), so different foods react differently towards each blood type. The diet recommended for my blood type is essentially vegetarian, which makes sense to me since I felt so amazing when I stopped eating meat. There have been many doctors and scientists who have come out and debunked this logic, but I do find it interesting. And like I said, based on my own personal experiences, going veg made me feel like the Hulk (even if I still can't open a jar of pickles to save my life). Regardless, I totally geek out on food and health stuff, so I thought it was a good read.

11) The Gifts of Imperfection - This was my second Brené Brown book to read, and I absolutely LOVED it. Brown leads readers through 10 guideposts to achieve acceptance of who we are. They are all based on letting go of the many expectations we are faced with as a society. It's a very approachable, delightful, and thought-provoking read!

12) Maybe in Another Life - I tend to shy away from chick-lit, and if I had known this novel fell into that category, I probably would not have read it. But despite myself, I actually enjoyed it. The story centers around a woman who runs into an ex-boyfriend while out one night. He asks her to stay out a while longer, and then the story splits off into a version of her life where she stayed, and another version where she didn't. You follow the stories and see how drastically different (yet similar) both lives are. If you are a fan of the idea of multiple universes (me!), or loved the 90s movie Sliding Doors (me also!), this quick, light book might be worth the read.

13) 11/22/63 - Not a fan of the scary or disturbing (see above, re: Damage Done), this was my first Stephen King novel. My dad had given it to me several years ago, and it had been collecting dust on my bookshelf. I had heard great things about this one, but the book is massive and incredibly daunting to look at. But for some reason, in 2017, I figured what the hell, and gave it a whirl. And I'm so glad I did! Because this also ended up on my Top 5 list (how many are on my Top 5 list now? 18?). A man is presented with a portal that takes him back in time to 1958, and he is tasked with stopping the Kennedy assassination. This riveting, fascinating story kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved every page of it!

14) The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - I also mentioned this book in my New Year's Resolutions. Marie Kondo lays out an approach to decluttering your home, all based on the simple question, "Does this spark joy?" Instead of using a room-by-room approach (as most of us do), she uses a category approach. First clothes, then books, and so on. It's all about truly appreciating what you have and not cluttering your life with things that don't really bring you joy. I cut my wardrobe down by at least a third - if not half - which was totally liberating (although I do find myself stealing t-shirts from my husband nowadays, as my dirty laundry starts to pile up). I got rid of maybe only 10 books, but then again, books generally bring me joy (hence this blog post). I've not really delved any further, and I certainly would like to. This book is a super easy read, and totally inspirational! I definitely recommend it.

And there you have it for the books I read in 2017! I would love to hear what your recent (or all-time) favs are, as I'm always on the prowl for the next good read. 2018 is off to a bit of a slow start for me in the book department, so I'd love recommendations on a phenomenal novel to dive into!

xo and namaste! - Kim


My Social Media Detox, AKA "Where the Hell did Kim Go?"

Yo, I did it.

(Also, trying a balancing pose in full on snow gear? Level 10 Difficulty.)

(Also, here's a video of me "snowboarding" because I know you need a good laugh):

If you've been reading along (thank you!!), you know that I went on a social media detox as one of my New Year's Resolutions during the month of February (plus 2 days to make it 30 days). I thought it was going to be incredibly difficult and awful, was exactly the opposite!

The first two days were tough. I found myself reaching for my phone often, to do what exactly, I'm not sure. It was an impulse - Reach for phone, check social media, check email, repeat. But after those first two days, everything was smooth sailing, and I quickly found that I didn't miss it at all!

There were a few times I had to "break" my detox, which I'll lay out here:

1) When my husband Jon and I got to Colorado for vacation, I realized I hadn't printed out the instructions to get to (and in) our condo we rented. I had to open the email from my phone (which I'd sworn off as part of the detox) to access the information. There were a few other times things like this happened, but it wasn't a lot, and I did not feel dominated by my phone in any way.

2) I needed to get two yoga classes covered because I was going out of town, and the way to do that is through our teacher Facebook groups. That happened once, and I quickly got off as soon as that was taken care of.

My biggest takeaway from my month of no social media (besides those few times I mentioned, plus my work obligations, which you can read about in my previous post) is that I felt so much more present to everyone around me and my surroundings. I also noticed how much other people check their phones in social situations, as I know I certainly had as well. It really was freeing, and I don't really have any desire to be on social media like I used to. As of this writing (not counting today where I will be posting this blog post on social), I only went back on my social media accounts twice since the end of my detox, two weeks ago. And I really didn't like it. My first time back, I was on for about five minutes, and thought, "This kind of sucks." People have these exciting life changes they post about online, and how much nicer is it to find out from them personally (if you are close) than opposed to via the internet? Yes, there are benefits to social media, don't get me wrong. This process taught me, however, that I feel so much better, more present, and happier when I am limiting my access to it. I have been checking emails from my phone, but not compulsively like I used to. I put the email app in an inconspicuous spot on my phone, so I have to make the effort to get to it. I also tried playing Candy Crush a few times since, and I was way less enthralled/addicted than I used to be. Successes all around, I'd say!

Moving forward, I'd like to limit my social media use to once a week. If it happens more than that every now and then, so be it, but I have no reservations about doing another social media detox should the need arise. If you have any questions about this, or if you've done a social media detox yourself, I would love to hear about it in the comments! I cannot recommend it enough. I personally loved it, and, no, I didn't die.


xo and namaste! - Kim


January Miracle Morning Recap and February Social Media Detox Prep

Goooood Morning yogis!

( ^Are those 5 pending notifications making you as crazy as they are making me right now?)

January is almost over, and I have stuck to my New Year's Resolution of practicing my Miracle Morning every day for the month. It has been surprisingly easy, and an unsurprisingly wonderful way to get my day started every day. There were only two days that I had an issue. The first was on a Sunday morning, where we woke up painfully early to cheer my mom on during the Houston Marathon (Go Mom!), and I had to wake up even earlier to do my Miracle Morning. It wasn't that big of a deal, because I made it a short one, but mentally it was a struggle. The second was this morning, when I woke up in a hotel room in Atlanta that I shared with two co-workers. But that also wasn't too big a deal, I was just all, "Hey if y'all see me sitting up with my eyes closed for a few minutes, followed by standing on my head for a bit, no need to sound the alarms."

Overall, I cherish that morning time to myself, and it's been such a lovely treat extending it into my weekends! Will I continue the trend? Maybe not every single day, but I think after this experience I will definitely be more consistent with it! And once again, I cannot recommend practicing a Miracle Morning enough. Total game- and life-changer.

Other resolutions I've stuck to so far:

- Going upside down every day (lots of falling involved, once on my dog who, needless to say, was not having a Miracle Morning that day)
- Cutting down on my caffeine intake (this really really really really really really reeeeeally sucks. Why am I doing this again?!?! At least I'm not cranky about it *eye twitch*)
- I sort of KonMari'ed my books this month. As in, I got rid of 10. But books really do bring me joy, so I'm happy with the results. I may have to revisit.
- I've been working on my splits quite a bit, but I have been mindful of taking it easy on my hamstrings.
- I signed up to be a volunteer at an animal shelter, and my training is next month.

For the month of February, I have decided to do a month of no social media. There is a caveat to this, as a large chunk of my full-time job entails me managing a few social media accounts. So I will still have to do that, but I am going to take a month off from my own personal social media accounts. This includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Candy Crush, and Words with Friends (yes, that still exists, why do you ask?). This also includes checking email from my phone and looking things up on my phone for quick unimportant information. Example:

HUSBAND: Can you believe "Titanic" came out 20 years ago?
ME: There's no way that's possible, it's only been 15!"
*quickly types in IMDB on phone to check*
ME: Drats, you're right!

(This was obviously a made up example since I saw "Titanic" five times in the theater and cried obscene buckets of tears every time -  spoiler alert - the iceberg hit, so it's forever ingrained in my brain. Also, I don't say "drats.".....yes I do.)

I mean, wouldn't it be nice to have some things remain a mystery? Or to find an Encyclopedia and look it up? (Do kids these days even know what an "Encyclopedia" is???) If it's something that's absolutely killing me to know, I can invest the time to boot up a computer and find out.

Why I chose February as my month to do this:

1) I'm going on a vacation during the month with my husband, and won't it be nice to be fully present the whole time??

2) I'm seeing four out of town friends during the month, and won't it be nice to be fully present the whole time??

3) Because of reasons #1 and #2, I am teaching less yoga classes, so I won't feel the need to post about them on social media (but please check back at and for full schedule details!)

4) February is the shortest month of the year *shrug* (yes, I know I said "30 Day Social Media Detox" on my resolutions, but really I meant a month. I'm doing 31 days of Miracle Mornings since January has 31 days! So....okay, maybe I'll see how I'm feeling on Day 28 and extend it TWO MORE WHOLE DAYS).

What I'm hoping to gain from this: more presence, more clarity, more time, and - to put it bluntly - to cut an addiction. While as a whole I don't think I'm that bad, the first things I do when I wake up are look at my phone, check my email, look at Facebook, and open up Instagram. That's five whole minutes that could be added to my Miracle Morning! When I eat breakfast (and sometimes other meals), I often play Candy Crush. How about reading a book or newspaper instead? Or, I don't know, enjoying every delicious bite of my food?

Any time I am tempted to get on social, I vow to do one of the following:

1) five minutes of exercise

2) five minutes of self-improvement reading or research

3) five minutes of journaling/writing

4) five minutes of undivided attention to the person I'm with, if I'm with someone

5) five minutes of affirmations

6) five minutes of meditating

I was debating whether or not to continue blogging during this period, and I have come to the conclusion that I won't. But if there are things I want to write about, I'll type them into my drafts and publish in March. No biggie.

I would like to say I'm excited about this challenge, but I'm actually pretty anxious about it. I guess if it were easy, it wouldn't really be a challenge. But I do think, as a whole, this will be good for me. There was life before Facebook, and I look [somewhat] forward to hopping in my DeLorean and revisiting it!

xo and namaste! - Kim

My 2018 Goals and Resolutions

My 2018 Goals and Resolutions are to have no goals and resolutions!!!

jk, AS IF.

Because who would I be if I didn't have goals and resolutions? (sidenote, maybe the yogi in me needs to CTFO <~~(yes I made up that acronym, I'll let you decode it using your context clues) on goals and resolutions in an effort to be more present and happy with where I am in life? But I digress).

Happy New Year everyone! I love the start of the year because I get to reflect on all the highs and lows of the previous year, and visualize what I want the coming year to look like. I do try to make every year my Best Year Ever, and whoowhee, 2017 is going to be hard to top! I've decided to lay out my 2018 Goals and Resolutions for you here in case you are looking for some ideas, and also as a form of accountability for me (because "social media detox" probably isn't as glamorous as it sounds).

So here they are!!

1) Wean myself off of Coffee Completely - I am no nutritionist, and I am certainly no scientist, so this resolution has zero to do with how coffee affects health. I just do not want to be dependent upon it anymore. While I am a self-proclaimed "morning person," I do drink two (very large) cups of coffee per day. Since I enjoy the experience of sipping my morning coffees, I would like to transition to two (very large) cups of decaf coffee per day. Right now I'm at 25% decaf, 75% caf. My goal is to be 50/50 by the end of January, reducing the caffeine little by little until I'm all decaf.

2) KonMari my whole house -  I recently read "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," (book review to come!) and I'm totally hooked on the KonMari method. It's all about simplifying your house to be surrounded only by things that you love. I've already KonMari'ed my clothes (loved it!), so next up is books (dreading it.). My goal is to do one section of KonMari-ing per month!

3) Get to full splits on both sides -  My dream pose! This is temporarily on hold since I hurt my right hammy about two months ago working on this. Still working a bit on my left side, but taking it easy until I feel ready to dive (slowly) back in!

4) Go upside down every day - My friend Lindsey had this as one of her resolutions in 2017, and I thought it was so great! Right now I'm working on really firming up my headstand, and my goal is to have handstand by the end of the year.

5) 30 Day Miracle Morning Challenge - Really this is a 31-day challenge since I'm doing it for the whole month of January, but clearly I hadn't had my two (very large) cups of coffee yet when I had written this down. Motivated by my post on my morning routine, I am going to have a Miracle Morning every morning (even weekends!) this month, and maybe beyond that!

6) Reduce my salt intake - Again, I am no nutritionist or scientist. And some recent studies have shown that maybe salt really isn't that bad for you, especially if you are an active person. BUT. I do add salt to e v. e r. y. t h i n g. And maybe I don't need to. I'm making a conscious effort to not add salt to anything after it has been cooked and only sticking to the amount of salt stated in a recipe. Believe me, this will be a challenge for me.

7) 30 Day Social Media Detox - I'm thinking of doing this for the month of February, and not because then it would only be 28 days (okay, you caught me). I do make an effort to not be attached to my phone, but how downright freeing (slash excruciating) would it be to not check social media at all for a month? And yes, I'm including Candy Crush in this. I'm equal parts proud and embarrassed to admit what level I'm on.

8) 30 Day Alcohol Detox - HA.

9) 30 Days Fully Vegan - I'm mostly there since I'm pretty much fully vegan at home, but I'd like to do a month of it (even while eating out) because I love animals and it really does just feel so damn good.

10) 30 Days on the Blood Type Diet - I recently read "Eat Right 4 Your Type" (book review to come!), and yeah yeah I'm not a scientist, blah blah - However, I'm blood type A, and according to the book, people with this blood type thrive on a - you guessed it - vegetarian diet. So it theoretically makes sense with why going veg felt so good! My friend K Joy swears by the diet the book recommends for her, so I would like to give it a shot. Because there are some other things about the Type A Diet that are recommended, within vegetarianism. Like avoid bananas (oof), tomatoes (noooo), and peppers (WHYYYY). So I'd like to fully give it a whirl and see how it feels!

11) Reduce my grocery budget by half - I'm going to try to live off of roughly $3 a day (not counting a few times I've budgeted for eating out). I spend a crap ton of money on groceries, and I think there's definitely room for me to simplify, while also eating wholesome foods. We'll see how this goes!

12) Volunteer once a month - After reviewing all of my self-improvement goals and personal challenges, I realized I wanted to resolve to also give back, starting with once a month. And then I'd love to kick it up a notch and do something more frequent!

Because budgeting is one of my favorite hobbies, right behind "goal-setting" and "waking up early" (What's that? You really want to invite me to your next party?), I have a few other fun financial goals that I left out because my husband would be all, "Kim, TMI on the interwebz!!!" But what I've written out here are my goals and resolutions in a nutshell!

What are your hopes and dreams for 2018?! I'd love to hear them. :)

xo and namaste! - Kim


My 2017 Book Reviews - Part 1

Books give me life.

But even though books give me life, and I love to read, I'm: a) not naturally a fast reader; and b) sometimes known (to myself) for not making time to read. But this year, I really kicked it up a notch - with the help of making a visual library of books to read in my Bullet Journal (which also gives me life), coloring a book after reading it, I read on average a little more than 2 books a month. I read self-improvement books during my Miracle Mornings, and I read just-for-fun books in the time I commit for that. Right now I'm on par to have finished 25-27 books in the year 2017, literally doubling what I read last year. So I would like to share my brief reviews on the books I read (inspired by super-reader/virtual blogger friend Lauren). I'm hoping to do this quarterly next year when the books are fresher in my mind. For now, here are the books I read during the first half of the year, and my thoughts on them (and FYI none of the links are sponsored, I just put them in as a reference, should you be interested in reading more/purchasing them!):

1) The Goldfinch - I actually started and stopped reading this fictional novel several times prior to this year because it's pretty long, and pretty heavy. It tells the story of a 13 year old boy, Theo, who lives in New York, and survives a tragic accident. He is temporarily orphaned, meets an eccentric antique dealer, and then shipped off to the west to live with his estranged father. The story goes through his struggles with addiction and details his path to the black market world of art as an adult. Like I said, it's reaally heavy, but the writing is SO GOOD. The story is so rich and captivating, and it's worth the commitment. I didn't end this book feeling warm and fuzzy, but I did feel rewarded and slightly challenged as a reader. Good stuff.

2) Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things - This memoir by Houston local (what what!) Jenny Lawson is exactly what it sounds like. The book is a series of snapshots of Lawson's life, where she describes her battles with depression and other illnesses in a humorous light. One day she woke up and decided to be FURIOUSLY HAPPY about life, even if that meant doing and saying things that may seem ridiculous to everyone else. I found myself literally laughing out loud several times during this book, and also experiencing deep empathy for her experiences. It's a great, easy read.

3) A Man Called Ove - This easily might be my favorite book I read this year. I read this fictional novel in a matter of days while lying on the beach during my honeymoon (UGH TAKE ME BACK). Ove is a cranky man who lives alone and appears to have nothing better to do than give his neighbors citations for various insignificant infractions. As you read on you learn that there are several heartbreaking and wonderful moments in Ove's life that bring him to this point. But a new family moves in across the street, and, along with his many loving neighbors, they change the course of Ove's life. When I first heard this synopsis, I was not intrigued at all. But I am so so SO glad I read it. I laughed, I cried, and I couldn't put it down. The movie is also great, though I definitely recommend reading the book first. This book is quirky, beautiful, and will absolutely give you the warm fuzzies!

4) Why Not Me? - This is Mindy Kaling's second memoir. I enjoyed her first book Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, and I enjoyed this one. Honestly, I don't really remember a whole lot about it, but she definitely writes in her own voice, which I appreciate. The book is a collection of short stories throughout her life. It wasn't my favorite of funny books, but it was a quick, easy read, and there were several funny moments throughout.

5) Daring Greatly - This was my first Brené Brown (another Houston local!) book to read, and while I definitely found value in it, I don't know that it was the right book for me at the time. I recently finished her book The Gifts of Imperfection and couldn't get enough of it (more on that later!). Daring Greatly focuses a lot on vulnerability and how important it is. I am a person who places great value on vulnerability, so the main nugget I got out of this book was a reaffirmation of that, as well as more of an understanding of where fear of vulnerability comes from (shame). And don't get me wrong, I could always stand to be more vulnerable, and I have to make an effort to do so sometimes. This book DID make me think, and that's never a bad thing!

6) Love Your Life, Not Theirs - In 2016 my financial life was turned upside down after reading Dave Ramsey's Total Money Makeover, which I 100% recommend, over and over again. Love Your Life, Not Theirs was written by Ramsey's daughter, Rachel Cruze. The book obviously echos a lot of what Ramsey enforces with his debt snowball and savings strategies. The different aspect I felt it offered was that it was coming from the perspective of someone in the same generation as me (I avoid the term "millennial" like the plague because I REMEMBER LIFE BEFORE THE INTERNET, PEOPLE). She enforces the whole idea that one of our main problems as a society is that need for keeping up with the Joneses, and now that stretches even further into lusting after people's lives as displayed through an Instagram filter. If you're looking for an introductory, kick-your-financial-butt-in-gear book, I recommend Ramsay's first, but Cruze's is a decent follow-up.

7) A Hundred Thousand Worlds - This was a charming and unique little novel. It tells the story of a former cult sci-fi star Valerie, and her cross country stops at different comic book festivals, with her son Alex in tow. They meet a crazy cast of characters along the way, and Alex doesn't realize that there may be another reason his mom is taking him across the country that she's not telling him. When I first read the synopsis I wasn't that intrigued, but it had great reviews, so I decided to give it a go. And I was really glad I did!

8) The Power of Now - I've had this on my bookshelf for quite a while and have been wanting to read it, so I finally read it this year, and....I didn't love it like I thought I would. I am such a future-thinking person that I'm always having to remind myself to be in the moment. I was hoping this book would help me do that, or maybe provide me with different meditation techniques. It was a little more abstract and less "how-to" than I was hoping it would be. I think this is the kind of book that would be good for a study group or book club, to really talk through some of the sections. Ironically enough, I often found my mind wandering while reading the book, and I would have to re-read paragraphs. FOOD FOR THOUGHT. This book receives wide praise, though, so I do think it's worth a read, and you may get a lot out of it.

9) Getting a PhD in You - If you are just starting out on a goal-setting journey, this is a great book to start with. Think of it as "Goal Setting 101." Since I do a lot of goal setting on a day-to-day basis during my Miracle Morning I found some of the exercises to be a little redundant. It wasn't bad to have the refresher though, and there were some aspects I found to be new and interesting, like mirror affirmations.

10) Big Little Lies - This was another one of my top 5 books of the year! I tore through it on the plane ride home from our honeymoon (I swear I didn't just read during my honeymoon, I also drank, FYI). A murder takes place at the beginning of the book, and the novel focuses on three different female characters. I've read two other Liane Moriarty books, and loved them as well, but is was definitely my favorite. Her books feature strong female characters and great feminist themes, and this one was so juicy! SUCH a page-turner. The HBO series is also great, but do yourself a favor and read the book first!

11) Harry Potter and the Cursed Child - Okay, so I borrowed this on e-reader from the library, and I had no idea it was a script for a play. So when I opened it, I was like, huh? Now, don't get me wrong, I'm a former theater major, so reading plays is not a foreign thing to me. And it's definitely different from reading the Harry Potter books. It read a little cheesy to me, but I say that knowing it probably translates really well on a stage. It tells the story of Harry and Ginny's son Albus, and the many struggles he experiences as an outcast at Hogwarts. No it isn't HP 1-7, but reading it did fill a sort of void and gave me insight into the adult lives of our beloved characters, which was very nice.

12) The Subtle Art of not giving a F*ck - The subtle book with the not-so-subtle title! This book refers to itself as the "Anti-self help book," and I found a lot of the ideas in it to be pretty interesting. I am someone who is constantly pushing myself to be better, having to often pull myself out of the future. This book - peppered with lots of F-Bombs and humor - claims that the idea to always push ourselves to be better and happier ironically ends up making us unhappy in the end because we are never good enough. It advises you to know your limitations and find peace within them. Since I'm addicted to self-help, I couldn't totally get behind everything as a whole, but there were some pretty valuable nuggets in this book. The author talks about how he once bought a guitar and had dreams of becoming a rock star, but he never put the time and effort into practicing and later on felt like he failed his dream. He then realized if it was actually his dream, he would have made it happen. This caused me to reflect on past regrets I've had of not succeeding in certain things, like making a living out of singing and acting in New York. If I had wanted it bad enough the constant rejection, hauling my laundry up and down 4 flights of stairs between the laundromat and my 600 square-foot 2 bedroom apartment (that cost a small fortune), waiting tables til 1:00 am only to wake up in 3 hours to stand in line in 30 degree weather for 2 more hours just to sign up and audition 4 hours later, and meal after meal of packaged ramen noodles would not have deterred me (NYC living, man). So yeah, I'd say it wasn't a bad read!

And that's the first half of my 2017 in books, in a nutshell! I am no book-reviewing expert, and my opinions are obviously just that - my opinions. So take everything I say with a grain of salt. Even if a book isn't necessarily enjoyable for me, I always think there's value or something to be gained from reading. So stay tuned for part 2!

xo and namaste! - Kim

My Morning Routine

Good Morning, Friends!

I have a confession to make: I am a morning person. I LOVE mornings, and I love being a morning person, but I admit it sometimes can be a total drag when I'm out with friends and fighting to keep my eyes open come 10:00 pm (....okay, 8:30 pm). When the sun is up, I'm up, and when the sun goes down, I am completely down for the count. All that said, I wouldn't trade my magical mornings for anything.

I became even more of a morning person after reading the book The Miracle Morning, and I was completely hooked. This book essentially lays out six things to do in the morning before starting your day that can help you achieve your best day/year/life/etc. possible. I DEFINITELY recommend it. The author, Hal Elrod, researched the habits of many successful and happy people, and across the board six things kept coming up (SAVERS - Silence, Affirmations, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing). While I definitely recommend reading the book, I'll lay out what my particular Miracle Morning (and beyond) looks like. And keep in mind, the timing of the Miracle Morning varies from day to day. While Elrod says we really don't need as much sleep as we've been told, I know that for me to function at my personal best, I need 7+ hours of sleep (I know, I KNOW, wait 'til I have children!). So the length of my Miracle Morning depends on when I wake up, which depends on when I go to bed. Additionally, while I should do the Miracle Morning every day, I typically only really do it on week days. I should extend to the weekends though, maybe I'll figure that into my 2018 resolutions....

Aaaanyhoo! My mornings look like this:

1) Stumble out of bed and over the dogs. Brush teeth, drink a full glass of water, make coffee.

2) Meditate (Silence) - I generally meditate for 10 minutes, give or take 5 minutes in either direction. I like to use an app called "Calm," where you can choose different nature sounds or chanty music, and set a timer for however long you'd like. They also have some guided meditations I sometimes use. I am not by any means a pro meditator, but taking these 10 minutes of stillness is such a wonderful way to start the day. I try to focus on my breath, and I'll often do a full body scan, visualizing my breath filling up each part of my body as I go from toes to forehead (third eye center). Does my mind wander? Oh, all the time (and usually it's food-related)! But I offer myself grace, and just come back to my breath when I realize I've gone on a little mental walk.

3) Visualization - This is probably my weakest area, aka the one I spend the least amount of time on. I'm a very goal-driven person, so I'm constantly stuck in the future and where I'm going (when I need to be more present anyway), so I kind of breeze over this one. But I do try to focus on where I'd like to see myself in the next 6 months, year, 5 years, 10 years, etc. I think I also skim over it because I often am picturing the same things over and over. But really there's value in seeing your aspirations and dreams repeatedly, SO.

4) Run back up to the kitchen and grab my coffee.

5) Affirmations - I have written out several affirmations that I read through in the mornings, depending on what I feel I'm needing more of in my life at that moment. Sometimes I write new ones, based on things that are going on. Examples of what some of my affirmations are about: health (eating mindfully, regular exercise), striving to be the best possible version of myself, saving money, staying present, being a great partner to my husband, etc.

6) Journaling (Scribing) - Lately that has looked like writing in the 52 Lists for Happiness book my friend Danielle gave me for my birthday, looking up journal prompts and writing in my journal about them, or just writing about what's on my mind that day!

7) Reading - I'll pick a  non-fiction book to read that has to do with self-improvement or world awareness. To give you an idea of what that spectrum looks like, I recently finished Brené Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection and I've now picked The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan back up (it's not an easy one for me, and I had to put it away for a year). I generally read roughly 10 pages a morning, maybe more or less based on time.

8) Exercise - Since July, this had looked like me spending 10 minutes on working on my splits, both sides. However, two weeks ago, I was reeaaally close, got overzealous, and did something to my right hamstring in the process. (Note to self: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY). So I'm currently on a hiatus from the splits, and am coming to terms with the fact that I will have lost some of my momentum, but oh well! Better to rest it than to get a real injury. So in the meantime, this has looked like me doing some push ups, crunches, and working on my headstand!

9) Shower and get ready for work.

10) Walk the more energetic (read: needier) of our two dogs, Newton.

11) Eat breakfast! My breakfast of choice lately has been a tofu scramble with vegetables or a piece of toast. Delicious!

And that's what my morning routine typically looks like! While I am a morning person, I assure you I don't always wake up singing with birds flying through my hair. Here's a photo to prove it:

No, I haven't washed my hair since Tuesday, why do you ask?

Even though I may come out of bed looking nothing short of a monster, that treasured hour or so all to myself is such a gift, and so worth waking up for! If you're interested in trying the Miracle Morning, but maybe a little overwhelmed/worried about waking up early, start small. Maybe dedicate one or two minutes to each element of the Miracle Morning, or add or subtract certain things as you see fit. The world is your oyster! If you have any questions, or if there's something you do that brightens your day and inspires you to be the best you, I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

xo and namaste! - Kim

Why Vegetarian?

Why, I'm so glad you asked!

If you are, or ever have been, a vegetarian, the #1 question you will undoubtedly get asked is "Why did you become a vegetarian?" (The second most common question being, "HOW DO YOU GET ENOUGH PROTEIN?!?!?!?!?!?!") The most surprising thing I discovered about people asking me why I became a vegetarian is that it's a deeply personal question. If someone I'm close with asks me, it's easier to answer. If someone I don't know well asks me, I immediately go into panic mode, my heart starts racing, my palms start sweating, my voice raises an octave higher, and I enthusiastically and loudly start talking about just HOW DARN GOOD IT MAKES ME FEEL! (Not a lie, but certainly not the main truth).

Why do I go on the defensive? Well, while it has certainly lessened over time, there is a sort of stigma that comes with being a vegetarian. You know, one of those vegetarians. And on the flip side, who am I to assume that the person asking me will assume things about me when I tell them the reason I don't eat meat is because I don't want to harm animals? And if I'm assuming that they are assuming, what do I really think their assumptions are (welcome to my brain, would you like to try it on for a while?)? I think my fear is that they will assume that I am in turn judging those who eat meat, which honestly truly couldn't be further from the truth. I ate meat for roughly 28 years of my life for God's sakes, who in the heck am I to judge?! So without further adieu, here are the ins and outs of my plant-based diet - my FAQs if you will - laid out unabashedly for all the world (or maybe just my mom?) to see!

Why did you become a vegetarian?
I've had several vegetarian moments throughout my life, for different reasons. When I was about 6 I became a vegetarian for a week because I had a weird meat experience that freaked me out. After my grandma served some of her awesome ham for Easter, I got over it pretty quickly. When I was in 5th grade, I became a vegetarian for a week again, because Jonathan Taylor Thomas was a vegetarian, and I felt like it connected us on a whole new level. But my heart wasn't in it since he never returned any of my letters (still not bitter), so that fizzled. When I was in college in Miami, I became a vegetarian for about six months as a way to be healthier (read: skinnier. Let's just call it what it was). I lost some college weight, and my skin became glowy and flawless. I went home for the summer, attended a crawfish boil, and lost all control (Texans, you feel me on this). When I was 23 I had another 6 month stint with vegetarianism as a means to be healthier skinnier. I learned quickly though that while chips are vegetarian, eating them for multiple meals per day isn't necessarily the healthiest (though y'all know my love for chips, SO). In the spring of 2014, I started regularly practicing yoga. I was eating more plant based-foods because I simply craved them more, and I was reading up on yoga and its surrounding principles. I learned more about the practice of ahimsa (nonviolence) and started to take a hard look at what I was putting into my body. And I know this may sound a tad insane, but my dog Newton has SUCH a personality (read: pain in the ass) that my relationship with him started to really make me evaluate animals and their feelings.

At first I decided to go pescatarian and ease into vegetarianism. After about a week, I decided I would just go for broke and become a full vegetarian (I had recently developed an adult shellfish allergy anyway, so it wasn't too rough of a transition). The difference this time was that I was doing it for moral reasons (and not to lose 5 pounds or make a teen heartthrob fall in love with me). Through eating an intuitive plant-based diet,  I did naturally end up feeling incredible, naturally shed (and kept off) some extra weight, and learned more about the other benefits of vegetarianism. Like, apparently it's really good for the environment! Because cows fart a lot, and the gas from their farts is worse than the emissions of like 2,000,000 cars (I totally made that number up, but I know it's something epic). So raising cows for hamburgers creates more farts and more farts creates more bad air. And listen, when people ask me if I became I vegetarian for environmental reasons, I emphatically say no, and I mean, I recycle and all, but I certainly could afford to be more environmentally-conscious for sure. It's just a really really awesome added bonus.

But seriously, how do you get enough protein?
Tofu! Broccoli! Quinoa! Spinach! Beans! Nuts! Seitan! Protein Powder! Tempeh! I could go on!

Do you eat fish?
No, vegetarians don't eat fish, pescatarians do. But good question, there are so many different diets and food preferences out there, it can get very confusing!

Can you eat fish? (different question)
I can! I just choose not to. :)

Do you ever crave meat?
Rarely. Like, maybe once a year I'll crave chicken or something? But I am a firm believer that if you crave something, it means your body is needing more of something. For example, if I have a really intense workout and I haven't had enough sugar that day, I start craving apple juice. I'm not particularly fond of apple juice, and I don't really drink it ever, but I'll start to really REALLY crave it. And then I'm like, huh. This is indicative of something. SO. When I do have a rare meat craving, I associate it with my body needing more of something. Okay, yes, PROBABLY PROTEIN, but again, I get so much protein as it is, I really don't have meat cravings much!

Do you ever sneak a bite of meat?
Nope. Unless I get served it accidentally and don't realize it. And believe me, I instantly can detect if there's meat or chicken broth, etc. in something. Vegetarianism gives you super spide-y senses.

Are you vegan or vegetarian?
I am vegan at home, and vegetarian when I eat out. This is what I have found that works best for me. I tried to be full vegan about a year and a half ago. After a month, I realized it was too stressful for me when eating out. Eating out with friends and family is something I truly cherish. I found I was compromising my experiences because I would spend the whole evening fretting over whether or not there was butter in my pasta, and oh, did you remember to leave off the cheese?! And speaking of cheese, I also adore it, so I like to enjoy it every now and then. Though at home, I generally stick to the cheese alternatives, which can really be delightful!

Is your husband a vegetarian?
Oh, heck no! And we make it work! My food choices are just that - MY food choices. I respect other people's food choices, just as I hope they respect mine. And I even cook meat for my husband from time to time (though tbh it's probably not very good since I don't taste as I go. But he's former military and will basically eat anything, even my under/over-cooked chicken *shrug*). "But Kim, isn't that contradictory that you'll cook meat but won't eat it?" Maybe. But I love food, I love cooking, and I love cooking meals for my husband and me. If he wants chicken, so be it. He also will partake in my veg meals pretty regularly, and that's a lot of fun as well! I realize I don't fit a particular vegetarian mold, but my main theme here is, you do you, baby!

If you have kids, will you raise them as vegetarians?
Probably not. I of course would want to raise my future spawns as healthfully as possible, with a diet full of veggies (though word on the street is, kids hate those), but I don't want to limit what they can eat (and I'm not talking, "Sure, have all the cake you want!" - I'm talking about eliminating entire food groups). I've dealt with having a bad relationship with food in the past, and I wouldn't want to impose restrictions at a young age. When my unborn future children are old enough to mindfully make that choice for themselves, by all means! But again, for those who raise their children as vegetarians, I say go you! No judgments here, especially on child-rearing, as I literally know nothing about it yet, except that babies are squishy and cute and make noises.

Is it hard being a vegan/vegetarian?
Nope! Especially now that I've been doing this for 3 1/2 years. I also think that because I love to cook, and cook creative plant-based recipes, that makes it really easy. I think if I didn't enjoy cooking, it would be more difficult. Also, living in a big city like Houston makes eating out as a vegetarian a breeze!

Do you think you'll ever eat meat again one day?
Anything is possible. I know though that right now I feel healthiest in my body and soul eating a plant based diet. I feel energized, light, and compassionate. It's become a very large part of who I am, and I know that at least for right now, it's really working for me. And if yoga teaches us anything, it's that the present is what matters. :)

So there it is, my vegetarianism in a nutshell! At the end of the day, I believe we should all do what is best for ourselves. Whether it's vegetarian, pescatarian, eating plant-based until dinner, eating locally sourced produce and meats, you name it - You do what's best for you to support your most amazing life. If my vegetarian diet was leaving me feeling awful, it probably would not have been sustainable. But since it left me feeling the best I've ever felt, I embrace it fully!

xo and namaste! - Kim