the tiny little birds

Saturday, March 10th, 2018. 6:55am – Watching the waves come in and the sun rise into the sky. Perfectly content.


It’s always at the beach where I remember it’s okay to write happy poems.

Writers cling to the melancholy, the alternative, the deeply emotional. Our most treasured writers were inspired by war, famine, slavery, and captivity. I appreciate these writers and their motivations. But it’s okay to write happy poems, to embrace the beautiful things in life. Though I have written my fair share of melodramatic poems and posts, I’m inspired even more by the simple beauty of life than the tragedy of it.

If you’ve ever been to the beach, you’ve probably seen those little tiny birds that roam along the shore. Not pelicans or seagulls (maybe these are the same birds) but the tiny little birds that could fit inside your hand. Those little tiny birds inspire me. As I’ve been sitting along the peaceful coast the past few days, I’ve been mesmerized by those little birds. All they do is run along the beach, chasing the waves, looking for pieces of food. They are so in sync, though. The tide comes up, they run up, the tide goes out, they run out. It’s a pattern of nature that is so simple yet captivating.

What I love most about those little tiny birds is that they are content with their purpose in life. All they do, all day long, is roam the beach to find food and to satisfy their needs. It’s incredibly simple – to me, it teaches me something. Life can become so confusing, tiring, and wearing on our hearts and minds. As a college student, I’m constantly around people who are trying to discern their life, figure out their purpose, fulfill a sometimes convoluted role they feel called to step into. I’m a part of this madness of uncertainty sometimes, questioning myself and my plans. I’ve never questioned by abilities, or what I love to do, but I certainly appropriately question the things I’m going to do. To me, questioning is a natural and important part of growing up and finding a career that you’re happy with for the long term.

But, these birds don’t care about careers or growing up. I’m not saying we are birds – but I am saying we could be more like them. This isn’t the first time that God used birds to teach a lesson. I’ve always felt like birds are strong messengers of Christ and have stories of where birds taught me something about myself.

Our purpose in life is not a lucrative, successful career, though I’m not saying that’s a bad or wrong ambition. I think we do find purpose in our work and in a meaningful vocation. The little tiny birds though, they seem to be perfectly content filling their simple, mundane role in the world. And God cares for them. He cares for them as he will care for us.

“Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:26-27

The little tiny birds aren’t saving the world, and they can’t showcase their trophy collection. They roam the skies – or the beaches – and the Father feeds them. I think God recognizes our need for meaningful vocation and for a purposeful life, whatever that may be to each individual person. I believe some people are called into certain areas of life more so than others and that each person is given a beautiful gift from God to use in this world. Whether or not we fulfill those requests of God – to reap and sow what we have been given – is up to us. But constant worry about those things, the type of endless, incessant worrying that I’ve experienced and observed, is not proclaimed by God. He wants us to achieve heavenly treasures, crowns of gold with the Almighty King. That should be our aim. It might be a lot simpler than we ever imagined, like being more like the little tiny birds who run along the beach and who are protected and valued by the Father. We are treasured, valued, loved. It’s as simple as that.

namaste

My own health and fitness journey has been somewhat of a hilly ride. Ups and downs of oscillating between being feeling good and feeling like I’m not good enough. I can definitely say that I have learned a lot about my own body, my own boundaries, and my own ways to balance a healthy life. 2015 was my year of finding this balance. I used to spend hours upon hours in the gym lifting weights, doing squats, doing crunches, and running miles on the treadmill. At the time, I thought I was happy. I thought that I was okay with letting an exterior appearance determine so much of my happiness. But I found myself with a lot of anxiety. I was undoubtedly physically stronger. But my mental strength was on the other end of the continuum. I valued appearing strong, appearing fit, and appearing invincible over the truly invaluable qualities of mental happiness and manifesting a physical health that will help me live a long life that is absent of health complications. Fast forward to May of this year, at a place called Glow Yoga in Gulf Shores, AL.

I am infatuated with cardiovascular medicine. The heart is so amazing to me, and it is even more extraordinary how much control we have over the cardiac complications we can develop. For this reason, living a healthy lifestyle means more to me than looking thin in a dress or being happy with the person I see in the mirror. Health to me means finding strength internally and externally. A healthy lifestyle means I try to make healthy choices daily, but I don’t obsess over eating bad. I try to choose the better option for my body, but I don’t get anxiety if I eat something full of sugar and totally not-healthy.

I took my first yoga class in Gulf Shores. I had been trying to do it at home but I had not been using the best resources. But I wanted to try something new, I had just bought new yoga pants and what better place than the beach? So I attended my first hot yoga session and it was HOT and HARD. Truthfully, I almost passed out because of dehydration (sweating a lot with only one bottle of water in me) and temperatures of around 90 degrees in the humidity of a southern summer. But it was wonderful. It was challenging. It was invigorating. It was refreshing. It made me feel strong and whole. That began my love affair with yoga.

Being a college student is tough. There are a lot of demands; most from academic courses, others from social life, spiritual development, clubs, and trying to stay fit. Yoga is my time during the week to strengthen my body physically (I have lost around 9 pounds in college!) and help my mind pause in the midst of a chaotic life. I would recommend yoga to anyone that is trying to overcome workout-related anxiety, gain mental happiness, become healthier for life, strengthen and elongate muscles, gain stability and control, and essentially anyone just curious about a new workout! I want to include some of the resources I find really useful for yoga at home and yoga beginners!

  1. Podcasts. If you’re interested in doing yoga from home but still want to feel like you’re at a class, podcasts are a wonderful resource. I prefer going to class for the group camaraderie but sometimes staying home is the only option! Some of favorites are 502 Power Yoga : Louisville, KY  and Baptiste Power Vinyasa Yoga with Kinndli. YouTube videos are also always a great option!
  2. A yoga mat. Yoga is possible without a mat, but it definitely makes it easier! A cute mat makes it that much more enjoyable, too. I got mine from here.
  3. Tight fitting clothes. It is difficult to do yoga when your clothes are flopping around everywhere! Tight pants and a form fitting tank top with a sports bra are usually the best options. I love Lululemon apparel (found here) but for more affordable options look at places like Forever 21 (here).
  4. Hot towel and hand towel. If you’re going to try hot yoga (which I would recommend after you have practiced yoga and feel comfortable with some of the poses!),  you will need a towel. I like mat towels because my mat doesn’t stay dry whenever I sweat a lot. Mat towels and hand towels come in a variety of beautiful colors and patterns. I like Yogitoes by Manduka! Find them here.

Here is a video from Reflexion Yoga on YouTube that explains some of the fundamental poses that are essential to grow your practice.

The new year is a perfect time to begin your decision to choose a healthy life! I have found my balance and peace in doing yoga to maintain a fit life and sound mind. Let me know if I can help you with your practice anytime!

new year

Happy New Year’s Eve!

2015 was one of my greatest years so far. I have seen myself grow so much just in the past few months and look forward to how much I will learn about myself and my future in the next year as well. God has blessed me beyond what I deserve this year. My highlights of 2015 include:

  • Gaining my beautiful, healthy baby nephew
  • Getting nominated, interviewed, and selected as Presidential Scholar
  • Spending prom night in Nashville with my very best friends (whom I miss so much)
  • Being Valedictorian for the class of 2015 and the great experiences that entailed
  • Spending two lovely weeks at the beach with my family
  • Taking my first, REAL yoga class at Glow Yoga in Gulf Shores, AL
  • Relaxing over the summer and reading some extraordinary books
  • Shadowing a cardiac electrophysiologist at Vanderbilt
  • Attending NEEDTOBREATHE and For King and Country concerts
  • Moving to Belmont, living with my amazing roommates, and making lifelong memories
  • Getting the opportunity to conduct biological research in neuroscience
  • Finding my niche at Ethos church
  • Continuing to learn through difficult times and lean more dependently on God
  • Realizing life isn’t perfect, and it never will be. But that isn’t what makes it beautiful.

In 2016, I have decided to change up my blog posts! I am going to post more frequently and hopefully I can help others with some of the things I have decided to write about. As you probably know, I am a college student studying biochemistry and wanting to pursue medicine. I would love to incorporate more of my study techniques, my ways to navigate through difficult material, and different things related to my course of study. I am going to post more about my journey through yoga and how I became interested in yoga. I will continue my posts about concepts and ideas, and I look forward to sharing more of my opinions on philosophical texts and ideas. I also want to spend more time focusing on Christianity and spirituality. So if you are interested in very different hobbies and interests, I welcome you to my blog!

For 2016 you can look for posts that center around:

  • My journey as a science major and pre-Med student
  • My ways to find happiness and motivation in high stress situations
  • My thoughts on various scientific and philosophical texts, concepts, and ideas
  • My journey as a yogi, health and wellness tips, and ways to find healthy eats in different places
  • My occasional beauty post or recommendations
  • My raw and vulnerable thoughts as I navigate through difficult times
  • My reasons for being a Christian and some of the readings I find helpful

I am excited about this change for my blog, but I look forward to continuing the types of posts I have been about since day one. I hope many of you can find ways to help me in various aspects of my life as well. I pray for all of you to have a happy new year, and find many joys and successes in 2016!

 

#GetFitWithMe Workin’ It Out In Paradise!

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Well it’s that time! I have arrived at paradise! Today, I stepped foot onto the beautiful white beaches and prepared myself to remove the coverup…whew, this is the skin-baring moment I have been anticipating since January when I started this journey. During my difficult runs and long, tiring workouts, this is the moment I had been preparing for. Now let me tell you guys – this is not where it ends. Actually, it will never end. Being fit and healthy isn’t a destination. You don’t get to the point you have been working towards and say, “Oh, well, I have reached my goal, time to slack off and start eating like I was.” NO, fitness is a process. Its a long, never-ending process. That may sound scary and intimidating but let tell you guys, IT IS WORTH IT! As long as you are working your body beyond its limitations, you are improving yourself. Improving your mind. your body, and your soul. So don’t give up, ever. What you do today, whether it be a 20 minute workout or a 2 hour workout, it is going to make you a better you. And don’t we all want to be the best version of ourselves?! That has been my mindset lately. I wanna be the best me possible. The best daughter, the best girlfriend, the best athlete, the best Christian, the best chef, the best sister, the best student, the best friend, I want to make myself proud at the end of the day! I encourage you guys to set these same standards for yourself. Start taking every opportunity you have to improve and run with it. Look challenge in the face, and tell it you are stronger than the fears that are placed upon you! “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” -Isaiah 41:10. Even the Creator of all things told us not to fear!

So as you read, I was nervous about exposing my imperfect body to the entire beach..but I remembered, regardless of how many squats I did, or push-ups I completed, or miles I ran, I am fearfully and wonderfully made by an Almighty God. Don’t forget this ladies! Working out only perfects the beautiful bodies God has given us! Tonight I wanted to provide you guys with a basic workout and a simple, healthy Memorial Day meal for the upcoming holiday. I will be spending mine at a beach with people I love!


Basic Workout #1:

I like to workout in a gym. I understand most people may not be equipped with a gym membership or the access to a gym. If not, all of these exercises can be completed using any type of weight! Try cans or bottles if you have those!

 

  • 30 Jumping Jacks
  • 3 sets of 10 each arm Bicep Curls using 10 pounds of weight
  • 20 Burpees (stand, jump down to plank position, push-up, back to plank position, jump up and start over)
  •  3 sets of 10 Shoulder Press using 10 pounds of weight
  • 20 Push-Up Jacks! (normal push-up position and when elbows are at 90 degrees, legs are push apart like a jumping jack)
  • 3 sets of 10 Lateral Fly Aways with 10 pounds of weight (arms are held down against the sides and brought up to the sides horizontally)
  • 20 Jump Squats (stand in relaxed position, go into squat, explode out of heels into the air and repeat)
  • 3 sets of 10 Bicep Curls into Shoulder Press with 10 pounds of weight (normal bicep curls extended up into a shoulder press)
  • 30 Russian Twists (sit on floor with booty on the ground and body in a “C” shape, twist from side to side with the weight in hand, abs engaged. One side = 1 rep)
  • 3 sets of Front Raises with 10 pounds of weight (hold weight down in front of you and raise until parallel with the ground)
  • Burpee Challenge to end! Try doing Burpees with correct form until failure (cannot complete anymore reps with correct form)!

You have completed the Basic Workout #1! Disclaimer: I am not a personal trainer. This is just a guideline to those who may be confused on what to do or how to do it. Depending on how many times you complete this circuit will change how long it takes you to complete the workout. This is very basic workout for mostly the arms and core but, of course, it works those legs and glutes some as well! If you feel you are more advanced than 10 pounds then I say go for it. Just never compromise form! Get up and get moving! You got this! 🙂


 

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Next I wanted to share with you guys a quick and easy recipe for when you are in rush but want to prepare something healthy and delicious. I will pretty much eat anything you put in front of me, so it isn’t difficult for me to find and try new things. I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try some new healthy foods that will really impact your body. And never forget – you can’t out work a bad diet.

On tonight’s menu we have Seasoned Salmon with Parmesan asparagus and a sweet potato. YUM!

For the salmon I simply took frozen Alaskan Sockeye Salmon and thawed it, placed it on some aluminum foil and seasoned it with Mrs. Dash’s no-salt-added seasoning. I cooked it for about 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes (these times and temperatures are just estimates, when I cook I usually just watch my food for when it is done!). For the asparagus I took fresh asparagus, washed it off and chopped off the brown part of the stem. Then, I wrapped them in tin foil and drizzled about 1 tbs of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and made sure they were all evenly coated. I took a pinch of Parmesan cheese and sprinkled on top. Add some salt and pepper to taste and cook at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes. For the sweet potato I just baked it on aluminum foil at 400 degrees for 1-2 hours (or put it in the microwave for 15 minutes)! And there you have it. A meal that takes a maximum of 30 minutes that’s full of nutrients, vitamins, essential fatty-acids and deliciousness!


 

I hope you enjoyed this post! Let me know if you tried the workout, the recipe, or if you want to share your story and journey with me! We are in this together! We are told to carry each others’ burdens right? (Galatians 6:2) Love you guys!

xoxo,

marycatherine