A balancing act

With a title like that, you probably thought this article was going to be on balancing poses. Sorry to disappoint, but this is actually going to be on balancing life. Hopefully you’re still interested!

How life feels right now, except I wish I could get into Mayurasana 😉

So, it’s been a few months since I moved to NYC, and I am now relatively settled into a routine. Work is going well, teaching at the shelter and living with the boyfriend too, and I am enjoying what the city has to offer in terms of art and events.

Yet I find it difficult to practice as much as I would like. Or rather, the way that I would like? Kind of both. It’s not like I stopped practicing, I still do – but less than before, and always self-practice. While I did probably not do enough of it while living in Utrecht, I feel like doing solely self-practice is making me stagnate a bit. While I rarely have the issue of “what should I do now?” which I often think of as the “entry barrier” to self-practice, I feel like I’m not exploring as far as I did in a class / teacher training setting. I guess I miss the teacher’s push to go deeper. I wish I were already at a stage where self-practice is sufficient to “unlock” new aspects of poses, but it simply doesn’t seem to be the case. So self-practice sort of “maintains” my level of yoga, but I’m not managing to go further. And I’m not talking physically, as I can feel that my handstands for exemple have progressed – I can more easily balance now than six months ago, but more at an understanding-of-the-pose level.

This is an issue as I fully intend to keep on deepening my yoga practice as well as my teaching. I initially planned to take my intermediate Junior I exam next year, but this feels premature at this point. For one, the style of teaching in the US is actually quite different from the Netherlands, which I find quite weird considering of all the rules we have to follow. Not that it is better or worse, simply a different way to present things, use props, or talk about certain movements. This might also be due to the fact that English is first language here versus in the Netherlands and even for myself (though teaching in French is always a bit weird for me as I very rarely do it!).

Turning the Mind Upside-Down | Through the Peacock's Eyes

Pincha Mayurasana, one of the balancing poses on the Junior I syllabus

Anyhow, I already mentioned that it is difficult for me to get to the Institute here in New York, because of very unpractical class times for working people added to a very impractical commute from work. It is quite frustrating to know that great teaching is happening so close, yet I cannot benefit from it.

Added to this is the difficulty to take holidays or days off as a scientist. Officially, I am not entitled to any days off this year. Unofficially, my supervisor is nice enough to have let me take a day here and there, and even a week in October. But clearly, I cannot take a day off every other week to go to a yoga workshop, or half a week to go to the IYNAUS convention. Let’s not even think about taking a month off to go to Pune… when I already have issues planning a trip to Europe to see my family.

Ramamani Iyengar Memorial Yoga Institute - India - Pune

So  finding a life-work balance is proving difficult. I’m not ready to become a full-time yoga teacher yet, if ever. As much as I like teaching, I also genuinely enjoy my research and I hope it will result in a drug which will save lives within a few years. And even if I did quit my job (which, reasonably, I anyways cannot do for visa reasons, but assuming I could get a different visa), I would like to spend more time doing animal rights activism and possibly finding a job in science policy. I could see how this would fit more easily with a yoga schedule though. Then again, in a few years I will likely want to raise a child, which will also take time. So is it possible to have it all? Am I too involved with my “day job”? If you truly want to teach yoga and walk forward on the yogic path, is there no other way but to become a full-time yoga teacher?

I think of Mr. Iyengar and the path he took away from the “traditional” yogis, as a house owner (grihasthin) and not a renunciate (sannyasin). At the time, being a yoga teacher was most certainly weird, and a very risky career choice… Yet it enabled him to spend hours and hours mastering the craft, and he not only mastered it, but spread it all around the world so far that nowadays everyone knows about yoga. He knew it was his calling, and he answered to it, leading him to create an amazing community and recording an incredible depth of knowledge. While I feel truly grateful for my situation as well as everything I have achieved so far, I can’t help but wonder: what do you do when you have more than one calling? Is it a case of “jack of all trades, master of none”? Or is it simply one of our time’s illness, and my inability to truly get to the essence of yoga, “stilling of the waves of the mind” (Yoga Sutras of Patanjali I-2)?

Internet Marketing Jack of All Trades and Master of ...

I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. How do you manage your practice / teaching and your regular job + family life? Were there times when it was more difficult? What tips and tricks helped you to find your balance? What made you want to teach full-time?

 

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Teaching yoga at a homeless shelter

I find this a hard article to write, as there is so much to write about!

It’s been a bit more than a month since I started teaching a weekly class in a homeless shelter in the south of Manhattan. Well, homeless shelter is a bit of a misnaming in this case, since it is a “transition home”, which is mid-term housing for people who used to live on the street. So, technically, they are not homeless anymore.

The shelter is managed by the BRC, the largest association helping the homeless in NYC. There are 32 “clients”, as they are called, living there for a period from 6 to 24 months, until they can hopefully transition to stable housing. This specific location specializes in clients who have a history of mental illness and/or substance abuse.

It’s an interesting experience for sure, very different from teaching at an Iyengar studio.

  • I have very little space and / or props. Four mats, and a wall once I’ve pushed the chairs in that room to the side. I bring my own blocks and belt to help, and of course use the wall and sometimes the very impractical sitting chairs.

 

  • There is no planning possible (thankfully I was never truly a class-planning person anyways…). What I mean by this is that the class is supposed to be from 7PM to 8:30PM. But I never know when people are going to show up. Around 7PM, the security guy usually rings the bell to let residents know that the class is starting. Sometimes one of the students will actually be there at 7, sometimes I just wait until someone shows up. So far I have always had someone show up, but it can be 10, 15, 20 minutes after the class was supposed to start (I’ve put a limit on myself to leave if noone has showed up by 7:30PM). So I start when my first student shows up, and other students might join in (or not) at any point. Thankfully I already had a good training in this when I was teaching at my friend Daniel’s place, since he would regularly interrupt the class to go take care of his dinner.

 

  • The students themselves are very different from what people think as “yogis”. Their fitness level is very low, and the demographic is mainly black males aged 30-70. I actually think it is great, as it shows that yoga is truly for everyone. I’m glad they are interested in trying it, and that they keep on coming back and work hard to improve their lives.

 

  • A funny one to finish. You know how we all fart? It’s actually a question I’ve had a lot from people. What do you do when people fart, or when you, a teacher, farts during a demonstration for exemple? Well I’ve found that in regular classes, people just ignore it and go ahead with whatever was going on beforehand. They might be secretly judging the farter, but we’ll never know. At the shelter however, a fart is followed by a loud “SORRY!” and sometimes a laugh from the guilty and shameless farter, which I find both hilarious and refreshing.

 

Teaching in this setting has taught me a lot about myself as a teacher. I’ve had to let go of my Iyengar perfectionism. If I can get them to stretch a bit and get somewhat of the shape of the pose, that’s good. If I can relieve a bit of their back pain (main complaint), that’s awesome! And since they come back, I assume they find some value in my teaching. It has also stimulated a lot of my creativity, as even “easy” poses are sometimes out of reach. What do you do when child’s pose is a hard pose, and you don’t have props to help? Finally, I try to be more conscious of my adjusting students. Even though in my Introductory assessment I was told I don’t touch people enough, I am especially wary of touching people who have been through trauma, which this specific group of student most certainly has. So I try to ask every time if I can touch the student before adjusting them – but old habits die hard and I’m very guilty of regularly doing before asking.

Grief.com - – Books on Grief

For people interested in trauma and how yoga can help survivors, I highly recommend this book which I recently devoured. 

 

Finally, I’d like to advertise a Gofundme I created to collect money and purchase some more props for my students at the shelter. The money will go towards getting bolsters, blocks and blankets to make yoga more accessible to the students who have knee pain, difficulties to relax and a hard time stretching. I am sure they will be very grateful for any contribution you can make.

 

 

10 ways becoming vegan changed my life

Since the previous article was fun to write and ended up quite popular (maybe because it’s shorter than my usual rants? :’D) I decided to write another one on my other big, life-changing decision. Once again, no particular order…

  1. My skin cleared up. It had already become way better after I stopped eating gluten and dairy, but there was also a certain improvement when I stopped eating animal products.
  2. I lost weight. I wasn’t consciously trying to, though I was certainly slightly overweight beforehand. I sometimes refer to it as losing “guilt weight” since I felt so much better after I took the decision, but more realistically it’s likely because vegan whole foods are less calory-dense, so I was eating as much, but it ended up being less total energy.
  3. TMI, you’ve been warned. I started pooping VERY regularly. Everyday, often twice a day. If I don’t poop in one day, I now start wondering what’s up.
  4. I learned a lot about nutrition and health (I didn’t go vegan for health, and would have likely stopped eating meat before if I didn’t think / had always been told it was necessary for me to be healthy. Spoiler: it’s not).
  5. I started putting a lot more time researching a product before buying it. What it’s made of, what are the working conditions of people making it, what will happen to it once I discard it – things I didn’t think so much about before. I started looking more into the zero-waste movement as well.
  6. I became more assertive and more of my own individual. I’m still not very assertive, it’s just not in my character and I don’t want to be that vegan (I guess my type of activism is simply normalizing veganism and showing that there are good / logical reasons to be vegan, not only pseudo-scientific banter). However, this was truly the first decision I took that showed a true shift from how I was raised, if not in values, at least how I interpret and implement them.
  7.  People sometimes excuse themselves for talking about non-vegan food they’ve eaten or eating animals in front of me. Which I’m not sure what my feelings are about this? I mean, sure, I’d rather they didn’t, but then again, I ate meat for most of my life, so it’s not like I don’t know what it is…
  8. I notice thought inconsistencies / cognitive dissonance much more, not only when veganism is at stake, and also how much people dislike having it pointed it out. Another side-effect of this, is that admitting that I had been wrong by adopting veganism as a new lifestyle & philosophy, makes me more reflective of my beliefs. Since I was wrong once, and for something as big as this, I could be wrong again. So I try to listen to arguments opposite from mine with a non-prejudiced mind. It’s not easy!
  9. I notice how much animal products are in EVERYTHING, often unnecessarily or as cheap fillers, like milk in salt and pepper chips. WHY???
  10. For the first time in a very long time, I am considering changing my career plan. Since my last year of high school, my mind was set on a career in drug discovery. Saving people’s lives by creating tomorrow’s drugs. And it is what I am currently doing, as a postdoctoral researcher in protein engineering, I design antibodies against cancer targets, which will hopefully progress to a personalized medical treatment for patients. However, I realize that the medicines I am making will have to be tested on animals (this is required by law). While I do think that this might have been necessary at some point (like eating meat was likely necessary for our ancestors to survive), there are now more and more technologies, like organs-on-a-chip, being developed which are better for testing drugs than using animals. I think using animals is unnecessary in many cases, as it has been shown in multiple cases that animal testing is often inefficient at predicting human reactions to a product (see this case  in France only two years ago). So I’m considering a possible career switch to science policy in the future.

The first time I saw the top image, or one similar, I was far from being vegan and my reaction was similar to the bottom one. I thought vegans were very stupid not to know that cows do not need to be killed for milk, and that would actually be against the farmer’s interest! The fact that they were two white / slim / seemingly affluent women didn’t help with the stereotype of “they don’t have anything better to busy their days with”.                                                                                                                                                           This is why I think this type of activism isn’t very effective. It didn’t make me connect the dots. I didn’t realize that cows need to be pregnant to lactate, so as soon as the calf is born it is taken away and killed rapidly to be sold as veal. And even though I had always been told to buy beef raised for meat and not beef raised for milk (it is compulsory to write which type of beef it is in France) as it is supposed to taste better, I never realized this what was they meant by “I want to live”. I was the ignorant one, yet I judged them as being ignorant. Tough lesson to learn…

10 ways practicing yoga changed my life

Disclaimer: the idea for this post came while I was in the shower, and I just felt like I HAD TO WRITE IT RIGHT NOW. So there you go, in no particular order:

  1. I reconnected with my body and accepted it for what it is. I fell in love at first practice because of how it made me feel. At the time I was dissatisfied with my body and its refusal to conform to what I thought I ought to look like. Yoga made me accept my body as it was, and made me proud of the things it could do. Funnily, my body did change a lot with practice, losing weight (which I attribute to #3) and  weight training, to a point that I think it is what I wished it was at the time, but I’m not sure whether that it truly the case or whether I’ve just truly learned to love myself.
  2. I stopped wearing make-up everyday. Linked to #1, and also moving to the Netherlands where the pressure to look put together is much less important than in France, especially the South of France. Still a + in my book. I do like to wear make-up from time to time but don’t feel like I have to.
  3. I became vegan. Maybe the biggest # in terms of impact. While I like to say that I initially went vegan for environmental reasons but am now an ethical vegan, I don’t think that’s entirely true. Because I owe my dabbling into veganism to a reflection on yamas and niyamas we has to do during teacher training, and it was definitely an ethical issue.
  4. My back stopped hurting. A combination of addressing my anterior pelvic tilt in teacher training and general strengthening of my core. I used to have really bad backaches which made me consider a breast reduction in university. I now rarely suffer from them, and if I do I know that twisting + supta virasana with a block between the shoulders will relieve the issue.
  5. I met people I never would have otherwise. The whole amazing Iyengar yoga community of the Netherlands, and more recently, my students at the homeless shelter (more on this soon!)
  6. I now breathe through my nose at all times, and am aware of my breath most of the time. My breathing is also slower than most people I know. This is both an advantage and an inconvenient, as it sometimes stresses me out to hear my boyfriends’ semi-erratic breathing.
  7. I am much more self-confident. This came mainly with teaching. It taught me to speak up and be assertive.
  8. I always have yoga pants or shorts in my suitcase at a minimum. Often accompanied by a strapped mat and blocks if possible.
  9. Strangers come to talk to me in the park. Before yoga, nobody had ever come talk to me while I was hanging out in a park. If I practice, there is a 50% chance that someone will come talk to me about it. Also: people trying to imitate what I’m doing. Kids and grown-ups alike, and it’s happened that I feel like I have to intervene and teach them how not to break their neck while they attempt headstand.
  10. I spend a lot of time upside-down and love ropes 🙂

 

Senior teacher Bobby Clennell in rope sirsasana

The ethical journey

Today, a non-yoga post. Or maybe an Ahimsa-related post (is there such a thing as a non-yogicly relevant post?).

Last weekend, I went shopping for boots at mooshoes, as the inside of my previous pair of boots was so worn out that it made my feet hurt, and I had already had them repaired  once.  I found a nice pair of wood and faux-leather boots, made ethically and sustainably in Portugal, for $150. While it’s not cheap, this is around the price I would have paid for “regular” boots (aka leather boots in any fashion shop). And it made me wonder: if the price and quality are the same, why are ethical and sustainable options not more widespread? If faced with two similar-looking boots, one ethical and the other not, would people still buy the non-ethical option?

Thinking about this made me realize how far along the way I’ve come in terms of values. Being ethical has not always been one of my core values, or rather, if you’d asked me I would always have thought it was important but I was not always acting in agreement with it. Simple exemple: I’ve not always bought ethical chocolate. If the supermarket didn’t carry fairtrade cocoa, I would buy the regular one. If they had both, I would have likely bought the fairtrade one, but not really thinking about it.

Let’s be honest, it’s hard to live ethically in today’s society. First, everything is aimed at consumption. More, more, more. Buy more things, eat more food, produce more. So it’s kind of weird when suddenly you wake up and want to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rot. Suddenly, all of your purchases become an act of mindfulness. Do I get the out-of-season veggie that’s not wrapped in plastic, or the plastic-foiled in-season veggie? What about vegan junk food as you want to support vegan brands, yet are obviously more wasteful than eating unprocessed plant foods? Or fruit that might spoil while being transported to work vs packaged dried fruits? What if your ethical item is not available at the moment, do you change your whole plan or do you buy the non-ethical version? And if you order your ethical groceries online, is it really better than buying regular groceries near you?

I realize some of these question are more practical issues compared to not knowing what the best option really is. But even the definition of veganism includes “as far as possible and practicable”. At some point, when you have two hours of your day spent commuting, 8-9 hours of work, one hour cooking, 1.5 hours working out or teaching, spending one hour comparing products at the grocery store feels exhausting. And that’s all the while being privileged, and having enough money to choose what I buy and where I buy it from.

Some days I feel as someone who has the money to support ethical brands, I am morally obliged to do so. And I often do. But there is also an incentive to consume less, get rid of what we don’t “need” and live a simpler life. Which I also try to do. Finding the sweet spot is sometimes difficult. A while ago, I was at a friend’s place for dinner and other friends of this friend I didn’t know asked me about my fairphone, and veganism. They commented that if everyone cared as much as me, the world would be a better place. While on the one hand it made me happy that they acknowledged my trying, on the other hand I just wanted to say “it’s not that hard! Everyone can do it!”, and while that might not be completely true, I do believe that everyone can do something better. We make so many choices everyday, yet we rarely think about them. And I think that’s where the bottleneck is: how do you get people to start to think and be more conscious about all these decisions they make everyday?

Definitely not by retiring out of society, while it sometimes seems like the best way to have the least impact on the planet. I tend to think that leading by exemple is the best option, showing that you can still live “normally” yet make better choices for the planet and its inhabitants. So far, it’s been the extent of my activism. Yet there are issues which this approach too:

  • I’m not perfect. No one is, and I’d like to think that makes me actually relatable, and empower people to change what they can. But I’m clearly privileged, and I flew transatlantic a few times last year due to my boyfriend and me living on different continents. So there’s ground for criticism, and some people would easily jump on the occasion to say that since they didn’t fly, they can eat all the meat / use all the one-use plastics they want / etc. And I get it, changing something you do on the daily  (habits, yogis, habits!) is much more difficult than forgoing one flight. But I think that’s missing the point. We should all be in this together, and if you use less resources than I do, kudos to you!
  • I tend not to speak much about these choices I make, with the exception of a few friends and on this blog. And it can be depressing to see people get a take-away plastic lunchbox and/or coffee everyday. It does feel like all the efforts I make are for nothing…
  • Some things are definitely NOT practical. Or cheap. For exemple this year I wanted to plan holidays without taking the plane. I figured that from NYC I should be able to go to a couple of nice places with the train. One plan is to go to New Orleans. The trip takes 30 hours and costs upwards of $800 for two people in a cabin one way, while the plane takes an hour and is $100. While my boyfriend is on board with being eco-friendly, that discrepancy was a bit too much for him (He’s what you’d call frugal, too). We compromised on going one way with the train and back with the plane (plus some greenwashing donations), yet I feel most people would not hesitate and book a return ticket with the plane.

 

Anyhow, what are some things you feel you could do better ethically-wise? How do you deal with these daily dilemmas? And how far have you gone if you look back a couple of years? What type of activism do you think is most effective? Does your ethical living  bleed into your work too?

PS: I’m trying to gather the courage to become a Terracycle recycling collector for toothpaste and snack wrappers. Will probably do it soon, just need the nudge…

PPS: if someone knows of a solid toothpaste which contains fluoride, please let me know in the comments below!

Self-improvement

It’s this time of the year again, when everyone takes new resolutions to better themselves in the coming year. It’s been many years since I have taken new year’s resolutions, and this year is no different. I see self-improvement as something I do continuously, so I don’t generally have something specific on my resolutions list.

It’s funny that these good resolutions are so ingrained in our culture, yet most people do not think about self-improvement on a daily basis. Worse, most people are resistant to change, not only for themselves, but also for others. “Oh, you changed” is rarely a compliment (unless you’re back from the hairdresser… and sometimes not even). I personally get a lot of resistance to my changing of certain things, even from family members or friends (though I do feel quite lucky to have a generally very open-minded support group, which I attribute to having met most of them in an academic setting). One obvious point of contention is my veganism, but I’ve also experienced it with my journey of reducing waste, weightlifting, or even my yoga practice.

I think part of it comes from the fact that I’m trying something new, which often doesn’t fit with the idea they have of who I am. And they might be right sometimes, and I won’t stick with what I’m doing (looking at you, pole dancing – I have way too slippery hands). Other times it does stick, and funnily sometimes people who met me later in life cannot imagine me without it: for instance people who met me during my PhD have always known me as “the yoga girl with the allergies”. People who will meet me during my postdoc will likely have a hard time imagining me eating meat.

Conflict also comes when I do (or start doing) something others feel like they should be doing but don’t. I also have this, for exemple when it comes to zero-waste lifestyles, but I try to see it as inspiration instead of judgement. Because I cannot commit to a fully zero-waste lifestyle now does not mean that I cannot do anything. I can do research, I can change some things, I can limit my waste, I can talk to other people about the simple changes I am doing and how they can implement them too. And maybe one day I’ll be able to be fully zero-waste, but meanwhile I’ll be reducing-waste.

quote-you-are-personally-responsible-for-becoming-more-ethical-than-the-society-you-grew-up-eliezer-yudkowsky-81-90-22

I try to keep in mind that even though every little thing helps, in the grand scheme of things most people are not gonna become fully vegan or zero-waste. However, most people might become flexitarians or reducetarians. By striving in a lifestyle that is more compassionate and better for the environment, while still being relatable as fully part of society rather than an outcast (and hopefully a useful contributor to society as both a researcher and a yoga teacher), I hope and aim to inspire people to make small changes in their own lives. Even in France, I do see that things are changing, even for veganism, as usual slower than anywhere else (how dare you touch upon French Cuisine!), but at least in Paris, and in supermarkets, vegan products are becoming more broadly available.

I’ll still be taking the plane to move to NYC. I am convinced that we can live a modern lifestyle while being more respectful of our surroundings, and I don’t see flying stopping any time soon. However, I will not take the plane when it isn’t necessary: for exemple I went to Berlin by train a few weeks ago. The inconvenience+price VS ecological impact wasn’t enough to convince me to get a plane ticket. I would also like to see more initiatives limiting flying for science conferences for exemple, with all the options that new technologies such as Skype (and who knows, soon holograms?) offer.

’tis a complicated time to be alive, that’s for sure. Even when you want to make the right choice, and you do some research, there is so much conflicting information on ze internet that I cannot blame people who do not take the time to go through dozens of article, without any scientific training, and synthesize the information to make an educated choice. This is why I believe that we have to push for more certifications -even though there are already so many. I realize that more labeling might confuse consumers even more, but I am rarely as annoyed as when I am looking for information on a product and cannot find it. At least if it is there, you might or might not look at it, or spend much time comparing products, but you can do it. And there are often great people on the internet who will take upon themselves of making comparisons and come up with the best choice depending on both your budget and your values.

Anyways, are you readers taking new resolutions? Why / why not? And if so, what are they?

Gratitude

As 2017 closes, I try and reflect on my blessings. 2017 was a special year, full of closures: I obtained my Introductory II certificate, my PhD, published my first first-author article, got a postdoctoral position at NYU and the corresponding visa, and saw many friends graduate.

A year full of events, which also lets me much room for growth in 2018, as I will be moving to a new continent, thus realizing my childhood dream of living in the USA, and also moving in with my boyfriend, a much awaited step after more than a year of long-distance.

It’s thus with mixed feeling that I start 2018, the excitement of my new life that is going to start soon, but also the small ping in the heart of leaving the nurturing environment of Utrecht where I lived for the past five years. I have learned so much here, met amazing people who became great friends, and have definitely made myself at home. While I am looking forward to the challenge of both living together as a couple and living in NYC, I am sad to leave this comfy life I created here. And of course, I am trying to finish as many things as possible before I leave, which makes things a tad hectic.

A bad surprise I got when I came back from Christmas break in France was to find that the house I am subletting until I leave not only did not have the new kitchen installed as it should (and there is thus a hole instead of a kitchen), but the heating does not seem to be working. Which also means no warm water as the hot water is controlled by the same system.

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Not sure who I should credit for this illustration, please let me know if you do 🙂

It’s been almost four days as nothing would happen in the weekend or on January 1st, and I don’t know when the situation will change. Luckily for me, this year is the hottest “oud en nieuw” recorded since records exist, with around 12C at the hottest moment of the day (thanks global warming?!). The house thus stays between 10 and 12C, which while cold, is sustainable for sleeping if covered by two warm duvets.

While this is obviously annoying, this makes me reflect on how lucky I am in my “misery”. First, I do have a house. I’m not sleeping on the street, which means I don’t get wind or rain, and generally the house isn’t humid so I’ve not been cold and managed to fall asleep quite rapidly. Secondly, I can (and have been) go to the gym or the yoga studio to shower with hot water. I also have a key of the yoga studio, which is heated up, so on January 1st, I spent most of my time there. I practiced, took a shower, made some tea and browsed the internet in a warm and comfy environment until it was dinner time and I headed home to use the microwave I managed to plug in. Thinking of which: I do have a working fridge and microwave, cold water, and general electricity. So I was able to store some food in advance for New Year’s, when everything is closed (and I did take some leftovers from NYE home). Furthermore, I was at a friend’s for NYE and had a great evening. I am incredibly grateful for their like-mindedness. So it’s not that bad, and makes me see how many things I use daily and take for granted. And it’s great for the environment!

In any case, I hope it gets fixed soon. Meanwhile, I am grateful for all the things I take for granted, such as utilities, but also health, a great support system, a loving family and partner, and all the opportunities that have been offered to me up to now and in the future. I hope I can keep on working hard, loving hard, taking care of as many people as I can to make this Earth a slightly better place than I found it.

Happy 2018!