Free Meditation + Big Changes

Hello hello beautiful people! How are you?

It’s been a few months since I last posted. With everything going on in the world, I have been thinking about you all. Thought I’d check in and re-connect.

The last time you saw me was in December of 2019 which feels like years ago! I had just gotten my ‘official’ yoga teacher certification.

Varkala, India

I also started a YouTube channel to share more of my wellness tips, meditations, and general views on life. For some time after, I was teaching yoga while traveling in Asia.

Sri Lanka: Trying to be ‘daring’ with train track yoga

I’m back stateside now and it’s been… a weird time. For all of us. If you’re feeling worried, stressed, or lonely, I am here with you *virtual hug*

I am transitioning to a new site where I will continue to blog — no worries — and offer my spiritual and trauma release services. You can keep up with me by signing up for my newsletter!

By signing up you get access to *drumroll* created a free meditation gift and tons of other cool free content exclusively for my inner circle! 🙂

Click the button below to sign up and get instant access a FREE MEDITATION to help you connect to your body and just *breathe*

Life Update

TLDR: Yoga Teacher certification, travel, and new business opportunities

Hello lovelies! It’s been a few months since you’ve last heard from me.

I am coming at you live from Sri Lanka where I am taking a short break during a few wild months of growth and new opportunities.

When I last posted, I told you all I was to taking these past few months off from blogging/creating new projects to really zero in on a few endeavors that needed my complete attention.

In October I finally took my freelance marketing to the next level. I launched an agency, Bananaquit Media L.L.C. where I produce stunning digital content for brands committed to holistic wellness and sustainable living.

After months of paperwork and lots of other admin things it felt so great to see things come to life! Taking this step into entrepreneurship was scary but has been so rewarding.

In November, I traveled to Varkala, India to complete my 200 hour ashtanga – hatha yoga teacher training. I have been teaching self taught yoga for a few years now but this took my practice to another level. It was one of the most physically, spiritually, and mentally intense things I have done to date.

Dhanurasana (bow pose)
Assisted urdhva dhanurasana (bow pose)
Assisted ardha chandrasana (half moon pose)
Vrksasana (tree pose)

And the food was so amazing 😛

Pulao (spiced rice, stock and veggies), Chana masala (chickpea curry), steamed veg, salad, and chapati (flatbread)
Lentils, rice, veg curries, coconut cabbage, fried crispy snacks (I forget the name), salad, pickled mango
Masala dosa (think a savory crepe made of rice and lentil flour and filled with curried potatoes), coconut chutney, and veggie curry
Puttu (coconut and rice cakes), Chana masala (chickpea curry), mixed fruits
Rice, lentils, coconut lentils, puréed lentils, veg curry, salad, and papadum (fried flatbread made from either rice, lentil, potato, or tapioca flour)

I loved every second of it. Ya girl is officially certified to teach yoga to the people. Whoop!

I am in Sri Lanka, teaching yoga and basking in this beautiful opportunity. I am so grateful for everything that I’ve experienced thus far.

From here on out, you can expect to hear weekly updates from me as I continue to travel and spread my light.

Blogging/Social Media Hiatus

Hey friends!

I want to thank you all for following this blog for the past 14 months or so. Every few weeks, I get to share my thoughts, experiences, and recipes with you all and it’s so rewarding. I really appreciate your support and feedback 🙂

This post is to let you know I will be taking a blogging and social media hiatus for a few weeks.

Right now, I am juggling working, launching a business and prepping for a month long certification all in the next few weeks. As much as I want to, I don’t have the energy to keep up with this blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter right now.

I don’t want to give you all half-assed content because the overachiever in me won’t allow it haha.

So let’s cheers to self care! I’ll see you all in a few weeks with an update.

Stay fresh and feed yourself well 🙂

Looking Back: 🇻🇳From Vietnam with Love🇻🇳

Last year, I solo traveled through India and Southeast Asia for 5 months.

For me that trip really transformed my life. It was the beginning of a wild 2 years where I took time off college and fulfilled a few things off my bucket list. I traveled, began my blog, launched a business in the digital marketing world, and (most recently) moved to New York City.

Although I posted photos to social media, I hadn’t really processed or shared much of my experiences during that time.

As I read through my travel journals and reflect upon that time, I realize I have learned a wealth of information. I also realize that trip humbled me to the core; it’s the famous saying “the more I see the less I know”.

This piece kicks off a series where I will take you through my time in each Asian country I visited from January to June 2018, sharing funny stories and poignant life lessons along the way.

I want to start with Vietnam because I have been having dreams about this experience for the past few weeks. It was not the first country I visited on that trip (it was the 3rd) and right now my heart is really focused on that.

The biggest lesson I learned in Vietnam was how to live communaly. I was a volunteer teacher for Homestay Vietnam, a program where the students and teacher lived and worked in the same multilevel house.

Imagine 35 young, eager Vietnam students and 10 foreign English teachers living in bunk bed rooms spread throughout 5 floors of a house. Things definitely got loud and a little crazy yet it was a lot of fun.

I was able to cultivate a communication style that allowed me to connect with and befriend people across gender, culture, language, and age differences.

In the homestay rigidity and strictness had no place there. We worked with schedules yet with so many moving parts of the machine, there had to be room for flexibility. Sometimes classrooms were double booked for two lessons or students invited 3 friends to one-on-one sessions.

Selfie time 🙂

Things did not go as expected and that’s okay ❤ We lived, laughed, learned, and loved as a community.

I’m naturally a solitary human who has no problem doing things alone. That was not really possible at the homestay as someone was always looking to practice their English outside of class. Rather than feeling exhausted from socializing (introvert problem lol) that’s what I really loved.

Perhaps some of the biggest lessons I learned about community happened outside of the classroom.

We went camping and hiking in Ba Vi National Park. On that trip we pitched our tents, built fires, cooked food for 40 + people, and just chilled.

Going out for bias (beers) was common after dinner and night classes. We ordered pitchers of Bia Hanoi, bowls of peanuts, and bonded over jokes.

Eating and cooking together was a common group activity.

Good food, good friends, and laughter.

One of my friends/students Đỗ Hồng Sơn took the day off from class with me to give a private tour of his hometown, HaLong Bay. I was invited to stay with his family and they took the best care of me.

They even caught fresh fish and seafood in my honor so I *gasp* ate a bit, detracting from my vegan lifestyle.

A few of us in the homestay went to the gym together daily, working on our muscles. Things sometimes got competitive and super silly.

One weekend, one of my students Thinh, another teacher Zach and I made an impromptu motorbike trip to the Huong Pagoda to hike and learn about Vietnamese culture.

Of course I had to visit the Vietnamese Women’s Museum to educate myself on the country’s history of female empowerment.

I left Vietnam feeling immediate nostalgia. Even 1 year and a half later, I know that I’m destined to return and explore more of the country.

Sending hugs to my family in Hanoi.

Women of the Waters

Slowly remembering the depth of my roots

Yey Omo Eja (Yemaja), Yoruban Orisha of fertility, the waters — The Mother of Mothers. Yorubaland encompasses southwestern Nigeria, Benin, and Togo. These beautiful, resilient African countries saw the largest number of its population unwillingly transported to the Americas beginning in the 15th century.

Atabey, Taíno Earth goddess of fertility and the waters. Taínos are the native peoples of modern day Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Cuba, and Hispaniola. Within 40 years of Spanish colonialism, they lost 85% of their population.

Yemaja and Atabey are the nurturing guides who have brought so many souls relief. They are the Mothers. Bridges built between the lands and the seas, bearing the weight of connection that most women do. Two spirits with the same essence borne from the hearts of people from two different continents.

I’ve dreamed of women bathed in robes of glowing waters since I was a child. They always beckoned me to plunge into their depths. To trust myself and to move forward without fear. I now know that they aren’t just dreams.

They were prophecies.

I see myself as a bridge between two worlds: a daughter of Taíno and Yoruba, my very existence a beautiful unification of two people forced to endure lives they had not chosen. A testament to the resilience of both groups. A woman of the waters, who fears not the depths or the waves.

Garbanzo Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 lb garbanzo beans, cooked
  • 1/2 lb red quinoa
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 1 bell pepper
  • 1/2 large carrot
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon white miso
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper

Process

  • Cook quinoa according to packaging instructions. Drain off water. Season with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt, 1 teaspoon cumin, and pepper. Set aside and let cool.
  • When it comes to the beans, you can approach it 1 or two ways.
  • Method 1: Soak 1lb dried garbanzos overnight. Rinse them and add to a pot with 4 cups water. Boil for 4 hours or until tender. DO NOT ADD SALT WHILE BOILING. YOUR BEANS WILL ABSORB THAT INSTEAD OF THE WATER AND TAKE LONGER TO COOK.
  • Method 2: Open and drain the liquid off a can of garbanzos beans
  • Finely chop your kale and toss it in a bowl with 3 tablespoons of vinegar. The acid in the vinegar will help break down some toughness in the kale, making it easier to eat.
  • Heat a skillet over medium heat with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  • Add cooked beans and sautée until golden on the outside.
  • Season with 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 tablespoon miso, salt, pepper, 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon oregano.
  • Add chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic and cook until all the flavors come together. Let cool.
  • Chop other veggies you may like such as carrots, alfalfa sprouts, and cucumbers like I did.
  • Toss the quinoa, garbanzos and raw veggies, together in the bowl with the kale. Add a bit more seasoning to taste.
  • Can be served warm or cold.
  • Serve to your friends. Enjoy!

How to: Advocate for Yourself

Real talk: Sometimes you aren’t getting what you want or need from a situation.  People can cross a line and disrespect, invalidate, disregard, or underpay you. When that happens, you got to stand up for yourself! For many of us, we don’t expect those in our personal or professional lives to do things to us that make us feel uncomfortable, manipulated, or worse– threatened. The reality of life is that sometimes this is more common than we’d like to think. Rather than seeing this as a catastrophe, it is important to remain calm and level headed so that you can find a solution that suits all parties involved.

I’m self employed and I work with different brands and organizations on the regular. Although all my working relationships start out as positive and reciprocal, sometimes boundaries can be crossed and contracts are breached.  It is frustrating yet I find empowerment through claiming my agency and advocating for my needs.

While my tips are mainly based off my experience, these ‘laws’ are universal and will serve you well in any instance.

Law #1: Believe in What You Are Asking For

The most important part about self-advocacy is your belief in you.  

Think about it: would you support a cause if the founders seemed iffy about it? Imagine them pitching to you about why you should give your time, money, and energy while also not fully believing in it themselves. Chances are, you would leave them high and dry.

When you are in a position of needing to advocate for yourself,  it can take a hit to your self esteem. Affirming and validating yourself is a sure way to reclaim your power. Confidence is key and comes from a place where you stand firm in what you need.

After all, if you don’t believe in what you want, who else will? 

Law #2: Step out of the Victim Mindset

Realizing that you are in a space where you have to stand up for your needs can be difficult. I know I can exhaust myself trying to figure out what I did to deserve this treatment. It’s easy to take this personally and accept the blame for everything that’s happened. 

While it may feel like the person you’re dealing with is intent on hurting you, that is not the case.  It’s important to realize that people behave how they do and nothing you say or do influences their actions. 

Everything that is happening to you is a reflection of who they are. This is in no way a representation of your character. 

Rather than falling into a pit of despair, you must remember that you are the heroine or hero of your own story.  This is simply a blip in your life and you will overcome this.

Law #3: Decide Exactly What You Want — And Go For It

When it comes to advocating for yourself, it helps to know exactly what you want.  To find this out, ask yourself: what do I really need from this situation? What do I feel needs to be changed?

You might feel like you have to ask for less than you want in order to increase your chances of getting it.  I want to tell you that is a big fat NO. You are already showing immense courage in speaking up for yourself so why not give it 100% and get exactly what you are looking for? 

Staying small hurts you because you’re anticipating rejection so you compromise your needs and the other person isn’t even aware of it! In the end, playing it safe means you’re only cheating yourself.  

It’s best to stand firm in what you want and have the bravery to go for it.

Law #4: Draw Up a Plan of Action

If you are asking someone for something and you expect them to help you get exactly what you want, you will be met with disappointment.  That’s why the next step to advocating for yourself means having a strategy for getting what you want.

I am not talking manipulation, I mean laying out a plan of action that will help you achieve the goal you’re making a case for.

This can be especially helpful if you are feeling powerless in the situation and unsure if you are deserving of what you want.  Having a clear blueprint of your needs will help you affirm yourself.

You will find that people are more inclined to help you fulfill your needs if you tell them how to clearly do so.

Law #5: Seek out Support

Self-advocacy can feel very isolating and sometimes even shameful.  After all, it’s you fighting for needs you believe you deserve and are not being granted. It can be difficult to find solutions to problems because we become emotionally involved in them.  I have found that in these instances, seeking a friend or colleague’s perspective helps me process and problem solve. 

Not only can you view your situation from a different perspective, but truly supportive friends will validate what you are feeling.  By seeking community, you can have your experience affirmed and be carried through it.

Law #6: Communicate with Clarity

If your situation is a door, communication is key.  Clear and concise communication will actually turn the lock and help you get to the other side.

It can be difficult to step out of your emotional state and objectively make your case. After all, it is personal and can arouse a lot of passion, anger, or shame. However it’s important to understand that reacting emotionally pushes others away and doesn’t help your cause.

I have found that the most effective conversations I have had all follow a guideline of sorts.  I state the facts of the situation without my perspective involved. Next, I present how the instance is affecting me without pushing blame onto the other person — even when I feel like it’s very much their fault.  Following that, I propose solutions that will help me achieve my goal and get the other party their desired result.

Law #7: Be Firm and Persistent

Even if you do all that, things may not work out in your favor.  Rather than being discouraged, you must be persistent.

There’s a reason people often state, “The squeaky wheel gets the oil” because its true.  If you haven’t heard this, it basically means that the loudest or most apparent problems get the most attention.

It may seem redundant, yet tenacity will go a long way for you.  Continue to reach out, speak up, and make a case for what you deserve.  If you are told a “no”, it’s not the worst thing in the world. That either means you try again later or find another avenue to get what you want.


Conclusion:

Self-advocacy can be a long, scary, and sometimes frustrating road.  If you are a people-pleaser who is afraid to rock the boat, you might find yourself compromising on your values in order to keep others happy.

However, with a few key laws in place you can achieve any goal you desire accomplishing.  It is important to believe in what you want, step out of the victim mindset and go for what you want. To help move things along, you can create draw up a plan of action, seek a support system,  and communicate your needs clearly. The one thing that really keeps the whole thing moving? Your courage to be firm and persistent in making your case.

If you take anything from this piece, I want you to remember that there is a great honor in advocating for what you believe you deserve: it is the highest form of self respect one can have.

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A version of this article first appeared in Matai Agency, a digital publication for women’s empowerment.

History Lesson: Matcha 101

If you’ve ever visited a cafe, chances are you’ve seen matcha on the menu.

Young green tea leaves courtesy of Encha Organic Matcha

It seems like some love it while others can’t stand it. To say the least, the antioxidant filled green drink can seem really intimidating.

Before you decide whether it’s right for you, I suggest you learn more about the wonder-tea and it’s origins.

What is it?

Matcha is a powder made from green tea leaves that are ground up really finely. The leaves that are used are young, bright green ones that are at the peak level of nutrients and flavor.

Contemporary matcha’s roots come from Japan by way of China. It is said that Myōan Eisa traveled to China in 12th century AD and observed how the Chinese harvested, pressed, and ground their green tea leaves. Ever the curious student, he made another trip to China to become a certified practitioner of the art.

His experience was so powerful that he penned the Kissayōjōki  which roughly translates to “Drinking Tea for Your Health” which helped inform Buddhist monks of a new way of wellbeing. His knowledge, combined with Buddhist principles formed the foundation of Japanese tea ceremonies.

Matcha is holy, it is traditionally prepared in a ceremony with priests and tea masters. Quite the difference from the rushed lattes we get in the West.

In feudal times, samurai would put down their weapons, meditate, pray, and drink matcha before a battle to help with mental clarity and sustained energy. Wild, huh?

What does it do?

Caffeine is responsible for the energy the green powder provides while l-theanine helps your body digest it so the energy is released at a constant rate over time. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s pretty fucking powerful.

Matcha Powder courtesy of Milk Street Store

My Experience

I love matcha. For the past 3 years, I have been using it (along with other green teas) for a sustained energy boost.

I was never a coffee lover but I began to depend on it for a year in college to help me power through long days. Coffee made me break out, crash hard at the end of every day, and act like a cranky crab. To make things worse, I was so sensitive to it I would have gastrointestinal issues like acid reflux, heart burn, and general stomach pain.

Matcha did the opposite. When I made the switch I could feel an immediate difference in my acne, my energy levels, and overall mood. My skin began to clear up. I had a steady source of energy that left me feeling wonderful even when the caffeine left my system. Most of all, I had no more stomach pain!

While most people are used to matcha being used in lattes, you can mix matcha into smoothies, ice creams, pancakes, cakes, porridge. Its earthy flavor is a smooth, rich complement to any dish you may add it to.

Matcha Mochi Cake from Soni’s Food
Matcha Smoothie Bowl from Minimalist Baker

So I encourage you: if you’ve never tried it before, go out and try matcha then come back and tell me what you think!

If you are a #matchaholic like me, what’s your favorite way to enjoy matcha?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Vegan Lemon Cake with Lemon Grapefruit Glaze

This moist and fluffy cake is sure to brighten up your day 🙂 It is a bright and delicious vegan lemon cake you can bring to any barbecue to wow your friends.

Recipe adapted from Heart of a Baker’s Vegan Lemon Cake, with a few minor adjustments.

Lemon Cake Batter

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cup soy milk
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cups lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons grapefruit juice
  • Zest of 2 lemons and 1/2 grapefruit

Lemon Grapefruit Glaze

  • Zest of 1 lemon and 1/2 grapefruit
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons soy milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Flour two round baking pans and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix all of your dry ingredients — flour, salt, baking soda, and cornstarch — until there are no lumps.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the sugar with the oil until very smooth.
  4. Now, add in the citrus juice and zest, mixing to combine.
  5. Add 1/3 of the flour mix to the sugar and stir until it just comes together. Now, pour in 1/3 of the milk and mix well.
  6. Continue alternating until all the ingredients are used, forming a smooth batter.
  7. Pour half the batter into each of your baking pans and set aside for 10 minutes.

Break time: Turn on your favorite music and twerk it.

  1. Place the pans into the oven and bake for 35 minutes.
  2. Remove when you insert a toothpick and it comes out cleanly. Place on a counter until completely cool
  3. For the glaze, whisk the citrus zest into the sugar. Slowly pour the lemon juice, a little at a time until the mixture becomes a thick paste.
  4. Drizzle in your soy milk and stir until the glaze comes together.

Once the cake is cooled, pour half the glaze over each round and decorate as you like.

I topped my cake with raspberries, strawberries, and mango slices.

Serve and enjoy!