GODDESS SUPER FOOD LOADED OATMEAL BOWL OF YUM

I love oatmeal as a go to breakfast option for a lot of reasons. Oats are not only incredibly nutritious, containing antioxidants, loads of soluble fiber, and a host of other vitamins and minerals that support a healthy heart and healthy blood sugar levels, oats are also extremely filling and insanely versatile. I’ve never met a food that can be topped with so many different things and still taste so delicious. I’ll admit it. A lot of my oat bowls are pretty damn decadent, almost bordering on a piping hot bowl of guilty pleasure that blurs the line between healthy food and healthy junk food. But c’mon. What’s life without a little bit of pleasure? Besides, the only thing even remotely junky about this recipe is the chocolate chips, and even those only have two ingredients. Dark chocolate and cane sugar. That’s a far cry from starting the day off with a bowl of boxed cereal or that sugar laden pastry that you so love to eat in the mornings.

I’ve aptly dubbed this bowl of deliciousness the “Goddess super food loaded oatmeal bowl of yum”. Do you know why? Well the first reason is because I obviously don’t care about seo and indexing in google search engines. The second reason is because I believe that we’re all gods and goddesses and this bowl of goodness right here that’s packed with delicious nutritious superfoods is a perfect fit for such worthy titles. Did you know that goji berries have been used for thousands of years in eastern medicine to promote anti aging, liver health, kidney health, and longevity? It’s also touted as one of the best fruits in eastern medicine for enhancing beauty. Besides the antioxidant rich blueberry, I really can’t think of a better food to add to your morning bowl of oats. This creamy bowl of love is not only jammed packed with nutrition, but it also boast just the right amount of decadence to ignite all of your tastebuds and make you feel like you’re having your cake and eating it too. Yup! Because who says healthy eating has to be bland and boring. < Not this gal!

ROLLED OATS BASE

1/2 cup of rolled oats

1 cup of water, almond, or light coconut milk (depending on how creamy you like your oats)

Pinch of salt *optional

Cinnamon *optional

TOPPINGS

Walnuts

Pumpkin seeds

Goji berries

Dried blueberries

Strawberries

Toasted black sesame seeds

Raw honey to taste

Enjoy life dark chocolate chips

Barnana chewy organic coconut banana bites or navita organic cacao goji power snacks

I’m thinking that a dab of peanut or almond butter would take this over the edge too! I’d omit the strawberries though. Experiment!

Add water or milk and a dash of salt to a pot and bring to a boil. Add oats and cinnamon and lower heat to medium, stirring oats occasionally until they’re nice and creamy and at the consistency that you’d like. Transfer oats to a serving bowl and top with your favorite toppings. My favorite toppings are obviously the ones above but you can add anything that you’d like. Just don’t attempt to eat them plain and sugarless like this or else you might just want to find me and kill me. Funny story. When I was bigger I still loved oats but I use to eat them way differently from how I do now. Back then I would drown my oats in cows milk, butter, and loads of white table sugar. By the time I was done I had turned a heart healthy bowl of oats into what might as well had been a donut or a bowl of freaken fruit loops for breakfast! Lol. Ooooh how things have changed. 😄

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YUMMY GLUTEN FREE OATMEAL/COCONUT FLOUR BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

I’m not a chef or a food photographer. I’m just a girl who loves to eat healthy and cook my own meals. Some people might call me over the top because of the time and effort that I put into making my meals look beautiful, but at the end of the day my food is ultimately a reflection of me. I’ve lived with chronic depression and anxiety since I was 12 years old. If you know me personally than it’s very easy to tell when I’m falling back into a depressive episode. One sure fire way to tell is that the presentation of my food starts to go way down. I just stop caring. I’ll throw food into a bowl and it’ll look my mush. I’ll burn things to hell by accident because of my lack of focus. The quality of EVERYTHING in my life, including my food just starts to go way down whenever I’m feeling down, 

While depression sucks and my moods can be an emotional roller-coaster of ups and downs, the great thing about living with chronic depression for me is that it’s super easy to tell when I’m feeling my best, because I start caring about everything in my life again, especially my health! That commitment to health manifest itself in everything from making sure that I groom myself well every morning by rubbing in that extra delicious mango butter lotion all over my body, to lighting up a scented candle during my morning meditation, to exercising and eating healthfully, all the way down to making my food look beautiful, delicious, and full of vibrant life. Just like how I feel on the inside when I’m feeling my best! The bottom line is, it’s not about me going over the top for a regular everyday meal. It’s not about me trying to be a perfectionist or a show off. After all, like I said, I’m not a chef, a food stylist, or a food photographer. That’s besides the point. It’s simply about my food being a reflection of how I feel on the inside. It’s simply about me loving myself, caring for myself, and putting that same energy and attention to detail into the foods that I create.

When I created these delicious looking and tasty healthful blueberry pancakes I was obviously feeling on top of my a game! Pancakes are a very special treat that up until recently I didn’t have the chance to enjoy much. That’s because most pancakes are loaded with gluten, sugar, high levels of sodium, and other junky additives that I really don’t want to be putting into this wonderfully made temple that is my body. Sooo, after much tweaking and experimenting I came up with my own pancake recipe that’s not only gluten free, but it’s delicious, nutrient dense, and super simple to make! Try them out for yourself, but be warned. You might just become addicted like I have!

GLUTEN FREE OATMEAL & COCONUT FLOUR BLUEBERRY PANCAKES

Makes about 14 pancakes 

2 cups gf rolled oats

1/3 cup coconut flour

1 tbsp baking powder

3 extra large eggs

1 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar

1cup of light coconut milk

1 cup of water

Fresh or dried blueberries (I prefer dry but fresh is good too)

Toppings *optional

Raw honey

Goji berries *

Walnuts *

Pumpkin seeds*

Throw the first 3 dry ingredients into a blender and stir with a spoon. Throw the next 4 wet ingredients into the blender, turn on blender and obliterate until it forms a nice batter. Let the batter sit for at least 15 mins. * This is a nice time to get in a quick morning meditation or some deep breathing while you wait. Sometimes I like to use this time to tidy up the apartment too. Preheat a well oiled skillet to medium heat (I love cast iron 🖤) and use a 1/4 measuring cup to scoop out and pour the batter onto the skillet. Cook two at a time, adding 5 fresh blueberries or a sprinkle of dried blueberries to one side of the pancakes. Once pancake is not too wet and it looks ready to flip (2- 3 mins) turn and cook for a few mins more. Repeat until you have a nice delicious batch of healthy gluten free blueberry pancakes. I like to top mine with raw honey because it’s so much tastier and healthy than store-brought syrup. I also like to top mine with nuts, seeds, and more dried fruit but of course you can use whatever you like! Enjoy! * Ps. You shouldn’t have to add any more oil to the pan after the initial oiling, as too much oil will make the pancakes too flat. Let me know what you think!

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CAMPING FOR CONSCIOUSNESS| HOW I OVERCAME MY FEAR OF CAMPING

Being outdoors and sleeping under the stars has become one of my favorite hobbies. If you would’ve told me a few years ago that I’d be sleeping in a tent, surrounded by wild animals, cooking up meals out in nature, I would’ve looked at you like you had two heads. Me, camping? First of all, I’m black and black people don’t go camping. Second of all, there’d be all types of creatures just waiting to maul me in my sleep. Third of all, revert back to second of all…Yup. That was me. I was afraid at even the idea of camping. It turns out that what I was really afraid of though, was the unknown. Like a lot of people who’ve never been camping before I had a lot of what ifs running through my head. What if a creature attacks me in the night? What about personal hygiene? What if. What if. What if. What if… That is until one day, I actually took a leap of faith and I tried camping out for myself. As it turns out, it wasn’t so scary after-all! In fact, it was actually an amazing experience! 

Breathtaking scenery. Check. Being able to actually star gaze because of the lack of light pollution. Check. Peace away from the city. Check. I quickly realized that going on camping adventures was like going on a mini vacation, and that’s exactly why I keep going back today. I mean, who doesn’t like mini vacations?! And do you know what makes camping even more awesome? The simple fact that all of those things that I was afraid of about camping, have never actually happened. Not even once, and I’ve been camping a lot. In fact, I’ve really had nothing but fun, positive experiences while camping, and honestly, I’m more afraid of being in the city these days…haha. 

 

 

I woke up to these Big Horned Sheep (rams) grazing only a few feet away from my tent. It was awesome! They just grazed on the leaves and went about their business. They didn’t bother me at all. Most animals won’t. They’re more afraid of you than you are of them.

Wild animals? Trust me they’re more afraid of you then you are of them. Keep a good distance, don’t bother them, and you’ll be be perfectly fine. Personal hygiene? Some campgrounds have flush toilets and even hot showers! So choose wisely and you can still enjoy some of your favorite creature comforts. Even still, vault toilets really aren’t all that bad, and when you’re truly roughing it, a nice log can feel just as comfy as a toilet seat if you know how to squat well. The point is, I’m not afraid anymore. I turned my fear of camping around into an excitement for camping instead. An excitement for the next new place that I’ll discover on my adventures. An excitement for the next cool animal that I’ll get to see. An excitement for the next new boulder that I’ll climb that stands in my way, both literally and figuratively.

 

Camping has done more for me than just provide me with a fun new hobby. Camping has completely changed my whole outlook on life. It’s changed me. I’m no longer that fear struck woman whose afraid to take life by the reigns and do things on her own. I’m no longer that person who complains about how unfulfilling their life is, while doing nothing to inject more fun and adventure into it. These days, I’m an adventure seeking, heart of the brave independent woman who lives her life on her own terms. A woman whose on a mission to explore both herself and her outer world, one new adventure at a time.

Camping isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Ultimately, this post really isn’t about camping. Camping isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay. Ultimately, this post really isn’t about camping. It’s about facing your fears (whatever they may be) and about doing what sets your soul on fire anyway. It’s about being open to trying new experiences, because life’s way too short, and you just never know! You just might find something out there that you never knew you’d like! Remember, you can try and do anything. Ultimately, the only thing holding you back is yourself, your mind, and fear.

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HOW A PAIR OF BIRDS TAUGHT ME HOW TO LOVE MYSELF

Some days I look at myself in the mirror and I don’t like what I see. Some days, I do. On those days when I do, I feel like I’m on top of the world. Even then, all it takes is for me to step outside and get side eyed by some random stranger, and suddenly the belief that I’m ugly and not good enough comes rushing right back in. All it takes is one look of disgust. For some reason I seem to get these looks from people all of the time. What I find strange is that I get these looks much less when I’m covered up from head to toe in an over-sized sweat shirt and sweatpants. Instead, it’s when I try to dress up even remotely girly and sexy, that I’m quickly reminded by everyone around me that I’m anything but. Or so it would seem. Why does it seem like everyone’s always judging me on my appearance?

I get it. I really do. You think I’m hideous. How dare I have the nerve to try and dress up to make myself feel good. You obviously think that everyone who doesn’t fit in with the conventional standards of beauty should just go sit in a corner somewhere and die. Instead of drawing attention to ourselves, we should try to blend in with the crowd. After-all, nobody wants to see our ugly face or disgusting bodies. Got it. The thing is though, by my very nature and personality, I’m bound to draw attention from people. For god sakes I’m almost 30 years old, I dress predominantly in all black, I ride around on a massive unconventional fat tired bike, and I’m usually sporting a pair of animal ears on my crazy haired head. 

The thing that I don’t understand is, though, is that if me being my unconventional self makes me happy, then why can’t you just be happy for me?The truth is. It’s not even your fault. It’s mine. The law of vibration and energy applies to EVERYTHING, and not just experiences that I pick and choose whenever I don’t feel like taking responsibility for my own vibes. In other words, if I’m attracting experiences in my life where I feel like I’m always being judged by other people, then I really need to take a look at my own beliefs and ask myself why that is. What am I doing to create these negative unwanted experiences in my life? I think I might have found the answer to this question over the weekend. The other day the universe reminded me of a very valuable lesson, and it came in the form of birds…

So I was at the park doing what I normally do. I was practicing my daily qigong flow, doing my acupressure points, deep breathing in some fresh air, sunbathing, and just taking in the beautiful views of nature all around me. As I was laying on my blanket, two birds began to inch closer and closer over to me. It was kind of cute at first glance, but I really didn’t take much interest because in my mind they were just your standard typical pigeons, and nothing special. Not only were they “just pigeons”, they were making some jerky neck movements that kind of creeped me out, and honestly after awhile I just wanted them to get away from me.

Just as I was harshly judging these birds, a cute little brown bird appeared seemingly out of nowhere in the midst of this sea of black pigeons. Everything about this bird from the way that it looked all the way down to the way that it hopped around like a cute little bunny was just adorable, and before I knew it the oo’s and the awes came pouring out and I instantly wanted this cute little bird to hop on over my way. In that moment, suddenly I had realized what I had done. I had judged those poor little birds solely based off of their physical appearance. I DID TO THOSE BIRDS EXACTLY WHAT I CLAIMED THAT OTHER PEOPLE DO TO ME. 

That’s when I began to realize that I was the one who was judging everything. Not only do I sometimes judge things in my environment harshly, but what’s even worse is that I also sometimes judge myself just as harsh. Just like the jerky neck movements of the pigeons, if there’s any flaw that I perceive on myself on any given day, I quickly start to feel like I’m not good enough. A valuable lesson was reinforced in me that day. Firstly that our experiences are always just a reflection of our own beliefs. The universal law of like attracts like always stands, and we do in fact create our own reality through our own perception. The bottom-line is, if I want to stop being judged by other people, then I need to stop judging myself and everything around me. After all, who says that the butterfly is better than the moth? Who says that the butterfly should be set free while the moth needs to be smashed with a shoe, simply because of its appearance? Every being is worthy no matter what they look like or no matter their perceived flaws.

We’re all living, breathing creatures of god and we’re all beautiful. Yes, everyone has their own preferences and that’s fine. Still, everyone deserves love and respect. Everyone deserves to feel beautiful, to be happy, and to be treated with love and kindness, even if they’re not to your preference. Most of all, before we can accept love, we must first show that same love to ourselves. We must believe that we deserve respect, that we are worthy, lovable, beautiful and awesome. Those birds, they taught me a lot that day. Best of all, they taught me that I shouldn’t be ashamed of my uniqueness. They taught me that I shouldn’t care about blending in with the crowd and that I should just be me, Courtney. They taught me to love myself and all beings unconditionally, and that harsh judgments only keep us from seeing the unique beauty that lies in everyone and in everything.

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HOW POOR DIGESTION CAN AFFECT MENTAL HEALTH| AN EASTERN MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE

The foods that we put into our bodies can either nourish or deplete us of our energy. Make no mistakes. What we feed our bodies can have a huge affect on how well we feel in our minds. I can’t count how many times eating too much junk foods has led to a depressive episode for me. And it wasn’t just because of the guilt of my poor food choices, but because junk foods actually have a negative physiological impact on the body. This impact in Eastern Medicine is known as energy stagnation. Firstly, good health always begins with good digestion. Under optimal conditions our bodies are great at digesting real foods found in nature that contain real nutrition. On the other hand, junk foods that contain excess sugar and unhealthy ingredients like propylene glycol, sodium nitrates, high fructose corn syrup, msg, artificial colors, and other harmful chemicals, are hard for our bodies to digest, if they even digest them at all. 

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE BODY CANNOT PROCESS SOMETHING, AND IT’S STILL BEING FED MORE AND MORE STUFF THAT IT CANT PROCESS?

Well, let’s ask ourselves what happens when a drain gets clogged, and we’ve got our answer. Too much junk gets backed up in the drain and it begins to impede the proper flow of liquid throughout the drain. Likewise, when toxins build up in the body, they begin to impede the proper flow of energy throughout the body. This blockage of energy also extends to the mind since the mind and the body are both intricately connected. Energy stagnation is ultimately the root cause behind all illness in the body and in the mind. In other words, if our energy was allowed to flow freely like how it was meant to, we would be free from all pain and disease. Unfortunately, most people today suffer from energy stagnation to one degree or another. The most common cause of energy stagnation, and the most simplest one to fix, is poor digestion.

The experts were really onto something when they said that good health begins with good digestion. They also weren’t far off when they figured out that gut health has a lot to do with brain health. So much so that some experts have now dubbed our gut as our second brain. I can’t even count how many times I’ve spiraled into a depression, seemingly out of nowhere, only to realize that prior to my downfall my digestion was impaired because I was eating the wrong types of foods. I’m sure we’ve all felt down before, with no apparent rhyme or reason as to the cause of our blues. The next time we feel this way, we should think back to what we’ve been putting into our bodies, and maybe we’ll begin to realize a connection. There have actually been studies done on mentally ill people that have proven that eating certain foods like wheat, dairy, too much sugar, and junk foods have produced a worsening in their symptoms. It’s no coincidence!

Eastern Medicine has a vastly different view of our digestive system as opposed to Western medicine. In particular, in Eastern medicine, our spleen system is responsible for our digestion. But since Eastern Medicine recognizes the connection between the mind and the body,  they’ve realized that not only is the spleen responsible for the digestion of our foods, but also the digestion of our emotions, and in fact, our digestive organs are responsible for digesting ALL stimulus that we take in from our environment. In other words, when we eat foods that are hard for our bodies to process, we also make it harder for our minds to digest and process our emotions. This is one reason why Eastern Medicine strongly discourages eating while having strong emotions like anger, sadness, and anxiety. Our bodies simply cannot process the foods and the strong emotions at the same time, and so digestion will inevitably become impaired.

If we want our energy to flow, if we want to digest our emotions well by letting in the good thoughts that nourish us, while letting go of the thoughts that do not, then we must implore that same attitude to our bodies by allowing in whats nourishing for our bodies and keeping out what’s not. It’s that simple. Eating foods that promote digestion instead of hindering it, in addition to practicing good eating habits, will have a positive effect on not only the body but also the mind. Ultimately, digestion is digestion. Whether we’re trying to digest our food or our emotions. Likewise, indigestion in one system (the body) is indigestion in another system (the mind). If we want free free flowing energy and better health in mind, body, and spirit, then a good place to start is by eating the right types of foods for our bodies. And let’s be honest, junk foods or foods with suspect ingredients are rarely ever the right types of foods. Just saying! We are what we eat! Or better yet, we are what we digest. 

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THE ENERGETICS OF FOOD| STAYING WARM IN THE COOLER SEASONS WITH FOOD

This is the really cool thing about Eastern Medicine. Nothing is one size fits all, and if something is in excess, there are things that we can do to remove the excess out and make it more balanced. Just like everything else in this entire universe, all foods have energetic properties. It’s not all about macro and micro nutrients. The energetic properties of the foods that we eat can have a tremendous impact on our health. In case this sounds crazy to you, let me give you a few examples of what I mean and I think you just might begin to understand a little bit better the energy of the foods that we eat. The energy of cucumbers is cooling. By that I mean that after they’re metabolized by the body, they have a cooling effect on the body. When cucumbers are eaten they physically remove excess heat from out of the body, which is why they are such a great food to eat in the summer and/or whenever a person is feeling too hot. Tomatoes are a cooling food too, as well as lemons, limes, celery, zucchini, and plenty of other raw fruits and veggies.

On the flip side I think we can all attest to the fact that foods like chili, ginger, garlic, and cinnamon are warming. In other words, when consumed they warm the body up, which is why they are great foods to eat in the cooler seasons of fall and winter. Here’s the cool thing about Eastern Medicine though. Even though foods that are energetically cold in nature should be limited in the cooler months, if you do choose to eat them, you can balance them out and make them warmer by doing a few simple things. 

COOKED FOODS 

1. Cooking foods that are cold in nature are the simplest way to increase their warmth. Cooking foods not only heats up the food physically, but energetically as well. Example. Cooked tomatoes and cucumbers are warmer than raw tomatoes and cucumbers.

INCREASED COOKING TIMES FOR INCREASED WARMTH 

2. Take advantage of different cooking methods to increase warmth. Stir frying increases warmth just a bit but not as much as baking or slow cooking would. The increased cooking times called for baking, roasting, and slow cooking adds a lot more warmth to the food vs shorter cooking methods like stir frying or steaming.

USE WARMING SPICES LIBERALLY

3. Use warming spices liberally in the cooler months. Garlic, ginger, cinnamon, chili, black pepper, are all spices that warm the body up. They can be added to cooling foods to help increase their warmth. Example. Toss your cucumber and tomato salad with garlic and black pepper. Add some cinnamon to your oatmeal (a cooling food) to help warm it up. Drinking ginger tea daily will help to keep you warmer in the cooler months. 

Remember that the actual temperature of the foods may or may not have anything to do with whether they have cold or hot energetic properties. When I talk about cooling and warming foods I’m usually not talking about whether a food is cold or hot to the touch. Instead, I’m talking about the energetic effect that consuming said food has on our bodies own energy. In other words, whether they cool our bodies down or heat our bodies up. In the end, there really are no hard or fast rules when it comes to what we eat. Everybody is different and with a bit of tweaking most things can be balanced out to make it more appropriate for our physical constitution. By nature, some people are warmer (yang) than others and so they can handle more cooler foods like raw fruits and veggies. On the other hand, some people like me are cooler (yin) by nature and they need more warmer foods to balance their energy out and feel their best. If your hands and feet are usually cold, if you crave warmth, if you’re prone to sadness and laziness (stagnation) during the cooler months, if you have loose stools in the cooler months (sign of excess cold and/or dampness in the body) than you should probably start eating foods that will warm your body up and/or incorporate some of the tips above and see how you feel!

As always, I’m not a doctor and these are just general tips. The amount of cold or hot foods that a person can handle ultimately depends on their physical constitution or Dosha. If you run hot already (predominant pitta dosha) then adding in too many hot spices and such could aggravate your dosha and make you too hot. This can manifest itself physically as hot flashes, anger, constipation, and more. Its always best to speak with a licensed practitioner and/or do your own due diligence to find out your own Dosha. Experiment! But if something is quite working well with your Dosha then tweak as necessary. 

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HEALING EMBARRASSING BLADDER ISSUES USING THE MIRACLE MOVEMENTS OF QIGONG

Healing with energy is simple, powerful, and amazing. At the start of winter I began having some problems with my bladder. Camping was pretty much a nightmare because I had to get up upwards of 3-4 times in the night to go pee. It wasn’t just a regular urge to “go” either. The urge would come on very fast and it was very strong. So strong that it was really uncomfortable to hold it in, and honestly I had a few close calls where I almost didn’t make it to the bathroom in time. For a second there, I was beginning to feel like I was an 80 year old grandmother. It sucked… Frequent high volumes of urination (especially urine thats clear like how mine was) is a sign of a possible kidney deficiency in Traditional Chinese Medicine. So, at the start of the new year I began incorporating a daily kidney/bladder Qigong flow to target those organs and hopefully resolve the very annoying issues that I was having. Well, I’m nearly three weeks into the new year and after doing that one video everyday for three weeks, I’m pleased to say that all of those issues have now been resolved!

Now, when I have the urge to “go” it’s a normal urge. The urge isn’t intense and it doesn’t come on quickly like how it use to. I also don’t get up a million times in the night to use the bathroom anymore. These days I get up maybe once in the night and sometimes not at all. It truly is amazing! And it was all done simply by doing one video everyday for three weeks. No doctors. No meds. No invasive procedures. Just all natural healing that I did myself by shifting my own energy and healing my own organs through the tremendous healing power of Qigong. Qigong in Chinese literally translates to life force energy cultivation. The slow repetitive movements involved in Qigong are targeted to help tonify, circulate, and harmonize a person’s Qi (pronounced chi) or life force energy. I’ve added a link below to one of the many free videos that my Qigong teacher Marissa has on her YouTube channel. It’s not exactly the one that I used to heal my bladder issues (those require a paid subscription to her on demand video library) but it does have some of the same moves that can be found in the paid version.

I’d highly recommend getting a paid subscription if you can, but in the meantime she has plenty of free videos on her YouTube channel that can help get you started with using Qigong to heal your life. 

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WHY A HIGH FAT DIET ISN’T FOR EVERYONE| AN EASTERN MEDICINE PERSPECTIVE

The other day someone asked me why I prefer to go low fat when it comes to a lot my food choices. I wrote them a detailed explanation why and I’d like to share my reply here. Firstly, I’d like to acknowledge the fact that fat seems to be all of the rage these days. Plenty of people are into eating styles like paleo and the ketogenic diet, and these diets pretty much encourage a moderate to high fat diet. The thing is, a high fat diet isn’t for everyone, and it certainly isn’t for me. The reality is, healthy fats are fine in moderation or in very limited quantities depending on one thing. Your physical constitution. My physical constitution or what’s called a Dosha (in Ayurveda) is kapha or a damp constitution. Kapha comprises the elements of both earth and water. It’s a very yin (cooling) constitution. The other doshas ( there are three of them) are called pitta and vata. Pitta comprises the elements of heat and fire aka yang (heating) whereas vata comprises the elements of wind and air. In Ayurveda, each person is made up of a mixture of all three doshas, but one dosha is particularly prominent in every person. My prominent dosha is kapha. While being of a Kapha dosha does have its many positives when in balanced, like being very nurturing, loving, grounded, and having a lot of physical strength and stamina, being an out of balanced Kapha is a complete nightmare. Trust me, I’ve been there!

For one thing, kaphas are particularly prone to retaining water and fat, especially in the cooler months without the heat from the summer to burn off the extra water. In addition to being prone to obesity, this excess water can also manifest itself physically in an imbalanced kapha as too much mucus production in the body. Think of someone who talks with a low deep gargled voice like their nose is always stuffy. That’s me! Since, by nature, kaphas are also comprised of structure and stability, another sign of an imbalanced kapha is rigidity and inflexibility. A kapha out of balance is extremely stubborn and almost impossible to move both physically and mentally. This also means that in the cooler months, like water that freezes on the ground and turns into ice, kaphas are more prone than other doshas to stagnation (stuck energy), less movement/laziness, and feeling stuck in life. This stagnation can manifest itself mentally as depression if not properly addressed quickly with the right food and lifestyle choices. 

Ayurveda and Traditional Medicine work on the principle that like attracts more like and that opposites balance each other out. This means that since my prominent dosha is kapha, which is a cool yin restful constitution, naturally I’d lean more towards things that are kapha or yin like. For instance, laziness, inactivity, and procrastination. Likewise, if I had a more yang constitution (yang is hot, active, expansive) I’d lean more towards movement and actually getting things done. We’ve all seen those yin people. These people usually feel cold to the touch, especially their hands and feet. They also naturally walk slower, talk slower, and they carry more weight because of their slower metabolisms. Likewise, we’ve all met those people who embody more yang energy. Their bodies are warmer to the touch. They talk faster, move faster, and are sometimes prone to hyperactivity. They also have faster metabolisms so they naturally have slimmer builds than kapha.

According to the principles of like attracts like and opposites balance each other out, doing more yin things would quickly make me too yin and throw a kapha person like me out of balance, eventually leading to things like stagnation, overeating, more stubbornness, laziness, etc. On the flip side, doing more yang things would balance out the yin and make a kapha dosha feel balanced and complete in mind, body, and spirit. Getting to the meat (pun intended) of this blog post, foods also have yin and yang properties. In fact, every single thing in the universe is made up of yin and yang! By nature yin is heavy and dense and yang is light. Just as well, some foods have heavy/dense properties and some foods are light. Not only is it important for a kapha like me to stay active to help burn off excess water and stave off weight gain (especially in the cooler months), it’s also important for me to eat less heavy/dense foods so that I can feel lighter in mind, body, and spirit. 

An example of foods that are heavy and dense would be too much meats, too much fats, and too much cold foods as these are all things that can easily stagnate ones energy (especially a kapha) if eaten in excess. On the flip side, it’s best for kaphas to favor lighter warmer foods like cooked fruits and veggies, properly prepared grains and legumes, warming spices, and limited quantities of meats and fats to help balance out the already heavy/dense nature of kapha. Basically, when I eat more cooked fruits and veggies, grains, beans, warming spices, and less fats, meats, and cold foods, I feel a lot more energized and in balanced overall. The difference in my energy levels and in my overall health really is night and day when I eat for my predominant dosha. This is why I choose to go low – moderate fat. It’s not really a choice that I have, but a must if I want feel my best.

Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine are two truly amazing ways to reach our optimal physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, and I believe that everyone should learn more about them if they truly want to live this life as their best and healthiest self. Eastern medicine in general is a million miles ahead of western medicine in just about every way, and all it is in a nutshell, is healing with nature and with the power of our own energy. Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurveda recognize that everything that happens in nature also manifest itself within the human body in different people and in different ways. They’re both a form of holistic health that takes into account not only a persons body but their mind, spirit, and emotions in the quest for optimal health and wellness.

Eastern medicine really is all about total wellness rather than picking apart the body and separating it from the mind and emotions like how western medicine often does. They’ve both helped me tremendously in my journey towards optimal health and I know that one day energy healing and holistic health will be the standard form of healing in our world.

If you’re interested in holistic health, eastern medicine, and healing with energy than I’d suggest you start by finding out your dosha (in Ayurveda) or your physical constitution (in Traditional Chinese Medicine). Some people are hot natured, cool natured, damp natured, etc,. Some people are more vata, pitta, or more kapha and that will end up determining the best food and lifestyle choices for their health. There’s no one size fits all approach in Eastern medicine and that’s one of the things that I love about it. Some people’s health can thrive off of one thing while another person’s health can decline off of the same thing. 

So find out your dosha and begin empowering yourself and your health today. There are plenty of free quizzes online to help you find out your prominent dosha. As always though, I’m not a licensed professional and neither is a quiz, so it’s always best to consult with a Doctor of oriental medicine, a licensed acupuncturist, an Ayurveda practitioner, or a doctor of holistic medicine for the best results. Besides that, I strongly believe in self empowerment so do your own due diligence and research research research. By comparing your symptoms and natural tendencies to the research you find, you’ll eventually realize your predominant dosha.

 

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NATURE FOR THE SOUL: MY FIRST BIKE PACKING OVERNIGHT ADVENTURE!

This was a spur of the moment adventure. The boyfriend had the Easter weekend off and we were both, yet again, bored inside of the apartment looking for something to do. While I’m sure that my boyfriend’s version of “doing something” most likely meant busting out the barbecue grill at the local park, I, on the other hand, was looking to get into something more. I wanted to go on an adventure. A bike packing adventure! And so after a little convincing, that’s exactly what we did! And guess what? It turns out that we were both kinda in way over our heads…

Where: Lake Mead, Nevada

When: March 31st – April 1st, 2018

With whom: My boyfriend and I

Accommodations: Las Vegas Bay campground

Distance: 42 miles round trip

Day 1

We headed out towards our first trail head way later than we expected. The plan was to leave around 10 in the morning, but by the time we had left the apartment it was already 1 in the afternoon. The first hour of our journey was uneventful until we got to the wetlands connector trail.

Riding along the wetlands connector trail. Las Vegas wash!

And then…uphills! Major uphills! They were so steep that we had to get off of our bikes and walk them up. We were not pleased. It was hot (nearly 90 degrees) and it was at that point that we had started to wonder if we had made a grave mistake by choosing to tackle this trail. 

But, it was only just the beginning and we hadn’t even come face to face with the real monster. Our next trail-head! The river mountains loop trail!

I had read a lot of online reviews about this trail, and although almost everyone agreed that it was beautiful and scenic, they also agreed that it was a moderate to strenuous trail not for the feint at heart. The whole trail was said to have mostly uphill grades with some rather steep hills spread all throughout. But me being the stubborn adventurous person that I am, I felt like me and my bf were up for the task even though we pretty much had no training with uphill riding whatsoever. Go figure!.. Once we nearly made it to the river mountains loop trail, our lack of training began to show. We began to slow down significantly! After many alternating periods of riding our bikes, walking our bikes uphill, and stopping for a lot of much needed breaks, we finally found some respite from the heat ( good thing we packed enough water!) under a shaded pedestrian tunnel. We took the time to eat our lunch of homemade trail mix and rice cakes smeared with loads of almond butter and honey. After cooling off and stuffing our faces, about 30 minutes later we were back on the trail. At this point, we had been on the trail for hours and we began to realize that it was getting late. Mind you, this whole journey to Lake Mead was suppose to be under 2 and a half hours. We left at 1pm and by 6pm we were still on the trail and not at Lake Mead! Once again we were making poor timing and I had wondered if we would still be on the trail after dark. A scary thought indeed seeing as much of the trail stretches through wide open desert. Finally at almost seven at night we reached our destination. Lake Mead! A whole 6 hours later! Once inside of the park we almost got lost, but luckily, with the help of a nice park ranger, we finally made it to our campground at Lake Mead. By the time we got there it was dark and I was praying to god the campground wasn’t full. Fortunately it wasn’t! Whew! That would’ve made our trip 10x harder if it was. We unpacked, set up our gear, and then I cooked up what turned out to be an improvised but completely delicious dinner. It’ll probably become a camping dinner staple! There was wine to be had too which was much needed after such a long day. We were both exhausted after the days journey so we got into our tent and quickly went to bed. Good night!

 Day 2

 

 

The view overlooking our campground at Lake Las Vegas Bay.

Lake Mead National Recreation Area.

Wow. I guess some people don’t understand the meaning of “quiet hours”. Our camping neighbor’s were up all night drinking and chatting among themselves very loudly. It was almost as if they thought that no one else was in the campground besides them. And this is why I dislike camping in most campgrounds… The original plan was to actually try dispersed camping and find our own spot nestled somewhere up along the lake shore. But since we arrived at Lake Mead after dark, that plan quickly went out of the window. Oh well! We’ll have to leave much earlier next time! We ate our breakfast, explored the immediate area a little bit, took some pictures, and then we proceeded to pack up our gear. Although I wanted to do a lot more exploring around the park, we would have to get an early start back home because my boyfriend had to go to work the following day. And by an early start I mean we left at 12 noon because we never leave on time…lol.

Leaving Lake Mead.

Leaving Lake Mead National Recreation Area. Lake Mead is also a very hilly area. The ride back to River Mountains Loop Trail was a bit rough!

We had hoped that the ride back home would be easier. It turns out that it was! There were a lot more downhills (extremely fun and kind of scary at times lol) but there were still a few strenuous uphill climbs that required us to get off and walk our bikes. By the time we got back to the wetlands trail, the bf was spent and we had to take several breaks. I’m so proud of him though because this proved to be a very tough trail for us both and although he was irritated at times (as was I ) with the seemingly never ending uphill riding, he never EVER gave up! We never gave up! In fact, I think we did pretty damn amazing considering neither of us are fit or athletic and we were both hauling well over 35lbs of gear of piece. Up until 3 months ago, we hadn’t ridden bikes at all since were children! 

The bf taking a rest and probably wondering why the hell he ever agreed to do this…

We made it back home close to 6pm, and that was mainly because we stopped for an hour, sat, and chilled once we got to the wetlands. I also took that time to put in a grocery delivery because I wanted delicious food to be ready and waiting for us as soon as we got home. We were both tired, starving, and ready to just relax and eat. We needed something fast but still reasonably healthy so a pre cooked roasted chicken from sprouts sounded great. Mmm… roasted chicken sandwiches with kettle brand sea salt potato chips + an ice cold lime flavored sparkling water. The thought alone made me push those last few miles even harder. lol. As soon as were were pulling up to our apartment building, our sprouts food delivery order was pulling in. Just in time! Time to eat real food, rest, and reflect on the seemingly never ending journey through the desert that we had just defeated. Wow. That was one heck of a first bike-packing trip!

Lessons: 1. Leave on time. We could’ve made our trip significantly more pleasant by just leaving early in the morning and avoiding some of the sweltering afternoon heat. 2. Freeze our water before leaving because warm water taste disgusting and unsatisfying. 3. If you’re not dispersed camping, have a back up plan for a second accommodation, because if the campgrounds are full there’s nothing worse than trying to set up camp in the dark in the middle of the back-country. Especially the desert! Eek! A lot of the creatures are nocturnal (including snakes) because its so damn hot out during the day. Think about that. Or maybe I should have…lol 4. Wear sunscreen! So, I have this thing about sunscreen. It makes your face look pasty white and like you have stuff caked on it. Because you do. But, its needed! We both went without and the next day our faces were dry and peeling in the areas that we had clearly been sunburned. I think it’s safe to say that we’ve learned our lesson for next time. 

Would we do it again?: Hell yea! I would. Although the journey wasn’t easy or even expected at some points, I had massive amounts of fun and I actually surprised myself by what I could do. Who knew that I had so much strength and stamina! I’m already planning my next bike-packing trip. I’m hooked! The boyfriend, on the other hand, not so much. He says that he could do this once a month but not as much as I’d like to do it. He says that it was fun but exhausting. Same here!  But it will just take a bit longer for him to recuperate. All in all, it was a great challenging trip. Ir was a true test of both our physical and mental strength. I cant wait to get back on my bike and do it all again!

Home sweet home. Food! Roasted chicken with mayo, cheese, cucumbers, tomatoes, hummus, and lettuce on Dave’s killer bread. Gobbled this down with an ice cold one (lime sparkling water hehe).

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NATURE FOR THE SOUL: A BEGINNERS BACKPACKING JOURNEY: TEST RUNS AT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

Wow…I’m so glad that I decided to try out a few practice runs before diving in head first and going straight into the back-country without any experience whatsoever. To be honest, I don’t know what I was thinking! What can I say. Sometimes I’m just impulsive as hell and I have no patience for practice! LoL. But patience is a good thing to have and it seems like the universe has been trying to get me to realize that lately. But yea. This first practice run really opened up my eyes. It showed me some of my strengths and some of weaknesses. Let’s just say that I have so much more to improve upon to be better at this whole backpacking out in nature thing. Made it to valley of fire state park safe and sound! Yea, let’s get some backpacking practice on!

Day one 

I arrived at Atlatl rock campground at around 12.30pm. To my excitement my favorite spot was open and beckoning me to come on over and pitch my tent. Site number 22 baby! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this camp site. It really is the most secluded most perfect site inside of the whole entire Valley of Fire State Park. It’s a favorite of many regular vof campers, which is why I was so happy to find it empty! I filled out my camping slip, payed my dues, and headed back to camp. I did find two people from the cleanup crew cleaning up near my site when I got back from paying my camping fee. They explained to me that another camper told them that there were beer bottles littered near the camp site. I guess someone got a little too rowdy in the desert last-night! Lol. That also made me glad that I decided to do my test run today, because in all actuality the trip was planned for yesterday but I lazed out and never went to sprouts to get my camping food. If I would’ve came on the planned day my favorite site would’ve been occupied by a bunch of young partying whipper snappers! Haha. They did leave behind some firewood though so that was cool! Thanks guys! Too bad I didn’t bring smores! Oh well…A regular old campfire lighting up the night sky is still pretty awesome to look at nonetheless.

So, for reference, I did set up my tent once while I was at home and it seemed easy enough. The plan was to download the video of the setup so that I could watch it again at camp if I needed to. That plan unfortunately didn’t pan out so well. The stupid down-loader app didn’t want to download the video and so I was forced to rely on memory alone. That started out ok. I got the rain fly down, laid the tent down, got the poles laid out, but when it came to actually setting up the poles, I was utterly confused for a moment. I couldn’t get the poles to bend!!! Fortunately, I figured it all out shortly thereafter and I have to admit, I was pretty damn proud of myself for pitching and staking down MY OWN tent. I’ve pitched up my four person Coleman tent before but that tent is a huge pop up shared tent between me and my bf. This was me pitching up my own tent. My little home away from home. My portable personal humble abode in the desert. I felt like I had just claimed my stake and put down my flag. I felt so accomplished and proud of myself! Yay I accomplished something!

And do you know what, for a brief moment as I was reveling in my small victory, I caught myself scolding myself for actually praising myself and feeling good about what I had accomplished. Louise Hay says that patting ourselves on the back when we do good, is an act of loving and appreciating ourselves along with never criticizing ourselves. Like a lot of people out there, I often struggle with the subconscious belief that I don’t deserve good or that I’m unworthy of receiving good into my life. This is in fact the exact reason why we push our goodness away. Because we don’t feel like we deserve it! But I do deserve to feel good. We all do and we shouldn’t feel bad for it! Why can we so naturally and automatically point out the “wrong ” that we do, and then have such a hard time recognizing the right or the good that we do. It shouldn’t be that way! Accomplishing something is an awesome feeling, especially when you’re trying out new things! Thank god that I listen to Louise a lot. I heard her soothing voice permeate the back of my mind and I just decided to surrender to the good feeling instead of blocking it out. Thanks Louise! Tents up and looking great!

Click on the picture to be taken to an affiliate link of this exact tent. I love this tent! <3

So I realize now that regular camping is really in a far different league than back-country camping. I’d advise anyone getting into back-country camping to at-least first get down the basics of camping in an established campground first. I realized that I do a lot of dumb things when regular car camping. Like, leaving my pack, food bag, and other belongings wide open so that critters could just walk on in and make themselves cozy. I caught myself doing this a few times and it’s a habit that absolutely needs to be broken if I plan on backpacking in the back-country. I don’t want to find no damn scorpions or any other critters in my pack! Also, fyi, the critters out in the wild don’t give a damn if you stink or not. In fact, the retched funk just might keep them away from you, but for gods sake don’t be like me and bring scented toiletries like lavender body wash and deodorant. Just don’t unless you want to be a magnet for bugs. Unscented products are your friend! Did I mention that bee’s seem to be really infatuated with the color orange?! That made for an interesting situation when I was setting up my semi orange tent. 

Now, let’s talk about admittedly one of my favorite parts about camping. Camping food! This is how much food I packed for 2 and 1/2 days worth of camping. It looks like too much, and it probably was, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry! Well, only sort of when you’re backpacking out in the back-country. You’d definitely want to bring at-least a days worth of extra food in case you find yourself in a tough situation, but, the weight of your pack matters too and so I probably would’ve went a little bit lighter on the food load in an actual backpacking scenario. Thank god my Nesco dehydrator will be arriving shortly. Dehydrated food weighs close to nothing and they take up minimal room inside of your pack. Having a dehydrator also allows you to make your own healthy non perishable camping foods without having to worry about added fillers, preservatives, and a bunch of sodium and other crap. For now though, I just played it basic and picked up a few simple non perishable items from my local sprouts. It turned out to be a pretty good camping menu! For breakfast I packed everything that I needed for my loaded rolled oats topped with dried cranberries, coconut chips, and pumpkin seeds. For lunch and snacks I got various grab and go non perishable items like rice crackers, trail mix, seaweed, and sweet potato/beet chips. For dinner I packed white rice, beans, and tinned sardines. I also packed my homemade spice mix because duh! Cant have bland foods out in the wild! 

Click on the picture to go to an affiliate link of this exact camping cookware set that this pot came with. Its small but its perfect for one person and it easily fits into a backpack. It was well worth the $20.

After setting up my tent, dinner really couldn’t come fast enough. I hadn’t eaten all day and I was just dying to check out my camping stove in a real camping setting. After munching on some seaweed snax and homemade trail mix, I finally settled on rice & beans with a tin of sardines and these awesome rice cake thins. The only problem was that when I went to turn on the stove, nothing happened. Well, I heard the noise but I saw no flame. I wasn’t sure if this was due to the small amount of wind wafting through the air or what. But I did notice something else in the air, a strong smell of propane/butane and I immediately wanted no parts in the stove anymore. I got scared! lol. My boyfriend wasn’t here to help me out with this situation and so I honestly had no idea what to do. Was the stove malfunctioning from the wind? Was the fuel tank going to explode on me? Why is jadakiss as hard as it gets?! So many unanswered questions ran threw mind and I just wasn’t sure if I should just give up on the stove or try to make it work. That night I decided to give up. I’m sure that I could’ve tweaked with it a little bit more to try and figure out the issue, but at that point, with that smell, I was afraid that the fuel canister would explode right in my face! *shutters*

No rice for this girl. Bummer! But this was still good and welcome after a long day. Actually this was extremely filling and I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to eat it all with the rice, so I guess it all worked itself out in the end! Note to self: your eyes are way bigger than your stomach. Lol. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

Can we just talk about this trail mix for a second though.It’s so good!  It’s very simple to make and it’s way healthier than the store brought stuff because instead of buying one big bag of premade junk, you instead buy a bunch of different healthier ingredients of your choosing in bulk, and you mix them together to make your own delicious healthy trail mix. I’ve posted the recipe here. FYI it’s extremely addicting but don’t feel bad because it’s loaded with healthy fats, protein, and a bunch of other vitamins and minerals that will help you keep your energy up while out on the trail.

Once night began to fall, I did notice myself getting a bit more antsy. Lol. I’ve solo camped only once before and that time I was pretty much surrounded by other campers on both sides, and even though these people were complete strangers, it gave me a false sense of security and well-being just by having them nearby. Not this time! Even though this was actually the same exact campground that I solo camped at before, like I said, site #22 is in a league of it’s own, which is why it’s situated in the perfect spot to test out back-country camping. With site #22, you pretty much have a whole backpacking playground right in your camp site backyard. It seriously is the best campsite ever, and for my trial backpacking run it was even more secluded than usual! 

Site #22 is located in a section that includes 2 other walk in sites #20 and #21. Usually other people are occupying the other two nearby sites, but not on this night. I had the whole entire area to myself! 

The seclusion is great for during the day privacy but admittedly it can become a little scary at night when you’re all alone in the dark in the middle of the desert. Luckily I came fully equipped with flashlights AND headlamps so that definitely made things a lot easier. For the most part though, I winded down the night inside of my cozy two person backpacking tent. Did I mention that I’m really grateful for these practice runs? They’ve opened my eyes up to a lot! Like the fact that my boyfriend, whose down for doing a few nature runs every now and then, has another thing coming if he thinks that we’re going to be sharing this two person tent for backpacking. As it turns out, this tent is just the right size for one person and a 65 liter backpack. Not two people and two backpacks… No way! Sry booba! I love you very much but you’re going to have to sleep inside of your own tent. Did I mention how much I love this tent?! I have dubbed thee “casita de courtneisha”. Excuse the mess inside! 

Click on the picture to be taken to an affiliate link of my sleeping bag.

I wasn’t expecting it to be so cold at night but then again this is the desert. The weather here usually ends up on either side of the extreme spectrum. It’s either burnt to a crisp hot or hypothermia cold. The temps this night reached well within the 30’s. It was the perfect time to put my new teton sports +5 mummy sleeping bag to the test. The verdict? It performed fairly well for the weather, but I sleep cold, and I definitely would’ve frozen my butt off it it was any colder. Albeit I wasn’t layered up too well at first. Once I threw on an extra pair of socks, gloves, and my sweatpants over my jeans, I felt a bit more warm and snugly. I did have to resort to pulling a blanket out of the trunk in the middle of the night, which is something that I definitely wouldn’t have the luxury of doing while backpacking… I’ll have to work on layering up my clothing better. FYI. Ugh. Waking up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom while camping is annoying. It’s cold, dark, and did I mention cold and dark? I’m seriously considering buying one of those pee funnel things. It sounded a bit crazy when I first heard of it, but now I can see how a pee funnel could definitely come in handy while camping. Don’t nobody have time to be stepping out into the cold dark desert in the middle of the night to take a piss. Back to bed!!! 

Day 2

Yay! I made it through the night and I actually managed to get the camp stove working this morning! I made myself a nice pot of loaded oats which were extremely welcoming after a very cold night, and that was with layered clothing, a 5+ degree rated sleeping bag, and a quilt from home! Seriously, how do people tent camp in the snow?! I salute you! Back to the oats. I even managed to sneak in a quick video recipe before my camera battery completely died. I’d highly encourage you to check it out as these oats are the bomb.com no matter if you’re camping or not.

Note to self. Yes, it’s fun and practical to hang things from your backpack with daisy chains, but it’s not always ideal if you’re hiking through the desert. Those things can rattle and make a lot of noise when you’re walking and I’d rather not alert wild creatures of my whereabouts.

It’s a lot easier to hear your inner voice out in nature. The stillness and solitude relaxes your mind and affords you some time to really connect with your inner you. I did a lot of reflecting and connecting on this day. I even had a little breakthrough while reflecting on some issues that I’ve been having with my mom. My inner voice allowed me to realize that even though we’ve had our past differences, without her, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I wouldn’t be exploring the ins and outs of the mind, body, and soul and trying to heal my life. Without her I would’ve never seen in me what it is that I needed to change about myself, seeing as me and my mom are very much alike in a lot of ways. Without her I probably would’ve never embarked on this journey towards self love. At least not like this. So, in all actuality, I’m realizing to be thankful for her and for all that she has taught me. I’m learning to appreciate her for allowing me to realize this awesome power that lies inside of me. The power of self love. The power of the mind, body, connection. The power of healing! Thanks, mom! <3 

Dinner on the second night came very early. I had trail mix, rice crackers, and seaweed for lunch because my camping stove did not feel like cooperating with me again. 

I figured out why! It WAS the wind. Lol. I’m such a newb. Technical foul! I tried out the stove again after creating a makeshift wind cover out of my food bag. Rice, beans, and sardines here I come! Ooh man!!!.I threw some of my spice mix into the rice while it was boiling and it smelled so good! Even the bees tried to come over and grab a bite. I thoroughly enjoyed every morsel of this meal. 

Once in a while I’m always reminded why the allure of back-country camping seems so appealing vs camping in a developed campground. Why do random people feel the need to just walk up to your campsite?? Granted site #22 is hidden in the cut, but still, once you see a tent please be respectful and give me my privacy! It’s worth mentioning that the only people who have done this to me are clearly foreign tourist and obviously they must have no idea of camping etiquette out here in the states. But I digress!…

I walked around with my pack for a while trying to get use to the weight. I’ve realized that once you adjust the fit just right for your frame, you hardly even feel the weight of your pack that much. I haven’t weighed it yet but I’m guessing that fully loaded it weighs upwards of 40lbs +.  I’m pretty siked to think about adding all of this weight while out hiking. This could really help me to get strong! I kind of felt like a super sayan wearing weighted gear. Lol. KAMEEEEYAAAAAAMEEEEYAA! This backpacking pack is a beast. I love it! Read this post if you want to find out what all I carry inside of it. Here’s a pick of me trying the beast on right before I left for my trip. 

Click on the pic to be taken to an affiliate link of my backpack. I love this bag and this brand! It holds an enormous amount of gear, the quality is great, and it works just as well as the high end backpacking bags that cost 3x as much. Go with this bag!

As the night winded down I got the urge to do some star gazing outside of my tent. Besides, it was only around 6pm and I didn’t feel like heading into the tent so early. I grabbed my camping chair, my headlamp, my flashlight, and I clipped another solar powered lantern to my belt straps and I was good to go. Or at-least I thought I was. I parked my camping chair down in a nice spot, situated myself and got comfortable. Did I mention that I forgot just how much certain bugs are attracted to the light? It was highly annoying but my only options were to either deal with it or to turn the lights off. I decided to turn the lights off (better view of the stars anyway) but it didn’t take too long before I started to freak myself out. Imagine almost total darkness with nothing but the silhouette sightings of huge mountains and bushes in view plus random small creatures that you can only hear but not see. Needless to say, star gazing didn’t last too long and I quickly headed back into my tent. Lol. I’d usually have no problem star gazing at night in total darkness with the boyfriend, so I knew that this was only a fear associated with me being by myself. Why do I/we sike ourselves up in that way? We don’t need other people with us to be able to do what makes us happy! We don’t need to use other people as an excuse to not get out there and live our dreams. I love stargazing and I will work up the courage to do it alone anywhere anytime and without fear. Baby steps! 

As the night winded down even further I decided to make use of some of my many entertainment options in “casita de courtneisha.” I turned on my tablet and played some music thanks to my awesome solar panel that allows me to charge up my devices through the suns energy while out in nature. I colored a bit in my coloring journal and I even got started on writing up a new song. It’s absolute fire btw so watch out for it on my YouTube channel. The weather was much more bearable on this night. Well, not really. I just learned to snuggle up in my blanket and sleeping bag better. Good night!

Day 3 

It’s a beautiful morning! I woke up and made a fresh pot of loaded oats. Still feeling inspired from last-night, I meandered around the campsite with my headphones fully blasting finishing up the first part to a song that I’m writing. I think I’m going to call it “letter to God.” By 11:30am I pack up all of my gear and get ready for check out. But not before heading to a nice and serene rock formation to sit and reflect on my trip thus far. All in all, this was a great first backpacking test run. I learned a lot of do’s and don’ts. I realized a lot of my preferences and what I can do without vs what I absolutely cannot do without. Like my boyfriends massive hoodie with the neck and face cover! It really came in handy for those cold and windy nights and it will be being toted along on subsequent trips. I’m glad that I got some time to finally quiet my mind and get more in tune with nature and with myself. I’m already planning and looking forward to my next trip! I can’t wait! I hope you enjoyed this trip write up! Stayed tuned for the next one and until then, happy camping friends! 

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