12/31/2016

2016


This year has been weird - both in the good way and in the not so good way. I went a lot of places, met new people, did things that made my heart happy, did things that scared the living shit of me, learned about a whole another dimension of myself and so much more. In this attempt of a year recap here I could go into something deep about allllll the life lessons that have come out of my experiences this year in typical Kira fashion with deep revelations poignant with words that would bring tears from the audience through my fantastic use of the English language (*wow! humility!*), but honestly, so much has happened this year that I cannot even begin to wrap my head around it. If I even wanted to try to comprehend everything that truly happened this year, I would need to take a few months off, pull out my ratty journal and really dissect the inner channels of my brain and heaven only knows that I do NOT have the time to do something like that - especially now. To keep things pretty and neat here are two lists that sum up 2016. 

the good

I did really really well on my AP exams.

I completed my 200hr Power Yoga Teacher Certification with a badass group of people who have helped shape the person that I am today. 

I went to Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovakia with my mama and daddy this summer.

My itch to travel grew even more than I thought it could have.

I cried. A lot. I finally realized that it's ok to be a human with actual emotions and goodness did the emotions show up this year. 

I finished the year with a poppin' Instagram theme.

My little fam rented our first Airbnb over Thanksgiving Break in Sedona, Arizona and explore our favorite part of the USA even more.

I AM A SENIOR. 

I spent a lot of time with my family.

I TURNED 18. 

I didn't get into any car wrecks so that's nice. 

I deleted Snapchat forever. 

I continue to volunteer at MUSC and am still humbled to provide a sliver of stability and company to the children in a time where they need it the most.

I wrote some pretty darn good essays for college that I am very proud of. 

I took lots of pictures. 

I challenged myself intellectually and physically.


the not so good ... it's out there and it must be recognized because its just as important as the good

I realized that the SAT is not exactly my best friend.

I became absolutely addicted to my phone.

I continue to compare myself to others. 

I continue tell myself "I am not cool, strong, pretty, skinny, smart, or  (inert other word here) enough".

I am terrified to live in the moment. 

I have become the worst procrastinator.

I started to not close loops. 

I stopped following my intuition.

I realized that as I grow older the proximity of death for myself and those around me comes closer. 

I cried. A lot. 

I got distracted.

I lost sight of some of my goals. 

I became really disorganized.

I spoke before I thought a lot and let my quick wit get the best of me sometimes. 

I started creating bad relationships with things around me - playing mental games, not being in the present. 

I let something / someone else besides myself define my self worth.



So after reading this you may be thinking the same thing that I once thought to myself ... Kira, are you ok? And my response to that is yes, yes I am ok, in fact I am amazing. As weird and jumbled as my thoughts are and as dynamic as my feelings may be, I am very proud of how much I have grown up this year. As I learned from Baron Baptiste and my yoga journey, I lived my truth. I stepped into my own power and realigned my True North Alignment with my blood, sweaty workouts and lots of tears late at night. I laughed until I cried. I cried until I laughed. I sweated it all out. I talked it all out. Everything is out there my thoughts, my feelings and basically my everything and I scared the crap out of myself by doing this.  I freaking broke everything down so that I could build myself up from the bottom up so I could break through. I lived my f*cking truth. This is me. I am not waltzing in the new year and daintily flipping from one chapter to the next. I'm slamming this year shut because I conquered that b*tch. 2016 and I grew together and she showed me what I could be. So here I am. An authentic human being, my real true self ready to live the most epic life that I can; ready to take on all the new beginnings that are coming my way. Here I am a messy ball of life hurling into the new year ... yay! 


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8/09/2016

Acai






Breakfast is by far my most favorite meal of the day. There's just something about breakfast that I look forward to every night before I go to bed - maybe because all of my favorite foods are easiest to eat at breakfast or that boost of energy that I get to start my day. While sometimes I eat pancakes or waffles, I prefer to have a breakfast packed with fruits and veggies and nutrients to give me a healthy start to my day. 

Enter the acai bowl. I've been a huge fan of smoothies for many years, but putting it into a bowl?  With toppings? Genius. It's super easy to make, super filling with the fiber loaded chia seeds and the kale. The frozen berries add tons of antioxidants and when combined with a banana, its like sorbet. Acai berries from the amazon are known to be one of the best superfoods - you can read all about them here. I've heard buzz all around the health community online how you are supposed to incorporate greens into every one of your meals. In the morning, for me, my taste buds are not quite yet awake for their texture and their tart taste. However, masked in the sweetness of the berries, you can reap all of their delicious benefits without their taste first thing in the morning. 

For the smoothie, I love the frozen Sambazon acai and frozen berries for the sorbet texture. I always add a banana (I usually eat them overripe, but this one is underripe for the picture) to make a creamier texture. Spinach and kale add a great amount of plant protein and veggie power with tons of vitamins and minerals and fiber to keep you full. 

For the toppings I like to keep it simple. For the bowl I made I just stuck to a banana, some granola for crunch and some chia seeds for more protein and fiber. If I was feeling wild I would go for some 100% cacao chips or some shredded coconut

And there you have it, a superfood smoothie bowl packed with nutrients to give you a beautiful, energetic start to the day. 

I'm always on the hunt for smoothies and other breakfast recipes (overnight oats, in particular), if you have anything that I should know about definitely let me know I would love to try!!
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7/27/2016

Classic




















As you probably know by now I could probably write a poetic novel about my favorite city in the world (I did here, but it was more serious). I still can't believe that I am just getting around to really looking at my photos from France last year. I mean I kind of did last year for the first few of my France posts and for Christmas I made my parents a photobook of Paris, but other than that they have been just chilling on my computer for a year. 

Paris is the kind of city where I just want to shimmy into a slip dress, shake my hair out, buy a baguette and kiss total strangers. Maybe next time. As I lose myself in the winding streets of Paris, I was on the path to find my inner care free self. While I didn't find her (yet), here are some of my favorite things about this beautiful city:

Forget those tacky hop on - hop off tour busses, Paris is the best city for wandering. It is a pretty easy city to navigate and by wandering you really become one with the city. If you are lucky you will stumble into a street with adorable shops and restaurants only the locals know about. That happened with us, we wandered aimlessly around the Quartier latin for about three hours admiring the beautiful architecture and bookstores and ended up having lunch right next to the Sorbonne with students studying and businessmen on break!

I once read somewhere that if you think museums are boring then you are doing them wrong. I totally agree with this, especially when it comes to art museums. You can tell so much about a history through artwork. Thankfully, Paris is home to several art museums (and artists too!!). Of course there is the Louvre which is best visited first thing in the morning. My personal favorite is the repurposed train station Musée d'Orsay with the impressionist works. Next time I go to Paris, the Centre Pompidou and the Musée de l'Orangerie definitely top the list of art museums that I must see.

Of course Paris is best noted for its amazing architecture. The ornate buildings and wide streets are the brain child of Baron Haussman in the 1800s after the small streets and alleys proved an ideal breeding center for barricades and revolutions (1789 and 1830). The architecture of this city is classic ... everyone pictures the Tour d'Eiffel and the Champs-Élysées but the real hallmark of Paris is the gorgeous doors and the magnificent apartment buildings with the penthouses with the port-hole like windows. When I was watching the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Élysées I saw a few guys with champagne leaning out their penthouse apartment window waving the French flag and shouting vive la france!. What an amazing view they must have had from the apartment. How French.

Paris is a city made for walking. When I was there last year, every day we walked at least ten miles. Its a great way to see the city, save money and clear a little more space for more food. :) In fact, one day we were feeling adventurous and we walked all the way from the Louvre to Sacre Coeur. I don't think my feet ever hurt more but it was a great way to see the city especially after a big lunch and caffeine!

If walking isn't your thing then the Parisian metro is so easy to use. All you have to do is find a Café-Tabac and purchase a pack of tickets to use all day. With these tickets you can go as far as you want for as long as you want all day long. It's super navigable and super easy to know where you are on the rails at all times. In the metros you will also find yourself in a sea of Parisians and businessmen commuting, great street entertainment and a little oasis from the weather outside. One time, unbeknownst to us, the Metro exit in the 1st arrondissement to get to Notre Dame is in the middle of a department store which we were not mad about at all!

How could I possibly end this blog post without talking about food. French food is out of this world. It's fresh, the portions are just right and great wine can be found at every sit down meal. A few of my favorite restaurants in Paris are Chez André for dinner and Cafe de la Paix for lunch. Bread is one of my weaknesses and at every mean in Paris you can find a beautiful baguette. However, my favorite thing to do in Paris is when I get lost I like to find a bakery and buy a baguette straight out of the oven to nibble on while continuing to wander. One really can never go hungry in Paris because of the fruit, ice cream and sandwich vendors dotting the sidewalks in the parks and the cafes lining the streets. Since food is such an important part of the Parisian culture cafes are a great place to not only relax but observe the people rushing by and feel the warmth of good food on your plate and culture in your heart. 
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7/25/2016

My Internet Philosophy

source
You guys, Pinterest during the summertime is so addictive.  Lately I have been obsessed with healthy recipes (#CLEANSE!!), productivity tips and of course outfit inspiration. I have a lot of really great boards and I've been super active on Pinterest as of late after almost a year hiatus check it out.

The other day I was doing my usual noon scroll through Pinterest and found this quote by the totally anonymous, f*king badass British street artist Banksy. If you have never heard of him I highly suggest checking out this article about him. I'm actually surprised that I like his works because typically my conservative nature favors Renaissance and La Belle Epoque artists. But I am slowly warming up to modern art and street art as well ... slowly.

Normally when I see quotes on Pinterest, I kind of gloss over them and arbitrarily pin them to my quote board to maybe look at them again one day. I don't know if it was the super bold font or the word "Banksy" that made me read this quote but I am glad I did because it connected to something that I have been working on for quite some time - my social media presence. I have probably mentioned here somewhere before that I would label myself as an extraverted introvert. When I am with people I immediately connect to their energy and engage in the present moment, and I do need my alone time to recharge my batteries and get ready for the next social outing. In my alone time; however, is when I do anything on social media be it snoop around, post or whatever. This quote got me thinking a lot about my actions recently on social media and how they have changed significantly since I made my very first Instagram post way back in 2012. While I am typically an inward looking person, I defiantly can thank the internet for helping me to create connections and be a part of the world and it has given me some qualities that I definitely did not have in 2012.

Here are a few notes about social media that I have had floating around in my cranium:

I post on social media for myself // Honestly, I don't give a sh*t about how many time a day that I post on Instagram. So many people that I know are picky about this and this completely baffles me.  If I like a picture (or 5!!) that I have taken, I will post it. What I curate on social media is like a personal art gallery that x amount of people just so happen to be following. I love going back and looking at old photos and let the memories that are attached to those photos come flooding back ... yes, I cringe about old photos and old captions because they reflect someone who I once was and the past is in the past. I think that posting for myself on any social media is important because it cuts the crap and lets me be my authentic self because who cares if someone thinks that I am annoying, self absorbed, showing off, etc.? It is my social media and my journey and of course there is that little button to can press where they don't have to see my content anymore and that is okay with me ... I will definitely still be friends with you in real life!!

While my social media is me, I am not my social media // Wait what? Everything that I post on the internet is real, authentic me ... or I try my hardest to make it as if though I was having a conversation with someone in real life. In real life I am a two extremes: a deep talker and a reflective thinker or totally sarcastic and random and maybe a little awkward (did I just say that?). I try to impersonate that in my captions on Instagram and my stories on snapchat and even here on the blog. But I am not comprised of my social media outlets alone. Sure, I'd love to talk with you about how I edit my Instagram photos, cool yoga people or my favorite fashion and travel blogger accounts I follow or omg if he likes my Instagram pic and comments a watermelon emoji does he like me?????, but there is so much more to cover than social media. That differentiation took a while for me to make and when I did it was like huge. Just like separating work/school from your personal life, social media should be a branch of your existence not your entire existence. I do do other things than post pictures on Instagram or make fun of myself on snapchat, as shocking as that may seem. Because social media and social networking are such huge parts of our lives today we forget to talk in real time about the tangible things - what we ate for breakfast, what movie we recently saw or what our future plans are. Update: we don't need to broadcast this on social media every second of the day and plus it is way more special shared via real time.

If we take a picture and I don't post it on social media do I really love you?? // Of course!! Absolutely!! Yes!! This is one of the most confusing things that I hear: "She didn't post our picture we took, she must hate me." You can either look at this two ways. I didn't post the picture anywhere because I hate you and I never want anyone to see that I was ever with you, which seems extreme now that I am writing it out right? More than likely I didn't post the picture on social media because I just didn't want to. The internet does not have to know that we got together and took a picture. The world will not stop rotating for hot second to say "wow! look! kira and x have a picture together! friendship!" Pictures on the Internet 100% do not validate a friendship. The Instagram/Facebook official is totally over rated. Why not become life official? Why not tell the person that you have a picture with how grateful that you have them in your life. Instead of posting it to a Facebook wall, print it out and tape it on your bedroom wall. Only you will see it. But that is the power. Only you have access to this snap in time. Doesn't that make this moment seem like a treasure? And who would want to give away such a treasure?

* Side note, a picture posted with someone is really special too ... I always think of it as a way of showing my inner gratitude towards the world. Like, wow, look at this special person I am screaming on the top of a mountain that I am thankful for you and I don't care if anyone hears me or not.

Invisibility from the world is actually quite liberating as I have found through these three notes on my social media philosophy. If anything this hopefully should serve as a reminder to myself (and maybe you too!!) that the most precious moments in life happen off screen. Its way better to store a memory in your heart than in a little square :)
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7/22/2016

Impression










 On our way to Paris from Normandy last year, we took a stop for the morning in the quaint town of Rouen. It was a Sunday. The streets were empty. The shops were closed. The smell of ground coffee swirled out from the cafes. The heart of this small town had a market with people stocking up on their fresh produce for the week. As far as I could tell, I was the only tourist on this day. It was nice to be enveloped in the ordinary French day, almost as if I was a statue and the world was passing by. That is one of my favorite parts about traveling. I love seeing different day to day lives all over the world, while to the locals their lives seem ordinary, for me they are extraordinary - I can learn something from their lives through observance and truly appreciate the simplest aspects of another country. That, my friends, is real connection.

source 

This Gothic cathedral of Rouen was painted numerous times by Impressionist master Claude Monet. He had an apartment that looked on to the cathedral where he could paint the way the light was reflected during different seasons and different times of the day. Impressionist paintings are some of my favorite kinds of paintings. I love the pastel colors that they use to capture the essences of beams of light. But more importantly, I love the concept behind the works. Impressionist paintings are like an un-staged photograph. They are painted quickly to capture the fleeting moment in time through observing the light. Details are overlooked in lieu of a greater picture.

The time that I spent in Rouen, France is like an impression. Compared to other places that I stayed in France last year, the morning that I spent here was fleeting. And rather than being packed with tourists, the streets were empty and the locals were the only ones bustling up and down the streets. In the few moments that I had in the town, I whole heartedly received an authentic French experience.
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7/20/2016

Bleu, Blanc, Rouge












Last year when I was in France I purchased a French flag from a vendor in the city of Vannes. I wanted a French flag because after many years of taking the language I fell in love with the culture of this beautiful country, especially after traveling throughout the country. What I liked was the story of France, of CoCo Chanel and the impressionists and the culinary culture. While all are important pieces of the French culture the bigger picture is what most tourists miss. When I bought my flag, I simply wanted it as a decoration in my room, just another object to add to my travel collection.

After the November attacks in Paris my view of this flag has changed. It no longer sat folded in my closet, a forgotten momento of my travels. I put this flag on a pole and flew it just as I would an American flag on an American day of remembrance. I now look at this flag as a symbol of characteristics that I admire of the French people and the French culture: their long, beautiful history, their love of country, their treasured language, their open doors, their generosity, the sense of connection and spirit and pure gratitude. I flew my flag in November to show my respect and love for this country that I wish to one day call my second home. I can't believe that I am flying it again, especially on Bastille Day.  A day that the French should be celebrating their victories and heritage, not mourning loss. 

I must have left a piece of my heart in France to feel a connection this deep. The photos above are from my trip to France last year, from the time that I saw the Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysées.

Avec tout mon couer 
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7/18/2016

Why I am Thankful for Calluses + Other Life Updates


Let me just say this ... what an amazing summer this has been so far. I know I say this in literally every blog post but wow I cannot believe that we are in mid July. In one month I will be a senior and that just baffles me and before that I will have all of my summer homework completed, ha. Okay, slowing it down. A lot has been going on in my littler chapter in the universe and it has all been so amazing. Here is a little recap of qu'est-ce qui se passe.

 I am now a certified 200 hour yoga teacher. 
The taste of "I am a yoga teacher" is still so foreign on my tongue. Throughout the month of June this year I embarked on an incredible power yoga journey. Taking a yoga teacher training for me wasn't about simply having the credentials to teach yoga. It was about something bigger. I had several goals going into this program: to deepen my own yoga practice, to start the process of really truly loving myself, to experience connection, to learn and to be here in the now. To say the least the yoga tribe that the universe created for me this past month is nothing short of incredible. The only way I can explain the experience that I was given is this: pure, raw, transformation and acceptance. More on this to come later.

I went to Europe.
The highlight of each year of my life is the time that I share with my family on our world travels. This year our wanderlust lead us to Bavaria - Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. After being so introspective in the month of June with yoga teacher training, traveling to new places gave my perspective a more global twist. Once I download the more than 4000 pictures on my computer check back for more details on this too.

I fell in love.
... Except not with another human!! This summer, especially since my days had been lasting from 7am-5pm I only had the fleeting moments of the evening to spent with family, friends and most importantly myself. After a long day watching the sunset with someone I love be it another human or myself is something I look forward to every night. The sunset is magical, like Mother Nature watercolors something beautiful overnight to remind you to slow down and experience the raw and real beauty of life. Its simple, yet extraordinary and ever changing. It is also easeful, a slow end to one day with the promise of a new one coming after a period of rest. Human nature is truly meant to be easeful, and the sunset is here to remind us of that every day ... only if we take the opportunity to tune in and listen.

I have tuned into my body and started the journey of respecting it.
From yoga teacher training in June to my European vacation there was a dramatic change in lifestyles. In June I practiced a Baptiste power yoga practice ranging from one to four hours every single day. I ate super clean: fruits, veggies, juices, whole grains. Then I went on vacation. I still walked around six miles a day with sightseeing and still devoured all the fruit I could. Except my juices were replaced with endless ice cream and clean meals replaced by delicious local cuisine and B R E A D. No regrets. Just learning from experience. From feeling fit and easeful at the end of each night to bloated and lethargic, I am now on the journey to repairing my relationship with how I consume food and finding balance in my life. I am a libra, so of course I crave balance. This journey has allowed me to step back and observe what I feel like after binge eating and what I feel like after clean eating. Now the mental games are just beginning.

I also have become more in tune with my physical shell that I live in. The other day I was at a friends brand new house and was walking in my socks then surprised with a splinter an inch big jabbed into the callus of my big toe. My calluses from running used to bother me, and I am now thankful for them because the splinter removal process was annoying rather than painful. I was at training the other day and doing suicide sprints I completely face planted and got a really nice burn on my elbow and a huge bruise on my hip. I also am sunburned pretty bad even though I put on sunscreen. Through experience I have slowly come to realize what it feels when I live in my head and not my body. When I live in my head I am not in tune with my body and therefore arbitrarily not respecting my physical shell. My body is trying to protect me, I just need to listen. What do I need to do? Drink more water, journal some more, do some grounding yoga and give my puppy a hug.

I ordered my senior year planner.
Maybe this will help me be more grounded. It's pretty cute and in a pattern called Jardin de Paris which I think is pretty fitting to my wannabe French personality.

Writing all of the thoughts spinning in my head has helped me to realize that my head is in the clouds. I am dreamer, wanderlust and perfect just the way I am. As my yoga teacher, Beth, said the other day in class "There is nothing to fix, only things to experience." That is just what I needed.

xo
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6/06/2016

New Adventures


I feel like I say this every year but wow I actually can't believe that junior year is over. Like I actually survived. Unreal. Right now I feel like I am just coming up for air after being underwater for the past eight or so months. I have a clean slate. It is magical.

With this clean slate and the SAT behind me there is so much to be done now that I actually have time for myself. The first of many things I have wanted to check off my bucket list starts today. Today I embark on the adventure of a 200 hour Baptiste yoga training. It's something that I have always wanted to do and right now the timing is perfect. Having this amazing learning experience will be like a detox for me, like a bootcamp, for the nurturing of my physical and mental well being. I hope to document what I have learned each day at yoga teacher training here on le blog. 

I also will be doing some travelling at the end of the month. So #jetsetkira will be able to use this blank slate to relax and experience what the world has to offer once more.

This summer is going to be so refreshing before the final push of high school where all of my time and efforts will be put into securing the rest of my life. While the though of college and beyond still completely terrifies me I know I must put my trust and faith in God and the Universe and always keep in the back of my mind that there really truly is no place other than the present. 

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