Week 1

Day 6 and 7: Growth

Posted on May 7, 2010. Filed under: New Age, Week 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Day 6

This morning I was supposed to wake up at 5:30am but the phone with the alarm ran out of battery in the middle of the night. We woke up at 6:50 instead, which meant I wouldn’t have enough time for yoga.

Today was hard for me. There are issues going on in my life that are testing my capabilities of being grounded and centered. Perhaps I should look at this as a fateful way to push me further into spirituality. This goal for inner peace is like climbing a mountain. At times I feel as if I’ve been more irritable than before this, but I think it has something to do with the fact I’ve been trying to monitor my emotions.

I got a book at the library today! It’s about the medicinal benefits of herbs. It’s really cool, and I want to use herbal medicine more often. It includes scientific studies done on certain herbs too. If I have extra time, I want to make a list of medically beneficial herbs everyone should have on hand, but there’s probably a lot of Internet and scholarly resources available as well.

We did meditation for the second time today. This time there were a lot more people and none of them were the same as last week’s session. It was interesting to see what a variety of people had been attracted to meditating, and I wondered what everyone’s story was.

I had a good feeling about this session. When the monk talked about the 7 “stations”, this time around it began to make much more sense. I touched the area two fingers’ width above my navel, and it felt different there, as if that place had more meaning than just body parts. Things seemed to start making a lot more sense this time around, though I still had a lot of skepticism.

When it came to relaxing, I let go of my worries about if I was actually relaxing or not and just tried my best. When it came to clearing my mind, I would realize it worked for moments then get excited thinking “It worked!” and then resuming thought all over again. It was still really hard for me to focus on my center and I usually tuned out of what the monk was saying after a few minutes.

After a while, clearing my head and focusing on my center simply weren’t achievable. I began to feel discouraged when the monk began to wrap up the session. I was seriously doubting whether or not we actually went as long as last time. It felt like I was there for 5 minutes. The time before felt like a miserable hour of sitting and occasionally falling asleep.

Other than the breakthrough with meditation, the day was generally uneventful at least regarding New Age. I got home too late to make any cool food.

Day 7

It took a lot of willpower to get up this morning. I just wanted to cuddle with Noah and sleep. I loooove sleeping! I would have to say that sleeping and eating are some of my favorite things to do, which is pretty unfortunate for the future me with a lower metabolism…

But anyway, I got up at 6:30 instead of 5:30 and did some yoga around 7. I like the VHS tapes we have, they’re spiritually conscious and they seem to provide a good workout, though I want to push myself further and have some more variety.


Imagine how much harder that would have been to hold if I did it right?


Later that morning, Noah forced me to go outside and appreciate nature while drinking my Yerba Mate tea. It was really hard though cause it was so cold! Still, I am blessed to live in such a secluded, peaceful place, and I was glad to become so in touch with nature despite the pain of my bare feet on the cold deck.

Nature is something I really need to get in touch with better, right now it doesn’t seem right that I’m so disconnected with nature while trying to connect with God. In many ways, nature and God are the same thing. But I have a better time thinking about connecting with nature than God, I think the word “God” has so many negative associations regarding Catholicism and Christianity. I realized that just thinking of connecting with “The Gods” feels better to me than using the word “God”.


Connecting with “Nature”

I never realized I had such a fear of monotheism. There’s something about it that reminds me of so many bad people I’ve come across. But I would like to push past these fears and prejudices and try to appreciate religions for what they try to achieve, and not what they have actually achieved.

I think overall I don’t judge people personally for their religion but for their actual beliefs. When it comes to my beliefs though, God isn’t what comes to mind. I think of reincarnation, spirits, energy, but not God. I don’t know if I believe in a one God, and if he/she is really a tangible being, or just an energy force or a being that is completely out of our realm of understanding.

Anyway, this is what I wore for the day, and I actually got a lot of compliments (and stares). I remembered back when I was girly men would take time to look at me. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I enjoyed the attention, but I liked being attractive enough that people wanted to look my way.

With this it’s completely different; I’m not exactly looked at for the same reasons as girly. People are looking at me, but much more out of judgment. I think people didn’t judge me as harshly when I was girly, as many most likely though I took good care of myself and my appearance and they didn’t have a problem with that. Now, people are judging me on what they think my beliefs are, and whether or not they decide to agree with those beliefs


I went to an event at a New Age bookstore called “Circle of Joy” It was a circle of women only and the woman holding the event talked about many aspects of spirituality. Ironically enough, she stressed that we commune with nature and learn to appreciate it better to gain spiritual confidence. If Noah hadn’t forced me to appreciate nature that morning I would have been really skeptical of how nature would encourage “spiritual confidence”.

I feel that a lot of spirituality is closely related to psychology. The women in this circle of joy seemed to look for a form of solace for their problems. All of them seemed to have some sort of baggage and appeared to come here to have support.

The bookshop had a multitude of items very relevant to my experiment but unfortunately they were also incredibly expensive ($22 for a SCARF?!). I did end up buying some patchouli oil and a CD. It totaled to $26 though!

I got home at 11 tonight, which meant I couldn’t make any awesome vegan food. 😦

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Day 5: Inner Peace

Posted on May 5, 2010. Filed under: New Age, Week 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |


This morning I tried a new yoga video. It was called “Yoga for inflexible people” and my mom had picked it up straight from our local library. It was honestly a really bad video. I have short hamstrings so I can’t do too many stretches when it comes to splits and touching. Still, this video that supposedly caters to me had my touch my toes. I don’t really think you care to hear the flaws of a yoga video you most likely will never come in contact with, so I’ll move on.


Revolution my ass

For breakfast I had a dish called “kicharee” it was part of an Aryuvedic diet my mom got me to do for medical reasons. The diet was supposed to help me with a skin condition, it greatly limited my diet, and was full of contradictions (and I hate being told to follow two contradictions) I usually love this dish but it just felt too soupy for me today, I was craving something solid and hardy. I have kind of a problem with soup; I can only have so much before I can’t stand it.


But it’s really healthy and tasty

I thought being vegan would be really easy after having had the Ayurvedic diet, but today at school I felt incredibly tempted to just go buy a sandwich or a cookie at the espresso stand. I had always heard complaints about how limited the food provisions were at this stand, and I had always wondered why because it provided organic sandwiches. I never really checked to see if there was a vegan option. There were some vegetarian options, but they had animal products in them.

Being vegan is harder than I thought. While there is a variety of food that doesn’t require animal products its not the kind of food you can find typically in general places like cafes and convenience stores. I have to bring all my food I’ll eat throughout the school day from home, and if I don’t have enough, then I’ll just have to go hungry until I go home.

Today I made a lot of progress. I read a book called “Transform your life, A Blissful Journey”. It’s written by a Buddhist monk from Tibet and it has already transformed my life.


Whaddya know?!


It says
“happiness and suffering are states of mind, and so their main causes cannot be found outside of the mind, the real source of happiness is inner peace.”
It really resounded with me. I felt a huge weight off my back knowing that others could not bring down my happiness and cause negativity. Throughout the day when annoyances occurred it was as if my anger and myself were two separate entities.
I could tell when things might have made me upset, but instead of actually feeling upset it just felt like an acknowledgment.

I feel that anger and negativity are needed in life. This experiment is meant to prove that every type of person has something about them that makes them functional, that’s beneficial. Positivity, happiness are such treasured goals in life, but sadness and negativity in general are considered infections.

It’s understandable, but I think negativity must have benefits, or else why would it exist? Perhaps our anger, immorality, selfishness, and sadness are meant to push us to work hard to better ourselves, but should we banish all negativity?

The goal in this book was for us to reach “nirvana”, a state of permanent happiness and inner peace.Perhaps I’m being narrow minded, but I don’t want to transform myself so much that I have no negativity. Not to say that negativity is vital to my life but I feel that my ups and downs make me a smarter, more interesting, and happier person. Perhaps its the fact that I abhor complete stability as it doesn’t allow for personal growth, but perhaps nirvana is the pinnacle of personal growth and I’m not allowing myself to understand it.

My life is amazing and I’m so glad to be alive and have the friends and family that I have. I’m looking forward to being filled with even more happiness and inner peace than I already have.

Anyway, this book has already changed my life. But unfortunately I can’t say I can agree with the rest of it. Some of the terminology is too abstract, and while I would like to simply “believe” I can’t just accept every theory unless I can personally relate to it.
I will continue to read it though, as it has already made my life more peaceful. I think I’ll also print out a that mantra and keep it with me to remember.

Later today, I came home and made some vegan cookies! The recipe came from a book called “Vegan Cookies”. I was initially very skeptical as I’ve tried vegan pastries before and they are usually very hard, stiff, and dry since there’s no butter or eggs to make them delicious. I cooked with Noah, and we were scared that the cookies would be too hard, so I decided to add a tablespoon of coconut oil to them.


 

Coconut oil is the best butter imitation I know of. It gets hard when it’s colder and turns to liquid when its warmer. Its sweeter tasting than butter too, and goes splendidly with any sweet things (especially banana!!). It was scary at first because the cookies were supposed to be firm after being baked for 10-12 minutes, but long after that they were still very soft.

I finally gave up and took them out. They were solid enough when they cooled. They were also amazingly delicious. I’m going to call them “happy cookies” from now on and save the recipe they’re so good! They’re packed with chocolate and are moist and chewy, whenever I’m feeling down I’m going to grab one of these and I expect to feel better by the time I’m done!

 


Don’t they just put a smile on your face?

Also, I think every vegan should have a sweet recipe for indulging in their sweet tooth. It’s a crime to only live off non-sweet, non-sugary, non-melt-in-your-mouthey foods. It’s therapeutic to have some sweets in your life!

Recipe for Chocolate Fudgy Oatmeal Cookies (AKA Happy cookies)

 

You know what’s awesome about making vegan cookies? The dough! You can eat it without worrying about getting salmonella! Though…I usually would eat it anyway…

The night wound down pretty early, but before I went to bed my mom let me borrow a medicine bag necklace!! I was so grateful, but I have no idea what to put in it. I decided to put my healing stones in it for now and ask someone who knew how to use one later. And that’s exactly what I plan to do.


THANKS MOM!

I wished I had done a little more today, it felt that in practice today was somewhat of a waste, but despite that I felt like I had a good day, that I’d learned how to embrace my spirituality and gained inner peace. I look forward to learning more.

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Day 4: Meditation (Finally!!)

Posted on May 4, 2010. Filed under: New Age, Week 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Today was one of the best mornings I’ve had in a long long time. I woke up at 7:30, laid in bed, and just relaxed! It was amazing! This whole quarter I’ve been blessed with having to be at school at 11. For some reason though it’s always been a rushed and hectic morning with Noah and I getting to school just in time to rush to class. I think the lack of TV and Internet has made sleeping and generally going to bed much more of an achievable goal. Before I would be hooked to a new show or stuck on the Internet until around 2 or 3am before finally giving in to sleep. I must begrudgingly admit that this lifestyle is much more beneficial as it allows for me to think more productively, have a better attention span, and sleep easily and peacefully.

I’m not going to go as far as to say I’m banishing the carnal pleasures of Stumbling and Digg. And yes, when it comes to me and the internet it is not a mild addiction.

Still, mornings as New Age are not without troubles. Every morning I’ve been drinking lemon water, and it is beginning to remind me more and more of drinking vomit. It’s probably the acidity but I drink it very slowly which frustrates my mom since we both drink it and then do Yoga right after.

We tried the VHS tapes and they were pretty good. It was definitely more of an intense workout than before, but now that I’m really getting into this, I’m a bit disappointed in how it feels versus my expectations of it. I expected yoga to be a relaxing but invigorating experience that stretched and toned my body all at the same time. While I can imagine this happening eventually, I still felt a tightness in my hips and shoulders afterward that I was hoping to be alleviated.

I also have to admit I’m slightly deviating from the veganism. I’m giving myself the OK to eat ORGANIC, FREE RANGE, LOCALLY GROWN chicken eggs. My mom is vegan and eats them plus I feel the principle of not eating chicken eggs is that the chickens are still being treated poorly, which they obviously aren’t.


Don’t look at me like that!

Oh, and the toast is super organic and healthy too (Dave’s Killer Bread, if you haven’t tried it, go buy it immediately).

When I got to school today, I felt like all my progress with handling my emotions and keeping outside forces from affecting me completely melted away. I felt irritable and annoyed at other people and wanted everyone to leave me alone. I need to find a way to center myself when I’m losing control of my inner peace. I think that this is the point where I am pushed to become more vigilant about my meditation, yoga, and spiritual readings. Like other religions, I think New Age encourages self reflection which makes me realize when I lose control of my emotions and makes me want to better myself, pushing me further into the subculture.

I also finally got to wear a New Age(ish) outfit! I still had to wear a coat and my purse is not good for New Age but still its progress! It looked so convincing a lot people didn’t recognize me at first!


Not that I’m vain, its just not practical to show a picture of me looking flat out homely

I forgot to mention before that my mom got me some healing stones during a woman’s retreat over the weekend. One stone was called “Fluorite” and the other “Lepidolite”. Fluorite increases ability of concentration, to see both reality and behind the illusion. It is supposed to purify and cleanse. Lepidolite is for emotional healing, balance, purification, serenity, sleep, relaxation, and stress relief.

I think for now (until I can find another method) when I’m frustrated and losing control of my emotions I’ll grab these stones from in my pocket to remind me of my goal of inner peace. I perhaps should clarify that I’m not losing control of my emotions per se, I’m not having little meltdowns at whoever crosses my path or anything like that, and I couldn’t tell you if this experiment has made me better or worse. I just know when I’m getting angry inside and feel much more ashamed about it than before.


Thanks mom

I also talked with some very helpful people about my project and will be talking to them more in the future. Someone helped me realize that it’s not only the physical appearance that makes people think of me as a New Age type of person but also the smell. No more spritz’s of perfume before leaving the car, I need some patchouli oil! I also talked to another woman about my issues with appearance and she recommended a medicine bag necklace. I’m not quite clear on what that is, but I know where I can find one. Needless to say, I have a lot of shopping to do this weekend.

Later that day Noah and I went to an Indian restaurant to get some dinner before our meditation session. The Indian restaurant was once again absolutely amazing. I honestly used to despise Indian food but lately the taste has grown on me. I wonder if it’s the New Age or just a coincidence…?

All I know is that I absolutely must learn how to make Naan bread. It is my new favorite carb. CRAP, I just looked up the recipe, it requires some milk…oh well, I’ll just use soy and oil instead of milk and butter.



It was too good to be true!

We also finally got to go and meditate at a really nice little chapel. I believe this is the Dhammakaya style of meditation. It wasn’t specified at the church what type of meditation it was but I did some research and I’m sure this is it. This church seems to have Thai origins, and I like the variety of people who came in. The people who seemed to have gone here regularly were very kind and pleasant.

I had no idea there were so many different types of meditation and while I want to try them all I think it will be best to stick with this church because it’s free and I’d like to become familiar with one type over the short period of time I can do this.

We did some yoga exercises before the meditation began and I was told I needed to point my feet away from the monk when he entered and put a sheet that was given to me over my lap. When the monk entered I felt nervous, but his demeanor was relaxed and content.

He showed us a diagram of what he called our 7 “stations”. His English wasn’t perfect though pretty good and I wondered if the word “stations” meant something deeper in his native Thai.

He told us that women must concentrate on the left nostril and men the right. Throughout the meditation we were supposed to envision a tiny crystal ball passing through these “stations” until it was to reach the 7th station (two finger’s width above the belly button) which was considered to be the center of the body.


When meditation began, I instantly was having problems.
The monk told us to relax our whole bodies which I found impossible to relax my spine and arms when I was specifically instructed to sit up and position my arms a certain way.

Then the monk told us to breath in our positivity and out our negativity. It seemed like it would be easy enough, but when I tried it I ended up simply visualizing the words “Positive, happy” and “Negative, sad” and those words stayed in one place. I tried imagining faces of people who made me happy or angry but the people who made me angry stayed put as I exhaled. I felt really helpless.

After that, the monk instructed us to empty our minds. He said it as if all I needed to do was drop what I was holding, but I could not get near emptying my mind. I felt that whenever I got close, I would nearly fall off my chair because I was actually just falling asleep!

Throughout the 45 minutes of “meditating” I was simply sitting there, wondering if there was something wrong with me, was I incapable of meditation? Occasionally I would crack my toes and fingers out of impulse and sometimes I would almost teeter off my chair. It was in actuality a very stressful experience.

When we came out of meditation the monk asked everyone how it was. I felt much better about myself when I heard that everyone else was having troubles. I don’t know if anyone had as hard of a time as I did, but it was still good to know I wasn’t completely messed up.

I’ll continue to work hard at it, as I’ve been doing some research and meditation does have medical benefits. Also, seeing the people who really knew what they were doing made the stress and hard work seem to be worth it.

I’ve also put some books on hold at the library. I’m going to surprise you all with what they are specifically when they come in. Also, I may be revising published posts as I go along, I’ve been getting constructive criticism from people plus my Internet where I live is glacial at times so I usually wait until the next day while I’m at school to make revisions.

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Day 2 and 3: Easing in

Posted on May 3, 2010. Filed under: New Age, Week 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Day 2

This morning I began my day with some lemon water. I squeezed half a lemon into a cup, filled ¾ of it with tap water, and filled the rest with boiling water. It’s used in traditional Chinese medicine and is said to help liver and digestion. Later that day I went to a Pow Wow and went shopping for some New Age clothes at Goodwill.

The Pow Wow was really interesting, I have gone to another one before this and I love how rich and different the culture is. I’ve read though that Native Americans don’t like the New Age movement, referring to those people as “Plastic Shamans”. I felt though that I needed to try to relate with anything spiritual that I could. The singing was phenomenal, and the dancers’ movements were full of passion. Here is a video of something very similar to what I saw and heard that day. I think though that when it comes to New Age, this is something to broaden my horizons, I will focus on other ways to understand the culture.

Native Americans do have an incredibly tasty staple called “Fry Bread” I suggest that if you hear of a Pow wow near you, you at least go try some of this amazing food. Get the “Indian Taco”, I admit I cheated a little with the veganism, but it was out of respect and open-mindedness, not from lack of control.


I mean, this totally doesn’t look delicious or anything

After we went to the Pow wow we drove to Goodwill to find some New Age clothing. It proved to be incredibly difficult for two reasons: the only clothes I saw that related to New Age were loose and not meant for cold weather and I had no fashionable relation to these clothes. Unfortunately, despite it being May, the weather over here has been exceptionally cold, and though I would like to wear the long flowing dresses and skirts I would be freezing my ass off which is only appropriate if I’m intentionally wearing uncomfortable clothing like in girly.

I know there are ways to dress a little more tastefully or to my own style, but I have a bad feeling I’ll have to buy clothes that haven’t been used and I simply cannot afford them. I’ll have to dress in my normal clothes for now and wear something like a headscarf to distinguish me as “New Age”.

I feel bad about how gradual this experiment has become, but I believe that something like this cannot be so easily forced as opposed to something based on my physical appearance.

Later in the day Noah went to his house to eat some very not vegan food. I felt that his house, which always had the TV on and whose parents were very traditional would not be conducive to my already fragile state of mind. I knew that if I entered that house I would be glued to either the TV or sucked into the gossip magazine’s Noah’s mom had a regular supply of.

I went to the bookstore and looked in the New Age section for books I may be interested in. I found one called “Evidence of the Afterlife” that was written by a doctor. It was a very scientifically legitimate book and I plan to use that as the path to become more open to other beliefs. I am getting a growing feeling of excitement and I‘m looking forward to being more at peace with myself. I also am very excited to explore the spiritual world as it is a fascinating realm and even if it is not real the fact that our minds can create such “realities” is equally interesting. I think for now I must embrace aspects of New Age that speak to my personal interests, and go on from there. I hope that despite my time constraints I can still explore beliefs fully.

Things are getting better for me. I’ve been making tons of stir fry, which is my favorite dish, and eating healthy in general really is nice for me. I’m looking forward to learning to make new ethnic dishes as Asian food is my absolute favorite type of food.

Day 3

This morning I did Yoga. It was from a DVD my stepsister got me for my birthday. I enjoyed it but I feel like I could have done with more of a challenge. My mom has some yoga VHS’s that may work, we’ll see tomorrow morning. Otherwise, today was pretty uneventful regarding New Age as I was very busy with school and work


The most flattering picture I could find sans double chin

I listened to some New Age music while I was working and found some of it pretty nice. I usually listen to classical or opera while working and this was a pleasant change. It did have a powerful relaxing effect which seemed to make me tired and refreshed at the same time. Usually when I get tired like that it’s hard for me to resist sleeping, but this drowsiness was comfortable without making it impossible to concentrate.

It’s interesting to hear New Age music as it seems to have no set rhythm or form. Some songs have singing; some are just chimes and the sound of a creek. I’m used to songs having some sort of rhythm or form but I’m actually enjoying this kind of music more than I thought I would. I always had this impression that good music is universal and there was no denying the beauty written into some songs. For me this perception began with pop music then expanded into rock, blues, classical, and even Opera. There were some types of music I considered to be simply less appealing to hear than others, and it was a very objective viewpoint. Of course it was also a much uninformed one too.
I don’t consider myself a “musical” person
which I think has worked to my advantage here because people I consider “musical” are usually very set in their tastes and believe the know what “good” music is.

When it comes to getting angry, Noah has really helped me center my energy. I’m already getting much better at this, though I know I have a very long way to go before I consider myself “centered”.

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Day 1: Discouragement

Posted on May 1, 2010. Filed under: New Age, Week 1 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , |


April 30th, the day before my experiment officially begins. I decided to indulge in some fast food, drinking with friends, and poker while I could. I couldn’t really say that I was glad I ate that Taco Bell or proud that I drank that tequila, but the pendulum has swung in the other direction, and by Midnight that night it had swung back. I was ready for it to begin.

I was at a friend’s house, and he told me about an incredibly eerie experience with a ghost. Here’s his personal story.

We were very close to holding a séance at 3 in the morning but I had to attend a beginner’s meditation at 11 that morning and we decided to wait for another time, I would most certainly be over again.

At 11 that morning Noah and I stopped at the bookstore that was holding this meditation class. To our dismay, I had written the wrong time on my calendar, and it had started at 10:30! We decided to sign up for a 3 session workshop that would occur throughout my month and headed towards a delicious looking neighboring Indian buffet.

The food was absolutely amazing. Just about every dish was spicy so I should have figured that the dish titled “Spicy salad” would be intolerable. My first bite proved that it was and it felt like not only my mouth but my stomach had been badly poisoned.

Today I was incredibly exhausted. I felt physically and emotionally drained from the night before and had no motivation after not getting to go to meditation. We went to Noah’s house to pick some things up and I decided to take an hour long nap. I still felt just as unmotivated and down as before. I somehow had to push myself to go to two events today, and was dreading it.

Noah and I went to another New Age bookstore closer to my house because there was to be an open mic there at 5. I was happy to spend a while in a New Age environment and expected it to make me feel more energized. We got there really early and there was blaring live music which pushed me further into my introversion. Everything got to be so overwhelming that I decided I should be dropped off at my house where I could just have some quiet time to regain my energy. Today really felt like a failure.

When we parked in the driveway I immediately looked forward to watching some mindless, trashy TV with Noah as my way of relaxing. Then I remembered TV was not allowed for New Age and so I decided to read “The Celestine Prophecy”, a book that discusses many spiritual ideas and beliefs. I realized through reading this that I can practice the beliefs but I couldn’t force myself to believe them. I’m trying to open my mind and I am spiritually minded at times but some of these beliefs just don’t sit right in my gut.

There are many times I’ll be told an idea and I can just feel it is right. It may not apply to me personally or even be something I would like to be true but it just sits well with me. Reincarnation is one of those beliefs, though my idea of reincarnation is different than others’. I feel like there are philosophies out there that I can agree with and relate to, but it’s just one more discouragement after a long day of disappointments that I can’t relate to this book.

It’s nice to simply read, the noise of the TV makes it so much harder to truly feel relaxed. I forgot what it was like to do that, and I admit I’ve missed it greatly. I did fall asleep (again!) while reading, this time for about 3 hours. This time when I woke up I did feel refreshed, and I expect to start tomorrow with a skip in my step.

I must admit my days before this experiment have been very contrasting with New Age. I have been embracing my inner extrovert, though that extroversion is an exhaustible resource as I found out the hard way today. This experiment will do me good, I feel a lot better about doing it than girly, though as of today I’m not particularly excited like I was last time.

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