Being All Zen and Stuff…

I’ve always been more of a wannabe yoga enthusiast, going just enough to sorta know what warrior pose is, but not nearly enough to do a head stand or not wobble during tree pose.

My fascination with yoga began years ago way before it was so popular when a doctor I was seeing suggested I check it out as an alternative to drinking, back when I was just another mono-infested college student who refused to heed the docs warning of no alcohol for a month despite the fact that my skin and pupils had turned a lovely shade of yellow…

Anyway…

Over the years I’ve gone on yoga kicks buying a 10 session pass here and there or attending classes at my gym,  and I usually list it as an interest/hobby due to my desire to have cool and unique interests beyond “reading, writing and music”  but my point is I’ve never been as devout a yogi as I could be…

Once, back in NYC I was somehow enticed by a damn Groupon or something to try a Bikram yoga class and am still horrified to this day about it.  The class is a hazy and sweat-infused memory but the subway ride home remains crystal clear.  It was winter and I had worn a puffy coat over my yoga gear.  I was so hot and sweaty after class that I just could NOT bring myself to put my coat back on the entire ride home so I braved the subway from the East Village to the Upper West Side (changing lines no less) as a hot mess in my yoga gear holding my coat and wondering if my body temperature would ever return to normal. It did, but I learned my lesson loud and clear, hot yoga was certainly not “my thing…”

Fast forward to present day, where my yoga options are extremely limited due to the fact that Newport has only a few studios and my lack of car leaves those options even slimmer.  This past summer I went to a Yoga in the Park session at Ballard Park – a great nature sanctuary off Ocean Drive.  That was nice.  The class was beginner to say the least but I still felt all connected to the universe afterwards.  Since then however, I’ve been waiting for my next yoga opportunity. The gym I attend has classes but they’re never at the right time and plus I’m always a bit skeptical of “gym yoga.”  For some reason I find gym classes more focused on doing the movements and getting in a workout but they lack the spiritual experiential part of yoga that’s my favorite part.  No soft music, no soothing narrative and no story-telling.

Most of my yogi friends in town attend Newport Power Yoga which is just a short walk from my apartment.  I was skeptical of this “power yoga’ thing because it sounded sneakily like Bikram (shudder).  Upon further research on their website and at my friends word that it wasn’t so bad I decided it was time to check it out.  I attended my first class this past Friday and really loved it.  It was a community class so it was open to all levels and the room was set at “moderate heat and steam to get the body loose.”  It was hot, yes, but somehow it didn’t bother me (which is strange considering I’m that girl visibly sweating through my blouse in the winter if the heat is too high at a bar…). Somehow even though the class was PACKED and I was thisclose to my neighbors mats, I found the class to be just what I was looking for.  I sweat out of every orifice (did you know your ankles can sweat?!), but I swear, it was actually a lot more pleasant than it sounds.  The class focused on breathing, strength and balance but the best part for me was something the instructor said at the end of the class.  He was talking about how for 50 mins you just show up, give it your best and escape from your everyday thoughts and worries.  I realized when he said this that my mind had been completely clear for the entire class.  I had been so busy focusing on my breath and following the moves that I literally hadn’t had one other thought for the whole class.  For me, this was groundbreaking.  I am physically incapable of shutting my mind off.  I lie awake at night thinking of the absolute most ridiculous things (just ask my boyfriend if you need further proof) so to have even a 1 hour escape is nothing short of a miracle.

If you’re like me and are looking for that perfect yoga experience to keep your interest and build both your soul and your strength, I’d highly recommend the Newport Power Yoga experience or something similar.  One other great thing about the class is that not only was it a lower cost community class (so that yoga can be accessible for people regardless of their financial situation) but this particular class (and every Friday at 7pm) was actually donation based and all proceeds go to a different local charity.

Until my next class….namaste friends!

The easy way to start again…

The new year is always a great excuse to start up the regular blogging again.  After being MIA through the holidays, the new year brings an easy no-think idea for a first post to get back on the blogging horse as I like to say.  The new year always seems like such a fresh start but I’ve realized my resolutions often stay the same year after year, meaning I either haven’t accomplished them the previous year or am still working on them slowly but surely.  My “travel internationally” resolution still remains front and center as well as the yearly “write more.”  One clichéd resolution that I’ve actually been sticking to from last year is the committment to working out more.  I began running regularly this past summer and once the cold weather hit in November I joined a gym and actually go (gasp!).  It’s funny, when I lived in NYC and had a comped membership to a fancy gym 21 blocks from my apartment with every amenity I could imagine, I rarely went but now that I belong to a local YMCA going seems a lot easier.  Go figure…

I tried to find my last few years of New Years Resolution posts but as it turns out I’ve been more inspired to share my goals every year around my birthday than New Years.  One thing I wanted out of post-30 life was to find a new hobby.  While I’m not sure it’s the most glamorous one, I’ve become quite the chef recently and enjoy cooking up new recipes (mostly tweaked from Pinterest or food blogs and given a little zog twist!).  I’m thinking of beginning a section on here to share them so stay tuned.

In 2013, assuming I actually stay in one state for a full year, I’d like to get immersed in the New England/RI lifestyle and become as much as a localvore as I can.  (Sorry that I just used such a hipster word…)  I want to re-learn snowboarding because really, how can you live in New England and not have a snow-sport hobby?  Judging by my end of summer yearnings to learn to sail last August, I suspect that might be a possible summer ambition?

As small as RI is, I realized even though I’ve lived here off and on for the better part of 8 years now, I only really know small pockets of the state well (Newport, Narragansett, Kingston/Wakefield) and there are prized areas that remain unexplored.  Providence has recently won all kinds of awards for its restaurants and culinary delights yet shamefully my knowledge of the area doesn’t extend far beyond the Providence Place mall, Thayer Street and one recent trip to Federal Hill.  A few friends lived there after college and I remember visiting there cute apartments and getting coffee at a place called Zog’s Cafe or something similarly named after me (speaking of which, is that place still there??) but beyond that I think we sadly only frequented lame college bars, clubs, The Cheesecake Factory and not much else.

A new year, a new state, a focus on living local, living each day to the fullest, living out my dreams and living well.  Here’s hoping 2013 is my year and your’s too!

So long sweet summer…

When you live in a resort town, summer can end so abruptly it feels like someone has flipped a switch and shut off the summer goodness in the blink of an eye. There’s that bittersweet celebration of Labor Day weekend, three days filled with all the best B’s (BBQs, beaches, boats, beers, bliss…) and then there’s “the Tueday after.”  Most of us are still high on our end of summer buzz, suntans still shimmering, sundresses and still sandals still on, but as the days of September roll on, the talk of “Fall” and “Apple Picking” and “Pumpkin Spiced EVERYTHING” quickly fill the void of Summer’s sad departure.

Here in Newport, the end of summer literally happens overnight.  And that night – contrary to popular belief – is not Labor Day evening (although there is definitely a noticeably lighter feel to the town as most of the summer people trickle out of town over the following few days), but the real last blast of Summer is actually the Newport International Boat Show which I attended for the first time this year.  The boat community (AKA the “yachties”) show up in their finest Nantucket Red (cough PINK cough) pants to either A) shop for boats (the lucky ones) B) show the boats, clean the boats serve the drinks, etc. or C) (this is where I fit in) marvel at the boats and hope that they let you on a few without an appointment!

It was a beautiful day and we got to go on a few boats and walk the docks and even slurp down a couple free beverage samples (sweet tea vodka!) but for the average boat owning wannabe like myself, the $18 entry fee wasn’t quite worth it.  Especially when you can go next door to the Lobster Bar and buy a round for the same price (which is exactly where we ended up after about an hour or so of ooohing and ahhing at the shiny boats).

So as the first storm of Autumn blows in, and I run along the empty beach, see the browning leaves blow around the cobble stone of Thames, and make the semi-annual switch from iced coffee to hot, I say a little goodbye to summer and look forward to all those upcoming perks of Fall for a Newport local, including restaurant specials! no traffic! beer and wings! apple picking! and about a million other things I’ll continue to share in the coming months.

Happy Fall friends! (Now throw on a scarf, lace up your suede booties, and go get yourself a pumpkin-apple-carmel-spiced-chai-cider and welcome the season in style)… 🙂

Newport for Newbies…

Your first week in Newport – especially when you’ve never lived outside of NY state – can be an eye-opening experience to say the least. My boyfriend doesn’t blog, but if he did, he’d probably have a laundry list of “differences” to point out between lil’ rhody and the big apple.  Since I’m his roomie now, I’ll graciously share what we’ve both learned over the past week – him being a complete Newport Newbie and me being a born-again, after nearly 6 years away in NY.

  • Things move a little…slower up here.  There’s just not the same “sense of urgency” that NY’ers have.  People live up here for the laid back lifestyle, which I’ll be the first to admit I adore, but every once in a while I feel the urge to say “move it along folks! (expletive deleted!)”
  • If you’re not from RI, you’ve probably never had an Awful Awful.  It might not even sound appealing but trust me, IT IS.
  • You’re just going to have to learn to view pizza in a new way.  It won’t be a staple food anymore and you’re not going to “grab a slice” like you used to.  Even if you do find a (rare) place that actually sells it by the slice, it’s sadly not the same.  Possible replacement meals include chowder, stuffies and lobster rolls so really, whose complaining?
  • The bars close at what time??  In NY, bars don’t close – or at least anytime that concerns you when you’re in your 30’s.  You’ll be long gone and fast asleep before “closing time” hits the juke box in NY, but in RI, you’re always staying ’til closing because if you can’t stay out until 1am, well that’s just sad…
  • Cabs around here are of the pedi variety. As in, they’re actually bikes.  Sure we had these in NYC but we also had about 10 million actual motor vehicle cabs racing through the streets at ANY given hour.  Here in Newport, if you’re not driving, you’re either walking, biking it or having someone else pedal you around.  Except for those few and far between orange mini-van things (newsflash RI, cabs are YEL-LOW not orange…) cabs are pretty much non-existent.  The upside?  I’m getting great exercise walking to and from work everyday and the view can’t be beat!

As a Newport to NYC to Newport transplant, I was prepared for the differences and am about 90% adjusted to being back in the good old Port of New.  I know it’s a lifestyle that I can get onboard with and it’ll feel like home again a lot quicker than NYC did. The little things like the friendly lady at the coffee shop, that bartender who remembers my name (and if I’m very lucky, my drink order!) and the nautical style I love so much remind me of why I chose to move back and comfort me as I get re-acquainted.  Although the adjustment may be slightly slower for my Newport Newbie BF, I feel confident that he’ll learn to love it just like I did so many years ago.  Now if only we could get a NY bagel shop and ban those damn “Yankees Suck” chants we’d be all set!

My Triumphant Return…

When I last left off, I was leaving NYC unsure of where I was headed but sure nevertheless that I was headed somewhere.  Well folks, I’ve returned to my twenty-something stomping grounds as an older, wiser, non-single, non-tray-carrying (or dropping) version of my former self.

The rumors are true – I am officially a Newport, RI resident once again! So how did I end up back where I started (ironically about a half mile from the scene of this blog’s masthead photo)?  The short answer is: I had a feeling.  I read the signs. I did what felt right in the moment.  I went with my gut.  I made a decision.  I made a choice. And here I am.  In the matter of two months I got a new job (SM/Digital Marketing for a social impact agency where my clients actually change lives, change minds and (attempt to) change the world), got a new apartment (a two-story, charming little place with a 200-year-old elm tree in the backyard) and somehow convinced my boyfriend to come along for the ride (I think).

People keep asking me if I miss NYC because really, it all happened pretty damn fast!  To be honest, this past week was the first time since leaving that I had a NYC nostalgia episode.  It came in the form of reading Emily Giffin’s latest beach read, set on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. And even though every NY’er without a trust fund knows that it’s never as glamorous as the book makes it sound – I still had an “ohmygod I don’t live there anymore” moment of panic…but then I looked up from my kindle and out at the Atlantic Ocean and rolling hills of Newport’s Cliff Walk…and got over it pretty quickly.

So as I attempt to resurrect the Allie Zog Blog, I do so with a new angle.  I’ll be blogging about returning to a place where I spent my post-college “glory years”, going from an independent NYC girl to a co-habitating Newport couple, and most importantly I’ll be commenting on all the unique, crazy, overrated, underrated, and downright awesomeness that Newport has to offer.  I’m one part local, one part tourist and one part NYC snob, so I guarantee to provide some pretty interesting commentary!  Join me, won’t you?