Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Wordless Wednesday: The Mekong Delta (Vietnam)

I've been holding onto these for awhile because I've been lazy. But, as I travel back to American soil, YOU can enjoy the views from my lovely little oasis along the Mekong river at a little family-owned "resort" called the Mekong Lodge. Honestly, it was made more for couples and families rather than a solo late-twenties traveler, but it was a way better experience than taking a day tour or being at a big hotel.

Great memories.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

On Believing in Yourself

This story goes back a few years to when I went to Israel on Birthright with Israel Outdoors.  Unlike most people, I did not have a life-changing Israel experience. I don't know if I'd even classify it as a great experience. I actually left feeling less confident in myself and felt so alienated from Judaism that I didn't re-join the Jewish community until last spring. This is not something that I often share because there were several causes for it and I don't think it's necessarily a productive conversation, but I definitely had a tough time.

One of the real sticking points of my trip was the sunrise climb up Masada. We left at something like 5 in the morning to be on the top of the mountain for the sunrise. I was on a hiking trip, which I was assurred was not very tough, and this hike in particular was "very easy." Well, not to me it wasn't.  I wasn't in the best shape and I was wearing the wrong shoes. I didn't make it for the sunrise, and I caused two others {the ones who had to wait with me} to miss it also. Although one of them was trying to reassure me, her words of, "well, I guess we're gonna miss it," just made it so much worse. After that experience, I swore I would never go hiking again.

{Sunrise NOT from the top of Masada}

Clearly, I didn't stick to that, but all summer I've been self-conscious of being the "slow one." I'm a slow-and-steady hiker at the best of times, and I was very nervous that if I went on a sunrise hike, we just wouldn't make it, and it would be my fault. But, as I did some hiking, I noticed that I wasn't really holding anyone back, that I was more fit and we always made it to where we said we were going. I also realized that I am NOT the person that I was 5 years ago, and that I had changed not only in my abilities, but also because I no longer allow people to make me feel inferior.

{Yoga near the Matterhorn}

 So, one morning, a friend and I hiked to the top of a mountain for the sunrise. It was a glorious, clear day, and the mountains were simply breathtaking.

{Looking towards Niesen}

{Lohner, Nunnihorn and Wildstrubel at sunrise}

In honor of believing in myself and conquering fears, I greeted the sunrise.

Don't let your past determine your future.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Switzerland: The Beginning

Hello everyone, from Switzerland! For those who don't know, I'm here volunteering with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts {WAGGGS} at Our Chalet. Sometimes I get to lead hikes, and sometimes I clean bathrooms, but it's been so very rewarding. I'm working on several posts to document my adventures around Switzerland {and later Europe} but here are some pictures to tide you over:

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Lai M

In Chinese, "Lai M" {or 来M} is slang for "period." So, this is going to be a fun post for many of you. And, by fun I mean, maybe a little gross. It might push you a little outside of your comfort zone. BUT, keep reading.

About 9 months ago I was on YouTube and an ad for an Intimina Kickstarter campaign popped up. It was for a reusable menstrual cup called the Lily Cup Compact. It was advertised as a soft, collapsible cup that was comfortable, safe, etc. Now, I'd heard about cups before, specifically the Diva Cup, but I never really considered using one. I thought it sounded gross.

But, this campaign piqued my interest, and I became a supporter. My "prize" was a Lily Cup, and a Lily Cup Compact and it was scheduled to arrive well before I came home for Christmas. Of course, there was some sort of customs issue and they didn't come until about two days before I came back to China.  I really wanted to try a cup though, I ended up buying a Sckoon cup while I was in the US as well.

{Source: Intimina}

Armed with 3 cups and no tampons {first time I didn't bring massive amounts back with me!} I headed back to Asia. I got the chance to test this the first day back when I was stuck in Hong Kong. And you know what?! It was amazing!

Now, let me say, I was not one of those women who had no learning curve and who couldn't feel it right away...there were some issues. I *could* feel it {I used the Lily Cup} though it didn't hurt. I was always worried it was leaking {it wasn't} and kept running back to the bathroom to check. Also, it was a bit messy at first as I got the hang of things. Yet, despite the hiccups, I still liked it better than tampons.

And now, after 5 cycles and another new cup {this time a Lunette, which I *highly* recommend} I am SOLD.  But, why do I love mine so much?

{Source: Lunette}

  • Chemicals: Disposable tampons and pads are convenient, but unless you're buying unbleached organic cotton products {or you already use re-usable pads}, you're sticking something into your body which contains pesticides and bleaching chemicals. Yay? Also, this story just came out about how no one has done testing on tampons to monitor the long-term side-effects of dioxin. Double yay. Cups, on the other hand, are made from medical grade silicone, natural rubber, or TPE {thermo-plastic elastomer, also medical-grade}. These materials have been tested and approved for use in medicine, which means that they are non-absorbent, don't leech anything into anywhere and can be washed and sterilized after each cycle.
  • Waste: Pads and tampons {and their wrappers} end up in landfills. Even when you flush a biodegradable tampon, it goes into your local septic system and is removed with other solid waste. On the other hand, your cup is simply emptied, rinsed and re-inserted and you can use them for awhile. In order to gain FDA approval, most cup manufacturers tell you to replace every year. However, in other countries, they claim that you can replace every 10 years or as-needed {whichever comes first}.
  • Capacity: Tampons and pads can only absorb so much, before you have to change them. If you're a lucky lady with a heavy flow, that sometimes means running to the bathroom every 2-3 hours {6ish times a day}. With a cup it's different because it holds more. If you have a normal flow and depending on the capacity of your cup, you usually only have to change them 2-3 times a day. That's way more convenient, especially if you're not excited about dealing with period issues in public bathrooms {and let me tell you, public bathrooms in China}. As a bonus, there's not really a risk of TSS with cups, so leaving it in for 12 hours isn't a big deal.
  • Traveling: I travel a lot, and I'm about to be "on the road" for about 5 months. Who wants to haul around that many tampons or *hope* something you like to use is where you're going? Not me. I pack in my three cups {depending on certain things I switch mine out, but many women just have and use one cup} and it's just not a big deal. It's also easy to simply carry a cup with you at all times and use it when you need to without worry that it'll be "enough" until you get home. 
  • Comfort:  Tampons, in particular, are made to be very absorbent inside your body. Because they work so well, they absorb your flow {good!} and...everything else {not great}. Ever wonder why it's really uncomfortable to insert or remove a tampon toward the end of your cycle? It's because all of your natural lubrication is getting sucked into the tampon {I did warn you about TMI, yes?}. That increases the chance for irritation and can also cause micro-scratches which are uncomfortable, but also leave you prone to infections. Cups CAN also be irritating, especially when you first get used to them, but most of this can be rectified by practice and over-the-counter water-based lubricant.
I'm not a cup expert, but when I was looking into this I DID get a lot of information from women who know a lot more than I do. Some resources I used were: Precious Stars Pads, Amy Nix, and Dirty Diaper Laundry. These are real women who are honest and speak frankly about their experiences.  They also have some great information on how to choose a cup, what to look for, how to figure out your anatomy, etc.

It really has changed my life, or at least, how I prepare for "that time of the month." This particular solution won't work for everyone and not everyone is going to want to switch. But, if this sounds interesting in the slightest, I urge you to check out the links for more information.

Happy periods, friends!

**Disclaimer: I get absolutely nothing if you click the links. I just used these products and resources and like them or found them helpful. Your mileage may vary.