For breakfast, I had a big fat cucumber, a handful of almonds, and Egyptian Licorice tea. Yesterday I had no caffeine/alcohol/refined sugar/processed food/red meat, and not planning on having any today. Feeling good!

I also went for a jog in my new Vibram Five Fingers:

Bikilas

I suppose I’m just trying to live a natural life. Natural food, natural feet. I wrote a post on Vibrams a year ago when I got my first pair. I’ve always hated shoes, and would go barefoot all the time if it was allowed in the workplace and in restaurants. Wearing Vibrams is a compromise, one foot in the shod world, one foot in the barefoot world.

Speaking of foot shodding, I was sitting in my car yesterday, stopped at a stop light, watching a woman at a bus stop dance. She was doing a little side-to-side shuffle step in front of a high school. It was pretty cute and funny, until I realized she was wearing two different shoes. Not just different shoes, but completely different HEIGHTS – one was a black flat:

Shoe one.

and the other was a brown Espadril:

Shoe two.

So it became less cute and funny, and more like a visit to crazytown. Though considering the sizeable differences in height, she was a pretty good dancer.

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I’ve been wearing Vibram FiveFingers (ie, Barefoot Shoes) for about a year now. And I love them. Ever since I can remember, I’ve hated shoes and socks. HATED. One of my earliest memories is a feeling of frustration and rage welling up within me at having to put on some extremely uncomfortable shoes, around the age of 4. I hated feeling like my feet were bound up and restricted. Maybe it’s because my feet grew so fast (I’m a size 10 at 5’7, ugh) and my shoes were just always too small for me. Anyways I pretty much only wore Birkenstocks and flip flops growing up, year-round (you can get away with that in Southern California). I also have genetic issues with my feet, and in high school had to have bunion and arch surgery. Not cool. Anyways, I used to love Birkenstocks, but they got really stinky. And now I love Vibrams, and unfortunately, they get stinky too. Not cool. So I did some research, along with some personal experimentation, and I’m gonna tell you what has stopped the stank for me.

First off, the stank is from bacteria. It’s like B.O. The bacteria feeds on dirt and the dead skin cells that build up inside the bottom of the shoes, since you’re not wearing socks. If your Vibrams are stankin’, I’ll bet the inside of your shoe is brown or black. And I bet you can scrape off some of the dirt/gunk with your fingernail.

That stuff has gotta go, or the funk will remain firmly in your FiveFingers. One guy online suggested you just shower with your Vibrams on, scrub your toes around inside with a tiny amount of soap, and let the running water rinse them out. His recommendation is to do this about once/twice a week, and let them air dry.

This is a great tip. It’ll save the wear’n’tear that occurs when you throw VFF’s in the washing machine, and it’s probably more effective since your feet are doing some scrubbing. But you should really use a brush to scrub the inside of the soles and get all of that gunk out. So I’d recommend wearing them in the shower once a week, squirting some soap in there and squishing it around, and then taking them off and scrubbing the insides. This might sound time-consuming, but I wear my Vibrams every day (to work, to concerts, to bars, running, hiking, etc) and it’s worth it not to have a horrendous stank.

I also have a natural salt spray deodorant from Whole Foods that I’ll spray in there, and/or on my feet. I believe it’s just water and salt, and that the salt interrupts the bacterial growth. I don’t think this would be effective without washing the shoes out first, but hopefully it’ll slow down the return of the stank.

So that’s my advice.

Other suggestions on various Vibram discussion boards include:

• Distilled white vinegar. This was the most popular solution. Clean the shoes, soak them in vinegar anywhere from one hour to overnight (can use 25% vinegar to 75% water ratio, but the more vinegar the better), let them dry, and then wash them again. The second wash is to get rid of the vinegar smell. This kills the bacteria and keeps the smell from coming back quickly. People who tried this said after rinsing the vinegar smell was negligible unless you actually put your nose to them, and even so, it’s a much more tolerable smell than “The Vibram Funk.”

• “Trader Joe’s Cedarwood and Sage All-Purpose Cleaner” and “Earth Day Products’ Everyday Stain & Odor Remover” (the recommendation was to use one spray, let it sit, then rinse and repeat with the second spray.

• Antimicrobial Febreeze
• Menthol-based foot powder
• Gold bond powder
• Bleach (Colorsafe??)
• Borax
• Chlorine (throw them in a swimming pool overnight; smell is gone in the morning)

• Odoban
• Win Laundry Detergent
• Out Multi-cat Urine Odor Destroyer

Of course, your other option is socks. If you want to wear Injiji socks (which I’ve been using for about 4 years and wear any time I’m forced to wear “normal” shoes), you can do that too. I’ve heard from an inside source that Smartwool will soon be making toe socks also. But even wearing socks inside my VFF’s makes my toes feel squeezed, so I don’t like to wear them anymore.

Good luck with the funk, and happy bare-ishfooting!

Spring Sprung-ing

May 15, 2010

I love taking walks around my new neighborhood.

My new ‘hood is Beverly Hills, and it’s gorgeous. When I lived in Italy, I realized how much my surroundings affected my happiness. It’s important to my happiness to live in an area that’s aesthetically pleasing.

Roses the size of your head!

And when I house-sat for a rich friend who lived off Montana Ave in Santa Monica a few years ago, I figured out why I liked rich areas – because the front yards had beautiful gardens & the streets were lined with massive trees. These people had the resources to invest into making their surroundings beautiful.

When I moved into my new ‘hood in January, my street had huge, bare oak trees arching overhead. January turned into February, and I wondered when the leaves would start to come in. Finally, in mid-March, I saw the first tiny green leaves appearing. By the first week of April, the leaves were bigger, and there were tons more of them. It’s amazing to see the leaves appear, suddenly, all together, out of nowhere. It’s amazing how they all know to sprout together. First there were none, and then every tree had about 40 baby leaves.

My street.


(mid-April)

I can’t wait for June, when the leaves will form a thick, lush tunnel over the street. The sun will shine dapples through the green, the air will seem cleaner.

Echoing what I realized years ago, recent studies are showing that greenery makes people happier and healthier. Just five minutes of wandering through some green per day will improve your overall quality of life.

Another natural thing that, weirdly, makes us healthier – birdsong. People who listen to birdsong in an open-floor-plan-office are 33% more productive. Why? Back in the day, our limbic systems evolved to know that if we could hear the birds singing, we were safe from predators. And, like being somewhere with a lot of greenery, it signaled that we were in a place with lots of resources to support us.

I love how we’re wired for nature.

Here’s the TED talk where I heard about the birdsong thing; if you’ve never watched TED, I HIGHLY recommend it. They are fascinating!
http://www.ted.com/talks/julian_treasure_the_4_ways_sound_affects_us.html

Today I saw a rattlesnake. I also saw Ghandi.

I got the day off of work since we didn’t get home from San Francisco until 2am…

(five hours each way…not bad).

So, per my usual, I took full advantage of the day off.

First up was a hike in Pacific Palisades. When you turn off of Sunset, if you go aaaall the way up, there’s a little parking lot & an entrance to the Temescal Hike.

I think Topanga joins around there too…anyways, the trail takes you to these rocks that I love called Skull Rock. Perfect for a bit of rock climbing/bouldering. Me on top of the rock (you can’t tell but there’s a 40 ft drop to my right):

Skull Rock has a little cave in it. After meditating on top of the rock for about 20 minutes, I climbed into the cave and found a notebook.

It contained about two months of people’s notes – one couple got engaged up there. Another girl had recently seen her soul mate die and had moved to LA. Another had missed his flight back to Hong Kong so had gone for a hike with his cousin. I liked this one, written by some hiker on my birthday.

Most people commented on how beautiful and peaceful it was up there – which it was. I saw only one person for the first hour and a half, and they didn’t see me since I was on top of the rock. If I was a mountain lion I totally could’ve pounced on their head and eaten them.

One thing I can assure you of is that we’re not having that missing-bee problem in the Palisades. Part of the hike takes you through a narrow path with tons of bushes and wildflowers on either side. And swarms of buzzing bees. It was a bit disconcerting, and I had to focus on staying calm, cuz I didn’t want the bees to smell my fear or pick up on my vibrations or…whatever it is that bees can do. So that part wasn’t very relaxing. The second thing that wasn’t very relaxing was that I almost stepped on a rattlesnake. I was walking around the backside of Skull Rock, intent on climbing another rock formation, when a fatty lizard, doing push-ups on a rock to my left almost at eye level, made a quick movement that caught my eye. I stopped and looked at him for a second. As I was stepping forward to continue on my way I looked down at the trail ahead of me just as a rattlesnake started buzzing his tail. Luckily he was a foot or two ahead and facing away from me; I froze immediately as he was already slithering away. No more rock climbing for me!!! Back through the bees and to the car!!!

On the way back I found this cool high-tech lookin’ dandelion; each seed had what looked like an airplane propeller on top.

So after the rattlesnake incident, I decided to stop at the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine to calm down a bit. And to say hi to Gandhi.  Apparently he was buddies with Paramahansa Yogananda and a portion of his ashes are interred there.

“Life is an aspiration. Its mission is to strive after perfection, which is self-realization. The ideal must not be lowered because of our weaknesses or imperfections.”  – G-dhawg

I love the Self Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine. It’s like Disneyland for meditation. Or spirituality, or whatever. It’s just gorgeous and lush and peaceful. There are deities and shrines for five world religions (Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam). So it doesn’t matter what religion you are, or if you’re any religion at all (which I’m not).

Here’s the Christian rep (Joseph? St. Frances? I dunno who this is):

And Buddha, of course:

Me and some dancing, jazz-flute-playing god (Hindu?):

Some of the biggest mofoin’ koi fish I have ever seen in my life (and swan):



And the Windmill (which doubles as a temple):

After enjoying some more peace and greenery, I went to Ritual Adornments and bought beads for some of the Tibetan Prayer Wheel necklaces I’m making. Then I went to write for the iPhone app project; then grocery shopping at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s before coming home to cook some veggies for dinner. I’m on day 5 of no alcohol, and day 3 of no caffeine or processed foods or refined sugars. Been a bit tired without the caffeine or sugar (and now I’m up late writing this post, so I’ll probably be a bit tired tomorrow), but so far so good!