Who likes to stay up late?

The very kind Jordan Rich has allowed me to be one of his guests on his weekend radio show! It begins at 12:05 am on Sunday, Feb 1st (late Saturday night) and ends at 3:30 am. I believe that I will be part of a panel, along with a longtime soccer coach. You can listen on WBZ Boston radio (1030 AM) or listen on the internet: http://www.jordanrich.com/the_jordan_rich_show.shtml
It should be fun!


Health update

Well, there went two weeks of my life… I went back to the eye doctor on Thursday for my follow-up appointment. In the 10 days since I had seen him for the first time, my eyes had gotten worse like he had said, and then never got better. I have been a non-functional person in that time, unable to even open the shades in my apartment because the light blinds me. I haven’t been able to read or write, and most of the time, I’ve had to keep my right eye closed. The pain in my right eye often went up into my brain. Fulfilling my obligations has been difficult (teaching yoga, doing my talks, doing my grocery shopping), but I am proud of the manner in which I can switch so quickly from my own pain to completely being there for others. Driving has been the hardest part. One eye can not tolerate any amount of light, and the other eye is functioning at about 30%. The other drivers don’t know this, but when I was forced to drive, it was a community effort. They had to subconsciously work with me. Throughout this time, I have been wondering what is so wrong with me that I don’t have the capacity to heal. Last weekend, I had asked my healing friends if they would mind sending me some energy and one of them suggested I put colloidal silver drops in my eyes to clear out the infection. I managed to get myself to Whole Foods and bought the silver drops last Sunday. But five days later, nothing had improved! I was not a happy girl when I went back to the doctor. He had given me nothing to help me live my life- only the antibacterial drops that he said would do nothing. I told him that I think I need steroids and he agreed… I am sure the steroid drops were what allowed me to continue hiking when something similar happened to me on the AT. Why couldn’t he have prescribed them for me 12 days ago?! This time, I was left with nothing to help with either the pain or the light sensitivity. The doctor just said that I was hit with a particularly nasty strain of virus. “You know the types of colds that take 2-3 weeks to get over?… This is not one of those. It’s much worse.”
I guess I just had some very bad luck!
That night, I had to give another talk (the fifth one with my eye infection!). My nice host, Michelle, told me that her son had 5 eye infections during the summer. He had to keep going back to the eye doctor and was given nothing to help treat it, like me. I felt better knowing I am not the only one!
My biggest crowd yet (78 people!) came to my talk on Thursday and helped boost my energy for the evening. Had I not had my eye infection, I would have had that talk taped. Oh, well. Someday, it will be!
I finally got the steroid drops yesterday and already felt a bit of improvement after putting a single drop in one of my eyes. The membrane on that eye has thickened and there is a lot of extra stuff floating around in it, so my vision is very clouded, but I was able to read a little bit last night for the first time in a long time!
Of course, now that my eye is beginning to heal, my knee is screaming again. I still have to figure out what I am going to do about that!
I also need to slowly start building my strength back up. I lost 5 pounds since I was hit with the stomach virus on January 5th and have felt very weak since. My digestive system is still very out of order. No food is appealing to me, except maybe toast. After having been out all day on Thursday to go to the doctors, teach yoga, and give my talk, I was too weak to do anything at all on Friday, except pick up my steroid drops.
I really hope February is a much better month!

My health problems continue to grow!

The stomach virus left me with a parting gift- a very painful eye infection in my right eye! In the last week, this infection has taken over my knee pain as my most acute injury. (At times, it makes me wonder if I am doing something very, very wrong to end up like this! The problems are just piling up on top of one another, each one more intense than the last!) My eye was becoming more and more light sensitive and painful by the end of last week, and by the weekend, I was starting to lose my vision. I ended up going to the “Minute Clinic” at CVS on Sunday, since the doctor I called said that doesn’t sound like conjunctivitis and that I needed to be seen. However, there was a three hour wait time and I had to give my talk in North Andover. By the time I was done, all of the clinics were closed.
I decided I would go to Urgent Care at the hospital I teach yoga at in Cambridge in Mondays. Maybe they could see me before class, and I could get a prescription afterwards. It turned out that there was no urgent care there- only the emergency room. I had to wait for the receptionist to chat with another employee before she registered me. Some time later, I was taken to a bed where I was to wait for the nurse. I told her that my cornea was infected. “How do you know that?!” she asked with wide eyes. “Because this happened to me while I was hiking the Appalachian Trail five years ago.” She led me down the hall and told me to stand on the blue tile and asked me to read the lines on the eye chart. “You’re very good with both eyes!”.
A physician assistant came in and shone a light into my eye. “You have a corneal ulcer. You could lose your vision. You need to see the opthomologist immediately.”
“I have to teach yoga at noon.”
“I don’t think that’s such a good idea”.

It turned out that the opthomologist was at the hospital in the next town, so I cancelled my classes and drove over there. I was examined and questioned by the assistant who almost dilated my eyes. “You’re going to dilate my eyes?!” They were already more light sensitive than if they were dilated! I told him I didn’t want that and that they were fine.
I was then taken to a seat in a hallway to wait for the doctor. A portable radio was playing Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’ right behind my head! (Portable radios still exist?). The door of the doctor’s office was wide opened as he talked with the patient inside. Apparently, the patient had had a stroke and lost some of his vision as a result. “What’s a stroke?” he asked the doctor.
He led the patient out and grabbed my chart. “Uh-huh, okay, um hum, okay! Come on in.” He looked into my eyes and said that both of my corneas are badly damaged, but only one of them looks bad. The blood vessel in my right eye broke into my cornea and I have some viral conjunctivitis in addition. He said I can not wear contacts for 2 weeks and that he would prescribe some antibiotic drops, but that they wouldn’t help since this is a viral infection. It will take 2 weeks to get better.
He also said it will get worse before it gets better.
I have been in the “worse” phase for the past several days. Most of the time, I can’t even open my right eye because it is extremely sensitive to any amount of daylight. He didn’t give me anything for the pain, which has made it difficult to do anything. I’ve had 3 talks in the past 4 days and another one tonight, and yesterday, I had to teach two yoga classes. As soon as one of my students sat down in front of me yesterday, she gasped, “Oh, my God!”.
One painful ailment on top of another.

Driving has been the most excruciating time for me. I have to keep my right eye closed, but even so, the light is still able to get in. Even with my hat pulled down as low as possible, the two sun visors down, and my hand covering my eyes, it is extremely painful, and very dangerous! I am driving nearly blind! I thought driving in the night would be better, but the car lights hurt my eyes, and the motion is also very difficult for them.
What I really wonder about, is how I managed to keep hiking the AT with this infection in both of my eyes! I remember the searing pain, the inability to open my eyes due to the extreme light sensitivity, having to hike nearly blind until I reached one of the dirtiest hostels on the trail, lying sick on the disgusting bunkbeds, and searching through a water soaked and bug ridden phone book to make an appointment with an eye doctor in town. That eye doctor gave me steroid antibiotics and the next day, I was back hiking the rest of the trail to Maine! Maybe the steroids helped me with the pain, or maybe it was my super-human thru-hiking persona that got me through. These days, in the comfort of my apartment with the ability to rest a great amount, I am stripped of my healing powers, and so I must wait and wait and wait…

One of my friends said that I am an interesting combination of strong and fragile. That is for sure!

I am so glad that I did not go through with the surgery on the 8th with the bad doctor. One of my yoga students gave me the name of an orthopedist in Lexington who accepts Masshealth (every other one I tried does not!). I have to wait until February 2nd to even be seen by him, however. In the meantime, I am trying out castor oil packs, which I happened to see mentioned in a comment while I was reading about torn meniscuses.

I gave my chiropractor my MRI report and he said he didn’t realize it was that bad! “I didn’t know about this lateral part.” The tear was as clear as daylight to me as soon as I saw the MRI (well before the doctor said anything.) It is a large, lateral complex tear, with a flap and probable dislodged pieces. There is also an accompanying cyst and wear on the patella (which I can feel!). In other words, I have withstood an incredible amount of pain! (And now I know that I hiked the Colorado Trail and the PCT with a partially torn meniscus!) Whenever I try to pretend that it is okay for a moment, it immediately gives out and starts hurting more. I think the castor oil pack can help dissolve the cyst and maybe send some healing agents in for the damaged cartilage.
I can’t believe the surgeon had no suggestions at all for pain relief. He didn’t even take me seriously until after the MRI report came back, and then he mentioned surgery for the first time (practically just in passing as he was getting ready to leave the room. “There are always risks, but in your case, the benefits greatly override the risks.” I was glad that I had read enough beforehand to know this was coming… That day, the pain was still so high, that I agreed I better just get it done. But after not being able to be seen by a better surgeon due to my type of health insurance, I knew I needed to buy some time and not rush into surgery with someone I don’t feel comfortable with. Since then, the pain level has been decreasing and I have been able to walk a little bit better. Straightening my leg still hurts, and any type of hip opener is still inaccessible, but at least I can breathe, sleep, and do some types of movement now!

Hopefully, by February, I will be back on my feet, able to see, and ready to re-start my intentions for the year!

To the sweet woman who asked for my autograph today

Would you kindly e-mail me your name and address? I would like to send you a nicer one with some actual words! (I think I was feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment and not thinking properly at all!) I am so sorry!

My e-mail address is: wendy.thruhiker@gmail.com

And to everyone who came to my talk today- a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU!!
I am humbled and grateful.

Love Letter to my Brother

While attempting to collect any prior writing I had done in my life a few days ago, as a means to get started on my “real” writing, I found the hand-written speech I wrote and read at my 21 year old brother’s memorial service at the end of November, 2000. I hadn’t read it in a very long time, so it was both emotional and interesting to see what it contained. Perhaps the most notable thing about it (to me) is how similar I am to the person I was 14 years ago. I often give yoga much of the credit for teaching me how to heal and shift my perspective, but this speech shows me that I have always thought that way. Yoga just confirms and validates what I have always known.

I have just now transcribed this address into type and am sharing it for the first time.

(The memorial service was held in the chapel of the private school that my sister and I attended, as my mother worked as a staff member in the library there, and the school therefore allowed us to use the chapel for no cost.)


Thank you all so much for coming here this evening to celebrate Ted’s life. It is amazing to see how many lives Ted has touched and affected.
I was just here in this beautiful chapel a few months ago, revisiting this school after many years, and I can not describe how unreal it is to be standing here now in front of you all in such unspeakably sad and tragic circumstances. Meeting in this beautiful setting does bring some comfort, however, and I believe that there is also special meaning for Ted that we are here.
Ted had an unfounded notion that he was not as smart or capable as his sisters- that he was not good enough to have ever attended an elite school such as this one. But I believe that he was the best of all of us. I know that he was incredibly smart- he was an innate writer, had a keen mind for business, worked incredibly hard, was extremely organized, and had a strong ambition to become a financial manager and help others manage their money well- an ability he was particularly proud of in his own life. In addition to these traits, Ted was the funniest and most caring and generous person I have ever known. I believe that by gathering here, we are letting him know that he does belong in the best of places.
Ted had a tough life, but he had an amazing spirit and strength to carry him through. He was not only able to cope with difficult experiences, but to triumph, to prevail, and to turn his own pain into making everyone around him happier.
Ted really understood people and had the rare ability to relate to everyone- no matter what their position in life was. He was said that he could see things that others could not.
He never had a bad word for anyone, no matter what they did- or didn’t do- for him. He forgave people for their shortcomings. He catered to each unique personality he encountered.
He worked really hard himself, so that he would be in the position to help everyone else, and was always thinking of how he could make others happy. At Christmas time, Ted would buy presents for everyone- not just friends and family members, but friends of family members, co-workers, even strangers who were down on their luck. He put a lot of thought into each and every gift and always managed to come up with the most perfect gifts for each person.
He also had a tremendous sense of humor and was always making people laugh. He put people at ease.
Ted was so important to me. He was my little buddy, my anchor in life. I loved him deeply and looked forward to being closer and closer to him as time went on. I depended on his friendship and sense of humor. I knew that I could call him anytime. He knew that I love hugs so he always gave me one when he greeted me and again when he left. He would always tell me funny stories of good times he had had, like on St. Patrick’s Day when he donned a green Irish top hat and danced around to Irish step music all night long entertaining everyone there.
Ted truly lived life to its fullest. I am hoping that we can all infuse some of his spirit into us and that we can carry through life by laughing, joking with each other, and being good to one another.
Too many of us close ourselves off and don’t communicate our feelings or affection to one another. We alienate ourselves and create misunderstandings among each other (sometimes because we are just too afraid). I am hoping that we can learn from Ted how important it is to share both good times and bad with each other, to always show your love, to be open, to try to understand and relate to one another, and to realize that we can find strength in each other and make our lives meaningful and happy.
You hear too often that life is too short to be so angry or to tell those you love that you love them everyday- but in our daily rigor, we tend to forget this advice.
If we keep Ted with us in our hearts, we can help each other out so much. I hope that you will always share stories about Ted and keep his spirit alive. And don’t be afraid to act a little crazy now and then. Dance around and break a rule every once in awhile. Ted will be smiling with you.

So, so sick!!

(Okay, maybe the time is not exactly now… Maybe it is after you are healthy enough to stand up!)

I got hit really hard by a horrendous stomach virus on Monday! I felt tired during the day, but that is normal for me, and I thought it was probably due to not having eaten recently enough. By the early evening, my intestines were hurting and I wondered why. (That is also not unusual, but it seemed to be at that moment). After I ate my dinner, I lied down on the couch, hoping that would help restore my energy and give my intestines time to feel better. However, the longer I stayed, the worse I felt. I definitely didn’t feel like doing any yoga. The pain was increasing and I wondered if my period was coming extra early. I decided I better check and take some ibuprofen if so. First, I tried washing my face. As I stood at the sink, I quickly felt weaker and weaker. I got very hot and started sweating. I suddenly felt like I had to eliminate everything in my body through both ends at once. I wanted to finish washing my face first, but couldn’t. I had no energy (which was terrifying). What was happening to me? Everything was starting to go black from the top of my head down. I sat down and then felt compelled to vomit, so I tore open the shower curtain and threw up most of my dinner. A few seconds later, I threw up again, and then again. I felt so weak that I thought I was going to have to lie down on the bathroom floor. I couldn’t make it to the carpet. Somehow, I managed to rinse out my mouth and then get to my couch. For the next 2 hours, I could not warm up. I had my apartment temperature at 70, my space heater on twice as high as normal, lots of layers on, and two blankets over me. After a long time, I managed to get up and boil a pot of water to make a cup of tea, but I could barely hold the mug. I had no strength in my body. I tried to walk to the dining room to get my mostly empty glass of water to have beside my bed, but the effort was too monumental. My head felt black and my body was dizzy when I tried to stand. There was no possibility of brushing my teeth. It took all the energy I had to make it from my couch to my bed. I had to rest before I could gather enough energy to turn out the light. Then, I had to prop my head up on extra pillows so I wouldn’t vomit again.
I can’t remember ever feeling so weak in my life! It took me until close to 3pm the next day to take my first few sips of water. I had lost several pounds in just a few moments. I ate two pieces of gluten free toast and some ginger Kombucha in the late afternoon, and then half a bowl of miso soup at night. (Eating takes a lot of effort and I still didn’t have the strength!). I also managed to clean up the shower the best I could, which was not an easy job!. Other than that, I essentially slept for nearly 41 hours until I had to get up and get myself ready to teach 2 yoga classes in Cambridge!
That day, I added some yogurt to my meals of miso soup and toast, but since then, anything else that I attempt to eat still causes my stomach to hurt! (My poor, poor digestive system has been through the ringer these past two years!!) I am so glad I cancelled the surgery I was going to have today. I was feeling like it was a bad idea to rush into surgery with a doctor I know nothing about and who certainly doesn’t have the time of day for me, and it is also not a smart thing to do when there is no one to drive you to/ from the hospital- never mind help you out afterwards!

I was doing pretty well on my New Year’s intentions until I got hit by that bug from out of nowhere! (I rarely get stomach viruses- usually just bad colds). I felt weaker than the men in ‘UnBroken’! I couldn’t even stand up! And it was a total surprise when a few thoughts went through my head before I went to bed on Tuesday night! (I had been in a near comatose state for the previous 27 hours). And even more surprised when I had my first dream last night!

Tomorrow, I hope to return to all of the things I started at the beginning of the month! Back to the world of the living!


I haven’t seen a movie in I don’t even remember how long, but this weekend, I saw ‘Unbroken’ and I think it might be the best movie I have ever seen! If you are in need of some inspiration, go see this one as quickly as you can! After it is over, you will feel like you are on the top of the world and can do anything you want to do! Whatever challenges you are currently facing and whatever life throws at you in the future, I am positive that they can not possibly match what this man went through and overcame. I watched, astounded, as the scenarios he found himself in kept growing worse and worse. How could one man go through all of that? And yet, his spirit remained as strong and intact as possible. It never wavered. We are so much stronger and so much more capable than we ever give ourselves credit for. And perhaps the most touching thing of all was his ability to forgive everyone who had harmed him. Truly incredible and humbling.
After seeing this movie, I feel like my life is a piece of cake in comparison. Torn meniscus? No problem. Watch me do a 90 minute yoga practice with my first arm balances in 2 months. The body can take a lot of damage. It will heal. Keep the light within you burning no matter what is happening around you or to you. Stay true to your own integrity. It matters. Keep the faith that all challenges are temporary and will pass. And keep surrendering to the force that is greater than you. You are being carried.

My friend, Weeds, just posted this yesterday:

‘To all of my friends who have had or are having a hard time :

“Until your knees hit the floor, you’re just playing at life …The moment of surrender is not when life is over. It’s when life begins.” M.W.’

Get to it, people!
The time is now.

The girl who hasn’t produced any trash in 2 years

One of the most inspiring stories that I heard last year was the one about the 23 year old New York City woman who has produced no trash in the past two years. It illustrates the extent that a single person can have in contributing to the healing or the demise of our world and provides a huge amount of hope to me. If you stop and think about how much trash each of us produces on a daily or weekly basis, and the consequent harm done to our planet, it is easy to find a great deal of hope in imagining the effect of more and more people striving to produce less trash. I heard her NPR interview, as well, and particularly liked the part about her father, who, without any prompting at all, has started to take similar steps after witnessing the changes his daughter has made. (We best teach by simply acting as examples). And I love that she has now started a company which sells handmade non-toxic detergent as a result of her own lifestyle change. She is not only doing what she loves and living in alignment with her own values, but helping others to live a more healthy life, as well (and in turn, creating less harm for our planet).


I Haven’t Made Any Trash In 2 Years. Here’s What My Life Is Like

By Lauren Singer
November 18, 2014

My name is Lauren. I’m a 23-year-old girl living in NYC and I don’t make trash. For real. No garbage bin, no landfill. Nada.

I know what you are thinking. This girl must be a total hippie. Or a liar. Or she’s not real. But I assure you, I am none of those things. Well, except for real.

I didn’t always live what some call a “zero waste” life.

But I started making a shift about three years ago, when I was an Environmental Studies major at NYU, protesting against big oil, and president of a club that hosted weekly talks on environmental topics. In my mind I was super environmental, or as my grandma called me, a real “treehugger.” Everyone thought of me as the sustainability girl, so that meant that I was totally doing my share for the earth, right?


In one of my classes, there was another student who always brought a plastic bag containing a plastic clamshell full of food, a plastic water bottle, plastic cutlery, and a bag of chips. Class after class I watched her throw it all in the garbage, and I got so angry! I scoffed and sneered, but I never actually said or did anything. I just got mad.

One day I was particularly upset after class and went home to make dinner and try to forget about it, but when I opened my refrigerator I froze. I realized that every item I had in there was wrapped or packaged, one way or another, in plastic.

This was the first time in my life that I felt like I was able to look at myself and say, “YOU HYPOCRITE.” I was the green girl, not the plastic girl! What had I been doing my entire life? It was in that moment I made the decision to eliminate all plastic from my life.

Quitting plastic meant learning to make all of my packaged products myself.

This included everything from toothpaste to cleaning products, all things I had no clue how to make and had to learn by doing a lot of online research. One day I stumbled across a blog called Zero Waste Home. It followed the life of Bea Johnson, wife and mother of two children who all live a zero-waste life in California.

By that point I had already eliminated almost all plastic from my life. I thought, “If a family of four can live a zero-waste lifestyle, I, as a (then) 21-year-old single girl in NYC, certainly can.” So I took the leap.

How did I go from zero plastic to zero waste?

First, I stopped buying packaged products and began bringing my own bags and jars to fill with bulk products at the supermarket. I stopped buying new clothing, and shopped only secondhand. I continued making all of my own personal care and cleaning products. I downsized significantly by selling, donating, or giving away superfluous things in my life, such as all but one of my six identical spatulas, 10 pairs of jeans that I hadn’t worn since high school, and a trillion decorative items that had no significance to me at all.

Most importantly, I started planning potentially wasteful situations; I began saying “NO” to things like straws in my cocktails at a bars, to plastic or paper bags at stores, and to receipts.

Of course, this transition didn’t happen overnight.

This process took more than a year and required a lot of effort. The most difficult part was taking a hard look at myself, the environmental studies major, the shining beacon of sustainability, and realizing that I didn’t live in a way that aligned with my values.

I realized that while I sincerely cared about a lot of things, I wasn’t embodying my philosophies. Once I accepted that, I allowed myself to change and since then my life has been better every day. Here are just a few of the ways life has improved since I went trash free:

1. I save money.

I now make a grocery list when I go shopping, which means being prepared and not grabbing expensive items impulsively. Additionally, buying food in bulk means not paying a premium for packaging. When it comes to my wardrobe, I don’t purchase new clothing; I shop secondhand and get my clothes at a heavily discounted price.

2. I eat better.

Since I purchase unpackaged foods, my unhealthy choices are really limited. Instead, I eat a lot of organic fruits and vegetables, bulk whole grains and legumes, as well as a lot of seasonal, local food, since farmers markets offer amazing unpackaged produce.

3. I’m happier.

Before I adopted my zero-waste lifestyle, I would find myself scrambling to the supermarket before it closed, because I didn’t shop properly, ordering in takeout because I didn’t have food, always going to the pharmacy to get this scrub and that cream, and cleaning constantly because I had so much stuff.

Now, my typical week involves one trip to the store to buy all of the ingredients I need. This trip isn’t just for food, but also for cleaning and beauty products, since all of the things I use now can be made with simple, everyday ingredients. Not only is it easier and stress free, it’s healthier (no toxic chemicals!).

I never anticipated that actively choosing not to produce waste would turn into my having a higher quality of life. I thought it would just mean not taking out the trash. But what was at first a lifestyle decision became a blog, Trash is for Tossers, which became a catalyst for chatting with interesting, like-minded people, and making friends.

Now it’s blossomed into my quitting my great post-grad job as Sustainability Manager for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection to start my own zero-waste company, The Simply Co., where I hand-make and sell the products that I learned to produce over the past two years.

I didn’t start living this lifestyle to make a statement — I began living this way because living a zero-waste life is, to me, the absolutely best way I know how to live a life that aligns with everything I believe in.

“Do More With Less”

I just watched this trailer for an upcoming documentary on the PCT by some 2014 hikers.


Oh, man… The tears come easily. These are my people. This is the life I want to be living. I can’t think of a better way to spend one’s time. It’s too painful to be away from it. I am astounded by the scenery and the ease of the people. I need to go back there as soon as I can.

For those who have asked who the people that thru-hike are and what age categories they fit into, this is a good visual representation.

I love the title, too…

Also, here is a recent article from the LA Times on a few of the amazingly generous and selfless trail angels on the PCT.

Some excerpts:

“There is a quote in Hebrews,” Donna Saufley says. “Something along the lines of, ‘To show hospitality to strangers is to entertain angels.'”

“I think people basically want to help, but it’s so complicated — ‘What’s the best way to help a homeless person? Where do I start?'” Strayed says by phone. “With long-distance hikers, the needs are so simple and the payoffs are direct.”

The trail angels explain their generosity by raving about the types of people they encounter. Like Donna Saufley, most consider helping the hikers a spiritual — almost churchly — endeavor, something they were ordained to do.

“We’re our better selves out there,” she says of the hikers she helps.

But she sees the long-distance hikers unload more than just unnecessary gear. She talks fondly about the payoffs of being a trail angel: witnessing the hikers’ emerging humanity, their grit, their brio and the inevitable baring of souls.

Traveling the trail “is humbling,” she says. “I compare it to the peeling of an onion. You see people for what they are.

“I have to say, far and away, these are some of the most interesting people on the planet,” Saufley says. “I always say that it’s a river of life that washes up to my shore.”

For Saufley, the transformations she sees in people are a fair trade for the expense and fatigue.

“They go out for the nature,” she says of her long-distance guests. “And they end up finding the peace within themselves.”