bucket lists.

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Well it happened. The time finally came when I was asked to completely clean out my childhood bedroom. Though I had moved out of my parents home over a year ago, my bedroom was still filled with odds and ends that needed tending to — for all of you who have moved away from home you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s all the things you have no room [or desire] to have in your new place, but can’t throw it out for the life of you. I’m talking old pictures, ticket stubs, postcards, clothes, electronics, notebooks, books…I could keep going but you get the point. Anyyyy who — while I was going through all these things I came across an old wallet I had in college and guess what was inside- my bucket list.

I can remember exactly when I wrote this.  I was at the campus coffee house waiting for a friend to show up. I had just signed up to go on a Habitat for Humanity trip during Spring Break with a group of people I have never met before and was feeling motivated to continue writing a list of experiences and challenges to work towards.

Reading over what my 19-year-old-self thought were such great bucket list items was laughable. I mean c’mon the whole concept of a bucket list is documenting dream experiences and achievements that want to be accomplished over a span of a lifetime! I don’t think things like “catch a fish or fly a kite” really qu689979bd-ea0d-44ed-8595-133c1cc5bf34alify. However, a lot of these things were great goals created to push me out of my comfort zone, face my fears, and try new things. It was an even cooler experience to go down the list and see that I was able to cross a lot of the items off, the most recent being to see a moose! woo hoo!! (yes that small blurb in the back is a moose).

Seeing all I had accomplished since I wrote this list, the things I still have left to achieve, and what I would like to add to this bucket list put a lot of things in perspective for me. It made me realize how fortunate I am that I had, and still have, the opportunity, support, and the means to reach many of the goals on my list such as traveling, going back to school, and advancing my career. It made me proud that I continued to push myself out of my comfort zone and face challenges head on– like sticking it to my fear of heights by going skydiving, embracing my anxiety of solo ventures to travel alone, and even giving myself a voice by starting a blog! Ultimately, finding my bucket list allowed me to take a step back from the schedule I have become accustomed to and look back fondly on my many accomplishments.

So please, if you have a bucket list- go track it down and do at least one thing on that list. If you don’t have one, go write one! Life goes by fast and it is easy to get set in a routine. Like my list not all items need to be extravagant- just one new thing that you have never done before is all it takes! The sense of pride, inspiration, and accomplishment that comes from achieving a goal is an indescribable and great feeling.

It’s time – stop reading, get out that notepad, and set some goals! The sky’s the limit!

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some good reads.

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Who doesn’t love opening up a good book in order to escape life’s stresses for a little while? For me, a big part of my wellness plan includes curling up with a nice book and getting lost within the story. No matter how busy life may get I strive to read two books a month [even if it’s only a chapter a day]. Here are my two November reads.

Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan:

imagesThis book is a fascinating tale into the mind of Susannah Cahalan, a New York Post reporter, who loses her sense of self and memory after coming down with an unnamed, and not yet treated, disease. Her story is a raw, touching, honest, and heartfelt account of her month of madness. You won’t want to put it down!

 

Gaining Ground by Forrest Pritchard:

imgresI was asked to read this book for work as part of a local farming and environmental series we were doing and I am so glad I did. This book is a first-hand account about the journey Forrest Pritchard and his family took to save and recreate his family farm. In a time where subsidized farming and mass marketing are prominent, this book allows you a peek into the world of family farms, farmers markets, and the benefits of purchasing and consuming local foods. It will definitely leave you thinking about the food you are consuming and where it is coming from.

 

shop smart.

You all know the scene: you finish your grocery shopping, go through the check out line, lift your gaze to see your total amount, and come to find out that you have spent three times more than what you were expecting too.

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While you have some say in how much you purchase, larger groceries stores are actually scientifically designed to increase consumer spending- in fact they have perfected it. Everything from product placement, advertisements, and shelf space to lighting, temperature, and music are crafted to maximize time spent shopping, as well as spending.

To help outsmart the system here is a list of 10 simple things you can do when grocery shopping:

  1. Prior to embarking on your trip to the grocery store, make a grocery list of everything you will need for the next few days and STICK to that list! Straying means extra spending on things you don’t necessarily need.
  2. Shop the perimeter of the grocery store. Stores are designed to fill the aisles with the more processed items while the staple items (eggs, milk, produce, meat, and bread) are on the outskirts.
    • it is no coincidence that you have to walk through aisles containing cereals, snacks, candy, and frozen meals to get to the milk or eggs
  3. Bring cash only. While this is a pain in the butt it holds you accountable to only purchase needed items
  4. COUPONS. My  mom taught me the value of a good coupon early on. Stores such as Shop rite, Stop and Shop, and Stew Leonard’s have coupon booklets that come in the weekend papers or have them accessible at the front of their store. It highlights sales, as well as offers coupons on food, hygiene products, and drink items.
  5. Bring the reusable bags with you! Stores such as Trader Joe’s allow you to enter a raffle for discounted groceries when you bring their store bag with you to shop.
  6. Sign up for the store savings card that gives you discounts on foods throughout the store. You can even attach it to your keys so you never forget it!
    • Plus on your receipt it shows you how much money you have saved throughout the year. Time to give yourself a pat on the back!
  7. Get in and get out. The less time you spend in the store, the less you buy. Strolling through the aisles leads to unnecessary purchasing
  8. Eat before you shop. Shopping hungry leads you to buy more because your mind is fixated on eating the foods you are looking at.
  9. Look at the price tag. Apples for $1.00/ pound? Seems like a score, however the weight of those apples add up quickly leading to a higher price than anticipated.
  10. Use the self-scanners. Stop and Shop has a self-scanning tool that you can bring with you during your shopping trip. You can scan the items while you shop and keep a running tally on how much you are spending before you get to the checkout line.

 

 

 

 

healthy eats. Zucchini Fries

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Who doesn’t love french fries. The warm, crispy, and satisfying taste of this popular side dish has won over the hearts of people all over the world. However, french fries are high in fat, calories, and sodium. Diets high in these three things increase your risk of developing diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity-related problems.

A healthy alternative to this fan favorite are zucchini fries. Zucchini is low in calories and high in vitamins, phytonutrients, and minerals. Zucchini can be eaten both cooked and raw and is a great addition to many meals! Opting for zucchini fries versus the standard potato french fries will give your body the antioxidants it needs to help fight off free radicals, while limiting your fat, sodium, and caloric intake.

Ingredients:

  • 2 zucchinis
  • 2 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs (gluten free breadcrumbs work just as well)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 450 degrees
  2. Cut the zucchini into 1/2 – inch sticks [approximately the size of a tube of lipstick]
  3. Place the zucchini sticks into a mixing bowl
  4. Add the greek yogurt and panko crumbs into the bowl
  5. Toss the mixture until the zucchini is coated thoroughly
  6. Season with salt and pepper
  7.  Place the coated zucchini sticks onto a greased baking sheet
  8. Cook in oven for 15-20 minutes, until sticks are nicely browned
  9. enjoy!

no longer keeping up with the joneses

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I guess nowadays it would be more appropriate to insert the surname Kardashian instead of Jones, but you get the point.

The idea of comparing yourself to others is not new. In fact, the idiom of keeping up with the social standards of those around you originated in the early 1900’s! Individuals have always compared themselves to others they perceive as more successful, happy, trendy, privileged, funny, or beautiful. However, it’s time we stop. We must stop feeling inferior to, worthless of, and jealous of others and begin to love ourselves instead.

Trust me I know that’s easier said than done. Every time you log on to your social media the photographs and announcements of budding relationships, babies, engagements, weddings, new homes, and great jobs are abundant. It’s enough to make you sit and think, why can’t that be me? But the second you start comparing yourself to what others around you are doing you lose a little bit of yourself. Comparisons damage your self esteem, your sense of self worth, and your self love. Comparisons downplay every accomplishment [big or small] you have done throughout your life. Why are you allowing the lives of others hold that kind of power over your own?

So how do you do it?  How do you stop comparing the achievements of others to those you have done? How do diminish that voice in your head saying you aren’t enough? How can you live your life on your own terms and be truly, and genuinely, happy with who have come to be? While there is no easy fix, the best way to start is to practice mindfulness, positive affirmations, and forgiveness.

Practicing mindfulness and being aware of when are you putting yourself down is crucial. Recognize the feelings of sadness or jealousy, recognize when you feel the pressure to act, dress, perform, or say things in a certain way, and most importantly recognize and reflect on why you may be feeling that way.  Self-reflection allows you to understand what parts of yourself you aren’t satisfied with in order to come up a new solution, game plan, or goal for what to do differently. Use positive affirmations. Take every opportunity to give yourself praise. Be proud of who you are, embrace the quirks and the traits that make you…you! When you love yourself, your ability to love others, your ability to cope with difficulties, and your ability to live up to your own potential is strengthened. Lastly, forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes, everyone experiences setbacks, and everyone feels embarrassment, resentment, sadness, or guilt at one time or another. We’re human. Stop blaming yourself for not leading the same life as someone you look up to. It won’t solve your problems, it won’t change your life, and it won’t make you happy. Forgive, move forward, and live the life you want on your own terms.

So SCREW THE JONESES! You are given one life in this world, why waste it wishing you were living another one? When you begin to love yourself, everything else will fall into place.


“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world” — Lucille Ball 

“Self respect, self worth, and self love all start with self. Stop looking outside of yourself for your value” — Rob Liano 

“Don’t forget to fall in love yourself first” — Carrie Bradshaw

healthy eats. Watermelon Radish, Orange, & Goat Cheese Salad

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I want to start off this post by thanking my beautiful friend Linda. She recommended this recipe to me and it’s amazing! so i thank you 🙂

The watermelon radish. While this Chinese root vegetable may look bland on the outside, it is the vibrant interior colors that give this food item its trademark name.  Not only is the watermelon radish, formally known as the Red Meat Radish, bursting with antioxidants, phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals. This vegetable is made up of 90% water and only has 17 calories per cup! What an amazing snack or side salad idea! Fall is the best time to purchase watermelon radishes, so get them before the season ends! This quick, no-cook, healthy salad dish can be prepared and enjoyed anywhere, so give it a try and tell me what you think.

Ingredients:

  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 3 watermelon radishes
  • 2 oranges
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

  1. Place the minced shallot, white balsamic vinegar, and salt into a small bowl and set aside
  2. Cut off one end of each of the radishes. Thinly, and carefully, slice the radishes with a sharp knife and place in a large bowl
  3. Season the sliced radishes with a pinch of salt
  4. Cut off the two ends of the oranges.
  5. Squeeze the juice from the orange ends onto the salted radishes
  6. Take the remainder of the orange, remove the peel, and divide into slices
  7. Place the orange slices into the large bowl with the radishes
  8. Scatter the walnuts, goat cheese, and shallot mixture into the large bowl
  9. Add the extra virgin olive oil on last
  10. Let the meal sit for approximately 5 minutes
  11. Enjoy!

Prep Time: 20 minutes   Cook Time: 5 minutes     Total Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2-3 people           Calories: 250                       Serving Size: 1 Cup 

Optional Sides:

  • Due to the high acidity content of this recipe it is advised you pair this meal with whatever whole grain starch alternative that you wish.
    • [Sourdough toast with mashed avocado and red pepper flakes is a great option]
  • If you don’t enjoy the taste of goat cheese pair this meal with feta cheese instead! 

pay it forward.

giphy-2September 21st is dedicated to the International Day of Peace. This day is meant to bring everyone together to practice awareness, equality, love, and friendship in order to achieve worldwide peace.

This year the UN has worked with over 190 members to address how humanity can unite to begin solving major international conflicts as a team. A number of persistent and chronic barriers to achieving international peace include poverty, hunger, waning natural resources, a failing water supply, inequality, environmental destruction, disease, corruption, racism, xenophobia, and bullying. These conflicts are creating turmoil and distress between nations, countries, communities, and individuals. This day hopes to bring awareness to these issues in order to overcome the negative and work proactively to spread the idea of peace instead!

A lot of these issues are systemic and cannot be solved by one single person. So today I am asking you to start small instead. Simply by paying it forward through a random act of kindness. Some examples include:

  • Holding the door or elevator for someone
  • Buying the person behind you in line their morning coffee
  • Helping a co-worker with a task at work
  • Carrying something someone is struggling to hold
  • Donating clothes, food, or your time to those who are less fortunate then yourself
  • Calling a friend and tell them you care about them
  • Picking up trash you see on the sidewalks or roads
  • Recycling
  • Forgiving someone, holding grudges and harnessing anger towards another person creates a toxic environment. Learn to either forgive or forget: regardless relinquish the negative and move on.
  • Putting a coin in someones expiring/expired meter to avoid a parking ticket
  • Sending someone a nice, thinking of you, letter
  • Asking someone how they are doing. Personal connection with someone you may not know as well is life-changing
  • Letting pedestrians cross the road instead of speeding past them
  • Letting someone go in front of you in a long line
  • Giving up your seat to someone standing
  • Babysitting or dog-sitting for friends who need a night out
  • Waving to a stranger [they might think you’re nuts but I bet it’ll make their day!]
  • Buying someone flowers and leaving it for them to find
  • Giving someone encouragement when you see them losing motivation
  • Spending the day saying nice things to people such as compliments, words of gratitude, and hope

Try one or more of these things today and share what you did with me here! Let’s take advantage of this day of peace to bring us together for the good of humanity!

 

 

20 ways to beat the weekday blues.

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Monday’s back and bringing long meetings, deadlines, responsibilities, household upkeep, gym routines, and meal prep along with it. To manage the week long anxiety, stress, and blues here is a list of small, manageable, and easy self-care tips to incorporate when feeling overwhelmed:

  1. Include a small walk into your lunch breaks.  It’s a chance to clear your mind from previous meetings or prepares you for the remainder of the workday. Plus fresh air, light, and color are proven to be instant mood-boosters.
  2. Get some sleep. Doctors aren’t kidding around when they say that 7-8 hours of sleep each night is best for you. Sleep restores the mind, resets your body, and decreases stress levels.
  3. Start a bullet journal. Bullet journals are a great way to see your calendar, goals, thoughts, finances, meal tracking, and appointments all on one page!
  4. Pick up a good book. Instead of watching re-runs at night, unwind with a new book! Share what you’re reading with friends, colleagues, or even start a book club for more book recommendations.
  5. Call a friend. Either on the drive to and from work, during lunch breaks, or when making dinner. Calling a friend for a quick catch-up is an immediate stress-reliever.
  6. Volunteer. I know during the week this may be hard to fit in, but even a small donation to a charity of your choice such as the humane society and CT Food Bank or setting up a time to volunteer over the weekend is a feel-good opportunity to help others
  7. Cook. Learning a new meal and incorporating new foods takes your mind off the day and challenges you into trying something you haven’t done before.
  8. Laugh! They say laughter is the best medicine. Go watch some good youtube videos during your down time and get a good laugh in. I suggest Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets. They aways put a smile on my face.
  9. Take a bath. What’s better than relaxing in a nice warm bath after a long day of work. Take it a step up and add in a cool bath bomb for ultimate relaxation.
  10. Clean out a small part of your closet, cabinets, food pantry, or shoe bin each night. Once you compile a large enough collection, go and donate it to Goodwill.
  11. Go get a manicure, pedicure, hair-cut, facial, or [insert other self-care activities here]. A little bit of pampering is never a bad thing.
  12. Write a letter. Put that pen to paper and write a friend or relative a nice letter. Who doesn’t enjoy seeing a letter addressed to them in the mail.
  13. Exercise. You may be tired after a long day of work, but going to a gym class or even spending 20 minutes walking on a treadmill gets your blood flowing enough for a second wind.
  14. Surf Pinterest, Groupon, or Etsy for some fun DIY crafts or some local activities to try.
  15. Listen to music. Music has a way of pumping you up, calming you down, or getting you out of the unexplained funk that you’re in. Put some tunes on when getting ready, cooking dinner, or when falling asleep to reduce anxiety.
  16. Write down your bucket list. As extravagant or simplistic as it may be, setting your sights on things you want to accomplish in your lifetime is empowering and can even motivate you enough to try one of them.
  17. Practice mindfulness. Taking a moment to reflect or meditate is a great way to help resolve why you may be feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed at that time. Taking a step back and examining the situation causing you discomfort allows you to think of external factors such as communication barriers, environmental barriers, time-management issues, or personal upsets that are getting in the way of your success. It allows you to prepare a plan of action rather then react without thought.
  18. Redecorate. Sometimes moving around furniture or hanging a new picture on the wall in order to create the feel of a new living space is just the pick-me-up you need.
  19. Paint, color, sketch, or doodle. Having a distraction such as this is a great way to get your mind off of the laundry list of things to do the next day. Hello adult coloring books! 
  20. Pet an animal. If you own a pet or if  your family, friends, or close neighbors have an animal that they will let you pet, go do it! Petting an animal is proven to lower cortisol levels in humans and act as an immediate stress reliever.

Start small and incorporate one each week! Sooner or later you will be looking forward to doing these activities instead of dreading the work week ahead!