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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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!

 

 

you’ve got a friend in me.

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Define the word health. Easy right….the first thing that usually comes to mind when thinking of the word is the idea of not being sick or injured. While some of us go further to include mental health and the idea of being free from psychological struggles such as depression, PTSD, or OCD; defining health turns out to be a little more complex.

Health is dynamic. Health is multi-dimensional. Health is not a complete state or a fixed outcome. The more aware you are of the different facets of health and the more you begin to focus on improving upon these many facets within yourself, the closer you are to encompassing a positive, and well-balanced, life.

In addition to the physical and mental health dimensions, environmental health, financial health, occupational health, intellectual health, sexual health, spiritual health, and social health make up what is called the wellness wheel.

For today, I am going to focus on the importance of social health [hence the Randy Newman title reference]. Nowadays social media, news segments, magazine articles, and newspaper stories are filled to the brim with negative commentary about all the things we as humans are inflicting upon each other. It seems that it is now easier to display hate and hostility then it is to accept differences in opinion and practice love, respect, and humility. This is why social health is so important. You are considered socially healthy if you are able to develop, and maintain, a sense of belonging and connectedness with another person and if you have a support system in place to rely on in tough situations [such as cyber-bullying]. That being said, your support system can be one person or it can be fifty people. As long as at the end of the day you have someone to reach out to if you’re struggling.

Social health is linked to many positive benefits. The American Psychological Association (2015) explains it best. They’ve determined that social health can be deemed a protective factor to stress and coping with tough situations. Those on the positive spectrum of social health have higher self-esteem, a brighter outlook, better performance, better coping skills, and better relationships with others around them. They also found that those on the more negative side of social health are more at risk of high blood pressure, increased cardiovascular risk, cognitive decline, and poor peer connectedness.

I am not saying that to be considered socially healthy you need to go out and gain a million new friends, stop being an introvert, and go experience everything on your bucket list tomorrow. Having social support and an increased sense of belonging is as simple as talking to a friend, a family member, co-workers, neighbors, or members of your community. Even saying hello to a passerby on the street or doing something kind for a stranger, the environment, or even an animal is enough to give you the sense of belonging in this world.

If you are looking for some ways to reach out to your existing social support group or to expand your horizons and meet someone new, try  some of these fun tips:

  • Call, text, Facetime, or Skype friends or family that you haven’t spoken to in a while or just for a good laugh [reason #1 why I call my sister 10x a day]
  • Use the many social media outlets there are to find events in your area or to connect with friends
  • Websites like meetup.com, groupon.com, or livingsocial.com are jam packed with activities, groups, clubs, or events in your area where you can be linked to people with similar interests and passions as you
  • Many libraries hold book clubs, movie nights, and yoga classes for a small or non-existent fee
  • Museums, popular districts of town, or old houses do historical tours
  • Gyms always have group classes where, in between huffing and puffing, you can meet someone from your town you may not have met otherwise
  • Art classes  Wine and paint nights are a great bonding time for all, and you get to show off your amazing, in my case not-so-amazing, art skills
  • Local community colleges have a whole range of classes to try for a reasonable price (i.e. photography, cooking, coding, graphic design, etc.)

There are so many more ways to improve your social health, but like I said.. it’s dynamic. What may help one person improve their sense of belonging may not be your cup of tea. But all you can do is try, keep your head up, and move on. You’ll find your niche. Regardless…you got a friend in me.