Sunday, March 12, 2017

Getting lost in a nursery

I have never been a plant person. I like fresh flowers and have a couple succulents in my kitchen, but I've never spent any time learning about plants or shopping for them. Today I felt inspired to head to a local plant shop in Denver to search for a few additions for my home. I had read a couple of articles about plants that are great to have at home for health reasons (for example, NASA lists the Chinese Evergreen Plant as one of its top ten plants to clean the air of harmful toxins - source). 

I arrived at City Floral around 11:00 am and left at 1:30 pm. Oh my word - I have never found myself so captivated in a new place! It was like free admission to a museum, except for better air quality and no children running around. I got help from two wonderful women who spoke with me in detail about what plants would be easiest to take care of in my home, and in what locations. I ended up with a slew of plants, including a Chinese Evergreen, a Bamboo Palm tree, a Peace Lily, a Selaginella, a China Doll, and a Jade plant. 

I am super excited to have these suckers in my home and learn more about plant care (here's to hoping they last for a while!). I have a feeling I'll be making regular trips to City Floral in the future...

 China Doll plant (top) and Selaginella plant (bottom)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

hygge during the holidays

I have been loving December in Denver this holiday season. It is so sunny, peaceful, and fun to see the weather change a bit (so far little snow, though!). Lately I've been feeling grateful for the little things that are bringing me joy, whether it's a small shopping treat to myself or the view by a walking path). I also wanted to do a small plug for a couple awesome local businesses. 

1. Holiday Candles
I have about five holiday candles throughout my home right now. Yesterday at the Denver Flea I learned about this wonderful company that makes candles for a good cause: "helping teachers get the classroom supplies they need to spark young minds." I snagged their Apple Picking fragrance which smells amazing. You can learn more about KarmaLit and order some candles for your loved ones here (they make a fantastic holiday gift!).

2. Morning walks
I love morning walks. They are such a healthy way to start your day. They are energizing and reduce stress within minutes. Yesterday I went for a long morning walk around City Park. It was pretty cold, but super sunny and the scenery was awesome. The lake is finally starting to freeze a bit!

3. This scarf/blanket/towel
Yesterday at the Denver Flea I learned about this awesome company called hygge life. They make really practical, beautiful products like blankets, hand towels, and scarfs. I learned from visiting their website that hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is the Danish word that describes "the feeling that comes from finding true joy in life's moments, big or small, whatever the season or time of day." I can't believe how ironic this is - I had no idea at the time of buying the scarf. 

What I love about the hygge life products is that many have more than one use - for instance, the scarf I got can also be used as a towel at home or blanket for the beach. It is 100% cotton, machine washable, and absorbs moisture well. Yay for wonderful, practical, local products!

4. Train rides
This Thanksgiving I took the train to/from Carbondale, CO for the second year in a row. It is so wonderful to relax, read, and listen to music (my latest favorite: Marian Hill) while passing by the beautiful scenery and NOT being stuck in traffic by yourself in (potentially) awful weather. That was a worthwhile run on sentence...

5. Glassybaby everything
I have been a long time fan of glassybaby, a company based out of Seattle. As glassybaby votives are rather pricey, I hadn't bought one since moving to Denver. Last week I bought one as a pick me up and holiday treat to myself in my new home. I had been eyeing the Cozy color for about a year. I also stocked up on their tea lights (they are hands down the best kind you can buy). 

6. Journaling
I bought this notebook a while back and am absolutely loving it. The quality is perfect (ideal weight, sturdy cover, nice lines, two sections, etc) and it's keeping me organized. I've been using it for shopping and holiday card lists, recording my workouts, brainstorming my health goals, and keeping track of books I want to read. I am also a huge fan of the brand and hope to pick out a few other items soon!

7. (Winter) Aspens 
Aspens are known for being extra stunning in the Fall, but really they are beautiful year-round. I have been loving them during this winter season and when I see them, I am reminded of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful state.

8. Looking at inspiring photos of fitness, yoga, and nature on Pinterest
This is one of my "nerdy confessions." I am not a big Pinterest user, but when I go on there I love looking at beautiful photography. My favorite search on Pinterest is "yoga and nature." Looking at the photos remind me of the happiness that yoga, the outdoors, and health brings me. I also have a goal to visit more beautiful places in 2017. 

I also love saving inspiring fitness quotes that motivate me to challenge myself in my workouts or simply go to to the gym! It's always a good reminder to take care of our health during the holidays. This one (below) is simple but I love it because it's true. I really do feel confident, happy, strong and beautiful when I'm working out. 

What are the little things bringing you joy or inspiring you this holiday season? 

Monday, July 4, 2016

Re-thinking time and priorities

A couple weeks ago, I had a really awesome phone call with my mom. I was telling her how I was feeling a bit down and "off" and she asked me what I was doing to take care of myself and stay happy. At first I responded by saying that I was exercising regularly and loving my gym, but as I mulled things over, I couldn't come up with anything else to say.

Over the past two months, I bought a new home, moved into a new home, sold my home in Seattle, moved all of my belongings to CO, moved (work) offices, went to a wedding in upstate NY, and wrapped up a very busy fiscal year for my organization. My mom shared with me that any one of those "life events" would be good cause to feel a bit worn out, and that I may be running on empty.

My mom then asked me whether or not I am choosing activities that are truly life giving and nourishing my soul. I laughed and said: "curling up to a good show with a great glass of wine may be relaxing, but it's not necessarily energizing." I told my mom that I would take some time to reflect on my health, time, and priorities, and how I might want to approach things in the months ahead.

This week was my work's annual summer closure, and it was the perfect time to relax and think about my priorities. I went hiking, running, shopping, and read a great book. I laughed with loved ones, ate great food, and drank (a bit too much) great wine. While my battery didn't necessary get fully recharged, I did have plenty of time to journal and think about a few areas of my life that I'd like to really embrace and prioritize. To name a few...

I've been saying this for years, but I don't get enough sleep. I also have never developed a consistent evening routine. There are some people that are so disciplined with turning in early and getting a solid 8 hours every night. I have always been jealous of those people - especially the ones who have no trouble falling asleep early and pass out just minutes after hitting the hay (jerks).

While I don't think I will ever be one of those people, I do think that developing a healthy, consistent sleeping routine will really help me. In order to do this, I thought about a few ways I can motivate myself to turn in early and improve the quality of my sleep. This week I got inspired to start reading again and treated myself to a few books I'm really excited about (Presence, The Conscious Cleanse, and Seeking Serenity to name a few). Having a small library in my room of beautiful new books to read is definitely something that I think will motivate me.  This week I also treated myself to some nice beauty products that I can look forward to using as I unwind (including my first Jo Malone purchase!). I fully believe that yummy smells can help build positive associations with happy routines and events. Lastly, I am going to try eating dinner earlier in the evening and cutting back on alcohol to help improve my quality of sleep!

As I alluded to earlier, my week night routine has been collapsing on the couch with wine, watching, TV, checking Facebook, staying up too late, and feeling tired and stressed in the morning. [Note: this usually means I don't end up going to my morning workout and then feel tempted to skip it in the evening.] This month I'd like to try prioritizing more healthy and happy activities on week nights that don't leave me feeling drained in the morning. Some ideas: reading on my roof deck, taking my dog for a walk, using the steam room or pool at the gym, spending time with friends, going to an evening yoga class, or browsing a cute gift shop.

How often does your day start by turning off your morning phone alarm, checking text messages, and checking Facebook (or whatever apps you check)? This is usually my routine, although I don't like to admit it. I would like to try starting my day without my phone, and instead turning to meditation, prayer, or getting my workout gear on right off the bat. The larger point is honoring my mornings as sacred time for myself and my health (before going into work mode).

Since moving to Denver, I have not put an effort into finding a church community. My faith and spirituality is something important to me, but I haven't really made it a priority. I know that my life is always happier and more meaningful when I am a part of a community of faith. Now that I've moved to my new home, I am looking forward to trying out some nearby churches and getting to know new people.

I am a firm believer that we are a product of what we put into our bodies, and nutrition can impact so many parts of our functioning - our sleep, our energy, our weight, our motivation to exercise, and even our emotional health. This year I have been listening to my body more than normal, and seeing how it reacts to various foods and products. A friend of mine had told me about the Whole 30 concept, and removing inflammatory type agents from your body (ex: dairy, alcohol, sugar, gluten). I know that when I limit my intake of these products that I feel a million times better.  I am excited to dive a bit deeper into nutritional planning and even explore allergy testing to see if certain foods are impacting me more than others. The goal for me is not dieting, but empowering myself with knowledge about my body, and the ability to make choices about what I put into my body so that I feel happier and healthier overall.

What are areas of your life that you'd like to prioritize this Summer?

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Awesome moments in CO

I haven't been blogging much since I moved to Denver, but today I felt inspired to do so. I was thinking about my life in Colorado and how much fun I've had since day one. I can't be more excited for the journey ahead with friends, family, Lucy, and new adventures. 2016 has been good to me.

In an effort to provide a recap of my adventures since July 26, 2015 (to be exact), here are some of my favorite moments to date:

1. When my brother and I sat down for a celebratory toast in my neighborhood, just minutes after we arrived!

2.  When my mom, brother, and cousin Robin (and her family) had a BBQ together at my new home the first weekend in Denver.

3. My first official Colorado hike (in Boulder) at over 10,000 feet!

4. My first official big girl day hike (on my own) with Lucy (followed by my first official dehydration episode hours after the hike - don't mess with altitude).

5. Looking out the window during a business meeting in downtown Denver and realizing how badass my new city is.

6. Meeting awesome Seahawks fans like Caylyn who have become part of my football family in Denver. Go Hawks!

7. Reaching the summit of a challenging hike at Golden Gate State Park with my friend Laura, alongside the fall Aspens.

8. When my dog (nonchalantly) came strolling into the kitchen one afternoon, looking like this.

9. When my friends Celeste (Seattle) and Monica (San Fran) each came out to visit me in Denver. Love these ladies!

10. When my Dad and I went to Mountain Toad Brewery (Golden) after a (somewhat disastrous) hike in the snow (sans snow gear).

11. The day Robin and I hiked Mushroom Rock and had the epic kitchen counter incident later that evening (I have never laughed harder since moving to CO).

12. My/Lucy's first snow day in Denver! (November 11, 2015)

 13. Thanksgiving 2015 with my relatives in Carbondale, CO. 

14. Receiving surprise birthday flowers from my mom the weekend before my birthday.

15. Celebrating Jillian's (pictured left) 10th birthday with her sister Anna (right). 

16. Driving by a frozen Sloan's Lake on the way back to my office - realizing I'd forever be in love with this city view.

 17. An awesome visit from my friend Barbara (San Diego) filled with great food, cocktails, theater, laughter, hiking, and the prettiest Wash Park sunset I've seen to date!

18. A ridiculously fun day in Boulder with my friend Jenny (last weekend). I am so lucky to have someone in Denver who's a natural fit for my quirky and goofy side.

As I reflected on these memories, I noticed consistent theme. All of the moments involved time outside and time with the people I love - a good reminder of what matters the most in life! I hope that the rest of your year is filled with joy, peace, happiness, and healthy living all around.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Finding perspective in Denver

It is crazy to think that I have already been in Denver for over two months.  I haven't managed to blog about my new job, Lucy, or all things Colorado - and that is a good thing.  With a heavy heart, my first post (in a long time) is about a truly remarkable woman who lost her husband this morning to a long and courageous battle with cancer.

Theresa was one of the first friends I made in elementary school. I had transferred to a new school in third grade, and was the luckiest girl in the world to sit next to Theresa. Theresa was (simply put) the funniest and kindest person I knew. Every day in school she made me laugh until I was in tears.  My favorite memory was lunch time in elementary school.  Nearly every day, without fail, Theresa would discover that she didn't have a spoon for her yogurt. She would then go into a routine we called "No Spoon" where she would start talking to her yogurt container (while tapping on the lid), and say "No spoon! Where are you? Hello in there!" and then she would proceed to eat her yogurt with the lid (unless she scored a spoon from a friend).  It never got old.

Theresa was incredibly goofy but she was also the most thoughtful and genuine person I knew.  She was the definition of the "cool girl" who was also kind to everyone, despite the bullying that went on in school.  She embodied (and still does) the type of person you wanted to be some day.  I will be eternally grateful for the positive impact that Theresa had on my life - back then, and now...

Flash forward to 2010, when Theresa met her husband, Brandon.  A few years later (after their engagement), they found out the unimaginable news that Brandon had leukemia. Their story was remarkable, and featured in Cosmopolitan Magazine.  For a while, Brandon's health improved, but then this Summer, it took at turn for the worse.  Last week, Theresa wrote a beautiful and brave message to her family and friends on their public Facebook support page: 

Hi ‪#‎teamlepow‬, Theresa Lepow here. I have dreaded writing this but wanted to update people who have followed Brandon's journey the past two years. You all have just been incredible to us. In an effort to make this brief, here we go...

As most of you know by now Brandon has had serious complications from his stem cell transplant and now his body is giving up on him. 40 days ago Brandon decided to stop treatment and live the rest of his days filled with family (Penny Lane included), friends, and the biggest love I have ever seen. Brandon's doctors gave him hours to days to live in late August. That was 40 days ago.

To say that Brandon is a fighter, doesn't even begin to explain the strength and courage he has. I am so proud of him in the way he has chosen to leave this world. Under his own terms. We are here just to experience it and hold his hand through this process. These days have been long and hard. I feel challenged beyond anything I thought I could ever endure. But we are all getting through it. I promised Brandon I would be ok in the end-so that's my plan. 

Brandon is now sleeping all the time. He is peaceful and not in any pain. For most of the past 40 days Brandon was awake. Holding our hands, kissing us and simply being Brandon. I have fallen more in love with my husband as I sit and watch him die. He continues to take care of me, to make sure we all are going to be ok. It's incredible. 

Thank you to everyone for showing up for Brandon. He needed to know his 32 years counted and this community of people did just that for him. That is such a gift to us and what a life he had. 

With so much love,
Theresa Lepow 

This morning, I read the heartbreaking news that Brandon had passed away.  I was in my home alone, getting ready for work, and the news just stopped me.  At that moment, my home was perfectly quiet.  The sun was shining through the living room windows.  I paused, sat down in silence, and let things soak in.  I prayed that God would wrap Theresa with so much love - that was the only prayer that came to mind, but it was the right one.

The most incredible thing about Brandon's journey was the outpouring of love from literally hundreds of people around the country, including over 50 of his colleagues from the White House.  It was so special hearing about some of my childhood friends who flew out to Houston to visit Brandon and Theresa at the hospital.  I'm not sure if I've ever seen a better demonstration of love.

Another amazing thing that happened in recent months was a fundraising page that was started in Brandon's honor - to help Theresa and Brandon with medical costs, in addition to setting up a foundation to help carry on Brandon's legacy. Within just days, family, friends, and strangers had contributed literally thousands of dollars to the campaign.  Today I will be making a donation to this campaign, and I'd ask that you please consider joining me.

This morning was one of those days that put things into perspective (yes, that is an understatement).  It's a reminder of how beautiful and sacred life is. It's a reminder to not complain. To live life fully. To forgive, love, and appreciate your partner. To treat others with kindness and respect. To wake up each day with gratitude that we are alive. To hug your dog. To spend time outside. To call your family to say hi. To not sweat the small stuff. To reconnect with old friends. To pray.  

To my dear friend Theresa: I love you, am praying for you, and am here for you always. No words could ever be the "right" words to share in this situation, but I want you to know that you are deeply loved, and you and Brandon have been (and will forever be) an inspiration to many.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A new life adventure

The past few months have brought me tremendous joy, excitement, nervousness, exhaustion, and action.  In early June, I was given an opportunity to make two big decisions in regard to a new city and a new job.  After much prayer, talks with mentors and friends, and waiting for "YES" moments, I decided to take a leap of faith and follow my gut. 

Tomorrow, I will be moving to Denver, CO to explore a new city and start a new leadership role at a nonprofit organization.  I cannot be more excited for this next chapter of my life, because it's exactly what I've been yearning for - for a long time.

A lot of people have asked me what precipitated this change. The quickest answer I can give is that for the past year, I've been in a rut. I didn't have anything to complain about in my life, but was feeling bored and uninspired (you may have noticed that even my blogging slowed down :).  I was less motivated than normal to achieve some of my goals in my personal life. I had become complacent with settling for less than I ultimately wanted.  For the sake of being honest, I had also become unenthused and disinterested in the Seattle community and culture at large. As time went on, I realized I needed to live in a community that felt friendlier, more welcoming, less pretentious, and more in line with my values. 

Will it be difficult to part ways with my family, friends, former organization, and one of the most beautiful cities in the country? Absolutely yes. But I know this is a change I am ready for that will challenge me, make me better person, and enrich my life. I am excited to take Showing Up for Yourself to Colorado and hope that my blogging will continue. 

As I close this post during my last night in Seattle, I feel truly grateful for the many friends, neighbors, volunteers, colleagues, and strangers who have challenged me and brought a smile to my face.  I also want to thank my friends who have played a positive role during my journey to Denver - thank you for pushing me to make this leap even when you shared you would be sad about my departure.  May the rest of 2015 bring all of you joy, love, countless blessings, learning, and a lot of fun!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Healthy living reset - progress so far!

A few weeks ago I posted about doing a healthy living "reset" to get back on track with my overall health.  I thought I'd do a quick update on how things have been going and what I've learned.

1. I've already lost 5 lbs!
It's amazing how quickly this happens when you are simply more intentional and mindful about your eating and exercise!  It feels nice to feel more back to "normal" with my body and daily health.

2. I've cut back on drinking and it feels great.  
Anyone who knows me knows I love a good glass of wine or excellent microbrew, but those calories do add up if you aren't careful.  Beer in particular leaves me very bloated and often prevents me from meeting my weight loss goal if I drink it too often.  I'm still drinking regularly but have scaled back on my beer intake and kept less wine open at my home and it's worked for the most part.

3. I'm spending more time outside.  
This is good for your body and soul!  I feel more energized and at peace, and those good feelings transfer into my home.

4.  I've developed a fondness for hearty dinner salads.  
A few years ago (before I started this blog) I took charge of my health and changed my life. One big lifestyle change I made was having smaller dinners. One of my favorite strategies (especially if I want to enjoy wine that evening :) is to simply have a salad for dinner - and it doesn't even need to involve meat or seafood!  This directs more of my energy to eating throughout the day, and ensures that you aren't eating a super heavy and/or caloric meal right before going to bed.

My latest favorite dinner salad!
Mixed greens, cucumbers, avocados, carrots, chopped walnuts, sunflower seeds, shredded cheese + dressing of choice (I usually default to ranch or goddess dressing because they give the avocados and veges a richness).  The walnuts are KEY because they give the salad some healthy fats and calories and keep me satisfied so I'm not hungry for something else later.

5. I've started running more
This is definitely not been a consistent effort, but I'm running about once a week and it feels great. While it's not a lot, I know that starting small is a must for me with building healthy, long-term habits.

6. I've learned that being proactive is key.
If there's one main challenge I've had, it's not planning my exercise or grocery shopping ahead of time, and then getting busy and making less ideal "game time" decisions.  I've learned how key it is to plan for when I grocery shop, and schedule exercise ahead of time.  If I don't, I can only be so optimistic that I will make impromptu decisions to have a healthy meal at home or get to the park to run stairs.

What has helped you in the past/present when you've maintained a healthy lifestyle?