Monday, October 31, 2011

Using Celeb Inspiration: Why NOT?!


Some may think it's a crazy idea, and some may think it's a GREAT idea. What I'm referring to is using celebrities as a way to inspire us in certain areas of our lives - whether it's getting in great shape, volunteering, trying to put ourselves together in the morning, or pursuing a sport. As long as we're realistic and don't strive to look "just like" Anna Kournikova, I think there's no harm in an added boost of inspiration.

I do have a few celebrities that I think are fabulous (even if some think otherwise) for various reasons:

1. General Fabulousness (and living a balanced life): Heidi


Heidi Klum is simply all around fabulous. In addition to being a mother, wife, model, and businesswoman, she manages to have a positive attitude and look effortlessly striking all the time (at least from what I've seen!) Note: currently considering her haircut...

2. Kickass Athletes: Alyson, Anna, and Kerri


Allyson Felix, Anna Kournikova, and Kerri Walsh have all inspired me to get to the gym, go for a run, and push myself in volleyball more than once (I find Allyson Felix particularly incredible). I love them because they are confident, hardworking, and give so much to the sports they're passionate about. Plus, who doesn't want their abs?!

3. Healthy Body Image: Kim and Brooklyn


Now, don't jump to conclusions. I do NOT use Kim Kardashian as a role model for everything, but I do love that she has a REAL body with curves - something more women should be proud of. For all I know, Kim embraces her body and is confident. She is put together, she's who she is, and doesn't care about what other people think. For that, I give her some credit.


I have always loved Brooklyn Decker. I once read that she got bullied growing up for being tall and maturing faster than her peers (those jerks are kicking themselves now!). I have always admired Brooklyn's confidence. She seems pretty normal too :).

4. Humor & Brains: Carrie (SJP)


Anyone who knows me knows that I adore Carrie Bradshaw - also known as Sarah Jessica Parker. I have been following SJP for years and have always admired her sense of humor and intelligence. She is a true career woman who has worked so hard at everything she's achieved. Plus, her character on Sex and the City is a semi-nerdy, over analytical writer, so naturally I'm biased :).

Sometimes we need an added boost of inspiration. Why not?

BEDroom Makeover

When I make my bed in the morning, I leave a fresh flower on top of my pillow...kidding (Photo Source)

The other month, I had the realization that my bed was in desperate need of a makeover. For one, I'd had the same sheets for as long as I can remember, which is not a crisis but something to consider. For two, I HATED my pillows. They weren't even comfortable, but somehow I managed to stick with them for 7+ years. For three, I'm not (note: present tense) a fan of my mattress but decided to put the "buy a $1,000 + mattress?" debate to rest for the time being.

I was running all of this this past my family during dinner on night, and my Dad (who shops for one new thing about once every two years) looked at me and said: "Well, you spend a 1/3 of your life in bed, so it's something to consider!" Well said, Dad!

This weekend, I decided to go to Macy's and check out the selection, hoping to have a little success. Not only did I find the newer version of the sheets I already owned (new colors + higher thread count!) but there was a big sale. Along with a 15% off sale, I got another 15% off with my Macys card - not too shabby! I also splurged on really nice down pillows that were big time on sale. I am thrilled to say that I slept way better even on the first night.

I definitely recommend upgrading your BEDroom if any accessories have hit their expiration date or if you're not sleeping well - not something to compromise on!
Photo Source

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Yoga Finding #4: Acceptance


Believe it or not - the above photo is a perfect illustration of my yoga class this morning :)...

I'll be honest...during my yoga class today, the following thought went through my mind for the first half hour: "I am the only normal person in this room." Today's class was the ultimate stereotype of a yoga class in Seattle: a bunch of hippie weirdos who wear strange clothes, do not wear deodorant, do not have normal social skills, and who are over-the-top in class - putting on a "visible" show to others during the session.

Now that I am done being judgmental, I will get to the "yoga finding" of today: Acceptance. About 1/2 way through class, my instructor came over to me as I was moving (too) slowly from one pose to another, and she said "don't worry about it, just enjoy where you're at." I realized that yoga is one of the few places where you can be completely who you are, be as weird as you want, and just BE in the moment, accepting yourself for who you are and doing exactly whatever your body needs that class. For this, I was very thankful. I needed to be just ME this morning and am glad I had the opportunity to do so!

Next goal: take a vacation where I can do yoga on the beach! Photo Source

Flat Belly Tricks


Today (while I was working out at my new gym, which I'm obsessed with) I was reading my Health Magazine and read an article about tricks for flattening (or de-bloating) your belly. I thought the tips were pretty reasonable and wanted to share here, because let's be honest - who doesn't want a flatter belly?

1. DE-BLOAT YOUR DIET

Health writes: "The best way to get rid of a pooched-out belly: Fill up on fiber." Health advises to add a bit more fiber to your diet little by little so you don't overdo things. You can also try eating foods low in sodium and high in potassium, because they keep you from retaining water.

2. SKINNY UP YOUR SIPS

Make tea your go to drink (Health recommends Ginger and Peppermint varieties, two of my favorites) and try to cut back on alcohol, as it can irritate your bowels and cause indigestion.

3. KEEP THINGS MOVING

Exercise and try stretching exercises like body twists (see Sage Twist yoga pose below). Health says: "[Twists] brings blood flow to the intestines and soothes the stomach."Photo Source

Article Source: Health Magazine. "Flatten Your Belly in 3 Ways." October 2011, p. 54.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Your body = your place to live


“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” - Jim Rohn (Source)

I love this quote because it's quite relevant to the thoughts I've been having over the past few months in regard to taking care of myself - physically, mentally, and emotionally. We only have one body, and it's up to us to take care of it!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thanksgiving for the Sunrise

Yesterday Seattle had the most beautiful sunrise - and everyone was talking about it! I started my day a bit tired and unmotivated, and walked outside to find THIS view right outside of my building. Talk about starting your day on a good note!

Take a moment this week to appreciate the small (and free) things in life that bring peace and joy to your life - like a Seattle sunrise :).

NEW gym membership = NEW Margie

Note: I hope to look THIS awesome in about...3 months (Photo Source).

Last week, after MONTHS of searching and debating, I finally found the gym for me! I am BEYOND excited. For what felt like forever, I'd been looking for a gym that met a punch list of criteria, convinced that if it didn't meet all of them, I wouldn't make use of the membership (which was my problem the previous year).

MUST-HAVES:

1. Close to my home
2. Free parking
3. Lots of great class offerings
4. Good (NON SLEAZY) management
5. Positive energy / nice community atmosphere
6. Ideally - spa or sauna available :)
7. NO year-long commitment - month to month only!

I had visited American Athlete years ago but wasn't super impressed. No parking, not many classes, and I'd heard mixed reviews about the management from a friend of mine who was working there at the time. Last week (3 years later), I stopped by and was blown away. They have the nicest manager who gave me a tour of the gym and didn't ask me once about signing up that day. He told me I could come back to the gym to try out a few classes, workout a few times, and decide if it was a good fit for me (for free). He also offered me three personal training sessions and a free hour long nutritional consultation. Also - there was a SAUNA. Such a plus. I learned they had TONS of awesome classes, many which are available in the mornings before work (KEY for me actually going). In short, I signed up that afternoon.

Today I had my first training session with a new, younger trainer named Preston. He couldn't have been nicer. We spent the entire hour talking about goals, my fitness history, and brainstorming ideas for me. My biggest focus will be finding a fitness routine that integrates solid cardio and strength training each week, and one that's REALISTIC. Avoiding burnout and setting achievable goals is the most important thing to me these days.

So, I am excited. Stay tuned for updates. Today Preston and I thought of ideas for the 1, 3, and 6 month marks. We'll be evaluating consistency, hip to waist ratio, and body fat percentage. Sounds good to me!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

"Ten ways" on Facebook


Today I came across a picture post on Facebook that I absolutely loved. Regardless of your religious beliefs or spiritual practices, I'm convinced that the above words of wisdom could not be more true. It's the kind of "checklist" that I could review every night before I go to bed to keep me centered, in check, and inspire me to be a better person. I'd also guess it could be a great tool for navigating through a relationship.

#'s 1, 4, and 10 are on the front burner for me - what are yours?

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Beginning the day with Blackcurrant Tea


Anyone knows me well, knows that I love tea. In fact, my last two roommates have had to deal with me claiming one of our kitchen drawers exclusively as my "tea drawer." I wish I was kidding...

One of my favorite types of tea is Blackcurrant tea, which I discovered while living in Scotland my Junior year of college. Blackcurrant tea is incredible. It's great as an everyday/morning tea - it has a little caffeine (but not too much) with a bit of a sweet and fruity taste. :)

To be exact: Fine black tea expertly blended with the juicy flavor of blackcurrants to deliver a distinctive tea with a strong, fruity aroma and sweet & tangy taste.

...
This post is dedicated to favorite tea-drinking friend, Erin, who is currently living in London and a regular visitor to the Twinings Tea shop!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Discovery Park in the Fall

Today I went to Discovery Park (my favorite place in Seattle). It started out as a cloudy, overcast day and then turned into a beautiful and sunny one by the end of my walk. I was reminded of how lucky I am to live in a city where I can feel like I'm in the middle of a forest after just a 10 minute drive. It also felt great to get some good exercise as I finish my weekend.

Remember to take advantage of the not cold or too rainy weather while it lasts!

Learning from my Dad

Last Thursday was one of the most special times I've shared with my family. My dad received a top award from his hospital called the Tate Mason Award after over 20 years of employment at Virginia Mason. My entire family, along with a few close friends and relatives from Michigan came to the event to surprise my dad after he accepted the award. It was incredible hearing about what my Dad had contributed to his work community, along with all the work he put into getting where he is today.

During the award presentation, the CEO of Virginia Mason quoted a part of a speech that my dad delivered years ago about why he loves being a surgeon. He quoted Reason #2: Patients Will Change Your Life:

"How many times have you treated a patient with a disabling or lethal disease? Despite pain, despite the prospect of mortality or severe disability, despite potential financial ruin, our patients routinely smile; they routinely exhibit a strength of spirit, mind, and body that transcends normal human behavior. Many times we see the anger. Many times we see the fear. Many times we see difficulty dealing with pain. However, when it is all said and done, what we are privileged to see on a daily basis is a strength of spirit that trivializes our daily worries. How can we, in good conscience, complain about anything in our daily life on the same day that a patient with a lethal cancer who is in extraordinary pain says “he doesn’t need any help”? When our patients thank us for all our work on their behalf, our response should be “No, thank you. You did all the work. I did the easy part. Thanks for the privilege of getting to know you.”

I loved hearing this part of my dad's speech because it reflects so much of who he is. My dad is a man of integrity who appreciates the small things in life. He always works hard at everything, and tries to see the big picture in all scenarios.

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember being asked the question: "Who is your hero?" Each time, I've thought for less than 5 seconds, and responded: "My Dad." Simply put, my Dad is one of the greatest human beings I know. This is due to his love and respect for others, his work ethic, and his incredible character. For as long as I can remember, my Dad has worked beyond hard for everything he's achieved in his life, whether it's training for a bike race, finishing his residency in Dallas, raising two children, celebrating 35 years of marriage, or caring for countless patients every day.

My Dad is a man of few words, but they're always great ones. His life motto has always been: "work hard, play hard" (which he told me repeatedly the week before I left for college). My dad has always been the #1 role model in my life. He taught me to stay true to myself, decide what I want, and chase after it, knowing that there will always be bumps in the road. He reminds me that life is not easy, but if you work hard, try not to complain, and treat others with kindness and respect along the way, your dreams will come true.


I love you Dad. Thank you for teaching me about living life greatly and with respect for others. You are a hero to many!


Saturday, October 22, 2011

A Different Slant: The Meaning of Peace


The above photo is what I imagine when I think of the word "peace." However, today I came across a quote that made me think further:

"PEACE - it does not mean to be in a place where there is not noise, trouble or hard work. it means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart." - Author Unknown (Source)

Ideally, we'd all like to live without stress, noise, or bumps in the road. However, the reality of life is that those things will always exist. How we choose to react to situations can determine our ability to find peace in our daily lives.

Joy from a photo

Photo taken by Heather Payne

The other day, I came across this photo of my friend, Wayland, with his baby, Sierra, in Rwanda. It was one of the most beautiful and happy moments I've ever seen captured in a photo. I loved the amount of love, joy, kindness, and intrigue shown by the children. It reminded me that true happiness and friendship is often found in the simplest ways.

Of course, being the outgoing nerd that I am, I reached out to Wayland's friend, Heather (who took the photo) to ask for her permission to share the photo on my Blog. I also asked Heather to share a bit more about the context of the photo:

"I took this photo in northeast region of Rwanda called Musanze. I was recently on a mission trip with my church, Bethany Community Church where we are starting a 5 year partnership with World Relief Rwanda (WWR) where they will be starting some local church empowerment and mobilization in that area. This picture was taken of my friend Wayland Cossey and his daughter Sierra when we were out visiting one of WRR programs called Mobilizing for Life where we were shown a new pig farm being implemented in a community and a church/youth center being built. Baby Sierra was a big hit with the locals where ever we traveled."

Thank you, Heather, for sharing your talents and reminding us about the important things in life! I am not surprised that Sierra was a big hit with the locals during your travels!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Kermit pick-me-up!


If this doesn't make you smile, then I don't know what does!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Beauty of "Beautiful"

"I wanna got to a place where time has no consequence oh yeah, The sky opens to my prayers." (Photo Source)

A few years ago, I heard a song by India Arie named "Beautiful" (off her Acoustic Soul album). It instantly became one of my favorite songs. I have gotten in a habit of playing this song in the evening before I go to bed. It instantly brings me peace and quiets my mind, especially during stressful and chaotic weeks. I find comfort each time I hear the words of the song.

Goodnight :)

"Beautiful"

The time is right
I'm gonna pack my bags
And take that journey down the road
Cause over the mountain I see the bright sun shinning
And I want to live inside the glow
Yeah

I wanna go to place where I am nothing and everything
That exists between here and nowhere
I wanna got to a place where time has no consequence oh yeah
The sky opens to my prayers

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,

Please understand that it's not that I don't care
But right know these walls are closing in on me
I love you more than I love life itself

But I need to find a place were I can breathe
I can breathe
I wanna go to place were I can hold the intangible
And let go of the pain with all my might

I wanna go to a place where I am suspended in ecstasy
Some where between dark and light
Where wrong becomes right

I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,
I wanna go to beautiful, beautiful, beautiful,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Appreciating what your city has to offer

Photo taken by Casey Giltner

Today I came across a photo on my friend's Facebook page that she took during her morning run. It definitely took my breath away! Seeing the photo reminded me of how lucky I am to live in a beautiful city surrounded by water, mountains, great walking trails, and breathtaking views. Thank you, Casey, for sharing!

This week, take some time to go to one of your favorite outdoor locations in your city, whether it be the waterfront, a walking trail, small park, garden or even a roof top deck. Enjoy!

Putting ourselves on the to-do list

This morning I watched a touching interview on the Today Show. Ann Curry interviewed Giuliana Rancic, who made an announcement that she has breast cancer. In the interview, Giuliana talked about the sequence of events in her life, and the challenges she was facing prior to her diagnosis (trying to get pregnant, which lead her to getting a mammogram). She said: "we have to start putting ourselves on the to-do list." I LOVE this quote. It is so true. She also said "That baby will have saved my life...God was looking out for me."

I really admire Giuliana's courage and outlook on life and what she's recently gone through. Even though it can be challenging, we have to trust that things are happening in our lives exactly as they should be - even when it's not always what we want or think we want in the present.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Evening In for YOU


After a long weekend in Leavenworth, I decided the best thing I could do for myself would be treating myself to an awesome, relaxing Sunday evening in.

For me, this means
:

-Hot bath
-Lemon water
-Healthy dinner
-Red wine-Chick flick
-Online "window shopping" (as my cousin Robin calls it)

-Reviewing my schedule for this week
-Relaxing on the couch
Tonight's pick: J.Lohr Cabernet Sauvignon (Photo Source)...would definitely recommend :)

Tonight's movie pick: Life as We Know It (Photo Source)

I highly recommend scheduling one night each week (at minimum) just for YOU...to do whatever makes you happy, recharged, and at peace.

Happiness from Fall Colors

This weekend I spent time in Leavenworth, WA with my family and friends. There is nothing more beautiful than the Fall leaves this time of year (note: especially in the Midwest). In central WA, the air is cleaner and I find it completely refreshing to spend just one day away from the city and soak up the surroundings. Enjoy the Fall while it lasts!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The Clean Home Wellness Factor

Note: Lucy is thinking: "om, this is totally unacceptable"

In the past couple of weeks, my life has been absolutely crazy for a number of reasons (mainly due to my big work event). When I get too busy, my home often reflects the level of chaos/stress/etc in my life. In other words, it becomes a complete mess.

It got so bad last week that I decided to go all out and hire help (for the record, I had never had my home professionally cleaned before). Yesterday, I cleaned my entire place, had professional help from two people for three hours, and brought four big bags of clothing and shoes to Goodwill.

I feel much better and am relieved to have my home clean and less cluttered. Photos below - just for proof!

BEFORE



AFTER





Note: Lucy looks 10x happier compared to the first photo!