Monday, November 28, 2011

Little treats for self (Sparkling Cinnamon Yankee Candle)

The other day at Ulta (also known as "Margie heaven") I saw an assortment of holiday candles. I was hoping to find a solid holiday fragrance candle to have at home this and next month. I will admit I made the perfect selection: Sparkling Cinnamon by Yankee Candle. The candle is festive, beautiful (with the red color + sparkles, of course) and the smell is so yummy! I feel right at home.

If that's not girlie I don't know what is...

Focus of the Week: Acceptance

For whatever reason, I have been in a slump for the past few weeks. Typically I have a "blah" day or two every so often, but this does not go on for weeks like it did this month. I found myself down in the dumps and pretty unmotivated to "move on."

Last week I received an email from my friend Erin. Her first sentence: "This is me right now. I had a little pity party in my room the other night because I'm so tired and overwhelmed right now." I cracked up reading this, not because I was glad Erin was feeling pity party central, but it was EXACTLY how I felt as well! I was happy that we could relate to being overwhelmed and be completely honest about where we were at in the moment.

When talking to my friend Maria the other day, she remarked (and I'm paraphrasing): "Sometimes when you're in a slump, instead of trying to fix things, it's okay to say 'I am NOT okay' and allow yourself to feel however you want in the moment...I say, 'today is not a good day for me, and I'm okay with that. I am going to sit at home for the rest of the day and just accept myself for where I'm at.'"

Maria's advice made me think a bit more. Typically the type A perfectionist in me has an overwhelming instinct of trying to solve my problems and "fix things" right away. If I'm unable to solve a challenge, things don't go as planned, or it takes me much longer to feel better than I had hoped for, I become even more worried and concerned about my state of being. I fear it will get worse and then beat myself up. Good habit to have? I think not.

In reflecting on the last few weeks, what resonated was the word "Acceptance." I need to learn how to better accept myself during not-so-great weeks and actually embrace (but not dwell on) my crappiness. What I need to say more often: "It is OKAY that I am in a slump. It's OKAY that I don't feel like going to the gym or cooking dinner tonight. It's OKAY that I do not want to socialize with others or go out. I am going to be okay with not being okay and do whatever I need to do to accept myself for who I am RIGHT NOW and move on when I'm ready to get out of the pity party."

I chose to include this photo in this post because it captures how I've been feeling - a bit removed, surrounded by something that feels dark and foggy and wanting to stay put for a while. After looking further, noticing the beauty and opportunities in the distance, I know things will turn out okay - it just might take me a while to move in that direction.

I'm sure you're laughing (I am too) but I'm actually serious. In fact, I took some time to do some research on this topic, and came across a great article online: "7 Ways to Accept Yourself for Who You Are." The author, Tara West, writes: "Accepting yourself and your situation in life can be a difficult task. Do you tend to be more accepting of others’ mistakes than your own? If so, you’re being too hard on yourself! Becoming more accepting of yourself and loving yourself for the fine person that you really are can lead you to greater happiness and a more fulfilling life" (Source).

Here are some great tips...

7 Ways to Accept Yourself for Who You Are

1. Focus on your positive qualities

2. Consciously prevent negative thinking patterns

3. Accept your imperfections

4. Use positive self-talk

5. Disregard what other people might think about your decisions

6. Avoid worrying

7. Try your best and accept that you've done what you could

I really enjoyed reading this article (please check out the real deal with more info) because the 7 pointers are great reminders. Some are easier said than done, but even embracing just one of them can help point us in the right direction.

Take a moment this week to show acceptance for yourself for where you're at right now. Do not beat yourself up because you didn't clean your room, couldn't be the perfect friend, didn't make it to the gym, didn't finish reading that book you said you were going to read, or didn't have a productive work day. You WILL rise above...when YOU are ready to move on!

Here's some good food for thought:

"Acceptance of one's life has nothing to do with resignation; it does not mean running away from the struggle. On the contrary, it means accepting it as it comes, with all the handicaps of heredity, of suffering, of psychological complexes and injustices." -Paul Tournier

“There comes a time when you have to stand up and shout: This is me damn it! I look the way I look, think the way I think, feel the way I feel, love the way I love! I am a whole complex package. Take me... or leave me. Accept me - or walk away! Do not try to make me feel like less of a person, just because I don't fit your idea of who I should be and don't try to change me to fit your mold. If I need to change, I alone will make that decision. When you are strong enough to love yourself 100%, good and bad - you will be amazed at the opportunities that life presents you.” - Stacey Charter


P.S. ENJOY THE HOLIDAY SEASON - do what makes you happy. You deserve it!

Always know love

On Friday, I came across a wonderful quote on a canvas print at a gift shop in Queen Anne. I loved the words (so inspiring and relevant in my life!) and took a picture so I wouldn't forget.

Incase you can't make out the words above:

My wish for you is that you always know love.
That it be the answer to your deepest questions.
That you leap and dance and reach for the best parts of yourself...always.
That you find your way with kindness and faith.

Artist: Kelly Rae Roberts

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thankful for the little things

I can't say that this year's Thanksgiving break was the total "stress free weekend" that I was hoping for it to be. Today I realized that the hope of a completely stress free weekend may no longer be a realistic option for me these days (which I am somewhat at peace with).

That being said, what I noticed this weekend were the "little things" - simple experiences that made me happier and more appreciative for the blessings in my life. I believe that the little things (especially when they add up) can make your day a lot better. I am thankful for being aware of these blessings during a busy and stressful time of year.


The beautiful and old architecture in Seattle + the Fall leaves that are amazingly still surrounding our city...

Going to a Seahawks game with my Dad (yes, win or lose)...

Incredible views and sunsets all throughout the city...

A sunny day on Alki in late November that felt like Summer...

Time with friends and family who love me, make me laugh, and drink great wine with me :).


For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food,
For love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.

-Ralph Waldo Emerson (Source)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Meaning of Gratitude

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -Melody Beattie (Source)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tips from friends on squelching stress!

While the holidays are a really exciting time of year, I've also found that they are sometimes the most stressful time of year. After a month of being on overload, I decided to poll some of my readers about what they do to
manage stress. The question was the following:

"When you are completely stressed out and on overload, what is your trick to helping you feel better?"

Here are some awesome responses!

Erin (London, U.K.)

1. Have tea breaks with my friend(s) here and chat/vent:) Also study with them and not be stuck alone in my room doing everything.
2. Get some inspiration through music. I've had Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye + Tammi Terrell and Billie Holiday on repeat.
3. Get myself a cup of hot chocolate (really dark, yummy hot chocolate)
4. Watch a bit of a favorite movie (I haven't had enough time to watch a whole movie in one go, so I've been watching movies in bits throughout the week)
5. Take some time to step away from whatever is overwhelming me (essays and reading) and get outside and so soemthing. Yesterday I devoted the whole day to being in the park with a couple friends even though I have a million readings, an essay and a presentation for this coming week.
6. Make time to Skype with my family:)

Jessica (San Francisco, CA)

"Running and yoga are my absolute fav physical remedies, but I also try to use positive thinking. I think as we try to achieve our goals professionally and socially, we can over extend ourselves. No matter what we make it to the other side of the tunnel, and learn something because of the challenges we've been through. When I have a moment of feeling overwhelmed I try to reality check and count my blessings. I am so lucky to have the insanely crazy job I have that keeps me busy and feeling useful, so lucky to have AMAZING friends near and far ( miss you!), and a close knit cuckoo family...heres one more idea, call a friend - me - and dish with me to help releave stress!!!"

Olivia (Los Angeles, CA)

"Yoga!!! It's all about how to weather a challenge while keeping your feet on the ground (or in the air or on your head or wherever). It helps teach me that even the most unexpected, painful or stressful moments are not as important as the attitude with which they're met. I try to deal by noticing my own feelings, forgiving myself for them, then trying to be aware that my power as a human far surpases the threshold of my emotions. Most of the time I fail at really grasping this :)."

Sarah (Seattle, WA)

"I call a friend or my parents to vent, then I make a list of EVERYTHING."

Katrina (Naches, WA)

"Running, walking or getting outside to do just about anything is a good one. Somehow that always helps my mind get perspective. Plus, it just feels good! But -- this is not something I do in response to stress, rather it's something I try to do everyday because it makes dealing with stress, when it hits, much easier. It's a breather I can look forward to, even when there's a really full plate.

Make a list of everything I think that I "must" do. Getting it out of my head and onto paper often helps me to let go, so I am not using valuable brain space mulling over the same things, such as "must remember to do X!"

When lists are already made, and things are still overwhelming -- triage and delegate. Relentlessly. And give people realistic assessments of when things can be expected to be completed -- even if this means I have to say, "I'm sorry, but that will take me long than I anticipated at first." Sometimes delegating is challenging, especially when I know I could do something quickly and well, but for me it's part of letting go and being realistic.

When lists are made, tasks have been triaged and delegated and I'm STILL waking up in the middle of the night stressed, just getting up and doing SOMETHING for 30 minutes often helps to relieve my stress enough that I can go back to bed for the rest of the night.

Finally, I have to say that having a child, and really being into who she is and raising her well, has been the best thing for helping me keep priorities straight and not take too much stress home. Even when I do, I forget about it quickly because of the immediacy of everything going on at home!"

Andrea (Eugene, OR)

"Regular exercise is important to keep my stress down. When I'm really stressed I often feel that I don't "have time" to exercise and will skip it, which makes the situation even worse. Enrolling in workout classes encourages me to stick with exercise even when life gets really busy. When I'm really stressed, I also have to specifically take some time out to write down some positive thoughts. I get consumed with the idea that "there's not enough time" or "I can't do it" so I need to take a few minutes to say "If I work efficiently this week, it will get done" or "I know it's possible, if I don't give up now."

Emily (Seattle, WA)

Run greenlake!
Clean my house!
Go into work early and tackle stuff before people get to the office.

Megan (San Jose, CA)

"When I'm feeling overwhelmed by all there is to do, I simply break the to-do's down. I tend to create both a work and personal life to-do list. The work list involves items I need to do for each client, and the personal list includes daily household things, such as laundry, clean room, errands, etc. Once the lists are complete, I prioritize them. I embrace each item with a "Just power through it!" attitude and work my way through the list item by item. Making a list and prioritizing your to-do's is a great way to help you focus solely on one item at a time. I also tend to not have a little reward waiting for me, because simply crossing off a "to-do" is reward enough!

When I'm feeling stressed, I find it's so helpful to truly step away from whatever is causing the stress. I tend to stare at my computer for HOURS nonstop, so I find going on a run or just getting out of the office is a great stress reliever. I think just being outside and getting fresh air is a great way to bring new life and energy into your day. Once you feel a little more calm or at peace with whatever is stressing you out, you can then go back to it with a more rejuvenated, peaceful attitude."

Anna (Washington, D.C.)

It took me a very long time to learn how to deal with stress and I’m still not perfect at it. But this is what I’ve learned:

I ask for help. Sometimes I make myself take a step back and say “is it more important to have perfectly folded clothes, or is the laundry something I can ask Seth to do?” Letting go of controlling each bullet point on my to-do list is rewarding and it helps me get things done.

I forgive myself. I fall off the wagon all the time and stress out about the length of my to-do list (or other trivial things). When that happens I let myself, but the next morning, I don’t let myself harp on what I did or did not do yesterday, I challenge myself “to-do” just today. By the next day, I’m back on track.

I do the things I love. The other day our kitchen was a disaster (Seth’s brother is living with us in a one-bedroom… by nature of the living situation, this has been happening a lot). The kitchen is my zen-zone. I cook because it relaxes me and because feeding people makes me happy. I quickly spiraled into stress, then anger, then anxiety. By now I can recognize this in myself, so I stopped, I asked myself “what do you REALLY WANT to do RIGHT NOW?” and then I did it. I grabbed the empty plant-pots and started planting seeds that I’d been putting off. I made the kitchen even messier. But when I was done, I was happy, and while I cleaned the kitchen (calmly), I kept looking over at the plants and wondering when they would start sprouting. I was totally calm and happy cleaning the kitchen that an hour earlier was giving me anxiety. At the end, I had a clean kitchen AND I had done something that I’ve been WANTING to do for so long.


Thank you, friends, for providing such fantastic advice! I know I will try to apply a few of these tricks during the holiday season.

Monday, November 21, 2011

On the lookout

Photo taken by: Anna Tegen

Little treats for self (OPI - You Don't Know Jacques)

Recently I discovered a nail color by OPI through a friend of mine who was wearing it. I had the best luck on Saturday finding the color at a small beauty supply store next to the QFC I shop at. This color is gorgeous: totally classic, sexy, and a great holiday color. It's kind of an Espresso brown (says my friend Maria). It's dark but not too dark. I'm taking it with me for my manicure this Weds!

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Just chillaxin' for a bit...

Photo taken by Katie Herche

Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes!

This morning I tried a recipe I found in my Health Magazine for Pumpkin Pancakes. They were a piece of CAKE to make :) and SUPER yummy and satisfying. Highly recommend!

Here is the recipe:
Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes

In a medium bowl, lightly whisk together 1 cup whole-wheat pancake mix, 1 cup cold water, 1/3 cup canned pumpkin, 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger. Mix until batter is combined but still lumpy. Spray a griddle with nonstick spray, and heat on medium. For each pancake, spoon 1/4 cup batter onto the griddle, and cook for about 2 minutes or until bubbles appear. Then flip, cook for another 2 minutes, and transfer to a plate. Drizzle each with 2 teaspoons warm maple syrup and...dig in! Makes 8 pancakes.

Source: Health Magazine. "Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes." Dec 2011; p 59.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Kicking the big C in the ASS

Today I received an email from a friend of mine. She had told me (earlier this week) that she was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. To be honest, when I received the second email, I was not scared and I did not have a meltdown. This is not because my friend doesn't mean the world to me (because she DOES mean the world to me) - rather, it's because this woman is the strongest, most determined woman I know and I have ZERO doubt that she will fight through this in no time. My friend has an incredible group of friends supporting her and great faith to keep her centered.

I wanted to share her email with all of you. It is inspiring, heartwarming, powerful, and just awesome. It really put things in perspective for me today.

November 18, 2011

By now many of you have heard my recent health news: I have been diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. At first I was more than a little panicked; yesterday I transitioned into my “no-panic” mode. 

Colleen and Tracy joined me for a fabulous consultation with my Group Health surgeon. This meeting resulted in scheduling of a lumpectomy on Friday, December 9th. The game plan is: lumpectomy (day surgery), a few quiet days recovering and then, radiation starting in January. Oral chemo would follow (if required) after radiation. 

What I have learned this week:

You are the best family and friends in the world.
Prayers are welcomed – casseroles and flowers are unnecessary.

Please, books about dying are a no go!!!

I will not be defined by cancer – this is just a bump/lump in my road.
This is my challenge, and thus, I want to handle it my way.

My health care team is positive, professional and caring. I am not second-guessing their plan, and do not intend to seek second opinions.

Though it seems impersonal, e-mailing helps me spread the word.
Feel free to share my news and thoughts.

There are only a few days when I need nursing, and I have a capable, caring nurse in Colleen to handle it.

Christmas vacation in Arizona is on, and I might even be able to play golf…

My Catholic faith is my rock. I don’t know what I would do without it.

How you can join me on my journey:

Keep your prayers coming if you are the praying type. If you aren’t, try it … it works.

Spend more time volunteering instead of making me casseroles.

Schedule your mammogram.
If you see my car, stop by the house. As always, the bar is open.
Double a donation or two to your favorite charities and we won’t need our Team walks.

Make me your 4th at the bridge table or foursome
Share this with anyone (as long as they don’t deliver lasagna).

Thanks for listening—and caring. I appreciate your well wishes and look forward to a new chapter soon.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving and hopefully a Cougar Apple Cup victory!

My friend, her strength, and the power of positive thinking is truly amazing. If this letter doesn't prove it then I don't know what does!

Pinot Noir on a Friday

This evening, after a very long and stressful week, I came home with the intention to do two things (and nothing else):

1. Take a bath (check)
2. Have a glass of wine (check)

Tonight I'm drinking a Pinot Noir by Clos du Bois that was (ironically) recommended to me this time last year by a wine rep at QFC to pair with our Thanksgiving meal. It is not too expensive (around $14.00) and is a great everyday drinking wine. I normally do not go for Pinot Noir (normally a cabernet or blended red kind of girl) but I really do love this one.

"This velvety Pinot Noir is a perfect match for roasted turkey, grilled portobello mushrooms or savory risotto." (Source)

Cheers, and happy Friday!

Wisdom from 10 Wellness Divas

Hanging out with Marianne (L) and Maria (C) - two friends who bring much wellness to my life!

When I started WellnessGal last March, I knew it would be important to me to feature friends of mine who exhibit wellness in various areas of their lives. My Blog is about knowledge sharing and inspiring others about wellness in small and big ways, and allowing others to be the vehicle in doing so.

In April, I decided to create a Blog series called "
Wellness Divas" (for the record, I chose the name only for the fun factor, not the logic). So far, I have featured 10 incredible Wellness Divas on my Blog. After re-reading each of their articles this week, I was reminded of how blessed I am to know such amazing women. They remind me that wellness is not a formula - it is holistic. There are so many ways we can benefit our mind, body, and spirit and they are living proof!

In an effort to highlight the past 8 months, here are my
takeaway points from the first 10 Divas.

#1: Sarah (La Artista)

"Art keeps me inspired and excited, and therefore happy and balanced. I feel lucky to have something in my daily routine that so instantly challenges, inspires, and affirms my life. Art gives me a focus and a strong sense of gratitude for the life I live in a city that I love."

#2: Ashley (The Fitness Rockstar)

"After I am done exercising I instantly feel better than before I started and I am always in a better mood. I feel better about myself and have a natural high. Also, on the days I workout, I make better choices and eat healthier throughout the day which in turn makes me feel even better! I think exercise is just the beginning to overall wellness."

#3: Mariko (The Rock Climber)

"I love that when I climb I feel free. I'm free of whatever work project I'm on, I'm free of any stress from a relationship, I'm free from anything that normally may consume my thoughts. When one climbs, you have to focus so much and get into your "zen". This requires a mandatory emptiness and calmness within you. You really can't think about anything else but what you're doing that very moment. It is a great practice of presence and observation of the moment."

#4: Katie (The Hot Yogini)

"At the moment, patience is the most salient idea influencing my overall wellness. I try to remind myself that I have the ability to find calmness is any situation."

#5: Robin (The Pilates Buff)

"I love Pilates for many reasons. It makes me feel longer, lighter, taller and toned. The breathing that accompanies the exercises is cleansing. Pilates is known for its abdominal focused work, and although it’s true that it will give you nicely toned abs, Pilates is also very therapeutic to the spine, neck, shoulders etc. It serves to strengthen our weaker muscles like inner thighs and hamstrings while relaxing our dominant muscles like quads, resulting in a leaner, more balanced body."

#6: Erin (The Volunteer)

"The bottom-line is volunteering makes me happy. I always get so much pleasure from talking with people, hearing their stories, learning about their culture and their goals in life. I’ve met some incredible people and get such joy from being a small part of their life. I feel like I’m constantly learning and being inspired. As an added benefit, volunteering also helps keep everything in perspective and is humbling. The best part is that volunteering offers experiences that have to be lived and cannot be bought. I wouldn’t be who I am today and have the interests that I do without these experiences."

#7: Lulu (The Runner)

"Running has provided a great amount of structure and clarity in my life. Going for a run resets my physical, emotional and thinking body. Often, I feel more capable in other areas in my life after completing a run."

#8: Megan (The Optimist)

"I'm in love with the word "Faith" and all it entails. I think having faith in yourself, God, life, possibilities, etc. is the key to living a beautiful, happy, peace-filled life. We all encounter moments where we doubt ourselves or maybe question why something happened, but when it boils down to it, it happened for a reason. We need to be accepting and embracing of what comes our way and have faith that everything will work out as it should. It always does!!!"

#9: Jessie (The Fab Yoga Instructor)

"I love teaching yoga because I feel that I am helping people understand their bodies better as well as encouraging them to love themselves. Our world teaches us to critisize and compare ourselves to others more than accept who and where we are in our lives. When I teach yoga, I stress embracing who/what/where we are in our lives at this very moment. To be in the present...and to accept ourselves in that moment...that is a true practice of enjoying life."

#10: Sarah (The Balanced Diva)

"You just have to stay true to yourself and what you enjoy doing, while also being cognitive of maintaining relationships that are important to you."'

Friends - thank you for inspiring others to live life well!