Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Trying new things


Today I read an article from marcandangel.com called "7 Ways to Change Your Life in 7 Days." I really enjoyed one of the points: "(2) Get uncomfortable and try new things."

The article stated: "One of the biggest reasons people get stuck in an idle state, instead of taking action to change their lives for the better, is simply that the process is uncomfortable. But to create positive changes in your life you have to step outside your comfort zone, at least for a little while" (Source).

My friend Marianne and I always said how "we do things we know we're good at." I'll admit that doing things I am not good at (or haven't tried doing) is something I avoid at all costs. This might be due to a fear of failure, but I think that in general I just don't like that uncomfortable feeling of doing something outside of my comfort zone.

One thing the article suggests is trying something new once a day. I like this idea (although once a week might be a more realistic goal). This could be as simple as saying hi to a stranger, going to a new workout class, going out on a date, or trying a new recipe.

What is one new thing you'll consider trying out next week?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Miami vacation pics

Recently I saw my friend Sarah's Facebook album of her vacation this January at the Standard Spa in Miami. Looking at Sarah's photos seriously made me smile. Imagining where she was, the beautiful scenery, and the relaxing vacation she experienced actually made me FEEL at peace. It reminded me how important it is to get away and relax now and then. While money can be an issue, I find that if we can be creative in our "vacation spending" and cut back on costs in other areas of our lives, it is so worth it! Thank you for sharing, Sarah!

Cute kisses!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Fab girls' afternoon!


This afternoon I met my friend Jessica for a movie and some shopping. What a GREAT way to spend my Sunday afternoon! It was the perfect pick me up. I got away from home, spent time with a wonderful friend, watched a fantastic movie, and treated myself to a few girlie products.

The recap:

1. "This Means War"

What a FUN film! Exciting, sexy, witty, heartwarming, and action packed - can you ask for more? I adored Reese Witherspoon (along with her two super hot companions, Chris Pine and Tom Hardy).



2. Trip to MAC at Norstrom

I was out of my favorite eye color (Expensive Pink) and lip gloss (Lipglass in "Date Night") so I killed two birds with one stone. Hooray!

3. Trip to The Body Shop

I got my favorite Body Butters: Mango and Coconut. They had a buy one, get one 1/2 off deal, so I said "okay!" Can't wait for a foot bath tonight.

Today made me realize that doing something mindless, girlie, and fun now and then is so import to my overall happiness and well being. I loved being with Jessica, seeing a movie (with hot dudes) and treating myself to some fantastic products.

Now I'm enjoying the Oscars with a healthy dinner, red wine, and Lucy. SO thankful for a positive ending to my weekend. Thanks, Jess!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Getting out of the February SLUMP


For weeks, I've been in a definite SLUMP. A "slump" for me is defined as the following: the times where (for weeks - not just a few days) I feel BLAH. I feel crappy about myself (often this means a few lbs heavier), bloated/icky, constantly tired, lacking motivation (especially when it comes to sleep/exercise/nutritional habits). I obsess with trying to figure out what is wrong with me, can't figure it out, and then get ticked off and join a pity party (real healthy, I know).

This week I had a big "aha" moment. After searching for answers to my slump, it finally hit me:
FEBRUARY.

Om, hello!? February!!!
I realized that (for the past three years) February has been a crappy month for me. My #1 speculation is the bad weather combined with the calendar: I'm always happy through October because the weather is great and I go on several vacations. During November and December, I'm filled with the holiday spirit and get to spend time with the people I love. In January I kick off the new year and go on a motivational high ("Here are my amazing NY resolutions! I'm ready to take on the world!"). However, once I work my way through February, I hit a standstill. Productivity? DOWN. Self confidence? DOWN. My home? A MESS. Margie? ICK.

Today I thought more about my February slump. I realized that having a logical/legitimate answer to my strange state of being was a relief, and I could accept how I was feeling and move on. THANK GOODNESS.

As of today, I am committing to push myself out of the slump. In an effort to hold myself accountable, I am sharing my focus points with all of you:

1. Taking care of my body.

This means:
more EXERCISE, better NUTRITION, and more SLEEP!

I am hoping to fit in just a couple morning workouts each week, along with evening walks with Lucy, and using one of my yoga Groupons. The line of thinking is not "work out every day," but rather "fit in little workouts more often so they will add up and you feel better overall!"

To address nutrition, today I did a fantastic grocery store run to pack my fridge and pantry with awesome food. I am thrilled to have so many healthy options, including (but not limited to): salmon, fresh bell peppers, oatmeal, whole wheat English muffins, fresh spring greens, and more Chobani yogurt :). I also hope to cut back on junk food, alcohol, and caffeine.

As far as sleep goes: seriously - just get to bed earlier!

2. Reading this book: The Gifts of Imperfection (by Brene Brown)

I discovered this book on Amazon and decided to just go for it. It arrived a couple days ago and I can say that I can't be more happy with my selection. The introduction and the table of contents were enough of an inspiration alone. I have never found a book that is more fitting for what I'm looking for. I highly encourage anyone to read this book. I'll be sharing my findings in upcoming weeks!

Book description from Amazon:

"In The Gifts of Imperfection, BrenĂ© Brown, a leading expert on shame, authenticity, and belonging, shares ten guideposts on the power of Wholehearted living—a way of engaging with the world from a place of worthiness.

Each day we face a barrage of images and messages from society and the media telling us who, what, and how we should be. We are led to believe that if we could only look perfect and lead perfect lives, we'd no longer feel inadequate. So most of us perform, please, and perfect, all the while thinking, "What if I can't keep all of these balls in the air? Why isn't everyone else working harder and living up to my expectations? What will people think if I fail or give up? When can I stop proving myself?"

In her ten guideposts, Brown engages our minds, hearts, and spirits as she explores how we can cultivate the courage, compassion, and connection to wake up in the morning and think, "No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough," and to go to bed at night thinking, "Yes, I am sometimes afraid, but I am also brave. And, yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable, but that doesn't change the truth that I am worthy of love and belonging (Source)."

3. Channeling some celeb inspiration!

If you know me, you know I'm a huge nerd for my "celeb kicks" - thinking of fabulous female celebrities who inspire me to get my crap together (in small, silly ways). Kind of the girl crush line of thinking..."What would Carrie Bradshaw do?"




When you're in a slump, what do you do to pull out of the slump?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Peace from photography (Seward Park, Seattle)

Photo taken by Shayne Kaku

Today I came across this photo on FB, taken by my friend Shayne. I am so glad I saw it! Despite it being a rainy, blue day, it reminds me of how beautiful of a city I live in and to take advantage of the great days.

About this photo:

"The photo was taken at Seward park. This was from the unexpected summer-looking sunny day that happened about 4-5 weeks ago. The sun felt so nice... like a blessing...Ryoko's [Shayne's daughter] is obsessed with rocks and this one of her favorite spots to find them. The trees cover most of it, but Mt. Rainier peeks through the back!"

Thank you for sharing, Shayne!

Oprah friendship insight!

Thanks for sharing with me, Sarah!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

A new happiness perspective

Today, I read another wonderful post by my new favorite Blog (marcandangel.com), entitled "10 Good Reminders for Stressful Times." The first point was so helpful because it gave me a refreshing way of looking at the concept of happiness during times in which I don't feel entirely happy:

"Happiness is never constant, and it’s not supposed to be.
You have to fight through some bad days to earn the best days of your life. To believe that you can reach a state of happiness and stay there forever, is like the tide believing she can reach for the shoreline and remain there forever; or like a fruit tree believing that if she only holds on tighter, she can keep her fruit from dropping to the ground. Happiness is simply a series of moments that come and go and add sweetness to our lives. Learn to accept this, and the more happy moments you will have. Read The Happiness Project." (Source).

I love the idea of appreciating a "series of moments" that "add sweetness to our lives," rather than hoping for a constant feeling which is (likely to be) an unrealistic expectation as we walk through life. I am thankful that I read this quote at the end of my day - tonight will be a much more peaceful sleep!

Speaking of The Happiness Project, this book was recommended to me by several friends in recent months, and arrived at my door just the other day (thank you, Amazon). In fact, I plan to read it (and Blog about my findings) in the near future!

What does happiness mean to you?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Channing and Ellen


My friend Monica and I discovered Channing Tatum years ago from a cheesy dance movie, Step Up. He is simply a hot man that makes our day better. No further explanation needed. Today I came across a video from the Ellen Show. It cracked me up. My favorite part is that Channing does his own version of the Dirty Dancing leap with his dog Lulu! I adored the video and love that his dog's name is Lulu (my best childhood friend and our Running Diva!).

Enjoy!

Pinot Gris Productivity

Today has definitely been a happy "get things done" day. In addition to running errands with my friend Maria and doing a handful of household chores, I still have more to tackle this evening. Earlier today, Maria told me that she'd be picking out some wine to help get her through her punch list. Smart cookie.

I took Maria's advice and opened one of my favorite everyday whites: Goose Ridge Pinot Gris. I discovered this wine this summer and it quickly became an instant favorite. While it's best as a Summer wine, I still love it year round. Goose Ridge does their whites very well. Their Riesling, Chardonnay, and Pinot Gris are some of my favorite whites of all times.

Description:
Bright and crisp with aromas of orange blossom and lemon zest. Hints of grapefruit complement flavors of melon, honey and passion fruit making our 2010 Pinot Gris perfect for pairing with food or sipping on a summer day (Source).
Cheers to a productive day! Just remember - it's always 5:00 somewhere!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Wisdom from Dove: Free, Happy, You.


My friend Erin and I have an inside joke about the quotes inside Dove Chocolate wrappers (we've laughed at them for over 6 years). 99% of the time the quotes (unlike the chocolate) are so disappointing they provide us with a source of entertainment after the unveiling. For years, we've been hoping that Dove wrapper writers would FINALLY turn the corner with their quote quality scale.

On this lovely Sunday evening, Dove writers did just that for me:

"Be free. Be happy. Be You."

I LOVE this quote. It's simple, but the best possible quote I could have asked for this month. I swear if I had placed the quote on my fridge last month I would be in a better place today - but that's beside the point.

I love the concept of reminding ourselves about our DAILY CHOICE to be happy, free, and ourselves. It's the best thing we can do!

Port Angeles Adventures

This weekend I went to visit a friend of mine who has been living in Port Angeles (WA) for almost one year. I had never been to Port Angeles before and I was really excited to go. For one, Gayle is an incredible friend and mentor in my life, and for two, I really needed to physically remove myself from Seattle to destress and not think about life at home.

This weekend was short and sweet but well worth it. In summary:

1. Dinner at Next Door Gastropub
Gayle took me to her favorite restaurant in town. It was absolutely fantastic. My dinner included a fresh garden starter salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette, a portobello mushroom burger, and yam fries. Not only was our meal (and the service) wonderful, but I discovered a new wine that I LOVED: "Eye of the Needle" Harvest White Chardonnay, made by Haystack Needle Winery in Woodinville, WA.

2. Girls night with
Vicky Cristina Barcelona



I absolutely love this movie (along with most Woody Allen films). Gayle had never seen it before and we both laughed the whole way through. If you are looking for a funny (dark humor), sexy, smart, and quirky film (or just an excuse to check out Javier Bardem) this is the one for you! The acting (especially by Penelope Cruz) is brilliant, too.

3. Site seeing in Port Angeles (including a visit to Crescent Lake!)

The scenery in PA was beautiful. It is one of the northwestern most cities in WA and you can technically see Canada from the beach! Crescent Lake was one of the prettiest lakes I have ever seen.

4. A visit to Harbinger Winery

Gayle and I did a wine (plus chocolate!) wine tasting at Harbinger Winery. The people were great and it was quite the crowd! We got to try four fabulous wines along with four homemade chocolates that we paired with each. I also got to sample a Chocolate Porter brew that the winery somehow had on tap! Of course, I came home with two bottles of wine (a red and white) which I'll be saving for a special occasion.

When I got home this weekend, I took a bath, changed my sheets, and cooked myself a healthy dinner (after greeting Lucy, of course). It was a great way to end the day. I thought about how important it is to get out of town when I've hit a wall or need a break from life at home. Seeing the incredible scenery in PA and experiencing new wines and food made me think more about all life has to offer - just one ferry ride away. :)

Thank you, Gayle, for a great weekend!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Little treats for self (Essie "Smokin' Hot" Polish!)


When I was in New Orleans this Winter, I met this woman with the most fantastic nail color. She told me it was called "Smokin' Hot" by Essie. Of course, I got it at Ulta a week after returning home.

I used it for the first time last night on my toes and LOVE IT. It is super sexy (aka it's not called "smokin' hot" for no reason). I'd describe it as an "espresso color with a twist." It has the slightest hint of a plum/gray color mixed in.

Fabulous!

Happy Valentine's Day!



Here's to giving creatively this Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Best view of the surf

Photo taken by Jessica Mitrovich

My friend, Jessica, posted this on Facebook today (San Francisco, CA). It truly made my day! Dogs are the best. What a great, dependable companion this guy is!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Heart healthy foods!


Today I got another helpful email from WebMD about heart healthy foods. It provides a fun slideshow talking about 20 heart healthy foods, and why each are of value.

Here are my favorites:

1. Salmon

2. Red Wine (hooray!)

3. Black Beans

4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

5. Edamame

6. Almonds

7. Sweet potatoes

8. Oranges

9. Oatmeal

10. Cayenne Chili Pepper

Lucky for me, I happen to eat all of the above foods on a weekly basis! One of my favorite dinners that I cook is salmon + a black bean and brown rice side dish + salad, and red wine (Pinot Noir, of course). I add cayenne pepper to the bean and rice dish to give it a bit of a kick.

Complete slideshow: http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/ss/slideshow-foods-to-save-your-heart?ecd=wnl_wmh_021012

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Managing the "overpowering, bad days"

Tonight I came across an article online on the site, MindBodyGreen, entitled "10 Things to Remind Yourself on a Daily Basis" by Madison Sonnier. As far as I'm concerned, it's one of the most brilliant articles I've read in the online world of wellness in a long time. I thought: "this article could not be more relevant to my life right now."

The article began with the following:

"Bad days can be extremely overpowering sometimes. When we're having a bad day, everything feels wrong and the day seems to get even worse as we sink further into frustration and despair. By the end of the day, all we want to do is pull the covers up over our heads and block it all out."

When reading this, I felt as if I was hearing my own thought process being read back to me. I can't better describe what it's like to feel overwhelmed on a bad day. One bad thing leads to another, and another, and another, and you find yourself in a downward spiral of stress - you're on edge, about to lose it, and on the verge of a breakdown. EVERYTHING irritates you, large or small. You go to the grocery store (in attempt to fix your bad day) by getting the ingredients for a perfect meal, and when you get home you discover that you forgot to get spaghetti sauce. Your dinner is ruined. Just when you think your day can't get worse, you spill a glass of water all over your bathroom floor and clothes and your socks get wet. Now your world really is about to end.

Despite the reality that life will always be difficult (we will always have our good and bad days), it's good to remind ourselves that we can push through. The article captured this concept so well through the 10 daily life reminders. I will share four that I loved (for the record, I loved ALL 10):

1. Do not lose sight of what truly matters. Does that clogged sink signify the end of the world? Are you going to remember or even care that the stranger you smiled at in the coffee shop didn’t smile back? When we’re having a bad day, we seem to zoom in on petty things and complain about them. Next time you’re pulling your hair out over something, ask yourself if it really matters.

I absolutely LOVE this point. Sometimes, after a really bad day, the clogged sink feels like enough to cause a meltdown. I am someone who definitely tends to "zoom in on" petty things when I'm already feeling overwhelmed, instead of letting them go right off the bat. This week, I had a doctor's appointment, emissions test for my car, and bills to pay. Instead of just getting them done with a confident, can-do attitude, I zoomed in, making things worse overall.

2. It is okay to be alone or pull back from the world. Sometimes we just need to step back and re-evaluate a situation, a relationship, or just life in general. When I went through my healing period, I spent a lot of time alone as I tried to become my own best friend again. If you need to go into hiding for awhile and work on stitching yourself back up, take the time to do that. It is so important to pull back and spend quality time with yourself every now and then.

This has been a huge one for me this year. Learning how to accept when life is not perfect and be okay with removing myself from others - even when this means choosing to be alone instead of spending time with the people I love. I am a huge believer that if we do not spend sufficient time with ourselves (yes, this means getting to know ourselves every day, no matter how old we are) that it's very difficult to live a productive, peaceful, and happy life (especially as it relates to our relationships with others).

7. You are enough. All of us have had times in our lives where we have thought, “I’m not smart enough or pretty enough or strong enough or exciting enough to do _____.” Give yourself a chance instead of forming limiting beliefs.

SO TRUE. No explanation needed.

9. Your feelings will not kill you. I know that heartbreak, grief, depression, or resentment might make you feel like you’re dead and breathing, but you have the strength to get through whatever life throws at you. Hold on and see yourself through it.

There have been so many times where I've felt like my feelings are going to tear me apart. "Dead and breathing" is a pretty perfect description of that intense type of feeling we've all encountered at some point in our lives. The other night, I called my brother and told him how overwhelmed and stressed I was and he said, "Margie, you always do this to yourself. You are an amazing woman and it's going to be okay." I knew David was right (even though I was secretly hoping for a pity party).

One thing I've been working on is trying to have more confidence in myself to overcome bumps in the road right when my initial stress sets in, rather than allowing myself to enter into a lengthy dwelling process. The other day I went to my doctor's appointment (which I was NOT looking forward to). I was completely frazzled and anxious sitting in the waiting room, resenting and dreading every moment. I pulled out my journal, took a deep breath, and wrote down a prayer, asking God to bring me peace and give me strength so I could just push through for the next hour...and it worked. Whoever your "divine" is, or whoever/whatever you might pray to, I'd encourage you to ask for strength as you navigate through these types of situations.

In conclusion, be sure to read all 10 pointers. You will not be disappointed!

What is one method you can use to push through the overpowering, bad days?

I am Free


Today I saw an article that a friend of mine posted on Facebook, entitled "I am Free," from the site, The Daily Word.

I particularly loved this part of the reading:

"I maintain a positive attitude and a cheerful heart as I create harmony in my life. Divine love erases doubt and fear and frees me to create a life of meaning. I use wisdom and strength to discern what is best for me and to release thoughts and feelings that no longer serve my good.

I am free to establish harmony in my life and to be a blessing to the world. I am free!"

I like this quote because it reminds us that if we do our best to be positive and rid ourselves of negative thoughts that are not doing good in our lives, we will live more peaceful lives.

I especially love the ending about being a "blessing to the world." How inspiring!

How can/do you be a blessing to the world? How can you establish harmony in your life?

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Peace from photography (Vail, CO)

Photo taken by Laura Butler

Today I came across a gorgeous photo that my friend Laura took and shared on Facebook. It was so breathtaking that I asked her if it was real!

Laura shared the details:

"It is a photo I took on the mountain in Vail. It's been a bad season for snow this year and this was one of the first good snow days we'd had. When I took this with my phone, I was blinded by the sun so I just pointed and took it. It was pure luck that it turned out so well!"

Laura - thanks for sharing your talents and reminding us of the beauty that surrounds us!

Monday, February 6, 2012

My 12K Confession


Well, here it is: I signed up for a 12K yesterday. YIKES. Here I come, Seahawks 12K.

Actually the real version of the story is that I lost my mind and THEN signed up for a 12K. For those of you who are thinking "how long is a 12K?" here is the answer, to be exact:

12 kilometers = 7.45645431 miles (thank you, Google)

For a while, I have wanted to pursue a run/race of some kind but didn't know what direction to go. I run during the Spring and Summer but usually fail to keep up with it during the Fall and Winter months. I knew that in early March my gym membership would expire and I would need some type of cardio to occupy my fitness routine. The Seahawks 12K sounded like a really neat event (and of course, for a good cause).

Years ago, when I was training for a half marathon, I got to a point where I was able to run 3 times around the lake (8.4 miles) on my one long run of the week (on Saturdays) so I figure 7.5 miles is an achievable distance for me. However, I realized this morning that I have less than two months to get ready and need to start running this week! I am secretly glad that I will not have an opportunity to procrastinate my training.

This should be an interesting journey. I am excited, but also nervous. The truth is that in the past, I've always been too scared to sign up for these type of events because I always worry that if I don't meet a certain time or my training doesn't go as well as I hoped it would, I get down on myself and feel like I didn't do a good job. This is not a healthy habit for me.

Thus, my main reason for signing up for the 12K is to achieve a goal that is rooted in healthy intentions.

My old mentality was something like this: "I am doing this race to get a really good time, lose weight, and prove to myself that I'm awesome."

My new mentality is something like this: "I am doing this race because I believe that I can cross the finish line, and that's all that matters. It will be something new, fun, and healthy for me to focus on in my life."

I love this new mindset and am eager to enjoy running for the good reasons, not the "should" reasons. Stay tuned for updates on my running progress and the journey ahead!

Little treats for self (pink yoga mat!)


Lately my new thing has been stretching. Stretching before I get into bed, after I get out of bed, and at work (on occasion). Just for 3-5 minutes at a time. I am very eager to see the "pay off" after a few months of practice.

I realized the other day that one of my (two) yoga mats had hit its expiration date and thought it would be a good opportunity to get a new one (also for added inspiration to help meet my goals).

I love it! Totally pink and girlie (nothing new :). Now I just have to decide if this one will be my home or office mat and find out how/where to recycle yoga mats!

Yay for awesome dinner salads!

Tonight I made a fantastic dinner salad. I tried a few veges that I don't typically buy and they went great together.

Arugula and Zima Tomato Salad
  • Baby arugula
  • Zima tomatoes
  • 3 Marinated mozzarella balls sliced in half
  • Shredded Parmesan
  • Sliced sweet white onion
  • Fresh sliced avocado
  • Balsamic dressing
  • Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste
Yum!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Little treats for self (Pre de Provence Shea Butter Mint Lip Balm)


The other week I purchased a lip balm at a gift shop made my Pre de Provence. I'm obsessed with this lip balm because it's a little minty, refreshing, and very moisturizing. I've found that a lot of lip balms actually (with repeated use) make your lips more dry, but this one does not. I apply it in the evening before bed and my lips feel great the next morning.

Description:

"Soothe away dry, uncomfortable lips using our NEW Shea Butter Moisturizing Lip Balm with Vitamin E. Shea Butter helps to soften lips and provide a protective barrier while Vitamin E's natural antioxidant defends against free radicals. Available in three delicious flavors: Natural, Vanilla and Mint" (Source).

Loving Chardonnay (La Crema)


Lately I have been craving Chardonnay. I think it's because during the Winter, I typically crave reds, but some Chardonnays provide a fantastic alternative. I have learned to love the rich, buttery, oakey flavor of some Chardonnays, and La Crema Chardonnay was a great option. My friend, Marianne, had stopped by my place the other week and gave me the bottle because her and her husband don't drink white wine (oh bummer!).

Description:

"The Sonoma Coast growing region begins at the Mendocino County border, continues along the western coastal edge of Sonoma County through the mouth of the Russian River Valley, and extends to the Los Carneros region on the southern Sonoma/Napa border. Similar to the Burgundy region of France, these vineyards offer an unusually long, cool and even growing season, where Chardonnay is beautifully aromatic, citrus-laced and layered.

Perhaps our most popular release overall, this vintage of Sonoma Coast Chardonnay opens with an intriguing interplay of lively citrus and subtle toasted oak, laced with just a kiss of butterscotch. The palate is round and nutty, with flavors of yellow apple and orange adding lushness, while well-balanced acidity creates a lovely vibrancy."

Source

Superbowl Sunset - Part II


Still lovin' it!

Superbowl Sunset

Sounds good to me!