Friday, August 31, 2012

The wonders of a personal day

Yesterday at work, I was thinking about the weekend looming ahead, and realized the overwhelming to-do list I had to tackle on Friday evening.  I thought "there is no way I am going to have time to get all those things done," and then realized that if I took a day off of work, that it might be the answer to all my problems.  And that's exactly what I did....

This morning I woke up and accomplished the following:

-Cleaned my kitchen
-Ate breakfast
-Took out the trash and recycling (a lot of it)
-Returned over $200 worth of clothes
-Got a much deserved Americano at Peet's Coffee
-Went to the bank to deposit two checks
-Took Lucy to the dog park
-Took two huge boxes of clothes to Goodwill
-Took Lucy to the pet boarding place (yes, it was an emotional goodbye)
-Cancelled my Comcast internet service (to save money by sharing with my new neighbor!!)
-Took clothes to the drycleaners

Did I mention that all of these tasks were completed between 8:00 AM and 1:00 PM?!

I am POSITIVE that there is no way I would have gotten those things done in 5 hours on a Friday night or a typical Saturday.  In addition to being a morning person, I am someone who gets stressed out and unproductive when I have to run errands during busy "public" times of the day - too much drama (parking, traffic, noise, angry people, lines, etc). 

In conclusion, I am SO impressed with myself today and am relieved I was able to ditch a huge load of stress.  There is nothing worse than having lingering, nagging, and overwhelming feelings inside.  This week was one of my most stressful work weeks I've had in my career, and am proud that I ended it on a positive note by focusing entirely on myself (and Lucy :).

When is the last time you've taken a personal day for yourself?  Can you make it happen?  If it's not an option with your work, can you consider making ZERO plans on an upcoming Saturday or Sunday to focus just on you and being productive - or doing whatever you need to do to feel happy and peaceful inside?

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The simple summer treats

The other day Lucy and I went to visit my friends Katrina and Nick (along with their baby (Zach), and their dog (Frank), of course.  We just hung out in the back yard, chatted, and looked at the beautiful garden while Lucy and Frank ran in circles.  It reminded me that the simple (free) things in life are so wonderful (friendship, the outdoors, and goofy dogs - to name a few...).  Today I was looking at the photos I took that day, and wanted to share a couple with you.


Monday, August 20, 2012

August Lessons

Lately I've been having countless "a-ha" moments.  Life lessons that come to me during the day where I go " closed."  The interesting thing is that most of these realizations have been so simple.  Collectively, they remind me how important it is to live in the present and be mindful of the little things.

I've been storing these random thoughts in my head and decided that I need to get a few of them in writing.  Hopefully they provide you with a little inspiration and/or a laugh :).

25 Life Lessons from the Wellness Gal (in no particular order)

1.  Candles are awesome. And sexy.
2.  Downward dog is an absolutely amazing pose.
3.  A loud, long, gut busting laugh is one of the best ways to get over a slump. 
4.   Spending time in silence every day is key to our health.
5.  Music can heal a broken human spirit (more about that later).
6.  Adding new chick flicks to my DVD collection is a definite "worth it" purchase.
7.  Outdoor yoga is one of the greatest things I've ever done.
8.  I love my dog.
9.  Spending time outside is critical to my health.
10.  Having a gym that's a beautiful facility in a beautiful location is key to me going to the gym.
11.  Drinking (lots of) water makes me feel a lot better.
12.  Reading great self help books can be life changing.
13.  Living in the present is so much better than living in the past or thinking too much about the future.
14.  "Never underestimate your power to change yourself.  Never overestimate your power to change others" (Dyer, Dr. Wayne. Excuses Begone, p 147).
15.  Don't waste time or energy on people who don't enrich your life and make you happy.
16.  Be patient and kind to strangers.
17.  Practicing yoga is one of the best things you can do for the human body and spirit at the same time.
18.   It's okay to cry.  Get it out.  Be real.
19.  When someone hurts you, it's rarely about you.
20.  Cucumber water is awesome.  So is hot water with lemon.
21.  Doing things outside my comfort zone can help me in the end.
22.  Writing in my journal is such a great mental health move.
23.  It's worth it to buy awesome pens (thank you, Gretchen Rubin)
24.  I am so lucky to live in this world.
25.  Know the friends who you have a spiritual connection with...and spend time with those friends.

More for later...

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A kind reminder

I may have posted this quote here before, but wanted to post it again.  I believe we should be conscientious every day about the way we treat those around us.  I also think that the way a person treats strangers says a lot about his/her character. 

Let me tell you a little story about when this quote smacked me in the face the other month.  I was on a plane flying to a work conference in Philadelphia in June.  I was tired, a bit irritable, and anxious about work and life in general (nothing new).  While I was trying to relax and take a nap, the person behind me kept on kicking my chair throughout the flight.  I was getting more and more frustrated as the flight progressed, and even looked at my neighbor and said "is he kicking your chair too?!" 

Just as I was about to turn around and give a disgruntled "look" to the mystery person sitting behind me, I saw the flight attendant approach the person's chair.  More kicking began, but I soon realized that this person was getting out of his chair and into a wheel chair that the attendant had brought over to him.   I looked over and saw the most happy, kind, old man sitting in his wheelchair.  The attendant proceeded to push the thankful man down the aisle, bumping into other chairs, just so that the man could use the restroom.

For a moment, it felt like the world froze where the message or lesson I was learning sunk in so deep. I instantly felt like crap.  The whole situation just broke my heart.  Here I was, in a huff about my chair being bumped while a poor old man needed help getting out of his chair.   I thought, you never know who might be sitting behind you (note: that's an analogy). 

Monday, August 13, 2012

How each day becomes more beautiful

Today Seattle lost a beautiful, kind, intelligent, and loving woman.  Kathi Goertzen was a beloved TV news anchor from Komo news who passed away after a long battle with brain cancer.

Komo news shared: "Our co-worker, our angel, our precious friend, Kathi Goertzen, died today, surrounded by her loving family. The long fight against the tumors that have ravaged her brain is over. She is at peace now, comfortable and surrounded by all that is good" (Source).

Earlier today, I was reading an article about Kathi and was brought to tears by her words:

"There's only one way to take life now and that's one day at a time, and it's funny when you stop planning and planning and try to decide what you're going to do next, how each day becomes more beautiful." -Kathi Goertzen (Source)

After a long, overwhelming day, I was brought back to reality after reading this quote.  It's interesting how life lessons come to us when we need them the most.  Thank you, Kathi, for being an inspiration to so many.  Thank you for reminding us how beautiful life is.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Colorado recharge


As some of you know, I go to Colorado every Summer to spend time with my cousin Robin and her family.  This year's trip was of course wonderful (as always), and involved a lot of Olympic watching!  Also on the agenda was great wine and food, pool time, morning walks, and reading.  Not too shabby....

Being in Colorado reminds me (mainly) of three things:

1.  I am blessed to have a cousin who I call my big sister, who teaches me so much!
2.  Colorado is one of the most beautiful states in the U.S.A.
3.  Getting out of my home/work environment to spend time with loved ones (especially kids that make me laugh 24/7) is one of the best wellness strategies I know!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The best book buzz ever!

Over the past few months I've read three of the best (nonfiction) books I've ever read in my life.  All of them have completely resonated with me.  They are sincere, entertaining, moving, well written, thought provoking, and life changing.

"Reading more often" has been on my to-do list for (what has felt like) forever, and so I'm thrilled that I've been more consistent this year!   I've learned that I do much better reading books with practical (life) application - I take something away each time, large or small.  I like being challenged to think outside the box and look at the way I live my life.

In conclusion, I've enjoyed these books so much that I feel obligated to Blog about them!  Note: if you believe that "self help" books aren't for you, I'd still encourage you to give one of them a shot :).  #2 would be my recommendation for non-self-help types...

1.  The Gifts of Imperfection (by Brene Brown)

I blogged about this book a month or two ago.  It is simply refreshing and awesome.   I highly recommend this book, especially if you consider yourself a perfectionist whose instinct is to beat yourself up instead of saying "I am enough and okay with not doing everything perfectly."

Amazon writes:

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)

2.  The Happiness Project (by Gretchen Rubin)

I was introduced to this book by my friends Maria and Marianne.  We love it so much that we are contemplating doing our own Happiness Project(s).  We also have plans to see Gretchen Rubin in October for her book release!  I can't wait to meet this brilliant author.

The Happiness Project is about a woman (Gretchen) who decides to change her life in one year by focusing on improving one particular area of her life each month (ex: marriage, kids, finances, organization/clutter, etc).  The book is fun, entertaining, thought provoking, and practical.  It reminds me how helpful it can be to focus on doing one thing well, rather than trying to do 10 things at once and feeling disappointed in the end.  Again, I highly recommend this book to anyone, even the non self help types. :)

3.  Excuses Begone! (by Dr. Wayne Dyer)

Disclaimer: I am not done with this book yet.  I've been plowing through it for the past few days and am 2/3 of the way through.  Boy, do I love it.   My friend Megan recommended this to me last year, but at first I was hesitant to pull the trigger.  Let's be honest about "judging the cover" - this guy kind of looks like a nut and the book seemed a bit too "new-agey" for me.  However, Megan still encouraged me to just let go and give it a try.  I AM SO GLAD I DID!

I had the benefit of starting this book on my recent vacation to Colorado.  In the mornings, I sat outside by the mountains reading page after page (yes, with my nerdy English major yellow highlighter).  As cheesy as it sounds, I felt so awakened after just the first two chapters.

This book is a slap in the face in the best way possible.  The message is POWERFUL.  It talks about how often we make excuses that prevent us from living the life that we truly desire.  Instead of living in the present, we tend to dwell about the past or think too far ahead.   Dr. Dyer writes: "I'm writing this book to help you gain awareness of the excuses you use for behaving in ways that don't help you achieve the level of health, happiness, and success you desire" (14).  He later says: "The only thing an excuse gives you is an option out of the life that you'd like to live" (81).  Wow.

One of the main reasons why I love Excuses Begone! is that it helps you be aware of your behavior and habits, including letting go of past experiences that you think have caused the limitations in your life.  Ultimately, we create our own limitations and it's up to us to decide what we truly value, want to prioritize, and (therefore) how to live our lives.  We need to be willing to say: "I'm the product of all the choices I've made in my life.  I have no one to blame for anything that isn't going the way I'd like it to go, including myself" (119).

What a refreshing way of thinking!  Let me tell you, as I've read this book, I've really thought critically about the elements of my life that I struggle with.  I've learned how much I've made excuses for not living the life I want, usually out of fear, insecurities, or exhaustion.  These are just three of the 18 excuses Dr. Dyer features in his "Excuse Catalog" in Chapter 3 (quite entertaining but so valid).  This book has already proven to me that we have way more power than we think we have to live the life we want. 

I feel so thankful to have read three live changing books this year.   In upcoming months, I am hoping to develop my own Happiness Project that is rooted in the excuses/fears that I've been living with for a long time (more on that later). 

What is a book that has helped you re-think the way you live or made you a happier person?

Chardonnay and Vball!

After coming home from my annual Colorado vacation yesterday, I found myself feeling happy but wiped out.  I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to sit down, relax, and just BE.  No unpacking, no laundry, no cleaning, or forcing myself to be productive.

I found myself doing two things, which proved to make the perfect evening:

1.  Drinking a glass of one of my favorite Chardonnays (La Crema)

2. Watching Misty and Kerry in the Olympics (go USA!)


Being full of sparkle and compassion (yep, I said sparkle)

Today I came across this quote on my friend Megan's Facebook page (thank you for sharing!).  Megan wrote: "Absolutely IN LOVE with this quote! Such a great way to embrace each day!!!"  I love this quote because it captures so much about life and living it fully - with honestly, compassion, and optimism.