Sunday, September 30, 2012

Pumpkin Sunday!

Since Fall has officially begun, I decided to start my Sunday the right way with one of my favorite breakfasts: Spiced Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes with Spiced French Roast Coffee.  It was truly amazing.

I posted the recipe to the pancakes last November after seeing it in my Health Magazine.  For the whole wheat pancake mix, I use Bob's Red Mill 10 Grain Pancake & Waffle Whole Grain Mix.  I like it because it's healthy nutritionally (has a good amount of fiber, protein, and is made with flax), and it doesn't have that dry/cardboard texture.  For the coffee, I combine fresh ground coffee with a few shakes of nutmeg and cinnamon, mixed together in the filter bag.  You can pick one spice to use alone, but I think it's way better with both!

I love Sundays where it's so relaxing and things don't feel "hurried."  When you can take the time to make Pumpkin Spiced Pancakes...while watching football :).

From work, to appreciation, to SELF

If you're one of my regular readers (who I get text/emails from if I haven't posted a new article in three days - you know who you are), you probably noticed that my Blog went to almost "nonactive" in late September.

Quick recap of my life: my organization had our annual fundraiser on Friday night.  This meant that for the past two weeks, my entire staff worked until 9:00 PM 7 days a week (yes, that means Saturdays and Sundays too) until the event was over.  This also included lots of long hours and weekend work days in August.  Yesterday (after the event was over), I worked a full day with the post-event banking, announcements, etc.

This month, I didn't really have an opportunity to focus on my wellness.  I think I exercised once over the past three weeks (as opposed to my normal 5-6 days per week), and my "workout" was a 30 minute walk.  I didn't have time to grocery shop or cook healthy meals.  I managed to spend time with a friend once, which was an impromptu "happy hour" at 8:30 PM with my dear friend Maria (it was a LOT of fun, for the record).   I got to see my family once.   Last, but not least, I didn't have time to write (journal, blog, etc).

What's interesting in all of this is that I never once felt resentful about working so much.  I think it's because I love my job and felt so good about my hard work that the other things didn't matter to me.  I thought "I know it's a Saturday night at 9:00 PM and I'm at the office, but I am so lucky to A) have a job, and B) have a job I love."  My addiction to work ended up being a happy and healthy one.

This morning I woke up feeling so excited about the day and the new month ahead.  If September was "the month of work," October will be "the month of self."  My focus in October will be taking care of myself (along with my home, and Lucy - who I've been referring to as my "neglected dog").  I'm not sure if I've ever felt so excited to be at home, clean my house, and take care of myself. 

You probably saw or watched the youtube video that I posted above.  I came across this video last week, and it quickly became my "pick me up" during those long work nights.  It somehow reminds me of my recent experiences, and trying to be grateful for the little things, along with the big picture.

Something else I'll be looking forward to this month is a little bit of self indulgence (just being honest).  I started this off yesterday with a trip to West Elm (note: I parked my car in a 30 minute load/unload zone to put a cap on my shopping time).  I found my most favorite candle (was thrilled it was still available) and splurged on a beautiful faux-fur throw, which I had been wanting for a while (and will put to great use this Fall on cooler nights).

Today I am watching the Seahawks game, blogging away, and thinking about the new month ahead.  I am grateful.

How will you make October a great month?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Pushing through intimidating tasks

My great friend, Marianne, shared this quote with me and our friend, Maria, the other week.  Marianne and I have always joked (although we are kind of serious at the same time) that "we only do things we know we're good at!"  Yes, it's true.

It is not instinctual (at least for most people) to try new things that intimidate us, especially when we fear we might fail the first time.  So, we lean toward activities where we know we'll succeed and keep our self esteem on an upward slant.

The above quote is particularly relevant to my plans for today.  Tonight I am going to my first hot yoga class (Bikram Yoga, to be technical).  I got a Groupon months ago and have absolutely been avoiding it ever sense (yes, for some reason I am a tad hesitant to submerge myself into a heated room for an hour and a half).  Since the coupon expires tomorrow, I have no choice other than to take the plunge and head to Bikram Yoga tonight after work.  I consider it a blessing in disguise.

In all seriousness, I am excited to go to the class, because I know that when I am done with the class I will feel so proud of myself for going - mostly because I will have pushed myself to do something out of my comfort zone and try something new.  In addition, this month I have been focusing on practicing yoga, so developing by hot yoga practice will be a great way to honor that commitment.

Lately I have been learning about how my thoughts (both negative and positive) have the power to influence the outcome of various situations.  For instance, if I go into this yoga class thinking "This yoga class will be challenging but so rewarding!" - that positive outcome is much more likely to happen, vs. me saying "I am dreading this class and it's going to be miserable."   In other words, we often get back what we put out, both in our thoughts, energy, and actions.

What is one thing you could do this week to challenge yourself?  What is something in your life that you would like to see become easy after you push through the hard stuff?  Keeping a clean kitchen?  Reading that book that's been on your shelf for two years?  Running an 8K? 

Marianne (L), Maria (C), and myself (R) - fun times!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The power of a morning walk

In the past I have blogged about how wonderful walking is.  I continue to be amazed by how much walking helps my mental, physical, and emotional well being.  In short, it sets the tone of my day and/or makes my day better if it wasn't on the right track to begin with.  I love walking because when I hit those moments where I feel like I have very little to give, I know that I can (at minimum) put on my shoes and leave my condo for just a bit.

This morning I woke up and my body was craving a walk.  It was an overcast morning, around 60 degrees, with few cars or people passing by.  Everything surrounding me felt so quiet and peaceful.

As I walked through the neighborhood with Lucy (and my soy latte, of course :), I instantly felt a sense of calm.  I felt a positive energy surrounding me and was thankful that I started my day with a walk. 

Dedicate yourself to love

“Dedicate yourself to Love. Decide to let Love be your intention, your purpose, and your point. And then let Love inspire you, support you and guide you in every other dedication you make thereafter.” -Robert Holden

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Waking up in the morning with no regrets

My friend Heather shared this quote on Facebook this morning, and I loved how relevant it was to the my last post on my latest read (Adding More -ing to Your Life) - on letting go, practicing forgiveness, and living life fully.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Adding "ing" to my life!

This weekend I went to Minnesota for my good friend Colleen's wedding.  It was a fantastic time indeed (more on that later!).  On the plane ride home, I read a new book called "Add More 'ing to Your Life: A Hip Guide to Happiness"by Gabrielle Bernstein. 

I happened to find this book while I was waiting for my flight.  After digging in a bit, I knew it was right up my alley:

"Lots of people are selling "happiness" these days, but in her hip self-transformation book, Add More -ing to Your Life, motivational speaker and life coach Gabrielle Bernstein truly shows you how to make happiness a way of life by accessing your -ing—your Inner Guide.  In her thirty-day -ing Equation, Gabrielle will show you how to bulldoze negative thought patterns and create personal change through positive affirmations, physical activity, and visualization meditations.  Get prepared to change your life by accessing a state of "flow" to help you connect with your -ing. You'll release your negativity and choose happiness!" (Source)

In the Introduction, Bernstein explains that "Ing" means "inner guidance," or the "voice inside of you that screams intuitive loving thoughts and says 'bug off' to fear" (27). 

The thing I most liked about this book (besides that it was an upbeat, quick, and refreshing read) was that Gabrielle asks really tough challenge questions about our inner voice and the way we behave.  Challenge questions (in the context of this book and my blog) really cause you to take an honest look in the mirror and think about who you are and how you can grow.  A lot of Gabrielle's questions related to the topic of negative thinking patterns, and practicing forgiveness, which was very eye opening for me:

"Do you feel stuck in negative patterns for fear of feeling hurt or disappointed?" (37)

"Do you feel that you are not good enough in some areas of your life?" (37)

"What relationships or memories still cause me to feel acute pain or sadness?  Who am I unwilling to forgive?" (50).

"Do you often feel defensive, agitated or frustrated in response to others?  Are there certain people who can really push your buttons?" (85)

"Do you feel stuck in obsessive thought patterns?" (121)

"Are you stuck accepting a negative perception of yourself?" (155)

"Have you been blocking yourself from being the person you want to be and achieving the things you want to achieve?" (155)

"How would you like the world to receive you?" (155)

The main reason why I loved this book was because it got me to think critically about myself and my behavior (in a healthy and compassionate way!), and realize how many negative thinking patterns I still operate with each day (some consciously, which I attempt to justify, and others are more subconscious).  It made me wonder the following: if I really tried my best to release these thinking patterns and let go more often (living more in the present), how would this change my life as a whole?

More food for thought later...Happy Labor Day!