Monday, December 31, 2012

2012: The Year of Learning

 

When I set out to conquer the world in 2012 (well, not the world, but you know what I mean), I said that 2012 was going to be a great year.  I was going to make it the best year ever, live it up, and was convinced so many "great things" would happen.

As I sit at my home on Monday evening, December 31st, the phrase "great year" is not exactly jumping out at me.  I'll be honest: this year wasn't easy.  My happiness felt as if it trickled in and out all the time - I felt down in the dumps more often than I preferred.  I traveled so much for work and weddings (which made things difficult financially, and I never felt like I took trips for myself).  Work was very stressful compared to the other years at my organization.  I felt chronically behind in sleep and exhausted all the time.  I didn't "see" much progress happen in other areas of my life.  It almost felt as if life for me stayed exactly same as it was the previous year.  In addition, December's tragedy in Connecticut shook me to the core (on multiple levels)...and I still am struggling to get over the incident (I don't think I ever really will).  For the icing on the cake, this Christmas wasn't exactly my favorite.  Isn't Santa supposed to be a guaranteed win?!

After reflecting on all of this, I asked myself: "Why do I feel as if nothing exciting happened to me this year?  I know 365 days must have provided me with something to celebrate, right?"

Fortunately, I came up with a possible answer to this question.  When we think of what it means to "have a great year," our thoughts often wander to stereotypical American/cultural achievements or sensational moments.  For example:

-Buying a home
-Meeting the love of your life
-Losing 20 lbs
-Getting a promotion
-Having a child
-Remodeling your kitchen
-Retirement
-Starting a new business

[SOUND FAMILIAR?]

In addition, when you run into someone you know, we tend to ask each other the same set of questions: "How is your home?  How is your dog/child/husband/etc?  How is work?  You look great - did you lose weight?"  While these things are certainly important areas of our lives, I'm not convinced that we should use them as a way to assess our progress or complete happiness in life.  It's like putting all of our eggs into one basket and saying: "If these three things don't happen this year, then I won't be happy or feel as if I accomplished anything."

REALLY?

When I take a closer look at 2012, I think that a lot of what I went through related to the concept of my life journey and learning experiences.  Thus, I have officially decided to call 2012 "The Year of Learning." While I may not have achieved anything "new" or have"big news" to report, I have been learning a TON about myself and life in general.  This relates to my friendships, family, dating relationships, the work environment, my health, the world around me, volunteering, and how I spend my time.  Maybe it's hard to capture those unique learning experiences (like the checklist above), but is that what the year is really about?  Is it all about a list that highlights all the things we've accomplished?

One of the best lessons I learned this year was about the overall concept of happiness. I stumbled upon a quote in February that really made me think:

"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."  

I LOVE THIS QUOTE.  The main reason is that it reminds me that you can't expect everything to be perfect all the time.  There will be crappy days/weeks/months.  You will struggle in your relationships.  You will feel not hot sometimes.  You will have days at work that are stressful.  Friends will let you down.  You will let your friends down.  The list goes on.   However, the more you can accept that happiness is "never constant," the happier you can feel.  Not only are our expectations more reasonable, but when awesome things do happen, we feel so much more excited and grateful for our blessings.  We then can live "great" lives.  Cheers to that!

What is something that you learned about this year that you can celebrate as we kick off 2013?

The meaning of confidence


"Confidence is the willingness to be as ridiculous, luminous, intelligent, and kind as you really are, without embarrassment" (Source).

My friend Noelle shared this quote on Facebook today, and I absolutely love it.  I really appreciate quotes about confidence that have a key message of authenticity and simply being who you are, bringing to light some qualities that our culture often forgets to focus on.

As 2012 comes to a close, what will confidence look like for you in 2013?

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Not doing what makes you happy - really?

We can all aspire to these abs, right? (Photo Source)

The other day I had lunch with my wonderful friend, Anna.  We got talking about exercise and our weekly routines (or lack thereof).  Anna once completed a full marathon and used to run often, but had slowly gotten out of the habit of running (sounds like me - minus the marathon part). Recently, she told her husband that she "hates" running and didn't want to do it.  Seth looked at her and said "Anna - that is crap. You love running.  What are you talking about?" Great point, Seth...

In thinking further, Anna and I realized that as much as we say we dread running and don't like it - really, we do.  It makes us HAPPY.  It is so healthy for you, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  Name one time you went for a run or worked out, and left not feeling glad you did?

It's interesting how we make excuses that prevent us from doing things that make us happy (the best book I have ever read on this topic is Excuses Begone! by Dr. Wayne Dyer - I highly recommend reading).  When I think about why I don't run, it's not because I don't like it - it's because it intimidates me.  The idea of going on a run often seems daunting because when I'm out of practice, I don't really enjoy those first couple of miles.  I feel disappointed that I'm not running as fast as I used to, and fearful of the journey that it will take to get there.  Then I figure I might as well just not run.

Moving forward, I know that the best thing I can do is to start SMALL.  Instead of saying I "should" run three times a week, why not run once a week?  Instead of worrying about a mile time, why not just make it a goal to finish the run period, and feel proud of myself for that? 

What is a fitness activity that intimidates you, but you really want to do deep down inside? 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The story of the M necklace


I wanted to share a little story about a friendship gesture that meant a lot to me during the holiday season...

A few days ago I got to see my good friend Mariko who was home for the holidays.  We met to watch the Seahawks game with our brothers, and it was such a fun time.  During half time, we were catching up and I noticed she was wearing a darling gold "M" necklace.  I told her how much I loved the necklace and how I'd been looking for something like it for myself for some time.  Without any hesitation, Mariko took off her necklace and said "Margie, I've had my M necklace for a while, and now it's time for you to have yours...besides, we don't get to see each other often so you can think of me when you wear it."  She then put the necklace around my neck.

This could not have been a more authentic, sweet gesture.  If I wasn't at a crowded bar watching a football game with beer and dudes, I most certainly would have started crying :).  That moment reminded me of how thankful I am to have Mariko in my life and how much I treasure the times we are together.  

 
 Thank you, Mariko, for your friendship!


Saturday, December 22, 2012

A holiday pedi!


I'm a firm believer that a pedicure and/or manicure now and then can serve as a perfect pick me up when you're having an off day (or month).  The weather in Seattle has not been the best, the holidays are a tad stressful, and I haven't felt the most put together lately (putting on cute outfits feels rather daunting these days).  I find that having nice nails makes me feel more put together in general.

On Thursday I went to get a pedicure with my colleagues at my favorite nail place in Seattle, Spa Envy.  I normally gravitate toward lavender, pick, and brown hued colors, but decided I needed to branch out and do a fun holiday color.  "An Affair in Red Square" by OPI was the perfect choice!  It's a classic holiday red color with a shimmer that polishes things off perfectly - no pun intended.


I love this color enough that I purchased it when I checked out.  Totally worth it!

Friday, December 14, 2012

The weird thing about "priorities"


This week has been a bit of an off week for me.  I got thinking last night about why I might feel NOT like myself (note: this was done with a cup of Peppermint tea for good measure).

When I do this exercise, I typically ask myself my three key "stress check" questions:

1.  Have I been exercising?
2.  Have I been eating healthy?
3.  Have I been getting enough sleep?

99.9% of the time when I'm not feeling great, it's a triple NO to those questions.   This week, that's definitely the case.

This got me thinking about the concept of priorities in general.  Exercise, nutrition, and sleep are certainly what I'd consider "priorities" if I wrote a list of all the things that are important to me in life.  Some other items on the list:

-My family
-My faith
-My job
-My health (in general)
-Maintaining my home
-My finances
-Time for self
-My friendships
-Spending time outside
-My dog :).

Here's the weird thing...when I look at that list and am honest with myself, I can count MANY of those things that I haven't prioritized for a while.  With work, travels, and other obligations, I know that some of my friendships have been neglected.  My workout schedule has been all over the place.  I bounce between 6 and 9 hours of sleep throughout the week.  I sometimes have to think for a minute about the last time I prayed.  The list goes on...

This begs the question - are all those things TRULY priority for me?

A priority is something that is "highest or higher in importance" (according to dictionary.com).  If going to yoga class was a priority for me, wouldn't I pick that over staying at home and drinking wine and watching Netflix instant viewer?  Is wine + TV my actual priority?  Yes, funny, but let's be real - it's a valid question. 

Realistically, I don't think that we can make everything that is important to us a top priority at the same time, but I do think it's wise to think about how we are spending our time and when (and why) we are letting our priorities get away from ourselves.  Maybe we also confuse priorities with "values," and we waver with what values we make a priority.

All I do know is that the past few weeks have made me more aware of how I spend my time, and how my decisions relate to my energy level.  When I am overwhelmed, wiped out, and sleep deprived, almost everything goes.  I don't feel like I have the energy to work out, go grocery shopping to prepare healthy meals, go to my favorite yoga class, or make plans with friends.  I think that sometimes we are guilty of an "all or nothing" approach, and feel like we've failed if we "only" make it to the gym two times in one week instead of five, or if we get 7 hours of sleep instead of 8.  I think that at the end of the day, if we can take small steps to Show Up for Ourselves...a little can go a long way. ;)


Monday, December 3, 2012

Whoa pilates!

Today I received an email with a new video by Equinox of women doing Pilates (to some very trendy music :).   I've been practicing Pilates this year and have definitely noticed the benefits of the practice, including (but not limited to): posture improvement, toning, lengthening, core strength, stress release, and overall awareness of my body, breathing, and core use.

It's pretty impressive how talented and in shape these women are!  I give them some credit.


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Banana and Spinach Smoothie (yep!)


Today I needed an afternoon snack so decided to make a smoothie:

1 banana
spinach
soy milk
a few ice cubes

I had no idea how it would turn out, but this smoothie was great!  It had a good texture and wasn't too sweet.  I learned earlier this year that spinach is a great addition to any smoothie.  It has great nutrients and doesn't have a strong taste so it blends well with almost everything.  I feel the same way about bananas, although I'm a bit of a stickler for using fresh (yellow with a hint of green) or frozen ones.

I did a little digging and found out that the banana and spinach smoothie combination is actually quite healthy and popular.  "A smoothie serves as a snack to help get you through the day, or can be used to replenish energy and nutrient stores after a tough workout. In addition to their virtually limitless versatility, smoothies allow you to consume several servings of vegetables and fruits in one sitting. A smoothie made with banana and spinach provides your body with several essential nutrients, and offers a number of health benefits" (Source). 

Nutritional benefits: Vitamin K, Potassium, Vitamin A

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Latest nutty obsession: youtube animal videos

Last night, before heading to bed, I stumbled upon a series of animal videos on youtube.  I know you're probably thinking "om, that's random" but let me tell you - they were unbelievable.  Which is why I'm sharing my top 5 favorites.  If you aren't impressed or you don't smile, then I don't know what else to say!

Kitten falling asleep


Lions loving their friend


Man swimming with a polar bear


Friendly deer


Baby elephant climbs on top of his mom


Let's make that 6...

A pet penguin


Hope this made your day better!

New wine find: Acronym GR8 Red Wine


Today when I was grocery shopping at QFC, I saw a featured sale of a new wine: Acronym GR8 Red Wine.  I am a big fan of red blends and the description looked great, so I gave it a whirl. 

THIS WINE IS FANTASTIC.  I did a little internet research and found out that this wine was just released in October in an effort to engage the "millennial wine consumer."

The description:
Acronym Red Blend is dark ruby red with aromas of red berry fruit combined with hints of roasted coffee, soft vanilla and milk chocolate. The wine is made for good food, fun friends and is a perfect partner to sausage and cheese appetizers or anything on the grill. (Source)

Water health!


I love this image.  If you ever wonder why drinking water is so important - this should provide a sufficient answer!