A Vow of Vulnerability

Today I took a little walk down memory lane.  It wasn’t intentional or anything, but once the door was opened it was hard to stop.  I was searching through my computer trying to find an old document when I stumbled across some old iChat conversations.  Instant Messenger.  Also known as the start and end to so many relationships, friendships, arguments, flirtatious interactions, plans, rumors, and the medium that captured the person I was so few years ago.

Since college, really since my first heartbreak I have come a long way.  I have greater self-awareness and I am much more independent than I was before.  My perspective on relationships changed after mine fell apart.  I learned that relationships are not easy.  They are not perfect.  They do not provide security without work and even then it is not guaranteed.  They do not define you.  Relationships are made up of two individuals that grow and change at their own rate. Some succeed where others would fail and vice versa.  Each relationship is unique.  I learned what it takes to get over someone.  I learned how to accept when something is no longer working.  I learned to understand that when someone moves on to someone else it isn’t about you.  I learned how difficult it is to move on from a person and a life you thought you had and until you choose to do so it is near impossible.  The decision must come from within, but once you choose to move forward you free yourself up to enter a love affair with yourself.

It was a necessary step for me to embrace my independence.  There is something so empowering in learning that my happiness, my goals, and my priorities do not have to be tied to another person.  They are mine and they can shift and change as often as I do.  I think having taken this step will make me a better partner in my next relationship.  The problem is I have to figure out how to get to the next step:  be open to others again.

In reliving all of my embarrassing past exchanges with ex-boyfriends, crushes, and friends I saw something that I left in my past.  Vulnerability.  Before I’d really been hurt or rejected or heart broken, I lived as though I couldn’t be.  I was open.  I was comfortable enough with my feelings to let people in.  I didn’t weigh so hard on the possibility that my feelings wouldn’t be reciprocated or that I would hurt someone or they would hurt me.  I haven’t been that way in a very long time.  I didn’t realize until recently just how guarded I have been the past couple of years and I think it’s about time I start working towards that next step.

Now, I’m not telling myself to go get wifed up or start trying to talk to and date every guy I meet but what I am telling myself is to be open.  Be vulnerable enough to let some people in so that when the right one comes along I will be ready.  I’m sure I’ve written off plenty of “right guys” using the “wrong me” “wrong time” excuses.  I’ve built an unspoken wall that is intimidating to push through and I get that.  But slowly, I am going to start taking it down because really, what am I so afraid of?

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Tough Mudder in Training

That’s right. I’ve officially signed up for a Tough Mudder race.

If you’ve never heard of Tough Mudder before, check out the video below. Don’t worry, it’s only “probably the toughest event on the planet.”

November 9th in San Diego I will be meeting a handful of my friends to take on the challenge! I am incredibly pumped… oh and also nervous, anxious, and scared shitless. But don’t worry, my excitement takes precedence.

Yesterday morning after dropping my friend off at the airport I drove straight out to the Red Rocks Amphitheater to catch the sun rise and get the first day of training under my belt.  Not the worst place to train!  I’ve told myself I’m going to try and get down there for a run at least three times a week.  It’s so good to have something concrete to work towards.  Hopefully I will be able to push myself to get into the shape I want and need to be for the race.  Wish me luck and send me motivation!

Reset

I wish I had the inspiration, motivation or discipline to blog as I made my way through some big life changes these past few months but I didn’t, and that’s that.  But here I am…

in Denver.

I had been toying with the idea of changing things up for a while now and an opportunity for a new adventure presented itself to me and in three weeks I had quit my job, bought a car, packed up my NYC apartment, and drove west.  Don’t fret, I’ll likely post more about my decision to leave New York and lessons learned from the big city and all that jazz but this post is about embracing my new adventure and all the stress, anxiety, excitement, and emotion that comes with it.

My new opportunity does not provide me the same professional security that my job back in New York did.  Enter financial stress.

I am still searching for a place to live.  That’s right, I have a mobile closet in the form of a four door Toyota Rav4.  Lucky for me, I have an amazing friend who has an equally awesome cousin in Denver who has offered to take me in for the time being.  Still, there’s something about waking up on a deflated air mattress and not having your own true space.

I am lonely.  And that’s the worst one to say out loud.

This change came about so quickly that I didn’t have time to deal with the emotional impact of the decision, I had so much to get done before I left.  I’m very good at avoiding and that’s exactly what I did.  I focused on how excited I was and all the positives of my move that I did not allow myself to feel for what I was leaving behind and how scary this all would be once I got here.  But here I am, allowing myself to feel it and move on.

I love meeting new people.  I think everyone has something wonderful to offer and I love trying to figure out what that is.  Connecting with people is one of my absolute favorite things in the world but sometimes it takes work.  And right now I don’t feel like working at it.  Sometimes you just want someone who already knows you inside and out to just simply be there.

And that’s where I am today, finally allowing myself to feel all of these things that I’ve been trying to avoid and polish over with a smile and uplifting words.  Because sometimes you just need to feel.  So I’ve allowed myself the day to get it all out and  then that’s it I have to let go, reset and attack tomorrow.  So here goes.

I feel unsettled, frustrated, anxious, homesick, lonely, unattractive, out of shape, dehydrated, tired, nervous, scared, like I need a hot shower, like I need a hug, like I need a thunderstorm, angry that I shattered my phone, upset that I scratched my car and proud.

I’ve finally acknowledged these not so nice feelings and even still I am confident that I’ve made the right decision.  So tonight before bed, I will hit my reset button and I will wake up on the right side of the bed ready to take control of the things I can and let go of the things I can’t.  Here’s to one hell of an adventure!

 

Regaining Balance

Life is a balancing act.

I am reminded this every couple of months when I am on the brink of a breakdown due to social, professional, or personal pressures I put on myself.  And here we are again.

In college it was my responsibility to balance my academic, athletic, and social obligations.  Often, I would reach a point where I was overwhelmed and needed to put something the back burner in order to get something else done.  After graduating, my responsibilities shifted slightly, but the need to maintain balance has stayed the same.

It is not rare for me to bite off more than I can chew (truly a figurative and literal statement for me).  I am by nature a people-pleaser.  A quality I find to be a duel-edged sword.  What suffers when I take on and take on and take on is more often than not myself.  I become exhausted and stressed striving to make others happy, or honor my commitments, or meet a deadline until it gets to be too much.

My mom always told me, “You can do everything you want.  You just can’t do everything you want at the same time.”

This has been a hard lesson for me to learn.  Because I want to do it all I think I can do it all, and I think I can do it well… and that’s just not realistic.  If work and my social life are going to be my priorities, my personal responsibility to manage my stress, watch what I eat, and get enough sleep will suffer.  Likewise, if my social life and personal responsibility take my focus, the amount of time I spend at work and the quality of my work will get less attention.  Without prioritizing my obligations I become overwhelmed with all that’s on my plate and fall victim to distraction rather than making dents anywhere.  That’s where I found myself this week.

I am trying to juggle my ever growing To Do List for an upcoming event at work, while looking ahead and planning out a career and location change, while keeping and making plans to see friends and travel on weekends, but also save money and budget, and also tone up and hit the gym and eat right and when do I have time to sleep?!  I could argue that everything on my list is the most important.  So how can I focus on one long enough to cross anything off?

When my head gets so cluttered with everything that I have to do and I start responding to the anxiety by doing nothing.  At least for a day or two.  Or in this case… four.  But now it’s time to regain some focus and get back to it.

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

So I’m taking my first bite in the office.  I have to bring my focus to the workplace for the next two weeks.  I owe my attention to this event, to my colleagues, and to myself.  My personal life can take the front seat the following week and my social life and relationships can for my friend’s upcoming wedding.

Slowly, one day at a time, I will readjust the balance of all three.

Do you find yourself having similar challenges meeting your obligations?  How do you sort it out?

Done with Drafting

Okay, I know.  I know it looks like I haven’t been writing…. but that’s just a lie.  I’ve been writing.  I’ve been writing quite a bit.  I’ve just been… drafting.

I’ll be honest… the whole blogging world kind of intimidates me.  You see a snippet of someone else’s filtered life and all of a sudden begin questioning your own.  In today’s world it’s become increasingly more difficult to “be yourself.”  With all the social media platforms and reality-that’s-not-real-at-all television comparison is killer.

And I buy into all of it!

True Life:  I’m a stalker.  It started with Facebook of course, and has since moved to Twitter, Instagram, and now blogs – Ah!  There are people whose profiles I check regularly, most of whom I don’t even know.  And sure, I’m entertained, often inspired, enlightened or motivated… but you know what else I feel?  Inferior, insecure, jealous, self conscious, unsure, insignificant…

“I wish I had her hair, boyfriend, body, job, motivation, wit, friends, money, clothes, tan, social life…”

When did what I have no longer become good enough?  When did I become this person who cared so much what other people think?  I find myself muted or competing for posts and retweets without even realizing it!  I started this blog for me.  Because I wanted to tap into my creative side, to put thoughts and feelings into words, and commit to taking time to get to know myself and who I want to be.  So this should be a safe space for me, right?  It’s mine.  So what am I so afraid of?

What if I’m not that interesting?  What if I don’t have a good picture to go with my story?  What if all I at made today was a PB&J?  What if I have no jokes, or revelations, or funny stories from the weekend?

Then I remember why I started this.  For me.  Sure, I’m not perfect, but neither are any of the other bloggers or ‘grammers or tweeters I stalk from afar but they’re putting themselves out there!  I write because it’s therapeutic, because I like expressing myself and making sense of my thoughts and feelings.  And let’s be honest… I’m totally stalk worthy and can make a good candidate for your own personal life envy (kidding… kinda)!  But really, there’s nothing to be afraid of.  So here I vow…

  • To be kind to myself and stop striving for perfection – nobody’s perfect.  Period.
  • To minimize comparison
  • To write when inspired… or frustrated, or sad, or confused, of excited, or curious.  To write raw and write for me.

See ya out there!

Taste the Rainbow – Just Juice!

That’s right ladies and gents, I have earned my juice cleanse badge!  Just recently, my roommate and I completed our first DIY juice cleanse.

taste the rainbow

A juice detox cleanse is something I’ve always been curious about.  And after watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead,  a documentary of a man on his journey to health through a 60 day juice cleanse, I was inspired to test my willpower.

Lucky for me, my roomie was equally inspired and we began talking through our plan of attack.  Now there are several different bottled pre-planned juice cleanses, such as BluePrint and Cooler Cleanse, that I’ve heard some great things about.  We even discussed walking down to Liquiteria each morning and grabbing our morning juice along with 5 other bottles each morning.  But after pricing out a couple of options and reading through some reviews we thought, “Why not just do our own?”

Off to Fairway!

After 45 minutes in the produce section and $77.44 later we headed home to stock our fridge with pounds of fresh fruit and veggies.

Three days with a couple of variations of the below recipes.

Green Monster –  Spinach, Kale, Parsley, Cucumber,  Celery, Lemon, Apple

Beetz – Beet, Apple, Pear, Lemon

Sunrise Juice – Carrot,  Orange, Ginger

Pineapple passion – Pineapple, Apple, Pear

Cons?

  • Had to redefine my social life for the weekend – NYC is notorious for revolving social events around food.  The cleanse forced me to pass on a couple get together’s and make plans for myself that would not put me in a position where I’d be subject to stray from my goal.
  • Need to moderate or cut back on exercise.  Working out on a cleanse can be challenging.  My workouts are typically pretty intense and I didn’t think it was the wisest choice for me to keep with them.  When I returned to the gym on Monday, getting back into the swing of things was both mentally and physically challenging.  I felt a little light headed and when I skip a workout it’s tough for me to get back into the mental groove.
  • Now, this isn’t a con for most people but for me it was: sugar headaches.  The cleanse called for more fruit in my diet than I usually eat, which means more sugar.  The first day, I had a headache adjusting to the amounts of sugar and after the cleanse was over I found myself continuing to crave sugar.

Pros?

  • The juices are DELICIOUS!
  • Gave my body a rest – I was able to have three full nights of sleep, Monday morning I felt so incredibly refreshed and energized.  I found myself getting sleepy around 6 PM each day during the cleanse and didn’t exercise beyond a little walking but I was able to give my body a break.  I honestly don’t know the last time I’ve slept so well.
  • For three days I didn’t have to think about what I was going to eat.  I was able to provide my body with vitamins and nutrients it needed without thinking.  This allowed me the clarity to focus and think about other things, like reading, or working on my resume eek.
  • I became hella hydrated  – there wasn’t anything I drank besides the juices and the water so I was able to rehydrate vs. dehydrate my body (which is a typical result of the weekend)
  • Test of my willpower – finishing the cleanse is a huge self esteem boost.  I felt super accomplished for completing the cleanse and was more motivated to maintain a healthy diet once I started to reintroduce solids.

All that said, I found the juice cleanse to be an overall positive experience.  So much so, that my roommate and I scheduled our next attempt!  We’ll see if I have any new takeaways from a round 2!

Have you ever tried a cleanse?

 

Things Currently Making Me Happy! (Round 2)

I’m back to take another stab at Things Currently Making Me Happy with a round-up of ten things that have got me grinning!

1. Becca and Sammi’s New York Sports Day!

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A virgin to the Garden, I was BEYOND excited to have my first visit with a Knicks victory, friends… and Drake!

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After the Knicks game, it was on to the next one at Yankee Stadium to watch the O’s!

2. Season 4 of The Voice!

Need I remind you how obsessed with singing I am? I swear if I could sing… game over. I am beyond thrilled with the decision to bring on Shakira and Ursher, baby. I love that I get to drool over Adam and Usher weekly and live out my dream in my head of captivating an audience with my voice.

3. Joe Cross

Last night I watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  It’s a documentary about Joe Cross, a man who in an attempt to discover a healthy balance and come off medication challenged himself to a 60 day juice cleanse. The first time I tried to watch this I couldn’t make it through the first ten minutes. I thought, “this dude is crazy. There is no way I can relate to his story and no way I could ever do that… this film is not for me.” I am so glad I gave his story a second chance. Joe’s measures to regain control of his health are arguably extreme but demonstrate what will power and a high micro-nutrient diet can do for you. The fan favorite of the story is Phil Staples who Joe converts along the way. It is a powerful and moving story of the dangers of a path towards death by diet and the wonders of food as a healing drug.

4.  This random love note I found in a used book

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5.  This commercial

I have to say as impressed as I am with advances we’ve made in technology I’m partial to paper in certain aspects of my life (see paperback above). This commercial gets me every time!

6.  This short film

Words won’t do it justice, just click and smile!

7.  Teachers – conventional or not, we are all teachers and deserve a shout out!

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“Education is the key to success in life and teachers make a lasting impact on the lives of their students.” – Solomon Ortiz

I was fortunate enough to be able to read for a class full of first graders last week and on my way out I caught the above quote painted on the side of the school building.  We often underestimate the impact we have on other people.  We all have something to teach just as we all have something to learn.  Lead by example and be forever curious.

8.  This blog entry

Wise words and an important read, be your own success story.

9.  My makeshift standing desk at work

That’s right… take a couple of boxes and clear off the shelf in your cubicle and you too could stand at your desk all day!  My back has been bothering me lately and I’ve been feeling a little drained from sinking into my chair for the better half of my day so I’ve propped up my keyboard and taken to standing.  I’ve only made it through a couple of days like this but having the option is definitely helpful!  I’d recommend trying it.

10.  My brother

A couple of weeks ago, I was sorting through some things in my head…. I was feeling frustrated, uncertain, and overwhelmed with a couple of things.  I gave my big bro a call.   My brother is one of my best friends and biggest supporters.  He’s one of my favorite people to bounce around ideas or have a full on bitch session with because he always makes me feel better about myself and let’s me know it’s okay to follow my heart.  24 hours after our conversation, I received the below picture message, proof that he not only listened but that he supports me in whatever I decide.

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Lara (Bridal Bootcamp) Bars

I am currently sitting on an Amtrak train trying to distract myself from watching the minutes pass on the clock as I get closer and closer to the beginning of a weekend filled with family, friends and fun in the hometown and VA!

Let’s bring the focus of this post to my Saturday and the inspiration for my recipe of the week.

I’ve got a pretty lil former teammate and roommate who’s gettin’ hitched this summer! I was fortunate enough to be honored with the request to be in her wedding party and… SHE SAID YES!!! (She being me… yes, of course I said yes!) and this weekend I’ll be making my way to VA for her bridal shower!

I’d been racking my brian trying to think of the perfect gift. You know the one… the gift that so clearly represents you and the gift receiver’s friendship. Something sentimental, with the right amount of practicality. And standing in the check-out line at the grocery store it hit me… Lara bars!

…What?

Lara Bar

Lara Bars!

Okay, okay… Let me explain. It’s safe to say that being on a field hockey team for four years together the girl and I have bonded over our fair share of healthy habit tips and struggle discussions. You know what else we’ve bonded over? FOOD. She and I got our grub ON. In college, I often cooked little family dinners for her and her hubby-to-be and other friends and roommates. She would often stand in the kitchen while I was preparing the meals so she could later try out my recipes. Aaaaand I would often stand in the kitchen as she pulled rock hard brownies out of the oven and try to bite back my laughter. Okay, fine, that happened once, but I knew I wanted to supply her with a treat and recipe to carry with her into her marriage.

Keeping conscious of my inability to keep my fingers out of the batter bowl when baking and her own fitness goals for the wedding I wanted to make something both healthy, sweet, and satisfying. So I went with the Lara Bars… an added bonus that there’s something in the name!

I looked through a couple different recipes for homemade energy bars and in the end decided to go with my own recipe… Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. They turned out better than I could have imagined – I even did a little custom wrapping to provide my signature touch! See the recipe below.

What do I need?

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup almonds (or nut of your choice)
  • 2 tbs PB2 (could use peanut butter here as well)
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate and “chipped” it myself)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Lara Bar Ingredients

And then…?

Start by adding the almonds to your food processor. Process until the nuts are about the size of peas. Next, you want to remove the nuts and pulse the dates in the food processor. Give these a good 15 second processing.

After it looks like you’ve hit them all you want to add the nuts back into the processor and the additional flavoring (in this case PB2, water, chocolate chips and vanilla extract). Blend until everything is mixed evenly (see below).

processor

The ingredients should be mixed enough where you could grad with a hand and make a ball. Once you’ve achieved this consistency, take what is in the food processor and roll it out onto a piece of wax paper. Pop it in the fridge overnight and slice in the morning! I cut mine into 6 rectangles (about the size of chewy bars) but you’re free to cut them as big or small as you’d like!

That’s it?

That’s it! Simple as that. I ended up making some custom packaging to add a signature touch for my bride to be using wax paper and some tissue. I had a chance to sample the bars as my perfectionist counterpart trimmed the edges and they were delicious – can’t wait to see her reaction! I’m going to have to make a couple of these to keep in my kitchen as a healthy grab and go treat!

Bridal Bootcamp Bars

I have blurred the packaging for privacy of the bride.

What are your favorite homemade grab and go treats?

Tapping into our Stressors

Well here we are day two into my challenge and I’m already feanin to share one of my reflection pieces.  (That is correct, I just used feanin in a sentence.)

So Monday morning I was fortunate enough to stumble across a link for Gabrielle Bernstein’s May Cause Miracles conference.  I mean how perfect is it that on the day I challenge myself to be more reflective and connect with my own thoughts I come across this free motivational web series?  Took me back to that Swiss Miss quote,

“When things fall into place it is the universe telling you to keep going.”

Gabrielle Bernstein was pinned by none-other than Oprah Winfrey as a “next generation thought leader.”  Author of Spirit Junkie and Add More ~ing to your Life she is set to release her new book, May Cause Miracles this year.  “Gabrielle Bernstein believes that simple, consistent shifts in our thinking and actions can lead to the miraculous in all aspects of our daily lives, including our relationships, finances, bodies, and self-image.”  I mean seriously? This chick rocks.

But you might be surprised to know, Gabrielle isn’t the highlight for tonight’s post.

Meet Nick Ortner.

Nick was the first interview that I listened to from the May Cause Miracles series.  He is the CEO of The Tapping Solution and focuses on EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique).  This practice involves tapping parts of your body to achieve a physical release of negative emotions.  Now I’ll admit, I found the whole thing a little funny to begin with but once I got to listening and furthered my research I think there’s somethin to it!

I remembered what I would always say to people when I could sense their stress or anger bubbling, “tap your third-eye 21 times!” I think I picked it up from a Kardashian show or something.  I used to think this exercise was just a calming alternative to counting to ten before you speak.  When counting to calm yourself, you run the risk of staying inside your head (which can be a cluttered and negative place to be) or masking the real problem (leaving the true issue to surface unannounced).  Unlike the counting method, tapping provides connection between your mind and your body so you are able to acknowledge and release your true negative feelings.

This whole “real world” thing has me well exercised in dealing with stress.  I’m always looking for new ways to manage it and create that healthy balance in my life.  Maybe next time I’m feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, or stressed I’ll try and tap it out!

Tell me, how do you deal with stress?

B (not so) Easy 6-Week Challenge

I began writing this blog at a time when I felt like I was missing motivation in all aspects of my life. I found myself just going through the motions without connecting thought to any of my actions.

I kept finding myself frustrated with how nothing was changing. There were no significant changes in my health, no rediscovered enthusiasm from my job, no profound educational or eyeopening experience to write home about… I was mindlessly coasting.

I imagine it’s easy to fall into this trap. It was for me. But no more!

Being “good enough” provided me the security to hang out for a little while. But when pieces started to fall from “good” to “fine,” good no longer felt good enough and fine didn’t feel so fine.

“The good is the enemy of great.” -Milton Glaser Well here I am challenging myself to be great.

I’m on an ongoing quest to better myself and establish healthy habits for life. Well talking about these habits and daydreaming about the effect they could have on my mind, body, and overall happiness won’t do me any good if I don’t consciously practice them. So I’ve set up a little challenge for myself for the next six weeks, feel free to join along!

The B (not so) Easy 6 Week Challenge

Basic rules for the challenge:

  • No wheat for the full 6 weeks
  • Must try a new recipe weekly
  • Must eat a salad daily (can be a quinoa or grain based but must include raw veggies)
  • Must be active for 30 minutes daily (yes, every day! “rest day” activities can be a 30 min. walk or yoga, just get movin!)
  • Must stretch every day!
  • Must read and reflect daily (can be an article, a quote, a chapter in a book, just exercise your mind and connect with your thoughts in writing)

At the start of each week I will introduce a physical or nutritional challenge or provide direction for my daily reads and post a reflection on the blog.  So here goes, week 1 starts now!

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