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!

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?

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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Wannabe Yogi

Way back when I used to be flexible…

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Let’s just say those days are gone with my velvet leotards.

Flexibility is something as an athlete I’ve always been encouraged to have.  While there are several debates about the need to stretch, in my experience it’s always been beneficial to have loose legs for running and playing high intensity sports.  That said, I never stretch as often as I should.

Yoga is a world that I had never really explored until my move to New York.  The first time I stepped foot inside a yoga studio I felt way out of my league.  I left feeling challenged, refreshed, and knew I had a lot of work to do before I could effortlessly swing my leg from the back to the front of my mat as the bendy lady next to me did.

I’m embracing yoga practice as one of the healthy habits I hope to lock in for life.

Lucky for me, living in New York means I can take advantage of the donation based organization Yoga to the People.  There is a “free” studio within walking distance from my apartment and a new studio just opened up on my street where for five bucks I can Flow into Flexibility (the name of a class my roommate and I explored yesterday afternoon).

Now believe me, I’ve got a waaaaays to go but I know that’s why it’s called practice!

There’s something I find so cool about yogis.  They just seem to project this energy, don’t they?  And they’re so connected and kind to their bodies… something I can’t relate to as I have a bruise  plum purple on my knee cap from slipping and falling in the street the other day.  There’s a balance they are able to find in their practice and carry to their lifestyle that I struggle to attain.  Also, they have the coolest clothes… I mean really.

Hopefully I find this balance as I strive to bend and better (not break) my body.

My feature for this post is Rachel Brathen.  If you aren’t already following her on instagram, check her out:  yoga_girl

Yeah... sure, I'll try.

Yeah… sure, I’ll try.

Thing Currently Making Me Happy!

I’d like to flatter the ol’ bloggers tradition of posting “Things Currently Making Me Happy!”  So here goes!

1.  Tina Roth Eisenberg

I recently attended a design forum featuring Swiss Miss herself where she delivered an inspiring speech unveiling her “Eleven Rules I Live By.”  I hope to digest the experience and do a much longer post but for now, I’ll let you discover her on your own and leave you with my two greatest take aways:

“Invest your life in what you love, keep looking for what makes you happy!”

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

2.  Leaving the office after receiving this text from the roomie:

…then walking in to find this waiting for you

Cheese Plate!

3.  This immersion Blender!

Smoothies, pestos, dressings, cauliflower pizzas… and that’s only in the first week!  I don’t know that i’ve ever been this excited about an appliance.

Everyone’s gotta eat and I love being able to bring people together and make something that everyone can enjoy!

My roommate and I recently began a wheat-free diet, something I’ll elaborate on in later posts, but I have a feeling this blender will be a lifesaver in allowing us to recreate some of our favorite meals minus the wheat!

4.  Committing to a long term relationship with… my health!

In addition to giving up wheat from my diet, I’ve also decided to begin work with a personal trainer.

I grew up in a family of athletes and played field hockey and lacrosse in high school and went on to play DI field hockey at Radford University.  Saints LaxIMG_0303

It was a challenging four years and kicked my ass a little bit but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.  After graduating, my body was pretty beat up and I was enjoying not “having” to work out so I took a little break from the gym.

Now that I’m over a year out I’m realizing how important health is to sustain.  Seeing my grandfather in his 80’s still playing tennis was a huge eye opener for me.  I want to be able to hang with the best of ’em when I’m older as well.  So I’m working with a trainer to help lock in these healthy habits for life.

Receiving texts like this from my mom help me know I’ve made a good decision!

Texts from Mama

5. This cake

Bay's Cakes

Last weekend my best friend from home made this rad birthday cake  for a friend’s birthday and through the power of social media got a request to bake another!   You heard it here first, Bay’s Cakes are fireworks of flavor! I mean who wouldn’t want a rainbow gagillion layered cake for their birthday?  So happy for her!

6.  This video… because she’s just too cute

Hey, I’d be concerned with what I was wearing before firemen showed up at my door too!

7.  And this video… because he’s just too awesome 

If I could sing… I swear you’d never hear me speak.  Welcome to my musical!

8.  Friday night’s in

Sushi night

…with sushi and my roomie!

9.  My baby sister celebrating her 18th Birthday!

Little bear

baby sis

10.  This blog.

I’m happy I’ve finally taken the plunge!  I’m excited to see where this takes me 🙂