30 January 2012

#18: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

While I haven't read either of these recommended books (yet), I did a little research and am definitely interested in the overall concepts that these books explore: recreating ourselves and committing to making changes within to work towards changing the world at large. Amazon.com, here I come!
Read “Bringers of Light” and “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch. These books will help you decide what you want to do in this life and how to get to that point. They will also profoundly change the way you look at the purpose of existence. Read them!
Here are some little excerpts about the books - they seem to be companion books:

Conversations with God, Book 1 was the start of Neale Donald Walsch's ongoing dialogue with God. The trilogy contains the most essential truths and lessons for spiritual seekers, and these books are the bestselling of all the author's works.

All of the concepts found in Conversations with God revolve, ultimately, around a central theme. The purpose of life is to re-create yourself anew. This book takes that insight and renders it functional. Between these covers is a step-by-step exploration of the process of recreation, complete with assignments and exercises. Based on one of the most astonishing books of our time, Conversations with God.

I am definitely looking forward to getting immersed in the Conversations with God trilogy, followed by the succinct  "Bringers of Light" book. I find myself cynical and skeptical about religion, so much so that sometimes I think it inhibits my spirituality a bit. This series would be a great way to open my mind again to the idea of the greater energy that exists in the world and how to really be our best selves for the sake of our well being and that of all people. In my opinion, being open to the possibility of new beginnings and transformations of what "was" are the most beautiful things one can master. 

26 January 2012

#17: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Funny that this should be the next tip to post about, considering I didn't get to bed until 3am last night!
Sleep less. Fully adjusting to a new sleep cycle can take up to 21 days, so don’t give up if you feel tired after switching to 5-hour nights. The “required” 8 hour/night is for normal people. Figure out how much sleep YOU really need and adjust accordingly. As enjoyable as sleep is, waking existence is much more fulfilling and efficient. IF this really sparks your interest, check out alternate sleep cycles with which you can be fine off of 2 hours of sleep per day.
Yes, talking into the early hours of the morn' sounded so much nicer than crawling into bed. But, for long term health, isn't ample sleep a huge necessity? This is something that I need to do more research on before I start guessing at it. If any of you AVID readers have some hard facts, please enlighten us! Because what is good for the mind and heart (talking to someone lovely into the usual sleep hours) may not be what is good for the body overall (more sleep?). TBC...

25 January 2012

An Overlooked Vitamin: Meet "K"

I read that I will be receiving mustard greens in my bi-weekly produce delivery next week. I quickly began to Google cooking tips and the nutritional value to get excited about a green that I don't usually purchase. This cruciferous vegetable is packed with some awesome vitamins! Just 1 cup of mustard greens contains over 170% DV vitamin A, +50% vitamin C, 25% folate, and *drum roll* ...over 500% DV of Vitamin K! COOL! Wait... what is vitamin K good for again? Here is a refresher in case you were in the dark like me.

In short: health benefits of Vitamin K include alleviating blood clotting, osteoporosis, menstrual pain, internal bleeding, biliary obstruction and excessive menstrual flow.

The long version:
Blood Clotting
Vitamin K is an essential part of glumatic acid, an amino acid that causes the chemical event called carboxylation. This chemical event allows the blood from an open wound to stick to the nearby tissue, thus clotting the open wound and preventing an excess of blood from flowing out. Nose bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding, easy bruising, hemorrhaging and anemia are just some of the indications that a person is vitamin K deficient. 
This is great for me because I bruise easily and have anemic tendencies.

Bone Health
Vitamin K ensures healthy bones by two means. Firstly, vitamin K blocks the formation of too many osteoclasts, or bone cells, that take minerals from the bones and make them available to other bodily functions (a process called demineralization). The formation of osteoclasts, if not properly checked, can leave bones overly depleted of their minerals. Secondly, a protein found in bones that is directly related to our bone mineral density, called osteocalcin, must be chemically altered through carboxylation (the process mentioned above in regards to blood clotting) to maintain optimal health. As shown, vitamin K is a key ingredient in carboxylation, and with proper intake can allow the protein osteocalcin to strengthen the health and composition of our bones. 
Who doesn't want healthier, stronger bones? Unlike George Clooney, they don't age well.

The build-up of calcium inside tissue, or calcification, can become a serious problem that may lead to cardiovascular disease. Vitamin K helps prevent calcification by contributing to the process (mentioned again) called carboxylation. This process produces the matrix Gla protein (MGP) that directly prevents calcium from forming in tissue. Without a proper supply of vitamin K, and thus MGP, the body is at greater risk of atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease, and stroke. 
Guard your heart!... against calcification. Seriously though, calcium deposits sucks.Just ask my kidney.

Though vitamin K has not been shown to be an antioxidant in the same sense as vitamin C and E, the basic forms of vitamin K, including phylloquinones and menaquinones, have been shown to protect cells from oxidative stress. 
While the use of antioxidants to prevent disease is controversial, oxidative stress is involved in many diseases, such as Sickle Cell Disease, atherosclerosis, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, heart failure, myocardial infarction, Schizophrenia, Bipolar disorder, fragile X syndrome, and chronic fatigue syndrome.

Healthy vitamin K levels have been shown to significantly lower the release of the glycoprotein interleukin-6, a marker of inflammation within the body.
Awesome! No me gusta inflammation.

Brain Function
The myelin sheath, or the outer wrapping around a nerve, needs sphingolipids (a crucial fat) to form properly. Vitamin K is known to be essential for the synthesis of the sphingolipids, and therefore proper brain and nervous function. 
Gives the brain a hand. Another plus! 

If you're thinkin' where can I get me some more of that?!" - other foods high in vitamin K:
  • Herbs (dried or fresh) - like basil, sage, and thyme
  • Dark leafy greens - like kale, collards, and spinach
  • Spring onions
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Chili powder, curry, paprika, and cayenne
  • Cabbage
  • Pickles
  • Prunes 

23 January 2012

Temperamental Love

I heard some lyrics today that really resonated with how I have been feeling the last few days. I thought they might be helpful to share, since we can all relate to loving something or someone temperamentally. I've been having the kind of love/hate relationship with with the concept of falling in love, like Ingrid Michaelson's song below describes...
"We hate the rain when it fills up our shoes,
But how we love when it washes our cars.
We love to love when it fills up the room,
But when it leaves, oh we're cursing the stars."
When things are going our way, or the way that we expect, we praise the Universe for what it's providing us. However, when the Universe instead takes away or equalizes some imbalance greater than ourselves, we take out our frustration and anger on that same Provider. If we can let every occurrence land in our lives like an opportunity, rather than a misfortune, then the world would look so much brighter. Whether you choose to see it this way or not, the world is always ripe with beauty and possibility. Sometimes we sink into a place where we want to darken our perception - slipping on sunglasses to dull the radiant opportunities around us. Take off those glasses - you might have to squint to adjust to the light at first, but the world is so much more welcoming when we do.

Listen to Ingrid Michaelson's new album, including How We Love (quoted above), here:

22 January 2012

#16: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

What great timing... for myself, at least. This is one we can all relate to - you've probably had one if those times where you wish you could take back your dishonesty because of how messy it got. Hastily, we think it might be too hard to deal with the reality, so we create an imaginary one. Telling the truth is always "easier" on your conscience and your heart, and it's ultimately better for other person(s) involved. No one likes to be deceived. 
Be honest at all times. Lies lead to nothing but trouble. Being known as trustworthy is an excellent trait to maintain and essential to having integrity.
I'm ashamed to say I've had my fair share of "I'm going to save this situation with a lie" moments. I have told "white lies" and I have concocted elaborate stories to cover things up. But I have always, always regretted it. It feels so terrible, because I am always the reason that I am in the position to lie in the first place. Either I let something I needed to communicate go unheard, or I was afraid of what sharing the truth would mean so I dug myself into a hole. If I had integrity, I would never feel the need to be dishonest. I feel the need to recenter. I shouldn't overcommit to others or make the potential of hurting someone else's feelings a reason to lie. I must always default to being honest and not bending the truth. How can I expect others to be real with me if I avoid the truth myself?

19 January 2012

#15: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

 Sometimes I find myself worrying about little things throughout the day or over-thinking a small task I need to get done. Today's tip helps to end the drawn out anxiety we may fuel...
Set aside a specific time to worry each day. Ponder all of your problems and anxieties during that time so that they will not distract you during work or moments of pleasure. This way you can be extremely efficient with your time and avoid focusing on negative things as much as possible. If you get all of your worry out of the way and have the mental fortitude to keep from reverting back to them, you will be much happier on the daily.
I really like this idea - if you are going to worry, get it all out, and then be DONE with it. When I go on a walk or a hike in the morning, I tend to go through my list of things to do and get my jitters out then. It helps to be grounded in a nature-filled setting, sometimes with some inspiring music (if not just listening to the world around you). If you aren't a morning exerciser (I've been doing yoga at night lately), you can take at least 20 minutes on a lunch break, between classes, or whenever you have to take a breather to just unravel your thoughts. Look at the things you need to do (whether on a hand-written list, on the device of your choice, a visual to-do list) and commit to being actionable. Be realistic with yourself in the amount of time and resources you will need to complete the task. Write in errands on your calendar and set aside time for yourself to be productive in whatever you have on your plate. My friend and I like to go to a cute cafe with a notepad and/or laptop and just bang out things we need to do for the week (pay bills, research various topics or events). Think about what routine you can get into to help get all of  your worries out for the day! If you have a method that works particularly well for you, please share below!

Don't Worry, Be Happy!

16 January 2012

#14: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

This tip really speaks to me, because one of my big callings / sources of fulfillment is helping others. 
Help others. A plethora of reasons why this is a MUST:
  • Helping people has a ripple effect. If you help someone they will feel more obliged to help someone else, and so on. Pay it forward
  • You grow by giving and helping others. It can change you in ways you never expected
  • Your relationship with that person will become stronger
  • It’s the most fulfilling thing you can do on this planet. It not only feels amazing physically, you also feel like a good person
  • You might be able to call in a favor later when you need some help
  • Karma (if you believe in it)
  • Because there are more people in this world than just you
I believe in this 1000%. Helping others, only when you are really altruistic about it, is such a wonderful way to love them. Whether it's a family member, a friend, or a stranger, helping is a universal expression of love and care. I like to make people feel special by lending a helping hand or surprising them with something that will make them smile. I really enjoy helping take a load off of others and feeling like I am contributing to them feeling more balanced and loved. It's important to me to know that the people in my life feel like they can count on me and call on me. I thrive so much on the high I get from helping others and the joy it brings the recipient, that it's hard for me to be with people that I can't contribute to. I don't know how to be myself around people who are closed off to getting help from me. I realize that I feel a loss of worth if I can't be of service to the people that I love and care about. My enneagram results (Achiever, wing Helper) really speak to this desire I have to make others happy and feel helpful. I guess there are worse things I could want! But, I realize that this trait (like all others) isn't all "good." Sometimes I use it to avoid thinking about myself and the things that I need help with (whether I need help from myself or others). It's so much easier for me to focus on how I can help others than it is to be self-flective. Naturally, I am really drawn to people who can engage me on a deeper, "self realization" level. Through journaling and sharing with close people in my life, I have come to some very interesting conclusions about myself and my growth. But those who can "help" me / facilitate a less surface evaluation of myself (and or those who are really in touch with themselves) are very desirable because of my tendency to think of others' needs more than my own. 

It's interesting how I chose to interpret this tip tonight. The direction I took my response tells me that I am learning to think more about what I need - from others and myself - and to be aware and accepting of who I am. 

15 January 2012

#13: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Sorry to post this tip in the midst of a bit of a rain... but it's so important for overall health and mood.
Get in the sun. Superman was completely re-energized when he flew out to space and soaked in some rays and you can do the same right outside your front door (if you live in a constantly dreary place, my apologies). The sun feels amazing: your entire body will be coursing with warmth and life. 
In addition to those warm memories of summer and reminiscent smiles that perk up at thoughts of a sunny convertible ride or a beach day, there are medical reasons why the sun makes us feel so energized and uplifted. Vitamin D, the "sunshine vitamin," may protect against a host of diseases, including osteoporosis, heart disease, and cancers of the breast, prostate, and colon. Additionally, sunlight has other hidden benefits—like protecting against depression, insomnia, and an overactive immune system. Sit outside without sunscreen for about 10 mins in direct sunlight every day, and your body and mind will thank you handsomely! If there isn't any sun to bask in, make sure to eat food high in vitamin D (fish, milk, some oatmeal/cereal), or take a dissolvable supplement. 

12 January 2012

#12: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Today's tip is simple.
Read books. No explanation needed.
Whether you enjoy fiction or non-fiction, reading is such a wonderful thing. You can travel to imaginary places and go to other parts of the world through the pages of a good book. It's nice to use books as an outlet to get immersed in an interesting story or to relate to characters you wouldn't otherwise meet. Some stories can be mindless fun, and others can really stir things within us or teach us about some unknown. They also spur great conversations - who doesn't like melting over a good book with another fan (or perhaps someone opposed to it)? It's even more exciting than talking about a TV show or a movie, because the visuals and audio live in the mind of each individual reader. I love to ponder different interpretations of scenes or how a character may actually look. Whenever a movie is made from a book I've read (which has been happening a lot lately), there is always that moment of truth where you have to see how the movie executives have interpreted the book. Will they get that sub-character right? Does the actor look like the character that has been played out in your mind? Will they keep true to the climactic ending you imagined?

Don't default to a new show or movie when you are looking to stimulate your mind with an outside medium. Give your imagination a jog and read a book instead!

Below are some of my favorite recent reads. Please comment and share yours with me! I want to have a new book at the top of my list for when I finish The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest.

10 January 2012

Follow Your Dreams

My dream has always been to travel - to see different places of the world and experience things that I couldn't here in Los Angeles. Working full time allows me 2 weeks vacation per year - this means that I CAN follow my dream and travel to at least one new place every year! I have already decided where I want to go this summer...

Sometime between May and July (need to check weather and availability), I am going to Costa Rica for a week! Specifically, I am going to the Yoga Farm in Punta Banco. This spot and all it stands for encompasses so many things that I enjoy and am passionate about. Read...
The Yoga Farm is a rustic yoga center and sustainable living project located on Costa Rica's southernmost Pacific coast. Set amidst beautiful tropical rainforest, and overlooking open ocean, we are ideally located for those looking to reconnect with mind, body, and nature.
Our particular region of Costa Rica is regarded as one of the most biologically diverse places in the world and guests can expect to see an abundance of wildlife during their stay. We provide everyone who stays with us simple, comfortable accommodations, daily guided yoga classes with resident instructors, and two healthy, primarily vegetarian meals each day. A simple, local fare lunch is available as well. While life here is very much a communal affair, we encourage people to take as much time to themselves as they like.
The Yoga Farm is always working towards developing a more sustainable way of life through permaculture based design and land use. We are 100% solar powered and off the grid. We harvest both rain water and natural spring water on site. Our gardens and fruit trees supplement an ever increasing amount of our food needs and our buildings are built with natural materials in an architecture that eliminates separation from the natural beauty around us.

A tropical oasis where I can explore my body and mind? Yes, please. The pictures are incredible (see here). Per the website, this Farm is THE place for people who want to be surrounded by nature (always centers me), practice yoga (definitely open to new kinds, too!), eat healthy food (perfect), hike the forest (can't wait to see the exotic plants and wildlife), enjoy the beach (you mean, not a CA beach?!), slow down, unwind, breathe lots of fresh air and re-connect (all things that I really want to incorporate into my life more).

I don't know when I'm leaving, how much my flight will cost, or even if I will have anyone interested in joining me. But I do know that I am going. Putting it out there into the universe so that I am inspired to do more research and start aligning my finances and my mind for this trip. Actually, I am going to create a vision board to help kick off this process!

Be inspired to follow your dreams! We only get one life - so don't wait for "one day" to roll around. Sending love and actionable energy your way this evening. 

09 January 2012

#11: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

A wonderful tip for today and all days. With the Full Moon upon us, today is a day to really be actionable - at work, with your goals for the new year, in setting appointments and making commitments. As you make things happen today, keep your thoughts positive.
Think positive thoughts.When you find yourself thinking a negative thought, stop it immediately by any means necessary. Slap yourself in the face, yell something positive at the top of your lungs or jump up and down. Do whatever it takes to get back to a positive mindset as such is essential for continual happiness and success.
Stay present and consult reality when you start to have negative thoughts. I've mentioned this before...Usually we slump into negativity when we are experiencing rejection, worry, anxiety, regret, intimidation, etc. None of those things can exist in the present. If you are worried, anxious, or intimidated, realize that these feelings can only affect us when we obsess about the future (which doesn't exist right now). Feeling rejected or regretful and any other kind of dwelling in the past are hurtful too. So let's all be proactive with our positive thinking! New year = new possibilities. Like one of my earlier posts mentions, forcing yourself to smile and thinking about something exciting really can help to repel negative thoughts. There are lots of other natural ways to boost your mood too, including eating a plant-based diet, getting plenty of exercise, and even sitting in the sun for 20 minutes. Those more regimented mood-boosters can help us work towards this tip of the day, which is more about the immediate "slap on the wrist" to train ourselves to deflect unrealities and negative thoughts. It may take time to condition ourselves, so we must be patient and persistent. Share with me what works for you to help snap you out of it! I like to be vocal - either saying "Okay, really? STOP THAT!" aloud (if I'm at work, I like to imagine that one of my friends is saying it) or blasting a mood-boosting song are usually good ways to induce a reality check (be proactive and make a HAPPY play list if music resonates with you as a good deflector).

07 January 2012

Love Yourself to Attract Love

Today I had a date with myself in Santa Monica. Something was drawing me to really spend some time on my own and enjoy my own company, instead of calling up a friend instinctually. I did some shopping at a favorite store and had a really great raw lunch at a beautifully spirited restaurant, Euphoria Loves Rawvolution. At the restaurant, I picked up a book called Igniting Life, and found myself in the love section of the book. I read:
To bring love into your life, you must first love your self. Love for self includes taking care of and respecting your physical being as well as other life forms, such as the animals of the land, sky and water. Love for self includes believing that your essence is worthy of love. Knowing that you are worthy of love will drive you to improve your life in every way." -- Igniting Your Life, John McCabe
Though I was having a wonderful time being with my self all day, I did have this lingering blue energy around me even as I sat with my feet in the sand. It was like I wasn't fully accepting myself or entirely enjoying this time of self-healing. Something was missing. This quote made me realize that when I am feeling overwhelmed by sad emotions, I slump into judging myself and feeling unworthy. Unworthy of love, of affection, of company - whatever it may be. And then I punish myself in this dark place until I shake it off, find the answer in Nature, or am brought back to consciousness with the helping hand of a friend. Then I realize that what I'm missing is acceptance - of myself, of what I'm feeling in this moment, of how the world is moving around me, etc. I underwent the full arc of this emotional experience today, and it's interesting to look at it this evening, in retrospect. 

It's so important for me (and all of us) to have respect for myself, and to treat my own heart, soul, and body with the ultimate care and concern. As challenging as it is, I really love learning how to better check in with myself and to look at myself with an objective eye, such that I prioritize taking care of me. Often times I would rather take care of others than truly satisfy my own needs. You can't find true love and respect IN anyone else - it's something that each person must first have with themselves. The beauty lies in the times when two people who truly do love themselves and are open to exploring deeper come together - as two separate wholes that can nurture one another as they are. Now that is Euphoric. 

05 January 2012

#10: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

Funny how these seem to pop up on the precise days that I need them most! I guess it's a combination of the fact that all of these tips apply to every day, and the energy pulling me towards needing a boost.
Don’t take life so seriously! Learn to laugh at the little things and this whole "existence" thing will be a whole lot easier. Be amused by your mistakes and failures and be thankful that you learned your lesson and won't mess up like that again. And most importantly, do things that you enjoy! Life is not strictly business, it can be mixed with pleasure.
I woke up on the wrong side of the bed thing morning and rolled out kicking and screaming. I could have ruined my whole day if I kept that attitude up. Luckily I have people in my life who can see my mistakes and remind me that no mistake is really that big of a deal. We are still here aren't we? Well, then there is a lot more living to do, and a lot less pouting and regretting. It's such an art to be able to laugh at ourselves in times of failure and weakness. But if we are staying present, those "times" really don't last that long (they certainly don't really exist the length of a whole morning).

04 January 2012

Love Your Bod, Eat Raw

Today I shared the following smoothie and juice tips with my boss' boss. Everyone in the office sees me with weird green juices in the morning, spooning avocado at my desk, and slicing fruit in the kitchen on a weekly basis. So I often get questions about my diet and how to eat healthier. Since I already wrote this up and shared with a head honcho, I thought I'd share with you all as well! 

Your body needs AND craves foods that are closest to their natural form - straight from Mother Nature - RAW. Here are two of my favorite smoothies, as well as a green juice I like in the mornings. There are additional tips and suggestions for eating more greens and for when you concoct your own recipes as well. Happy eating, greenies! 

Two Favorite Smoothies

Choco-Nut-Nana Smoothie - tastes like dessert! But it's ALL healthy!
  • 2-4 TBSP Chocolate Hemp Powder (from Trader Joes) or Cacao Nibs or Cacao Powder
  • 1-2 TBSP Raw Almond Butter (from TJs)
  • 1 Banana
  • 2-3 Dates (optional)
  • 1/2-1 cup of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk (TJs or most grocery stores)
  • As much ice as you like (I like about 6 cubes)

Morning Smoothie
  • 1 banana
  • 5-7 strawberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Handful of blueberries (fresh or frozen)
  • Cubed mango (fresh or frozen)
  • Splash of Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
  • Spinach (you will be surprised at how much you can add and still not taste it - try two big handfuls)
  • As much ice as you like
Smoothie/Fruit Tips
If you want to blend with kale, it's best to counter it with a citrus fruit (like orange) and/or pineapple, and maybe even some ginger. Bananas always help to sweeten it up and mellow it out too. Spinach is a lot easier to mask than kale. Keep trying out different fruit combos unlike you get the sweetness you prefer. I suggest not blending in apples with your greens, as they tend to hurt the stomach when trying to digest simultaneously with greens (I did research on fruit/veggie combos and digestion). Apples are best to eat by themselves, and before any other foods (as they digest quicker than most other foods).

Substitute Almond Milk with one cup of plain, non-fat Greek Yogurt if you want a thicker and more filling smoothie.

If you have a juicer, it's really easy to get your daily value of veggies in the morning with a fresh juice. Otherwise, even when I'm eating super healthy, I may forget to eat enough greens and go fruit and nut crazy. If you like hummus, eating broccoli and cauliflower florets and some baby carrots is yummy with that. Not only does Trader Joes have awesome hummus (if you don't want to make your own raw version), but they have those great pre-washed veggie medley packs that you can separate into zip lock bags for the week. Hello, encouragement!

Green Juice
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 cucumber (this is essential to add "water" / mellow out the other intense flavors)
  • 3 big stalks celery (this is essential to add "water" / mellow out the other intense flavors)
  • Kale and/or spinach and/or whatever other lettuce you have in the fridge
  • 1 orange or 2 spears of pineapple 
  • Ginger (optional - helps with stronger greens)
  • Lemon (optional - helps with stronger greens)
  • Suggestion: stay away from or limit the amount of collard greens and chard - they are INTENSE and add an icky kick to your smoothie if not countered properly
  • This juice is not super sweet, but it's really refreshing. You start to crave it in the morning 
  • Tip: I drink immediately after juicing with some ice on my way to work. The quicker you can drink your juice after juicing, the better. The juice will lose the vast majority of its nutrients if you, for example, make the juice the night before. 

03 January 2012

Paying it Forward

This morning I awoke to an unexpected helping hand, and it made me want to help others without being asked all day. It's really a beautiful thing to give (whether a compliment, advice, a smile, etc.) when it isn't even called for. It really warms the soul and it seems to exude a contagious energy of generosity. You don't have to give money or an object of monetary value - sometimes a few words of encouragement, a handmade gift, or a thoughtful reminder of your love are all someone needs to jump start their day. And perhaps they too will pay it forward coming off the high that you gave them...

#9: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

This is a great reminder for all of us.
Drink water. Hydration is tremendously important for overall health. Soda has absolutely ZERO nutritional content; it's like pouring a punch of sugar into your cup. Instead, fill it with life-replenishing water. It may taste plain at first if you're coming off of a heavy soda-drinking streak, but you'll soon find yourself addicted to it. 10 glasses per day us optimal, how many have you been getting lately?
I'm currently trying to kick a cold, so getting enough water is especially imperative for me right now. What I like to do to "remind" myself to drink water or to gauge how much I've had is to fill up a big metal canteen and keep it on my desk at work. I know that I should go through AT LEAST one full canteen just in the time that I'm at work. When I am regularly practicing Bikram Yoga (which I am right now), then I need probably double what I think I can handle. Soon it becomes second nature to just take gulps throughout the day. You realize that times you thought you were hungry for a snack, your body was actually just thirsty!

Right now with my sore throat, I struggle to drink a lot of water because the water at work comes from a chiller. Cold water on a sore throat is NO fun. So hot tea has been my go-to. But water in it's pure form is really important. Try to have room temperature water as much as you can, because the body actually absorbs it faster. (The body has to heat up everything to body temperature before it can be absorbed, so it takes longer for the body to really drink in the cold water.)

While I don't ever drink soda, I know it's a big "thing" for some people. If you care about your health at all, you won't drink that crap. As for juice - if you MUST drink the concentrated stuff, at least cut it in half with water to wean off of it. Otherwise, you should really invest in a juicer. Veggie juice in the morning gives me more energy than coffee.Oh, and coffee? Kick that to the curb too. Not only is it addicting (in more ways than one - I'm looking at you people who make the cup in the morning and then let it sit out), but it also leaches vitamins and minerals from the body. Particularly, it leaches calcium from your bones. And you will die. Just kidding - but really, drink more water!!!

02 January 2012

#8: 50 Life Secrets and Tips

I must admit, I did smile when I saw #8. This tip couldn't have come at a more perfect time.
Smile more often. Whenever you get a grin on your face, your brain is releasing serotonin, the happy hormone. Smiling is the natural way to force yourself to be happy. Many people even smile for five minutes straight in the morning to get themselves in a great mood for the day. It is a very powerful tool that is utilized less and less as we grow older and need happiness more than ever. Just remember that while happiness leads to smiles, smiles also lead to happiness.
Look at that perfect cycle! Happiness leads to smiles, just like smiles lead to happiness! The holidays are the 'most wonderful time of the year,' but they can also be some of the most emotional times. We look at those who are present in our lives, those who are far away, those who are temporarily absent, and those who are forever gone. We look at chapters closed and projects that have gathered dust. The start of the new year can also be very moving as we purge the old and open our minds to the new. Heck - with all of this movement in our lives and deep thinking, we may forget to stop and smell the roses (and smile!). The anticipation built up around the close of 2011, and then around the beginning of 2012 sometimes makes me want to crawl into a hole. SO much to take in. But it is in these moments of avoidance and resistance that I sink into no-smiling mode, and my mood is definitely directly affected by that (and vice versa).

That being said... SMILE! :D Think about the possibilities (for this very moment and even for the days ahead) and recognize that you are creating your own reality every single moment. Being sad isn't a reality unless you let it be! With the flick of a switch, you can shake off whatever negative emotion you are feeling and try out happiness instead. (But you have to truly want to be happy for this 'trick' to work. I have definitely said I wanted to be happy, but really just wanted to sulk in misery. Bad move.) Watch your favorite movie, dance around to some awesome music, cuddle up with a good book, try a new recipe, get some exercise, watch a funny cat video (if you're into that... like me), call an old friend. There are endless ways to bring a smile to your face. Somehow it's easy to forget the infinite opportunities when we are deep in our sad caves of resistance. I'm so happy to put this out into the universe so that I can be reminded to smile and all of the reasons why I should! "Every end is a new beginning" - 'new' anything is exciting and reason to smile!

Here is a song that ALWAYS makes me smile from a movie that makes me really happy...

The Art of Alone

Something that I have been resisting lately is being alone. This struggle is part of cultivating my own space and growing my relationship with myself. Learning to wholeheartedly love and accept myself and all that comes with me is a never ending journey. I can definitely chose to see this journey as something invigorating and exciting, rather than pinpointing my weaknesses or harshly judging my progress. My emotions, ebbing and flowing, sometimes lure me to a place where I forge a sad aloneness. While I'm never truly alone or without something to explore in myself, it's easy to rock myself into a fantastical yearning for another's presence and energy. 

I find that blogging, organizing my space, and creating things are really helpful when I am feeling hopeless in my solitude. My first psychoanalytic instinct says that these are all healthy "distractions" from recognizing that I am without a friend or lover at the moment. But I can chose to see these more simply as hobbies and ways of nurturing myself. It's the times when I shut down and convince myself that being with someone else would feel infinitely nicer than listening to my own thoughts or learning more about myself that I really crave love from others. I daydream of a surprise visit and think up expectations of company, only to let myself down. This just illuminates the fact that I sometimes use the company of others to avoid confronting something in myself, or try to rely on someone else for things that I really should be extracting from within. I need to remember that "I am enough" and that I am truly 100% self-sufficient. 

When I use blogging to examine myself objectively, it helps me to laugh and feel inspired to shake off the silliness I fuel with unrealities. Being alone is a beautiful thing - a time to get things done and probe myself for the tasks and thoughts that get lost when others are around. This is a sacred time to download the day and revisit things I may have skipped over; to research an unanswered question; to start that house project I've been delaying; to pamper myself with a bath or a movie night. It's not so bad after all...