What moves you?

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The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears or the sea. (Isak Dinesen)

Please excuse my lousy photography, I left this graphic large in the hopes you’d be able to read the text at the bottom.

I found this greeting card in a cute little shop on Cape Cod many years ago, and I stopped dead in my tracks.  Somehow this sentence resonated deep within me, and I thought, “Oh my God!  This is genius!”

There is almost no problem that can’t be overcome with hard work, venting frustrating or taking a meditative break.  Mama Mia!

This seemed very real for me, because I’m pretty much up for all three of those things.  I’m not afraid to work hard, take the time to express my emotions, or spend time on the water.  In fact, I often wonder if I’d be better off living next to the ocean, because it feels so relaxing and inspiring by turns.

Have you ever come across a quote, image or idea that inspires you or feels like absolute truth?

I’d love to hear about it, please leave me your comments!

 

Those darn groundhogs!

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All of you living in cold weather winter places right now probably tuned in yesterday to see if the groundhog saw his shadow.  We get pretty excited about it here in Pennsylvania, since we have thee famous groundhog/ weather predictor: Punxsutawney Phil!

As we shiver through the winter, we hope every February 2nd that Phil won’t see his shadow, since that forecast means 6 more weeks of winter.  (This year more winter was predicted.)  Of course, it’s also impossible to observe the day without thinking of the movie with Bill Murray, Groundhog Day, where his day just repeats on a loop.

groundhog-day-bill-murray-phil

On that note, I recently told a friend of mine that I felt like I was living in Groundhog Year.  It seems that the seasons spin around faster and faster each year, and that it’s the same s#!t each time. As in, this time of year always is awesome, this time of year is always depressing, and I’m always broke!  I still haven’t paid off my credit cards, lost that 10 pounds or changed much of anything.

It’s as if my weaknesses around money and weight loss are the groundhogs that keep popping out of the lawn (like in Caddyshack.) Nope, still didn’t fix it!

This realization at first made me sad.  Wasn’t I getting anywhere?  (Insert deep thoughts here.)

After a while I noticed that I actually had progressed in other ways.  I had gotten better at keeping things in perspective and noticing my priorities.  I had gotten better at finding the silver lining when things weren’t going so great, AND I pride myself on never really giving up, even if I momentarily pull the covers over my head and hide from the world.

Yes, I may have to struggle with that chocolate and shopping addiction for the rest of my life, but that’s OK.  I figured out a way to let myself off the hook, and it made me feel a whole lot better.  Nobody is perfect, and those little groundhogs are gonna pop up time and time again when you least expect them.  But, we keep moving forward the best we can.

I guess that’s the moral of this story…we keep moving forward the best we can, and we do everything in our power to keep our sense of humor.  They can be really annoying, but sometimes groundhogs can be pretty funny and cute, too.  Don’t let the groundhogs get you down!

 

A simple way to get focused…

purpose

Well, since it’s still January, I’ll still say Happy New Year!

Did you make resolutions?  How are they going?

I know I spend a lot of time wondering about my purpose in life.  (Is that weird? Wait, don’t answer that!) Where should I put my energy?  I feel pulled in many directions between my family, education, working, etc.

I recently came across this TED talk from a few years back, and I really liked it.  Adam Leipzig gives us a simple framework for discovering, creating and defining your life’s purpose!  The steps are simple, but with some thought can be quite powerful.  Why don’t you give it a try?

How to know your life’s purpose in 5 minutes

This video is from YouTube, so please forgive the intro commercial!  The whole talk is only about 10 minutes.

I like how he talks about the “examined” life AND the “lived” life, as well as how we bring our gifts into the world to serve others.  It may start in your head, but it has to get out into the world to do any good!

I hope you enjoy it!

 

A Healthy Step into the New Year

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Happy New Year to Everyone!

I like all those memes going around on Facebook saying that a new year and a new day is a new slate, for us to rewrite our story in the best positive light.  It’s a nice idea to keep in mind.

I’m sorry I have not written in quite a while.  My mother in law was very sick over the holidays, which created a bit of chaos and all kinds of mixed emotions.  I love the holidays!  Wait, a member of our family is deathly ill!  Kids opening presents and laughing with joy! The depression of spending time in the hospital.  You get the idea.

Luckily she is home and on the mend, and her prognosis has been improving each week!

So, let’s get back to my main idea today, talking about being healthy.

Back around Thanksgiving I told you I was taking the Holiday Maintenance Challenge, where I tried very hard to maintain my weight over the holidays.  I still enjoyed plenty of treats, but did more exercising and tried to eat healthy when it wasn’t a party day.  I’m happy to announce that I did succeed, and that I didn’t add any extra weight! Woohoo!

I’m all about what works in real life, and doing weight maintenance was realistic and doable, versus swearing off holiday treats.  That would have just left me pissed and resentful.  Anyway…

Something else big happened in the last month, too.  I found out I have sky high cholesterol.  Exciting, no?  I have the double whammy of family history, so I need to get serious about healthy eating.  At this point my risk factors for having a heart attack are minimal, given my general good health and blood pressure, etc.  Of course, as I age, and if I don’t take off some weight, those risks will go up.  I’m not planning to drop from a heart attack, so I’ve got to get things moving in the right direction.  This is my life or death wake up call, so I’m going to pay attention!

I like to think of myself as fairly evolved and thoughtful, but just like most people, I need some serious motivation to stick to a plan.  Looks like I got just what I needed.

So what is my plan?  First I started taking fish oil supplements, and that’s basically going to be a “take them for the rest of my life” thing.  I can deal with that.  Then I looked up the recommended foods to eat and those to avoid, and started reading food labels. Wow, I was really eating a lot of fat!  Some good, some bad, but a lot.

I went through my fridge and figured out where I could substitute a full fat option for something healthier.  Luckily there are lower fat options for cheese and coffee creamer on the market (things I can’t live without), and I started eating more oatmeal and fruits and veggies.  My other big battle is sugar.  I just crave it, even though I know it’s not my friend.  I’m taking that day by day!

I also downloaded an app for my phone with a pedometer.  I’m not a fitbit junkie, and my goal isn’t 10,000 steps a day.  It’s just a gauge to keep my activity in perspective, so I can clearly see if I’ve been moving around or not on any given day.  I’m so glad there are so many free tools at my disposal!

I have about three months before being re-tested for cholesterol levels, and I am determined to make some progress.  I’m also intending to take off 10 pounds this calendar year.  I know there will be good days and bad days, and times when I all I want is to stuff my face with a doughnut, but I’m going on this journey no matter what.

Well, I’m off to decide on a new recipe for ratatouille, wish me luck!

 

 

The Angel Tree

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I wanted to take a few minutes to tell you about one of my holiday favorites.

I stumbled across The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab 2 years ago at my daughter’s Scholastic Book Fair.  I’m not even really sure what drew me in, but I bought it.  She was 6 at the time, so I read it to her, chapter by chapter, each night in December.  Long story short, we both fell in love with the story.

It’s recommended for ages 8-12 and grades 3-7, but I think younger girls especially might still enjoy it.  The main characters are young teenagers in high school.  They come from different backgrounds and have to deal with typical teen stuff.  They have challenges with their families, with their school work and activities, and with figuring out just who they are.  Sound familiar?

The four unlikely friends are drawn into a heart warming mystery that challenges them to get over their differences and work together.  The themes of community and generosity also run through this book.  It manages to be a lovely holiday story, while still being pretty realistic.  There is no fairy tale here except for the beautiful New England-feeling backdrop of small town life.

If you know a young person who needs a solid holiday read this year, I highly recommend the Angel Tree!

 

 

A resume game changer and a challenge

resume

Sending out resumes and hearing crickets?

Been there!

I recently read this article and was really impressed.  It’s a simple yet genius way to make your resume stand out (without resorting to chanting and casting spells).

Read this article about making your resume “smart”.  Love it!

And now for the challenge…

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I’ve spent the past month feeling like a sloth and inhaling potato chips and chocolate.  Geez, why don’t I feel great?  As I adjust to the shorter hours of sunlight I’m trying out an app that is a dawn simulator.  It basically wakes you up with light, on schedule, so you brain is tricked into thinking the sun is up!  Haven’t used it enough to recommend or not, but excited it might help with my seasonal affective disorder.

But, I digress, on to the challenge!

After stuffing my face last weekend with my family, (fun!) I was ready to make a change and stop feeling so sloth-like and fat. A few years back my work place held a holiday health challenge.  You weigh yourself every Monday morning (today is a great day to start), and you challenge yourself not to gain weight between now and New Year’s Day.

We all know that the holidays are filled with food and celebration, and that we are going to eat that pie AND those cookies, of course!  And this challenge does not require you to give up eating those treats on those special occasions.  The challenge is to counteract those treats by eating really healthy when it’s Wednesday and there is no party in sight.

I’m going to do it, because I want to feel better, end of story!

My tips for making this work:

  1. share the challenge so you have people you have to “answer to” and can talk to and commiserate with when you really want that doughnut!
  2. fill your house with healthy food you love like strawberries and those delicious sweet baby peppers (for example)  And don’t buy those foods that send you over the top, like potato chips for me!
  3. If possible, replace sugar with stevia. ( I can’t stand stevia in coffee, but it’s OK in iced tea and lemonade.)
  4. decide up front what kind of prize you get for “winning” the challenge
  5. remember that you are giving yourself the gift of health and self respect for the holidays

You can do it!  Feel free to email me if you need a pep talk.  I’m going to look for some good recipes, too, to share.

 

 

Winter blues, anyone?

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I live in Philadelphia, and we are lucky enough to experience all four seasons. Now that fall weather is really here, we turned the clocks back, and the days are getting shorter…well, it feels like my body is telling me that it’s time to hibernate!

 
I feel tired for most of the day, and getting out of bed is no easy feat. I want to eat bread and chocolate and all kinds of junk food carbohydrates. My two cups of coffee do very little to get me moving, and by 5 pm I’m yawning and feel like getting ready for bed! And did I mention the foggy brain and lack of motivation? You get the picture.  (As I write this, I’m wondering where I left that last piece of chocolate…)

 
Did you ever feel this way? I’ve experienced enough seasons to see the pattern and recognize the symptoms. When seasonal changes affect you on a regular schedule, and you don’t feel like yourself, you’ve just entered the Seasonal Affective Disorder zone!

 
Also known as SAD for short, Seasonal Affective Disorder has been researched and understood to be part of the clinical depression spectrum. Yes, it’s a real illness, and, no, you aren’t imagining it.

 
A friend of mine recently recommended a book called Winter Blues by Dr. Norman Rosenthal. This book has simply tons of information about SAD, how it’s been researched, examples of real case studies, and that various ways people can treat it.

 
Most people respond to light therapy, where you sit in front of a light for a few minutes a day. The lights are specially designed to mimic natural daylight, and can give you the dose of sunshine you’ve been missing during the winter. Note: there are specific lights and ways to do this, so do your research.

 
Psychiatrists believe light therapy is effective because the amount of light we receive each day affects our body’s melatonin levels. Melatonin is a naturally occurring substance in our bodies that regulates sleep. The theory is that light therapy slows down melatonin production, so you don’t feel like sleeping all day long. Sounds pretty good to me!

 
Some people need more than just light therapy, and can benefit from a compliment of antidepressants and talk therapy. If you see yourself in my ‘hibernation’ description, it’s worth talking to your doctor.

 
Interestingly, some people are affected in the opposite way, meaning they get depressed when it’s hot and sunny! I can’t say I’ve ever met anyone with that experience, but the research shows it exists. The brain in an amazing and complex organ to say the least.

 

Go pick up a copy of Winter Blues on amazon or at the library. There really is help to beat the winter blues!