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!

 

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A Healthy Step into the New Year

healthy

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…

health

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?

winter
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!

Sometimes great minds think alike

I was just thinking today, that I need a way to show that I am an ally.  And then, poof, these things started showing up in my facebook feed!  Damn, is that like mental telepathy?

I am one of the millions of Americans horrified by the election of Donald Trump.  I’m a white educated woman who knows just how ugly it’s going to get.  I grieve for the disrespect shown to women, and I am having a hard time wrapping my mind around all that racism.  Don’t pretend it’s not there, IT’S EVERYWHERE!

I first learned about being an ally when I worked at Arcadia.  There were students on campus that were part of the LGBTQ crowd, and they wanted to know who the safe people on campus were.  I was thrilled at the prospect of being someone’s safe haven.

That idea came back to me today as I talked with a black friend.  I might be a preppy white girl from the burbs, but I’m no slacker in the diversity department.  I know it’s not always easy, but we need to figure out how to celebrate our unique qualities, not push all “the others” away.  Because at the end of the day, we share humanity, and it’s not your place to judge others out of fear.

What little power I have, I will share with you.  I’m a safe haven for all those just trying to live their lives in peace.  I’m going to start wearing safety pins and keeping my eyes open.  I have this funny feeling it’s a fashion trend that will catch on.  What a powerful feeling it will be to see others walking down the street, riding the bus, or chatting at the coffee shop while wearing their safety pins.

Yep, I’m on the team!  Won’t you join me?

 

 

 

I support Standing Rock

standingrock

Hello, my friends,

I write to you with a heavy but hopeful heart today.

No doubt you have heard about the historic protests in North Dakota this year, as many Native American tribes have united to block the construction of a oil pipeline.  The protesters have gathered to protect land that is sacred to them, and their massive show of unity is unarmed and peaceful.

Unfortunately, this peaceful group of protesters has been attacked viciously by both those that work for the pipeline and the state government itself.  That’s right, the government of North Dakota is using force to break up a peaceful protest.

What the hell is wrong with this picture?!

I feel sick when I think about the history of abuse and marginalization inflicted on indigenous people in this county and around the world.

And, we all know that there is about a 100% chance of this pipeline wreaking environmental damage.  Anyone remember BP’s Deep Water Horizon?  What about the water contamination from fracking all over the place?  It’s just a reality, and it’s not OK. Have you seen this?

Let me be clear that I am not big into politics.  I hate arguing with people, and I’m also too scared to attend political rallies and protests, even when I support them deeply.  I may be a chicken, but I vote in each election, say what you will.

That all being said, something about this protest makes me sick to my stomach as others have not.  It’s moving me in a way I can’t deny.  I’ve decided to support the people at Standing Rock with monetary donations and complaints to my bank (a pipeline funder) and my elected officials.

Join in me in protesting this travesty of justice.

I’ve assembled a number of links below with information on how to help.

  1. Contact the banks funding the pipeline
  2. Contribute to the Standing Rock Protests
  3. Take action across the board

I welcome additions to this list, and I hope you will also pick one or two ways to take action in support of the protesters at Standing Rock.

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