Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wellness Wednesday: {An Introduction Pt. 2}

Last Wednesday I introduced a new weekly feature of this blog: Wellness Wednesdays! If you missed the post, you'll definitely want to catch up on it, and can read it here.

Today I'll do a little more introduction to the concept of wellness. Again, to remind you, wellness isn't the absence of the negative (pathology, disease, etc...), but the presence of positive components. Neutrality DOES NOT equal health. This is a crucial concept to understand.

Here's a definition of wellness:
A way of life oriented toward optimal health and well-being, in which body, mind, and spirit are integrated by the individual to live life more fully within the human and natural community. Ideally, it is the optimum state of health and well-being that each individual is capable of achieving” (Myers, Sweeney, & Witmer, 2000).

Oooh...sounds a little intense, doesn't it? What I love about this view of wellness is that it is holistic. Sometimes I think it's easy to just focus on physical health (nutrition, exercise, etc...), and we forget that there are other types of health that we need to be focusing on as well. The thing is, because there are many parts integrated into the whole (an individual person), these areas of health affect one another. If we're only focusing on one, the others will be neglected, and our overall sense of health and well-being will not be very strong. From what I see, this is one of the most crucial concepts of wellness that is often overlooked. It's about the health of the whole, not just one little part of the whole.

I think each of us probably have one or two areas in which we feel we do a good job of maintaining health. I wonder what would happen in each of our lives if we started looking at ALL the components and factors of wellness, not just one or two?

What I'd like to know:
Does this definition of wellness make sense to you?
Do you have one or two areas of wellness that seem strong to you? What areas might you be neglecting? 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Self-Love: Invest in Yourself!

I'm big on self-care and loving yourself. You are at the core of everything that you're doing and engaging in, and if you're unhealthy, that adds a lack of health into the system you are engage in (whether that be work, a marriage, raising a child, or something else).
To get you caught up, here are a few of the other posts I've written on self care and self love:

The way I see it, when we invest in ourselves:
  • We help make our interactions with others healthier 
  • We invest ourselves in healthy ways into our children
  • We invest in our future selves
  • These things create a change in our grandchildrens' lives
And so on and so forth. When we choose that we are worth our time to invest in, we can make the whole chain down in the family more healthy. It can start here and now, with the choices that you make. And here's the point: YOU need to decide that YOU are worth investing in during your day! If you don't believe that you are worth your personal investment, those self-care behaviors won't be maintained in life, and health will start to slip away. I realized in my own life that I had to believe that I was worth it. Once I did, that's when the work of self care in my life actually began. 

Here's what I'd like to know:
Do you consider yourself worth investing in?
If yes- Why are you worth investing in, and how do you invest in yourself on a regular basis? 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

"For today and its blessings, I owe the world an attitude of gratitude."

An attitude of gratitude. What would that look like in your life? Part of the practice of listing what I'm thankful for is to create a mindset of always acknowledging what I've been blessed with in my life. I wonder what our lives would look like if we lived in an attitude of gratitude... how would our health and wellness change?

Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for right now:

  • Greek Yogurt: This stuff is DELICIOUS! It comes in many different flavors, which I love! Plain yogurt is also fantastic because you can add all sorts of nuts or fresh fruit to it. Delicious and SO healthy! I could eat this stuff every day. Oh wait...I already do... :D
  • New Swimsuits: This past week was spent doing a whole lot of swim suit shopping. While I don't like the whole trying it on experience (bad lighting, tons of mirrors, unflattering angles...need I say more?), the getting to wear it part is lots of fun! And of course it only means one thing: SUMMER! 
  • Family Workouts: Ok, so we don't necessarily all go to the gym and do the exact same workout. But if my brother is there lifting, he'll run a lap or two with me. My mom will come and do weights. We'll do pilates or all go to a yoga class. It's fantastic! I think it's so important for families as a whole to work on health and wellness together, and I'm thankful that my family does!
  • A Phone Call From My Brother: One of my brothers has been overseas for awhile, and I haven't had much of a chance to talk to him. We're really close, and it's been a little sad for me to not really know where he's at or what he's doing. A phone call this weekend made it MUCH better, and it was fun to hear his voice & catch up on what's going on in his life. I'm thankful for a fantastic relationship with all my siblings, and specifically right now for a phone call this week from one of them. 
  • Movies: This weekend I watched the most recent Harry Potter Movie (anyone else REALLY excited for the final movie?), which in my mind is always a fun choice. I also watched a movie I had never heard of before entitled Like Dandelion Dust. It's FANTASTIC. Not funny, certainly, but it was an incredibly interesting movie, with an issue that was thought provoking to me as a counselor. It's fun to be able to lose yourself in the story lines of movies, or simply sit back and take a break from life for a bit. 
What I'd like to know:
What was your favorite part of the weekend?
What genre of movies do you like best?
What are you thankful for right now?

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Working Out While You Work

Gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it.  ~Author Unknown

The last two evenings I've spent shoveling mulch from a huge pile on the driveway into a wheelbarrow. Then the mulch was dumped in the backyard. This morning I will spend the morning spreading the mulch...I'm trying to not get too excited about it:) Also, please try to not be jealous as you think of me sweating away in piles of wood. Seriously. 

Ok, enough of the sarcasm. As I was shoveling yesterday, I began to think of the nature of household chores, and how easy it is to complain about it. We can't avoid the housework (ok...I guess we can avoid it, but not if we want clean, safe, and healthy houses!), but we CAN make it fun. Why make it a miserable time for ourself, our significant other, or our children? 

I got to thinking. What could possibly be remotely "fun" about shoveling mulch? Well, I was complaining in my head about not getting a workout in, and then realized that I could use this as my workout. This immediately shifted my focus. I got into a healthy and safe position, and focused on different muscles as I shoveled. I did yoga and pilates like moves while I was waiting for the mulch to be dumped in the backyard. Did I look a little stupid? Sure. Did I feel better about the time I spent shoveling? Absolutely. I got my heart rate up, and threw a little strength training in there too.

My point is this. You can make healthy choices even while doing your household chores. Better yet. If someone else is there with you, try to make a game out of it. There's no need for the chores to be a waste of time and not fun! Summer is a great time to set a new, healthy pattern for your work, so take the first step today and try to increase health in this area! You'll dread the housework a lot less... 

Do you ever do a workout while doing a daily task or chore? What's your most dreaded chore?

Friday, June 24, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

Because this post series is new, I'll post this again from last Friday: "Do you remember last week's post on my Life's Tiny Delights/ Fantastic Friday? If not, click on the link and check it out. I still haven't found a title that I like, so please be patient as I try to figure this out. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them! The link above will give some background to this little "holiday" on my blog, and trying to develop a practice of mindfulness in my life."

All caught up to speed now? Here's one of the tiny delights in my life right now:

RAIN (sorry no picture to go along with this post)!

Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby.  ~Langston Hughes

I think it's rained for almost the entire last week. I decided early on in the week, after looking at the forecast for the next few days, that I was going to delight in the rain. Normally I would grumble (ok- a few little grumbles have accidently snuck out throughout the week..I'm not perfect...) A LOT about the weather, but this week I tried to enjoy it and find the beauty and delight in it. Can I share a secret- I enjoyed the days much more focusing on the positives with it then when I was complaining! I guess this blog is forcing me to be a little more healthy too:) 

Here are some of the search terms people typed in that led them to my blog:
  • challenging cognitive distortions
  • changing cognitive distortions (I guess it was a big week for searching this term)
  • chobani does not affect lactose intolerance
  • misconceptions of grief
  • there are plenty of life's tiny delights (hey...isn't that what this post is all about? :D )
Looking at my stats, cognitive distortions, grief, and chobani seemed to be the hot items on my blog this week. 

Here's what I'd like to know from you:
What is one of your current tiny delights?
Do you like the rain, does it frustrate you, or a mix of both?
Any fun plans for the weekend? 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wellness Wednesday {An Intro}

Welcome to a post that I hope will be a weekly regular on my blog. I'm dedicated in my counseling practice, as well as in my personal life, to help others increase their overall levels of health and wellness. I introduced the idea of wellness on my blog in December 2010, before most (if not all!) of you were reading. So, before going any further, you may want to check out my introduction to wellness here. This will summarize everything clearly (I hope).

The basic idea of wellness is this:

Wellness is often viewed as the absence of pathology or identified disease. For example, there's no depression, anxiety, cardiac problem, etc... so I must be a healthy individual.

THIS IS NOT WELLNESS! The absence of pathology is more like just being neutral- nothing really positive, and nothing really negative. Neutrality does not equal health! So if the absence of disease isn't wellness, then what is?

Wellness, therefore, is not the absence of the negative, but the presence of the positive that indicates health and wellness. Let me repeat myself again, because this is crucial to understand! Wellness is the presence of positive components in life!

This, then, leads to a few potential questions: What are these components that play into wellness? How do I get to a point of being "well"? Does wellness just involve the mental and the physical?

I hope that through these Wellness Wednesday posts, I can not only address these questions, but give information about each of these components of wellness, give practical advice on how to attain health, and share personal stories of health and wellness.

I'll leave it at that for this week, to give you a little time to wrestle with the idea of health not just being the absence of the negative, but instead presence of the positive.

What I'd like to know from you:
How do you define wellness? What are the different components or factors in wellness (like nutrition, for example)?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Greek Yogurt in Greece

Do you remember my first post on the Greek Yogurt Chobani? I grew up eating yogurt every day, but once I found out I was lactose intolerant, I cut yogurt out of my diet. For a few years, I missed yogurt, and desperately tried to find a substitute. I was thrilled when I stumbled across Chobani, and realized that it was not only incredibly healthy, but also didn't bother me lactose-wise. I'm SO glad that I tried this before actually going to Greece- I was a lot more comfortable eating the yogurt there knowing that I was going to be ok.
Since March I've had Greek Yogurt ever day for breakfast or lunch. Imagine my joy when i went to breakfast the first morning in Athens and was served this: are seeing correctly. That is a glass dish of greek yogurt with honey...and the Acropolis (Parthenon) in the background. I don't think any greek yogurt can ever compare to this great experience:) Ok, enough with the cheese factor. Seriously though, this greek yogurt was fantastic (and the view didn't hurt either). What I love about Greek yogurt is that it not only tastes great and has a good texture (smooth and creamy), but it's healthy! Packed with protein, this makes an excellent and healthy breakfast or snack throughout your day. If I could some how force each of you to eat Greek yogurt on a regular basis, I would. But let's face it- that would be impossible, creepy, and really poor boundaries. So I won't. But I can encourage each of you to run to your closest grocery store immediately and try it if you haven't. Not only is it delicious, but it's also a healthy decision (and don't we all love when healthy tastes good too?).

Have you tried Greek yogurt before? If so- what flavor is your favorite?

Monday, June 20, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Welcome to another edition of "Thankfulness Project Monday"- a "holiday" at the start of the week to begin the week with the practice of gratitude. This practice has been shown to have great physical and emotional benefits. You can read more about it here.

Let's get on to the good part, why don't we? Here are a few of the things I'm thankful for this past week.

Fathers Day Greek Picnic on the porch. Excuse the pink picnic-ware. 

  • My Dad: While I will sometimes just put "my family", because father's day was yesterday, he gets his own shout out. You can click on the link to read about why he deserves his own place on the list. 
  • Working Out: You can click on the link to the left to see an article I wrote about embracing the sweat. I love working out...maybe not so much always while I'm doing it, but I love how it makes me feel afterwards. I love knowing that I can choose to make healthy decisions in my life.
  • A Relaxing Weekend: I didn't get anything major checked off my "to do list" this weekend, but I engaged in a lot of self care, and hit a number of different components of wellness. So I guess it wasn't a waste...was it?
  • Greek Food: LOVE IT! It's delicious and healthy all in one, which is the best combination there is. I know I've posted quite a bit about Greece & the Mediterranean lately, but I can't help it. I'm thankful for it:) Yesterday for Father's day we made an entirely Greek meal, which was delicious! We put on Greek music and sat outside on the porch. The picture above is from that dinner. 
  • Health: Ok, I know...I put this in my list last week too. I had a migraine that lasted for a week, and finally broke on Saturday. These experiences always make me so grateful for how healthy I actually am. 
That's a few of the things that I'm thankful for right now. Now it's your turn:
What are you thankful for today? What was your best part of the weekend?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Happy Father's Day!

"Fatherhood is pretending the present you love most is soap-on-a-rope."  ~Bill Cosby

"My father always told me, 'Find a job you love and you'll never have to work a day in your life.' " 
-- Jim Fox 

"My father didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it." -- Clarence Budington Kelland

Happy Father's Day to all you dads reading this blog! I hope today is a special day filled with love from your kids. Special thoughts & prayers go out to you dads who have lost one of your children, as well as those of you who have lost your dads (or those whose dad was not present in their life). These days are often hard & painful as you face your loss. I hope you can remember some of the good memories as well:)

Because I have chosen to hold on to some anonymity on this blog (you can read my reason for this here), I can't post a picture of my dad and me, or share really personal stories. I would love to do this, though! But, because I like to have some personal touches on here, I thought I'd share a few things about my dad. 

As a young child, I lived apart from my dad for awhile as he had to move before my mom & I did to start a new job. During these months, I missed him greatly, and was also incredibly excited to see him. Once we were all in the same house again, I'd anxiously wait for him to come home, and jump off the stairs into his arms. As I grew older, we butted heads more, as we are both strong people with very loud personalities. Sure, this created some troubles along the way (what person doesn't have some trouble with their parents at some point?), but we worked through it. 

In college I had a friend die in a tragic accident. He left work and drove over 10 hours to be with me for the weekend. He took shopping lists from my friends, and paid for everything that everyone needed as we prepared for a visitation and funeral. He was there to hold me as I cried. And he was there to tell me that I was going to be ok, that I would make it through this horrible event. A few weeks later, as I flew across country for the summer, he came with me just to make sure I was going to be ok. 

The 2nd quote above stuck out to me, because it's from my dad that I gained my love for the health field, public speaking, and writing. He often said that quote to me, and he was right. I found a job I love and it's a very rare day that I feel that I have to work. I am grateful to him for so many things: for all the hours he spent going over my papers helping me to become a better writer...all the way through editing my thesis for me multiple times, to showing me culture & the world, helping me focus on my strengths and passions & doing everything possible to help me succeed, and for teaching me how to survive in the world (amongst so many other things). I'm so grateful & aware of the blessings I have received along the way from my own dad. 

Happy Father's day to not only my own dad, but to all you dad's out there!

Do you have a good relationship with your dad? What's one important lesson you learned from him? 

Friday, June 17, 2011

Fantastic Fridays (Life's Tiny Delights)

Do you remember last week's post on my Life's Tiny Delights/ Fantastic Friday? If not, click on the link and check it out. I still haven't found a title that I like, so please be patient as I try to figure this out. If you have suggestions, I'd love to hear them! The link above will give some background to this little "holiday" on my blog, and trying to develop a practice of mindfulness in my life.

With that being said, here's something I'm loving right now:
I'm pretty sure this is one of the most colorful and decadent platters of dessert I've ever eaten off of. Seriously- how amazing does this look? While eating, I tried to be very present in the moment, and notice the tastes and textures while I was eating it. YUM! 

Search terms are always interesting & fun to see (at least I love looking at them on other blogs!), so here are some from the last week: 
  • "It's not about me" Boundaries (excellent search by the way. You can read it here)
  • Chobani lactose intolerance
  • Could you wear contacts while flying a jet? (yes- I'm a professional in this area:) This came from my post last week on health & safety while flying). 
  • Grandma health
  • Mediterranean Pizza Ingredients (you can find this recipe under the "recipe" tab above)
It seems like this is a pretty wide range of random searches, doesn't it? 

Now here's a few things I'd like to know from you:
What would you like to see in a lighthearted Friday post?
Do you have any fun plans for the weekend?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Embracing the Sweat

I know I've talked about my love of walking/dislike of running before on this blog. If you don't remember the post or are new to the blog, you can read the post here. I just don't think I have a runners all. But I'm determined to try to become a runner. Yes, i know there are plenty of other ways to get cardio exercise in, and yes, I do some of those regularly. But I'm not giving up on my dream of running.

That being said, on Tuesday night I was at the gym for a 75 minute Hatha Yoga Class (AMAZING, by the way!). After class, I saw the track with all the pretty ellipticals, treadmills, bikes, and stair step machines in the middle of it. I haven't done much running lately, so I decided to give it another shot. What resulted from this quick decision was 4 miles of running and walking, back and forth. Because I ran on the track, I was able to make sure that I split my 4 miles into exactly even halves, giving me a 2 mile walk and 2 mile run. It was WONDERFUL. I know, right? Coming from the mouth of the girl who hates running. I KNOW. But I really did love it. I don't know if I'll ever be the type of person who will write "I went out for an easy 5 mile run" on this blog, and I'm ok with that. I'm choosing to live in the shades of gray in exercise instead of clinging to all or nothing types of thoughts. After these 4 miles, I dutifully foam rolled, and found that when I woke up yesterday, I wasn't even too sore at all. Success on all accounts? I think so.

So where does sweating come in to my run? I was a dancer until college (read: lots of hours of sweating), which I loved. But then I got to college, and my work outs centered around our gym. For some reason, I panicked about the idea of sweating in front of people I didn't know too well. What resulted was me wearing 1 of 2 shirts that didn't really show sweat, and not pushing myself the way I could've. Trust me, I feel a little pathetic even admitting that. Hey- I have a fear of sweat.

I've had enough of it and I'm no longer going to embrace my fear of sweat. Instead, I'm embracing the sweat and working out in WHAT I want in the WAY I want and at the INTENSITY that I want. What's a little sweat going to do, anyways?

Are you afraid of anything at the gym? What has this fear kept you from doing? 

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

White Bean Chili

If you've been a reader for very long, you may know 2 things about my relationship with cooking:
1. I struggle to even follow basic recipes, & therefore need easy recipes
2. I'm trying to add more healthy meals to my recipes. 

That being said, today I made a family recipe for the first time. I grew up eating this, but have never made it myself. Because it's been in the family for so long, I don't have a source to attribute it to. This is a very easy recipe, which makes me far more likely to eat it. It's also lactose free, which is obviously important to me as well! 


1 package of chicken sausage
1 can of chicken
2 cans (14.5 oz each) of northern beans
1 can (14.5 oz) of diced tomatoes (you can choose whatever type you'd like to add different flavors)
1/2- 3/4 cup water
1 tsp chicken base

1. Cut up Chicken sausage and cook in heavy pan. The sausage is pre-cooked, so this step is just to start browning the chicken. 

2. Cut up carrots into small, bite size pieces. This can be as big or small as you would like. 

3. Drain & rinse both cans of beans in a strainer. 
4. Add beans, tomatoes (with juice), carrots, and can of chicken (drained) to the pan.

5. Add your water & chicken base
6. Stir ingredients in pan. Cook until the carrots are tender. 

Voila! Super easy. Depending on what setting you put on the stove, this dish will take approximately 45 minutes to cook. This can be served hot off the stove, or cold from the refrigerator. It makes great left overs as well! 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weekend With My Grandma

The reason grandchildren and grandparents get along so well is that they have a common enemy.  ~Sam Levenson

Grandmas hold our tiny hands for just a little while, but our hearts forever.  ~Author Unknown

The first quote made me smile when I stumbled upon it, and thought it'd be good to share it. As I posted yesterday, I spent this past weekend almost continuously at an assisted living facility visiting my grandma. I've always enjoyed spending time with that generation, and in high school even volunteered twice a week at a retirement home. 

I think there's something beautiful that happens when multiple generations get together and share time, laughter, and memories. With age, perspective and wisdom can change. I say can because I've known a number of older people who have come to some very wrong conclusions (everyone in this current generation is failing college, none of them are responsible, etc...) which leads them to be very angry and difficult to be around. By and large, however, I enjoy the stories and conversations I have with older people. I find, too, that there can be a lot of loneliness & regret with this age group, and I think it's important for younger generations to invest time in them as well. I can say that some of my most important lessons in life (both good & bad) have been taught by my grandparents. 

This weekend was all about me spending time with my grandma. I live far enough away that I don't get to see her very often, and wish very much that I could see her on a weekly basis. She is slipping more frequently into dementia, sometimes not even remembering that her husband just died. On good days, she can tell me lots of details about her life, both current and past. It's hard for me to see her that way when I remember her swinging me through the sprinkler when I was little. One thing my grandma has not lost, however, is her hospitable nature. My grandma is very big into hospitality, and this continues today. After two nurses came in to give her a sponge bath one day, she offered both of them a cup of tea. She asks me repeatedly if I want anything to eat or drink, if I'm warm enough, and if she can do anything for me at all. This causes me to smile, as she can't even get in a car right now, and has to have at least 1-2 people helping her go the bathroom. Every time I'm with my grandma, I feel deeply loved and cared for. So while I may be cutting up her food and folding her clothes now, I'm so happy to do this for the woman who has invested in my life and loved me for many decades. I hope I'm as hospitable as she is when I'm her age. 

As I said in yesterday's post, being in the assisted living facility lead to a lot of thankfulness for my current levels of health, and the abilities that I have to take care of myself. The memory of this makes doing the daily household chores a little easier to handle, knowing that one day they'll need to be done and I won't be able to do them. 

Were you (or are you) close to your grandparents? What's one important lesson you've learned from the older generations?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Blessings are oftentimes not valued till they are gone.--Thomas Fuller

It's Monday, which means another post of some of my blessings and things I'm thankful for over this past week! It's been a hectic week with an unexpected trip thrown in, so it's good to get back to my regular life and posting schedule! You can read my previous Thankfulness Project Post here (you can get background information to my Thankfulness Project from this link as well). 

So, with that being said, here are a few of the things that I'm thankful for over the past week:

  • Doing Things That "Scare" Me: You'll have to click on the link to read my entire post based around this quote by Eleanor Roosevelt. Because of everything going on in Greece right now (google news "Greece" and you can read what's going on if you're interested!), it was neat to be able to stand there in person and get to see part of the country's history playing out. What a neat experience!
  • Fantastic Fridays/ Life's Tiny Delights: While I'm trying to work on my title for my Friday posts, you can read this past Friday's post at the link above to get the background on this if you're interested! I feel thankful that I've started the practice of bookending my week with my Thankfulness Project posts on Monday and my Life's Tiny Delights post on Fridays. I don't think that we're often mindful enough of our blessings and the joys we've been given, and life quickly passes us by. I think it's a crucial practice to develop in the process of increasing wellness and mental health. 
  • My Health: I spent this weekend at a nursing home (post to come on this soon!), which naturally lead to me being around a lot of people who can no longer live their life the way they used to. I'm so thankful that I'm healthy and strong enough to be independent and take care of my life. Again, I feel like we often take this for granted (I know I do!), and that's unfortunate. While I complain sometimes about unloading my dishwasher or having to dust (to give 2 examples!), I also realize that I have the ability to do these things for myself, and ultimately I'm so thankful for that. This weekend put that in perspective for me. 
  • Social Support: We each struggle with things, whether big or small, in our daily living. Life can be hard enough on it's own, and it's wonderful when we have friends to help carry the burden and support us through whatever pain, suffering, or frustration that we experience. Due to the events of this weekend (again, the nursing home), I've felt so thankful to have a number of people there for me, supporting & encouraging along the way. We all need to feel like we're being cheered on at certain points in life, don't we? :)
  • Yoga: I've had a lot of neck and back pain that has turned into bad headaches or migraines over the last 10-12 days, and yoga has done a good job of relieving some of that pain. Not only physical wellness, but it helps with mental wellness as well! I look forward very much to my yoga days, and I'm thankful that at this point I have the opportunity and ability to take these classes! 
Ok, enough with me now! What I'd like to know from you:
How was your weekend? What are your blessings from the last week?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Fantastic, Fun Fridays

Ok, so the title is a work in progress. How about we put that behind us for a moment (but if you have suggestions, feel free to send them my way!), ok? So, let's be honest. By the time Friday rolls around, most of us don't want to read a heavy or heady post...we're looking for something fun. In that vain, I'm trying to develop a regular theme for my Friday's post. I'm still trying to decide all that I want to include. However, over the last few weeks, I've slowly added my "life's tiny delights"posts on Fridays, and I'm trying to think about how I want to expand this. Anything you'd like to see on Fridays.

To recap, here are some of my Life's Tiny Delights Friday Posts:

Ok, now that you have a little history on the development of life's tiny delights, and growing the practice of mindfulness from moment, let's move on to a current tiny delight of mine. 

As we're busy with our to do lists and worries in life, we forget to look around and enjoy the things we are seeing in the present moment. As I was walking quickly down a street last week, I saw this little tomato plant out of the corner of my eye. I did a double take, and decided to stop and enjoy the scene. It's quaint, isn't it? I stood there and imagined different activities I could do there (coffee with friends, reading a book, or blogging to name a few!), and I found myself feeling incredibly relaxed and peaceful. 

Everyone loves looking at the fun search terms that brought people to their blog...right? I certainly love seeing what others post. I think it's also interesting to see the reoccurring subjects that regularly bring people to the blog. That being said, here are a few funny phrases that people searched and found my blog:
  • chobani and activia in the same day too much (hmmm...I wonder what they were experiencing that lead them to type that...?)
  • i am a fellow traveler (leading me to think...a fellow traveler in what?)
  • tips for surviving the holiday lights (why do we need to survive holiday lights? Is there a chance for attack? Are they a danger? :) I'm pretty sure google took that as holiday fights...a post I did during the Christmas season. 
  • identifying cognitive distortions list. (this is a very common keyword search. If you haven't read those posts yet, check them out!). 
Alright, that's all for this Friday.

Now here's what I'd like to know from you: What's the funniest keyword that has been searched on your blog this week? What would you like to see as part of a light & fun Friday post? 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Health & Safety While Flying

Leaving on a jet plane!

In yesterday's post, I discussed post, I gave 10 tips for safety while on a driving trip. Today's blog post is dedicated to safety while flying. As you know, I love to travel, and unfortunately this means a lot of flying (can you say long lines, inappropriate touching at security, and lost baggage?). Here are a few of my tips for a safe & healthy travel experience. 

1. Hydrate on the day leading up to, as well as the day of, your flight: It's not only difficult to get enough fluid while traveling, but the airplane can be very dehydrating. Coming into the experience well hydrated will only benefit you.
2. Once again, bring lots of snacks! While a flight might only be 2-3 hours, you might get stuck waiting on a runway for 2 hours before you leave. You may arrive late, and have to skip your planned dinner during the layover you've now lost due to time. Always bring healthy snacks (protein bars are great) to hold you over...or as a substitute for a meal if necessary.
3. Bring an empty water bottle. While you can't go through security with water, if you bring an empty water bottle, you'll be able to fill it up as soon as you get into the main part of the airport. This will help you to stay hydrated. 
4. Pack a change of clothing in your carry on bag: I've lost my luggage multiple times, sometimes for a week or more. The last thing you want is to walk off the plane in dirty clothes, and have to sleep in them and wear them again the next day. If you lose your luggage, you'll be happy to have that clean shirt with you!
5. Pack all medications in your carry on bag: NEVER CHECK YOUR MEDS. Again, trust me on this one. If you lose your luggage for a week, you will be without those medications for that time. If you have prescription medications, always bring them in your carry on bag. 
6. When you fly, you are at a risk for deep vein thrombosis for a few weeks following your flight. Know the warning signs, but don't turn into a hypochondriac. 
7. Take frequent stretch breaks. This helps you decrease the chances of something like DVT. Click here for an excellent link with information & videos for stretching on the airplane. 
8. Use this if you have a cold or sinus infection. If you have a cold, the pressure in your nose and ears can feel unbearable. This is the best trick I've found (along with a decongestant) to help make your flight as painless as possible. 
9. Bring eye drops or your glasses if you wear contacts. Again, flying is dehydrating, which can irritate eyes (with or without contacts). Eye drops can be incredibly beneficial and add to your overall comfort. If you wear contacts, I'd suggest bringing your glasses, a contact case, and solution for a longer flight, just incase your eyes get too dried out. 
10. Be Prepared! While it's fun to travel in a cute blazer, dark skinny jeans, and heels, if your flight gets canceled and you have to sleep on the floor of the airport, you will not be happy with your clothing choice. Keep this in mind as you dress for your flight. Bring layers of clothes to stay warm in the airport or plane, and something to lay your head on (i.e. a backpack or hoodie) if you do end up having to sleep in the airport. 

Do you enjoy flying? What's your worst flight story?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Healthy & Safe Travel Tips (driving trip)

Summer is almost here, which means an increase in travel throughout the country. Because of this, it's important to prepare for your trip carefully, and be smart as you embark on your travels. The phrase "expect the best, prepare for the worst"definitely applies to this situation. None of us want to have problems along the way...right? By being prepared, we can hopefully avoid as many problems as possible. While I wouldn't say I'm a complete pro at giving travel tips, I've traveled enough to have collected a certain number of things that I've found helpful and important.

Time to hit the road!

  1. Fill up with gas & ALWAYS check tire pressure the night before leaving: The last thing you need is to be scrambling around the day you leave (does anyone else's stress level shoot up as you're quickly packing the car and doing the final check of your house?) doing these basic chores. This has been drilled into me since I was a small child. 
  2. Make sure to bring lots of fluid! Hydration is crucial for health and wellness, especially when it's hot and sunny. The last thing you need is a traffic jam or flat tire where you're stuck outside in the heat, and have nothing to drink. What would happen if, say, you got stuck in a traffic jam for 7-8 hours. Prepare for the worst, expect the best:)
  3. Pack lots of snacks! This applies for the same reason as above. If you get stuck for a number of hours (and let's be honest...who wouldn't be grumpy in this situation), you'll be incredibly happy that you packed those extra protein bars or bags of cereal. 
  4. Bring Lunch: There's no reason you need to be stopping for a meal on the way. It's cheaper, and often healthier, to pack lunches (or dinners) and eat at a rest area. 
  5. Stop the car for regular breaks. Our concentration tends to decrease over time, so take little breathers every few hours. I know it gets really frustrating to stop, but is it worth losing 5 minutes every few hours to be healthy? Run in place, do deep breathing, and stretch a little!
  6. NEVER TRY TO PUSH THROUGH TIREDNESS. No, I don't mean when you're just a little sleepy. If you are really struggling to stay awake, either switch drivers or pull over and rest for 15-20 minutes. It's not worth trying to push through and falling asleep. And coming from someone who has had someone near to them die by being hit by a driver who has fallen asleep, IT IS NOT WORTH THE RISK. Be kind to yourself and others by making smart decisions.
  7. Don't just rely on gps. I am really bad at following basic directions or a map, which leads to me being completely reliant on the gps. While I think that gps is really wonderful, it can lead to problems. For example, I was driving through downtown Chicago once, and my gps popped up with a message saying "Lost Satellite." Awesome. So I was stuck praying desperately that the satellite would pop up soon. Before leaving, handwrite or print off directions so that you don't get stuck without anything.
  8. Invest in AAA. I avoided it for awhile, but am SO THANKFUL that I finally jumped on the AAA bandwagon. Not only do they give you a nifty handout for any trip you're going on (with multiple routes, etc...), but they are a great safety net if something where to happen on the road. PLUS, you can get some great discounts. It's totally worth it!
  9. Add some fun with itunes playlists or books on tape. This is especially helpful on long car trips. Mix it up, and the hours will fly by!
  10. Wear comfortable clothing. Sure, I love looking cute when I travel, and I'm always a happy camper in heels. But the best way to travel is in comfortable clothing that can be layered (do you ever feel that no matter how high you turn the AC in the summer, if you're sitting in the sun you just can't cool down?). Loose clothing is easier to move in, and will provide the least amount of distraction and the best range of movement while driving. 
Now it's your turn! Have you ever had a road trip that has fallen apart? What are your best travel tips?

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A Few Wise Words...

"Do one thing every day that scares you." - Eleanor Roosevelt

Moment of honesty with each of you: I'm naturally on the more fearful end of the spectrum. Over the years, I've learned to talk through my fears, decide what's rational and irrational, and learn to develop self talk to address this. This has been incredibly helpful. But sometimes the fear is still there. The above quote has been an encouragement to me throughout the years as I try to face fear in the face. But WHY should we do one thing every day that scares us?

Well, I don't think there's something magical in one thing every day, nor do I think it has to be all or nothing. Do one thing every week that scares you if you'd like. I also think it's important to remember that the things that scare us can be simply making a phone call (perhaps calling a company to let them know about an incorrect charge is terrifying to you!) or emailing a friend you had a fight with last week. It can also be something big, like getting on an airplane of sky diving. It's important to face our fear so we remain free to do things in the world, instead of cutting more and more activities out, making daily living increasingly difficult. Facing the fears we have not only opens up more of the world to us, but helps us to develop courage. This helps us live life as a daring adventure

Here's a picture of one thing I've done recently that's been a little scary (and kind of fun too!):

At one point I stood at the very front of this huge crowd (of almost 50,000 people according to some reports) in the middle of a riot in Greece. While the time I was there was peaceful, some riots before had become I was a little nervous. It was fun to be there and witness history happening, and get to talk to the Greek people about their perspectives on the issues at hand. 

Now it's your turn: What things scare you (big or little)? Have you faced any of your fears lately? If so, what did you do?

Monday, June 6, 2011

Thankfulness Project Monday

Welcome once again to my Thankfulness Project Monday post! I know it's been a few weeks, and I thank you all for your continued patience! If you are a recent reader of my blog, you can click here to read the background information on this weekly post. These last 3 weeks have been filled with an endless list of things I'm thankful for, so it's hard to get this list down to only a few things. I've felt so immeasurably blessed recently, and am so thankful for the time that I have had. That being said, here are the things I'm thankful for today:

  • Travel! If you've been a reader of this blog for very long, you know that I travel quite often, and I'm a huge fan of it:) I recently had a business/pleasure trip mixed into one. During this trip, I got to stare at the view shown in the above picture quite a bit! It's beautiful, isn't it? (if you can't tell, that's the parthenon lit up at night)
  • Safety: When traveling, there's always an increased risk of injury or illness. I'm so thankful that I had smooth sailing the entire time, and didn't get sick at all! 
  • This beautiful weather: As I type this, I am sitting outside in the sun, looking at flowers, and hearing the sound of the fountain next to me. It's like a little slice of heaven right now. Not only is my mood so much better when it's nicer out, but the smells and sounds are spectacular. We would all do much better to spend more time outside enjoying the weather (remember: USE SUNSCREEN!).
  • Mediterranean Food:  Ok, so I know I'm on a little kick with this right now, but I get really excited when I know that a mediterranean dish is coming for dinner. I'm excited about it all day. You can click here and here to see my two latest recipes. 
  • The Daring Adventure: These last 2 weeks have been crazy and adventure filled. I've experienced new things, and pushed myself in different ways. We should always be doing this. Of course this doesn't require going to a different country, but it's easy to get stuck too much into a routine and forget that we can live life as a daring adventure!

Now it's your turn! What are you thankful for today? 

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Chicken Souvlaki Salad

I want to start by apologizing for my lack of posts since returning home. It's been hectic and I haven't quite adjusted back to the time, or caught up on my life yet. Hopefully more posts will be coming along soon! Because I'm on a huge mediterranean kick right now (Can you blame me? The food is DELICIOUS and HEALTHY!), I decided to share another favorite dish with you today (you can read my previous Mediterranean Recipe here): Chicken Souvlaki Salad!

Souvlaki, which is made of small pieces of grilled meat along with small pieces of vegetables, has been a popular dish in Greece since Ancient times. It's healthy, which is an added bonus! What I like about this dish is that it mixes the delicious flavor of souvlaki with the refreshing taste of the traditional Greek Salad- perfect for the summer months!

You'll need to click here for the recipe from cookinglight, but I'll share some pictures & the list of ingredients here with you!

So here's what you'll need:
Lemon Juice
Olive Oil
Dried Oregano
Black Pepper
Chicken breast
Red Onion
Feta Cheese (this can easily be cut out if desired)
Plain Greek Yogurt
White Wine Vinegar
Garlic Powder
Ground Red Pepper

This recipe was incredibly simple to make, and stores easily for leftovers!

The chicken out of the oven (these pictures were actually taken in the winter, so I broiled the meat instead of grilling it). This marinade is really good!

The finished product. These pictures were taken before I tried greek yogurt. Knowing that I can handle this type of yogurt with my lactose intolerance, I can now add that part of the recipe. You can still make the dressing without it, though. 

And this is from this afternoon! This is with feta cheese and the greek yogurt in the sauce. YUM!

Do you have a specific type of food that you like the most? What was your favorite part of the weekend?

Friday, June 3, 2011

Mediterranean Pizza Recipe

I haven't posted any food or recipe related items in awhile (unless you count my post devoted to Froyo), so I thought I'd share something delicious today! I've always been a huge pizza fan, and being lactose intolerant threw a wrench into that. While I still enjoy pizza from time to time, it's one of the things that I've had to give up more or less. That being said, if I choose to make my own pizza, I can make my own sauce and leave the cheese off the top, thus making a pizza I can eat.

So I set out to make a mediterranean flavored pizza. Here's what I came up with:

Olive Oil
Roma Tomatoes
Red Onion
Pre-made crust from Meijer

Mix olive oil, tomatoes, basil leaves, and spices together. I didn't measure any of these out, and just mixed until it look right. I spread this out on the pizza crust, making sure that the oil touched every part of the crust. It should look something like this:

I then added my extra toppings. If you like cheese, you can add it. I threw on some pepperoni, which tasted great!

This is what it looked like coming out of the oven. Voila! It was absolutely delicious, and I made 2 of them in the last few days. 

Do you have any fun weekend plans? What are your favorite pizza toppings? What's your go to drink with pizza? 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When I Run...

Happy National Running Day:) While I'm not a runner, and don't really love doing it, I still want to celebrate. I don't think that running is for everyone, and there are plenty of other great forms of cardio that give great health benefits as well. So, if running isn't for you, keep trying different forms of exercise to find one that you can do enjoyably!

That being said, when I think of running, I think of the movie Chariots of Fire. This movie is about the Summer Olympics of 1924, and specifically tells the story of 2 British runners. I loved this movie, even as a younger child. One quote, specifically, sticks out above the rest:

"I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel his pleasure."
- Eric Liddell, Chariots of Fire

I think there's something poetically beautiful about feeling a deep sense of pleasure, even in the little things of life like a run. And with that, I will end here...mostly because I'm severely jet lagged and while it's 7:50 pm where I'm at right now, my body feels like it's more like 3:50 am. 

What things in life do you do that you feel a sense of pleasure while doing?