Create and Healthy, Happy you: Restore yourself

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Eva’s suggestion to, “Be yourself. Stop worrying about what you say and how you appear to others. By putting on a front and not expressing what you really think and feel, you are creating an imbalance of energy that will eventually erode your mental and physical health” comes off a bit cheesy.

“Be yourself” has got to be one of those first life rules you discover in grade school. And if you don’t discover it, everyone is telling you to. I swear I must have heard it a million times. So upon reading this in Eva’s Things to do now that you’re…single again I couldn’t help but giggle alittle.
Thanks Eva, I haven’t had this one figured out since sixth grade. ….snore

Still, the goal is to accomplish all her suggestions. So, forward march, cliche as it is.

In highschool I attended a retreat known as Kairos. It’s a religious retreat, but no one is required to be religious to go on it, and not everyone wakes away feeling religious in the end. Kairos, is filled with surprises and traditions that have been passed down for generations and are kept secretive. Since attending my kairos I have gone on two more kairos retreats as an adult mentor, which has been a privilege. I just recently attend one!

My experience on this retreat in higschool was a lesson in being less judgmental of others. The retreat space becomes sacred in that everyone becomes comfortable with one another. A space where judgments are cast aside and people are free to be themselves. It’s very unique.

We think on a daily basis we are being true to ourselves, but when given the opportunity to go deeper within, we may look back a realize, that’s not really the case.

When I met my boyfriend, despite our young age, I thought I was very secure in who I was. I was very confident and comfortable with my personality, my body, all of it. But my boyfriend and I had very personal, very intimate one-on-one conversations. He taught me to love myself even more. He taught me to appreciate my body, to love my quirks, and my imperfections. He made me a better person and balanced me out. It wasn’t until he pushed me to think and feel on a deeper level, that I realized I wasn’t true to myself as much as I thought.

Everytime I attend kairos, it is a reminder of that. I may be comfortable with who I am, but am I true? Am I always demonstrating that? Kairos, forces me to realign myself, to prioritize, to better express myself. It restores a sense of balance required for my mental and physical health to be the healthiest and happiest, I can be.

Create a Healthy Happy you: Power

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With last weeks goal accomplishment being kind of a big deal, this weeks needed to be stress-reducing.

Eva makes the simple suggestion to “listen to music that makes you feel good”.

My sister, who is in school out of state, came home for the holidays back in December and brought with her the Beyonce CD, the one Yonce (that’s what she’s now calling herself) dropped over night without any marketing and still skyrocketed.

I was too busy listening to Britney Spears recent release to be bothered but my sister was only in town for two weeks and I wanted to bond with her, so beyonce took over.

And by took over I mean i’ve been listening to her on repeat ever since.

“Did you hear that new song on the radio”
“Radio, what’s that?”
^this sums up all conversations about music for me.

Her album reminds me of the the young care-free highschooler I once was long long ago before my son was born, before my boyfriend died, before all responsibilities were left on my shoulders and mine alone. It’s not that the songs are great, though they are. It’s that listening to them empowers me. She has such clearly feminist messages in some of them and they make me feel tough and strong and independent. Plain and simple, I feel like a badass jamming out to her.

I feel like superwoman when I listen to her new album and I think that feeling is deserved.

I’m a single, young mom, going to school, working multiple jobs, running a nonprofit, dealing with my son’s grief after loosing his father and my own. And i’m doing a damn good job, i’m embracing what life has brought me. I don’t need someone else to tell me they are proud of me anymore. I’m allowed to vocalize the fact that regardless of what others think, i’m proud of myself.

Coming to that conclusion; discovering I am powerful, that’s what woman should do when they find themselves single. That’s how we start to create a healthy, happy you!

Seize the moment: Lights, Camera, Oprah

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With so much going on I have regrettably fallen behind, but here’s a post worth the wait!

Eva Gizowska has a recommendation that when I first read I loved but thought impossible. She suggests, ” Apply to be an extra in a film. If you’re lucky, you’ll earn some money and have a lot of fun. And never know who you might meet.”

Indeed luck is required for that to happen, and luck I happen to have struck. Sort of.

I didn’t go out looking for this opportunity as I had planned. A friend on facebook linked me up to a few agencies that regularly look for people to be extras in my hometown area but I hadn’t taken the time to follow up on them. I wasn’t quite sure how i’d fit in the time to go anyway.

Three weeks ago I went out to dinner with some lovely woman who all happen to be founders of non profit organizations that advocate for the same cause as mine. We often work together to reach the same goals and dinner was overdue. One of the woman who is regularly contacted to share her story in the media had received a phone call from Harpo Studios. (If by chance you don’t know who OWN’s Harpo studios, the answer is Oprah Winfrey.) They were looking for people who had lost someone or was in recovery to share their experience.

To keep this story short, I was chosen to go to Harpo for a filmed interview. I got to experience the security guard checking me in to confirm I was on “the list”, the studio, the professional makeup artist who’d been there 15 years and made up countless famous people, and the green room. It was quite amazing!

The interview itself was very awkward. I had to stare directly at the camera, not as easy as it sounds, and I was hoping to discuss my advocacy work, not just my personal experience. I was ill prepared for the questions asked, and extremely uncomfortable. So all in all I was very disappointed with how the interview went.

However, I am beyond grateful for the learning experience, for the opportunity to be there, for the fact that Oprah is taking the time to address the issue. Oprah is a once in a life time experience and I’m not sure there is a better way to seize the moment than achieving what we believe is impossible.

I’m very interested to see how it turns out. We shall see when Oprah Prime airs Sunday March 9th. #wakethenation

Create a Healthy Happy You: Weight off my shoulders…or knees.

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I promised this blog wouldn’t turn into a weight loss cliche when starting this new chapter, Healthy Happy You. And i’m going to keep that promise! However, Eva’s chapter on healthy and happiness is without question geared toward getting it’s readers to the happiest and healthiest form they can be. And in all honesty, sometimes that means weight loss.

Let’s be clear. I’m not implying you have to be skinny or lose weight to be healthy and happy. (Nor is Eva, from my understanding). We all have our ideal standards or norms. As someone who has bounced up and down the scale, I know what weight I feel my best at. It has NOTHING to do with the number on the scale and everything to do with the way in which I feel in my skin. I have been too skinny before and felt vulnerable to a gust of wind. I have also been too heavy for my knees to handle my weight. Seriously. There was a time i’d fall on regular basis and it was concluded my knees didn’t have the strength to carry the unusual and significant amount of weight I had put on in a short amount of time.

Currently my body feels older then my age, worn down, and heavy. I need to lose weight. Those are not somebody else’s standards. I’m not trying to reach some socially or medically set norm. I’m trying to reach what I consider a reasonable goal for myself, for my health, for my happiness.

All that being said, Eva’s book has some helpful suggestions that i’ll be taking! One such suggestions is to avoid temptations! Eva says, “It’s tempting to just grave haphazardly on food when you’re on your own. But you need to eat regularly to keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, and prevent those energy highs and lows that munching sugary or fatty snacks can cause”.

So here I am coming clean! For the past three weeks I have been following weight watchers. I used this program to drop about 30lbs after the birth of my son. I didn’t stay on the maintenance program and steadily gained all the weight back.  In the past few weeks I have lost nearly 5lbs. Which to me is a healthy and solid weight loss. I cannot yet feel the effects but there are certainly some parts that I can see a difference.

One of the first things I remembered is that i actually eat alot more when dieting, then I do when i’m not. The difference is in my choices. Instead of a handful of m&m’s or blueberry muffin i’m having fruit, vegetables with dip, or a single piece of a dark chocolate candy bar. The choices I was making before are either full of sugars or full of carbs which ultimately break down into sugars, thus the highs and lows. Sugar free jello, unsweetened pickles, sugar snap peas, and bananas are my go-to now. They are far more filling and sustaining then my former options.

At my current weight loss rate, I will be meeting my “goal weight” in a few months. While I understand it’s not the key to happiness, I’m looking forward to the increase in my health.

Create a Healthy, Happy You: Go to bed!

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This past week I attempted one of Eva’s suggestions to Create a Healthy, Happy me that I’ve been hoping to for quite some time. I didn’t even know it was one of her recommendations, it was really just something I wanted, and more importantly needed to do.

Basically, she suggests getting some sleep. The quote, more in depth, reminds us not to skimp on sleep while enjoying our new single life whether it be to partying or working or working out. Something about getting the expert recommended seven hours or whatever it is that makes us feel refreshed. And cutting out caffeine or listening to a relaxing tape if we have trouble falling asleep at night.

Ever since my boyfriend’s passing I have a hard time going to sleep. I’m so used to him being next to me, falling asleep to his snoring, and occasionally rolling into each other, not to mention the warmth that radiated off his body and kept me cozy all night. Most nights, and I really do mean MOST, since his passing a year and half ago I haven’t gone to be before 2 a.m.

You can imagine what that has done to my looks and health. Chances are your image is accurate.

I’m constantly sleep deprived as i’m not sleeping during the day and up like everybody else early in the morning to get my son off to school. So with this years goal being happiness and health I knew i’d need to get more sleep. Plus with this new job and my employer expecting a little one soon, i’m going to need it.

Last year I drank coffee and soda allll day long. I drank so much that it didn’t even prevent me from sleeping. I was immune to caffeine’s high and and heavily dependent on it, addicted. At the beginning of the year I started watching what I eat and documenting it. I limited myself to one caffeinated drink a day, typically tea first thing in the morning. (Part 1, check!)

Side bar: I recommend trying sleepy time teas. They are tasty and whether they work or are just making me think they work, they give me the mentality I need to help me knock out!

Currently I sleep with a fan on, despite our current -15 degree winter temperatures. I need the noise to help me sleep. But i’m looking into a sound machine, i’m just not sure which one I want. (Part 2, in progress).

Sleep. My goal is to be in bed by 10 and I’ve been pretty good about that this past week. The problem is falling asleep. I’m going to bed around midnight these days and while i’m aiming for earlier, that’s a two hour increase of sleep each night. (Part 3, getting there!)

My health and my looks may not be seeing the results of a better nights rest quite yet, but my mood is seeing some improvements and I’d say that’s essential to a happy healthy you!

Off to bed, i’m clearly late. (yawn)

Creating a Healthy Happy You: And seizing the moment: through change

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This week the quote, “Your single now so you can be more flexible. Change is good for you and will help you to put things in perspective” stands out to me.

We talked about my inability to be spontaneous  in last year’s chapter, Seize the Moment. It’s prevented me from accomplishing quite a bit. It’s not that i’m incapable, it’s that i’m a mother and this book isn’t for divorcees. (Or for that matter young, never married moms with deceased boyfriends). Likewise, change is a challenge for me. I’m regimented. I live by planners, to do lists, responsibility charts that reward my sons good behavior, (and this book heaven’s sake).

But like clockwork, my life is at a transition. I swear it happens every six months.

Have we discussed what I do for living? I am a nanny. I’ve been a nanny for the past 4 years. I did the whole babysitting thing to make money throughout highschool. Infact I started when I was ten years old. When I found out I was expecting, before finishing school I knew I’d need to make a decent income, but also need a job that would allow me to be a stay at home parent. Silly, right? Except not! Being a nanny allows me to work full time and “be home” full time. (Just in somebody else’s home). But with my son none the less!

Over the years I’ve had families that I’ve work for full time and periods where I worked for a number of families, a different one each day of the week. When my boyfriend passed away I was full time with one family, but shortly after his passing things went awry with the agreement the family and I made, and I moved on to working for a number of families. I have continued to work for all of them over the past year and half and I have grown very much attached to them. However, not being full time with any one family doesn’t come with the financial perks that being with one family all the time has. And while I work with children because I love them, the financial situation just wasn’t preferred.

Eva suggests in the first chapter seize the moment that, “if you’re not happy in your job, it’s time to update you CV and find one you’ll love. Life’s too short to do work you hate. Use your new ‘me time’ to work on yourself”. My first thought, “CV?” Eva must be from the UK. My second thought, “this goes along with change and am I ready for one?”

I actually fired up my resume and submitted it to a temp agency last year just for fun. I thought I’d try to accomplish this to-do while experiencing different jobs. While the agency hired me, I discovered the whole being a mom thing, trying to go to school, and run a non-profit wasn’t likely to work cohesively with an ever changing schedule, so I rejected the offer.

About a month ago I got a call from someone looking for a full time nanny. I jumped at the opportunity to interview with the family, but for the first time, despite working with one family being ideal, was really concerned about making the move. Over the past month I’ve had various discussions with the family and began working for them full time this past week. I happy to say, I am really enjoying them!

Typically i’m hard on myself and the way in which I go about accomplishing Eva’s recommended to-do’s. I never want to half-ass it and this objective in particular I wanted to take very seriously. Obviously I would love to go live in Africa studying elephants (my dream job)! But in addition to not yet having the prerequisites on my resume to making that a reality, I also have a child, a non profit that I love running, and a whole laundry list of responsibilities.

While I’m the first one to say don’t ever let society’s standards, morals, and responsibilities keep you from living your dreams, i’m truly very happy with where I’m at right now.

When my school term ended in December I agreed to allow myself a semester off. I have been working three jobs, running a non profit, going to school while being a mom for a long time now. Someone told me that’s burning the stick at both ends. I like that analogy, I never thought of it that way, it’s definitely a new perspective. I wanted to use this new time away from school to focus on my son more. I signed him up for a number of activities he’s shown interest in and for once I just wanted to be the soccer mom. Not the soccer mom frantically trying to run the bake sale and head up the PTA, just the soccer mom. The fully engaged watching her child’s game, soccer mom.

This perspective gave me the courage to make a change, to take time off school, to accept this full time job offer. This perspective and the changes that resulted are helping me find balance. Balance, such a necessity to a healthy happy me!

Create a Healthy Happy You: Getting Energized

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I found this quote from Eva’s book by Louise L. Hay to be the perfect one for the start of my new year. “If you don’t eat right and you don’t know how to take care of your body, you’re not going to have energy to do anything wonderful”.

The next chapter is self explanatory by the chapter title, “Create a Healthy, Happy you”. Now I promised not to just be ALL about food and exercise because god only knows the world needs one more blog discussing dieting.

No!

This year, this blog, will be so much more than that. It’s not just a full body transformation. It’s going to be mind altering. It’s about my health; both physical and mental, it’s trying to new methods, it’s self care, it’s holistic approaches, and zen. It’s centering myself. It’s relearning to take of me. Because if I don’t, how will I ever be able to do anything wonderful?

In all my relationships I have always been a nurturer.  Not just romantic ones, my friendships too. I’m always looking out for people, always mothering them, always offering advice, and always willing to dish out the cash to make people happy if that’s what it takes. (And i’m not saying I have the cash to dish out. I mean come on, I’m a single young mom.)

I lose track of myself in relationships. I strive to do what is necessary to make the other person happy. Sure, I get satisfaction out of seeing others happy. However, it’s typically at my expense. Somehow, I lose track of my own wants and sacrifice my needs. So it’s time for some self-centering. (Not to be confused with it’s “selfish” correlation)

This however, is going to require energy, and for that I’m utilizing my detox. Now if you want the recipes I use, refer back to the post last year, when I shared my secret regimen.

Why do it? Energy!

I have this simple theory that eating crap, makes you feel like crap. Ya know, ” you are what you eat”. Knowing this year I was beginning a new chapter I allowed myself to overindulge all of December. So ready ,set, detox! Detoxing somehow magically provides me with more energy than the typical amount of coffee, tea and soda I consume each day. In addition to detoxing, ‘I’ve also started multiple forms of exercise. But more on that another day.

I wanted to start this year out with my best foot forward. So when I saw Eva’s suggestion to, “Put the spring back in your step with a revitalizing foot spa. Mix essential oils-2 drops geranium and 2 drops of orange -into a base oil such as almond, and add to a bowl of warm water. Soak your feet for 5 to 10 minutes”. I knew this was the first of my new year’s “to do’s”!

I headed to the Whole Foods (I happen to live right next to one!) and located the section of the store I rarely purchased from, but habitually browsed through. The isle of soaps, oils, incense, and salts. I located the three oils she mentioned and 30 dollars later was home soaking my feet! Rejuvenating indeed, much like I suspect the rest of this year will be.

One step toward creating a healthy happy me!

Single Resolution: The Next Chapter: Create a Healthy Happy You

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It’s my least favorite holiday of the year! (Check the “about” section for more info on that.) However, it also marks one year since the start of my blog. I’m admittedly not the most consistent writer, but the good news is I never promised to be.

Tonight I’m reviewing my accomplishments. For those of you just tuning in. Let’s recap.

I started this blog 6 months after my boyfriend of eight years and the father of my son passed away. My life had been…well who knows it was blur. No, I wasn’t drunk. I just wasn’t really living. I was doing what I needed to get through the day, with no grip on reality, no structure or organization to my life. I stumbled upon this book by Eva Gizowska, “Things to do now that you’re…single again”  and decided to make it my own version of the bible. The first chapter was seize the moment and below is a list of my accomplished “things to do”.  (The blog titles were all “seize the moment: …..whatever you see in parenthesis)

Of the 73 things to do in Eva Gizowska’s first chapter seize the moment, I completed 27. Now you may think that’s an epic failure, I didn’t even complete half. But I prefer to look at the positives!
And hey, YOU do that many (or more) while single handedly raising a young child, working three jobs, going to school, and running a non-profit organization, tell me how that goes?

This year I…

  1. Had a good clearing out of my room. De-cluttering my room was the right start to de-cluttering my life. (Clean sweep!)
  2. Put trust in myself and in the unknowing by letting go of the baggage I was carrying from past relationships (Making room for new Beginnings)
  3. Marked a new beginning by planted an herb garden. —it didn’t prosper as hoped but my garden over the summer made up for it! (Making room for new Beginnings)
  4. Danced. Publicly. I publicly dance in a room full of people that knew me. (Dance)
  5. Took night classes just because! On a subject I’ve been wanting to learn; American Sign Language (Embracing the Nerd)
  6. Volunteered in the community (Do Good)
  7. Allowed myself to let go of responsibility, be spontaneous and relax enough to enjoy it. (Responsibility-less)
  8. Got butterflies in my stomach. Self-induced, adrenaline filled, love-less butterflies from publicly speaking in front of a crowd of highschool students about loosing my boyfriend to an overdose. (Still getting butterflies)
  9. Stared a regular get together with friends. It started, went on for a few months and then ended but it was a good attempt while it lasted! (Out to dinner)
  10. Started a Book club. This one lasted! My cousins and I are still meeting every other month to converse about our book and other family gossip over appetizers and cocktails. Their diverse taste has led me to read books I otherwise never would have and try new foods too! (Book Club)
  11. Embraced my singularity and my free spirit while flying a kite with my son. I’m not very good at kite flying so I’m not sure what that means for my free spirit but I’m going to keep trying. (Let’s all go fly a kite)
  12. Upgraded Eva’s suggestion to enjoy a relaxing bath by going to the spa. (Making the most of it; Spa upgrade)
  13. Learned to read palms. Though I think I’ve forgotten a good chunk of how. (By seeing the future?)
  14. Planted an incredible vegetable garden. Something I wanted to do for years but never seemed to feel capable of doing on my own. Not only did I do it but oh how it grew and produced vegetable upon vegetables. (Getting what I want on my own)
  15. Performed a small but random act of kindness for the whole neighborhood to enjoy by simply writing notes to my neighbors on the sidewalk with chalk.  (Kindness)
  16. Decided to view life more optimistically (Optimistically, not letting it pass me by.)
  17. Threw a party. Sorta. (Optimistically, not letting it pass me by.)
  18. Spent an entire week finding something pleasurable to do for myself each day. (Everyday something nice)
  19. Made a list of quirky goals that I hope to complete and got off to a good start on some of them. (Quirky goals)
  20. Challenged myself (quirky goal complete)
  21. Did something daring and went to a beer fest all on my own. (I Dare You)
  22. Hit up the beach. (Son-kissed)
  23. Broke some rules and did some things I’m certainly not going to share on a blog for the world to see. (breaking the rules)
  24. Got reacquainted with the small pleasures in life by simply enjoying a walk on a very foggy night. (in the rain)
  25. Shared my knowledge and my talents. Publicly speaking about drug education and overdose prevention. (Share you knowledge, save a life)
  26. Called a friend I had fallen out of touch with and ended up at dinner. (Call a friend)
  27. Sat by a fire and fell in love with it. Seriously it’s soooo peaceful and the company was such a bonus. (in front of the fire)

I also threw in a few from the upcoming chapter Create a Healthy Happy You.

I….

  1. Cleansed my system (Detox)
  2. Found the window to my happiness… (single)
  3. ….after having just relinquished my journey to do so. (single)
  4. Bought a plant to bring good oxygen to my room’s carbon footprint. (longevity)

The next year is going to be dedicated to this chapter and for months I’ve been planning my goals. Brace yourself, bitches! This year isn’t about spontaneity. It’s about feeling good, looking good, better health, and more happiness! Don’t worry I won’t bore you with my diet secrets every week and I’m still going to throw in moments that I seize. But the focus of the next chapter in my life isn’t going to be about distracting myself with fun activities to keep my mind of what I lost. This next chapter, is about learning to love being single, to love myself, and to let it show. And boy, this time next year, I am going to let it be seen! Stay tuned!

Seize the Moment: Another Quirky goal in progress!

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I once saw a show where this con artist/pick-pocketer slipped origami into the pockets of people she stole from. This inspired me!

Not to pick-pocket people, but to make origami. So I put it on my list of quirky goals! Now the goal is to learn at least 5 shapes, at least being key. But one thing at a time.

Tonight I simply wanted to share one that I made! I’m well on my way to completing this goal.

Maybe by the time I’ve got multiple shapes down, I’ll be ready and willing to share the secret reason behind why I want to learn. Stay tuned!oristar2
ori stars

Seize the Moment: in front of the fire

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With the seasons changing and fall quickly turning to winter in Chicago, going outside isn’t most people’s favorite option. (Except maybe the kids ofcourse when it snows). Which means our leisurely activities are changing. I’m not sure about you, but I personally enjoy hibernating in the winter. I like the winter activities just as equally as the summer!

You would think a woman would be most weight conscious in the summer when it’s bikini season. But hell, I’ve got stretch marks, the horrible, not normal kind, that I prefer not to show off. So for me,  bikini seasons is always out. (Note: I embrace the majority of my stretch marks, they are my “war scars” from my pregnancy. I know my body isn’t ruined, I’m a sultry tiger and I earned my stripes. But I’m not about to show the ones that look like an old man’s ass, off). ….back to my point. I actually am most weight conscious in the winter, when I’m stuck inside. Sure with the holidays I eat more, but I also work out a heck of a lot more, as the gym offers me something to do.

Then there’s the bar scene. Ever notice how the bars are more crowded in the summer than the winter? That’s because in the summer we have beer gardens to explore and in the winter, we’d rather cozy up to our lovers at home in front of fire with spiked hot chocolate, or egg nog.

Eva Gizowska’s things to do now that you’re…single again, even recommends we do this. Well, the fire!

“Spend an evening chatting with friends in front of an open fire.” Simple enough!

Recently, I had the pleasure of doing just that. A former friend of mine and I recently started getting reacquainted. He like I, experienced a difficult loss to a similar cause. Over the past few months we have spent some time sharing our grief and trying to make each other laugh. Last week, while at his house we had had quite enough of drunken nights rambling about death and loss, and opted for entertainment. We pulled up a recipe for spiked cider and brewed an entire two pots. We turned on Saturday Night Live, got out some cards and lit a fire to keep us warm. While I’m pretty sure lady gaga made a fool of herself on SNL that night I can’t tell for sure. I was too busy listening to crackle of the fire and enjoying the company of a dear friend.