A few weeks ago, Dan and Kelly and I watched a documentary on Netflix called Living on One Dollar. The premise for the documentary is that four college kids are relocating to a remote village in Guatemala for the summer to live as the local, extremely impoverished population does: on less than one US Dollar per day. The students tried to simulate extreme poverty in several ways on top of just living on very little—the local people make money most often as hourly workers on local farms, but the income is unstable and unpredictable because they don’t have steady work and don’t know when work will be available. The students mimicked that uncertainty by budgeting $1 per person per day for their entire trip, but they broke that total budget up into different sized chunks, ranging from $0 to $9, and each day they would draw a number from a hat to find out how much money they had for that day.
Their experience was exactly what you could expect—brutal. They lost weight and felt awful because they couldn’t afford sufficient calories (eventually they started adding lard to their rice and beans, but their health definitely deteriorated in the few months that they were there). They had flea bites from sleeping on the dirt floor of their small hut, and one of the guys got extremely ill with a parasite (likely from the unclean water) and had to take medicine that they brought in case of emergencies. If he had not had that medicine (as the local residents don’t) the medicine would have been $25, a price that they definitely could not afford.
So, listen. I’m an educated adult. I know that these living conditions exist in the world. But intellectually knowing something and actually watching someone experience it are incredibly different, as we know. This experience felt especially poignant because I was watching the documentary sitting next to Kelly, and watching children his age on the television struggling with things I wouldn’t wish on anyone. When you are surviving on SO little, any tiny expense can completely derail your life—for example, the cost of school supplies, even though they are pretty inexpensive, is prohibitive for many families in this area of Guatemala. The parents want their children to be able to go to school—they want that deeply. But, as the documentary asks, how do you choose between feeding your family and sending your child to school?
It goes without saying, but will be said anyway, that we don’t face these choices. Even the poorest families in the United States are much better off than impoverished areas of the developing world, but families like ours that comfortably meet our daily needs have a standard of living that just looks absurdly luxurious when you compare it to what you’ll see in this film.
Dan and I have been talking lately about giving back—we give to charities, but it feels like it’s time to engage in some more intentional and organized giving (right now I have a few recurring donations, but the bulk of my giving happens when a friend points out a worthy cause, and I make a donation). In thinking about what our giving should look like, I’ve struggled a little bit with prioritizing recipients. There are so many causes that I find worthy and compelling. But this film, and searching my own heart, helped me cement the fact that providing food, water, and shelter to those who desperately need it are at the top of my list. So, our giving will focus on that—I’ve chosen a charity that focuses on water access, one that focuses on hunger worldwide, one that focuses on hunger within the United States, and one that provides emergency relief to refugees. It’s small, but it’s something. And my reaction when I watch this documentary is that we need to do something.
Love you, mean it.
I've gotta be honest, friends, because that's what I do here: this week has sucked. I really haven't been feeling fueled up, I've been feeling like if I get through the day without telling anyone to fuck off, then I deserve many pretty things and glasses of pinot. But bad weeks pass. And even in bad weeks, there are good things. The good things I want to talk about this week are scarves, deep breathing, and the book You are a Badass. We're covering a wide spectrum here. Buckle up.
Fall has arrived, so scarves can officially be worn, and I LOVE scarves. All fall fashion, really--give me scarves and boots or give me death. Plus they can be wrapped around me like a blanket when the oppressive climate control at work is gettin' me down.
Chewy is a fickle little pickle--if I try to take a photo of him he will NOT have it (he can be laying on me for an hour, but the second I try to take a selfie he's like, "I'm out.") But if I'm trying to take photos without him, he's like, "Hey! Mom! Give me some attention!" That poor dog really needs some grooming, we've let him develop so many dreadlocks he's starting to look homeless. Plus he's taken to chewing off patches of his fur (not the dreadlocked parts, annoyingly) so that's really not helping the aesthetic. But, I digress. Moving on.
II. Deep Breathing
At the risk of this blog becoming little more than live coverage of The Living Experiment podcast, I'm going to tell you that this idea came from The Living Experiment. Dallas and Pilar were talking about the fact that you can reduce stress hormones and slow your heart rate, essentially stopping a stress response, if you breathe in for a few beats, hold that breath for a few beats, and then breathe out for longer than you breathed in. So, something like: breathe in for four counts, hold for six counts, breathe out for eight counts. I've been using this a lot lately, either when I feel myself tensing up or when I just want to consciously set a calm vibe for myself, like on my morning commute. Just two or three breaths will do it. I also used this technique when my flight home from Boston last week hit severe turbulence, dropped unexpectedly, and everyone on the plane screamed. I'm not having a panic attack, you're having a panic attack. I'm breathing. And gripping my seat and listening to Justin Bieber. It's fine. Everyone's fine.
III. You are a Badass, by Jen Sincero
This book was recommended to me as personal development by my Beachbody crew, and I just started it last night. It's awesome. She writes in exactly the way I love (true, striking, and also funny). The book is pretty well-described by its cover: it's about believing in yourself and living your best life. It's definitely self-helpy, but not cheesy, so I love it. Here's one of my favorite passages so far:
"I have a friend who's a professional speaker. She's the kind of person who is so articulate, so powerful and bright and naturally captivating, that she could be standing at the counter, ordering a burrito and I'd get all teary-eyed: 'That's right! No refried beans! You heard the woman!' So imagine my surprise when, after one of her talks, she plunked herself down next to me and demanded to know how boring it was. I have gorgeous friends who think they're hideous looking, brilliant clients who one moment think they're God's gift to mankind and the next need to be talked off the ledge of self-proclaimed ineptitude, and an entrepeneurial neighbor who can't decide if she's a financial powerhouse or if she's about to cause her family to start living underneath a bridge. Self-perception is a zoo."
She goes on to talk about how we're never surprised when our phenomenal friends go out and do something phenomenal, but for some reason we don't give ourselves the same credit. We don't get any benefit of the doubt. She suggests to try seeing yourself through the eyes of someone who admires and believes in you, to try to stop wasting so much time and energy picking yourself apart. Ok, is that not great?? And it's funny, and quick to read. Buy this one.
That's all I've got for you this week, but you never know what next week may hold! OH! Also. Last week I posted about the concept of managing your energy, and energizing vs. depleting tasks, and I decided I wanted to share that concept more deeply and connect with some of my friends and internet stranger-friends about it. So, I'm running a little online workshop next week, Monday-Friday, to do exactly that. It's going to happen through a private Facebook group, I'll share a little bit of content every day and then there will be some interaction with the group, but it can all be done on your own time and won't take more than 15 minutes a day. And it's totally free! If you're interested, you can head on over to Cocoa and Cotton's page on Facebook and comment on that post or send me a message. And actually, if you like the blog and aren't already following the Facebook page, I post a lot more content there and on Instagram (@happy_healthy_hannaloraine) that you may like. Alright, that's really it.
I am always on the lookout for new and delicious ways to prepare vegetables. Including veggies in every meal is a baseline rule that keeps our family feeling great, but it's easy to get tired of eating the same old sides over and over again. I actually came up with these green beans during my Whole 30, because my favorite green bean preparation included white wine and that was off-limits for those thirty days. These are tangy and delicious, and different enough from your typical vegetable dishes to add some much-needed variety. They are also paleo, Whole 30 approved, and loved by our entire family. I made them last night next to some simple chicken thighs, and we'll be enjoying leftovers for days.
Fresh green beans (I used a package and a half, about 18 oz)
Avocado or olive oil
Garlic (fresh, minced, I used about 3T)
Orange juice (I used 1/2 cup)
Salt (about three turns of the salt mill, or to taste)
Sesame oil (for drizzling, 1-2 tsp)
Toasted sesame seeds (for garnish, about 1 tsp)
1. Add a few glugs of your oil to the bottom of a large saute pan, and add your fresh garlic. Saute over medium-low heat until fragrant.
2. Add the fresh green beans to the pan and stir until they are evenly coated in oil and garlic. Sprinkle salt over the top, add your orange juice, and turn the heat up to medium.
3. Saute over medium heat, stirring every minute or two, until the orange juice is completely reduced and the green beans are bright green and crisp-tender (or a little longer if you like them softer).
4. When your green beans are done cooking, turn the heat off and drizzle with a teaspoon or two of sesame oil. Stir to evenly distribute the sesame oil, and then sprinkle toasted sesame seeds over the top.
Greetings from Boston, lovelies. I’m here for a women’s leadership conference put on by my company, which means I’ve spent the day hearing incredible women speak about becoming better leaders, what they’ve learned along the way, and what they wish they had known sooner. What a gold mine. I could, and likely will, write several blog posts about things I’ve learned here, but there’s one that is just jumping from my fingertips to the page, so that one goes first. The concept is about energizing and depleting.
Here’s the basic concept: different activities will not “use up” equal amounts of your energy. Some activities may actually add to your energy (“energizing” activities) while others will use up your energy, some much more than others (“depleting” activities). The same activity can be energizing to one person and depleting to the next. When you realize and consciously notice which activities are energizing, and which are depleting, you can dramatically increase your satisfaction, stamina, and productivity in a few ways .The first is to deliberately plan your day around energizing and depleting activities so that you never drop too far down into a depleted, burned-out energy zone. So, if you start your day at a normal, mid or high-range energy level but you have several difficult things to do that day, instead of knocking them all out in a row (taking a difficult phone call, followed by completing a difficult task, followed by a challenging meeting) at which point you are completely burned out and essentially useless by the time noon arrives, you can be more strategic. Start your day by knocking out the difficult phone call, but the plan a fun lunch, or a workout, or a task that you enjoy to bring your energy levels back up to a mid or high point before you tackle the next difficult thing, so the trajectory is more up and down (but generally all still in the mid or high zone) rather than down, down, and more down until you are totally fried.
Of course, to do this you have to be self-aware enough to know what things are energizing and what things are depleting. I suspect that if you take a moment to think about it the answers will be evident, but if you’ve never heard this idea before it might be a revelation to you. The first time I consciously thought about energizing activities it totally changed the way I pursued work—that wasn’t today, but it was a huge moment for me. Because I realized that there are activities in my professional life that might be equally as “valuable” to my job and to my clients, but one is energizing to me while the other is completely exhausting and depleting.
Today, as we were having this conversation, I was thinking about coaching. In the last month, my energy, drive, and excitement have been extremely high—not just when I’m working on my coaching business, but throughout my personal and professional life. Adding an activity that stretches and challenges me in so many ways has improved my performance as an attorney, even though the two are seemingly completely unrelated. Beachbody coaching requires me to put myself out there in scary ways (talking frankly about my personal fitness journey and my decision to start this side business) and it requires me to push myself physically and try new things on a daily basis. When I said yes to coaching, it scared the crap out of me to talk about it in a public way. I need to post about this on social media!? Noooo thank you. What will people THINK about that?? But feeling the fear and doing it anyway pushed me to a new level. It taught me that doing something that I wanted to do, even if it was scary and even if people judged it, felt amazing. And I can’t even tell you what a difference that has made in my personal and professional life. Game. Changer. Coaching is also an added activity, that I would have thought could be draining. But the hours I’m putting in as a coach—exercising, checking in with my challenge groups, learning from experienced coaches—are adding so much more to my day than they take away. I honestly think that the benefit to my professional life as an attorney is so great that it wouldn’t really matter whether I ever found success in my coaching business.
BUT, as an added bonus, today I did achieve the first milestone in my coaching career. The broader team of coaches that I am on is led by an amazing woman who was a sorority sister of mine in college, and she has built a team of more than 175 coaches in the last two years. Every week, she recognizes the top ten performers from her team, and this week I was one of them! This was a big surprise to me, and I saw the notification on a break during our leadership session—what an incredible feeling. Talk about energizing!!
When I started coaching, I knew that I loved the workout programs Beachbody offered and that Shakeology didn’t make me sick (I didn’t yet know if I loved it, which I now do, but at the time I just knew I didn’t hate it and that was enough). But I couldn’t really answer the question of what I wanted out of it or where I saw myself going with it. I knew I didn’t want to quit my job as a lawyer, and many of the women who are really successful at coaching do quit their jobs. Extra income is nice, but I really didn’t get into it for the money. So…what did I want, exactly? It dawned on me during a run last weekend that what I really want is to be a kickass corporate leader, who also has an army of wellness warriors on the side. I totally want to find and grow my fitness tribe with bright, enthusiastic people who want to help others improve their health and their lives. YES! Yes to that. And I also want to keep doing my thing as a corporate attorney and continue to improve myself as a leader in that area. And what’s truly amazing about that is that each activity makes me better at the other. The leadership skills, and confidence, and energy that I build in one area spills over into the other, and elevates every role that I play in my life. Because it’s energizing, and that energy goes into everything I do...as a wife, a coach, a lawyer, a stepmom, a dog mom…so I’m THRILLED with that. And if it reading that gives you an excited butterfly feeling that makes you want to join my tribe, I’m hiring. Get at me.
But even if coaching isn’t your thing, you need to think about what your thing is. What makes you feel excited? What wakes you up when you’re lethargic? What GIVES you energy instead of taking it away? And how can you work THAT stuff into your life, knowing that the time you spend doing that will actually come back to you twofold because the energy it creates will allow you to be more productive in other areas of your life? Think about it. Talk to me about it. I’m dying to know.
September just pumps me up. I don't know if it's a leftover feeling from all of my years in school, where it feels like the beginning of a new year, or because the calendar year is winding up, but I like it. I'm going with it. I started this year by making some goals for different areas of my life, and heading into the final stretch of the year I've been checking back in with those goals and thinking ahead to 2017. Here are the goals I set back in January, and how they've been going so far.
I. Be a Good Citizen of My Communities
My specific goal for this category was to make a meaningful contribution to my social communities (friends, family, etc.) or charitable causes twice per week. I...didn't really track that, which is going to be a theme for this check-in. But, I have really kept to the spirit of this goal. Partly because this is something I like and want to do anyway, and the point of making the goal was just to be more mindful and intentional about it. I got involved with the American Refugee Commission, a Minneapolis non-profit that I really love, and have been volunteering with them throughout this year. I'm also mentoring a law student from my old law school, and I've had more time to devote to being a really present friend this year. We're calling this one, "on track."
II. Prioritize Health and Wellness
For my specific goal in this category, I wrote a few things: I found my inner Fergie and said I wanted to be harder, better, faster, stronger (and then wrote build muscle, run faster, stay fit, and eat the way that makes me feel and perform my best). I've made a ton of progress on this goal this year--first of all, at the beginning of the year I was still struggling a lot with owning my dietary choices. I get embarrassed about telling people I don't eat gluten (because I don't have celiac, and because people think I'm following a "fad diet" and that it's a stupid choice) and I was really letting that stand in the way of feeling my best. Gluten makes me sick. Really sick. It just does. I don't need to be embarrassed about saying I don't eat it--THAT is a stupid choice. This blog really helped me build confidence enough to talk about that and be comfortable with it.
I did want to run a half marathon in less than two hours (official chipped time) this year, and it doesn't look like that's going to happen, but I AM running faster. My average mile time is lower than it's ever been, and I decided today that I want to try to run some really fast miles and 5k distances before the end of the year. The longer distances are just hard to balance with all the strength training I'm doing right now, and I really love the strength training and the results I'm getting from that, so I don't want to give it up. And STRONGER. This one I'm actually killing, which was not true for most of this year. I just have a hard time staying consistent with resistance training, and Beachbody has really changed the game for me, which is great. I'm building muscle and getting stronger every day and I love it.
III. Focus on Marriage and Family
My specific goal in this category focused on the fact that I wanted to create intentional time for Dan and me, and for Dan and me and Kelly, to spend time together doing fun things, instead of just letting our routine run the show. Actually, shortly after I wrote these goals Dan was doing some goal-setting of his own and suggested that we establish a bi-weekly date night. I was shocked (in a good way) and agreed immediately. We haven't kept every single date night, but we've done a lot of them and having it on our calendar has been a good prompt to get out for dinner or a movie. Without reminders like that, time just flies by and we can realize it's been months since we did something fun just the two of us. No more.
Dan and I have also started exercising together a lot more, mostly running or biking, and those are good times to talk without other distractions, too. We also really wanted to fit in a family vacation with Kell, and our road trip fit that bill perfectly. At home, family dinners, walks with the dog, and family movie nights have been good ways to spend quality time together.
IV. Kill It at Work
When I wrote these goals, I had only been at my current job for five months and was really still figuring it out. My specific goal here was to track weekly goals and accomplish them, grow my network within my new company, and keep in touch with friends in my professional network outside of my company. I don't do weekly goals anymore--tracking this stuff on a weekly basis just doesn't work for me, it turns out. But I do feel really great about how things are going at work, and really committing to learning as much as I can has been critical. I have met more people and made more friends at my company, and I've also prioritized keeping in touch with friends from previous jobs and from law school. This one is going well, also thanks to lots of coffee.
V. Establish Financial Stability and Abundance
Abundance is such a Law of Attraction word--it's funny that I chose it here, but it's appropriate for this intention. My specific goals here were to start Kelly's College Savings (DONE--we may be a little late on this one, but we're makin' it happen) to accomplish some specific projects around our house, and to spend wisely and intentionally. That last one is hard for us--we are not good budgeters, and neither of us have major shopping habits or spending issues, but we also just don't keep great tabs on our spending, either. A financial planner asked us how much money we spend on non-bills each month and Dan looked at me and I just said, "Uuuhhhh..."
So, I downloaded Mint and am using it to get a better sense of our spending. Part of the reason I find this so hard is it feels like our life has been in flux for the last two years--since Dan stopped playing basketball and became a realtor, we've bought two new cars (extremely necessary--Dan had no vehicle and I had a rusty 2001 sedan with reliability issues), got married, bought a washer and dryer at our old house, bought a puppy and paid for all the puppy shots/check-ups/neuter surgery, built a fence at our old house, bought a new house, built a fence at the new house, remodeled the new house...it's hard to pick a "normal" month of spending. Maybe that just is normal, I'm not sure. But we've laid a lot of groundwork this year for saving and long-term financial planning, so I'm happy with that.
Do you guys set specific goals for the year? Goals are huge for me--if I take the time to think about what I want to accomplish and really focus on getting there, it's going to happen. I'm actually thinking about running a small group in January related to goal-setting and intentions for the year--anyone interested in that?? I'm thinking it would just be something over Facebook (in a private group) where we could share some templates and resources to help you narrow down your goals and tips for achieving them as the year moves forward.
Do you feel extra energized in the fall? Is it just me?? Don't tell me. I like to think my experience of life is universal. It isn't.
So, I'm a little bit nosy. I love it when bloggers write about their daily routines and what they eat and do throughout the day, because it's a socially acceptable form of stalking. So, I decided I'd write a post like that myself. Maybe you're not as nosy as I am and this will be completely boring for you, but we're doin' it anyway. Because this is my blog so I'm the boss.
This particular day was a pretty typical workday--obviously every day is different, but this one is a decent representation of my workweek schedule.
5:30 wake up, procrastinate getting out of bed, cuddle with Chewy.
6:00 make breakfast--I actually eat the same breakfast basically every day, because I love it. It's a green smoothie with spinach, avocado, collagen, fruit (today I did a nectarine, I usually also do banana and maybe some frozen berries or peaches) some orange juice, and water. I make a big smoothie and Dan and I split it, and I also have two hard-boiled eggs. This breakfast really starts my day off well--the nutrients from the fruits and veggies in the smoothie and the protein from the collagen and eggs keep me full and energized, and if I miss the smoothie for a day or two I can really tell a difference in my energy levels.
After breakfast I get dressed and ready for the day and make coffee (with maple syrup and nutpods creamer) and drink that on my way to work. I left for work about 7:00. Lately I've been listening to podcasts on my commute, which is a great way to fit in some time to learn about topics I'm interested in, but it also means that I DIDN'T KNOW JUSTIN BEIBER HAD A NEW SONG OUT because I don't listen to the radio and that is UNACCEPTABLE. I heard that song on my drive home today. I really like it.
10:00 I made these gluten free zucchini muffins over the weekend and ate one this morning for a snack. I don't make or buy baked goods very often (and now that I don't eat gluten I have to go out of my way to get them) so this was a treat, and it was totally delicious.
12:00ish Lunch time! Lunch was a big salmon fillet (with maple-mustard glaze--scroll down to Fueled Up Friday if you want that recipe) garlic green beans, and blueberries.
I should mention that in between all of this eating I'm working. You know, lawyering and stuff. You don't need to hear about that, but it's happening. It's not all just eating.
4:00 as my meetings wrap up for the day I grab my Shakeology from the fridge--I usually make it with a banana, a spoonful of peanut butter, almond milk, and a bunch of ice, but this day I was out of bananas (because we eat ONE BAZILLION bananas and apparently eleven was not enough for the week) so I threw some oats in instead. I was getting a little hungry at this point and this was the perfect bridge between lunch and dinner.
4:30 leave work, and head to Target to buy bananas and a few things for dinner. Kelly is always asking me to make tacos, and I don't make them nearly as much as he'd like. So, I did today. I grabbed some grass-fed ground beef, tortillas, and shredded cheese for the boys. I also bought pico de gallo, bananas, and some clearance workout gear (SCORE! Have you guys checked out Champion's stuff lately?? They've really stepped their game up.)
6:00 get home, greet all of the various human and canine boys, and start making dinner. Dan and Kelly had their tacos on flour tortillas, and I had mine on a salad--I used tons of pico so I didn't need any dressing.
After dinner the boys took Chewy for a walk and I headed to the basement to get my workout in--today was Cardio Fix Extreme. I'm on week four of 21 Day Fix Extreme (so, I guess round 2 since it's a 3-week program) but I haven't done the cardio workout every week. I'm swapping out some of the 21 Day Fix workouts for running, so skipping cardio makes sense, except that the cardio workout is KILLER so really it's worth doing. I can't even tell you how much sweat dripped off me during this workout...I didn't know it was possible, to be honest.
After everyone is worked out and walked, it's family movie time. Netflix and chill. Then we all get tucked in to bed and I read for a while before I turn the lights out.
If you guys like posts like this, let me know and I'll do more. Or, stay silent and at my mercy and I might do more or I might not. Difficult to say. The odd thing about this day is that I didn't eat any chocolate--I usually have something sweet at some point in the day (which I guess that muffin does count in that category). Lately I've been pretty into eating a toasted marshmallow after dinner, because how good are marshmallows?? We bought a bag when we went to the cabin and I've been roasting them on our stove. It feels important that you know that, even if I didn't do it on this particular day. Alright, that's enough sharing.
Ok, we need to talk about short weeks. They are harder than full weeks. I don't know why, but it's true. And here we are at Thursday already and I sat down to blog and I have so many feelings and so many things to write about. So we're going straight to Fueled Up Friday, because it's basically Friday and that's the only format that will accommodate all of these different topics. And next week, there will be more blog posts because I'll be back on my game. Let's just start with the weekend and work our way forward.
I. Visiting Friends
We spent one of the three days in last weekend in Rochester, visiting a friend from college and her husband. Dan and I are lucky to have a lot of close friends, and catching up with them for dinner and drinks always recharges our batteries. Especially when we go to lovely restaurants that serve things like this board. The pear jam was so freaking good (with/on/in-and-around all of the meats and cheeses) that I'm going to have to figure out how to make it and post the recipe this fall (you should be excited for that, because it is YUM.) Plus, our friends have a new puppy so Chewy had a playmate and came home exhausted, which is such a cherry on top.
II. Wild Alaskan Salmon
It's the time of year where you can buy wild Alaskan salmon in your local grocery stores, and everyone should be doing that. I made two beautiful, huge fillets this week and ate the leftovers for lunch. The salmon was melt-in-your-mouth tender, which I sometimes have trouble achieving, but I think I've finally figured out the right temperature and time combo.
Here's what worked: Preheat your oven to 425. Rinse salmon,* pat dry, and set on cookie sheet skin-side down (I like to use tin foil for easy cleanup). Our favorite glaze is one part mustard to one part maple syrup with a splash of rice wine vinegar (about 1/4 cup each maple and mustard, whatever mustard you like) spread that over the salmon and sprinkle with fresh rosemary. The other filet just has avocado oil and salt. Bake for 20 minutes and put your broiler on for the last three-ish. Let it rest for a few minutes and then use a spatula to separate the skin from the bottom.
*A friend pointed out to me that you don't actually need to rinse salmon, because it just spreads bacteria around your kitchen and any bacteria that's on the salmon is killed when you cook it. I laughed out loud when I read her comment, because I am ALWAYS telling Dan that exact thing about chicken, but it never occurred to me to apply that knowledge to salmon. I did sort of think you needed to pat it dry to get the crispy outside, though...I'm honestly not sure. But I did rinse and dry these guys, and they were delicious.
III. Love Warrior
Phew. Friends. You likely already know by now how much I love Glennon Doyle Melton (and her first book, Carry On, Warrior, and her facebook posts, and her blog, and her facebook live videos...) and I've been looking forward to Love Warrior's release since more than six months ago, when I ordered this signed copy WHICH ARRIVED TODAY. But the book was released Tuesday and obviously I've waited long enough, so I downloaded the audio book and binge-listened to it Tuesday and Wednesday. I had already started listening a second time through when I finally got the hard copy in my hands.
The book is excellent--it's really raw, and really heavy, and really densely packed with truth. You should read it. Probably more than once.
IV. Mantra Bands
I ordered this lovely little bracelet online and it's giving me so much joy. It's thin and pretty and it says "Have Courage and Be Kind." I actually think Mantra Bands might be the answer to preventing myself from getting more tattoos, because I want nothing more than to tattoo all the wisdom on myself but maybe I could just wear it on these pretty bangley bracelets instead. I think I'm going to order "Be Still and Know" next, but I'm debating between sticking with the silver color or adding a yellow or rose gold to the stack. Also, I'll probably still get another tattoo.
See how I snuck Chewy in there? Didn't even see him coming. I'm tricky like that.
V. 30 Days of Shakeology!
This week I hit thirty days of drinking Shakeology, and I'm a total believer. No one is more shocked about this than me. In thirty days, I've had not ONE upset stomach from the shakes (I had a few sort-of-upset-stomachs from other things, like too much cheese, but even those were few and far between). I've never been able to take a protein supplement without stomach issues before. And this one is a delicious afternoon treat that I look forward to every day. I've gained a noticeable amount of muscle between drinking the shakes and doing the 21 Day Fix Extreme workouts (I especially love the weights-focused workouts, and have been thrilled with the results) which is AWESOME. "Gain muscle" has been on my to-do list for...years. I'm truly terrible at consistent weight training. Beachbody may have solved this problem for me. Can I get a hallelujah??
Super strong flexing pictures to come, probably.
Aaaaalright, that's enough for one Friday. Does that almost make up for the fact that there were no other posts this week? Almost sort of? Love you.
Today is a FriYAY if I've ever seen one, because we are headed into a long weekend, my friends!! I'm actually a little bit bummed about summer coming to an end--my company does "summer hours," which means my work day has ended at noon on Friday for the past few months and it's been a little too good. I've gotten a little too used to it. It's going to be hard to go back. But I will go back anyway, because I am a grownup and I have the fuel. Today's Fueled Up Friday might get just a little disorganized, because the things that are keeping me fueled up all sort of blend into one another. Thanks in advance for sticking it out.
I mean, I just have to start with Chewy. Just because. Look at that fluff butt. He actually strongly dislikes selfies--as you can see in this picture, he was cuddling happily with me until I tried to take the selife and then he's like "nope. Not about that life, mom." And he moved to the other couch. Kids, amiright? (Just kidding, please don't get all worked up and leave hate comments about how dogs aren't kids, I KNOW.)
Alright, on to our regularly scheduled programming--I'm really digging these nutpods. First, try not to laugh when you start your morning off with something called a nutpod. Just try! You can't. And if you're laughing then you're smiling and if you're smiling then your day is off to a good start. That's just science. Nutpods are dairy-free, natural, healthy creamers that are taking my coffee to the next level. If you've been reading for a while, you might remember me saying that I always add french vanilla creamer to my coffee (like the shitty kind that you find in gas stations) because I love it and I'm hoping that people find flaws like that endearing. Well, now I'm doing this instead. I brew my coffee with some cinnamon (just add cinnamon to the grounds if you've never tried it--SO GOOD) and add a splash of maple syrup and a good pour of this creamer. You can order them on Amazon (looks from their website like they're not in a lot of stores yet, but I learned about them from the Whole 30 crowd so my guess is their sales will be growing. Powerful group, the Whole 30 tribe.)
So, also, it's September. Something about entering into the fall is incredibly energizing to me--it feels like we're on the final push to the end of the year. I posted the above picture this morning on Instagram and Facebook, talking about how I was working from home (bed) today and updating my work goals for the year with my mid-year progress. (I know it's not really mid-year, but I work for a big company that gets around to mid-year reviews about September and end-of-year reviews about the following March. So it works.) I wrote about how much I love goals--defining an objective and working towards it seriously lights me on fire. In a good way, not in a stop-drop-and-roll way. And I love going back to my goals and seeing how I've done with them. This is actually something I need to be better at in my personal life--I am a BIG goal setter, but I don't always write them down and come back to them to see how I've done. Being forced to do that for my job is teaching me a lot of the value in taking a moment to say, "Yeah, I've done a lot of what I wanted to do" (and, reflecting on what I wanted to do but haven't). It felt really great to write down all the things I've been working hard on this year and to look at them on paper, and feel proud of what I'd accomplished. I don't do that a lot, and it's really valuable.
It's also a testament to how much my feelings about the internet have changed that I posted this totally makeup-free, in my pajamas, unshowered, messy bed photo with zero hesitation. I'm going to call that good progress, because pushing myself out of my comfort zone with this blog, and with beachbody coaching, has really just made me more confident about owning my story and being open about my life. And that feels good to me, so we'll call it a good thing.
I hope you all have the most wonderful weekends. See you back here next week, when summer has officially come to a close.
Happy Wednesday, cats and kittens! I’m still feeling pretty great after spending the laziest weekend up at a cabin with Dan’s cousins. Buying a cabin is a huge goal of ours, because there’s something so relaxing about heading into the woods for the weekend that you just can’t get in the city. Even if we have a weekend at home without much to do, getting away from your normal surroundings just recharges you in a different way. And this weekend was the perfect picture of laziness—sleeping in, naps, and reading. I did go for a run one day, but even that had a lot more walking than normal. It was great.
I finished the book I was reading on Saturday afternoon, and it reminded me that I’ve been meaning to write a reading post for a while—I have some good ones for you guys. And I just learned that one of them is coming out as a movie! So get it while it’s hot. Plus, it’s the last day of August so if I’m going to post an August Reading List, time is really of the essence.
The Butterfly Garden
Ok, this one is a little weird. Let’s just start there. But I really couldn’t put it down. It’s about a man who kidnaps teenaged girls and keeps them in a compound with an incredible garden, and tattoos butterfly wings on their backs. So, if that premise is too much for you, go ahead and move on, but if you’re not totally turned off then you absolutely have to read this one. Yes, the subject matter is disturbing, but the book isn’t overly gross or gratuitous and the story is really captivating. Highly recommend.
That Old Cape Magic
This is the one I finished on Saturday—it wasn’t as consuming as The Butterfly Garden or What Was Mine, but it was still well-written and thought-provoking. It’s about a man looking back on his life, really—mostly his professor parents and his relationship with them, but also his marriage and his family. It’s framed by two weddings, happening in nearby locations a year apart from each other. I would read the other books on this list first, but I would recommend this one if you’re looking for something new.
What Was Mine
This book was so interesting and enthralling. It centers around a woman kidnapping an infant from an Ikea and raising the baby as her own. It’s told from many different perspectives—the woman who took the child, the child herself, the parents whose baby was taken, family members, coworkers, even the nanny. And it has my favorite quality in a book: deeply human, three-dimensional characters who make you think about people in new ways. So, yeah. I’ll recommend any book that does that.
The Light Between Oceans
Thanks to the satellite television at the cabin, I learned this book is coming soon to theaters near you! We don’t have regular television channels (because we have Netflix and Hulu and I haven’t taken the time to figure out how to make our TV have any more than that) so I likely wouldn’t have known about this movie until it was actually IN theaters, but for the cabin television. So, if you’re going to read the book, it would seem now is the time. This is actually another book about people ending up with kids who aren’t theirs—that’s an odd trend here. The Light Between Oceans is about a lighthouse keeper and his wife, and a baby that washes up on their little island in a boat. The imagery in this book is really beautiful—the descriptions of the lighthouse and the island and the characters are all very vivid, and the exploration of this odd human experience is really well-done. I didn’t love this one nearly as much as What Was Mine, but hey—Hollywood. So. There you have it.
I’ve been going through a lot more books since I made it a habit to read a little bit before bed each night—maybe only 20 minutes, but it really adds up! Have any good recommendations for me?? Leave them in the comments!
So, Kelly started school as a FIFTH GRADER this week. How that is possible, I can’t even imagine. He was just a little Kindergardener last time I checked and now he’s this big gangly fifth grader. And, with school starting, I’m thinking a lot about what’s coming next with fall and winter. I love the fall—the crisp air, the gorgeous colors, the sweaters and scarves. And I like the beginning of winter, too—the first few snowfalls, Christmas, cozying up with a cuddly blanket and a glass of red wine. There’s lots to love. But I also realized last year how much the winter wears on my energy and mood.
Managing seasonal depression is important for me—knowing that the lack of light and fresh air is going to make it harder to feel good, I need to focus harder on including exercise, and sunlight, and good nutrition in my daily routine. I’m hopeful that being conscious of that this year will help, both in managing the melancholy in the first place and in realizing that it’s just the dark dreary winter and that it’s cyclical and it will pass (not that something is deeply and profoundly wrong, which is what it can feel like).
I was also listening to an episode of The Living Experiment podcast about seasonality and health lately, and they brought up something that resonated with me about varying your diet with the seasons. The discussion was about the fact that our bodies are designed to respond to the seasons for evolutionary reasons, and that we sometimes fight that for no good reason. Take diet, for example—in the summer, it makes sense to eat more fruits and vegetables, because they are fresh and abundant. And that’s probably what sounds good to you in the summer. On a hot day, you want to eat watermelon and peaches and berries. In the winter, you want to eat warm, hearty foods. Like meat, and potatoes, and other roasted root vegetables. If you ate only local foods, that is how your diet would shift seasonally. But what’s interesting if you’re interested in diet and nutrition is that you hear these rules and recommendations about what your diet should include and exclude, and those recommendations don’t make allowances for seasonal changes. If you’re following a strict diet plan, it’s likely that might not fit how you want to eat in the summer, or the winter.
Fruit is a great example—if you’re deep in the health and fitness community, you might hear some mixed messages about fruit. So much sugar, ya know? So many carbs. (If this sounds ridiculous to you, that’s great. If I was reading this two years ago I wouldn’t relate to it AT ALL, and you really shouldn’t, because fruit is a healthy food and if you think of it that way, you’re right. But if you’ve been reading about different ways of eating and you’re hearing that eating too much fruit won’t fit into your diet plan, then just know that I understand that. And I don’t like it.) And sure, fruit is rich in carbohydrates. And phytonutrients, and fiber. And what the podcast was pointing out is that fresh, local fruit in the summertime, even in larger-than-normal amounts, can absolutely be part of a healthy eating plan. But maybe in the winter, when you’re eating your big hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs and sweet potato hash, you don’t also buy tons of fruit from South America. Just an idea.
This might resonate with you more or less depending on where you live--the weather and local availability of produce varies a lot more in Minnesota than it does in Southern California--but this idea was really interesting to me. It makes perfect sense, but as someone who likes to seek out the "best" way to do anything (eat, exercise, sleep, work) it never occurred to me that the best way to eat might vary quite a lot from winter to summer. I mean, I understand the concept of eating seasonal produce, but before listening to this podcast the most that meant to me was that I might fill my fruit "quota" with apples in the fall and oranges in the winter (yeah, I know, oranges aren't local to Minnesota, but I'm a modern human and I don't want to limit myself to pickled and canned foods in the frozen tundra months). It didn't occur to me that maybe I would just eat a lot more fruit in general in the summer, and a lot more meat and potatoes in the winter. That's sort of what I do already, because that's what sounds good, but it was interesting to think more about it. And it's another great reminder that following any set of rules strictly probably doesn't allow you to be the happiest, healthiest version of yourself. Rules are great as suggestions, and as training wheels to help you find your way. But then you've gotta do what's best for you.
Is that interesting to you?? If not, you just read a pretty long blog post that must have been dreadfully boring. Thanks for sticking it out anyway. Love you.