Having a To-Be List

Just Be You

“We are constantly invited to be who we are” ~ Henry David Thoreau

I don’t know about you, but my To-Do list seems endless.  There is always something to be added, something new to get done. It’s a lot to handle and is definitely overwhelming at times.  After a long week at the office, the last thing I want to come home to is a list of tasks to get done over the weekend.  I want to go out, spend time with those I care about or just relax, not vacuum or pay bills! 

But that is life.  What matters most is finding a healthy balance between our responsibilities and fun.  There is a time for work and a time for play after all.  For me personally, I am most productive in the morning, so I like to get my To-Do list tasks done early so that I can enjoy my day.  I batch my chores together, often doing laundry, cleaning and reviewing my finances while I cook food for the week.  I also cook in large batches (cook once, eat twice!).  It saves a lot of time during the week. 

I often get together with one of my best friends at my local coffee joint and we do our work together.  Being productive and spending time with the ones I love…. win!!  I’m all about kiling two birds with one stone.  And who says work can’t be fun anyway?  Sometimes just shifting our mentality from a negative (“ugh, I have all this work to do”) to a positive (“this work will benefit me by [fill in the blank here]”) can be huge.  How do you balance fun and your necessary To-Do’s?

Enough about To-Do lists!  Recently I was at a leadership training and learned a novel concept from the keynote speaker, Dr. Nido Qubein, president of High Point University and renowned speaker on the topics of leadership and transformational culture.  He discussed the idea of having To-Be lists instead of To-Do lists.  I loved it!  Again, it’s all about shifting our perspective.  Instead of letting those To-Do lists dominate our thoughts and lives, how about we change the focus towards who we want to be in life.

Life is a continual adventure and we are constantly growing, changing and becoming the people we are meant to be.  When we get comfortable and stop striving to become better people and move towards our goals, we become stuck.  A To-Be list can help to keep us moving forward.  Growing, evolving, becoming the real you.  Change may sound scary to a lot of people, but that’s where true happiness and fulfillment lie.

So what is on my To-Be list?  I thought of three things in three different areas of my life:  personal (self), relational (family and friends), and career.

Personal

I want to be a person who practices self love and recognizes the need to take care of myself and make choices in life that honor me and where I want to go with my life.  My immediate reaction when people ask things of me is to say yes and do what I can to help out and get things done.  I don’t like to disappoint others or seem like I am not a team player.  But sometimes I need to say no instead because that is what is right for me.  This isn’t the same as selfishly putting my needs and wants in front of others.  Sometimes honoring what you need in a particular moment can help you be there for others in an even bigger way.  Being stretched too thin and exhausted isn’t going to help anyone.  This change in thinking is kind of a radical thing for me, but I am getting better at it each time I flex my “love thyself and honor thyself” muscle.

Relational

I want to be a loving and caring friend, sister, daughter, girlfriend and puppy mother.  I am the type who has a smaller tribe of close family and friends.  They are always there to support me with whatever is going on in my life.  I do not like to burden my tribe with my worries, concerns, fears, etc., but I need to remember that asking for help and support is okay, and that I have people in my life who are willing to provide that to me.  Having a loving relationship with someone means being able to ask for support and also freely giving support in return.  It’s a two-way street where both parties give and receive equally.  While I am very good at giving and supporting, I need to learn that it’s okay to receive as well.

Career

I want to be a coach who helps others to become their happiest, healthiest, most vibrant selves.  I want to be an inspiration to women who have struggled with emotional eating, perfectionism, lack of self love and putting others before oneself.  I have been all of those things and today I am happy to say that I am in a much different place physically and mentally.  And it feels amazing.  The impact being in a better place has on all aspects of your life is astounding.  Yeah, I still have my days where I struggle with those things, but I have found balance overall.  I have a formula of things I do that I know will bring me back to where I am my best when things get out of whack.  Everyone’s formula is different and I want to help others find theirs.

I may not be completely at any of these places yet, but that is what a To-Be list does.  It helps us to keep our priorities and goals in mind.  Provides us with a path to walk on that will lead us to where we want to go.  Moves us closer to who we are at our core.  Our authentic selves.

To me, focusing on the bigger picture instead of the mundane daily or weekly tasks we need to accomplish brings a sort of peace.  I find comfort in knowing who I want to be and working towards that.  All of my To-Do list tasks then have a purpose behind them.  They will take me where I want to be in my life.  And that, my friends, makes all the little things worthwhile.

Peace, love and To-Be lists,

The Yogi~Foodie

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Thoughts On Our Life’s Purpose

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We arrive on this Earth knowing our own heart.  Knowing our life’s purpose.  Our job is to remember that again.  To seek until we find the truth that lives within each of us.  To collect the pieces that form the person whom we are meant to be.

I developed the quote above while reading a book that touched on the theme of the purpose of our lives.  The path we were created to travel in this world.  We are all meant to be something in this world.  Discovering who that is is part of our journey.  The rest of the journey is living this truth. 

Of course this quick breakdown of life is in very general terms.  There is so much more to it than that; creating and nourishing loving relationships with others, raising a family (if that’s what you want to do), traveling, volunteering, whatever floats your boat and makes you feel fulfilled on every level.  But today we are going to talk about life’s purpose. 

Why did the Universe put us here and give us the gifts that we have?

I recently lost a loved one in my life and it knocked me completely off of my feet.  My grief shook me down to my bones and a lot of stuff came up for me that has been subconsciously stewing for a while now.  I was in a pretty dark, negative place for a solid week.  I wrote the “Then” part of this post while in this dark place and struggling to deal with my emotions and desires.  It has been about a week since these events transpired in my life.  The “Now” portion of this post is my reflection on how I felt from a more positive, healthy place.

Then

Death has a way of putting life in perspective.  Of making you look at your life and where you are headed.  Lately I’ve been seriously struggling with accepting where I am right now in my life.  Let me specify here that I am talking about my career.  What I do with my daily life to financially support myself.  Outside of my career I could not be happier with where I am in my life.  I feel fulfilled on so many levels from the loving relationships in my life, from my friends and family, my significant other, my puppy, this blog, my small but growing business, my yoga practice.  I have so much to be thankful for and most of my days I am so incredibly happy and feel like one lucky chick.

So why do I feel restless?  So stuck in the mud?  Not knowing where to turn or how to get out of it.  Why do I get so choked up even talking about my career and dread the question from family I haven’t seen in a while… “so how is the job going?”  I don’t want to sound like an ungrateful complainer.  I have a job, and a good one too.  One many people would give a lot for.  Can’t that just be enough?

For many people in this world that is enough.  But not for me.  I am a girl with big dreams and even bigger goals.  I have discovered my life’s purpose (or at least part of it) and I am having trouble accepting that I am not quite there yet.  It lives in me and I breathe the air of my dreams every day, yet achieving them, or even moving in that direction, seems so far away.  So unattainable that sometimes it can be hard to stay positive.

For someone who is normally so upbeat and happy, that bothers me.  I don’t like how it makes me feel, how it brings me down and tries to dampen the brightest parts of my life.  While having a normal conversation with my father, he tells me to be more positive.  I hate that someone even needs to tell me that!  Normally I am the positive one trying to lift people up and help them see on the brighter side and focus on the happy stuff in their lives.

I long with every fiber of my being to be that person who is so passionate about their career.  To do something that doesn’t feel like work every day.  That doesn’t include a 90 minute daily commute (roundtrip, but still).  Is that too much to ask?

Now

Though I am in a more positive place today, all of these questions and feelings still live inside of me.  I certainly do not have it figured out.  But a few things are different. 

First off, I believe that my present circumstances will not determine my future, just help me get there.  I continually tell myself (and write on this blog) that everything happens in life for a reason.  What I do today is shaping me into the person I will be tomorrow.  Tomorrow will come when it’s ready, and not a minute sooner.

Secondly, I accept these feelings, respect them for what they are and know deep down that I am dealing with them in my own way on my own time.  I won’t have all the answers overnight.  Lasting, beneficial change takes time.  I should not push myself to get through this at an unreasonable, unhealthy pace (which is something I most definitely have struggled with in the past).

Third, I know these feelings will not go away until I get to where I need to be and that’s okay.  This won’t be the last time that I get overwhelmed and feel a little down.  It’s about progress, not perfection. New stuff will probably come up in place of these emotions when I finally end up dealing with them!  That’s the way of life.  It keeps us on our toes, continues to make us better people.

Lastly, I have faith that I will get there someday.  And when I do, I will actually understand where “there” is!  I may not have all the answers today (or tomorrow for that matter), but if I keep on writing, sharing my love for fitness and health, doing yoga, cooking good food and spreading the love, something will eventually come back to me.  It’s the law of the Universe.  What you give is what you get.

I will figure it out, and when I do, it’s gonna be great.

Peace, love and positivity,

The Yogi~Foodie

Homemade Olive Oil Popcorn

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Mmm mmm popcorn :).  There is something about it that just reminds me of a lot of happy memories.  Fun at the movies, childhood sleepovers, comfy nights curled up on the couch, and popcorn balls at Halloween.  I’m sure all of you popcorn lovers out there can agree with me and have some fun memories of your own.

Popcorn, in its plain form, is actually really healthy for you.  It is a whole grain packed with fiber and antioxidants.  The health benefits of popcorn come from its fiber, polyphenolic compounds, antioxidants, vitamin B, manganese, and magnesium content.  Popcorn’s impressive fiber content helps regulate blood sugar (making it a fantastic snack), lower cholesterol, and improve digestion.  Antioxidants and polyphenolic compounds help to fight free radicals in the body that lead to cancer and premature aging. 

As a result of all of these health benefits, popcorn is a great weight loss tool.  A cup of normal popped popcorn contains only 30 calories, about 5 times less than the same amount of potato chips.  But this healthy snack commonly gets a bad rap as it is typically doused in butter and salt or caramel.  Too much of these and a healthy whole grain snack becomes an unhealthy one.  Packaging in pre-packaged popcorn has also come under some speculation.  Once the popcorn begins to pop, it has been found that some of the chemicals in the packaging may actually break down and destroy some of the polyphenolic compounds in the hull of the kernel.  Uh, chemicals in the packaging leaking into my food?  No thanks…

So, how can we make popcorn healthy and more enjoyable again?  Easy!  All you need is a brown paper lunch bag, popcorn kernels and a microwave.  I’ve subbed olive oil for butter in this recipe, gone light on the salt (just a pinch or two), and added some cayenne pepper for a kick (I love my spicy!).

Homemade Olive Oil Popcorn

makes approx. 4 cups

  • 1 brown paper lunch bag
  • 1/4 cup popcorn kernels
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • pinch or two of salt to taste (don’t go overboard!)
  • dash or two of cayenne pepper

Place kernels into paper bag and fold top over once a few inches down.  Microwave for 1 minute and 30 seconds.  Timing may vary slightly by microwave so monitor it to ensure the popcorn doesn’t burn.  When you don’t hear popping for a few seconds that means it’s normally done.  Toss in a bowl with olive oil, salt and cayenne pepper.  Grab your favorite movie, head to the couch and enjoy!!

Peace, love and healthy snacking,

The Yogi~Foodie

The Four Agreements

The Four Agreements

This past week one of my coworkers told me about a book she is reading called The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz.  Though I haven’t read it yet, it immediately went on my “to read” list and I knew I wanted to write about it.  The book discusses the source of self-limiting beliefs that rob our lives of joy and create needless suffering.  Ruiz presents a simple but powerful code of conduct learned from his Toltec ancestors that can help us transform our lives to ones filled with freedom, true happiness and love.

I began thinking about what the Four Agreements laid out in this book mean to me.  How do they resonate with me?  How do they impact my life?  How can I live by these agreements every day to increase my happiness and fulfillment in life and to nourish those relationships that are important to me?

Be Impeccable with Your Word

Our words are powerful things.  Once we speak something it is forever out in the world and we can’t take it back.  We (myself included) often speak without really thinking about our words and how they will affect others.  It is so easy to speak out of emotion and get caught up in our fast paced society that is chock full of instant gratification.  We expect immediate answers from people just like we get from Google. 

Social media has unearthed a whole new level of speaking, “Internet words” as I like to call them.  While it can and has been used for good, it can also be used for hate.  Almost every day I see hateful things said on social media that no one would dare say to someone in person.  People hide behind their computers and fake social media personas and say hurtful things instead of confronting the problems they have in their own lives. 

I’m all about sharing opinions and having constructive conversations.  Learning from each other and making each other better.  It is an important part of life and a successful relationship.  But that includes respect for others’ feelings and what they have to say.  There is a place and a way to be honest and and share what we feel with others.  What matters is how you say it.  Think about your words before you say them.  Acknowledge their power and the impact they will have on others.

Don’t Take Anything Personally

This one is a hard one for me.  I have always struggled with this since I was young.  Of the Four Agreements, this is the one I have to work the most at.  So how did I become someone who takes things so personally?

I am a people pleaser and have been my whole life.  Maybe it’s because I was the youngest in my family and felt like I needed to be the perfect kid to be loved by my parents (this is totally not true in my family, by the way, it’s just a thought on what my young mind might have been thinking at the time).  I’ve always been the type to internalize my emotions, not wanting to rock the boat with any of my relationships.  When something bad happened I always blamed myself, thought that it must have been something that I did wrong.

This pattern of believing things that happen in life are my fault is not healthy and is something I constantly have to work on.  Sh*t happens.  That is life.  Placing fault on your shoulders for everything is an unnecessary burden that won’t get you anywhere.  You are not responsible for the actions of others.  That is their problem.  You are only responsible for yourself and the consequences of your actions.  Taking responsibility for something that isn’t ours to bear will only bring us down, dampen our spirit and stifle the love in our lives that should be free and part of everything that we do.

Don’t Make Assumptions

We aren’t mind readers, so how do we know what other people are thinking?  What is the point of even trying?  Just like taking things personally, assumptions get us nowhere.  It only leads to disappointment.

Making assumptions can be toxic in relationships.  We assume that our partner feels or thinks a specific way because of what he or she says or does.  But that may be completely untrue.  Maybe he or she had a tough day at work or has another burden they are having trouble dealing with.  Maybe it is completely unrelated to you!  (This is where not taking things personally and not making assumptions overlap…).  There are thoughts and feelings behind all of our actions.  Talking about those thoughts and feelings in a constructive way, being honest and caring with each other, is the best way to avoid miscommunication and misunderstanding. 

Another big thing we do in relationships is assuming our partner knows what we are thinking or want without actually telling them.  Your partner isn’t a mind reader.  If you want something, ask for it or have a constructive conversation about it.  Don’t expect he or she to know what it is if you haven’t vocalized that need.  This is important in all aspects of a relationship, from every day things to sexual intimacy.

Create a space of honesty and trust, talk things through and don’t assume your partner knows what you are thinking or how you are feeling.  This of course applies to friendships and familial relationships as well, sans the sexual intimacy part of course!

Just Do Your Best

I love this one.  In life this is all we can do and all we can ask of ourselves.  Just do the best that you can.  We aren’t perfect or superhuman, so why do expect so damn much from ourselves?  Why do we push ourselves so freaking hard, day in and day out?  Why is our best not good enough?  We put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect.

Of course I speak here from personal experience and I ask myself these questions all of the time.  Perfectionism is a big part of why I feel this way.  I want to be successful in life and use the gifts I have been given to make the world a better place.  But I need to abide by my definition of success, not society’s.  Success and doing my best does not mean putting my job’s needs before my own or saying yes to everything that is asked of me. 

Doing your best is honoring what is best for you and your life, knowing your definition of success and living by those rules.  It is also knowing that, at the end of the day, if you tried hard and did the best you could, that is enough.

Peace, love and truth,

The Yogi~Foodie

Banana, Almond Butter and Maca Smoothie

In my house, summertime equals smoothie time and I am always on a quest to find a new favorite.  Mission accomplished my friends.  This puppy tastes like a peanut butter milkshake but doesn’t come with the guilt that arises with indulging in one too many.  I am a milkshake fan after all, so why not create a healthier version that is quick and delicious?  Wins all around.

While there are many healthy ingredients in this smoothie, I am going to focus on one in particular, maca.  For more on the benefits of cacao, hemp milk and chia seeds, check out my recipe for Quinoa Breakfast Porridge here

Maca is a superfood of the Andes, native to Bolivia and Peru.  It is one of the only food plants that can thrive at such a high altitude.  The root of the plant is used to make maca powder, which has a long history as a superfood.  It was prized throughout the Incan empire for its adaptogenic-like qualities that enable it to nourish and balance the body’s endocrine system.  It’s grounding affect helps you cope with anxiety and stress.  It provides natural energy without the side effects of caffeine and can also aid in reproductive function by helping to balance hormones and increase fertility.  You can buy maca at health food stores and online.  I’m a fan of the Navitas Naturals brand.

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Banana, Almond Butter and Maca Smoothie

serves 1

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened hemp milk (unsweetened almond milk would work too)
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp cacao nibs
  • 1/2 tbsp maca powder
  • 1 banana (I prefer to use frozen bananas as they make the smoothie cooler without having to use ice, which dilutes the flavor.  If you choose to use a banana that has been frozen, let it sit for 5 minutes or so before trying to peel it.)
  • 1 tbsp natural almond butter (i.e. the kind without added sugar)
  • dash (or two) of cinnamon

Combine ingredients and blend thoroughly.  Enjoy the goodness!

Peace, love and smoothies,

The Yogi~Foodie