Tuesday, May 31, 2011

May...Changing Seasons and Changing Lives

May is full of changing seasons, varying weather, the bloom of flowers, and longer days full of sun. I don't think it isn't by coincidence that May is also full of graduations, weddings, and birthdays. During this time many people are growing, changing, taking leaps forward in their lives, and reflecting on the past.

What did you reflect on this month? How have you grown? In what ways have you bloomed?

Without getting into too much depth of the personal lives of my friends and family...in May I celebrated a birthday with my fabulous roommate who is growing and changing every day as she continues to better herself and figure out the craziness of the 20 somethings, I attended the wedding of new friends who are the perfect example of true love, and I watched as my brother graduated from Johns Hopkins University and looks to plan his trip in Singapore in the fall as a Fulbright Scholar. All of these events and changes mark significant moments in their lives and demonstrate the positive aspects of growing, changing, reflecting, and making life altering decisions.

Check out pictures from all of these events here.

May also marks the year and a half anniversary of my sobriety :) This month challenged me with moments of doubt in being sober, but ultimately proved that I am still strong and still stand by my choice. During this month I have also reflected a lot on my eating issues and realized a new struggle that I have. I realized I have a very hard time complimenting myself...even via email or text (not face-to-face with someone else). I am sure that this is an issue for many individuals who do not want to come off as cocky or who have been beat down in the past and made to believe less of themselves. And I am sure that through years of saying publicly that I am not pretty and stating all of my faults (as to not seem cocky) has internalized itself. But the moment that I finally typed the words "I am skinny, I am healthy, I am beautiful, and I do like my body for the most part", something changed. When I said those words and no one seemed to think I was ridiculous for thinking such a thing, or cocky to say it out loud, I realized that it is okay to love yourself...and it is okay to publicly love yourself. And I'd guess that by finally saying those things publicly, others will believe it to. Confidence is beautiful (being arrogant is not...)..and I think that this is a good step towards being the confident woman that I know I can be.

So, May, you have come and gone and left with us growth, change, reflection, and longer days of life...thank you :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Running isn't just for exercise!

In the past month I have done a decent amount of traveling for work (to good ole’ Oklahoma City and Chi Town!!) and my FAVORITE way to sight see is to RUN. Each morning I was in Chicago I woke up at 5am and ran downtown (through the Theater District) to the famous Chicago Bean in the Millennium Park and finally along the water’s edge of the Lake Michigan. If you know me, you know that water and sunrises/sunsets are my absolute favorite things in the world…so needless to say that running along the water at sunset was my idea of heaven. And I am a firm supporter of running as a means to see the town you are visiting. You are able to quickly scan the streets and (make sure to bring your camera!) take wonderful pictures of all the beautiful sights along the way. I think that running is also the greatest way to navigate an area, like some place that you’ve just moved to. And you don’t have to be a runner…walking or biking give the same wonderful benefits and touristy perks :)

Running (walking or jogging) is also a great way to have fun, make friends, and obviously be active. This past weekend my boyfriend and I participated in the Warrior Dash obstacle race in Maryland. It was AH-MAZING! And coming from a background of road races all across this area, my biggest surprise was the span of participants. There were young kids, older adults, obvious competitive runners, obvious couch potatoes, and everyone in between. And every single person had a huge smile on their face. This race provided a healthy (minus the beer and turkey legs sold post-race!) and, most importantly, FUN way to get outside and get active with others. I think that because there was such a wide range of individuals participating with all different skill levels in trail running/athletics, many people felt very comfortable getting out there and giving it their best and having FUN with it. My hope is that those individuals, that may have normally been scared of signing up for a race in fear of failure or embarrassment, will be inspired by this experience to continue being active and continue participating in local races. We also noticed that a lot of the participants were in teams and looked as though this wasn’t their first time racing in the Warrior Dash…these people were dressed up from head to toe in some crazy costumes and were VERY team motivated. This, too, was a great thing to see (as a public health professional and fitness enthusiast) because it’s a perfect example of using activity as a means of being SOCIAL and having FUN and building relationships and confidence!! Well done, Warrior Dash, well done!

Now what can you do? Grab a friend or a pet. Go outside (no excuses, cause its GORGEOUS out!). Run, walk, bike, jog, skip, dance, do whatever! And make it fun.

On a side note (and tying back into my “sober blog” theme), we noticed that many races really pride themselves in offering free beer after the race. Most of the races I participate in provide “free beer” tickets for everyone…and the Warrior Dash sold huge (probably 32 oz) mugs of beer and I feel like a lot of people were there to support their friends and get drunk. From a sober/health standpoint I do think this is sort of unfortunate…that we need to promote free drinks to get people to do things…but from a realistic standpoint, I understand the appeal. And unfortunately, the more that races promote free beer, the more other races will start doing it to be competitive and appealing. Like I said…I get it, but I wish it wasn’t the way. The idea behind a “healthy lifestyle” is that one healthy action leads to another…eating a good breakfast will inspire you to eat a healthy lunch, starting the day with a strong workout will motivate you to skip the donut in the morning meeting, and so on. Not to mention that after a race you are dehydrated and are probably going to get drunker faster (not a good idea). But I digress… at least people are getting out there! Baby steps!!

And I will end with a wonderful inspirational quote that I read: “It’s not how my body looks, it’s what it can achieve!” :) LOVE IT!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Be You.

A simple concept, right? I think not. I just finished reading "The Happiness Project" by Gretchen Rubin (a book I highly recommend!!) and throughout her journey to find happiness within her current life, she kept reinforcing the concept of "being you". I have found that all too often (especially in a city like DC) we compare ourselves to this idea we have of what we should be. In DC...I should be interested in politics, I should watch and enjoy the Colbert show, I should read a variety of online news sources each day, I should enjoy all of the young professional happy hours, I should enjoy museums...but the fact is, I don't. And I have really tried to like all of these things and I have found, time and time again, that I really don't...and you know what? That is okay.

I really blame social media (sort of) because without social media you would probably surround yourself with people that have generally the same interests as you...but being on facebook and being friends with an abundance of random people allows you to see what the majority does for fun. Also- the most recent trend has been food blogging, and I have started to think that I really should like cooking both for healthy diet reasons and to be a good mother someday...but guess what? I don't. And that is okay.

I think that sometimes in the endless effort to be who we "think" we should be, we waste all of our energy trying (and not enjoying it) and leave little energy for the things we do enjoy...the things that make us the unique people we are...the things that the people closest to us love us for. In this past year I have tried very hard to focus on me and to do what makes me happy...once I quit drinking I realized that a lot of my actions were to please others and to be who I thought people liked/wanted me to be. And when I stopped trying to fit this mold that I thought I belonged in, I was really able to just enjoy what I love and focus on finding and growing those interests. I can't reinforce enough how important it is to be you. At the end of the day it is only you and the people that will be there for life know (and love) the real you. At the end of the day you are the only one who knows how happy or sad you really are and how much you enjoyed your days activities. In her book Gretchen Rubin states, the days are long but the years are short. Live by that. The days are long so fill them with enjoyable activities, but the years are short...do not waste them. Who is to say what we should and shouldn't like?

Stop comparing yourself to others and start comparing yourself to who you were yesterday. And most importantly embrace your change. In addition to comparing myself to a DC mold that I think I should fulfill, I also compare myself to who I was and wish I was that person again. I wish I still knew the music scene as well as I did, and I wish I could still dance the way that I could. But guess what, I don't and I can't and that is okay. Those were great stages in my life...stages that molded me and helped me become who I am today and probably helped hone the skills that I have now. Again...don't compare, live in the moment. Appreciate what you have and who you are now...your interests will change, your friends will change, society will change! So do what makes YOU happy!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Finding a sense of no time, no space

I truly do love attending the Native conferences for work. While they can be so upsetting and depressing because of the awful health issues that face our population, they are also so holistic and inspiring. Anyways...here is what I learned today...

A wise speaker discussed the importance of native healing...healing through laughter, story telling, rituals and trance. All of these things resonanted with me...but the one that stuck out the most was the importance of being in the moment. It has become a way of life in Western society to become overwhelmed, to multi-task, and to be thinking of your next move while you are still making your first. Yes, this leads to an abundance of productivity and success...but it also leads to a lack of deep relationships and strong mental well-being. One of the things I want to work on most for myself (at this time) is being in the moment and appreciating what I have now. I am constantly thinking of my next move and assessing the future and I really take the present for granted.

Another notion that really struck me was to focus on finding the strengths in others instead of viewing those strengths as a threat. I think that as a woman, a professional, and, well, just human, we are always comparing ourselves to others and mainly focusing on another's weaknesses or wishing we had their strengths. But where does that get you? Instead you should focus on the strengths of others and see how their strengths can benefit you...maybe in your job you can collaborate, maybe in your life they can be a resource that you need or a friend you wish you had, maybe they can bring out something in you that you didn't know existed. This positive mentally can only lead to good things :)

And lastly...he talked about secrets. Natives are very secretive in the issues that plague their society, BUT they are very talkative in other aspects and utilize story telling all of them. I love this. I am a huge talker and love to tell my story, and love even more to listen to others. I try to be a very active listener and I wish the same from my friends. I think that opening up to others and sharing your story (negative or positive) is so healthy. Not just communicating...but truly sharing and listening.

So take time to find a moment of no time, no space. Be with yourself...think about your wants and needs and reflect. Appreciate the present and take the time to appreciate it. Take the time to listen. Ignore what you have to do tomorrow and share a story with a friend. You've worked this hard to be who you are, enjoy it.

PS- The background picture of this blog is my heaven. (I took it from blogspot by the way!) Someday I will live on the water and I will wake up and run along the shore and do yoga while the peaceful waves crash around me. Ahhhhh...