Monday, November 25, 2013

Monday Mantra: You Were Designed to be Happy

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: You were designed to be happy
I'm not sure what's going on in the world lately or if I can maybe blame some astrological occurrence, but it seems like a lot of people have had a hard, sad year. Sad being the emphasis. Not necessarily due to anything in particular, but just an overall sadness. And having been one of those people, I get it. I've felt it. It sucks.

While I don't enjoy feeling my own sadness, more than anything else I hate seeing my friends hurt- physically, emotionally, mentally. In those moments, I want nothing more than to find the exact words to somehow comfort them and make everything better. But words are delicate things and finding the right ones can be hard. They can't always fix broken hearts or heal heavy souls.

So, while I realize this blog is ultimately just a bunch of words, I will try to (kind of in the words of Coldplay, but not really...) fix all of us.

You were designed to be happy. 

Ultimately, this is what I believe. Happiness and sadness are like two partners in a relationship: You must have both to be whole. While happiness is what everyone would prefer to feel all of the time, I'd like to think that sadness has a very special purpose. I think that sadness is the thing awakening us, stirring us, forcing us to face whatever it is we need to face. Whether we need to change ourselves, our thoughts, our habits or patterns, I think sadness is ultimately trying to help us. It's forcing us to listen to something we've refused to acknowledge until now. It's here to help us grow, change, and get to a higher level of happy.

I also think some of the most brilliant minds and kindest hearts belong to those who suffer the most. They see things differently and feel things on a much deeper level. Think of Edgar Allan Poe or Elizabeth Gilbert. Look how much we've learned from their experiences, their thoughts, their (well written) words. While we certainly wouldn't wish sadness upon them, we have benefited greatly from their experiences with it.

So while that darkness you're dealing with is heavy, debilitating, and awful, it is not permanent. No matter how hard it may be to believe this at times...

You were designed to be happy.

P.S. Recently, an article on the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying has been passed around in great frequency. I doubt any of these come as a shock to anyone. In fact, I'm sure most of us would agree and can see how they play a role in our lives now, regardless of what age or stage of life we're in. Look them over, think about your life right now and what you want to change. Because the truth is, none of us know when our time is up. There is never a better time to change your life than right this minute.

Image via TylerKnott

Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Mantra: Cleaning Out My Closet

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: Clear the clutter from your life

In the words of Eminem, I'm cleaning out my closet, both literally and figuratively. It all started with a long overdue closet remodel project. For quite some time now, I've been trying to make my closet glamorous. You know, like those fancy ones you see on Pinterest that cost one and a half bajillion dollars? Like that, but within a normal person's salary. That's where my decluttering act began.

I also recently started reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I haven't made it very far yet into her book because I'm stuck in her first month of the project, which focused on more sleep, more energy, and less clutter. The clutter is what stuck with me and the clutter is what I've been trying to let go of.

The mental, emotional, physical, and technological clutter.

All in all, I'm a very organized and structured person, but being that way doesn't mean I don't still have things I can get rid of. Things that no longer serve me, things that, instead, weigh me down.

After I cleaned out and re-decorated my closet, I started to sort through my memories. Old journals that no longer held words that meant anything to this version of me. Boxes of old photos and online folders of photos, all that needed sorting, decluttering, deconstructing. After I made my way through those, I started to clean out my online life. I put a request in to close my Twitter account, I cleaned up my Facebook page, and I deleted apps from my phone. I've found (through academic as well as personal research) the more involved I get in the social media world, the less I enjoy life. I won't go off on my new soap box, but I will say this: Social interactions will never take the place of in-person ones and, in more instances than not, they create more unhappiness than happiness. Anyway, after just those small acts, I felt tremendously better. And that - the freedom - is what pushes me to do more.

I'm still decluttering. Every day I think of, find, or see something new I can let go of.  Do I really need this? Do I really need that? Nine times out of ten the answer is no. I don't need to be plugged in everywhere. I don't need to hold on to mementos of moments that hold no meaning. I don't need clutter anywhere in my life.

Next time you feel overwhelmed, look in, out, and all around you. Find what no longer serves you and let it go.

Also, I love my closet. I want to hang out in there, drink tea, and ponder life's great mysteries...that kind of love. The second picture is a little blurry because I was overcome with joy. I'm such a girl sometimes.

Beautiful closets: Quite possibly the secret to happiness.

Image "Nothing" via James Mirtle

Monday, November 11, 2013

In the World of Wellness: Hurts So Good

Wellness is a term widely used that has multiple meanings around health and positive life style changes leading to well-being. Here we will use the term "wellness" as a means of defining a life free from disease as well as a way to explore alternative medicines, what they offer, and what this could mean for you.

Every month I'll do a post on a health and wellness related topic. This will give you a chance to explore other options, become informed, and make the best overall decision for your own well-being.

In the World of Wellness: ...sometimes your legs, don't feel like they should...
Have you ever gone from feeling full of life, energy, and enthusiasm to being certain you're going to die within a span of 5 minutes?


Well, you've never been to a Barre class then.

I took my first Pure Barre class about three weeks ago as I'd heard about how amazing and body altering it is. Prior to class, I did a little research so I would be equipped. I found out that tight-ish type yoga pants are recommended over lose fitting pants, you need a pair of socks (I found this odd, but even Ryan Gosling knows they're important), and the instructors are really good at remembering everyones names. I felt very prepared.
All of the above were true to what I'd read and, I must make note of this, the instructors were beyond amazing. Each one as been super friendly and has never forgotten my name or said it wrong, which earns them mega bonus points. The one thing I didn't read anywhere was just how killer these classes would be.

To be totally honest, I was pretty lazy this summer. I just didn't think I'd been that lazy. Throughout the hour long class you hold poses for minutes at a time, hardly moving at all. Hardly. Moving. At. All. No jumping or leaping or HIIT or Crossfit-ing or anything. You hardly move! I kid you not when I say that after the first five minutes of the first class, I was 3000% certain my boyfriend was going to have to come pick me up and drive me home. I truly believed I wouldn't be able to operate a vehicle, let alone my own body.
The instructors cheer you along, motivating you to stay in the poses no matter how badly your legs are shaking. Leg shaking, by the way, is sometimes an understatement. Leg earthquaking at a magnitude of 9.9 is more accurate. I was afraid I was scaring away other people in the class until I realized everyone else (mostly) was suffering the same way.
After that first class, I went back for more. You know me- I like torture as long as it makes me a better person. Here's the kicker: Pure Barre guarantees that you'll see changes in your body after ten classes. That's no joke, friends. I've only been to seven classes (two classes a week) and saw changes after class number six. My abs and my booty looked visibly different. Honestly, where can you go after six classes in a three week time frame and say that? Pretty much nowhere. That's how hard core and effective these workouts are.

As with everything, however, there are upsides and downsides to keep in mind.

The Upsides: Incredibly effective workouts, very friendly instructors, visible results in no time at all, each class is different so you never get bored.

The Downsides: Very expensive, doesn't really get easier (based on what others told me that have been going there a while. This can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on your outlook), you can feel ridiculous with all the crazy leg shaking. Maybe that's just me.

All in all, I really like the classes. They are killer, but man, are they worth it! I highly suggest trying it if you never have, just to see what I mean. I've not tried the other Barre methods that exist (yet), but if they have these same basic concepts and they're more affordable (for example, DVD's at home), I think they'd be worth a shot.

Go try it out and find out just what magnitude you reach for your earthquakey legs.

Images via Pinterest

Monday, November 4, 2013

Monday Mantra: Dear Me...

mantra is a sound, syllable, word, or group of words that is considered capable of "creating transformation".

Every Monday I will post a new thought, idea, or focus for the week. When you need a breather from life, when you need a little inspiration, or when you're about to jump over the conference table and strangle your co-worker, remember the mantra.

Monday Mantra: I will remember the distance I've gone
We all face challenges in life. Sometimes they're big, sometimes they're small, sometimes they're overwhelming to points unbearable. However, each and every challenge teaches us something new and helps us grow into better versions of ourselves- whether we like it or not. But, in the moment of the challenge, it can be scary, terrifying, too much to handle at times. 

This week I challenge you with a homework assignment, if you so choose to accept it. When you're having a bad day and truly feel like you're at your breaking point, grab some paper and a pen, sit down, and write a letter to a future version of yourself.

Tell this Future You what you're dealing with. Be detailed - don't hold back - it is just you you're writing to, after all. Explain what's upsetting you, what's going on that's bothering you, what you're afraid of. Then write what you want your future to look like- what you hope Future You will be doing, how you'll be feeling, how life will look one year from now. 

After you're done, seal your letter in an envelope and address it to yourself. Then, pick a close friend or family member (who's good with planning far in advance and who you can trust with your very personal thoughts) to mail you this letter exactly one year from today (or hide it really well from yourself so that you don't stumble upon it for a while. Whatever works).

Then, forget you ever did this, because soon enough you'll be getting that envelope and you'll see just how far you've come in one little year. I know this only because I've done this. I didn't even recognize my own handwriting, that's how much had changed. 

Take a moment for yourself to let out everything you're going through right now on paper so that one day, a Future You can look back and see all of the accomplishments you've made, the challenges you've overcome, and the distance you've gone.

Future You will be proud, I just know it.

Image via Pinterest