c'est moi.

c'est moi.
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Come sit down beside me with a dollar and a dime, we'll drink away our fortunes, here's to the meantime. -Grace Potter
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9.30.2011

shattering expectations.

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And so it all began well before you were even born. Your dad was the star of his football team in high school, so the expectation is that you will be too. Your mom was a straight A student, so the expectation is that you will be too. Your grandfather earned a PhD, so the expectation is that you will be too. Your older sister started walking at 7 months old, so the expectation is that you will be too. Marathoners, triathletes, presidents, vocalists, and doctors run in your family, so you will undoubtedly be something great too, right?

And so we grow up with this shadow over our heads. We struggle to find where we fit in, what our strengths and weaknesses are, and what we're going to "be" in life. And when we're finally old enough to start making decisions ourselves, there will be that constant reminder from some that you aren't making the right choices. It's like picking which sport to play, what college to attend, what major to choose, or what career to pursue. Then it becomes about the people you date, where you live, which house you buy, or how many kids you have. No matter what you choose or what you accomplish there will always be a naysayer. Expectations are simply a reality. Everyone makes them, especially about the people they care about. Most of the time, it's only because they want you to do great things. The difference is that their idea of what greatness is may not be the same as yours. The most important thing you can do is surround yourself with people that will support you throughout your journey from childhood to adulthood and beyond. Find people that will push you to follow your dreams, pursue your goals, and shatter all expectations that were placed on you by people other than you.

Life is far too short to feel as though we have to live our lives for other people. We are all capable of reaching great heights, it just may not be in the same way others may have envisioned. Maybe you aren't going to be the star athlete your father once was, but maybe your love for the violin will push you to pursue a degree in music. Maybe your struggle in a traditional classroom was becoming too painful, so instead of pocketing straight A's, you may choose to become a very successful auto mechanic. Maybe instead of pursuing politics, you may choose to become an ongoing volunteer at a charitable organization instead. Maybe instead of settling down young and having 2.3 kids, you may choose to travel the world solo. 

The point is that we are all born into expectations, but no person should be made to feel like a failure if they don't reach them. The expectations that should be surpassed are the ones we set for ourselves. It's important to make your way through life by setting goals and considering what you want in the big picture; that is how you come to reach your own personal greatness. And at the end of the day, that's really all that should matter.

9.28.2011

songs to live by.

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100 Years- Five for Fighting.

9.27.2011

taking action.

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"A real decision is measured by the fact that you've taken a new action. If there's no action, you haven't truly decided."
 Anthony Robbins is a world renowned self-help author and motivational speaker. With quotes like the one above, it's pretty obvious why. We all go through phases where we realize that we are unhappy with a certain aspect of our life; whether it's our career, relationship, friendships, finances, physical health, living conditions, lifestyle, or anything else. Admitting you are unhappy is one thing, but actually taking action to change that desolate feeling is something completely different. It's easy for us all to complain, say we're unhappy, throw up our hands, or have an emotional breakdown. The pity party can only go on so long- eventually your biggest supporters will start to fade from the exhaustion of trying to help you get on a better path or help you make changes. We are all strong, capable human beings. We must push ourselves to great heights. We must not settle for less than we deserve. If we are unhappy, we must take action to change it. Good things in life are rarely handed to us- most require hard work, sweat, and probably tears. Sometimes it means trying to make changes, but making the wrong ones. Life is a process; a series of steps. We can't expect to wake up one day and for things to be perfect. Nothing in life is perfect, but this doesn't mean you cannot be happy. You should set some standards for yourself on a regular basis- what kind of life you want to live, what kind of people you want to let into your life, what kind of effort you are willing to put in, and who you want to be. If your life isn't aligning with your ideals, then take action! It's the single most effective way to get yourself on a better path.

Refuse to settle. Make a plan. Take action. Be something grand!

9.26.2011

is your social life sabotaging your health?

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You are up at the crack of dawn 3 weekday mornings hitting the gym. You go for a hike on the weekend. You log a 4 mile run on Saturday afternoon. You watch what you eat, provided you are in the comforts of your own home or at the office. On paper, you look like a health and fitness nut. However, something happens when you throw your friends into the bag.

...A lady friend wants to meet up for a post-work drink, which easily turns into 2 plus going to bed an hour later than usual. Your other pal wants to go out for dinner to catch up. Your significant other wants to go watch the game at the local bar. Your friend's birthday is this weekend, which means another night out on the town and waking up feeling awful. The scary truth reveals itself.

Society revolves around eating and drinking; and it always has. Unfortunately, social situations often call for nights out at the bar or in restaurants. Many argue that you have fewer choices and less control over your diet when you are out. This is an excuse. You can opt for something off the menu that isn't deep fried, you could eat something beforehand instead, or you could give some thought to what drink you can order to avoid blowing your entire diet. Moderation is the key in life. It's when things go from occasionally to usually that your health is going to suffer.

Humans are social creatures and many of us thrive on the rush of being in public for everyone to see. I think it's time, however, for us to consider how hard we work to stay healthy, and how our social lives may be sabotaging our efforts.

Did you know? "Your best friend could be your waistline's worst enemy: An obese buddy can increase your chances of becoming obese by 57 percent, and when your bestie becomes obese, your risk shoots up to 171 percent. The domino-effect data is harsh but makes sense: You live, laugh and love together? Surely you eat and exercise (or not) together too." (youbeauty.com)
Anyone who has actually considered this sabotage has probably tried at some point to either A. Say no more often to activities involving consuming alcohol or unhealthy food, or B. Tried to continue the same routine, but opt to not participate in the actual consumption part. Both result in a tough blow to our personal social lives in one way or another. We either see friends less, or we look totally awkward saying "No, I've already eaten," or "No, I'm not drinking tonight." So, what can we do to break the cycle of taking 1 step forward via your usual diet and fitness routine, just so you can take 2 steps back from a couple nights on the town.

First, consider your friends. Friends are supposed to share your same morals, standards, ideas, and lifestyles in some way or another. Have you recently taken on a new group of social butterflies? Are your friends in tune with their health? Are your friends big drinkers? Are your friends members of a gym? Taking a step back to reflect on the people you spend the most time with is so key. If you notice large differences, maybe you should consider a conversation about what their goals and life aspirations are. Maybe there is someone in your group that is feeling equally as overwhelmed in regards to spending too much time at the bars and is sick of feeling exhausted all the time. Believe it or not, someone who is feeling the same way as you may be closer than you think. If you have been spending too much time with people that don't agree with your outlook, it may be time for a friend facelift. This doesn't mean dropping your "party" friends like flies, but it may mean trying to link up with someone from your workout class, your anthropology course, your workplace, or the coffee shop. Put yourself out there and strike up a conversation with a stranger; you never know what sort of connection you could have.

Second, take personal responsibility. This is your life and no one is forcing you into eating or drinking anything you don't want to. No one has tied you to the couch for the last 3 hours. You are an independent person and are allowed to make choices for yourself. Sure, it may mean looking a little awkward being the only one at dinner to not be eating or to only be indulging in one glass of red wine. I guarantee you might feel awkward that night, but you will be 100% thanking yourself the next day.

Plus, it is a great conversation starter. An acquaintance might mistake your opting out by congratulating you on your pregnancy because you are drinking a good old fashion coca-cola. Here's the moment to tell her you believe it shouldn't take having to carry a baby to start looking out for your health or taking a few nights off from the gin & tonics. Don't doubt your choices in the face of the non-believers or neighsayers. In fact, see if you can get others on board. Suggest signing up for a Wednesday night yoga class with your gal pals instead of your usual post-work drinks. Call the boys and suggest a Thursday night pick-up-soccer league instead of your usual "thirsty Thursday" activities.

Take a moment to think. If you are constantly feeling tired, run down, and your trips to the gym aren't showing, maybe it's time to consider if your social life is supporting your fitness and health goals. If the answer is no, consider making small changes initially. If you feel as though your friends present to much pressure on you to skip workouts, eat poorly, or have that extra drink, it may be time to pump the breaks and make some bigger changes.  In the end, your personal health is your own decision. Make sure that no matter what type of lifestyle you choose to partake in, you take responsibility for it fully and completely. Bad influences can be eliminated, drinks can be left undrank, uneaten food put in to-go boxes, and being health conscious can be your priority.


9.25.2011

letting go of guilt.

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The worst thing you can do for your future is hold onto the terrible things from your past. It will do nothing but weigh you down. Of course, this is not to say it isn't your past that shapes you into the person you are today. The experiences you had, emotions you faced, and lessons you learned are what make make you into the more well-rounded person you are at this very moment. It often takes growing older and looking back to realize just how much of an impact your actions and words may have had on those around you. The same goes for coming to terms with how other people may have shaped you; whether it was damaging and detrimental, or powerful and inspirational. Regardless, if you consider that hindsight is always 20/20, there comes a point where you need to accept that we all have terrible moments. It's important, above all else, to realize that holding onto guilt by not seeking closure is absolutely going to continue to affect your present in adverse ways. Let us consider the guilt we experience through our actions or words to others- did you play a joke on someone that went terribly wrong? Did you spill a secret you swore you wouldn't tell? Did you break someone's heart? Did you cause a coworker to get fired? Did you insist someone help you cheat on a test? Did you let someone get behind the wheel that shouldn't have? Did you come between a couple? Did you not support a friend in need? The point is, the possibilities for guilt are endless and the potential for making a mistake is a fact of life. Whether we did something awful on purpose or by mistake, he guilt we may feel down the road can eat us alive. The best advice is to consider that we cannot change what happened and that we can only focus on our recovery. Nothing we can do at this very moment can change our past, but we can make amends, come to terms with it, seek forgiveness, and become a better person because of it. The g-monster will sit in the pit of your stomach for as long as you allow it to. This is why there are several things you can do to work towards forgiving yourself; the first is communicating with the person you may have hurt. It's often difficult initially to do this, especially if you have damaged them in a way that makes them never want to see or hear from you as long as they shall live. This sometimes means having to work though it on the other person's terms; whether that means waiting a week, a month, or several years before they have had their own time to cope with the situation. Some people will never let you in their lives again; a harsh reality, but something that we all need to prepare for. If that is the case, we shouldn't be forced to go through life without seeking closure in another way. This may mean writing a letter to them, expecting no response, but allowing that to be your final word. This may also mean talking to a therapist and getting yourself on the road to recovery. Above all else, we must learn to forgive ourselves. If we go so far as experiencing intense guilt, then that is a sign that we are aware we made a mistake and need to seek forgiveness from within. We are all human; we will inevitably all act or say things that will be extremely detrimental to those we care about, whether we mean to or not. Once the damage is done seek forgiveness and refuse to make the same mistake again; recover strong.


9.21.2011

quotes to live by.

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A couple hundred years ago Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. Never leave that 'til tomorrow, which you can do today. This is the man who discovered electricity; you'd think we'd pay more attention to what he had to say. I don't know why we put things off, but if I had to guess it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of rejection. Sometimes the fear if just of making a decision. Because... What if you're wrong? What if you make a mistake you can't undo? Whatever it is we're afraid of, one thing holds true: That by the time the pain of not doing the thing gets worse than the fear of doing it. "The early bird catches the worm." "A stitch in time saves nine." "He who hesitates is lost." We can't pretend we haven't been told. We've all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time; heard the damn poets urging us to seize the day. Still, sometimes we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today's possibility under tomorrow's rug until we can't anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin meant. That knowing is better than wondering. That waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake, beats the hell out of not trying. 
-Meredith Grey.

9.20.2011

this is a no-wake zone.

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This no-wake zone is not about making waves in a lake. I'm talking about some good old fashioned shut eye. Sleep is not overrated- and you shouldn't be living your life by the "I'll sleep when I'm dead" mantra. In order to maintain your physical and cognitive health, you have to give your body the rest it needs on a routine basis. This includes more than just making sure you're spending enough time with your favorite pillow. Having a balanced nutrition plan, giving yourself the proper amounts of muscle and brain stimuli, indulging in relaxation, keeping your stress under control, exercising often, and staying hydrated are also part of the formula for success. Believe it or not, there is an art to both counting sheep and to falling asleep.
  • Light; Or should I say Darkness. Even just the smallest amount of light in your bedroom can stimulate your senses enough to keep you awake. Clocks are often the biggest culprit- most tickers allow you to adjust the brightness. If you can, try sleeping without the time showing in your bedroom at all. If you are struggling to fall asleep or fall back to sleep, watching the minutes tick by can cause anxiety which will end up keeping you awake even longer.
  • Establishing a Routine; Making a bedtime for yourself may sound a little "middle-school," but it's just as important in your 20's, 30's, and beyond as it is prior. If you aim to go to bed within the same half hour every night, your body will begin to adjust, and even prepare, for shut eye. You'll begin to feel tired around the same hour every evening, which will make falling- and staying- asleep even easier. 
  • Stress Less; Often times when we crawl into bed, our brains are busy remembering all the things we forgot to do that day or processing what we have to do tomorrow. Sometimes this pushes us as far as getting out to bed to complete a small task; which will only interrupt the winding down process. Instead, try keeping a journal or piece of scrap paper next to your bed. If you think of things while you're drifting off to sleep, jot them down rather than running your brain ragged trying to remember them all the following morning. The faster you can shut your brain down, the faster you can slip into a deep slumber. 
  • Power Down; Televisions, computers, cell phones and other electronics put off information, sound, and light stimuli that can keep your brain awake. Yet some people can only fall asleep to the sound of the television or radio. Studies show that turning electronics off an hour before bed helps prepare you better for sleep than keeping them on. Each person is going to react differently, so it's all about finding what is best for you. 
  • Puppy Love; Of course we all love our pets, but establishing a bedtime routine for them is just as important as creating one for yourself. Pets can keep you up at night with their noises, running around, and playfulness. This may mean not allowing them in your bedroom at night, or putting them in their crate. Remember, to best care for others you have to care for yourself first. 
  • Night Terrors; Always wake up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night? Find yourself dealing with stomach aches at 3am? Feeling restless? Snoring? Experiencing hot flashes? If you start to notice a change for the worst in your sleeping routine, there is probably a very specific reason for it. Sometimes a trip to a sleep specialist or doctor is going to be the key to solving the problem. Other times you can self-diagnose by considering your recent habits; if you are eating too much before bed, it may be the cause of tummy aches which could be solved by vowing to not eat after 8pm. If you find yourself running for the bathroom, maybe you are drinking too much before bedtime. If you are laying in bed wide awake, consider switching your workout routine to earlier in the day or avoiding caffeine in the afternoon. Waking up in a cold sweat may be a result of dehydration or improper bedroom temperatures, so making some minor adjustments on the thermostat could be an easy cure.
The amount of sleep, type of sleep, where you sleep, when you sleep, how you sleep, and who you sleep with (wink!) are all based on your individual needs. The important part is that you are logging enough ZZZ's to keep yourself happy, healthy, and functional. When in doubt, visit a sleep specialist that can help you create your ideal environment for shut eye. 

Remember these?

"Twinkle, twinkle, little star, How I wonder what you are!  Up above the world so high, Like a diamond in the sky! When the blazing sun is gone, When he nothing shines upon, When you show your little light, Twinkle, twinkle, all the night. Then the traveller in the dark, Thanks you for your tiny spark, He could not see which way to go, If you did not twinkle so. In the dark blue sky you keep, And often through my curtains peep, For you never shut your eye, Till the sun is in the sky. As your bright and tiny spark, Lights the traveller in the dark, Though I know not what you are, Twinkle, twinkle, little star."

"Rock-a-bye baby, in the tree top. When the wind blows, the cradle will rock. When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall. And down will come baby, cradle and all."

"Hush, little baby, don't say a word. Papa's gonna buy you a mockingbird. And if that mockingbird won't sing, Papa's gonna buy you a diamond ring. And if that diamond ring turns brass, Papa's gonna buy you a looking glass. And if that looking glass gets broke, Papa's gonna buy you a billy goat. And if that billy goat won't pull, Papa's gonna buy you a cart and bull. And if that cart and bull turn over, Papa's gonna buy you a dog named Rover. And if that dog named Rover won't bark, Papa's gonna buy you a horse and cart. And if that horse and cart fall down, You'll still be the sweetest little baby in town."

ZzZzZz...


9.19.2011

destressing discoveries from a mountain top.

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I went on the most invigorating hiking adventure yesterday, which meant several hours (between the commute to the mountain and the actual hike) to do some serious self-reflection; the last month hasn't exactly been a walk in the park. Stress is a reality of life and unfortunately has created a growing number of serious medical problems in recent times. It knows no gender, race, or age- it reeks health havoc on all types of people. Occasionally we are haunted by a good case of "sweating the small stuff," which can be easily handled by taking a step back and recognizing that the immense anxiety we are experiencing is created by our own doing. At other times, it's real problems creating real issues in your daily life. Regardless of what is stressing you out, having coping mechanisms in place for times you feel like yanking your hair out is the only way to get by. Most of us have our own little tricks that keep us from screaming at the top of our lungs, but in case you are just at your wits end, do not fret, help is here!

Exercise; Physical activity causes your brain to release endorphins AKA "feel good" chemicals. Doesn't matter how you get it, but some of my personal favorites are walking, running, hiking, fitness classes, yoga, golf, and biking. I urge you to try something new, whether solo, with a friend, or with your significant other, because you might just get hooked- like I did with BodyPump.

Creative Crafts; How fun is it to give a room in your home a facelift? Even just adding a new piece of artwork, a sweet smelling candle, picture frame, or side table makes such a difference. This weekend I spent a couple hours revamping our living room, and just doing a little decluttering brought the relaxation potential in that room through the roof. Some other crafty activities are painting, yard saleing, gardening, baking, thrifting, scrap booking, reorganizing, cleaning, or snapping some photographs. 

The Great Outdoors; A breath of fresh air does every body good! Aside from the usual physical outdoor activities, think about walking around a winery, checking out a farmers market, going fruit picking, puddle jumping (relive your youth a little!) "borrowing" a friends furry friend for a walk, or even just some window shopping.

Thinking Deeply; Let go of everything you are holding on to via writing a journal entry, a blog post, a poem, listening to music, calling a friend, taking a bath, lighting some candles, sipping some tea, taking a cat nap, reading a good book, getting a massage, planning a weekend away, or meditating. Gain some perspective by participating in volunteer work at a homeless shelter, a rape crisis center, or soup kitchen. Sometimes just having some alone time to reflect is the best medicine for stress.

Buddy Up; Having an outlet to vent is very helpful since keeping it all locked inside will only turn you into a big grey ball of anxiety! Make a phone call or meet a friend for a cup-o-joe, dinner or cold beverage. Attend a concert, visit a museum, or have a "girls night in."

What to Avoid; Try to neither cut down on your usual caloric intake, nor increase it. There is no such thing as no-calorie cookies! Don't lock yourself in a room and avoid all human contact. Avoid going shopping; some people love "shopping therapy," but just make sure you aren't sabotaging your budget in doing so. Don't act impulsively. Avoid the scale. Don't think taking drugs or chugging alcohol will make it all go away; if anything, it will only provide temporary relief (and a hangover). Don't run away from it; it'll still be there when you stop running. And lastly, don't take it out on the people that care for you the most; they are ONLY trying to help.

9.17.2011

quotes to live by.

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Unless it's mad, passionate, extraordinary love, it's a waste of time.
There are too many mediocre things in life.
Love shouldn't be one of them.
-Dream for an Insomniac.

9.15.2011

fwd: to busy for a friend.

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From: Charlotte
To: Holly H.
Subject: Fwd: To Busy For A Friend

One day a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name. Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down. It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers. That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual. On Monday she gave each student his or her list. Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments. No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. She never knew if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on. Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student. She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin. As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot." After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were there, obviously waiting to speak with his teacher. "We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it." Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him. "Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it." All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home." Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put! his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary" Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said and without batting an eyelash, she continued: "I think we all saved our lists" That's when the teacher finally sat down and cried. She cried for Mark and for all his friends who would never see him again. The density of people in society is so thick that we forget that life will end one day. And we don't know when that one day will be. So please, tell the people you love and care for, that they are special and important. Tell them, before it is too late.

My grandmother forwarded me this email yesterday. I'll start by saying that I, like most, have a love/hate relationship with email forwards. Usually I'll get through a couple of lines and then delete it, but this was different. Luckily my grandmother knows me well enough to know what types of emails I will find completely intriguing and which I could care less for. This was one that really hit me. I received it via my phone while I was lying in bed last night with my latest book [By the way, totally possible that this was at 9:16pm too, and I was on the verge of falling into a deep slumber-don't judge]. As I scrolled through the first few lines, it captured my full attention and brought on actual emotion- it's not often, if ever, a forwarded message has evoked real emotion out of me. Yet I realized quickly that this story was more than some sort of chain mail. I can't say whether or not the story is real, but in the wake of 9/11 and the latest War on Terror I could see it being a legitimate possibility back when Vietnam occurred. I will begin my reflection by saying the message in this story is one of the hardest lessons for people to learn. I posted just last week about how you don't know what you have until it's gone, and that things happen in life unexpectedly and we have to remember to say thank you to the important people in our lives before it's too late. The tragedy of this story is probably that most of the people in that room regretted not telling Mark how much they cared for him prior to his death. The students shared their thoughts anonymously only, or so the teacher assumes. The point is, why is it so many people struggle putting emotion into words? Why is it so many people trip over speaking up? Personally, I sometimes don't share thoughts with people because I am afraid of them either; A. not being reciprocated or, B. fear of becoming vulnerable. At the end of the day, life is too short to not share with someone how you feel. Worst things that is going to happen is they don't feel the same way about you. So what? I guarantee you will feel so much better knowing that if that person were to disappear from your life tomorrow, they knew exactly how you felt. The person who shared too little will seemingly always live more in regret than the one that shared too much. It reminds me of my high school quote that was published in the yearbook my senior year; "As you grow older you'll find the only things you regret, are the things you didn't do." -Zachary Scott. Every experience should be treated as something to grow and learn from, whether positive or negative. Mark's friends, in the wake of his death, probably felt similarly. Today you should reach out to friends, family or acquaintances and share one thing with them they may not already know about what they mean to you. Even if it just means reiterating something you have already told them, it's just as important. If all they respond with is "Yeah, I know", don't feel defeated. You will feel a lot better in the long run knowing that you have instilled your thoughts in them so deeply that there isn't a shadow of a doubt that when it is their turn to pass [or for you to], that they knew how you felt.



9.14.2011

a peek ahead; new years resolutions.

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Has anyone heard of making a New Year's resolution in September? Of course not. NYR's are for the end of December, after crunching through the not-so-waist-friendly holiday season. We will wake up this January 1st much like we have for years past; we'll expect the sun to be shining, our willpower to be blazing, our holiday hangover to be on its way out, and for it to be Day 1 of our journey to check off our entire New Year's Resolution list- because this year is different, right? Newsflash; studies show that of the 45% of Americans that actually make NYRs, only somewhere around 8% actually succeed.  So what gives? The stigma of the New Year's Resolution has probably deterred a large amount of people from making them in the first place, or maybe past failure has kept us from wanting to try again. When it comes down to it, I think the biggest problem is how we spend all year pushing off making new goals until the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. Stop making the excuse that you will "start next week" or "start next year". Start now. If you have something you want to achieve, you have to put an actual plan of action into place. Whether it's May or October start pushing yourself to expand your personal potential right now. Our struggle with self-improvement often comes from laziness, endless excuses, and lack of planning. Take a second today and write down a list of things you already know you want to accomplish, whether you are a NYR maker or not. Maybe you do want to lose 20 pounds, eat healthier, save money for a vacation, pay off your CC debt, or seek marriage counseling to improve your relationship. There is nothing wrong with your goal- whether big or small, seemingly impossible or just a simple walk in the park, your goals and aspirations belong to you. Don't let anyone deter you from reaching your dreams. Making your list is the simple part. It's the action part that people struggle with. If the goal is fairly large, like paying off your CC debt for example, you need to come up with checkpoints to attaining it. For example, instead of saying that you'll pay it off some point during the next 6 months, say that you will take $100 dollars out of every paycheck and put it aside, rather than making your usual trip to the shopping mall. If your resolution is losing 20 pounds, don't just go get a gym membership and say you'll go 4 times a week. Instead, look at your schedule and commit to going on certain days, or find a fun class that meets on the same days every week- routine is key! If your resolution is to eat healthier, don't just go to the store this week and buy only vegetables and diet coke. Instead, work on adding or subtracting one "bad" thing from your current diet each week. Trying to go cold turkey on your current regime will only make you more apt to fall off the bandwagon after 3 weeks and turn you into a cranky crab. Once you have determined your goal and made an action plan, you are well on your way. All the pieces are in place for you to get there in no time. There will be days of immense struggle, and days you feel like a million bucks. That is part of what comes with breaking out of your usual habits and wanting to be better. You know what they say, it's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it. No one knows you better than you know yourself. You know your darkest secrets and worst habits. What we often don't give ourselves credit for is the incredible potential we possess. Each and every one of us is capable of attaining greatness if we simply believe in ourselves, plan accordingly and commit to not stopping until we get there.

songs to live by.

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Big Yellow Taxi- Counting Crows.

9.13.2011

technology detox.

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Over the last several decades, we have seen technology absolutely explode. Words like smart phone, social networking, emailing, blogging, web surfing, channel surfing, wireless hot spot, 3g & 4g technology, Ipod, sexting, and "crackberry" have all become part of daily lingo. Phrases like "text me", "facebook me", "link in", "IM me", and "follow me" have become our way of connecting up with new and old friends alike. Think back to the last seven days- how many times did you check your email? Open your phone? Send an instant message? Watch TV? Watch videos online? Login to facebook? Tweet an update? Use StumbleUpon? Text a friend? Follow someone new on twitter? Listen to streaming music? Download a new App on your smartphone? Connect via a wireless hot spot?

Ok, now ask yourself- how many letters did you write? Journal entries did you pin? Walks did you take? Pages did you read? Baths did you take? Board games did you play? Friends did you see...in person? Museums did you visit? Books did you purchase...yes, the paper kind? Meditate? Play an instrument? Frolic around outside?

The scariest part comes when you actually consider your own daily habits. The studies and trends compiled by researchers speak volumes in themselves, but are you part of that huge percent who is absolutely technology obsessed? Who can't go 5 minutes without using a computer, the TV, or your smart phone? If this is you, then it's time for a little intervention- TECHNOLOGY DETOX.

What happened to coming home after work and spending time making dinner with your family, room mate or significant other? Then sitting down to eat together, free of the sounds of the TV, music, and the sounds of your cell phone? Then cleaning up and maybe playing a card game or going for a walk? Then having some time in bed with your hubby or boyfriend to talk or to get busy? It's true- every aspect of a relationship is under fire when technology overwhelms your life. When did watching 3 hours of TV come before sharing conversation on the back porch? When did posting on someones facebook wall become a legitimate way of being "in touch" with a friend? It's so deeply concerning when you break it all down. Is technology getting in the way of your sex life, your physical health, your emotional wellness, or your relationships with friends and family? When we take the time to remove ourselves for more than 10 minutes, we quickly realize just how concerning America's obsession with technology has become. So we must ask, what do we do to break the cycle?

Start by asking yourself why you check your email or phone as much as you do? Why is it necessary to check your boyfriends twitter every 5 minutes? Are you so involved because you are afraid of missing something? The only thing anyone should be afraid of is missing out on real life! Take your eyes off your computer screen, away from your cell phone, and flick the TV off- look around you. Sadly, some of what you will see is actually what you are trying to avoid- car after car driving by with the driver on their cell phone, laptops open, TV's on, and people glued in every way. But what you will also notice is that there is a great big beautiful natural world out there with so much potential. A variety of things to do and enjoy without having to be "connected." I urge you to break the cycle of addiction and try to "power down" for a day. Of course, if your job requires you to be on a computer then you have no choice in that regard during your workweek. Instead, try not accessing your personal email or facebook for 1 day, or better yet 1 week. Scary, I know. If that gives you anxiety, try going out for a few hours with your cell phone powered down. Go for a hike or a walk. Grab coffee with a friend. Drive to grandma's house in the countryside. Open your eyes and you will see that the possibility of fun sans technology are endless. Give yourself a little reality check; it's good for your mind, body and soul. I promise, it's OK to not respond to an email for 24 whole hours, not to update your facebook status for 3 days, and to miss an episode from a TV show. The world is not going to come crashing down, nor is technology detox going to kill you. In fact, it will likely give you the slap in the face you need to realize what kind of addiction is plaguing America today more than ever.

9.12.2011

renewing your spirit.

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Last week for me was the epitome of the saying, "when it rains, it pours." It seemed like every possible thing that could have gone wrong, did. We have all had days or weeks like this and when you are smack dab in the middle of it, it seems like things will never be good again, but it always ends. And when it's finally over all we can do is look around and ask ourselves "what now?" When that streak of bad days is finally broken and we are triumphant by some God given miracle, the important thing is right then and there to make a plan to insure that, the parts that were actually in your control don't happen again. Maybe it was a bad reaction to something someone said or did that could have been handled in a better manner. Maybe it was getting sick due to lack of sleep, stress, or anxiety over things happening in your career world. Maybe it was ending a relationship with a close friend or significant other because of something terrible they did. Maybe it was losing your job after blowing up on your boss. Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it. This being said, hindsight is 20/20. We can't always control what happens to us, but we can control how we react to it, and better yet, how we can grow from it. When we think back to a difficult time we faced, was there a way to prevent it? Should you have opted out of spending two weeknights in a row up late catching up on your favorite TV episodes? Should you have decided to hit the gym instead of meeting friends for drinks 5 out of 7 nights last week? Should you have communicated better with your friend about how her actions were making you feel? Should you have approached your boss with concerns about a coworker prior to starting world war 4 with him? We all make mistakes in life and handle things incorrectly at one point or another. The important thing is reflecting on what caused your mishap of a week, and considering if handling things differently could have created better results. Personal reflection is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Whether you blog, journal, read, take a drive, or go for a long walk; it's all about how you function best. Once you take that time for yourself, tie up any loose ends, and come to terms with everything, it's time to renew your spirit. A simple change of perspective can do this instantly. So you made a bad choice with how you handled things with a friend- if you are interested in making amends, do so. If not, consider looking up some fun happenings in your local area and go on the prowl for some new gal pals. If you got so stressed out that your body shut down and you were sick for a week, get reacquainted with the gym, consider scheduling massages once/month, or see about picking up a self-help book at your local bookstore. If you got so annoyed with your job that you stopped performing well, consider being honest with your boss and see about picking up some new responsibilities or devising a plan where both you and she can thrive on a daily basis. There are always ways to turn a negative into a positive; typically all it takes is a little perspective change. Once you're there, focus on all the good things you have going for you and you'll realize that a bad day here or there is normal. Reflect. Recover. Renew. Before you know it, you will be tackling the huge stack of papers on your office desk, calling an old friend to reconnect, nailing a job interview, or kicking butt in your spin class. Learn when to let go, when to hang on, when to walk away, and when to let a bad experience make you a stronger person.

9.10.2011

09.11.01

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It's hard to believe it has been ten years since that horrific day in September 2001. It was not only an extreme tragedy, one that affected millions of Americans, but it was also a wake up call- anything can happen in life, with little or no notice. As we remember the thousands of lives lost on that tragic day 10 years ago, we also need to be thankful for the thousands of soldiers that are keeping us safe today. They are away from their homes and family, and risking their lives for our freedom. Take a moment to give thanks this weekend for the land of the free, and the home of the brave. Never forget; 09/11/2001.


9.08.2011

a birthday wish.

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My incredibly inspirational, beautiful, and well-rounded mother of twenty-something years turns another year older today. I recently shared a post about how important it is to develop a healthy and constructive relationship with your mother if it's a possibility- for she is wise beyond your years. I thank God every day for the incredible relationship I have with my family in general, but especially with my mom. I would not be where I am today if it wasn't for the motherly love she provided me with day-in and day-out from the moment I was born. She taught me to be the strong woman I am slowly becoming today. Life is a journey- a process- and I'm in the process of figuring out where I fit in this great big world. Life has us by the throat sometimes and doesn't seem to let go until you have melted into a puddle of emotion. I can tell you that if there is one person I can count on to build me back up, it's my mom. Growing up, she would watch me in my early years fall over and begin to cry- she would say to me "Hol, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and try again." To this day that saying has resonated with me in an immense fashion. From the beginning, mom wanted me to take everything life threw at me and turn it into a positive learning experience, even if the event itself wasn't positive at all. It was all about the recovery; all about having the strength to get back up when something has completely defeated you. My mom has been that strength for me when I didn't believe I could do it myself. My backbone, my voice of reasoning, my inspiration- Happy Birthday to the strongest and most loving mother that God could ever have given me.

9.06.2011

the importance of being...honest.

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How often have we held an opinion, thought, word, or emotion back from someone under the pretense that things would eventually change, or that we might just eventually change our perspective enough where it wouldn't be anything worth addressing? Unfortunately in some cases, holding something back is more detrimental than just putting it out there. There are times we all have things we want to discuss with someone we care about. Sometimes we hold back for fear of hurting their feelings. Other times we hold back because we think we are willing to compromise our emotional well being for that person. And even more often, we think it's just something so teeny tiny, that we'd be "sweating the small stuff" if we even brought it up. Regardless of the situation, it is more important to be honest and up front than to hold something in. John Mayer wrote his song "Say" in 2007, and I continually find ways to apply the lyrics to real life.
Take all of your wasted honor
Every little past frustration
Take all of your so-called problems,
Better put 'em in quotations
Say what you need to say [x8]
Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you'd be better off instead,
If you could only . . .
Say what you need to say [x8]
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You'd better know that in the end
Its better to say too much
Then never say what you need to say again
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open .
We are human. We can only handle so much emotion and pent up feeling before we burst. The dam will break. It's time to break the denial of how something makes you feel. Too often, things don't change. Too often, people don't change. This includes you. Don't bet on you being able to let go of something that is bothering you "in due time." That's not how it works. Speak up. It is far better to bring a concern up in it's very beginning phases then to let it boil inside of you for days, months, or years. More often than not, doing that will hurt you entirely more than how much it will hurt the person you are confessing your feelings to. A person should respect honesty. If you care about someone enough to have a genuine concern about them, then they should care about you enough to appreciate your words. I urge you to be open and communicate with your loved ones- speaking up is going to be the first step into coming to an agreement on how to move forward from here.

9.04.2011

quotes to live by.

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Sometimes you're flush, and sometimes you're bust.
And when you're up, it's never as good as it seems.
And when you're down, you never think you'll be up again.
But life goes on.
-Fred Jung

9.02.2011

looking in the mirror.

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Doesn't it seem like the day before a long holiday weekend lasts an eternity? The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, tall drinks are waiting, and the clock is ticking like t......h.......i......s. As we all celebrate the end of summer, whether you are hosting friends, seeing family, traveling, or staying home, make sure you take some time this weekend to yourself. Time for personal reflection is one of the most important therapies you can give to your soul. Here we are in September of 2011. Where were you a year ago? What are your goals for the remainder of the year? What kinds of milestones have you reached in the last decade? Where can you improve? Regardless of the mistakes you made or heights you climbed, give yourself a pat on the back for making it to today. We all experience hardships and rocky waters, but to be sitting here on September 2, 2011, we deserve some credit. We may all have a long journey ahead and a laundry list of ways we can improve, but we have to remember to slow down from the whirlwind of daily life to consider how far we've all come. So sit back, relax, and spend some time with you, yourself, and....you?! Some people chose to make lists, write in a journal, or just simply take time to think over a cold beverage or good book. Whatever your method may be, you can only grow as a person through your own personal reflection. Every experience offers a lesson, whether good or bad, small or big. With only 120 days left of 2011, there is still plenty of time this year to improve yourself- whether it be on the inside or outside. It seems appropriate that as we wrap up the summer, we look ahead to fall and winter as holding potential for serious growth and reflection. When put into perspective, every 24 hours we are offered a new beginning- so may you wake up tomorrow stronger and more in tune with yourself than you are today.

songs to live by.

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Grace Potter- Tiny Light.

9.01.2011

the things your mother taught you.

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Mother. Mama. Mommy. Mom. Ma! Some of us have healthy, positive and constructive relationships with our mothers, while others don't have that luxury. I choose the word luxury because it is. I have been blessed with a mother that understands me during my good, my bad, and my ugly. It was by some miracle that she survived my hormonal years when I was an absolute nightmare. If looks or words could kill, she'd be long gone. Every year on her birthday, I give her a letter expressing the immense gratitude I have for her and all she's done to "raise me right." I should save this post for September 8th when she turns just one itty-bitty year older (better, Ma?), but I shared a phone call with her last night that reminded me just how immense a role model she's been to me for twenty-something grueling (and wonderful) years. If there is one thing we should take away from our relationships with our mothers it's that whether we would like to believe it or not, they've been where we are. They have been 18, 21, 25, 30, 40, and for some, the big 5-0. They've had experiences that have shaped who they are, how they raised us, and what their plans are for the future. They have also taken away from their own life experiences what kinds of amazing things they want for the kids- words like successful, healthy, and happy all come to mind. Even on the days when mom is driving us up the wall, she more often than not has our best interest in mind. My mom has shared both her most painful and most exciting experiences with me, along with the lessons she's learned from those experiences. Yet she's never pressured me into learning those lessons via her choices. She understands that I have to figure things out for myself. I need to make my own mistakes. I need to grow as a person through my own first hand experiences. Some mothers prefer to press their opinions on you more than you would probably prefer. Some expect you not to make the same mistakes that they did because they've already been there and done that- and wouldn't dare to dream of you making the same choice. At the end of the day we just need to remember what a blessing a caring and supportive mother is. There are days we will love 'em and days we could just knock 'em silly; but it's incredibly important to keep in mind what a priceless life learning tool we have at our fingertips. It takes countless years for girls to reach a level of mutual understanding with their mothers, and some of us may never get there. Certain topics will always remain off limits- and that's ok. Do what you can to take what mom says to heart, even if you feel like rolling your eyes and running in the other direction. She's older and wiser than you, and may know a thing or two that you don't- hard to believe, right!? If life allows for it, most of us have someone we can call "mom". Through the storm clouds and sunny skies, she'll always be there- whether it's in person, on the phone, or just in our hearts. Do something that will move mountains today- call up that beautiful mother of yours and just say thanks. Realistically, if it wasn't for her putting up with your ridiculous antics, you wouldn't be in the place you are today. Plus, the sooner you open your heart and that big trap of yours, the sooner she could share with you something that will guide you through even your darkest days.