Category Archives: well-being

How to deal with uncertainty

Dealing with uncertainty isn’t my strong suit. In fact, I’m a compulsive worrier so an ambiguous future tends to leave me feeling overwhelmed and anxious. I like stability, or at least knowing the general direction my life is headed in. For the last several months, though, I’ve been operating in complete tandem to that notion. And then yesterday, I finally just realized the chaos isn’t going away. It is what it is…until it isn’t anymore. So for now, I have to learn to deal with uncertainty the best way I know how.

1) Embrace the chaos

I’ve quickly realized my downward spiral of emotions is typically because of my temptation to dwell on my current situation and then to become obsessive about what the future holds. Living in a constant state of uncertainty the last couple of months means I’ve literally imagined every doomsday scenario imaginable. I wonder about the unknown, I set goals for where I want to be in the future, and then when I’m not sure I’ll get there all hell breaks loose. I blame myself. I obsess. I ask, “Why me?” And in the end I feel more helpless and anxious than ever before. When I asked my intuitive reader what I can change about myself to make my life richer, she promptly told me to stop over analyzing and obsessing about everything. Be present and enjoy the moment. Life never goes the way we planned for it to go anyways. Take comfort in the fact that when things get really shitty, it often opens up new doors and opportunities. Hard times – the uncertain times – are humbling experiences that test our willpower and certainly present challenges. BUT with every challenge also comes opportunity. So, embrace the chaos and uncertainty. I promise you something positive will come out of your situation, even if you don’t believe it right now. On that note, though…

2) Make peace with time

…opportunities don’t always present themselves in a nicely wrapped gift box and they don’t always come when we want them to. I realize that anxious feelings are temporary and fleeting, that every moment of panic comes to an end and that I’m still okay in the end – whether it works in my favor or not.  I continue to remind myself to take deep breaths, that everything happens (or doesn’t happen) for a reason, and that my future goals aren’t a matter of “if” but when. It’s really hard not to be disheartened when things don’t go your way but you have to keep moving forward. I remind myself to be thankful for the little steps I’ve made along the way and for the opportunities that continue to present themselves, albeit in their own sweet time. Keep going, keep moving forward, and keep living (my third point!).

3) Don’t let limbo keep you from living your life

For the last two weeks, I’ve thrown a one-woman pity party. I really hadn’t done much of anything until a friend of mine drug me out of the house and took me on my first ever Fear Fest experience. And guess what? I had the greatest time. I decided amongst the zombies and scary creatures chasing me in the Forgotten Forest that instead of fretting about what may be ahead, I need to do something that makes me happy. Screaming bloody murder and nearly peeing my pants made me happy. And it made me laugh uncontrollably. So this week, amidst the uncertainty, I’ll still be living and doing all the things I love: cooking, reading, writing, playing with my dog, shaking my ass at Zumba, and doing downward dogs at hot yoga. Yes – uncertainty remains, but life goes on. And I have a really great life.

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Life as I know it

The title may sound poetic but I promise you it’s not. Life has just been busy so I figure the best way to get everyone up to speed is to recap the last month and a half of my life in one full swoop.

Really exciting, I crossed two things off my 30 before 30 list:
1. Set up a retirement account. I feel very grown up having a financial advisor who does everything and anything I need him to. We’ve decided to be “aggressive” in the market and while he warned me I may not like him some months I warned him I would probably never even notice.
2. Be a vegetarian for 30 days. Surprisingly, going vegetarian was really easy. The only difficult aspect was having to plan my meals so far in advance and ensure there were vegetarian options available when I was on the road traveling for work. In fact, now that my 30 days are up I’ve actually decided to stick to the new diet. It’s now been six weeks, which is also the amount of time you need to build – or break – habits.

Going vegetarian has meant spending a lot of time in the kitchen trying out new recipes. I honestly can’t think of a meal I made and didn’t like these past six weeks but here are a few recipes I tried and absolutely loved:
1. Spring rolls – I didn’t follow this recipe at all but it was what I started with. I ended up using a basic cole slaw mix and instead of eating it raw with the rice paper, I sautéed the mixture in various seasonings. A very easy recipe albeit a bit time-consuming but they were oh so yummy!
2. Hummus spinach bake – I actually didn’t use a recipe for this. I happened to be using one of those input the ingredients you have into a computer generator and it lists different dishes you can make. Out of that came a plate of hummus and sautéed spinach topped with shredded cheese. I put it in the oven on 350 for about 15 minutes. It was nice and bubbly and paired well with the pita chips and carrots I already had on hand.
3. Zucchini pizza boats – They don’t make for great leftovers since zucchini contains so much extra water but they were fantastic straight out of the oven. Plus there are a ton of variations for toppings. Variety is nice!
4. Stuffed peppers – I love peppers and anything that goes in them. Quinoa is my new favorite super food and these are perfect for grilling out with friends. I have found that Mexican is the easiest vegetarian go-to dish for me.

I had a few other health related goals for the month. One goal was to complete all of my outstanding health exams and another was to beef up the exercise routine. A few things worth mentioning:
1. $500 later it turns out I am, in fact, still healthy. Go me!
2. I tried two new fitness classes: a hip hop dance class and Krav Maga. Not only can I booty bump with the best of em’ but I also found a socially acceptable way of releasing my inner rage. If Krav Maga didn’t cost $150/month I would definitely get a membership.

So you don’t think I’m two-dimensional talking about health and fitness, I did have a few fun things going on this past month and a half. At the top of my list:
1. A few friends and I spent a weekend in the Old Cabin at Blue Jay Farms, which we all know is my favorite Missouri get-away spot! Of course Miley dog joined us. I love make your stomach hurt bouts of laughing and I have plenty of those moments with my home girl Lizard. See below. We made an oriental themed dinner, played a new card game, swam, read, hiked to a waterfall, and picked blueberries. I love that place!

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2. I hadn’t seen my Mom since Christmas so I’ve been missing some quality mother-daughter time. Over the 4th of July weekend my parents decided to come down and visit for about a week. We spent time boating at the lake, visiting family and friends, watching movies, snuggling, and dancing/drinking our butts off at the winery. It was a fabulous time and I’m missing them already!

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3. Oh yeah, Dad finally sent me the pictures of our trip to El Salvador. I’ll aim to get those up at some point once I sift through the 2,000+ photos but here are a few teasers.

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And of course I wouldn’t be me if there wasn’t a little bit of self-introspection thrown in the mix. A few self-revelations:
1. Attitude up! I wish I could coin this phrase but I actually learned it at a sexual harassment training I went to for work. I say it all the time now. It serves as a good reminder that we all have the power to change our dispositions. When you’re stressed, feeling overwhelmed, and just consumed or surrounded by negativity it helps to keep things in perspective and to remember that you have the power to keep a positive attitude and mind. It’s sort of like Gretchen Rubin’s think happy, be happy motto.
2. How to live a life of well-being. Martin Seligman proposed a scientific model of happiness and well-being called PERMA. Essentially it states that in order for one to live a flourishing life, there are five basic motivations behind any decision or action made: positive emotion, engagement, relationship building, meaning, and achievement. People do their best work and are happiest when these five elements are being met. I could dedicate an entire blog post to this particular concept as I’ve become enthralled with the scientific model so much that I’ve begun incorporating it into my work culture and everyday life. My poor colleagues have been subjected to team building exercises this past week but I actually think they enjoyed them. If anything I can tell it brought us all closer together (R and M – meaningful relationships). Anyways, I’ll save you the rambling – go check it out!

While this post certainly doesn’t capture everything that went on the past month and a half, I feel a little less overwhelmed jumping back into the blogging world. I keep waiting for my time to free up and devote to writing again but the truth is I just need to make it a priority again (more on that later).

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June: Health

While May was a whirlwind, exciting month I feel like my overall health took a beating. Really, I blame Sonic’s half-price milk shakes (which I am obsessed with) and my lack of control for the downward spiral but hey, you only live once! It’s a new month now and that means it’s time to regroup and refocus my efforts on health.

After a blah health regimen for the past two months, my mind and body are begging for some much-needed attention. I can feel the constant lethargy, lack of motivation, and poor digestion on a daily basis now which is especially disappointing after treating those ailments through diet (and ultimately succeeding). If I’ve learned anything this past year it’s that health and fitness are hard  and falling back into old routines happens often if you don’t make the relationship with your body a priority. But it does get easier and I’m especially looking forward to my June goals to get my butt back in gear!

Go vegetarian for the month. This particular goal is on my 30 before 30 list. Since I’ve mentioned it, I’ve gotten a lot of questions about why I’m choosing to go vegetarian. For the sake of brevity in this particular post though, I’ll just say my decision is purely based on the health benefits of a vegetarian diet and not about the mistreatment of animals. Although, if you’re interested in the latter part, the book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer is what first inspired me to try vegetarianism when I was 18. Disclaimer: it’s kind of graphic.

Keep a food journal. I’ve always been a firm believer that what you eat directly affects how you feel. With my interest in holistic nutrition, I wanted to keep a food journal to document my bodies reactions to various foods. I got the idea after returning from my trip to El Salvador. While there, I didn’t eat any dairy products yet when I returned home, my body reacted adversely. I think especially with going vegetarian for the month, I’ll be trying a host of new foods and spices so the journal will come in handy in building that relationship with my body and understanding what works for me and what doesn’t. Instead of having another hand-written journal I decided to use the MyFitnessPal app. While its intention is to track calories for weight loss, I plan to use it more for recording foods, my bodily reactions, and to track exercise routines. Counting calories is not a priority for me and really, I get kind of bothered that the app counts calories for fruit and veggies. I don’t care how many calories an apple has – EAT IT! I’ll get off my soap box though.

Schedule and complete all of my outstanding health exams. For being health conscious, I tend to always put off my yearly health exams in part because I don’t have dental or vision insurance and in part because health care (even when you have health insurance) is just plain expensive. While I originally planned to use the small amount of money left over from my student loans to travel I am instead choosing to be responsible. In addition to getting my teeth cleaned and eyes checked, I also need to get my ear canals cleaned (I’m prone to ear infections) and schedule my last follow-up exam to a colposcopy I had a year and a half ago (my biopsies came back normal the last two visits, so one more and I’m a free bird!!!).

Set up my retirement account. Financial health is equally important to my overall well-being so I’m reaching out to a local financial advisor to set up my retirement account, a goal which also happens to be on my 30 before 30 list. It’s really not all that exciting, but a task I need to stop putting off!

Beef up the exercise routine. I still maintain at least 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise a day (and then some) but my regimen isn’t all that exciting anymore. I used to have a healthy balance between running, walking, Zumba, and hot yoga but for the past couple of months, I’ve stuck mainly to brisk one hour walks a day with Miley or trail hiking. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy my walks/hikes (that won’t go away) but I could use a little more excitement so it’s not so monotonous. This month, I’m aiming to take a hip hop Latin dance class, ride my bike more, and get back into Zumba and hot yoga classes.

I could come up with a hundred more health goals, but these are my top priorities for the month as I try to defeat my impending sluggish-ness. Bring it on, June!

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March highlights

If you haven’t been able to gather from my absence in the virtual world, life has been a bit hectic in the Wallace household. I feel like this entire month passed by with the snap of a finger and yet surprisingly for having felt completely exhausted almost the entire month, I still managed to accomplish the majority of my goals.  Here are some of the highlights of my month of well-being:

  • I loved reading Drop Dead Healthy by AJ Jacobs. Not only did the book make me laugh out loud on more than one occasion, but it reminded me that being healthy isn’t just how you look on the outside, but how your body functions on the inside. It also served to remind me that health is holistic. While exercising and eating right (when I’m not in cookie monster mode) is a big part of my life, I also need to give equal attention to my mental and emotional health. If anything, I got a few ideas from the book on what to include in my own health regimens and I’m excited to start incorporating them into future monthly goals.
  • The inspirational bedroom transformation is not complete but is certainly coming along. Not only did the room get a complete paint re-do, but I’ve been working on some decor projects as well. I bought a bright, cheery, and super fun rug that adds a healthy dose of spunk to the room. I also started a craft project that turns wooden block letters into yarn art (sounds weird, but looks way cool). I will admit I have yet to finish this particular project particularly because my loathe of crafting gets in the way of me actually finishing it, but considering some of my goals for April I figure I can carry this process over into next month. I’m also teaming up with a painter friend of mine who does phenomenal, original work for a reasonable price. The room needs a little bit of art in it and she’s my go-to girl so this particular item will be another thing I carry into next month as well. I keep having to remind myself that evolving is about relishing in the process and not always marking things off my to-do list. But while I like this rule of thumb for my year of self-improvement, I sometimes think I use it as justification for procrastination (more on that later).
  • Between all the hustle and bustle, I still managed to carve out a lot of friend time this month. In particular, I hosted a couple of girls nights, a St. Patrick’s Day themed game night dinner party. and a few Skype dinner dates with my friends who aren’t close by. I have to say the friend love (and booze) was definitely overflowing this month for which I am extremely grateful.
  • Also super exciting in the name of friend love – since I started writing more hand-written notes to my friends and family, I’ve been getting letters in return. This month alone, I’ve received four letters and I LOVE getting mail.
  • Meatless Mondays have been my new favorite health regimen and something I’m going to continue to do. It usually means I end up going meatless for most of the week (no wonder there are health benefits) but I love that it makes me get outside my comfort zone and experiment in the kitchen a bit. Plus, it adds content for the blog and I can’t complain about that, especially considering my lack of other substantial content lately.

So there you have it – another month bites the dust! I almost feel like I could continue well-being part deux into April, but now that Spring is finally in the air I’m getting into nesting mode, which means I need to take advantage of the organizing and purging mood I’m in. Stay tuned for April goals!

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Battling burnout

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had the motivation or will to write. Between travel, work, and mid-terms I’ve been depleted of any energy that requires me to use my brain if I don’t have to. In fact, I can sum up how I’ve felt over these past few weeks in two words: used up.

Knowing I need to take care of myself, I’ve been doing various activities to battle the burnout. I’ve made time for friends, hosted potluck dinners, worked out, and cooked. While my mood improved, it seemed to always be temporary and fleeting. I was starting to feel helpless and wanting to avoid a downward spiral I began doing some research. I came across this article on battling burnout and found it particularly intriguing to my situation.

What I found interesting about the article is that it relates burnout to the social and personal aspects of your life rather than just focusing on work. It breaks burnout into three dimensions: exhaustion, depersonalization, and inefficacy. While I don’t really feel disconnected, exhaustion and feelings of inefficacy – or reduced personal accomplishment – are certainly present. My biggest complaint over the past couple of weeks is that my to-do list is constantly growing. It doesn’t matter how much energy I exert in mind or body, I still don’t seem to have made a dent in what needs to be done. As soon as one thing gets crossed off, two more things get added to it and so on. I find it discouraging and in the end, I am less likely to even want to tackle what’s on my plate. So what does that mean for me? Well, I’ve become kind of snarky – a negative Nancy or complaining Connie as my friend tells me. And that’s definitely not okay with me.

Considering my third class ended this past Saturday, my school load will be a bit lighter which will help immensely (note to self: NEVER, ever take three classes again). Not having a weekend in the last two months dominated by school work has meant I haven’t had a lot of me time. So I spent this past weekend catching up on sleep and doing absolutely nothing. And it didn’t really help to be honest. Until I found an interesting passage in the New York Times which made me rethink my action plan: “Don’t assume you need calming down  when you really need some revving up.” While I’ve been exhausted, treating that exhaustion with sleep all weekend just contributed to my feelings of helplessness. And the more unproductive I felt, the more I got in an emotional ditch. So once again, it all seems to be a balancing act….

 

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A space for me

Feeling overly ambitious, I decided to tackle the big bedroom transformation project Friday night. While there is still a lot I want to do with the room, I’m feeling accomplished that the paint job is finished and that I even had a chance to put my creative skills to the test in my efforts to transform one corner of the room. While I’m not going to show the room as it is now (I don’t want to ruin the surprise once it all comes together) I will share bits and pieces as things unfold.

So, first step: painting. Let me just say I loathe, loathe painting but when the mood strikes I can get things done. I ended up using the same color of paint that I used when transforming the guest bedroom – a Bonsai gray. It’s probably my favorite color of all time for its mere transformational power. My room has always felt overly cramped not just because of my big furniture but also because of the room color – a dark mustard yellow. I actually really liked the mustard yellow but since my primary goal with this project is to make my personal space feel more open, I wanted to go for something airy and bright. From the first coat of paint, I instantly felt the room opening up.

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A small project I took on in addition to painting the room this weekend was a quick make-over of a mirror I’ve had for years. The silver and black went really well with the dark mustard yellow but it felt plain and boring against the light gray walls. Going for bright, cheerful accent colors to the gray backdrop I opted for a sunny yellow (which happens to go perfect with my other accent color, royal purple). This particular venture only took about 10 minutes, 1 hour of drying, and $3.22 in spray paint. A quick and cheap DIY project which turned out fantastic!

Before

Before

After

After

After a really hard couple of months, I wanted to take on a project that would serve to revitalize my sense of self. I want every inch of my bedroom to be something that inspires me, comforts me, or just brings a smile to my face in one way or another. Every time I walk by the room and see this bright sunny mirror hanging there, I smile. It brings joy to my personal space and I love that.

You’ll notice in the corner is a stack of books. Wanting to personalize this corner, I chose books that have changed my life or inspired me in some way. Among those is a travel guide to Guatemala (be adventurous); Eat, Pray, Love (be prepared for endless and riotous waves of transformation); and the Heart and the Fist (live a life of intention). There’s a few more in there, but they’re mostly placeholders till I can sift through my other books and add to the pile.

It’s turning out beautiful and I’m anxious to start in on the other projects. By the end of March, I don’t think I’m ever going to want to leave my room!

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March: well-being

After a tough February and what I know will be a trying March, I wanted to focus on my overall well-being this month – both emotionally and physically. Achieving overall well-being is an ongoing process (I mean, you are constantly at the whims of life) but I do know what good well-being feels like and I don’t feel like I’m entirely there right now. Knowing that though keeps me motivated to keep at the practice – which also happens to come at the start of a new month.

As you know, each month I set out actionable goals relative to my three intentions for the New Year. Below are the specific goals I’ve outlined for March and how they relate to each over-arching desire.

Find joy and fulfillment in creativity.

  • Read a new book. Every month I choose a new book to read. This month it’s Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs. I chose this particular book because it’s about the ultimate pursuit of health: a well-lived life. I found that fitting for my month of well-being and it comes highly recommended by Miss Liz.
  • Transform my bedroom into an inspirational haven. I carried this particular goal over from February as I still want to put my creative energy into creating a space that reflects the things I love, desire, and want in life. I want my room to be a source of inspiration to me so I’m hoping I can carve out more time to actually work on this project this month. And if I don’t – well, I’ll carry it over to the next month!

Give more love.

  • Write hand-written letters. I always enjoying getting mail and I know my friends do too. Considering I now have a pen pal and several other friends scattered across the states, I plan on sitting down and writing some old-fashioned hand-written letters. Not only does it get you back to basic communication, but hand-written notes seem more personal and heartfelt than a quick email to say hi so I’m really looking forward to writing these.
  • Host a holiday brunch. I usually aim to host a potluck dinner every month, but I want to switch it up this time and host a holiday brunch. In particular, St. Patrick’s Day is coming up and I’m dying to host a breakfast gathering where everything is GREEN. Not only is it cute, but it seems fun too. And I really love breakfast food.

Live a balanced life.

  • Meatless Mondays. I originally planned on doing a weekly health challenge but I really didn’t want to set myself up for failure considering everything I have going on this month. Instead, I opted to choose one aspect of the health challenge and incorporate that into my weekly health routine. Meatless Mondays sounded the most appealing not only because it means I get to try out new recipes in the kitchen but also for the many health benefits it brings. In particular, going meatless once a week can reduce your risk of cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and obesity. Given my fear of cardiovascular disease and cancer, I’m game.
  • Use a quiet day. While at some point I would love to try a meditation retreat, I can’t quite carve out the time this month so instead I plan on using a quiet day. Similar to my technology-free day, I’m looking forward to the solitude and quality reading/journaling time I’ll get.

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