Reflection

Thoughts on the Weekend

Ah, another weekend is upon us. Like the end of every week, I can’t wait until Friday at 5 pm. There is something about having two days where I don’t have to set an alarm, make my lunch, and rush out the door that excites me. If you are like me and are always running 15 minutes late in the morning, you need to check out this article about the seven habits of punctual women (I’ve only adopted two of them, so I have some work to do).

For me, this weekend is all about getting back into shape (we’ll see how my back feels about that!). I plan to return to kickboxing for the first time in almost a month. After that, I will probably be unable to do much of anything…except relax.

Here’s hoping you have a restful weekend!

Sunrise

{Rise and Shine!}

Spring

{More signs of spring}

Can't Adult Today

{Target, you know me so well}

Flowers

{A perfect flower}

Getting in Shape: My Kickboxing-versary

Kickboxing

Thanks to Facebook, I will never forget a memory — or in this case, my kickboxing-versary. That’s right. It has been a year since I took up kickboxing. As a former equestrian, with no prior martial arts experience, I never thought I would enjoy kickboxing as much as I have. The class has challenged me both mentally and physically — and the results speak for themselves.

The workout: In one word — intense. Even though I have been taking the class on a weekly basis, there are still some days when the workout just wipes me out. The warmup consists of either indoor running or shadow boxing, push-ups, and jumping jacks. By the time I get through the warmup, I’ve already gone through half of my water! Next, it’s time for some actual kickboxing — usually with a sequence of punches (jab, cross, hook, and uppercut) and then kicks (front kick, side kick, and roundhouse). And just when you think you’re done, it’s time to partner up for some relay sprints, sit-ups, and of course, more push-ups.

The benefits: I couldn’t do a single push-up when I started the class. Now, even though I hate them with a passion, I can get through a few sets of push-ups (before I need to cheat and drop to my knees). I’ve noticed a significant improvement in my overall stamina as well. I used to have to take frequent breaks between exercises, but now I can make it though the hour class without them. And my muscles are no longer sore for days afterwards. Last week, I attended two kickboxing classes. A first for me!

Kickboxing Results

The results: I love taking my weekly Saturday morning selfie. But more than having an Instagram-worthy image to post, it’s helped me document my progress. My biceps are much stronger than they’ve ever been. And now that it is almost time to hit the beach, I am really proud of how far my abs and core have come.

The takeaway: Trying a new workout can be intimidating. There have been plenty of times during the year that I’ve wanted to quit (and some months where I was less disciplined than others). But by sticking with this workout, I’ve tested my body and my mind. While I don’t always love waking up early on a Saturday morning, having a workout buddy has made it more enjoyable (thanks, Fran!). So, if there’s a workout you’ve been wanting to try, I say go for it. And bring a friend along. It just might become what you look forward to all week long!

Have you tried any new workouts recently?

Do What Makes You Happy

Do More of What Makes You Happy

I’ve been thinking a lot about what makes me happy, both personally and professionally. The above photo is from a small jewelry dish that I picked up in a boutique in San Francisco last month. Its message resonated with me, and the cheerful colors put a smile on my face. Ever since I got home, this dish has had a permanent spot on my desk, and the phrase in my mind. How often do you think about what truly makes you happy? And how often do you do things that counteract this goal?

One thing that brings me happiness is my (almost!) daily stop at Starbucks. You probably have your favorite morning rituals — and, perhaps, a morning beverage that helps you start your day off right. For me, that drink is a tall White Chocolate Mocha, which I have been ordering for longer than I would like to admit. Recently, the indulgence has extended and the coffee must be accompanied by a bacon, egg and Gouda breakfast sandwich. Now, I realize spending $8.04 a day (yikes!) on breakfast may sound excessive to you. And, Suze Orman, if you happen to be reading, I know you would give me a “smackdown” and deny me so fast!

Let me explain. I am fully aware that my Starbucks habit is an indulgence…and I would save a lot of money if I made coffee at home — or stopped at a cheaper place. But my morning visit to Starbucks, and drinking my cup of deliciousness on the way to work, make me happy. Sure, there are days where I settle for making an iced coffee at home, or skip caffeine altogether. Then there are the days that the struggle to get out of bed is all too real and the thought of my morning coffee is just what I need to help my cause. There have also been times in my life where I have kicked the habit and gone months, even years, without a single stop at Starbucks.

In keeping with the theme of this post, I’d like to stress the importance of finding what makes you happy. It may not be a sugary beverage, but whatever it is, enjoy it…be true to it, and to yourself, because at the end of the day, life is short — so go ahead and order the Starbucks!

Happy Monday!

Life Lessons From My D.C. Days

American University - 2009 Graduation

I am excited to be visiting Washington, D.C. and to be back at my alma mater, American University today. It has been three years since I have been on campus, and six years this month since I graduated. Sometimes I’m struck by how much time has gone by since taking the stage that May day in 2009 and accepting my diploma, and other times it has felt like just yesterday I was packing up my first apartment and closing the chapter on my college years. Either way time has passed and a lot has happened in my life. I remember entering college as an equestrian, concerned with how I would juggle my schoolwork and my riding. Then two years later, having to adapt to leaving Long Island and making new friends as I transferred to American. And finally, transitioning into the real world as a college graduate and landing my first job.

Fast-forward six years and I am not the lawyer I thought I would be, or the girl with the masters degree teaching political science classes. It has taken me six years to realize who I am and who I am still becoming. Some lessons have come to me through setbacks with my health and in losing a good friend, while others have been a more natural progression. I am grateful for what time has taught me…things I could never have learned in the classroom. Today, as I reflect on those four wonderful years, and where I stand at the six-year mark, I thought I would share some of the lessons I’ve learned so far on my journey.

Be kinder than necessary…for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle. As someone left with an invisible illness after thyroid cancer (that would be you, hypothyroidism!), I know firsthand how hard some days can be for me. I endure a consistent state of exhaustion, and while my day must go on, it’s the little things that people do or say that I remember most. The sweet text from a colleague inquiring as to whether I would like Starbucks, the phone call from a friend that I’ve lost touch with, or just an acquaintance asking how I am feeling. Taking a few seconds each day to check in with the people around you can make a difference in someone’s day.

This too shall pass. Nothing is really permanent and change can be lurking just around the corner. So on those days where you answer one email and ten come to its funeral (almost everyday, for me), you find yourself running between meetings instead of outside, and breakfast and dinner meals are one-in-the-same, take a deep breath and remind yourself that soon the craziness will end and it will be a distant memory.

Say what you mean…and mean what you say. How often have you wanted to say something to a friend or co-worker, but let the moment pass? This happens to me often where I feel I should’ve offered someone a “congratulations,” or let them know how much I appreciate all they do. Don’t put off telling someone how you feel, and when you do, make sure it is sincere.

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life is too short to worry about petty things that won’t matter in five years, and the things that are out of your control. Do the best you can every day, believe in yourself and don’t worry if you make a mistake. You will learn as you go on that setbacks are not the end of the world. They will help you realize that it either wasn’t the right time or a better opportunity will present itself…if you let it.

Illegitimi non carborundum. My good friend who passed away used to remind me of this saying all the time. It’s a mock-Latin phrase which loosely translates to mean “don’t let the bastards grind you down.” I always took it as worry about yourself, stand in your truth and don’t let negative influences interfere. Whenever a situation stresses me out, I always think of her and smile, as I repeat this phrase in my head. I swear, it gives you inner strength!

To all of the 2015 graduates, congratulations on your milestone and best of luck in your future endeavors. Don’t forget to enjoy your graduation day and keep in touch with the people that made your four-year journey rewarding!

Cherishing Change

Cherishing Change

In case you couldn’t detect this, I am very excited about my trip to California. Not only will the weather be much warmer (LA is 90 degrees at the moment – insert happy face!), but I am looking forward to a change of scenery.

Since graduating college almost six years ago, and taking on a whole slew of responsibilities related to adulthood, I have found myself with less time for, well, myself! There were things out of my control that happened (ahem, thyroid cancer), roles I’ve happily assumed (taking care of my grandmother), and let’s not forget that pesky thing called a 40-hour workweek. Long gone are the leisurely weekend mornings, countless hours spent down at the barn and lazy days in the sun. Some things I knew I would need to forgo as I got older, while others make me wonder why I stayed away so long.

This trip marks my first post-thyroid cancer, and while it is a chance to explore and sightsee, it is also one to reflect and leave all the things that no longer serve me at home. It is an opportunity to focus on myself, where I am going and where I want to be. And for that, I am grateful and excited.

On this little adventure, getaway, sojourn – whatever you want to call it – I am looking forward to hiking in the great outdoors at Runyon Canyon (and maybe squeezing in an early morning yoga class in the park), touring Alcatraz, biking across the Golden Gate Bridge and with any luck, making it to Big Sur. Although time will be at a premium, I want to use as much of it as I can to just soak it all in.

The last few years have been ones filled with changes for me – some have been positive, while others I have learned from. Change is inevitable. It is an important aspect of growth, but sometimes it is just as imperative to stop…reflect…explore…and regroup.

Learning to Live in the Moment

Learning to Live in the Moment

After doing a little self-reflection this past week, I gave some thought about what it really means to live in the moment. I fully admit that I am not an expert on the subject, but certain circumstances in my life have forced me to reevaluate this concept.

As you may know, when I started this blog I had just undergone a thyroidectomy and spent a considerable amount of time doing research on thyroid cancer and learning to live without a thyroid. When I was first diagnosed I was overcome with a rush of emotions, many of which revolved around fear. Most of my fears were about things that were either out of my control, or may not even happen. It was after my recovery period that I decided from that time on I would live in the moment…and not dwell on the future.

With that said, here are some of my thoughts on being more present in your life:

1. Be open to new opportunities: I am not a gregarious person by nature, nor am I someone who is comfortable with change (things I am trying to work on!), but part of getting where you want to be in life is being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes when you are too focused on the end result, you miss all the steps it takes to get there. This is something I have been guilty of. Pay attention to the options and the people around you. You will eventually get where you need to be if you have an open and engaged mind.

2. Check in with your feelings: If you are feeling a certain way about something, write it down, or talk to a friend. Just the simple act of acknowledging your emotions can help you move forward.

3. Be spontaneous: Living in the moment involves being present in the here and now. Always wanted to take a mid-week yoga class? Then go do it! Want to travel, but don’t have people to go with you? Make plans for a solo trip. There is no better time to do something you want to do than right now.

4. Focus on yourself: This may sound selfish, but I think self-improvement and learning about yourself is important for all aspects of your life, from your career to relationships. Trying different hobbies, learning a new skill (I took a class in HTML), or just taking some time to do whatever you like each week can have a positive impact on your happiness and productivity.

5. Seek positivity: Yet another thing I am working on, but training yourself to think positively and see the good in a situation is a great way to live in the moment. During my thyroid cancer diagnosis there were days where it was harder than others to be positive and optimistic. But in reality, where did those negative thoughts get me? Yoga (and my wonderful yoga teacher!) have definitely helped me embrace a positive mindset and allowed me to release negative thoughts that no longer serve me. I think surrounding yourself with positive, upbeat people is a great way to improve your own outlook…and yourself!

How do you embrace living in the moment? Feel free to share your tips in the comments below.

Reviewing Resolutions

Blizzard Butter - Peanut Butter

{Trying New Peanut Butter in the New Year}

Are you all enjoying the cold weather and snow we have been graced with this week? I’m jealous if you live in warmer climates. This is my first week at work after a nice break (Happy Wednesday!). And while it has been a bit rough setting the alarm each morning, it feels good to get back into a routine.

Since we are almost a full week into the New Year, I thought I would reflect on those resolutions I made. If you remember, one of my goals for the New Year was to eat better. Recently, I met a friend for dinner and was discussing my healthy eating resolution with her, when she noted one fatal flaw in its execution. That I lacked an actual plan. As in, how was I going to eat better? What recipes was I going to try? Perhaps the reason why this goal had failed so many times before was not that I didn’t have the willpower to control my sweet tooth, but rather I had no set agenda. Fortunately, after a brief Internet search, I found a plan to get and keep me on track. Insert Blue Apron. I’m not sure why I never considered a service like this before, where healthy meals and recipes could be delivered right to my door, and all I needed to do was prepare them. I think this is a great way to learn recipes, try new dishes and take the guesswork out of the dreaded question, what’s for dinner? I am happy to report that on my latest Trader Joe’s run I managed to emerge from the store without buying a single sweet item. We are making progress, people!

Next on my list was to return to the gym and my beloved yoga classes. This goal seems to be off to a good start. I began my week with a yoga class, and, although not in my initial resolution, I went ice skating. Tonight I will be trying my first SoulCycle class (wish me luck!).

Since I am a person who typically avoids New Year’s resolutions, I am glad that mine have lasted longer than 24 hours. And with the right plans in place, I think they are two goals I can accomplish!

Have you tried Blue Apron? How do you stay on track when it comes to healthy eating? If you made resolutions this year, how are they going?