Monday, March 5, 2018

This week's Thought: March 5, 2018

This weekend as I made sure L and Waverly were happy and felt safe, loved and cared for, I realized that the things that I had wanted to get do over the weekend (like getting a pedicure, cleaning my side of the closet, trying the new cafe in our town) never got done. Instead, I was so busy making sure all of the house chores were done, bills paid and my family taken care of, that my happiness came way down the list of things that were important to me. When I finally fell into bed last night, I was happy that my family was happy but I also realized that it had been a long time since I had done something for myself  so that I didn't feel like I was just someone's wife and someone's mother.

Like the proverbial putting on your own oxygen mask before helping others, I realized that in order to have something to give, that I needed to take care of myself so that I have something to give to those that I love. If you are responsible for the happiness and wellbeing of others (your partner, kids, aging parents, pets. . .) or you have a job that takes up much of your life, you know this feeling of feeling depleted. I know when I feel like that it comes out as frustration and crabbiness. The thing is, that you matter just as much as those you love.

As I go forward this week, I'm going to keep this in mind and try to be kind to myself. If the house isn't immaculate, we will all survive. If dinner isn't 100% homemade, we will be fine. I'm going to make some time to schedule that pedicure. It's amazing what just 45 minutes of someone else caring for you, can do for your soul.

I hope that whatever your week looks like, that you remember how important self-love is and that you can be kind to yourself. If you've put off your morning runs because you need to make breakfast for your family, put out a note and a box of oatmeal or muffins. Take the morning commute for yourself, listen to an audiobook that you have put off because you didn't have time, drink the tea that makes you happy and tell yourself that you are going to have a wonderful week, because you are.

Monday, February 26, 2018

10 easy ways to start a happy day

Take the anxiety out of what you are wearing by choosing your clothes the night before. You'll save yourself time and you'll know that what you want to wear is clean and problem free (no wrinkles or buttons missing.)

When I worked at Microsoft, I checked my email obsessively. Emails would come in at 10pm and I would feel compelled to answer. That has stuck with me. I also had a habit of checking my social media feeds as the last thing I did before I closed my eyes, in the middle of the night if I couldn't sleep and the first thing I did when I opened my eyes. I realized this wasn't healthy and often caused me anxiety. Now, I leave my phone charging on my desk in my office. I only reach for it again after breakfast.
I am by nature a very organized person. I like things put away at night before I go to sleep. I also like having my bed made every morning. It makes me feel like I at lest accomplished one thing. It also makes me happy that at the end of the day, I have a bed that is inviting to climb into. If you need more encouragement, watch this University of Texas, Austin commencement speech by Navy Seal Admiral McRaven as he explains why it's important to start every day with your bed made.

One of the things that helped me when I was depressed was to think of five things I was grateful for. I did this even before I got out of bed and I said them out loud. Some days I had to dig deep and they were simple. "I am grateful for this sunny day. I am grateful for this little dog who sleeps on my head at night. .  ." Some days were amazing "I am grateful that I at Walt Disney World today working! I am grateful that I have lost 80 pounds! I am grateful that I found my keys! I am grateful that we are having a baby!" However bad your day might seem, there will always be five things to be grateful for, even if it's just as simple as "I am grateful that I slept well." A grateful heart is a good way to start the day off on a positive path.

Typically, I started my day with an enormous mug of coffee with the fake (full fat, chemicals, oil and sugar) coconut flavored creamer. I usually didn't eat anything else. If I did, it was to grab a fast food egg and cheese biscuit and hash browns. No wonder then, that I was always hungry. My body started the day fueled on sugar, fat and chemicals.  I am ashamed to admit this was still a habit as recent as last month. As I started my new fitness program, however, I started my day with a mug of hot water with fresh squeezed lime juice. I am crazy about limes so I add lime juice to pretty  much everything but you can also add lemon juice. Just don't use the lime or lemon juice that comes in a squeezable plastic fruit. I find that I feel "cleaner" if I begin my day with this. Later, I make a coffee to go with no sugar and no chemicals, but with a coconut superfood powder.

If you want to stay full and feel good, start your day with protein. I find that when I have a carb heavy breakfast, I want more carbs and sugar. I just can't have toast or pancakes in the morning, even if they are so-called healthy. If I have time, I'll make an omelet with goat cheese, mushrooms, chopped tomato and fresh basil.  If I'm short on time, I'll make a protein shake with blackberries or grab one of my raw protein bars that I pre-made and store in the freezer.

I am goal-oriented. I like making lists and checking things off. It helps me to feel organized and happy.  If you find yourself waking up with thoughts swirling in your head of all the things that you have to do today, make a list. If you must accomplish all of those things on that day, go ahead and include them all. However, if all of them aren't absolutely necessary, don't overwhelm yourself by making your list too ambitious.  Write down three things that you know you can accomplish. They can be big or small. It's up to you. For example, my list today is 1. ) Prepare our taxes for our accountant 2.) Take a 1 mile walk with Waverly. (Note: great workout for me with all of the hills here and the baby loves being outside) 3.) Pick up ingredients at Trader Joe's for dinners the rest of the week. If I get these three things done, it will make me happy. Anything else is a bonus.

There is someone in your life who needs a pick-me-up today. Normally, I would say call them but sometimes. all someone needs to hear is a positive note. Plus, by texting or emailing, they can refer to  it again and again during the day if they need to. It can be as simple as "I hope you're having a wonderful day! I miss you!" or "Good luck today with your test! You're going to do great!" or "Did I ever tell you how amazing I think you are?! Go be awesome today!" That could be exactly what someone needs to hear to start their day off.  Doing something to make someone else happy is a pretty good way to make someone else happy too.

I used to have a habit of waking up, checking my social media feeds, drinking 260 calorie coffee, showering and hopping in the car for a junk food breakfast. No wonder my body felt sluggish and tight. Now, after I drink my hot water with lime, I make it a point to stretch and do a five minute mini-workout with weights. I have 3, 5 and 8 pound weights and a kettlebell. I do bicep curls, dumbbell rows, lunges and a one-minute plank. Get the blood moving in your body and you'll feel like you did something really good for your body. Need some weights guidance? Try this brief workout from Self Magazine. 

Music is a mood changer and can set the tone for your day. We have music playing all the time, and it makes our home and office spaces happy. Some days it's Coffehouse music from SiruisXM and sometimes it's our own playlists but the music is always a background to whatever is happening in our day. We have a speaker in our bathroom and when I hop in the shower, I turn on my morning playlist which includes all of my happy songs that help put me in the right frame of mind. For me, the one song that will always make me happy is "Summer Wind" by Frank Sinatra. This song always makes me think of warm, happy summer days at the beach with the scent of Coppertone in the air. Hearing this song just resets my mood. Maybe your song is "Stronger" by Kelly Clarkson or "I Will Survive" by Gloria Gaynor. Whether it's singing along to 'Happy" by Pharrell Williams or belting out "Let it Go" with your kids in the car, you're setting yourself up for one incredible, amazing, happy day!

Do you have a surefire way that helps you have a happy day? I'd love to hear it!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Happygirl Essentials: The Yeti Tumbler

I have this habit of making a coffee and sipping on it all day. Sometimes, I'll microwave it for 30 seconds and sometimes I'll just drink it cold.  I'm just not the kind of person to chug down a mug of coffee. For me, it's a languid thing. I sip and I work. Coffee or orange-flavored tea is comforting. When I drive, I like to have a coffee with me, as well. This must be a carry over from when I lived in Massachusetts and it was basically an unofficial rule that you had to drink Dunkin' Donuts if you were driving.

In the past, I've tried the supermarket hot drink tumblers and even the ones from the coffee shops but still I hadn't found one that kept my drinks hot. Within an hour, my tumbler drink was mildly warm.

So, when I was in Whole Foods last week, I saw this Yeti mug and I knew that this was going to be exactly what would be the answer to my non-intentional cold coffee. Yes, the price ($34.99) is steep, but the Yeti will keep your hot drinks hot and cold drinks cold for at least 5-6 hours. (I bought the Rambler 30 ounce Tumbler in seafoam. Available at

On Monday, I made a coffee at 8:15am and by 2pm it was still hot, not piping hot, but definitely pleasantly warm. Yesterday, I made an iced water with fresh squeezed lime juice at 7am and it was still cold (with ice!) by 4pm.  The 18/8 stainless steel tumblers are puncture and rust resistant as well as dishwasher safe.

I love The Yeti Ranbler. It lives up to it's hype and it's an essential.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

This Week's Thought: February 19, 2018

I remember a girl I went to college with. She was gorgeous. Supermodel gorgeous. Just the kind of girl that you can't help but stare at.  She was confident, stunning, fit and she'd stride across the campus like it was her runway.  The first time I saw her, I thought "I want to be exactly like her." I was never very confident.  I always doubted myself. I had (have) body issues and I admired those who felt comfortable in their own skin.   I envied her.  I wanted so much to be like her.

Then one day, I was behind her in the campus bookstore. She was laying into the cashier because the sweatshirt she wanted was sold out. She was so obnoxious in her tirade that everyone standing around her was uncomfortable. She finally called him an "a**hole" and left the store. When she was gone, it was like a gush of cool air blew in. This was just the first episode. Throughout the semesters, I saw her cut people off in the parking lot when she wanted one of the coveted few spaces close to the dorm. She was infamous for leaving her trays on the tables in the dining hall.  She would park her things on a chair next to her in a crowded classroom. Then I noticed it. 

She was usually alone. This gorgeous girl who looked like the prom queen was as mean as a hornet. Her intolerable attitude to anyone she considered less than her was ugly and this reflected in her.  I thought maybe she just didn't have the right friends in her life. Naively I thought maybe she just needed a friend who was kind to her so she would then be kind to others. I don't know what I was thinking. We had a class together and I asked her to grab coffee one day. She agreed. The next day, we met  at the coffee shop and worked on our upcoming assignment. It was going well and I thought "She isn't so bad. Maybe we all just misunderstand her." 

Then she took a sip of coffee,  smiled, looked me dead in the eye and said "You know, Taylor, if you just lost fifty pounds, you could get any guy you wanted. Seriously. How did you let that happen?" I felt  the sting. My face flushed and it took everything I had to not cry. I knew I had a weight issue. It was something I had been ashamed of and battled since I was a teenager.  It was the last line that hurt the most 'How did you let that happen?" Even thinking about this now, I feel my face get hot. Even now, the humiliation of that moment makes me want to tear up. I wanted to say so many things to her but instead I said "Excuse me." I gathered up my books and left. I walked to the chapel, sat in a pew and cried. It was not one my favorite moments from college. It breaks my heart when I think of how I let someone else's unkindness hurt me. 

I knew I had a problem. After seeing therapists and nutritionists and trainers and doctors, I know what the underlying reasons are and I am working on it. I promise you that if someone has an issue, they know it. To put a spotlight on it, to hurt someone by shaming them is about as unkind as it gets.  

The next day when I saw her in class, she wouldn't make eye contact with me. I didn't exist to her. My feelings were hurt but then I realized that my weight issue can fixed. I had friends around me who loved me and a life that made me happy. I didn't tell anyone about what she said, how she hurt me. Words can hurt. They can deliver just as severe a blow as a slap across the face.  For the next few weeks, other than class, I stayed in. I didn't want to see any of my friends. I felt embarrassed. I starved myself. Finally, my roommate and my friends pulled me out of that bad place. They didn't know what was wrong but they weren't going to let me wallow.  With their friendship, their kindness, I came out of that protective shell I built around myself. My friends with their kind hearts were the most beautiful souls. 

Later, on a beautiful day in May, at commencement, as I was surrounded by my family and friends, in the middle of an all encompassing hug from my grandmother, I saw her. The girl stood alone with her family who were standing off to the side. In a sea of other graduates with their families and friends, this girl could not have looked more miserable. In that moment I felt sorry for her.  I hoped that kindness would find its way into her heart. I could only imagine how beautiful that would be.
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