10 Ways to Get Uncomfortable

I  love being comfortable. I like my yoga pants, thick socks, blankets, and heated seats in my car. I like comfort food: sweet creamy gelato, warm baked sweet potatoes with cinnamon, hot chicken soup, and my beloved overnight oats. I like my gym that feels like my 2nd home. I like going to a yoga studio and teacher that feels familiar and I don’t have to figure out where to put my jacket or what her teaching style will be.

I liked my comfortable job that I no longer have. I liked knowing that I was really good at it and didn’t have to prove myself anymore. I liked the paycheck and the predictability of my lifestyle. It was all very comfortable.

At some point, either willingly, or kicking and screaming, we will all be faced with stepping outside of our comfort zones. When this happens we can react  2 ways:

1. Freak out and panic

2. Embrace the change and grow.

There is a saying that goes like this:

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The magic sets in after #2 and it takes awhile, but it happens. This past year I’ve done things that have made me very uncomfortable and with each experience I am growing and learning what I’m capable of.

We  might find we actually can run more than 1 mile on the treadmill. We can make new friends in unexpected places, we can find new work that fulfills us in new ways, and we can learn to feel at home in a new gym or without a gym at all.

This week  try practicing deliberately  stepping outside of your comfort zone and see what magic you might find. Here are some easy ways to start:

-Take a new route on your way to or from work, be aware of your surroundings.

-Talk to someone new that you’ve never talked to before. Be the first to start the conversation.

-Sign-up for a 5k or a fitness event in a different neighborhood or community center.

-Attempt a new recipe from Pinterest you think looks exciting but wouldn’t normally try.

– Take a class in something you’ve never done that has no purpose other than pure joy. Mine would be ballet.

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-Wear something that makes you feel beautiful, even if you aren’t leaving the house.

-Change your sleeping habits. Go to bed earlier, or stay up later. Sleep in later on a weekend, get up earlier on a weekday.

-Take your spouse somewhere unexpected without telling them. Don’t blame me if this backfires, but it’s worth a shot.

– Try a new way of eating to see how your body responds.

-Read a book on an unfamiliar religion or spiritual practice.

The more you practice being uncomfortable, the less it will be.

 

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Ego: How to Locate, Stimulate, and Eradicate.

There is a lot of talk in yoga and spirituality about the ego, or ego-based thinking, and it can be confusing what it actually means. To me the ego is a lot like yoga, it has different meanings for everyone but there are some general characteristics. You can usually identify ego by the following assumptions:

Ego is based on superficial existence, tangible stuff, and the absence of connection. Ego demands immediate satisfaction and will go to any means to get it.

Ego insists on being right, being in control, and making fast decisions. Ego tells you to do a backbend in yoga class even though you’re tired and your shoulders hurt. Ego whispers to you to buy the car you can’t really afford because it will make you appear richer. Ego loves when you push yourself too far physically, emotionally, or mentally.

Ego will always suggest that you do things for the approval of others, not for yourself. Ego loves competition and will always insist on winning. Ego thrives on drama and will encourage it often.

Ego despises when we surrender to a higher power or the universe to take care of things.

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Ego cannot co-exist with: self-confidence, faith, healthy self-esteem, contentment, peace, willingness, and trust. The ego will retreat to a dark corner when faced with any of the above.

Ego says “I am what I buy, what I do, what I wear, what I make, what I look like, and who I am with”

Ego doesn’t like to hang around: humility, generosity, care, concern, surrender, grace, or acceptance.

Ego lives and feeds on: approval, attention, gossip, worry, division, hierarchy, status, labels, titles, adoration, action, noise, distraction, over-consumption, and denial.

Ego loves being underlined and made to feel important.

How to tell you when you are living from your ego: you are always tired, stressed, feel pulled in a million directions, resentful, worried, angry, fearful, jealous, manipulative, scattered, unfocused, cranky, pissed, lonely, disconnected, anxious, tight, tense, miserable, and competitive.

Being authentic and true to yourself means making decisions based on things other than the Ego. Like…your heart….and not worrying what others might think. Loving your life the way it is without trying to change it everyday. Being happy with who you are and not trying to change it everyday.

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Without Ego, life might start to be……. simple, pleasurable, easy, fun, open, exciting, enjoyable, quiet, still, flowing, magical, sweet, delicious, abundant, real, full, surprising, rich, fulfilling, meaningful, deep, quenching, satisfying, graceful, light, airy, and fluffy.

How to Make a Vision Board

There is a theory that what we focus on is what creates our reality: that we energetically draw to us anything that is in alignment with what we feel and think. There are MANY books to read on The Law of Attraction and I find it fascinating and empowering. People have been studying and living by this law for centuries. But what does it mean in our modern, everyday, busy lives?

It means being positive, optimistic, and reaching for what you want in life. It means setting intentions and keeping your mental focus on those intentions. It means aligning your energy, your mood, your spirit, with that which you seek in every way possible.

One of the best tools for this is visualization. Keeping our dreams and hopes in full view can be a huge help in manifesting our dreams. I’ve been making vision boards for a few years now and I find the process is always uplifting and helps to sharpen my goals and clarify my intentions.

Here is what you’ll need to create your Vision Board:

-Old magazines- all kinds, don’t just go for the ones you always read.

-Scissors

-Removeable Glue Dots (available at Michael’s or craft stores)

-Thick poster board

-Your Imagination!

I start clipping days before I am ready. It takes my mind time to let go of inhibitions, doubts, and other distractions in order to be really freely creative.

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Clip EVERYTHING that catches your eye, you can go back and sort through them later. Don’t over-think it- if you like it- Clip it!

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Once you’ve gathered a good messy pile of clippings begin placing them on your poster board in any order that is pleasing to you. You can categorize things, or just go by what feels good or looks good. Chances are they will take on some type of order without your help….

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This is the fun part when your aspirations really begin to come into view and you are able to move things around depending on how it feels. Feeling is a big part of creating a vision board.

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Use pictures as well as words that inspire or motivate you

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The removable glue dots can be placed on the back of the photo and allows you to move them around rather than sticking like glue.

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After I’ve assembled everything I will let it sit for a day or two and go back to look at it. I might shift things here or there or add or remove an image. I always somehow “know” when it’s done!

It’s so interesting to see how my boards have changed over the years. They are like visual journals.

vision board

Once you’re happy with your vision board be sure to put it somewhere you will see it everyday, that’s how the “magic” works! Most importantly, it should make you feel AMAZING and EXCITED when you look at it. That energy is what creates the movement of those things into your life.

Snack Like a Boss

I am big fan of snacking. I sometimes create whole meals out of snacks. Truthfully, I think snack is a useless word. If you’re going to eat; eat, right? The food industry has created an entire market around “snack items” which I think is total bull****

The highly processed, sugar-laden, refined carbohydrates that they stuff in a colorful can or a bag and call “snack packs” are about as filling and nutritious as a foam peanut.  And yes, that includes packaged granola bars which are basically candy bars with fancy names.  I feel strongly about being tricked into buying small-sized items out of convenience that majorly lack nutritional value. ESPECIALLY because most snack items are marketed directly at kids.

Take charge and make up your own snacking rules! Slice and chop up some fresh fruit and veggies and store in the fridge for the week. Make them easily accessible by storing in clear containers in the front of the shelves. Use hummus, pesto, yogurt and nut butters as kid friendly dips. Try food items you wouldn’t normally consider snacks; 1/2 cold baked sweet potato, green smoothies, overnight oats, a pita stuffed with hummus and sprouts.

I made a meal out of this rice cake snack the other night by topping with hummus, cottage cheese, sliced avocado and a sprinkling of seasonings.

high protein rice cake snack

I know what you’re saying “Carole-Ann, rice cakes taste like foam peanuts,  they have no flavor, they are awful, blah blah blah” I hear your complaints, but does THIS look awful? Naturally salty, crunchy peanut butter topped with golden raw local honey oozing over the sides?

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Maybe you have to use your imagination and work a little harder to make rice cakes interesting but they are a great canvas for snack art.

I also love using whole wheat tortillas for quick small meals. I cut into half and fold into quarters. I packed this one to take to work with peanut butter, thinly sliced apples, and cinnamon.

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It folds up neatly and is easy to eat without being too messy, unlike the honey dripped rice cake.

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Be creative- add raisins, nuts, sunflower seeds, sliced bananas, almond butter, etc.

My other favorite snack is baby carrots- either plain or dipped in hummus or pesto. My dogs love them too!

homemade pesto

Make your own “instant oatmeal” by packing whole oats, cinnamon, nuts, raisins, etc. into individual containers and take one out when you need some healthy carbs.  Here is a jar of overnight oats I prepared for a client. All she had to do was add almond milk and honey and refrigerate overnight.

overnight oatsEat when you’re hungry, forget about the correct “meal time” and feed your body what it needs. Don’t let yourself get famished between meals in the name of “no snacking”- that is counter productive to maintaining a healthy metabolism. But for the love of real food- please stay away from vending machines. Save your money and carry your own!

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

How many times have you set a goal and within a short period of time forgotten about it? Or worse yet, get frustrated over lack of success and give up? New Year’s resolutions, diets, and contests with ourselves are sometimes the least the effective way to meet a particular goal. We set goals that may seem do-able at the beginning when we are motivated in some way, but then real life sets in and the challenge to meet those lofty goals becomes too much.

I have learned a great way to set goals for myself. It makes them manageable and it holds me accountable for each small step so that I’m not flailing about with no direction. S.M.A.R.T is the acronym for this goal setting technique and it works for anything you might want to achieve.

Smart-Goals

Here’s how to make sure your goal is S.M.A.R.T

S- Is it Specific? Don’t just say “I will eat healthier from now on” instead try “I will eat one less serving of meat a week” that way you have a specific project in mind.

M- Is it Measurable? We won’t know if we’ve met our goal unless we have a way to measure it. “I will eat 1 less serving of meat this week” is measurable. We know at the end of 1 week if we’ve accomplished it or not.  Same goes for weight loss, weight gain, work-out progress, or saving $$.

A- Is it Attainable? Can you do this particular thing in the amount of time you’ve given yourself? Do you really WANT it? This is an important question to ask yourself. Make sure the goals you set are things that can actually be attained by you and more importantly, that you desire them. I mean, do I REALLY want to live on an island, eat fresh pineapple, and do yoga all day on the beach? Yes!

R- Is it Realistic or Relevant? Be really honest with yourself when you look at this aspect. Will you ever be a size 6? Do you want to be? Maybe your body isn’t built to be “thin” so don’t make that your goal, instead make optimal health your goal. Keep things real and be fair to yourself by being honest with your capabilities.

T- Is there a Timeline? Did you set a realistic amount of time to reach your goal? Do you have short term and long term goals? Goals can change daily, weekly, and monthly. Keep track of your progress by recording your progress. Remember, this is a process.

Lastly, Keep a Goal journal and write them down often. The act of writing makes things more “real” and perhaps will spark even more motivation or ideas for other goals. It is also nice to look back at goals you’ve accomplished and allow yourself to feel proud.

Give it a Rest

“In the coming week, you are completely excused from having to change
anything about yourself or your life. Stay exactly the same! Be frozen in
time. Resist the urge to tinker. Take a vacation from life’s relentless
command to evolve”

This was my weekly horoscope message from Rob Brezney’s Freewill Astrology.

I don’t live by astrology, but Rob Brezney is an awesome writer so I enjoy his weekly tidbits of wisdom. I particularly love this one because for some reason when we get permission from other’s to “rest and take it easy” it makes it easier for us to do so. Why is that? Why do we need the approval of others in order to slow down and not try so hard? Brezney must know that Capricorns are notorious for being overly ambitious; after all, we are mountain goats that want to CLIMB and we love a challenge. So the thought of a week of staying the same and not tinkering sounds scary, yet divine.  Even though our  New Year’s Resolutions are only a month old, maybe a short time away from them is just what we need right about now. For some of us, this might mean taking a physical break and resting our bodies. For others, it might mean a mental vacation from all of our planning and goal setting.

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A lot can happen when we stop pushing and trying so hard. Think about baking a cake: After you’ve assembled all of the ingredients, poured the batter into the right pan, set the oven to the correct temperature,  you put it in and leave it alone right? You don’t DO anything. You let the oven’s heat and the batter do it’s thing and become a beautiful cake.  The same goes for planting seeds and bulbs. Once we’ve planted, watered,  and supplied the proper sunlight, we step back and do NOTHING. We leave it alone to transform without our help. In fact, we can damage both the cake and the seedling if we intrude on their process.

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This week I will try to implement this mentality into my daily life. I will not tinker. I will stay the same. I will stop any inclination to change anything about myself or my life as it is right now.  I will let the cake bake, the seeds sprout and my process  unfold naturally.

My Morning Glories from seed

My Morning Glories from seed

Cilantro Ginger Scallops with Broccoli Slaw

When I live near the beach, I will eat seafood every day. I will walk barefoot in the sand along the waters edge to the harbor where the boats come in with their daily catch. I will choose the freshest of the catches and buy it directly from the brawny, bearded fisherman who is proudly holding up his net, heavy with treasure. As the sun sets, I will return to my beach cottage and lovingly prepare my scallops as the fisherman gazes longingly….Ok that went too far. Seriously, I love fresh seafood but for now I am land-locked and must rely on shipped or frozen items.

Sea scallops are larger than bay scallops and, to me, more tender and succulent.  This recipe turned into a light, yet filling, flavorful dish that looks impressive and is super easy to prepare!

First I thawed the frozen scallops in cold water

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I made a marinade starting with chopped garlic and fresh cilantro-

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I added chopped fresh ginger, scallion, sesame oil, splash of white wine vinegar, and fresh lemon and lime juice.

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I sprinkled liberally with cumin and a dash of red pepper flakes

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I let this sit for about an hour as the scallops continued to thaw while soaking up the acidic juices and absorbing the flavors

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After removing from the marinade, I cooked them in a skillet over high heat just until opaque and firm. I like my edges to be a little golden so I made sure there was enough oil in the pan to sear the outsides.

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The slaw was simple. Most produce sections carry Broccoli Slaw already shredded and rinsed so I just tossed it into a pan of sesame oil, garlic and onions.

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I drizzled a little of the marinade in for flavor and threw in some raw cashews after it cooked. I also tossed in some fresh spinach leaves.

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I served scallops on top of stir fried slaw- no need for any condiments or salt. Fancy and light!

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