I’ve had a busy six weeks and blogging got away from me! I’m back now, though, and hopefully I won’t be away that long again. You know how it is when there’s something you want to get to, but there always seems to be one more thing you need to do before you can get there? That has been me. I kept meaning to get back to the blog, but one more thing kept arising that kept me from it.
But while I was away, I still thought about the blog a lot, and I thought about some topics I wanted to cover. One topic that I think I haven’t touched on much that definitely adds to your quality of life is PLAY!
We all know the importance of physical activity, and there are efforts like the NFL’s Play 60, which is a campaign to encourage kids to be active for at least 60 minutes per day. But what about play activities that aren’t necessarily active, but simply give you pure joy? They’re just as important.
When you spend time doing things you enjoy, it improves your quality of life. Engaging in play activities also lowers your stress level, increases your ability to deal with stress, boosts your optimism and immune system, and makes you happier!
So what can you do for play if you want some down time and don’t necessarily want to spend your playtime doing high-energy physical activity? The possibilities are endless. Think back to what you enjoyed doing as a kid. What was your thing? A musical instrument? Board games? Playing with dolls? Having a tea party?
Or maybe you have cultivated new interests as an adult – you might enjoy crossword puzzles, video gaming, or making funny videos of your pets. There are all sorts of things you can do to play. Brainstorm ideas by taking just a minute to think about what relaxes you and what gives you joy. Where those two things intersect is probably where you will find some great play ideas.
You may want to integrate your play time with your family time. This is a great way to spend some time together, learn what interests your kids, and maybe even let them teach you something new.
But if your idea of a good time is playing by yourself, that’s good too. Here’s how I’ve been spending my play time lately:
I bought this puzzle on a whim after seeing a gorgeous wood puzzle at an art fair. My husband has joined in the puzzling too, and there have been a couple of occasions where we were on our way out the door, got sidetracked by the puzzle, and missed out completely on getting to our destination! It’s time well spent together, though, so I don’t mind.
My Just For Today challenge for you is to spend a little time playing. That might be something active or not, it might be with someone else or alone, it might be for 15 minutes or an hour. Maybe even replace those couple hours you usually spend in front of the TV and use it for something that is truly enjoyable to you instead.
Regardless of what you choose to do, spend a little time playing and pay attention to how you feel when you’re doing it. That feeling alone will probably be enough to make sure your Just For Today becomes a regular habit. Have fun!
In yesterday’s article, Stress Relief: Are You Living The Right Life For You?, I wrote about the importance of making choices in your life that will create the best life for you, even if it is contrary to what you thought you wanted or what other people think you should do.
And today, I’m still thinking about that! The Kansas International Film Festival is coming up next month, and they will be showing a new film called, “I’m Fine, Thanks!” It’s a new documentary about the issue of complacency in everyday life. It’s a “collection of stories about life, the choices we all make, and the paths we ultimately decide to follow.”
In the words of the film’s producer, Adam Baker, he wanted the movie to “give thousands of people inspiration to live their lives based on their own hopes and dreams – not someone else’s vision or script for their life. We want to push people to take the first small action to reignite their passions.”
I love this idea! There’s this great line in the trailer, where a woman talks about how important it is to “Live your own dream, not the American dream.” And as someone who has followed her own path, and not the typical college, then marriage, buy a house, followed by 2.2 kids, I’m a big believer in it!
And even if you have followed that path, that doesn’t mean things can’t change if your vision for your life has changed. As people grow and evolve, their wants and needs change too. Foster the natural gifts and passions that you have, and make sure you make the adjustments necessary to live your own dream.
It’s easy to compare yourself to others around you, but only you know what works for you.
When all your neighbors are upsizing their houses and their cars, maybe you will choose to downsize because that gives you financial freedom. When your friends are taking long vacations in exotic locales, maybe you will rent an RV and drive across the country. When your siblings are settling down and having children, maybe you’ll decide kids just aren’t your thing. Just because society in general has created a definition of a successful life path doesn’t mean that definition fits you.
I’m really curious to check out “I’m Fine, Thanks!” when it comes out in theaters. I love to hear how others followed their own paths instead of prescriptions laid out by others. And I think it might just inspire me to find new ways to define my own dreams.
The Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness. You have to catch it yourself. -Benjamin Franklin
If you feel like you have a lot of stress in your life, it probably comes from a variety of sources: a difficult boss, your long commute, feeling like there aren’t enough hours in the day, family stressors – it could be a combination of many things. But if you boil it down, it’s really about your life and the choices you are making. So if you’ve been feeling stressed out lately, ask yourself – Are you living the right life for you?
If you really think about it and get honest in your answer, you might find that there are areas in your life that really don’t make up what you think your best life should look like. That may be what’s causing all the stress, and those are the things you want to really consider where there might be room for some changes.
Assess Your Life To See If It’s The Right One For You
One of the best ways to figure out if you are living the right life for you is to do a self-assessment of what’s working for you and what isn’t. Ask yourself these questions:
Am I getting enough sleep?
Is my diet mostly healthy?
Do I exercise? If not, what’s stopping me?
Do I get upset often? What things upset me? Which of these things can I control?
How do I respond to things that upset me? Do I have good coping mechanisms?
Do I have a good support system, or do I more often feel like I’m on my own?
What do I do well?
What things in my life am I not doing well that I wish were different? How can I make those things different?
What things constantly pop up in my mind that I feel I should be doing, but never do?
When you start to identify the things that are going well in your life, as well as the things that aren’t going well, you can figure out whether you are truly living the right life for you.
Some of the things that aren’t going well may not be within your control, such as a family illness. But you’d be surprised how many things are in your control if you really think about it.
Everything Is A Choice
I’m a big believer in the idea that life is a series of choices. Everything is a choice – even breathing if you really think about it! Truly, everything is a choice, and there is a consequence for every decision.
You may think that your boss is difficult or you have to deal with a lot of challenging personalities at work, and those things are beyond your control. They aren’t. Your job is a choice you make, and you can choose to leave it. You might not find another job with the same status or the same salary, but maybe you’re better off sacrificing those things in order to live a better life.
You may think you can’t sacrifice salary, because you have a sizable mortgage and a big car payment each month. But those are choices too. Maybe you would be happier taking less salary and living in a smaller house and driving a used car if that allows you to work in a better environment and would make a big difference in your overall well-being.
You get the point – everything in life is a choice. Look at the checklist again and really think about your answers. And then decide if you are living the best life for you, and if not – what can you do to make a change?
The simplest definition of perfectionism is the need to do everything perfectly. It might be a standard you place on yourself: to be the best, never make mistakes, always follow society’s norms, etc. You also might extend that to others, expecting your spouse, kids, or friends to be flawless, act perfectly, and always reach for something better.
The problem, when you expect perfectionism from yourself, is that it often will stop you from trying new things or working toward a goal. Your fear of failure – and failure to do something just right – stops you from even making an attempt. If you don’t allow yourself to make errors, you can never learn from your mistakes. And if you require perfection from yourself, you are always courting disappointment.
But what if you weren’t afraid to fail? What doors would that open for you? What if, no matter what you wanted to try, you just thought, “I can do it!” and then tried it? If you are having trouble getting started on things you want to do, because you’re afraid you might fail, I have some ideas you can try to help get past those concerns.
I’ve Been There
I’ll be honest, I used to really be hindered by perfectionist tendencies. I had a tough time even starting small projects, since I wasn’t sure exactly how to do it right. This was especially true for tasks that I didn’t have to complete very often, so I hadn’t developed a way to handle them, like packing a suitcase or packing boxes for a move.
I remember one time I moved to a new house and just could not get started with unpacking the kitchen boxes, because I wasn’t sure how I should set up the kitchen. Should I put food in this cupboard and dishes in the other? Would all the dishes fit best in the big cupboard with the glasses, or should I split them up? It sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s true. I just stood there in front of the boxes and literally could not get started on putting anything away.
Then my sister came to visit, she opened up all the boxes, put everything away, and that was that.
I still struggle with perfectionism from time to time, but I’m much better about it now. I have learned to figure things out as I go along, which is a much better way to live. Without that skill, I probably never would have been able to start my own business or even this blog!
If your perfectionism sometimes causes you to get in your own way, consider these ideas:
Break It Down
If you want to start a project, but can’t picture how to do the whole thing just right, that’s okay. Just do something. You may end up scrapping the first part you complete, you may end up keeping some and junking the rest, or maybe the whole thing will work! You won’t know until you start.
If you want to write a book, but don’t know exactly how the whole story arc will go, that’s okay. Just write a page. Tomorrow write another page. When you have a full chapter, reevaluate. You’ll probably find more of it is usable that you thought it would be.
Looking back, when I was trying to organize my kitchen, I should have just unpacked one box and put the contents in a cupboard. Later, I could have unpacked another, looked at the cupboards I still had available, and put the contents somewhere there. Worst case scenario, I would have had to done some rearranging. Not a big deal!
If even those “get started” steps seem unattainable, you can try something even smaller, like mapping out your project. Or writing some notes about it. If you have to create a presentation, make an outline of it first. Any first step that you can handle and follow through on is a good way to start managing your perfectionist tendencies.
And whatever step you choose to start with, don’t worry about getting it exactly right. Instead get it good enough. No, I’m not arguing for mediocrity, but the fact is that if you can get started on small steps, keep doing more small steps, and keep getting them good enough, you’re going to get it right in the end. Repeating small successes over and over will help you to accomplish your bigger goal.
Know (And Honor) Your Own Idea Of Success
For every project, big or small, that you might encounter in life, someone has written an article or book on how to do it right. In fact, 10 people probably have, with 10 different ideas about what is best. But only you know what works for you.
Take parenting for example. If you’re new at it, you might be a bit overwhelmed at how to do it right. You want to do it exactly right, and everyone from doctors to family to friends has an idea on how to be the best parent. And there are countless books and websites with information about all kinds of different parenting styles.
You have to do what feels right to you, and not what feels right to someone else. Of course you should do your research, learn what you can, and create some ideas about what makes sense to you. But don’t try to live up to someone else’s expectations of what is right. What works for 99 other parents might not work for you.
The same can be said for other overwhelming tasks and decisions: What should I choose for my college major? What neighborhood should I move to? When is the right time to have kids?
Society in general has all these ideas about how things should be done. There’s no such thing. There’s just your thing. Do your thing.
Avoid Competition And Comparisons
Many perfectionists are competitive, because they need to be the best at everything. If you want to curb your perfectionist tendencies, be careful about comparing yourself to others.
Choose friends and organizations that foster a supportive environment, rather than one where there is more criticism. By surrounding yourself with people who give you the message you want to remember (such as, “As long as I am trying, I am succeeding!”) instead of messages you want to stop reinforcing (like “There are flaws in my work, and I’m not as good as she is”), you can start making your life a bit easier, and you can move into a place where your tendency is to embrace your successes instead of criticizing your own failures.
You Learn More From Your Mistakes Than You Do From Your Successes
It’s true – some of my biggest learning experiences have come from mistakes I’ve made. When you let go of your need to be perfect, you allow yourself to make mistakes. My friend Sherie Venner wrote in The Shocking Truth About Making Mistakes, that when you make a mistake, you should remember three things:
- Forgive yourself
- Look at why the mistake happened and see what wisdom you can gain
- Recognize that mistakes are the greatest path to learning
If you’re a perfectionist, you probably have tried to do everything in your power to avoid mistakes. But these are your greatest learning tools! You learn more about your project, about yourself, and about how to do things better. When you refuse to start a project out of fear of making a mistake, you are really just depriving yourself of learning lessons that simply can’t be acquired if you only have success. So jump in and see where your failures take you!
Ring the bells that still can ring,
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything,
That’s how the light gets in.
Although pasta is a bit on the calorie-dense side, it is possible to create pasta recipes that are healthy and tasty, as long as you are careful about what you add to your dish. This recipe is really easy to make (prep time about 15 minutes, cook time another 15 minutes), and it’s a fully balanced meal all in one dish, which makes it even better!
I also like this recipe because it includes some ingredients and flavors that you might not experience very often. Lots of variety in the course of your healthy eating mission will help ensure you don’t get tempted by some less healthy alternatives too often!
This recipe, like many that I post, has lots of room for you to adjust it according to your taste. Take out the red pepper if your family doesn’t do spicy, add other vegetables, or whatever else you think will work for you. As always, I have included a link at the end of this post, so you can download the recipe and try it soon!
Greek Chicken Artichoke Pasta
1 pound uncooked whole grain pasta (rotini or penne work well for this recipe)
1 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and quartered (reserve half the brine)
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup kalamata olives (or black olives if you prefer)
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. red chili pepper
2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. dried oregano
1. Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta until al dente, about 10-12 minutes. Drain.
2. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until browned. Add chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until chicken is cooked through, about 6-8 minutes.
3. Reduce heat a bit and add remaining ingredients, including the reserved brine and the cooked pasta. Stir and cook a minute or two until all ingredients are heated. Remove from heat and garnish with a little extra chopped parsley.
Nutrition Info Per Serving: 480 calories, 11 gm fat, 110 mg cholesterol
See? That was easy! If you tend to repeat the same recipes and menus over time in your effort to stay on a healthy diet (as I often do!), this recipe will probably change up your flavors a bit, so it’s a great dish to add to your cooking repertoire. Enjoy!
Download the recipe here: One Move Forward’s Healthy In A Hurry Greek Chicken Artichoke Pasta
There are times in our lives where we are faced with more than we think we can handle. Although we can probably find ways to work through most of life’s challenges, the fact is that sooner or later we all end up facing a problem that threatens to overwhelm us. It might be a divorce, illness, job loss, or anything else that shakes us to our cores.
In times like these, it helps to have a game plan. Even with the biggest crisis, if you put three steps into action, you will be well-equipped to handle it the best you can – which is all you can ask of yourself.
Sometimes just talking to someone helps you process what you’re going through. If you’re facing a crisis, take the time to tell someone about it. If it’s something that involves your whole family, sometimes it helps to go to someone who’s not in the thick of it. Maybe you have a co-worker who is a good listener. Or maybe there’s another mom in your kids’ playgroup who might give you a chance to share your story.
Just talking about the challenges you’re facing helps you to feel less alone in your struggle. Share your story, gauge reactions, and see if people might help you see your troubles from another point of view.
Talking about your troubles also helps you process your grief. If a family member is facing a terminal illness or you’ve lost a job or you had to put down a pet, just talking about it helps you process through the parts that are troubling you the most.
Several years back, I had a dog, Journey, who was diagnosed with cancer and given 2-5 weeks to live. I was shocked and so upset. I spoke with a friend of mine immediately after getting the news. She wasn’t even a dog person, but I was so distraught and needed to tell her what was happening.
I remember saying something to the effect that if I had known this was going to happen I would have taken him for more walks or spent more time together or something like that. It was silly, really, since my dog really lacked for nothing in his life, but it was said out of grief. My friend said to me, “Maybe you and Journey just had exactly the life together that you were meant to have.”
I never would have expected such a profound assessment from someone who wasn’t a dog person! But in that one powerful sentence, she helped me put aside all my regrets and focus on the present.
So when you are facing a crisis, talk to someone and let her help you process it. You never know what simple thing she might say that will make a world of difference for you.
Another tool you should use to help build courage in a time of crisis is to seek out help and resources. This can take a variety of forms.
If you are facing job loss, talk to the unemployment office, see what social services are available, and call your city to find out what resources they offer. Go to your library and find a good book on building a strong resume, and see if they have a class on bolstering your interview skills.
Besides services that might be able to help you, also search out ways that you can restore your mental health. For instance, if the crisis you are facing is marital instability and possible divorce, look for new ways to help you feel better.
This might mean finding a new yoga class or doing some reading on stress management or even talking with others who have gone through a divorce and came out of it just fine.
Classes, books, and services are just a few things that you should seek out to help you move through your crisis in the most positive way you can.
The third piece of the puzzle in finding courage in crisis is to surround yourself with your support system.
Often when we go through difficult times, our friends will say, “Let me know what I can do to help,” but you’re so distraught you don’t even know what to ask, and you worry about imposing or whether they really meant it. Take them for their word that they want to help, and allow them to do so.
If, for example, you are facing an illness, take the time to focus on your health by allowing others to cover for you in some areas. Ask your mom to take your kids for a couple of days or see if a friend can organize a dinner delivery for a couple of weeks with the rest of your friends.
You also might be able to find support groups to help you face your crisis. There are bereavement groups to help you after a loss, support groups to build you up if you lose a job or your marriage dissolves, and other groups where you can just vent or listen to others or just escape for a while.
There are a variety of ways to get support for others, and sometimes the way that support helps the most is just because it offers the simple reminder that you are not in this alone – some people have faced the same challenges, and others just want to help you.
Whatever it is in your life that has thrown you for a loop, you can find your courage to face the crisis and get through it by talking about your troubles, finding resources, and leaning on support. The easy thing to do is to hunker down deep under the blankets and stay in bed. But the things that will help you thrive – and not just survive – are the ones where you seek help and let others help you.
Every test successfully met is rewarded by some growth in intuitive knowledge, strengthening of character, or initiation into a higher consciousness. -Paul Brunton
You eat right, you exercise, you try to keep your stress to a minimum…but are you still at risk for early death? A recent study from Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge has shown that the answer could be yes. The culprit? Sitting. The study concluded that if people spent less than three hours per day sitting, they would likely add two years to their life expectancy.
I know what you’re thinking – you are at a desk at work eight hours per day, and then you are home – sitting down to dinner, sitting in front of the television – or out and about sitting at a restaurant or at a movie theater.
Have you ever thought about how much time each day you spend sitting? Probably most of it! So if you want to find a healthy balance between all the sitting you MUST do versus trying to find ways to NOT sit, I have a couple of suggestions.
One is to get up and stretch every hour. You may have heard this advice before, but now you can really see why it matters. If you stand up, walk around a bit, and then return to work, you can stretch your muscles and get your blood circulating.
These hourly mini-breaks help because medical research has shown you can combat the effects of a sedentary day just by taking little breaks from all the sitting. The less time you spend sitting, the less likely you are to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, or even early death. Sounds simple, I know, but it’s true!
My other suggestion is to try to think about which of your daily activities you normally do sitting down that you can actually do standing up. If you spend a lot of your day sitting, try standing during these activities:
- While drinking your morning coffee
- During your commute (if you use public transportation!)
- When talking on the phone
- While helping your kids with homework
There are a couple of other ways I’ve incorporated more standing in my day. When I’m cooking dinner and waiting for something to finish cooking, I stand in front of the stove with a book! I usually find by that time of the day, I’m tired of sitting all day, and I’d have to keep getting up to check the food anyway, so I just stand there and read.
I also stand every day while I eat lunch – it helps that I have a counter-height kitchen table. I just pull out the chair and stand there for 15 minutes while I eat. It’s a great way to stretch out my legs in the middle of the day. Of course, another great non-sedentary use of your lunch hour is to do what my sister does – spend that time walking. Round up a couple of work buddies to join you or maybe use that time to get a break from your co-workers!
If you have a great way of working our new Sit Less, Stand More motto into your work day, I’d love to hear from you! Let me know what steps you’re taking to move away from the sedentary lifestyle!
If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the better part of the last few weeks watching the summer Olympics. But did you catch the trampolining? I only saw it for a few brief moments when it was televised, and I’ll admit – I didn’t even know that was an Olympic sport!
The athletes fly high (REALLY high) up in the air from their trampolines and they perform various acrobatics, including complex combinations of somersaults and twists. If you haven’t seen it, skip to 31 seconds into this video, and watch for a minute. It’s pretty amazing!
But trampolining isn’t just for Olympic athletes. It can be a great workout for anyone, and besides the fact that it’s fun and bound to give you a case of the giggles, it’s also low impact (easy on the joints) and helps you burn extra calories than what you would without adding jumping to your workouts.
If you’re interested, there are trampoline fitness classes popping up all over the country. Sky Zone Indoor Trampoline Park is in many states east of the Mississippi, and you can also find classes in smaller, locally-owned fitness centers by googling “trampoline fitness class.”
And don’t worry about being expected to fly and twist and flip through the air. The object of the class is just to get a good workout and have fun at the same time. So what you can expect is jumping jacks, frog jumps, and other cardio, and then there will also be some strength conditioning like lunges and pushups – all of which are reportedly easier on a trampoline!
If you’re getting bored with your workout, I encourage you to find a trampoline class. There’s a new trampoline fitness center coming to the Kansas City area soon, so I’m going to have to check it out too. If you’re in the area, let’s go together!
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what’s important to me, assessing what things I still feel I need to accomplish in this life, and trying to figure out if I’m living a life that moves me toward realizing those dreams. This has all been spurred by a few things, including the fact that my husband and I are in the process of turning a major dream into a reality, and in the last week we have taken some big steps where we can finally see how it’s all going to (hopefully) fall into place.
Sometimes I do these little self-checks, where I think about:
- What’s important to me?
- What do I really want to do?
- Am I doing that, or at least moving in that direction?
- Am I realizing my dreams, or is my life becoming stagnant?
I really think it’s so easy to get complacent, keep living your regular day-to-day life, and just get by on “it’s fine” rather than “This is what I really want!”
Are you doing what you need to do to get to what you really want? If you aren’t entirely sure what those things might be, you can start by making a list of what’s important to you.
It might be more time with your kids or more time to yourself or more flexibility in your schedule. Or it might be something that feeds your soul in a different way, like learning to play a musical instrument, or spending time doing volunteer work. Or maybe even something bigger like completely changing your career or moving to another country.
If you haven’t made a bucket list, that can help a lot with your self-assessment. Meanwhile, here are some questions you can ask yourself to try to get in touch with what really matters to you:
- What did you used to love to do as a kid?
- What have you always wanted to be really good at? A sport? Fluency in a foreign language? Something else?
- When have you been happiest? Who were you with, and what were you doing?
- When you daydream, what do you usually think about?
- What’s the best (and most reliable) way you know to recharge your batteries?
- What do you hope is different in your life in one year? What about in five years?
Like me, you probably sometimes get little reminders about how short life is. Try to “check in” with yourself on a regular basis and ask yourself if you are doing the things that will get you to your dreams and bring you the most joy. It’s easy to get stuck in the day-to-day, but it’s also so important to always keep an eye on the big picture.
Even when we’re trying to eat healthy, we all have food cravings from time to time. The important things to remember are to consume the unhealthy choices in moderation, and also to try to update your favorite recipes into healthier versions. And yes, you can do that without compromising taste!
One food that many people miss when they’re eating healthy is pizza. With all that bread and cheese and oil and other toppings, though, the calories and fat add up really fast. I’ve been playing around with a few different pizza recipe ideas, and I’ve found a couple of great alternatives.
This recipe, for Guilt-Free White Pizza is quite different from traditional pizza, but it’s close enough that it puts a stop to any cravings! Try this one, and if it doesn’t quite do it for you, don’t worry – I have a couple of other pizza recipes I’ll be sharing, so you’ll be sure to find something that works for you!
Guilt-Free White Pizza
2 large 100-calorie burrito-size whole wheat tortillas
1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 tsp. garlic powder
8 slices Canadian-style bacon
1 tomato, thinly sliced and seeded
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Spray pizza pan with non-stick cooking spray. Place one tortilla in the pan, and then bake 5 minutes per side or until almost crispy.
3. Repeat with other tortilla
4. Mix together mozzarella and ricotta cheeses.
5. Add garlic powder to cheese mixture and mix well.
6. Spread cheese mixture on baked tortillas. Top with Canadian bacon, tomato, and basil.
7. Return to oven for 5 minutes or until cheese is heated through.
Per serving: 360 calories, 37 gm carbohydrates, 14 gm fat, 37 gm protein
You can download the recipe here: One Move Forward’s Healthy In A Hurry Guilt-Free White Pizza
I hope you will give this recipe a try if you need a pizza fix! It’s not as bready, cheesy, or oily as what you’ll get at your favorite pizza joint, but it’s also much healthier! Enjoy!