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Modern Medicine vs. Way of Life

I have been reading a lot about how lifestyle affects our health lately. One chapter written by Dr. Jim Nicolai in a booked called Mindful Living estimates ” that a whopping 70-90% of the diseases he sees in his practice have a lifestyle component and that in the majority of those cases, stress- usually taking from the form of anxiety, depression, or insomnia is the major culprit.” And better than any pill he prescribes, the way you live has the biggest cure rate. “Lifestyle is the new pill.” By no means does that correlate to the ONLY reason people get sick nor that medicine is not a necessity in certain circumstances (I know this more than anybody between being a daughter of a pharmacist and working in the healthcare profession my entire life thus far), but lifestyle has a huge impact on our life expectancy. And the quality of our time here on earth.

Beyond the obvious things like smoking, diet, excessive drinking, and harmful substances, more and more, it is proven that your emotional state has a dramatic affect on inflammation, your ability to rest, recover, and live a healthy overall life. Modern medicine is addressing the big diseases but stress is what is still killing us– leading to heart disease, addiction (at times), digestion issues, physical aliments, etc.

I know this all seems obvious. Yet, most of us do not work on stress levels. Instead, we pile on to them by taking on more and more financially, personally, or with our time. We let our thoughts, things, and people in our life overwhelm us.

I switched jobs 18 months ago and almost became completely cured of my acid reflux/digestion issues which were horrible quite awhile. Now I still have to watch my diet but with my stress level going down (ironically with a bigger, higher paying job), I felt 10x better than I had in years. I started to realize it wasn’t just work that had changed (although that certainly helped) it was how I had changed. I started mediating; I found space in my day, every day for some quiet ALONE time to listen to my breathing or nature without a TV on or cell phone or people chatting around me; I started watching the combination of food going into my body a bit more; and I started focusing on more “me” time. I’ve always been fit. That I have down. I have always found ways to get sleep and workout. And those two priorities will always be at the top of my list. But I also started to find time for me beyond this. Quiet, peaceful time. And I can physically and mentally feel a difference when this time is not made. I immediately start getting acid reflux or indigestion & neck/upper shoulder pain, I notice I have anxiety and a quicker escalation to feeling overwhelmed, and I become impatient. I notice I have more inflammation in my joints which leads me to more hip and leg aches. And I also become exhausted.

How in tune are you with your body and stress? How does your lifestyle affect stress? Do you know your triggers? And can you tell a difference in your body when you are stressed? How do you interactions with others change?

I think so many of us over program our lives between social events, kids events, DVR TV time, work events, and squeezing in time for a workout or to do the chores….there is nothing left. You have given your all to everything else and you are exhausted. And in return, your anxiety and stress escalates as you think about the next day or week to come where you will keep doing it all over again. And then your workouts slip or your diet slips or sleep patterns change, and things snowball. So easy to do.

Yet, instead of taking the pill to calm down, sleep, digest better, etc…..invest in some small changes to you life. And see how your body reacts. I bet the list of side effects don’t look like the side effects on the side of the pill bottle. And we may be lucky enough to add on years to our life to enjoy.

I am still figuring out my balance and ways to manage stress. And as my life changes, I have to re-calibrate how to do this, but I do know that I need to keep working at it and focusing on it. And this work will allow me to be a healthier, happier version of myself. It won’t make me immune to every disease or need for medication, but it will sure help. And hopefully help me heal faster when I am sick.

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Wanderlust

IMG_4401 (1) I have some serious case of wanderlust as summer approaches. I am ready for summer adventures. Adventures that help me grow, give me energy,  refuel me, and teach me new perspectives.   Adventures that fill up my soul.

Even if you can’t afford a big international trip, a road trip to a new town, a trip to a new state (the US is so diverse in landscape, climate, and culture), or a day in another part of your city can do wonders. It can really refuel you. It also brings you closer to the people you travel with along the way.

Any recommendations for trips this summer? Where are you doing to fulfill your wanderlust? I’m up late finishing my wanderlust dreams for the summer.

On my list this summer: Nashville, Croatia, Carolina Coast, and a few weekend roadtrips. I only wish I had more vacation time and money to travel for a few months!!

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Restrictions

I was doing some spring cleaning this weekend (tis the season), and came across a quote I wrote down on a piece of paper like over ten years ago after watching an Ally McBeal episode. It said “We all want love to come along, yet we put all these restrictions on how it can come and how it should evolve once it comes.”

Still a relevant quote even today Calista.

We do put restrictions on our loves- our friends, our parents, our siblings, our lovers. All with expectations about how we should interact, how our relationships should evolve, the steps and phases they must go through, etc. Just an interesting thing to really think about. The more I just allow myself to be spontaneous and ride with it, the more it surprises me. Forgiveness becomes easier. People I never thought I’d forgive or reconnect with somehow come back around and end up being dear friends. The opposite of “my type” ends up being the love of my life.  How I (and my family) was defined by my mother’s death as a teenager breaks and I’m somehow at ease by the quirks and winding journey we took.

Oh Calista who true your statement was and still is!

What restrictions do you put on your loves? How does that impact the growth of the relationship?

As we celebrate Easter weekend and spring, what can you break free from in your restrictions and rules around love? Can you be more open, less competitive, and more free with your friendships/family? Or your significant other?

I encourage you and me to do some spring cleaning on our emotions and let some things float up with the pollen in the air! Take a walk, look at the flowers, and do some reflection.

If you see a weed, make a wish. Wish away your restrictions. Or wish something else. Who am I to restrict your wish or tell you what to wish for! Ha! Break free of that chain you carry with the loves in your life.

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Power of a Good Book

The power of a good book is pretty incredible. It is like an amazing dessert, a wonderful vacation, the great escape, and a total restorative move. It is such a lovely luxury amongst our busy lives. And can take you to places you never thought you’d go– you can travel the world or someone’s life through a good character and well written descriptions. It can be simply amazing and refuel you in all ways.

There is nothing like when you can’t put it down and it is such a good page turner you are forcing yourself to stay up to the last page. And then so disappointed it is over.

I believe in spending as much time as possible with your loved ones (I was lucky enough to do just that this weekend), with nature, and in the present. But there is also something to be said for refueling yourself by curling up with a great read. Even if it is just to get in a chapter or a few pages after the kids are to bed. Or during a hot bath. Or instead of that reality TV episode.

Have you read a good book lately? I just gave one to my sister– The Husband’s Secret by Lane Moriarty (same author as Big Little Lies…the book made into the famous HBO series). And I read a really cheesy but adorable romantic comedy book last week– The One That Got Away by Bethany Chase. Such a fun read. Highly recommend.  Another really fun read is Eight Hundred Grapes by Laura Dave.

Some of my go to authors these days for just pure fun (I also ready nonfiction and self health books so don’t worry but focused on the dream books tonight)– Harlan Coben (good mystery), Elin Hilderbrand, Emily Giffin, Georgia Bockoven, James Patterson, Jojo Moyes (for the one series Me Before You and After You), A fun series by Maria Murnane, etc.

Do you have any pure fun and entertaining reads you recommend? Help me refuel with a good book recommendation please!

Home

I’ve been thinking a lot about home recently. And where is home to me as an adult? I have my childhood town….in a different home from when I grew up but still the same town. And my Dad and aunt are there. That feels like home when I’m back. I also have the cities I’ve lived in along the way as an adult. Some more than others felt like home when I was living there. And then I have our current condo…which is homey and also feels like home for the most part. And yet for a long time with all these options I was searching for that sense of something that really truly felt like my home. Why?

As I think more about this, I realize home (truly home) for me is where I have loved one’s close to me and also when I feel settled with my life.  And that is why for so long I just couldn’t truly feel complete. I never fully allowed myself to feel established somewhere. I’ve always been thinking of my out. Whether in a relationship, or a city, or a job. I have never just fully settled in.

I’m good at making my physical space feel like home. I decorate and nest right in. But I always know, I may need to move. And outside of a few years in my early 30s, I’ve rented. Which means you will move. It is inevitable.

Now, after being in DC for five, going on 6yrs, I am finally starting to really think about nesting into the city, a relationship even further, and buying a home. And while it gives me a certain level of anxiety which is to be expected for me at this point, it is also exciting. It is comforting. It is feeling like a different sense of home. It is not feeliing like my family home, or my temporary home, but my own home. Our home potentially. And that feels good. It gives me a different kind of energy and refueling.

Ideally my family would live all around too, but that is not realistic. So for now, I’ll take where I’m at in my home journey.

What is home for you? Do you feel like you are searching or have it? And why?

 

Meditation

As I wind down my Sunday evening and finish up my long weekend at Miraval (my annual refueling destination), I realize how important meditation is to my life. It allows me to free my mind of thoughts, wash the anxiety and stress away, and really be present in the moment. Afterwards, I just see and hear more of life around me. It allows me to truly feel alive vs in my thoughts.

A my meditation expert here said “it provides a way to open your heart, release negativity, receive light, gain insights, and achieve a deeper sense of calm/peace.”

I also am realizing how meditation can take many forms. The classic kind where you sit in silence, breathe, or walk through a guided meditation. But it can also be journaling, hiking, walking, walking a labyrinth (which I love doing here), cooking, and/or exercising. There are so many forms.  I did a drumming meditation today that was quite powerful. And tomorrow I’ll finish my stay with a morning meditation and sunrise yoga.

Are you making time for meditation? If so, what form works for you? It can be 5 minutes or 60 minutes. There is always time to fit it in.

Here are pictures from my hike this morning. My morning 2hr sunrise peace and calming hike.

Sunday Dinners

I love Sundays. Mine usually starts with sleeping in, lazily starting the day with a good breakfast, then some sort of activity for the afternoon. Today was a pedicure and manicure and a little shopping. And visiting with a girlfriend.

Then I always do 5:30 restorative yoga to wind down or start the week (depending on how you look at it) and at the end finish with a quiet meditation. It is always a time to reflect and show gratitude. I leave it feeling hopeful and calm.

Then it is off to my favorite dinner of the week. I love Sunday dinners. While I do love good food, it is not what is on the table that counts, it is who is in the chairs around you. And my Sunday dinner is made perfect by the people around me. It also reminds me of my childhood where we always had a nice meal all together. It makes me yearn for my family to be in the same town too! But since they are not…I still make the most of it.  In an odd way, it is way to still honor them by cherishing it.

I can slow down on Sundays and plan a really nice meal. And it is cozy on Sundays. Todd is usually helping or hanging out with me while I cook. We drink a good glass of wine and talk about the weekend and week to come. We play music or have 60 minutes on in the background. Or we have friends over for dinner and are busy preparing for them. But no matter what, it is always so relaxed, loving, and joyful. And it makes the meal so good….no matter the cook! Somehow it is more tasty on Sundays.

Afterwards, we cozy up on the couch to watch a good TV show afterwards and always indulging in a yummy dessert.  And end up staying up too late watching. Or fall asleep before we make it through depending on our energy level.

Sunday dinners are the best. It refuels me for the week ahead.

What is your favorite meal/day of the week? What do you love to cook for your Sunday dinners? If you message me with a good idea, I’ll send you a great recipe back too!

Enjoy your Sunday. I hope you have a good meal with someone dear to you.

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We are happiest when we are growing

“Happiness is neither virtue nor pleasure nor this thing nor that, but simply growth. We are happy when we are growing.”– William Butler Yeats

I loved this quote because it is true, if we are growing, we are happy. We are moving forward. Progress in some way or moving in a direction wholeheartedly = Less regret and more self confidence/worth = happiness.

Try to grow today or this week. Move in the direction you are aiming to go in some little way. Make a little change like I encouraged last week. With each step comes accomplishment and happiness!

This week I worked on growing some of my relationships through communication and showing vulnerability. What are you going to try and grow?

 

Changing it Up!

I was reading this week about doing a time management audit every 6 months. And I got excited. I love this idea. Consider which activities are impacting the quality of your life in a negative and positive way. Can you shed the negative ones or at least minimize? Can you increase the positive ones? What is causing you stress? Do you need to change up your wardrobe? Your house decorations? Do you need to move? Do you need to re-balance your work/life priorities? What have been your stressors? Do you need to change it up with a vacation somewhere you haven’t been? Have you made it to the restaurant or museum you’ve had on your list? Did you make enough time with friends, your partner, yourself? Are you watching too much TV? Spending too much time on your phone or technology?

I just did my own self audit this week. I’m changing up my workouts (started this last Monday), doing a few wardrobe changes, starting using two new skin care products, and re-prioritizing time for myself through more evening baths and journaling.

My challenge to you, do an audit and come up with three concrete changes, even if modest. Change it up.

And as many of you already know, with change, comes new energy, excitement and attitude for the turning of the season coming in March.

Do you really want something…or are we just programmed?

This week, I’ve been exploring this idea of really knowing when we want something vs feeling programmed. We are programmed to want everything all the time. To want what we see on TV, on facebook, and what we were told since birth ….through movies, books, and our parents. The prince, the big house, making a lot of money, kids, a big wedding, a partner, happiness all the time, sex all the time, a great job or a partner that makes so much money you don’t work, a huge social circle, fabulous vacations, seamless days of no stress, perfect figure, perfect hair, no vices, etc.  We are programmed to crave these things. So much so, that when do you know when you really want them verses being programmed to want them?

I started to talk to a few people about this and it turns out a lot of people second guess what they want vs what they think they want/been told they want.  Is it okay to be nervous about what we have been programmed to desire? Or even just be scared to actually get whatever that is? And do we know the difference between wanting it vs what we are expected to desire?

 

How do you know when you really want something? What are the signs? And what are you willing to compromise on?

All questions I think everyone has asked at some point. Yet we never talk about the questions. Only smile and talk about the things everyone should have in life per social norms.

Sometimes refueling means being real and thinking through what you want with some quiet moments. This weekend, that is just what I did. I took myself on a self date weekend to refuel and reconnect with my dreams. And make sure those dreams are still my dreams.

How do you check in with yourself on your life goals? And confirming what you want next (and now)? Or do you go through life not really checking and just see where it takes you? Or do you strive for things you may not even truly desire?

Lots of questions this week. No real answers. Just enjoying the questioning portion this week. And being okay with asking the questions no one wants to really think about too much. In fear that they may want something different than what is expected. Or that they aren’t unique and they want the cliche life. Both are scary thoughts.