Happy Easter, everyone! I hope you had as great a day as I did. With my mom out of commission, due to a nasty fall this winter that left her with a torn rotator cuff, the husband and I brought some brunch fixin’s to my parents’ house and whipped up (okay, he whipped up – I’m a horrible cook) a delicious brunch.
The star of the meal? The pumpkin muffins I baked this morning (I can bake). I don’t typically share recipes, but given how easy to make and low-cal they are, I couldn’t resist. But first, I must thank Katy of Sweet Verbena for sharing it on her blog.
To make these muffins, you need only half an hour and two ingredients: a box of cake mix – I used french vanilla – and one 15-ounce can of pumpkin. The results are delicious muffins with a moist, cake-like consistency and a hint of pumpkin flavor. And because they are egg-, butter- and everything else fattening-free, there’s no guilt (if you’re a Weight Watchers points counter, they are only two points each if you make 18 from the batter).
One watch-out: The recipe says to bake them for 20 to 25 minutes; however, I found I had to put them back into the oven for an extra 10 minutes to bake them through. Plan for 30 or 35 minutes instead, and keep a close eye on them.
Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Last month, Energy Project CEO and Founder Tony Schwartz appeared on seemingly every news station after publishing his article, “Relax! You’ll be more productive” in the Opinion section of the New York Times. His hypothesis: we can’t work like computers, quickly, for long periods of time, juggling multiple functions, and still be effective and engaged. Instead, we’re most productive when we alternate between expending and renewing four types of energy: physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.
So rather than try to squeeze all the work out of us that they can, employers should be striving to meet our four areas of need so that we are inspired, focused and, ultimately, producing better-quality work.
As someone who experiences the former on a day-to-day basis, I liked what I was hearing.
I visited the Energy Project website to learn more and decided to take the energy audit – a 20-question assessment that helps determine how effectively you’re managing your four sources of energy.
Survey says? I’m 30 percent energized (a.k.a. burned out). My four types of energy are all “fading.” As a former straight-A student, this did not bode well with me. I’ve flunked… in life?
The assessment includes suggestions for re-energizing my life, recommending I start at the physical level, which is the “foundation for the other dimensions of energy, and where it is easiest to make concrete changes.”
I’ve increased my workouts, and, unsurprisingly, they’ve helped lift my energy levels and keep stress and anxiety at bay.
But they haven’t magically changed my workplace.
Luckily, I currently happen to be reading Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In, another written work generating major conversations. Sandberg discusses setting limits in her book, telling the story of a colleague who once told her that her boss “would never stop making demands on our time, so it was up to us to decide what we were willing to do. It was our responsibility to draw the line.”
Later, she says, “…long-term success at work often depends on not trying to meet every demand placed on us. The best way to make room for both life and career is to make choices deliberately – to set limits and stick to them.”
As a person of extremes, setting limits and achieving balance have never been a natural strength for me.
But now, after seeing how my extremes are affecting my energy levels, health, performance – my overall life – and understanding that limits are necessary, rather than an admission of incompetence, I’m going to attempt to pull back a bit and take the time to replenish my energies.
What about you? How do you set limits and re-energize?
One of my favorite bloggers, Ali of Ali on the Run, wrote a great post yesterday about the runner’s euphoria she recently experienced, attributing it to her bare, sans-tracking-device wrists. As someone currently in training for a seven-mile race – and a total type A who pushes myself to improve with every run – I can relate.
It’s been cold here in Connecticut, so I’ve been resigned to the treadmill, watching my intervals sloooooowly tick by as I huff and puff in the humid, over-heated gym. I’ve tried everything – magazines, audio books, music, watching TV (and combinations of these) – in an attempt to make it more enjoyable. But those harsh green numbers stare back at me, judging me, telling me I’m going too slow or my pace still hasn’t improved or that I’m clearly off today because I feel like I’ve run for an hour and it’s only been 10 minutes.
And don’t get me started on my neighboring treadmill runners, who jump on, kick the pace up to eight miles an hour (or more!) and sprint out an hour-long run without breaking a sweat. It’s a good thing they are focused, or else they’d see my red, sweaty face giving them the evil eye.
I completely admit that most days, I hate running – unless I’m outside. Those outdoor runs are what fuel the dreadful indoor ones.
Forecasters are claiming the weather will be a balmy 50 degrees this weekend. I so hope they’re right, because my Saturday and Sunday morning plans consist of outdoor runs around the nearby lake. I love these runs. I feel like a kid again, running without a care in the world as I take in the water, the friendly walkers and fellow runners, their cute dogs and the random duck or two (can spring ducklings be any cuter?). Sure, I wear my stopwatch/pedometer, but it’s not staring me in the face. In fact, I don’t look at it until after my run, just to benchmark my progress.
Those days, when I can clear my head and just observe my surroundings, I love running.
Which do you prefer – treadmills or the open road? And if you are a treadmill runner, any advice for making them less mentally anguishing is greatly appreciated!
Every couple of years, I feel the need to switch jobs. Recently, I’ve begun to wonder if I suffer from a weird two-year itch. The cycle goes: happy honeymoon period during the first year, period of negative realizations about the culture, boss, etc. during months 12 to 18, then an overwhelming desire to flee by month 24.
Coming up on month 24, the thought to begin a job search has begun popping into my mind again. A few reasons: clients with low budgets and no desire to take risks (read: no ability for me to be creative, which I thrive on) and a very controlling, very moody boss with a it’s-my-way-or-the-highway approach to management. The icing on the cake: when he recently told me to “wear something sexy” when I met our client’s new CEO. So add “chauvinistic” to that list of adjectives above.
But here’s the thing. I love the work I do. I love my co-workers even more. I have a nice office. A decent salary. My commute is easy. The company is surrounded by good restaurants, stores and the best shoe repair guy I’ve ever trusted with my soles.
It occurred to me as I thought about this today that it’s not my boss or clients who are really the problem – it’s the way I’m letting both get to me. As my husband, who has an incredible way of putting things into perspective for me, said post-rant (by me) tonight, “You can’t change crazy.”
Replace “crazy” with any word – except “yourself” – and the statement still rings true.
Other than myself, I can’t change anyone or anything. All I can do is: a. accept it for what it is and choose to instead focus on the positives or b. change my situation. It’s really that simple.
So I’m going to attempt to cure my chronic itch by focusing on what I love about my job and what I’m grateful for. I’m going to focus my energy on continuing to do great work and learn. And I’ll see what happens, rather than become frustrated that I can’t control the outcome.
Miracle diet? Lipo? Nope! I haven’t really lost 50 pounds since January 1 (obviously), but I feel like it’s been lifted from my shoulders.
I’ve been exercising regularly, doing a mix of yoga, power walking and elliptical workouts, and keeping track of everything that goes into my mouth. I’ve been eating smaller portions and cleaner. And I’ve temporarily said goodbye to chocolate, because it’s my worst “trigger” food, often leading to more unhealthy eating.
Taking care of myself feels amazing. I feel physically lighter and, more so, mentally lighter. I’m not battling guilt for failing to go to the gym. I’m not spending time thinking about what I ate that day because I’m writing it down. And I’m not beating myself up for eating unhealthy foods, because, well, I’m not.
It’s amazing how much emotional energy and time I spend feeling bad when I’m not caring for myself. No wonder I was always tired! I knew that as I began my journey to get healthier, I’d discover a bunch of additional benefits. This one just may be the best.
Happy early New Year, everyone! Being highly superstitious, I never wish a happy early anything – heck, I won’t even change my calendar until the new month or year arrives. But I’m soooo ready to say goodbye to 2012 and welcome 2013 with open arms.
This year has been tough. If you’ve read my previous posts, you know that main challenges included the passing of a grandmother, the unexpected – nay, completely blindsiding – passing of my cousin and the murder of a childhood friend. Dealing with so much, along with adjusting to my promotion at work, meant less running, minimal writing and, ultimately, more stress and sad days and a nice 20-pound weight gain.
Needless to say, I didn’t achieve most of my un-resolutions for the year:
1. Run a half-marathon.
Um, nope. But I did begin yoga again after a year-long hiatus and have fallen back in love with it.
2. Officially change my name (this may be tougher than running a half-marathon from what I hear!).
3. Take a creative writing class.
Sadly, this went on the backburner.
4. Eliminate my debt (my current payment plan will allow for this).
I’m two months away, then I’m throwing the biggest party for myself EVER.
5. Build up my savings account (I have a particular number in mind).
In progress, but not quite where I hoped it’d be.
In my ongoing quest for better balance, I’ve set some smaller goals for myself for 2013:
- Run a 10K
- Get my shoulder stand to a point where I’m calmly breathing while holding the pose (versus flailing my legs around as I try to stay up)
- Finally take that writing class, even if it’s just a one-day workshop, to kick start my creative writing
- Give myself 10 minutes when I get home from work each day to reconnect with my husband and review the day, giving him my undivided attention
- Learn to cook three new meals without filling the kitchen with smoke, yelling for my husband to help in a panic or giving up and ordering takeout
- Continue to build my savings account
- Remind myself every day of all I have to be grateful for
- Think “I should” less and “I could” more
Like last year, these are goals I’m excited to work toward rather than resolutions I feel like I have to (or should!) make. I’m looking forward to ringing in 2013. I have a feeling it’s going to be a good year. After all, it’s an odd-numbered year (they are always good ones!).
It was serendipity when a Groupon for a Reiki treatment landed in my inbox late this summer. Emotionally and physically exhausted by recent life events, I snapped up the deal and scheduled my appointment immediately. I didn’t know if it would do anything for me (it was my first treatment), but I was desperate to relax and feel peace again.
I walked into the center and was greeted by a sweet, soft-spoken woman, who led me to a table to lie down. She began by holding a pendulum over each of my seven chakras to see which – if any – were blocked. Given my stress level, I expected them all to be, but surprisingly, just my throat chakra was.
“Have you been having trouble with your throat?” she asked. “A sore throat, coughing, or maybe feeling like you can’t say what you want? Anything with your jaw or ears?”
I thought for a second. “Nope.”
“Hmm. It’s really blocked. Let’s see what we can do.”
She then began the session, placing her hands on or hovering over my head, then working her way down to my neck, shoulders, arms, abdomen, knees and feet. I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, relishing the quiet, serene environment. Occasionally, I’d feel vibrations in the areas she was working on and – one time – a jolt of energy. But mostly, I felt just her hands.
Forty-five short minutes later, the session was over. The practitioner held the pendulum over my chakras again. “You’re unblocked,” she announced.
I didn’t feel any noticeable difference, though a general sense of peacefulness had spread throughout my body. That was enough for me.
I booked another session.
A few days later, I realized that the annoying feeling I had been getting in my ears – almost as though they needed to pop – was gone. And it hasn’t returned.
During my second session a couple weeks ago, I mentioned to the practitioner that my “stuffy ears feeling” had disappeared following the first session. She nodded knowingly. “It makes sense. Your throat chakra was pretty blocked up.”
This time around, my third eye chakra was blocked. “Have you had headaches lately?”
“A blocked third eye chakra could also mean you’re doubting or distrusting yourself. Do you feel like you’re having trouble seeing whole situations clearly?”
I thought about how burnt out I felt at work. And how I’d begun to wonder if I just wasn’t cut out to manage a team. “Wow. Yeah.”
“Let’s work on that,” she said smiling.
After the session, I felt peaceful again, and my chakras were all open. The self-doubt is still a little there, but I’ve felt a stronger sense of clarity at the office, an ability to see more of the big picture. Coincidence? Maybe. But I’m looking forward to my third session. The peacefulness I get during the sessions is enough to keep me going back.
Have you tried Reiki? I’d love to hear how it’s impacted you!