Finding Your Happy

We all have those people in our lives.  The whiners, the negative nellies, the people who sometimes suck all the good energy out of a room without even realizing it.  No matter what kind of gold arrives on their doorstep they find a way to crap on it. Sometimes these are people we are close with…even worse sometimes WE are those people.alchemis

Do you find yourself wishing for things often?  Wishing you had a different body?  Wishing you could find a partner? Wishing your circumstance was different? There is nothing wrong with wishing, until you spend all your time worrying about what you don’t have instead of what you DO. That is no way to make a wish come true.  A thankful heart is a happy heart. Being thankful is the first and most important step in finding true happiness and to allowing amazing things that were meant for you to finally come into your life.

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No doubt you have read it over and over again, happiness does not come from things and it does NOT come from other people.  It comes from within.  It comes from YOU. Period.  I write about this topic a lot, because I feel passionate about it.  Not because happiness has come easy to me, quite the opposite. I know what it is like to be on the dark side. Feeling depressed and angry at the world. Throwing a pity party for myself every day. Wishing I could trade my life with anybody. Yes me.

It started by being a kid who was confused/hurt and not sure how to deal with my feelings.  That hurt turned into anger that I kept inside of me, except for the moments when I exploded and took down everybody in my path, usually my family.  That anger then turned into depression. This went on for years. My saving grace, even at a young age is that I have always been good at faking happy. Even some people closest to me in my life don’t know about the struggle I had for a very long time. Turns out faking happy is exhausting and leaves you being surrounded by people who think they know you, but don’t.  But I never wanted to bring anybody down, I wanted people to like me, I didn’t want them to know the real me because I didn’t like me.

Then one day I changed.  Not from counseling, not from medication. I just made a decision. I decided that I can control me.  I can control how I react, how I feel. Even if it means I have to fake it to myself until I believe it. I wanted to be the person people thought I was. I wanted to BE happy instead of faking happy.

I started by changing how I wrote. I had written in a journal since I was 7, but instead of venting my feelings, I changed it to writing things down I was thankful for.  Sometimes, it was just that I was alive and breathing.  That had to have meant God still wanted me here, right?  I changed my thoughts and in turn changed my life.  I still have setbacks here and there but when I feel myself going down that road I tell those feelings to piss off and find somebody else to latch on to.

In present day, I cannot imagine ONLY being thankful for breathing.  I fill up my gratitude journal daily… sometimes with pages and pages of all the blessings in my life! I am truly happy.  I love my life and the more love I GIVE to my life; the more abundance just keeps rolling in.  I wish everybody would tap into this secret.

I wish I could go back to myself in those early years and say, “Everything is going to be okay”.  But I think a part of me always knew I was meant for more than just being sad and angry all the time, those years of struggle are what gave me such a holistic perspective on life at a young age. It helps me see right through the students I work with and help THEM.

In 2015 I made a challenge to myself to hold to my gratitude rituals daily as they tend to be the first thing to get eliminated on a busy day. I must not forget that these rituals are what got me to where I am today and when I don’t take that time, I can feel the negative consequences. I now keep a word document on my computer open and every morning, the minute I wake up I look through my two devotionals, meditate on them for a bit and then I just start typing out my thoughts.  This document is literally just my thoughts rambling on paper, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, sometimes a little bit of both.  It clears my head for the day and I feel open and ready for whatever comes my way.  My journal that I physically write in everyday- is for things I am thankful for, exciting things that are happening and goal setting.

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If you struggle with happiness, I highly recommend starting a gratitude journal. It will change your life, I promise.  I also have some books/devotionals that I have read and re-read through the years that I adore. Simple Abundance, The Secret, Eat Pray Love & Jesus Calling Daily Devotional, to name a few.  I always pick up something new depending on where I am in my life, or sometimes I just need to be reminded.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

 

 

 

 

Breaded Chicken (without the bread)

Ready for another favorite recipe of mine? Again, please do not give me credit for these recipes I share with you.  I just tend to frequent a lot of blogs and cookbooks for inspiration and then tweak to my own liking. Most of the tweaking is done to make the recipe easier, because I have zero patience.  Do you love breaded chicken, but want to make it healthier?  Here you go.

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Instead of using bread crumbs I used eggsflax seed, almond flour and chia seeds– I use 1 cup of each to mix into a big bowl to cover 4 chicken breasts.  You may need more or less depending on the size of chicken you use.

Now… where it gets fun is you can play around with whatever seasonings you like to mix in.  I personally have this all inclusive italian seasoning I typically use, or even bbq seasonings… but you can really do anything.   I use 3-4 table spoons of the seasonings and mix it in with the rest of the dry ingredients.

Instructions:

Whisk 4-5 eggs in a large bowl

Mix together your almond flour, chia seeds, flaxseeds & choice of seasonings in a large bowl

Dip chicken breast in egg mixture

Then dip chicken breast in bread mixture until fully covered

Repeat for each piece of chicken

Cook for 35-40 minutes at 400 in oven

Put some veggies on the side and BOOM there you have it.   Enjoy!

Easy Does It

When I completed my most recent marathon back in September, I was relieved to give running a break for a while, to switch gears.  I have maintained a consistent Crossfit schedule through every race I have trained for the last 2.5 years.  I truly believe it is what took my running to the next level.  The only downside is when I am putting in 35-50 mile weeks, my strength suffers greatly. So I was super excited to take a running break and focus on building that strength.  I had  all these visions of being able to keep up and lift as heavy as the strongest and best in my gym. To turn into this unstoppable lifting machine and have huge PRS left and right.   Ironically, it has been quite the opposite. I feel stronger yes, but not by much. And I have had more aches/pains/injuries these last few months than I have had….pretty much ever.

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How is this possible? I am used to doing so much more than I am now… or at least I think.  I have done a hard WOD followed by a 5-10 mile run many times, and still never hurt like this.  It’s not even a  a sore kind of hurt. Back tightness, knee issues, wrist pain you name it I feel like I have had it. As I have been nursing some of these injuries the last few weeks, I have been throwing myself a little bit of a pity party wondering why I can’t get stronger and better faster.

THEN I had to take a step back and listen to myself (and maybe even slap myself in the face). What would I say to a person who was saying all this to me? What kind of advice would I give them? I would say… easy does it, yes you have done Crossfit for over 2 years, but not like this. You are putting more focus on your lifts.  Lifting is different than running, PERIOD. You are beating your body down in a DIFFERENT way that it is not used to.  You think you can just have personal records over night? Come on Jill, you know better. Like anything, it takes getting used to. Your body has to adjust, be patient.

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Whenever I had clients in the past who would take up running or working out in general for the first time, they would talk to me about their aches and pains they were experiencing.  I would then tell them that its going to hurt at first, it won’t feel comfortable for a while, just embrace it. Take rest days when you need to and understand the difference between the pain of your body adjusting versus pain that can cause injury. Don’t do too much at once, ease into it. Anything worth doing should be done the RIGHT way.  I know all of these things…yet why is it so hard to listen to my own advice?

It also helps that I have incredibly supportive coaches and friends willing to talk me off a ledge. Amazing thing about my workout buddies is that we have all been in this spot.  Feeling frustrated, weak, unable to keep up with other people and whenever each of us is in that spot, we pick each other up.  I have said it before and I will say it again, the beauty of Crossfit is you feel invisible during a workout one day and beaten down the next.  It never lets you win, yet we all keep chasing the victory. The fact that it never gets old or easy is what makes it so fun.

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First day of Crossfit in May 2012, needed a band AND help to do a pull up

I have never been good at being patient.  I jump in whole heartedly to everything I do, and I always expect immediate results.  It never works out that way.  Took me years of running to get to a point where I could say I am a Boston qualifier.  Crossfit is no different. I have to jump in to mobility and rest days just as hard as I would a workout day- something that I am learning the hard way. I need to remember the days where putting #65 over my head was really really hard (latest PR is #125, YEAH!).  I need to remember the days where I could not do a single pull-up. I need to be smart and I need to be patient and enjoy the ride.

 

Stay blessed in the mess!

Hash It Your Way

Just because you need to put in extra time to prepare healthy food, does not mean the recipes need to be hard.  I have little patience for long complicated recipes and no creativity when it comes to experimenting on my own.  For the most part, everything I make is super simple.  Which is why I want to share with you one of my weekly go to meals that anybody can modify.  HASH.

My personal definition for hash: A random concoction of your favorite things (healthy favorite things of course, otherwise these recipes would include sour patch kids and Nutella).

Take some meat, your favorite vegetables, your favorite seasonings, maybe some eggs.  Cook your meat first,  once your meat is cooked add in your veggies, seasonings etc and cook covered on low for 10-15 min.  That is it.  When I use meat I cook about 1.5-2lbs of it which gives me anywhere from 4-6 meals for the week.  For seasonings you can use 1-2 tablespoons, depending on your flavor preference.  Load up on some brown rice (cook beforehand) if you you need some extra fuel and add as many or as little veggies as you please.  If you are feeling scandalous, throw a teensy bit of cheese on top.

Store in several small containers, put in freezer or fridge and you have a quick meals ready to go.  Truth be told, this is one of my husband’s least favorite things that I make because I make it perhaps a little too often.  What can I say, I am a creature of habit.  Below are some of my favorite combinations, would love to hear some of the combos you come up with!

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2lbs ground turkey, mushrooms, chopped spinach, chopped sweet potatoes (cook beforehand to soften), Eggs (throw in or scramble before up to you, pesto, salt and pepper

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 Shredded Chicken (I used rotisserie to make it easier), Broccoli, 1 cup brown rice (cooked beforehand), pesto, salt and pepper. 

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2lbs of Venison (my favorite meat),  eggs, Broccoli, mushrooms, basil, rosemary, salt and pepper

 

Solo Travel Is The BEST Travel

If you have never traveled somewhere alone, whether it be internationally or not-I highly recommend it. I love traveling with friends or with my husband etc. but when I am alone, the experience is SO much different.

Machu Picchu has been on my long bucket list of places to travel for for a while as it is supposedly one of the most spiritual places in the world to hike to.  Most people take the famous Inca Trail to MP, which is originally what I was planning on doing. BUT the more I looked into, it the more I realized how much better of an alternative the Salkantay trail would be. Inca is a famous trail and with that comes lots of crowds/tourists.  My preferred way to travel is off the beaten path, even if I am missing what everybody else is looking at.  Stumbling upon a small Greek wedding reception at a hole in the wall restaurant in Athens.  Getting lost in the streets of Barcelona. People watching in Paris. Playing games with Balinese children.

When I learned about the Salkantay Trail a few things caught my interest right away, one as I said is that it is not a crowded trail and two it is a more difficult grade to hike. Off the beaten path AND more challenging? SOLD.

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If you were to tell me that I would prefer solo travel 5- 10 years ago, I would have called you crazy.  I am a people person.  I used to hate being alone for ANYTHING. Hating to be by myself was me avoiding myself.  As I got older and started working through some of those inner demons, I started to CRAVE alone time. Why? Because I like myself now.  I approve and am proud of who I am.  Took a while to get there.

The first time I ever decided to embark on a journey on my own was going to Indonesia for two weeks on a Habitat for Humanity Trip in 2011. I was not entirely alone, I was with 10 other people who were complete strangers on day one…friends on day 14.  To get there was a challenge in itself. I traveled for 25 hours by myself, had to layover in Taiwan to get a new boarding pass and navigate a foreign airport and then met my new friends (who again were strangers at this point) in the airport in Bali. I then hopped onto a bus and took a 3 hour winding bus drive through the Indonesian hills trying so hard to not puke in the back because I was so jet-lagged and had motion sickness.  My new friends later told me they thought I was just shy or unfriendly at first, but I was literally in the back of the bus with my head down praying and trying to calm my breath the whole drive there so as not to get sick and embarrass myself.

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That first day was HARD. I was not just out of my comfort zone, I was millions of miles away from it.  I thought to myself many times the first few days and throughout the trip.. “why did I do this?”, “I wish I had a friend here”, & “I am so scared”. We spent the next two weeks with a sweet little Balinese family, building a house for them, getting to know the kids, neighbors and family in the area while they helped us.  Once I got into a groove with the tasks and the workload, I was so happy and glad I came and that I did it alone. I still missed home a lot, felt a little lonely, but I knew God put me there.  When our work was done, we got to explore the touristy part of Bali for a few days before we went home. That was awesome, but truly the best part of the trip was getting to know that family.  They helped me understand and love the REAL Bali.

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When you are traveling with friends, it makes things easier. If I had a friend on that trip, I would not have been as scared, I would not have been challenged emotionally and spiritually.  I would not have had to summon some inner strength. I probably wouldn’t even have wanted to come home as bad as I did those first few days.  Because having a familiar face when you travel provides you with a safety net, with a part of home, which of course can be a good thing.  But, it can also mean that you miss out on a lot because your eyes are not as open to your new surroundings. I wouldn’t have become as close to my other team members if I brought a friend.  I would not have taken as much time to hear their stories. But I did because I had nobody to latch on to, which in turn made me more open.

When the opportunity for me to finally go to Peru came a long, I knew it was something I had to do and do alone. I had not done a solo trip since Bali and this is kind of my last ‘hoorah’ before we hopefully start a family.  So I want to take it all in. I want to get to know the group of strangers I am hiking and camping with, be challenged physically and fully appreciate the nature around me. I have realized that even though I am as scared as the next person to be out of my comfort zone, I love throwing myself far out of it.  I see it as a challenge and I just close my eyes and make the jump.  You should try it sometime, it’s exhilarating and amazing.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

Egg Bite Recipe

2015 is the year.  I can feel it.  For what exactly I am not sure, but I feel good about this year.  My mind and heart are open to the new opportunities that will knock on my door, I am ready for some changes.  2014 was a great year yes, but this year will be better. It is the year I work harder and play harder.

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How are your goals coming along?  Are you dreaming big in 2015? Or are you keeping it simple?  Just remember, ANYTHING is possible.  Anything, just put it out there.

Below is another favorite recipe for you to make this week if you desire.  And as promised, it is easy!  Cook over the weekend and then use it as a ‘running out the door’ breakfast, an afternoon snack or even on the side of a meal.  My husband and I use these as our pre-workout fuel before we hit the gym at 5am.

Egg Bites

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You will need:

7 eggs

1-2 of your choice of veggies or meat (I usually cut up bacon and spinach/broccoli)  If you use meat, it will take a little longer as you need to pre-cook it before adding it in.  Use as much of it as you like, I typically use 1 cup chopped broccoli and 1 cup chopped spinach and 3-4 slices of chopped bacon, or even some green onion. Make it your own!

1 and 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar cheese

Olive oil for muffin pan

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 400

Put olive oil in paper towel and dab each spot in muffin tin (more is better to avoid eggs sticking)

Whisk your eggs in large bowl

Chop up all your meat or veggies, whatever you chose to use

Add all ingredients (veggies/meat and cheese) and mix together

Pour mixture into muffin tin and cook for 30 minutes.

Enjoy!

My Resolution To SLOW Down

One of my goals for the 2015 year is to slow down.  To be more aware, cautious and present.  Kind of a weird goal I know, let me explain.  Ever since I was able to work, like most teenagers I worked a lot of odd jobs to make my own money. From babysitting, to working the front desk at a gym, serving ice cream at dairy queen (and gaining weight in the process) and working the concession stand of a hockey rink. Having a job through junior high and high school is something I believe to be very important.  It teaches you how to manage your own money and time, gives you a little bit of freedom from your parents, and helps you realize the importance of learning to work with a team and working with people who are not the same as you. enjoy-the-ride-2

In college, I continued working but I am not sure where I took the turn of going from working…to having a schedule so full that I felt like I was on constant verge of breakdown. I lived on my own and had tuition to help pay for, so I never worked less than 30 hours a week to meet my needs.  Most of my work consisted of nannying/babysitting, working at the local YMCA and then of course being a campus tour guide.  All of those, all at once, on top of my soccer schedule and balancing school.  It is actually a regret of mine that I didn’t just manage my money better and work less, so that I had more opportunities to be involved in clubs on campus, travel opportunities etc. Live and learn I suppose. I remember looking forward to the day that I would graduate college, have a “real” job and a set schedule and actually have some free time. HILARIOUS!

When I was lucky enough to land a job in Admission right out of college, although it was an incredible first step to a great career, the pay was low.  Low only because I had student loan payments that were probably a little higher than the average graduate, okay a lot higher. So I had to hold on to a couple part time jobs for the first 5 years of my career to pay off that debt and get ahead. I also felt conflicted about leaving personal training behind as I still really loved it.  So for a few years, I would work at AU 8-5 (sometimes train clients before work if I was not working out on my own), train clients after work and then babysit almost every Friday and Saturday. And not to mention training for something, a marathon, Ironman, etc. There was literally something for every hour of every day.   I didn’t FEEL stressed much of the time, because I didn’t think much about it.  I just kept going through the motions.  BUT I will tell you that overall I was not as happy as I could have been.  I was constantly rushing from one thing to the next and if anybody took advantage of my time, I became enraged and frustrated.  Didn’t they know this was the only 30 minutes I had?  Sometimes, friends and family didn’t understand why I could never commit to something, or why I was such a flake, I hated that about myself.  When I joined a Masters program a few years ago, my spare time when from little to ZERO.

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Additionally, with a schedule like this I always ran into constant problems. Because my mind was never present, I was always on the next task, the next place I had to go and my ongoing to do list that I never actually had time to complete. Because of this, I was reckless. I wouldn’t think things through well enough, I wasn’t cautious or aware of my emotions or surroundings because my mind didn’t have the time for it.  This was not and is not healthy for anybody. Sometimes being busy can even be a dangerous coping mechanism to keep us from dealing with our issues, with ourselves.   The beauty of life is in enjoying the current moment.  Because we never know when future moments will be taken from us.

Just this last year, I began to finally let go of those part time jobs and other commitments.  Partly because I moved up the ranks in my career and had much more responsibility to worry about.  So not only was I able to financially let go of those jobs, but I needed to in order to focus on being a better counselor and assistant director…and overall person.

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So here I am in 2015.  I have ONE job and ONE more class to finish my masters.  It is my natural ability to now to look at my schedule, see some open spots and want to fill them. ‘maybe I can pick up some clients again, or join an indoor soccer league?”.  I am challenging myself to NOT do that anymore this year.  To spend that extra time being caught up at work, reading more, writing more and moving towards my goals for the year.  Soon enough, when Shain and I start our family, my schedule will be full of many different things I am sure.  So this is the year I focus on reflecting, slowing down and being more present. Will I still be busy?  Of course.  But not nearly as busy as before.  More time to enjoy the sunrises and sunsets.  To get get lost in a book. To pray. To be with my husband.  More time to leave the overwhelming schedule and underwhelmed soul behind.

Stay blessed in the mess 🙂

 

How to set goals and SUCCEED

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University of Scranton research suggests that just 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals. Thank you University of Scranton for that bit of motivation, I am sure you are also going to tell me my marriage has a 50% chance of ending in divorce too, huh?   There are all kinds of stats out there that tell you horrifying numbers.  There are all kinds of people out there that will tell you it is a waste to make resolutions. You will hear a lot of complaints about all the ‘newbies’ at the gym this time of year (I have a separate post for those haters that I wrote two years ago).  What I am here to tellI you is that all those numbers and that negative energy does not matter.  What matters is how bad you want your goals, resolutions whatever you want to call them, to come true. That is it.

I do not mess around when it comes to setting goals, the art of making yourself a better person and going after the life you want is serious business and takes commitment every single day. My specific goals for 2015 can be found here.  I truly enjoy helping others set goals as well so in light of the new year, I wanted to share with you some of my tools and guidelines I use for myself to make the things I want happen and keep me on track.  There is also a little bonus recipe at the bottom for your enjoyment!

  • Write goals in the present form. Example: “I lost weight this year” instead of “I will lose weight this year” Writing them in this form starts the manifestation process and they are that more likely to happen. First step is BELIEVING you can do this. Even if it means you have to convince yourself. Fake it til you make it (you will make it).
  • Make goals SPECIFIC. Instead of “I lost weight this year” it should be ” I lost 20 pounds this year!”. Making a goal specific makes it easier to achieve…and again manifest (I am big into manifesting as you will learn).
  • Have an ACTION PLAN for each of your goals.  HOW are you going to lose 20 pounds?  ” I have lost 20 pounds by committing to the gym at least 3 days a week”.
  • TELL AS MANY PEOPLE AS YOU CAN. Why? For accountability of course!  If you tell everyone you know that you are giving up shopping for a year, limiting your sweets, committing to the gym or not drinking anymore…people will notice when you are not holding true to these things. Sometimes this might be embarrassing, sometimes you will wish you didn’t tell anybody so that you could drown your sorrows on your bad day and eat that whole box of girl scout cookies like it was your job.  But it will be harder to do that if people are watching and asking you how things are going.

Anytime I make big goals for myself, I also write them out and I hang them on my mirror in my room. This way I can see them every day, read them, believe them and visualize them happening in my mind. Everything I have put on that mirror has come true.  From job promotions, to savings account goals to getting a Boston qualifying marathon time.

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When we were told several times our dog needed an expensive second surgery after a bad injury he had a month ago, I put a note up on my mirror (and our fridge) that said “Wyatt does not need a second surgery and is all healed up!”  It came true, he didn’t need it. Manifesting is a real thing, friends. And it can be for the simplest things, try it out.  Make your own magic mirror in your house.

Another key to keeping your goals is situational preparation.  Set your self up for success no matter what you run in to. If your goal is to save more money, don’t just make a plan. Make a situational plan.  “If an emergency comes up, instead of using my savings I will go without _____for a month.” If your goal is to eat better, pick one day a week where you plan your meals out and cook for the week to be ready for those busy days when you thought you would have time to cook but did not.  Preparation is KEY.  Because you will run into roadblocks or situations that will make your goals harder to stick to…but don’t use them as an excuses.  Have a back up plan to keep you on track.

I don’t have to know what you are going after this year to tell you that you WILL DO IT.  You will succeed.  Because I believe in you.  You should believe in you. I would love to hear your goals for 2015 in the comments below!

For those of you trying to take better care of yourselves and eat cleaner in 2015.  Below is one of my favorite and easiest winter recipes. One of my many goals for this blog specifically is to share one easy clean eating recipe a week, enjoy!

Salsa Chicken Chili

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You will need:

One whole cooked rotisserie chicken

3 cans of your favorite salsa

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 cans red kidney beans

Shred up the rotisserie chicken, take off skin if desired.

Dump chicken and rest of ingredient in crockpot, let it heat up stirring occasionally for about 15-20 min (or just leave on low/warm for a few hours to let the taste really settle in). Sprinkle a teensy bit of cheese and plantain chips on top and boom you are done. Easy peasy right?  You of course can sub out the rotisserie chicken and cook your own chicken breasts and shred, but this is my go to method when I am feeling lazy or short on time, still just as healthy.

Stay blessed in the mess!