Monthly Archives: August 2014

Is it possible to be happy when you don’t have what you want?

A beautiful sunset can help me feel happy! This one is from a trip in 2010 to Rangeley, Maine.

A beautiful sunset can help me feel happy! This one is from a trip in 2010 to Rangeley, Maine.

Ever notice that there are some people who post nothing but negative things on Facebook? Those same people, if you know any of them in real life, also tend to play the “woe is me, my life is the worst” card a lot. Of course, we’re all entitled to occasional bouts of negativity – especially when things are not going well for us (or during times we have no control – such as when a loved one is sick).  I’m prone to some serious rants myself sometimes!

But did you know that being happy is a choice? 

It has little to do with what you have or what you don’t have, your plans lining up perfectly, having things in life handed to you or even good luck.

You can have all those things and be miserable.  You can have nothing and still be happy.

Many people seem to think that happiness is something that shows up one day when you get that job you’ve been working hard for, when you finally lose weight or when baby makes three.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.

You can have all the things you thought you wanted and still be miserable (and you are almost guaranteed to be if you allow events or objects to dictate when you are supposed to feel happy).  Positive psychologists believe we have a “set point” for happiness – meaning that most of us will have a certain level of overall happiness in our lives regardless of what happens to us.  Happy things will boost us for awhile but eventually you’ll go back to where you naturally live on the happiness scale (and the same goes for unhappy/sad events).  While this does mean that some of us are more naturally inclined to feel happy more often than others, it also means that there are things you can do to feel more happiness in your life.  And it begins with YOU.

You’re in control of your happiness.  You and only you.  If you don’t like something, you’re the only one who can change it. There are two tasks I want you to try that can help increase your happiness in life:

1. If there is something in your life that you know is a source of unhappiness for you, whether it be your job, your weight, your relationship or your to do list, sit down and create a strategy to change it.  Maybe all you need to do is talk to your manager to change your responsibilities, or maybe it’s time for a new job entirely.  Maybe you need to delegate chores at home more so you have some time to spend with friends and your husband or maybe you’re just trying to do too much and need to work on relaxing your standards.  Whatever it is, it’s up to you to figure out what the biggest strains in your life are and change what you can.

2. If you’re looking at your life right now and going “But I like my job, my weight is good, my husband and I are happy and I have plenty of free time but I’m still not happy” then I have another task for you.  And this one is so much easier than the first one!  If there really is nothing in your life that you feel is dragging you down, get yourself a notebook and a pen and keep it on the nightstand next to your bed.  Each night, before you turn off the light and go to sleep I want you to write down at least 3 things you are grateful for.  It can be things that happened that day or something more general. If you have difficulty coming up with things you are grateful for, you can also list things you did well that day (some days just getting out of bed and getting the kids off to school will be something to be proud of!).  Do this every night (or morning if that is easier for you) for at least three weeks and I guarantee you will feel a little better about your life.

And if you don’t, I think you need to look closer at task number one.

Ultimately, we invite happiness in to our lives by choosing to take control of where life takes us. No one has bad luck ALL of the time.  We’re responsible for much of what happens to us. Choose happiness and you are choosing to actively participate in your life which is a great thing!

What sorts of things are affecting your happiness right now?  What can be done about it?  Will you choose happiness?

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Be Your Biggest Cheerleader (even if you don’t feel like it)!

These pictures are actual snapshots from these old journals - that is my horrendous handwriting (good luck reading that!).  I'm feeling a bit shy of exposing this part of myself (long long time ago but still).  No one gets to read my journals.  They need to be burned when I die! haha!

These pictures are actual snapshots from these old journals – that is my horrendous handwriting (good luck reading that!). I’m feeling a bit shy of exposing this part of myself (long long time ago but still). No one gets to read my journals. They need to be burned when I die! haha!

Fake it till you make it. Have you heard that saying? Sometimes you have to pretend to believe something about yourself to make it a reality.

 

 

 

I recently started writing in a journal again. I’ve been keeping journals since I was in 6th or 7th grade (back then it was a diary with a little lock on it) and relatively shortly after I met my husband, my journal writing became less and less frequent until I realized that I had not written a single journal entry since 2008. I always loved how writing my thoughts down on paper helped me to see more clearly and feel like less of a crazy person. It had a very grounding influence on me and it also helped to give me a really strong memory of those times in my life. Not writing the last few years I feel like my memory for details is not quite as strong so I’ve decided to get back in to it!

It’s hard, I don’t have as much that I feel like I need to write about – honestly, back then it was mostly about boys, boys, boys and I don’t really have that kind of drama to write about now! Ha ha! But I’m determined to make it a regular thing again. I miss it!

To get inspired to write again, I decided to start reading some of my old journals and of course, half of them make me cringe inside (omg, did I really do that? say that? care about that?) and the other half of them make me laugh hilariously. I can see exactly how and why I’ve become the person I am today. I’m grateful for all my awkward, messy phases of life because it’s helped shape me into someone I like being. Do I wish I did some things differently? Of course. But I like who I am. I like how I’ve turned out. Is that weird to say?

 

 

 

So many of us have a hard time sincerely saying that we like who we are. We’re not exactly encouraged to accept and embrace ourselves with all of our faults, flaws and quirks. It’s far more acceptable to be self-deprecating.  In reading my old journals, I forgot that during a really tough period in my life (around the time my mother died and the years after) I would prep each new journal before I began writing in it with positive sayings written on the bottom of each page, affirmations, pictures and other little goodies to give me a confidence or mood boost when I was writing.  I was in a really bad place and my confidence was at an all time low.  Writing little sayings seemed like the easiest thing I could do (with the least amount of effort) but over time it really paid off.

Looking at them out of context, I would think that the person whose journals these were (me!), was the biggest conceited egomaniac on the planet.  But that wasn’t the case.  I wrote these things down during a time when I didn’t believe a single word of it.  Now, more than a decade later, not only do I believe most of these things but they’ve become the foundation of my beliefs about myself and others.  I faked it till I made it.  I was my greatest cheerleader during a time when I least felt like it.  I still have moments of self doubt or feeling self conscious at times but trusting in myself makes those thoughts far less devastating than they used to be.

If you are struggling with self doubt, negative thoughts about your abilities, your looks or your inherent self-worth, know that you will stay in those places until you make a conscious decision to no longer welcome those thoughts into your life.  As I’ve said many times, nothing changes overnight, but slow progress is better than no progress.  You ARE amazing.  You ARE smart.  You ARE beautiful.  You ARE worthy.  You deserve to treat yourself with love and kindness and in doing that, you will be more able to treat others that way too (which will come back to you).

What thoughts of yours are getting in the way of you feeling and doing your best? What negative thoughts pass through your head too often? How do you think that is affecting your life?

Perhaps writing in a journal with positive reminders on each page is too much for you but what could you do instead?  Maybe a few post it notes placed in your most frequented places (computer monitor, refrigerator, car etc), self love affirmations said in front of a mirror or even just setting limits for how many negative things you can think/say about yourself a day (the goal is zero but let’s just start somewhere!).

Have you turned around damaging negative thoughts about yourself?  I’d love to hear what worked for you.  Shoot me an email.  I’m a real person and I will reply!

This is something I work with my clients on. Holistic coaching means we look at more than diet to help someone live and feel their healthiest (relationships, career, spirituality, physical activity and a few other areas all get attention).  I love watching people heal themselves with little more than being kind to themselves. I’d be happy to talk to you to give you an idea of what that would look like.  I don’t bite, I promise (well anymore.  I have a friend from childhood who would disagree. Sorry Renee!).

This post was originally published as an email. You can join this list by signing up in the green box below!

Spiced Haddock Tacos with Cilantro Lime Cream on Fresh Corn Tortillas

Fish Tacos! Excuse the sloppy pic - they taste better than they look!

Fish Tacos! Excuse the sloppy pics – they taste better than they look!

When John and I first got together, and I was learning to cook, if I ever asked what he wanted for dinner, his response was always “tacos!”.  This was fine with me because my cooking skills at the time were exactly on par with just cooking some beef in a pan and stirring in a store bought packet of “taco seasoning”. It was easy and convenient.  But over time, as I started to amass more spices in my cabinet and learned how to use them, I started to question why I was wasting money buying spices in a packet and why I wanted to feed us something that had a ton of unnecessary ingredients like MSG and excess sodium so I started to experiment with making my own spice blends.   Then, I started to get bored with the standard taco (ground beef, hard corn shell, lettuce, salsa etc) and began to experiment with what could go into a taco.  The options really are endless if you think about it! A taco really just a vehicle for getting spiced things into your mouth and it doesn’t matter if it’s beef, fish, beans or tofu.  Add some raw veggies and a sauce of some sort and you’ve got yourself a taco!

I love fish tacos in the summer.  They come together really quickly and they’re great for hot weather.  It’s not a meal that will weigh you down.

At first glance, this recipe will seem complicated because you need to make fish, a slaw, a cilantro cream and homemade corn tortillas.  In all honesty, none of them take much time to make.  Other than soaking the cashews for the cream, the thing that takes the longest is making the tortillas and even that can be done quickly if you have more than one cast iron skillet or a very large skillet that you can cook more than one at a time on.

And if making all of these things from scratch is too much for you?  No big deal, we don’t do all or nothing here.  Do what works for your life and if you prefer to use store bought tortillas or regular sour cream, that’s fine but I insist you use full fat sour cream (preferably organic) – the low fat, no fat stuff has fillers and junk added to it. No good. Making my own tortillas is something I’ve only recently started to do and I haven’t looked back but I understand if you’re not there yet!

Ingredients

Spiced Haddock
1 lb wild caught haddock (or other white fish of your preference)
1 tbsp Chili Powder
2 tsp Cumin Powder
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp ground coriander
Black Pepper & Seas Salt
olive oil or melted coconut oil

Directions
Put all spices, salt & pepper in a small bowl and mix. Rub fish with oil and then spices and lay out on a sheet pan. Let fish sit with the spices while you make the Slaw and Cilantro Cream. Bake at 375 for 12-15 minutes (will depend on how thick your fillets are) until fish flakes easily.

photo 2Cabbage & Arugula Slaw
2 cups shredded green or purple cabbage
2 cups baby arugula, chopped
1 bell pepper, seeded and cut into thin strips
4 medium carrots, peeled and then grated (cheese grater or in the food processor)
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
juice from half a lime
sea salt & pepper to taste

Directions
Put all ingredients in a bowl, toss to coat.

photo 1Cilantro Lime Cream
1/2 cup soaked cashews (soaked in water for 4-8 hours, rinsed and drained)
half a lime, zested and juice reserved
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup water
1 clove garlic or 1 small shallot
1/2 tsp cumin powder
sea salt to taste

Directions
Put all ingredients in the blender or food processor and blend away until smooth.  Add more water if needed.  You can also use cashew cream if you already have some made in place of the cashews and water.

photo 3Fresh Corn Tortillas
2 cups Masa Harina Flour (use a non-gmo brand Bob’s Red Mill & Purcell Mountain Farms are two that I know of)
1 cup warm water
1/4 tsp salt

Directions
Put corn flour and salt in a bowl, add warm water and mix with your hands until it forms a dough.  If it feels dry and grainy add a little more water a little at a time.  Take the dough and form it into 10-12 small balls.  Cover them with wet paper towels or a wet towel while you form them.  Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium heat.  While the skillet is heating up, roll each dough ball (one at a time) between two pieces of plastic wrap with a rolling pin (or a tortilla press if you have one) until they are about 5-6 inches across.  If they start to get cracks at the edges, add a little more water to the remaining balls before rolling out.   Fry each tortilla in the skillet for 1 minute on each side.  Once you lay them in the pan, don’t touch them until it’s time to flip (they’ll stick at first but let go when they’re ready to flip).  If you are making a lot of tortillas and only have one skillet, this will take awhile.  Use a second skillet if you have one – it will speed up the process tremendously.

To serve, spread some cilantro cream on a tortilla, top with slaw and fish.  Add optional salsa if you like!  Makes 3-4 servings (3-4 tacos each).