Measuring Success

I recently read Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder, by Arianna Huffington.  Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve been on The Huffington Post once or twice.  Arianna Huffington is the cofounder, president, and editor-in-chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. She’s also a wife, mother, philanthropist, and she has authored fourteen books. She’s kind of a busy lady.

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In her book, Huffington explores a different kind of success – one that isn’t based on power, money, and status. Instead, Huffington’s success focuses on being a healthy (both mentally and physically), well-rounded  individual who is able to unplug from work.  In order to avoid burn-out, Huffington also encourages readers to embrace meditation in order to be in touch with one’s inner-self. She offers up a myriad of examples of companies who attempt to help their employees take better care of themselves. For instance, her own company has nap rooms for employees to utilize, and Google has a printed dog policy that allows employees to bring dogs to work with them.

Thrive compelled me to think about my personal definition of success. I tend to carry work-stress around with me, and this book made me think of new ways to keep work from seeping into my personal life. It also made me resolve to keep practicing my current methods of “unplugging”:

  • I refrain from checking my work email when I’m at home or on vacation. I’m probably in the minority, but I don’t have my work email account synced to my phone, so checking it while I’m away from the office is a very deliberate process. Of course, rules are made to be broken, and sometimes I find myself logging into my account(s). I always try to keep it as brief as possible though.
  • I use my lunch breaks for actual breaks. Sometimes, it’s pretty tempting to work through my lunch – especially when I’m focused on a project. I think it’s more important, though, to take a break during the day. I try to eat lunch with friends, walk around the beautiful campus I work on, participate in a wellness class (like yoga), or read. It really helps to get away from my computer screen for an hour.
Today's lunch view.

Today’s lunch view.

  • Office Yoga. Okay, I know I look ridiculous when I’m doing office yoga (which is really just a series of stretches), but it feels soooo good! A couple of times a day, I move away from my desk and do stretches for about five minutes. I usually rub on some Mental Clarity and do some deep breathing, too. If you have a desk job, I highly recommend checking out these “secret exercises” and the Washington Post’s work workout.

Have any of you read Thrive? What were your thoughts? Do you have any tips for keeping work at work?

Disclaimer: I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.

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An Ode to Lavender

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I’m a huge fan of aromatherapy. In fact, I have Badger Headache Soother (a balm containing peppermint and lavender) and a bottle of Mental Clarity (a blend of basil, lemon, peppermint, rosemary, grapefruit,  and lavender oils) sitting on my desk right now, and I use them on the reg.

I’m also a huuuuuge fan of just plain lavender. The plant itself is gorgeous, and the scent is intoxicating. I’ve recently realized that I use it in some unexpected ways, and I thought I would share some of my lavender #protips with you!

LAVENDER LEMONADE It’s summer, so obviously, I’m going to be drinking a lot of lemonade. I really enjoy mixing up the flavors a bit, and I’ve found that lavender lemonade is one of my favorite variations. Basically, instead of adding sugar to your freshly squeezed lemons, you’re going to make a lavender-infused simple syrup using dried lavender. Then, you will hear angels sing, because it is just that delicious.

LAVENDER LINEN SPRAY I love the smell of lavender so much, that I want to sleep surrounded by it. I spritz my sheets with this stuff every night, and it smells amazing! Some linen sprays are complicated, but I just mix a few (okay, like 20) drops of lavender oil with about 12 oz of water in a spray bottle. It also makes a great air freshener.

LAVENDER FOR HAIR About three times a week, I put 3-5 drops of lavender oil right into my conditioner and massage it into my head. I let it sit there for about 3 minutes, and then rinse it out. I love the way it makes my hair smell!

LAVENDER AS A CLEANER Okay, guys. It’s time to get serious. Traditional cleaners freak me out. The chemical smell is overpowering, and I worry about what my kitties are ingesting when they lick their paws. The other day, I was cleaning my dressing room vanity, and I created this awesome paste that worked wonders! I used baking soda, salt (for some added grittiness), lemon juice, and a few drops of lavender oil. I scrubbed the vanity and sink with it and then rinsed it off with a damp rag. Everything sparkled, and the delightful scent of lavender and lemon lingered for hours. Perfection.

I’ve found so many uses for lavender essential oil, that it totally justifies having three bottles of it, right?!

I have a few of these bottles stashed around my house.

Do any of you have a great love of aromatherapy and essential oils? What is your favorite and what do you like to do with it?

Summer Tunes

Good morning, dear Readers!

Happy first day of summer! Guys, I really love summer. I love the sunshine, hot weather, afternoons at the pool, fresh produce, warm nights…I just love it all.

I don’t know about you, but the music I listen to varies greatly from season to season. For instance, in the winter months, I’ll be cozying up with The xx, Mumford & Sons, Adele, and Florence and the Machine. In the summer though, I need some seriously up-beat tunes that I can blast at a pool party or when I’m driving down the highway with my windows down.

Here are a few songs that are definitely going on my ultimate summer playlist:

Safe in LA | Gold Motel

Something Salty, Something Sweet | River City Extension

Am I Wrong | Nico & Vinz

Falling | HAIM

Somebody Loves You | Betty Who

Moves Like Jagger | Maroon 5

Dancing On My Own | Robyn

Come With Me Now | KONGOS

Sing | Ed Sheeran

Some other bands that will appear on my summer playlist are MS MR, Magic!, The 1975, American Authors, and Wild Cub. It’s going to be pretty epic!

Do you guys like to listen to different music each season, or am I strange? What bands are you all listening to this summer?

Oh, Happy Day!

I’m here to talk about my New Year’s Resolution. Wait, what? It’s June, you say? Consider this my mid-point check-in. Lots of people vow to exercise more, eat healthier, or stop cursing. I knew none of those were for me. I’d be gung-ho about them for about 38 hours, and then I’d grow bored with them. I briefly thought about doing this:

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But, ultimately, I do have to work. Again, not very realistic.

Towards the end of 2013, I started having difficulty seeing the bright spots in my days, so my resolution for 2014 was to find one wonderful thing about each day. It could be something someone said to me, a quote I stumbled upon in a book, an email, an activity, an idea – just something to help me capture one happy moment in the day. Several people I know are doing the 100 Happy Days challenge right now. This is basically the same thing – it’s just 365 days of it!

I’ve been collecting my happy moments in this pretty box that I found on sale at TJ Maxx:

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I’ve collected random scraps of paper, movie tickets, wedding programs, photographs, pamphlets, coasters, etc. to commemorate each day.

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One of my favorite happy moments is from January 1st. It marked the end of a relaxing holiday with one of my best friends. I started out the day on the beach in Florida and ended it back in snowy Missouri. Although I could have easily just stayed on the beach, I had a great time road-tripping back!

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Anyway, I am loving this resolution! I haven’t skipped a day yet, and I can’t wait to read about all of my happy moments on December 31st! I encourage everyone to start finding their own happy moments throughout the day. It’s never too late to start!

Did you have a New Year’s Resolution? How’s it going so far?

Mastering the Delicious and Fuss-Free Lunch

I don’t know about you, but during the week, it is waaaaaaay too easy for me to think, “Oh, I’ll just grab lunch from [insert favorite restaurant that’s near work here] today.” As it turns out, that gets pricey. Who knew, right?! A couple of weeks ago, I made a vow to stop eating out for lunch. So far, I’ve been doing pretty well!

Last night, I was trying to think of a lunch that would be easy to throw together for the week, and I came up with a pretty tasty solution! The best part was, I didn’t even have to go to the store for ingredients! In case I haven’t sold you on it yet, it only took 10 minutes to make, and I only used one pot. That, my friends, is a winning combination.

I ended up making gnocchi and peas with a butter-lemon sauce. It’s kind of sweet from the peas and kind of tangy from the lemon. I added some basil to freshen it up a bit, and it is good (if I do say so myself). I was so pleased with it,  I decided to share the recipe with all of you! This is great for lunch, but it would also be a delicious side dish, and if you added a salad, it would be perfect for dinner!

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10-Minute Gnocchi with Peas

(Serves 4)

You will need:

  • 16oz package of gnocchi
  • 1.5C frozen peas
  • 1 tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tbs olive oil
  • 2 tbs butter
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • Salt and pepper

First, add water to the pot and bring it up to a boil. Then, add the frozen peas and  gnocchi to the boiling water (I didn’t even bother thawing out the peas first). Neither of these ingredients takes long to cook – about 5 minutes should be good. You’ll know the gnocchi is finished when it rises to the top of the pot.

Once the peas and gnocchi are finished, dump them into a colander so you can make a quick sauce in the pot. Add the olive oil and butter to the pot. After the butter has melted, add the lemon juice, basil, salt, and pepper. Then, put the gnocchi and peas back in the pot with sauce and stir.  I also added some parmeasn cheese to the top.

See how easy it is?! I highly recommend giving it a try. If you’re interested in more vegetarian dishes, you might want to check out these summer pastas. They look tasty!

What are some of your go-to lunch ideas?

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Mail and Beauty Products

Everyone knows that getting GOOD mail is one of the very best things. I am a huge fan of the monthly subscription boxes that seem to be all the rage right now. It’s like receiving a little present each month! Okay, okay, I know that I’m the one paying for it, but I still get excited every time I see a package in the mailbox. I’m currently a Birchbox member, so I get fun samples of high-end hair and beauty products. Plus, this month, they teamed up with Kate Spade’s Saturday, which means I get a fun coupon to use on all of that site’s fabulous stuff! It’s so much fun that I thought I’d share this month’s spoils with all of you!

First, can we just talk about how cute the little box is?! These boxes are great for little gifts, and I also use them to help organize my bathroom counter.

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When I opened the box, I was greeted with fun patterns, bright colors, wonderful scents, and a little card welcoming me to the May box.

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The back of the card has a list of the products in the box and instructions for how to use them.

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This month, I received

  • Eyeliner from Cynthia Rowley – Honestly, I will probably only use this once or twice. I tend to stick with what I know when it comes to eyeliner and mascara, but I do enjoy Cynthia Rowley products.
  • Kerastase shampoo and conditioner – I will use ALL of this and want more. I have a slight addiction to shampoo/conditioner (okay, I currently have five bottles of each in my shower), and this stuff smells AMAZING.
  • Lip gloss from Noya Beauty – I’ve never heard of this brand before, but I love the shade of the gloss. It’s the perfect summer shade, and after perusing the company’s website for a bit, it looks like a company I would purchase things from often.
  • Lotion from Perlier – This stuff smells goooood! I also like having tiny lotions to stow in my purse and in my desk. Super handy!
  • Bar soap from Sumbody – I’m not a huge fan of bar soap, but this stuff smells like heaven. I can’t wait to give it a try!

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So, that’s the rundown on the fun products I got this month. If you like hair and beauty products, I would highly suggest giving Birchbox a shot! It’s only $10/month, and you can cancel at anytime.

So, what are your favorite beauty products? Do you currently receive any subscription boxes?

30 Days of Torture (aka Planks)

At the beginning of this month, I decided to do a 30 Day Plank Challenge. The premise is simple; you start out doing one 20-second plank a day, and you gradually increase the time until you do one 5-minute plank on the last day.

Guys, I hate planks. I take a yoga class twice a week, and every time the instructor has us do planks, I want to die. You may be asking yourself why I decided to do a plank challenge if I loathe them so. The answer is: I’m not exactly sure. It was a spur of the moment decision, and at the end of it, I can say I’ve done a 5-minute plank. Rewarding, right?

This is the schedule I’m following:

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It’s pretty standard. I found this particular schedule on Pinterest, but planks are really taking the internet by storm (thanks to CrossFit). You can find schedules just about anywhere. I’m currently on day 14 – almost halfway finished! Woot!

While I may not love planks, I am enjoying the 30 day challenge format, and I’d like to continue with that when this month is over. Do any of you have suggestions for what I should do next?