Positively Engaging with Parents of Children who are “different”

Hello! Glad you’re here!

If you haven’t heard, I am the proud mama of my little man, Ezra. He is everything to me. My sun, moon, and all the stars.

He’s is 8 months old, sitting up on his own, loves to grab Mommy’s hair and Daddy’s glasses, and giggles while he is “dancing” or “flying.” Peas are his favorite food and he hates naps. He refuses to crawl, and prefers to roll everywhere he wants to go. He is fascinated by our cat and is obsessed with our dog.

He also has a condition called metopic craniosynostosis. Simply put, his forehead skull bones fused too early causing him to have a ridge on his forehead and a head that’s shaped like a triangle.

Now normally, you can’t really tell anything is different. Many people don’t notice his head at first, if at all. The craniosynistosis doesn’t affect his every day life in the slightest and mostly doesn’t affect my partner and my life on a daily basis. Of course we still worry, what parent wouldn’t? But we try to live as normally as possible.

I was inspired to write this post after a seemingly insignificant exchange between myself and a nurse. I was originally going to address this post to that nurse, but after thinking about it, I decided to open the discussion to everyone who will ever encounter a child who is different.

The backstory

About a month ago, my little guy was really sick, had a fever of 104.6. I hurriedly gave him some ibuprofen and rushed him to the Emergency Department of the children’s hospital were he receives all of his specialized care, thinking it would be easier because they have all his records.

We were taken back immediately because a 7 month old with that high of a fever is a top priority. The first nurse was very sweet and nice, asking all the perfunctory questions medical facilities do and oooing and awwing about how cute Ezra is.

Which is why I absolutely know she didn’t mean anything by her comment. She saw Ezra’s forehead, ran a finger down it and asked, “is it always like that?”

I nodded and explained, “yes, he has craniosynostosis.”

The nurse nodded and responded “Oh, well he looks really good, most kids with that look much worse.”

Her comment was said so off-hand that I don’t even know if she or my partner really paid much attention to it. And the nurse was not necessarily wrong. My baby DOES look pretty good.

But how good he looks doesn’t change the fact that my beautiful, perfect baby boy is going to need major surgery before he is year old to correct his head. It doesn’t change the fact that he may have a learning delay or issues with migraines because of his condition later in life. It doesn’t change the hours and days I’ve spent worrying, crying, and thinking why my baby?

The nurse probably meant to be reassuring, but to me it felt dismissive. As though my baby looks so good his condition isn’t that big of a deal. But craniosynistosis is a big deal.

My advice to everyone who may ever come across a child who is in any way different

Now that I’m a mother to a child who is different, I have a newly found perspective on ways to reassure people and especially parents. My advice is, please, please do not down play their difference, don’t try to find the “silver lining.” If the sentence starts with “well at least it’s not/is” don’t say it. I can’t tell you how many times someone has said to me “well at least it’s treatable” or “at least it’s not cancer.”

Yep. You’re right, at least it’s not worse. I feel so incredibly grateful my baby’s condition is fixable. And I thank my lucky stars it’s not cancer or something else. But, as a parent to a child who will be having a huge surgery, that is not the type of encouragement or reassurance I need.

I know I’ve been guilty of saying similar things to people over the years. And I promise I know people don’t mean to hurt my feelings or be dismissive about my experience and my son’s future experience. I am offering you an alternative view now that I have this unique insight I didn’t have before Ezra was born.

Instead, do this!

Offer words of encouragement. Something like “thank goodness you caught it early.” Or “I’m so glad he’s doing well,” and “I will be thinking/praying/hoping for his safe surgery and recovery.” “He’s really strong, he will be ok.” Or heck you can even say “I’m so sorry you and you’re family are going through this.”

You can also ask me questions about his condition. I am happy to educate people, because in my experience, no one knows what craniosynistosis is. Asking things like “what does the surgery entail?” or “will he always have this condition?” are perfectly good questions.

I love positive encouragement and inquisitiveness. It’s uplifting and makes me feel like you care about his treatment and prognosis. My family and I need all the positivity people can give us and we will gladly take it.

If you’d like to read up on craniosynostosis check out this website or this one

If you want to donate or support a really awesome nonprofit for craniosynostosis click HERE

Thank you!

Let me know what you think! What are some ways you’d like to be reassured? Have you ever had an experience similar to this with yourself or your kid?

Mindfulness Walking

Mindful Monday’s

Hello! Welcome back to my second mindfulness post.

Anxiety and depression are the two most common mental health issues people experience. They can significantly impact the lives of people who have them.

I suffer from depression and have since I was a teenager. Unfortunately, mental illness is largely stigmatized. So I thought I’d share some of my own experience with depression. People will often tell me they had no idea I suffer from depression because I hide it so well. Perhaps this is part of your experience too.

What my depression looks like

I get into such low moods all I want to do is sit on my couch and zone out. I won’t clean, I’ll barely do laundry and dishes. Now I do what I have to for my son, but when it comes to my own stuff, it’s largely forgotten. I will binge on crappy foods and other times I’ll barely eat anything. Sleeping will become impossible even though I’m exhausted, or I will literally sleep all day. I become very negative and believe everything people say is a slight against me. Sometimes I will get angry with my loved ones for no reason and lash out.

I won’t always know it’s happening, it can be a slow, creeping process. The depression will slowly choke out the outside world until I’m left with only dark thoughts. Thoughts will circle continuously telling me how ugly I am, how fat I’ve gotten, how I will never be happy, that people don’t actually want to be my friend, they are just pretending. Why do I bother? No one will want me. I’m too abrasive, I’m not happy enough, I don’t understand jokes.

While my depression and negativity is happening, I’ll go through the motions. I put on my eyeliner, smile and laugh, joke with my coworkers, and maybe have good conversations with my friends and family. I’m exhausted from pretending all day and can’t keep it up at home. I will sit on my couch for hours with the TV on, sometimes I’ll watch it, but mainly it’s for background to try to block out my thoughts. To switch off, to shut down. But when I manage to shut down, the numbness can be worse. Can you be human if you are numb? There is a major difference these days to my depression though. Before I was pregnant, I hardly cried. Now crying is all too familiar.

My light of my life

The light I focus on in the fog is my son. My happy little man is my reason for being. His whole face lights up when he sees me. That is the most magnificent gift. He doesn’t know what depression is. My son doesn’t know Mommy struggles with depression. Ezra needs his mommy to be there and be engaged with him. I have been working very hard to recover from depression for my son.

Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a very good tool to use that can actually help with depression and anxiety. It can help you boost your mood, stop dwelling in the past or future, and encourage you to relax and experience this moment. If you want to read a little bit more on mindfulness, see my other post here

I love mindfulness and have found it to be extremely helpful and useful. Now, I’m not perfect, I definitely don’t practice mindfulness every day. But I try to practice several times a week. Currently, I do a mindfulness exercise as part of my bedtime routine. This is the easiest part of my day to set aside for mindfulness because it’s a time I reserve for me. You can do mindfulness pretty much by doing anything and pretty much anywhere.

If you’re super busy like me, perhaps an easier time for mindfulness is when you’re walking. Yes, walking. You’re going to be walking at some point during your day, right? So why not make it mindfulness walking!

Ready for another mindfulness exercise? Good! First though, some reminders!

Mindfulness is paying attention, on purpose, to the moment without judgment and emotional attachment. Losing focus is normal and perfectly OK! When your mind wonders to thoughts, worries, or anything else, gently bring your attention back to the exercise.

Mindful Walking Exercise

Start by walking at your typical pace without trying to change it. Notice how you are walking.

Notice the sensation of when your feet leave the ground. What does that feel like? Do you shift your weight? Do you lift at the foot? Or the knee or hip?

After several steps, shift your attention to the sensation of your feet hitting the ground. How does your weight shift when your foot lands? Do your toes or heel hit first? Notice your feet making contact with the ground for a few steps.

Slowly make your way up your body. How are your knees bending while walking? Are they moving easily or are they stiff? Allow yourself to simply notice your knees for a few paces.

Then, focus on your hips. What direction are they moving? Side to side or more straight? Can you feel your upper legs and hips connect at the joint? How does that feel? What is your experience with that sensation?

Move your attention then to your stomach. Are your stomach muscles moving? Do you hold your belly in? Can you feel your breath in your stomach? Just feel and notice your stomach muscles as you walk for several steps.

Switch your focus then to your arms and shoulders. Are your arms moving or crossed? Are your shoulders lose or hunched towards your ears? If your shoulders are upwards, make the point to lower your shoulders and uncross your arms, letting that tension release.

Then focus on your face and head. Where are you looking? Is your head downward looking at the ground? Upwards looking side to side? Do you move your head when you see something or hear something? Take the time to simply notice your head.

If you are still walking, start again, but speed up or slow down your pace. Are you less tense? More tense? Is walking easier or more difficult? How does your breath change when you speed up or slow down? Notice how the change in your pace changes your experience.

Practice makes perfect!

Practice mindfulness walking for a week and see how it impacts your life. Ask yourself if you notice you’re less stressed? Focusing less on past or future thinking?

Let me know what your experience is! I’d love to hear from you. If you like this exercise and want more, please follow my blog and sign up for my email list for exclusive Positively Kati Content!

5 Things I’ve learned about being a mom

It has been about a year now since I’ve learned I was about to be a mom.

I had so many thoughts and emotions when I learned I was pregnant. I only had 7 short months to learn how to be a mom, how was I ever going to be prepared? I was scared because holy crap, now I have to be responsible for a little human. I was overjoyed and excited to meet him.
I was nervous to give birth. I was curious about what he’d look like. Would he have his dads height? My eyes? I was overfilled with love, despite being nervous and scared and unsure how to be a mother. I knew I was going to have to learn, and learn quick.

Six months after having him, here are 5 things I’ve learned about being a mom!

1. I’ve learned you’re never going to feel ready, until you have to be, and then you just are.

I was convinced while pregnant I needed to learn as much as possible about babies and motherhood, to get his nursery together, and to purchase all the things I might want or need for him. My partner kept telling me he would get the nursery together while I was in the hospital, but I was having none of that. I needed it done before! We had to be ready! What kind of mother would I be if his nursery wasn’t done well before he came into the world? I’m here to tell you that’s nonsense. I wasn’t “ready” for him until I had him, when he was first placed in my arms with my partner, Shane, standing next to me with our sons fingers wrapped around his one. I found this to be true for every situation we’ve run into with him since he was born.

I wasn’t “ready” for the first time he was sick, until he was and we handled it. I wasn’t “ready” for him to explode out of his diaper, until he did. I wasn’t “ready” for him to get his first set of shots, until he had to get them. I wasn’t “ready” for him to grow out of his newborn clothes, or his 0-3, or 3 for that matter. I certainly wasn’t ready to hear my child has a medical condition that requires surgery. No matter what comes, I know that we will be ready when it happens.

2. I’ve learned you don’t need all the stuff they say you need for a baby.

I researched for weeks and stressed about getting my registries JUST right because I simply needed everything right away. Do you need a lot of stuff for your baby? Absolutely. Did I need 10 different pacifiers before I knew whether my kid would even use them? Nope. My little boy won’t touch them anymore and now I have a dozen of unused pacifiers, some not even opened yet. Did I need to have his crib up? Nope. He won’t sleep in his crib. We currently use it as a changing station for him. Did I need all those baby hangers? Not at all. I’m so busy and tired from being a mom, I’m lucky if his clothes make it to his dresser from the laundry basket let alone on cute little hangers. I would have done much better to wait and see what my kid will actually use before buying everything they say you need.

3. BUT I’ve learned there are some things you definitely need for the baby.

Diapers, clothes, clothes, clothes, as many blankets as possible, bottles – because breastfeeding may not work out, – wipes, a Boppy pillow, car seat, stroller, diaper bag, swing, a set of baby medicines, and thermometer were just a few on my list of things that I needed in the first few days, weeks, and months. My best piece of advice is ask other mothers what they considered their must haves and make sure you have those things! Everyone told me a swing and a bunch of receiving/swaddle blankets were a must have and dear Lord they were all right.

4. I’ve learned there is no such thing as “perfect” or the “right” or “best” way to do anything. Only what’s “best” for your baby.

There is a lot of literature out there that says what is “best” for your baby. I heard plenty from family and friends about what is the best way to feed the baby, that I should breastfeed at any cost, the hospital and doctor’s office beat “safe sleep” into my head, that I should stimulate his mind from the beginning, that I can’t give him acetaminophen until he’s 4 months old, even though that’s what they give your baby in the hospital.

My kid won’t sleep flat on his back, never has since the day he was born. I tried for the first couple of weeks and then again when he was around 3 months old to try to get him to sleep flat on his back in the bassinet pack n’ play, but he wouldn’t. He would stay asleep for tops 10 minutes. A baby that’s not sleeping means mommy and daddy aren’t sleeping which makes for a grumpy baby and grumpy parents. I gave up on trying to get him to sleep like that because it didn’t work. Don’t get me wrong, I make his sleep as safe as possible, but we’ve stopped stressing about it. After all, a sleeping baby is best. I got a certain amount of flak and warnings about his sleeping, but we do what is best for our child, and I’m sure you will and have done what is best for your baby.

5. I’ve learned there is no true love like the love you have for your child.

He’s number one. It’s that simple. I will do anything for him. I don’t even have to question the lengths I would go to for him or how much I love him. I’ve never loved anyone as much as I love him. He is my heart and my special little man.

So, those are my 5 things I’ve learned about being a mom. What are some of the things you learned as a new mom or dad? What was the BEST and WORST advice you got about having your own baby? 

Leave a message in my comments! 

Sneak Peak! Plus organic info

I hope your week is going well so far!

Maybe with practicing the mindfulness exercises from last Monday you’re even feeling more energized and ready for whatever life gives you!

I am SUPER jazzed to share with you a little sneak peak of the fabric that arrived last week for the first couple of products I am making for my shop!

I will be offering several different options in my eco-friendly shop including organic cotton, organic bamboo, hemp, fabrics that have been dyed with eco-friendly dyes, recycled fabric, and repurposed fabrics. On top of having a positive impact on the environment, they are going to be cute too! After all, they are for the baby in your life, and of course you want them to have cute stuff! I know I definitely consider the cuteness factor when I’m shopping for my son.

I mean, look at this one!

This adorable peacock fabric is an organic cotton knit. Knit is a stretchy fabric that’s good for baby clothes and blankets.

So at this point you might be asking yourself what is organic and what does it actually DO for the environment? I keep talking about good for the environment, eco-friendly, positive impact on the environment.

What actually is organic?

The USDA’s National Organic Program defines organic as “organic production [is] a production system that…respond[s] to site-specific conditions by integrating cultural, biological, and mechanical practices that foster cycling of resources, promote ecological balance, and conserve biological diversity.” (1)

Basically what that means is organic farms have to take their own specific soil, rainfall, animals, insects, what they are growing, whatever into consideration and use practices that are sustainable, and low to no (and a very limited type) insecticide. (1)

Some of the practices are really simple, like planting a lot of different types of crops and crop covers in a field and using some insects to keep other insects out. Over time, that makes the soil a lot healthier and can help crops fight off lack of rain, diseases, and bugs. Sorta like our own immune systems. (1)

Cotton had the highest amount of insecticides used around the world. A whopping 16-25% (2) and 10% of the pesticides (3).

Most pesticides used in traditional cotton growing farms are not allowed in organic farms and must not have been used for three years before they can be considered organic (1).

So this fabric here, was grown in a field that had no banned pesticides for at least three years. I think it looks all the cuter because of that!

As a new mom, it’s important that I am giving my kid something that is safe to use. Organic fits that bill. Do I always buy organic? No, but when that option is presented to me I take it, and I’m doing it more and more. So far thanks to all the wonderful people in our lives, we haven’t had to actually BUY my son clothes yet. We are still working our way through the baby shower gifts 🙂

I have also learned a LOT about what have been the most helpful products, what saved my life (so to speak) to help my little guy fall to sleep, what I didn’t need right away but needed later down the line, and things that are just fun and nice to have. This information and insight will fuel what I offer in my shop. Of course what YOU guys want to see is important too.

Can you imagine what this fabric will be used for????? Drum roll please………….

What would be some items you would like to buy for the little ones in your life? Which fabric is your favorite? What were YOUR life saving items when your baby was little? Let me know in the comments!

Please note that colors of the actual fabric may vary based on the settings of your computer/device!

My sources:
(1) https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/GuideForOrganicCropProducers.pdf
(2) EJF. (2007). The deadly chemicals in cotton. Environmental Justice Foundation in collaboration with Pesticide Action Network UK: London, UK. ISBN No. 1-904523-10-2
(3) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-dietz/organic-cotton-sustainable-fashion_b_3562788.html

Mindful Monday’s!

Welcome back! I’m soooo glad you’re here!

Monday’s can sometimes be a pain, a drag if you will. The weekend is over and it’s back to the humdrum of our work lives, not matter what that work is. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a super fan of Monday’s. So I thought, why not give you all something to make your Monday a little better? Tad DAH – Mindful Monday’s.

I want to offer you guys lessons to help you practice this little something called Mindfulness. To start, I’m going to give you some background information.

What is Mindfulness?

Isn’t that like meditation? Do I have to sit and oam?? The answer is well, yes and no. You COULD use mindfulness as a meditation and yes there is a meditation component, but it’s not meditation in the traditional sense of the word.

What it IS; however, is paying attention to the exact moment you are in, right here, right now, on purpose AND without judging, evaluating, or being attached to this moment.

You’re not paying attention to the past, you’re not paying attention to the future. You’re paying attention to the moment. Nonjudmentally simply means if you have a thought, or a feeling, you are not judging yourself for having it. For example, if while you are practicing mindfulness you have the thought “I’m dumb” you simply acknowledge you had that thought and come back to the moment. Without attachment means you are not assigning emotion to your moment, that if you feel sad/happy/anxious whatever, you acknowledge it and bring it back to the moment.

Why Mindfulness?

At this point you might be asking yourself, why do it? What’s the point? How will this help me?

The good news is there are a BUNCH of reasons for practicing mindfulness. There’s a decent amount of research to suggest mindfulness helps with things like:

  • depression
  • anxiety
  • stress reduction
  • increased focus
  • increased happiness
  • ability to be more flexible
  • helps to boost your immune system

take a look at this link to read further benefits
http://www.apa.org/monitor/2012/07-08/ce-corner.aspx

Ok so now that you know some of the benefits and a little more about what it is, I’m going to offer you a little intro to mindfulness!

Are you ready? Ok here we go….

You can do this practice with your eyes opened or closed. Whatever feels most comfortable to you.

Start by brining awareness to your breath. Just notice it without trying to change your breath. How does it feel? Can you feel the breath coming in through your nose? Down into your lungs? Where do you feel your breath the most?

Take the time to simply notice the next few breaths, answering these questions.

If your mind wonders, it’s ok. Each time you catch your mind wandering bring your attention back to your breath.

After a few breaths, start to deepen your breath. Four seconds in through your nose, one second pause, and four seconds out through your mouth.

Notice the difference in these breaths. Where can you feel the breath now? If it feels right to you, you can bring your hands to your abdomen to observe the coming in and out of your breath.

Take the time to notice a couple of these breaths and start to bring your attention to your body. How does your body feel? What do you notice about your body? Is there tension somewhere? Or an itch? If you do notice any stress, try to “breathe” into this tension.

Again, if you start to feel your attention slipping, just nudge yourself back to paying attention to the moment.  It’s perfectly natural and ok to find your attention waning in practice.

Notice your body for a couple more breaths and then bring your attention to what your body is touching. Are you sitting on a chair? Laying down? Can you feel your body touching whatever you are resting on? How does that feel? If you need to adjust to make yourself more comfortable, feel free to do so, letting youself rest even further.

Slowly, if your eyes are closed, start to open your eyes and return back to your daily life, completing your first mindfulness practice.

How’d that go?

Do you feel any more relaxed? More focused? Less stressed? Remember it doesn’t have to last for a long time, you can start with as little as 3 minutes at a time.

Let me know what you think in the comments and if you plan on doing a little mindfulness this next week!

Welcome back to the positive space!

I can’t believe it has been this long since I’ve posted. 2014! Wooah. A lot has changed since then and I am extremely excited to share my new adventures and I can’t wait for you to join me on this journey. I’m going to be taking this blog in a slightly different direction…….

I am VERY shortly (hopefully in the next month or two) going to be opening my own handmade business selling a line of products for your baby that are positively impacting the environment! I will be operating my own website as well as selling on Etsy!

What do I mean by positively impacting the environment you ask? I mean selling items with the impact on the environment and your baby in mind, using organic, recycled, re-purposed, or responsibly sourced fabrics and materials.

Let’s face it, for being so small, babies make a BUNCH of waste. I know because I’ve got a little nugget at home, the source of my inspiration and the most positive thing I have ever done.

Ezra positively kati

By buying and using my environmentally positive products for your little one, you can take heart knowing you are not only getting a great, unique, handcrafted baby item, you are getting one that is helping to save our planet, going green, and is either low or chemical free; making them SUPER safe for your precious little one.

So please, please stay tuned as I get closer to unveiling my business. In the meantime, I will give you all little sneak peaks into the business such as what I will be selling, where I have been learning how to set up my business, inspirations for my business, updates on my own little one, what I’ve been up to in the last three years, as well as some of my old stuff like my recipes, mindfulness, and some environmentally friendly make up reviews.

cropped-coming-soon.png

I’d love for you to join me by subscribing to my blog and leaving me a comment! Tell me what you think, what you want to see in my shop, what you are most looking forward to in a post from me!

– Positively, Kati!

Happiness…we all want it. Here’s how to boost it!

I have been interested in person positivity, well-being, and happiness for quite some time now. My first look into the idea of positivity and happiness was while I was in college and wrote a twelve and half page essay on happiness. In this essay, I collected a decent amount of research on the topic which revealed very interesting facts and possible ways to boost happiness.

First ask yourself what makes you happy? Or, what will make you happy? A lot of people might answer that if I had a new car, or if I lived somewhere else, or this new pair of shoes will make me happy. This makes sense right? Shiny new items, what’s better than that? Sorry, but you would be wrong. New items in your life do not actually make you happy! We adapt too quickly to our environment and surroundings for what is called our life “circumstances” to have lasting effects of happiness. Most of us have been there, when we get a new item or move it makes us happier for awhile, but then we get used to it. It stops being that shiny new item very quickly.

Now I am going to quote myself from the paper that I wrote a few years ago. Why? Because I can.

“Lyubomirsky et al, (2005) developed a model of happiness suggesting that circumstances only account for 10% of total well-being, 50% for the genetic set point, leaving 40% for what they called ‘intentional activity.'”

What this means, is a large majority of our potential happiness is genetically determined and tends to be the baseline our happiness will return to. There are people who are just genetically happier people and there are people who are simply genetically less happy. Only ten percent counts for our house, our car, our jobs, and the items we have. Yep, that’s it, a measly 10%. The other 40% is determined by WHAT WE DO! Now this is very important. Our own actions are what can boost our happiness, even our long term happiness! The only problem is finding out just exactly what actions can bring sustained happiness.

Curious to find out what that is? That “intentional activity?” I bet you are just dying to know! You’re in luck, because I’m going to tell you. Based on scientific studies conducted by Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005), Sheldon, K. M., Boehm, J. K., & Lyumbomirsky, S. (in press), and Seligman, Rashid, & Parks (2006), actions like  counting blessings, setting relevant personal goals, performing acts of kindness, and writing letters of gratitude can elevate well-being and happiness for UP TO ONE YEAR! Isn’t that amazing?

To help even further, Sheldon, K. M., Boehm, J. K., & Lyumbomirsky, S. (in press), found that SWITCHING UP your routine can help battle that “headonic treadmill,” which is a fancy term for the fact that we as people become too used to activities too quickly. So, if you pick more than ONE happiness boosting activity and even switch that activity up from time to time, you can actually maintain the elevated levels of positivity and well-being for an extended period of time.

And let’s face it, everyone wants to be a little bit happier right? So I’m going to challenge you guys to pick at least ONE of these things to do, counting blessings, random acts of kindness, to do for one month and then report back to me. Let me know how you feel, if you feel it worked, if you think me and a bunch of scientists are all blowing smoke up your you-know-what.

Personally, I am going to pick random acts of kindness. This can be something as simple as, waiting to hold that door open for someone, letting someone cut in front of you in line, paying for the person behind you line at Starbucks, or whatever you can think of that would brighten someone else’s day. I will report back to you in about a month to let you guys know what I did and how I feel after my months challenge.

Curious about where I got my info?? Interested in reading the full study? Awesome. Listed below are the peer-reviewed published articles I referenced in this post.

REFERENCES:

 Lyubomirsky, S., Sheldon, K. M., & Schkade, D. (2005). Pursuing                            happiness: The architecture of sustainable change. Review of                      General Psychology, 9, 111-131.

Seligman, M. E. P., Rashid, T., & Parks, A. C. (2006). Positive                                        psychology. American Psychology, 61, 774-788.

Sheldon, K. M., Boehm, J. K., & Lyumbomirsky, S. (in press). Variety is               the spice of happiness:
The hedonic adaptation prevention (HAP) model. To appear in I.             Boniwell & S. David (Eds.), Oxford handbook of happiness. Oxford:             Oxford University Press.

My review on “Looking for Alaska” by John Green. (Possible Spoilers I give no promises)

It seems that with the movie “The Fault in Our Stars” coming out, everyone is reading John Green right now. I am no exception. I picked it up at a book store mainly because I kept seeing it around and continued to be intrigued by its acclaims and cover. I bought it without even realizing it was a young adult book.

For a young adult book, it was exceptionally well written and compelling. I was fascinated by this kid going off to your no-frills boarding school and his friendships at this school. The language was a bit more advanced than the young adult books I remember reading as a young adult, but was still very easy to read. I think it took me about a week to finish reading it.

At first the book seems like your typical young adult book where boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl, and girl may or may not like boy back. The main interesting facet of this tried and true (if not worn) was the actual characters themselves. The main character likes to memorize lack words of famous individuals, his roommate and best friend, the Colonel, suffers from little-man syndrome (Napoleon Complex) but is brilliant, and Alaska’s entire room is filled with books for her “life” library. These characters seemed very “real” and resonated with me.

My favorite part of the book, and the underlying theme I would say, is the question Alaska poses early on “how do we get out of the labyrinth?” This idea is fully addressed by the end of the book in the form of an essay the main character Pudge writes for his religious professor. To me, this question was very substantial because it really deals with life and death and the motivations of people as we live and eventually die.

The characters experience a loss, possibly their first lost in their lives, and do not know how to handle it. For them, that labyrinth was their grief. How to move past a loss without forgetting the person they lose. To move past is not to forget, instead it is to accept what happened and not let it continue to affect your own well being. This lesson is hard to learn, and at times adults cannot do this, let alone children with their ability to reason not fully formed yet. To deal with their loss, they decide to investigate the loss to their best ability, to figure out WHY it happened.

I feel that as humans we bolster through life trying to figure out WHY something happens and then how to deal with it. How to deal with how to get out of the labyrinth. Looking for the way out, but never realizing the question is not how to find the way out, but how to survive while you are there. Life is definitely a labyrinth, a tricky maze with pits and hills to traverse without irreparably damaging yourself, and if you are the kind of person I hope you are, without irreparably damaging others.

“Looking for Alaska” was definitely a pleasant surprise. It was more than the typical underdog teenager comes to age romance like a vast majority of young adult books, it was an exploration of life and death and coming to terms with both.

Quinoa Medley

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For the fist post, I made my own little quinoa medley/ stir fry.

I used the following ingredients;
Trader Joe’s Organic Quinoa
Sliced White Mushrooms
Tomatoes on the Vine
Avocado
Organic Corn (not pictured)
Olive Oil
Basil
Lite Balsamic

The quinoa has 160 calories per 1/4 cup, 3g of fat, 28g of carbohydrates, and 6g of protein. I used 1/2 cups in my stir fry making 320 calories, 6g of fat, 56g of carbohydrates, 12g of protein, and 10% iron.

I particularly like the large amount of protein quinoa has. Being a vegetarian, my biggest concerns are always protein and iron. I have to make sure that I get at least 46 grams of protein per day. To do this, I have to be very conscious of the products I buy.

The mushrooms have 22 calories per 1/3 cup. 318mg of potassium, 3g carbohydrates, and 3g of protein, 4% vitamin C, and 3% of iron. I used about 1/3 cup of mushrooms in this dish.

I normally would not have used plain button mushrooms, preferring the taste of portobello mushrooms, but I grabbed the wrong mushrooms at the store. I’m particularly pleased that the button mushrooms have a lot of protein.

I used one tomato which has 35 calories, 1g of fat, 7g of carbohydrates, 1g of protein, 20% of vitamin A, 40% of vitamin C, 2% calcium, and 2% iron.

I used one avocado with 250 calories, 22.5g of fat, 750mg of potassium, 20% of Vitamin C, and 10% of iron. I just love avocados. I love the taste, its versatility in cooking, and the amount of iron in them. If I could, I probably would eat avocados every day.

I used about 1/3 cup of corn, which has about 35 calories, 7g of carbohydrates, 1g of protein,  and 4% of Vitamin C. The corn just adds a little bit of sweetness to the dish.

I cooked the quinoa in a medium sized pot and waited until the quinoa was ready. You can tell quinoa is ready when the grain is no longer solid, but has a small swirl coming off the main grain. The quinoa should be soft. At the same time the quinoa was cooking, I heated a skillet with a few table spoons of olive oil, sauteed the mushrooms, corn, and tomatoes. When the quinoa was ready, I added this and the avocados into the skillet. as well 1/8 cup of balsamic vinaigrette. I let the whole medley simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. I added basil to taste.

The dish didn’t take a terribly long time to make and I got two dinners out of it. The taste was pretty good, but if I were to make this again, I would probably try to add a bit more spices to it for extra flavor, like a bit of salt and garlic maybe.

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Try this recipe if it sounds good!  If you try it, let me know! Did you do it exactly? What did you add or change? I’d love to hear your opinion and look out for my next post on food!

So, this “running” thing

As I’ve said, I don’t particularly like exercising. Well, I don’t like the act of exercising, but I love the jello feeling after exercising. I also like the longer lasting happiness from exercising. Unfortunately the only way to get this particular rush is to exercise.

That is why I have challenged myself to start running. I will run twice a week and I will do so for at least a month. If I am successful with my challenge, I will add another day of exercise.

Here are my “beginning” photos. I’m not going to post my beginning weight, because I don’t want to focus on my weight. Instead, I will be focusing on how I feel, and how I look. Exercising on a regular basis can lead to boosts in overall happiness and positvity, as well as helps your health.

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I have never posted candid pictures of myself like this before, so I’m a little hesitant; however, I want to show you what I’m working with! I want to focus on my stomach and thighs. My main goal is to just tone my muscles and become a healthier individual!

Since I’m taking my own running challenge, I’m challenging you to! I don’t care if you walk, ride a bike, job, whatever. Getting out there is what’s important! Challenge yourself to do something twice a week for one month!  After a month, I’m going to post new photos for comparison.  I will try to also give a weekly update as to my progress.

Now, I’m running about a mile at a time. Going around my block once is about .6 miles. I last ran on Monday, 7/21/14, this time running around once, and then running it again a second time, minus one tenth of a mile. In total, I ran 1.1 miles and walked another .1 mile. Running the mile took about 30 minutes. I’m hoping to shave a couple of minutes of my time by the end of the month.

Let me know about your routine! What do you do? Do you run, swim, skate board? I definitely want to hear it. Going to challenge yourself? YAY! I love buddies! Leave me a comment to tell me about it!