Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day, Save Money & Live Happy

Happy Earth Day! Yes, I realize it was yesterday, but the more I thought about what Earth Day was all about, the more I thought about the ways I live my life, on a daily basis, that celebrate the beautiful Earth we live in. Now, there are plenty of ways in which my footprint weighs heavy on our mother Earth, ways in which I don’t do everything in my power to live as minimally as possible. Airplane travel is one of those ways. But, we’re talking the small, day-to-day things, the daily mindset I have adopted over the years in which I’m affecting change. Or at least trying to do my part. So I thought I’d write about a few simple things I do that not only minimize my carbon footprint, but save me money in the long run and allow for a happier existence. Wow, big claims!

Grocery Shop Once a Week

This one is huge for all of the reasons. I find if I meal plan prior to grocery shopping, I not only eat healthier all week, don’t waste food, save money by not eating out or grabbing un-necessary items. It’s really a win-win. Plus, you’re not running back and forth to the grocery store for this one item, or that thing, wasting gas and time. It’s really been a great way to ensure our meals are as efficient as possible as well, because I’m not left wondering what we should have for dinner or lunch. I know the items in the fridge are there to make a particular meal, so takes the guess work out.

Reduce the Plastic 

I’m sure I don’t have to go into great lengths about the obscene amount of plastic we as humans consume, throw out, waste. The oceans, landfills, roads are full of it. Within the last few years, this has really made an impact with me, so I’ve tried to reduce the amount of plastic I buy and use. A few years ago, I asked for Pyrex Smart Essentials 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set, which has been amazing in the kitchen, to use for leftovers and meal prepping.  And it’s helped me reduce the amount of Tupperware, plastic wrap and plastic bags I use. Last year, I bought plastic bags once and they lasted all year. Plastic straws are another culprit I’ve kicked out of my life. When we got married, I actually registered for Metal Straws , which I use everyday in my morning smoothie.

Eat Seasonally 

I’m extremely fortunate to have a gorgeous backyard that Mike and I have built over the years, with huge garden beds that allow us to grow our own food. Mike has planted rows upon rows of lettuce, spinach, kale and beats so far this season, as they are cold weather plants. Going to the grocery store and taking notice of what’s in season is hugely important to the carbon responsibility we all have. As spring comes into bloom, the local produce gets more and more abundant, so take note of what’s on sale and in season. Eating in season not only saves money, but allows for a more colorful, healthy plate! And if you can grow some of your own, even better!

Backyard Oasis

Enjoy your own Backyard 

As noted above, our backyard has truly become an oasis for us and we spend a ton of time out in it, especially in the spring, summer and fall. Often times, we’ll spend most weekends enjoying time out back, instead of driving to a bar or restaurant. Yup, you guessed it….this saves a ton of money! Don’t get me wrong, going out and about with friends can be a blast, but with our Arvada backyard, we often choose to stay put and enjoy ourselves. Creating our dream space has allowed us to entertain more, turn the tv off and step out back, play with our pups in the grass, pick the produce that Mike grows, encouraged me to do more Yoga at home….the ways in which we enjoy the space really goes on and on.

These are only a few things I find myself doing to celebrate the planet in which we call home. I’d love to hear some of yours!

Happy Earth Day!

I Just Got Vacation Shamed

Work hard, play hard. It’s not just a cliché. Ok, maybe it is, but it can be achieved and in my humble opinion should be. Coming from the glow of an amazing France vacation, I feel quite passionately about this, especially due to the fact that I was actually vacation shamed today.

If you are a contributing member of your organization, put in hours to move the needle towards your company’s mission, vision and values, you should be encouraged to take breaks to decompress outside of work. And you in fact earn this right when you sign up to exchange your time for money. So, why do people feel the need to shame you when you cash in?

Stress in the workplace is a real thing, and in fact causes more than workplace problems. Loss of sleep, anxiety, distraction from priority, complaining to spouses, paralyzing fear of coming to work, headaches, loss of appetite, depression…..and I’m speaking from personal experience here. There are multiple articles about where stress derives from in the workplace, Victor Lipman writes extremely thoughtful and insightful articles on the subject, and I’ve been a student of dealing with stress in a positive, productive way since I entered the workplace. I actually wrote a blog about replacing complaining with action back in January. So, when coworkers comment or speculate about my taking time to pursue non-work activity, I had to step back and reflect.

I am a work hard, play hard kind of person. I tend to give my all in my endeavors, whether that be work related or passion related. And in being questioned about my taking time off, the perception of a relaxed, happy person apparently has raised eyebrows. Now, this questioning came from a colleague I consider to be a friend, someone I have been transparent and candid with along our professional journey together. This person follows me on social media, as I am a transparent person, Here’s how the conversation went down:

Colleague: “How was your trip to France? It looked awesome.”

Me: “It was wonderful, thanks! A gorgeous country for sure.”

Colleague: “So, let me just ask you, with the amount of vacation you’ve been taking, I guess you have one foot out the door, huh?”

Me: “…………………….”

Colleague: “I mean, it seems like you’re trying to burn through your vacation because you’re planning to leave.”

The undertones of these words reeked of someone who thought I shouldn’t be taking this time off.

Me, very calmly: “So, I’ve been with the company for almost 7 years and have accrued quite a lot of vacation. Plus, am of the mindset that you should take your vacation, take time away. So, I do.”

What I should have said: “I’m glad you are following my out-of-work life so closely, but maybe you should take some time for your own break? Seems like the voyeuristic part of you could use one. I know perception drives reality, but I do want to remind you that social media reflects the highlight reel, the golden times and you may need to remove yourself from the swirl if you’re not able to separate or detach from other people’s stories. I would also suggest some yoga and outside therapy to remove yourself from the judgmental throne you sit upon.”

In reflecting on the conversation, I really did my damndest to not sound defensive, not overly articulate why I feel I should be taking vacation, not totally loose my cool on someone who claimed be my buddy. I’m calling bull sh&% on that one. The fact of the matter is, there are people who will never know how to be happy for you, never know how to remove judgment from their conscious, never really know how to step back and take a look at how they are dealing with life, instead of how others are handling it.

Let’s be honest, we all have lives, families, friends, hobbies outside of work (well, I hope we all do!) and I have realized that if I’m not prioritizing my health, wellness, happiness, everything suffers, including my professional life. Throughout my professional life, I’ve worked extremely hard to figure out a work-life balance that works for me. Do I make the most of my time spent outside of work? Absolutely, and I’m not afraid to be proud of that. Does that mean I don’t give my professional tasks and goals 100%? Absolutely not.

My advice and two cents, for all who may have found themselves in a similar situation, where guilt may be cast from either co-workers, bosses, colleagues, or even so called friends: live happy. Be intentional. Move as much as possible. Explore. Remove the unnecessary from your life (this unfortunately could mean people). And prioritize your health, because that above all, allows for all the rest. And whatever you choose to do with your time, do it with as much passion as possible. Yes, it may turn some heads, but if you’re true to yourself, let em’ turn.

Happy Friday!

Countdown to the Cut

It’s been 3 weeks since I blew out my knee (ACL & Meniscus) in a back-country skiing accident and it’s been, admittedly, a rough road. After realizing the extent of the injury, I found out that surgery was in the cards. Immediately, the wheels began turning. Ski Season: Over. Recovery time: months. Hiking, running, mountain biking: postponed till further notice. So many of the reasons I moved to Colorado, I would have to put on a shelf until I healed. But then, I realized these things would be waiting for me after surgery (which is scheduled for April 4th). After my rehab, after my physical therapy, after all the baby steps I have to take, I’ll be back, stronger than before.

So the wheels started turning, this time in the right direction. A forward motion. And I started planning. I’m sharing what I want the next three weeks, before the April 4th surgery, to look like.

Physically

My Surgeon is part of Panorama Orthopedics & Spine Center & I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the facility (and they’re a client as well!).  My Dr. uses HealthLoop, which is basically a patient portal that engages patients before and after procedures, pushing reminders, exercises, nutritional recommendations. It’s a holistic approach to a major health incident and I greatly appreciate it. In addition to the exercises the Dr. recommended, I signed up for a residential pass to the Apex center in Arvada so I can swim! Also, I’ve been researching yoga poses that you can do with an ACL injury. By hell or high water, I will get my physical fitness on!

Here are the exercises my Dr. passed over through HealthLoop.

Reminder: Hamstring Sets

Hamstring sets will strengthen the muscles located on the back of your thigh. Lying down on your back in bed, bend the knee very slightly and push down with the heel. Hold for the count of five seconds. Practice with both legs. Perform 10 times, twice per day until the day of your procedure.

 

Nutritionally 

On this front, I feel I’m well on my way to optimizing my recovery time – I already eat TONS of plants! I do plan to meal prep for the post recovery, when I literally can’t stand, so will incorporate more protein, plants with iron, calcium, and high fiber (which  helps with all of the antibiotics/pain pills I’ll have to take post surgery). Below are nutritional tips that I received from my Dr. and I plan to stock up!

Reminder: Make Healthy Eating A Priority!
  • Eat at least three times a day and don’t skip meals
  • Drink 6 to 8 eight-ounce glasses of water per day
  • Include protein-rich foods with each meal such as beans, nuts, tofu,  chia seeds, lentils, tofu, chick peas, green peas, quinoa, millet, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast
  • Incorporate high-fiber foods in your diet such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables to help prevent constipation
  • Get lots of calcium to strengthen your bones (Kale, Almond & coconut milk, tahini, broccoli, sweet potatoes, chia seeds)
  • Eat iron-rich foods to promote healthy blood (leafy greens, cumin, soy beans, spinach, collard greens, tofu to name a few!)

 

Mentally

It’s the 3 week mark of my injury and while I’ve kept up a positive attitude up until this point, I have to admit, the blues have crept in a bit this weekend. Denver has been exceptionally warm and all who are able to take to the trails, bikes, streets, have. And I have been restricted inside. And it has SUCKED. I realized today, despite the list of ‘fun’ things I’ll be able to do while recovering, I will need to keep mentally positive. So, starting tomorrow, I’ll be starting a meditation practice in the morning and continue throughout my recovery period. Your thoughts become energy, your energy becomes action, and that action needs to move me forward.

 

Time right now is my best friend and worst enemy. Focusing on the things I can control (my physical therapy, nutrition, mental state) will make or break my recovery. My goal will be to document my journey to recovery: the good, the bad and inevitably, the ugly. You get what you put in, and I plan to make this experience a learning one.

Happy Sunday!