Wednesday, July 30, 2014

You are not a number

I step on a scale once a year—when I am forced to during my annual summer visit to the doctor. I never pay much attention, but this year was different. This year I saw a number I don't think I've ever seen—at least not for a long time. And it was not a number I was happy to see.

I got pretty down about it for the next few days. Think about it. This is America, where your weight pretty much defines you. But then I reminded myself why I don't weigh myself on a regular basis—because it, alone, is not a determinant of your overall health, and it is definitely not a determining factor of your self worth.

Why, then, do we place such an emphasis on it? I feel like this has been addressed more than enough times to the media by doctors, nutritionists, medical experts, etc., yet while working at the gym I am surrounded by people constantly stepping on the scale, only to step off with the new weight of a completely unnecessary load of disappointment.

While it is obviously important to maintain a healthy weight, it is also important (but apparently less obvious?) to remember that whatever weight range is healthy for you is probably not going to be the same for your friend or any of the other people in your yoga class or out on your favorite running trail. Weight is based on so many factors, from stress to ovulation to sleep to water retention. Trying to keep it at the same number day in and day out is going to drive you crazy.

Unfortunately, the obsession with that one number easily leads to an obsession with others numbers: body fat percentage, calories consumed, calories burned, miles run, the pace at which we ran those miles, the number of pounds we can lift, the number of reps we can do with those weights, heart rate, pants size. . . you get it.

While all of these are crucial to living a healthy lifestyle, putting so much focus on each and every one sort of takes you away from actually living your life. How about focusing on how you feel after an awesome workout? The muscle tone you're seeing in your hamstrings or shoulders? The looser feel of your favorite jeans? The increased energy from healthier foods and a good night's sleep?

It's not about reaching that one number and then doing whatever you have to in order to stay there. It's about finding about a five-pound weight range and learning what foods and activities help you stay within that range while still enjoying life and taking care of yourself. Say it with me: balance.

You are so much more than a number on a stupid scale. While seeing something a little out of your range should give you a kick in your probably-too-tight pants to get yourself together, it's not something to cry over (note to self), stress or freak out about, or become completely absorbed by. 

Find your happy weight, and remind yourself of the things that truly define you.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Friday Favorites

Today I'm sharing five "news" items from the week that put a little smile on my face. Hopefully they do the same for you!

1. A Minneapolis woman who is taking a stand against catcallers.

2. Taylor Swift offering a fan some pretty insightful love advice.

3. "Selfies" from 'This Is Me: Self Identity Project.'

 4. A list of 20 delicious items from Trader Joe's, recommended by a dietitian.

5. A happy ending for two best (dog) friends.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A glimpse into the life of. . .

                KATELYN KRAMER

I met Katelyn a few years ago when I was working in a hotel's event department and she bounced in and joined us as an event manager.

The first thing that stood out to me was her sense of adventure. I have never met someone so enthusiastic and literally up for anything! The second thing was her creativity and obvious skill and passion for the job.

I wasn't the only one who noticed, because it wasn't too long before she got her current job as a "task force" event manager, which basically means Katelyn is so awesome at managing events she travels to different company hotels across the country when they are in need of extra help, whether it's because they're in the process of filling an open position or opening a new hotel
or anything in between.
Each assignment length varies, but usually lasts six to eight weeks.

Though we were sad to see her go, I couldn't think of a better position for someone with such an outgoing personality and optimistic outlook on life.

Current job: Event manager Americas.

First job ever: Six Flags concession attendant.

First job after graduating/first "grown up" job: Investors bank and trust fund accountant.

Dream job: I'm doing it!

What drew you to the hospitality/event industry? Making people smile and sharing knowledge toward a goal.

What is the best part about your job? Sharing with a new hire how fabulous the job can be.

What is the most challenging part? Working with people who are not change-embracers (like me)!

What has been your favorite event to work on so far? Ronald McDonald House charity gala. Anything for a cause is usually my favorite.

What has been your favorite place to travel to so far? Northern Californiaanything around the bay area is fabulous! Wine, water and waves.

Since you probably can't bring very much with you every time you go to a new location, what advice do you have for packing light for a somewhat lengthy stay somewhere? Two bags: one large for clothes and shoes, one carry-on size for toiletries. Purse and laptop roller for the plane. Oh, and don't forger your neck pillow!

What advice do you have for someone pursuing a similar career? Always be true to you. You have to have a passion for the job, willingness to grow, ability to compromise and love of new adventures!

When you are 50, what do you want to want to be able to say when you look back at this moment in your life? Dang, I had a fabulous life...and still do!

How do you define success? Being surrounded by people you not only call friends, but call family, who can make you smile at the simplest gestures.

Who has been your biggest influence, personally or professionally, and why? My mother. Having a passion for this job is in my blood. Her confidence and natural ability to handle any situation is admirable and why I am who I am today. My father for showing me what it means to be a hard worker and how to laugh and appreciate the finer things in life.

What hobbies do you enjoy in your spare time? Food and beverage (huge foodie), adventure activities ( hiking, zip line, biking) being on the water, seeing my friends and family.

What is number one on your bucket list? Sky dive again, but in New Zealand.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Banana chocolate chip from Honey Hut.

Thank you, Katelyn!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Friday Favorites

Friday is the perfect day for a little randomness, so I've thrown together five of my favorite things from the past week!

1. Getting pictures of my nephew:)

 I am starting to scare myself with how obsessed I am with the little guy.

2. Watermelon sherbet.

The perfect summer treat! It's so much better than I thought it would be, but it's still easy to contain myself enough to not eat it all in one sitting.

3. St. Ives coconut milk body wash.

I love trying different soapy products. This body wash is deliciously creamy with just the right amount of a refreshing coconut scent.

4. S'mores Goldfish mixed into coconut Greek yogurt.

A tasty, filling afternoon pick-me-up!

5. My Samsung Galaxy S5.

Yes, I finally own a smartphone! Yes, I already spend more time on it than I should.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Something worth celebrating

Last week I had an awful, sudden reminder of how short life is. I also had my birthday to remind me how fast it goes. 
I've always loved celebrating birthdays, and every year I try to convince Jared the celebration is supposed to last the entire week of my birth date. One day is just not enough time to celebrate my awesomeness. 

The past few years, though, I've been somewhat reluctant to acknowledge another year has passed. I don't feel this old, I definitely don't look this old, and I haven't come close to my younger self's vision of me at this age. 

I'm obviously not alone in these thoughts, considering the amount of "birthday humor" products that exist and the number of times I hear statements like, "Birthdays just aren't exciting for adults." We all seem to eventually adopt the mindset articulated so well by Jason Bateman's character in The Switch

"Getting old sucks. Most people don't accomplish what they'd hope to, and they realize that they are most likely not going to. They end up living these quiet lives of denial, and brushing birthdays under the rug just becomes a part of that."

Then something terrible happens—to us, someone we know, someone on the news. It doesn't matter. Someone is diagnosed with cancer. Someone loses a child, a spouse, a parent. Someone loses a job. A relationship ends. Someone loses a home to a fire. We learn someone has never had a home. 

Then, suddenly, my life is not so bad. My husband's annoying habits are not so annoying when I realize I am lucky to just go home to him and hug him as long and tightly as I want. My jiggly thighs aren't so depressing when I realize I'm lucky to have legs healthy and able enough to run and bend and move, taking me anywhere I want to go. My commute isn't so frustrating when I realize I'm lucky to have a car to take me to a job every day. 
My tiny apartment isn't so pathetic when I realize I'm lucky to have a comfortable place to sleep every night. I start to have a little more patience when dealing with others because I realize I have no idea what they might be going through. Do you see where I'm going with this? And can you guess what eventually happens?

I start to squeeze my husband a little less tightly. I groan when I look in the mirror. I grumble to myself in the car going to and from work. I complain about my humid, cramped apartment. I go from tolerant to completely irate in seconds when dealing with strangers. Until the next bad news bomb is dropped.

Why this never-ending cycle? Why do we so easily forget the simple and truly wonderful parts of life we experience every day? It shouldn't take a tragedy to remind us that our lives are worth celebrating every day—and that birthdays are worth celebrating every year. You've just completed another year on Earth! What a blessing you have been given that so many other people will not be able to experience. What a sad thing to downplay and take for granted.

We forget that our lives and the lives of those we love can be over in an instant. Shouldn't we do everything we can to make these lives worth living, whether they end tomorrow or 20 years from now? Life itself is worth celebrating. And whether you're turning 5 or 75, birthdays are worth celebrating. It's up to you (your perspective included) to determine just how much worth there is.

What difference would it make if we lived every day the way we live those few days after tragedy strikes, remembering to appreciate what we have, striving to make the most of our situations, treating others as though each day is their last? I dare encourage you to find out.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Today I'm sharing some of my favorite recent eats!

1.Dark chocolate nuts & sea salt Kind bars.
This is definitely the best Kind bar flavor. Perfect for a snack or breakfast!

2.Jack Link's small batch jerky.
I l.o.v.e. jerky, but I hate how tough it can be. These small bits are perfect—packed with delicious flavor and easy to eat!

If you hate hard, crunchy granola, this is for you! I love eating it with peanut butter and a banana, mixed in with yogurt, or all by itself. There are other flavors, but I've only tried these two so far.

4. Yogurt with blueberries.
 I have weeks where I can't get enough yogurt, followed by weeks where I would be happy to never eat it again. Filling a yogurt cup with as many blueberries as possible completely changes things. Key lime yogurt is by far the best flavor to use!

5. Nelson's ice cream.
 We used my birthday as an excuse to finally try this place, and it is definitely my new No. 1 spot. Those cones are "child-size," by the way.

Have a good weekend, and make sure it's filled with a few of your favorite foods!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

A glimpse into the life of. . .

             LAURA CANNON 
Laura, right, with The Orange Spot co-owner, Julie.
It's been a while since the last glimpse, and this one is most definitely worth the wait. 

Of the many wonders (take that word how you will) Facebook provides, one I have appreciated the most is reconnecting with special people from the past. Today I bring you a very dear childhood friend I eventually lost touch with, only to be digitally reunited a few years later.

I went to elementary school with Laura in the little town of Valley City, ND. We, along with another amazing young woman I have also reconnected with in recent years, were inseparable—until we were separated. At the start of seventh grade, I was 30 miles away in Jamestown, Laura was across the country in South Carolina, and our third musketeer was right where we left her. It was heartbreaking, but we moved on, and I eventually slacked pretty bad at the whole keeping in touch thing. 

I'm not the least bit surprised Laura is exactly who and what I pictured at this age: sophisticated, successful and every bit as beautiful inside and out as she was as a child. Always wiser and kinder beyond her years, she was a wonderful example to me when we were young, and she remains so today.

Her latest endeavor (on top of a full-time day job) has been partnering with a friend to open a coffeehouse: The Orange Spot,which officially opened in June, 2013, in Park Circle, North Charleston, SC. 

Laura's co-owner, Julie, came up with the idea while visiting Thailand, where she fell in love with cha yen, a Thai tea that  has an orange color when poured. She often referred to it as her 'orange spot,' and upon her return to the US, decided to provide an orange spot to everyone. After meeting Laura in 2011, she knew she had found the perfect business partner and friend. Not even two years later, their dream came to life. Read on to learn the joys and challenges of running your own (new) business.

Current job: Sales coordinator at Charleston City Paper and co-owner of The Orange Spot.

First job ever: When I was 13 I began nannying for our neighbors' children. My first "on the books" job was at Starbucks. I started on November 25, and my first task was standing at the pastry counter, putting cranberry bars into bags. We were slammed because of the Thanksgiving Day shoppers.

First job after graduating/first "grown up" job: Lo and behold, I was still at Starbucks after graduating college. My first management job was at a Charleston bed and breakfast named The Governor's House Inn. I was the assistant manager there for about 19 months.

Dream job: Owning a coffeehouse to supplement some sort of writing career. Slowly but surely...

What experience did you have that made you confident in your abilities to pursue this? As you might remember, my mom and dad love their coffee! Because of that, I have been brewing it by the pot since I was really young, and as a result feel very comfortable with many of its elements. However, there is a lot to learn about the trade. Even though I have a little over eight years professional experience in this, I intend to continue learning about the craft for a long time.

What did you have to learn? Opening a small business is no joke! I am sure it is always a challenge, but a recovering economy makes financial funding even more of a hassle. I am fortunate to have a wonderful business partner through this. 

Together, we have learned a lot about the numerous aspects required to run a successful business. This includes everything from managing the social media to crafting the drinks, to planning events and staying as close to the projection numbers (finances) as possible. It is a pursuit of passion; that's what keeps us going!

What was/is the biggest obstacle? Time. Time is always short these days. We said at the beginning that family and friends would remain a priority, so I am thankful to say we try our best to take a day off here or there to spend time with loved ones. (We are also really lucky to have people who come visit!) There is a never-ending list of "to-dos," which makes me extremely thankful for an unlimited caffeine supply.

What has been the biggest reward? Seeing the success of the business in its first year. Hearing the customers' responses to it. It is one of the best feelings I have ever had.

What makes your coffeehouse unique? Our signature drink comes from Thailand, so that's new and different for a lot of people. We brew it right there at the shop. 

We also have ongoing seasonal creations. With a nice, big herb garden in our backyard, we've been able to do fun things like freshly-squeezed lemonades with basil or mint. Living in Charleston is a great challenge of how to create refreshing, iced drinks that people will love (it is really hot and humid here).

What are your specialties? Our top sellers are the cha yen and cold press coffee (that is a brew method for iced coffee that creates less acidity and more chocolatey notes). We also use a wonderful roaster out of Illinois. Thirty-Thirty Coffee Co. is a micro-roaster that rotates its offerings frequently. They are wonderful! For our cold press we used locally-roasted Coastal Coffee Roasters. Their beans make a delicious drink.

What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing the same career path? Do not go into coffee if you wish to make lots of money. With that said, by all means, go into the coffee business! You will meet the best people, it will be a relatively stress-free environment, and you have the opportunity to create a space that is welcoming and inviting to all walks of life. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of.

When you are 50, what do you want to be able to look back and say about your life right now? I would hope that I seized every opportunity to live and live well without sacrificing time with those I love most. 
 How do you define success? Success is continually striving to treat each individual you meet with dignity, respect and love. No amount of financial security can give you that kind of peace.

Who has been your biggest influence, professionally or personally, and why? Professionally, my last boss at Starbucks, Raegan Powell, was an inspiration on how to handle the inevitable workplace conflict. Personally, I've got to say that of course, my mother. I've also made a wonderful friend named Nina Flinn. She is in her 80s and lives like she is in her 20s. I want to be like that as I age. She has done it beautifully.

What hobbies and activities do you enjoy in your spare time? I love to come home and walk my dog and think. I enjoy cooking, too. And good foodbut who doesn't love that? Writing is always in the back of my mind. I think I'll have to start waking up earlier to accomplish my goals with that.

What is number one on your bucket list? I would love to go live with my husband in a countryside cottage in Ireland for one week.

Favorite ice cream flavor: Ben and Jerry's Creme Brulee. You would love it, Holly! (Oh, I do:)

Thank you, Laura!