Monthly Archives: April 2011

Self Improvement & Self Acceptance: Mutually Exclusive?

Photo: We Heart It.

“As I thought about happiness, I kept running up against paradoxes. I wanted to change myself but accept myself. I wanted to take myself less seriously—and also more seriously. I wanted to use my time well, but I also wanted to wander, to play, to read at whim. I wanted to think about myself so I could forget myself. I was always on the edge of agitation; I wanted to let go of envy and anxiety about the future, yet keep my energy and ambition. Was I searching for spiritual growth and a life more dedicated to transcendent principles—or was my happiness project just an attempt to extend my driven, perfectionist ways to every aspect of my life?’
-Gretchen Rubin, The Happiness Project

I found The Happiness Project, or rather; it found me, a few weeks ago during a routine visit to Barnes and Noble. In the vein of Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat Pray Love, the memoir chronicles the adventures of New York writer, Gretchen Rubin, as she spends 12 months, “test driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific research, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier.”

The paradox she describes in the quote above, between striving and self-acceptance, got me thinking. I mean, isn’t a certain lack of self-acceptance necessary to face the discomfort that self-improvement inherently entails?

After pondering this for a few minutes, I did what I normally do when I reach an impasse. I Googled. And found the following quote:

“It’s perfectly possible to accept yourself just how you are, to love the body, mind and soul that you have – and because of that love, to want to keep developing and improving, striving to be the very best person who you can be.”
Ali Luke

Yep, that pretty much sums it up. Here’s to loving yourself enough to continue to work to be the best person you can be!

What makes you come alive?

Photo: Summer-Salts

“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs; ask yourself what makes you come alive. And then go and do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Yes! Could not agree more!

Here are a few things that make me “come alive”:

DANCING. Whether I’m grooving behind the wheel (as surrounding drivers watch with a mix of amused bewilderment and horror) or pirouetting in a ballet class, few things make me feel more alive and in my body than dancing.

TRAVEL. For me, little compares to the thrill of an adventure. I love exploring new places and meeting people who broaden my horizons and challenge my perspective on the world. I’m current dying to visit Costa Rica, Greece, Turkey, and India!

FRIENDS. Spending quality time with the people I care about is absolute bliss 🙂

BEAUTY. I absolutely adore creating and appreciating beauty in all of its forms. Art, nature, fashion, writing, dance, and music all make me “come alive”.

What about you?

Tutus, ring pops, & sparkles! (…and other stuff that made me smile this week)

Photo: Youtopia3.

Photo: Show Me Your Truth.

Photo: Count Your Blessings Now.

So far this week I’ve loved…

*Reading The Four Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss, so inspiring!

*Rocking my curly hair

*Sipping Blackberry Martinis at Circa with Becky 🙂

*Karen Millen Dresses

*Wandering aimlessly around Barns and Noble

*Getting lots of sleep

*Practicing my new favorite yoga posture, not surprisingly called, Dancer’s Pose

*Kerastase Deep Conditioner, a little pricey but absolute AMAZZIINNGGNESSS. And I mean, can you really put a price on good hair? Exactly.

*Catching a conservative looking dude in a suit sing along to You Belong With Me by Taylor Swift this morning. We were waiting in line for bagels…so obviously I joined him!

*Busting a move during a Street Jazz class at Joy of Motion

*Taking pictures of the sky

*Sunshine and warm weather

*Purchasing craft supplies for my art journal

*The arrival of Easter candy!

*Roberto di Camerio handbags

*spring cleaning. Wait, let me rephrase. The after effects of spring cleaning.

*Finishing my taxes

*Volunteering at Pals

*Wanting to live in a pink house like THIS ONE!

And obviously tutus, ring pops, and sparkles!

What made you happy this week?

Staying the course…

Photo: We Heart It.

“Success is not normally attained through sporadic bursts of effort. Rather it is in the continuity of the effort, the constancy of going on trying each day, each week, helped by grace.”

For enthusiastic people with slight ADD tendencies (*ahem*, moi), consistency and ‘staying the course’ can pose a challenge. I thrive on the excitement of beginning new projects, but often have trouble sticking with something after the initial glow and glamor wear away.

But I’ve learned that nothing worth having comes easy. To achieve meaningful goals, a healthy work ethic is an absolute necessity. So how do you get in touch with and channel the determination that will keep you plugging away, even when going gets tough?

Here’s what works for me…

1. Setting achievable goals
I’m all for lofty aspirations, but if you don’t break down your big dream into small, manageable tasks, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up all together. Make sure to set regular milestones, and don’t forget to reward yourself along the way! Got an A on a paper? Gave a rock-star presentation and impressed your boss? Go get a pedicure (or something equally delicious), STAT!

2. Sharing aspirations with positive and like-minded pals
When you feel like your progress is stagnating, look to your friends for support, and in turn, support them when they need it. It’s hard to achieve anything without a little love and encouragement, and in the words of The Beatles, “Oh, I get by with a little help from my friends”!

3. Saying affirmations
I know, I know, I’m becoming more of a woo woo Oprah wanna be with each passing day, but I seriously believe in the power of the occasional, “I can do it” or “I am strong” recited to one’s reflection in the mirror.

4. Practicing self-care and staying grounded
Never let achieving your goal become more important than your health, relationships, or values. In the words of Conan O’Brien, “If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” I believe this with all my heart!

Go out and make things great this week!!

(Whew, now that that’s done, I think it’s about time to cuddle up in bed with a glass of wine and few episodes of the Vampire Diaries ;)!)

Feeling Springy?

Yay spring is here 🙂 As you revel in the extra hour of light, why not…

* Throw on some brightly colored rain boots (and make a splash during April showers!)

* Exercise outside. Endorphins + fresh spring air = instant feel-goodness

* Plan a picnic somewhere pretty. Grab a blanket, a bottle of wine, munchies (cheese, crackers, & fruit), iPod speakers, and a group of fun people and prepare to enjoy a wonderful afternoon in the sun

* Spring clean your closet (and be sure to display your sundresses front and center!)

* Plan a weekend getaway

* Read up on Mercury Retrograde (non-astrology nuts feel free to skip this one!)

* Make a spring-themed mix CD

* Find a new signature fragrance (floral scents are great this season)

* Develop your green thumb. Plant an herb garden or (if that sounds a tad labor intensive) place a pretty potted plant or an orchid on your windowsill

* Try out a new hairstyle (but always think twice before chopping it all of or dying it a crazy color on a whim!). Take it from someone who has suffered the repercussions of what I like to call “mood hair” and don’t make any rash decisions (but if you still want a magenta pixi cut after a month, more power to you!)

* Break out the bike and go for a ride

* Run in a charity race

* Check out a farmers market (and don’t forget your reusable grocery tote 🙂 Yay being green!)

* Pick up a new hobby (I just started an art journal!)

* Blow bubbles (they’re not just for kids AND apparently come in edible varieties, who knew?!)

* Commit to either being barefoot or wearing really cute high-heeled espadrilles for the next month (except of course during aforementioned April splashing, outdoor workouts, charity racing, and bike rides. Gosh you’re gonna be busy!)


Shine on!

Photo: Linizh Blog.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

—Marianne Williamson

Have a lovely week and don’t forget to let your light shine!

Things that made me smile this week

Photo: So Lali Dances.

“Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is bliss, taste it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is a sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it, Life is life, fight for it.”

Here are a few things that captured my fancy/made me happy this past week…

*This colorful graffiti

* Watching old Sex and The City reruns on the elliptical

* Slowly discovering just how bizarre and fabulous my co-workers really are

* These inspiring tips for adding a dose of spring to your interior decor

* This wonderful post by re-PSYCH about cultivating solitude

* Fantasizing about living in a delightfully pink apartment like this one

* Cherry blossoms EVERYWHERE!!

* Discovering this great list of DC area bloggers

* Looking at the lovely art journals of Lisa Sonora Beam, author of The Creative Entrepreneur

* Following the adventures of the The Brox Zoo Corba on Twitter all week (yes I do occasionally do real work!)

* Stumbling upon this epic failure of a marketing campaign, Oh Turkish Airlines…

* Attempting to cook something resembling a “real meal” Monday night and failing miserably…fortunately for me (and perhaps unfortunately for my kitchen utensils) I shall try again! There is a domestic goddess somewhere inside me just waiting to break free, I’m sure of it!

*Going to two movies in one week (Limitless = great, Red Riding Hood = ridiculous…am I surprised really?)

* Getting a deep conditioning hair treatment while munching on Tootsie Rolls at The Shop in Bethesda

* Indulging in delicious Indian food at The Bombay Club…so yummy!

* Looking forward to volunteering with PALS tomorrow morning and checking out the Cherry Blast Saturday night!
Have a lovely weekend friends!