Winter Blues and Vision Boards

Many friends have pointed out that the winter blues seem especially difficult this year. Winter blues, cabin fever, seasonal affective disorder (SAD) - it goes by different names but with similar symptoms. Anxiety, mood swings, lack of motivation and fatigue are all common symptoms that affect many people during the winter. 

I will be the first to admit I struggle with these feelings.. My mood and my energy levels have been pretty low and I feel extremely unmotivated. This in turn brings on a sort of guilt for not being the "girl boss" that we all think of - the one who is super productive, social and fit. But that isn't realistic either. As another blogger put it, "we are meant to go to bed and wake up in the sun - which in the winter means we are meant to sleep a lot longer. I think forcing ourselves into a routine where we sleep for the same amount of time year round is unreasonable, so in the winter when you get tired easier and you want to sleep more - sleep more!" This sentiment, combine with my doctor's orders to listen to my body and REST, means I've been prioritizing sleep and attempting to not feel guilty for it. 

But the guilt lingers. So I decided I needed something to gently motivate me each day. Something I can look at, repeat to myself and visualize easily Enter the vision board!

I very easily created a vision board today on Pinterest and then printed it out to hang on my bulletin board behind my computer. Along with these inspiring images, I also have a handful of phrases that are meaningful to me. They either provide encouragement or remind me of what I'm working towards. The cool thing about making my vision board on Pinterest is that it is easily changeable. If I have a new goal or need to tweak an idea, I can simply pin a new photo. 

Each photo above is a visual representation of a true, life-long vision I have for my life. Some of it is abstract, while other are self-explanatory. General themes in my vision board are peace, creativity, knowledge, organization, sustainability, family and the outdoors. 

Your vision board can be as abstract or as concrete as you would like. It is helpful to write down words or phrases you associate with your vision and to keep them in a journal or blog. Sometimes a vision can remain the same but the words you use to describe it change over time (or vise versa) so it is nice to have a log of sorts to keep track of what your vision means to you.

Remember, don't feel like you are stuck with whatever your originally pin or cut out of a magazine. It is fluid, just like you. I hope you can utilize a vision board to help pull yourself out of these winter blues. Spring is just around the corner, so now is a great time to gear up and begin dreaming again!


P.S. Other things that have helped pull me out of a funk have been HAPPY music and BAKING! Dance parties to Twenty One Pilots with my dogs are more fun than they probably should be :) If you would like to try your hand at a couple of easy recipes, check out this homemade bread recipe, this delicious lentil dahl recipe, this one-pan Mexican quinoa recipe, and this STELLAR double chocolate chip cookie recipe!

P.P.S. I'm reconnecting with the online world, so follow me on Bloglovin below!

When life makes sense

You know you're pursuing the right career when everything sort of falls into place and makes sense, right? I feel like things are falling into place all around me and it is exhilarating!

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Freelance work is in progress, I've made more professional contacts in my first two months in North Carolina than I did in four years in Florida, and the program I am pursuing (Public Administration) has been less horrid than I previously imagined. In fact, the topics we cover in class essentially describe my personality to a T. 

Last week, we covered program management tools and I was happy to learn that I live my everyday life as if I was a program manager. Ha! In particular, we covered scope of work, needs assessments, feasibility studies and Gannt Charts. All are tools that are used professionally by program managers and yet they are also reasoning processes that many people use in everyday life. It was exciting to learn about tools that already come naturally to me. For example, I got excited (maybe too excited) about Gannt Charts because I use them in my bullet journal to keep track of my job progress and daily goals. 

Side bar about bullet journals - I love this style of journaling because its minimalist in nature and allows me to combine all of my lists, thoughts, goals, worries and planning into one document. I use a Lemome dotted journal and its not only pretty but easy to use as the paper is thick enough to prevent bleeding and ink smears. Here is the original website for Bullet Journaling, but you'll find a ton of resources just by googling "bullet journal".

Anywho, its just nice that life has decided to make sense lately. I know change will come again soon, but I'm soaking in all the goodness that comes with this stability and confidence I have in school and career choices. 

Shameless plug here - my website is live and I'd love for you to check it out! I have a couple of projects in the works but if you have questions, want to collab or need to consult with me, shoot me an email!

Also, none of the links posted above are commissioned. I'm just sharing the resources I find the best for me!


A confession, part II

Several months ago I wrote about my personal struggles with food. Since then I have experimented with plant-based diet and have found real success.

This isn't a post about what you should and shouldn't eat, nor will I lecture anyone about what a vegetarian is or why it is or isn't better than vegan, meat-eaters, paleo, etc. 


I have dabbled in many diets - some I will definitely label "fad diets" - but one thing I can say with certainty is that there is nothing "fad" about eating whole foods. Nothing can replace real, fresh, wholesome foods like fruits, vegetables and whole grains. The one thing I truly believe is "diet" is a word we should throw out the window.  "Diets" have a negative connotation and are commonly thought of as temporary and usually harmful. Food is fuel and is as an integral and necessary part to feeling our best. So I prefer to talk about food as what it is: food.

There are many reasons why people choose to not eat meat, or not eat grains - some have allergy reasons while others have ethical concerns. Choosing what you should and shouldn't eat should be based on how you feel when you eat those foods. Many people will tell you that they stopped eating meat because it literally hurt their stomach to eat it. Other people find that chicken and beef are difficult for their bodies to handle, but fish is more easily digested. Grains are the same way. 

Personally, I believe the genetic experimentation and chemicals put in our food have affected our bodies for the worse. There are times I can't afford to buy organic or non-GMO foods, but when my budget allows it, I try to buy the freshest, least-processed food possible. Additionally, I have certain ideological views, such as the belief in a sustainable lifestyle and the dream of having a farm one day - to provide both food and enjoyment. But not everyone thinks this way, which is ok.  

After struggling for years with digestive issues, I tried different diets to see if one would help ease the bloating, weight gain, breakouts and headaches. The first to go was sugar. The next to go was all heavily processed foods. Then I had to eliminate dairy and that was the biggest help for my body at that point in time.

Then I tried gluten-free and meatless. I can now say with certainty that my body can digest meat and gluten with no issues. It's the processed food that my body hates. However, I enjoy putting more emphasis on plant-based foods and focusing on colorful meals. I still indulge in a bowl of pasta and a grilled steak, but with less frequency. 

While I don't label myself, I practice what many call "reducitarianism." I eat meat less often and focus on eating more vegetables throughout the day. It works for me and it makes me happy, which is all that matters. I've been experimenting with different foods and recipes and can say without a doubt that my palette is expanding and changing for the better! My new favorite meal is now vegan dahl - an Indian-style dish with lentils and red curry paste (thanks Tania!). SO GOOD!

Anyways, my main point with this post is to say food is food. Do what works FOR YOU. There are a million different view points out there - different diets, different lifestyles, opinions, etc. But every body is different. Experimentation is necessary so have fun with it! In the end, its all about how your body reacts and adjusts to the food you feed it.

Protein is a concern for people when they contemplate going meatless, particularly if dairy or soy is off limits. In this regard, I will say that I  have found a tasty vegan protein powder that I love -  S.A.N. Rawfusion in the Vanilla Bean flavor has been my number one protein powder for the last two years. I recommend it for anyone struggling with whey protein!