Is the Grass Always Greener on the Other Side?

Have you ever been overcome with anxiety because you feel like you aren’t where you need to be in life? This familiar feeling arises within me from time to time, and although I know better than to succumb to these defeated feelings, they can be overwhelming. Pressures that society instills in us and that we instill in ourselves manifest a lot of stress, and we forget to appreciate where we are and all that we are doing.

I’m 26 years old and when I look at my Facebook newsfeed I see posts of friends getting engaged, having kids, and creating homes for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I couldn’t be happier for these friends, but seeing this makes me think…Am I where I want to be in life? Am I where I thought I would be at this point in my life? There is no grand plan for how your life will turn out, and there is no way in knowing. When you hear about your friend’s lives and what they are up to…do you feel jealous? Anxious? Unsettled? I know I do, and that’s because I am my own worst critic. I know that I want a life where I have financial stability, a home, and a family, and because I don’t have those things yet and other people do, I feel pressure. I recognize this, and it makes me think, will we always believe that the grass is greener on the other side?

Why do we want what we don't have? We latch on to all the reasons why life isn't good enough, and constantly want more. Continuously climbing up a never-ending ladder hoping that when we finally reach the top we will have everything we've ever dreamed of.

What if I told you a little secret? Those feelings will never go away. You will forever yearn for more out of life, your relationships, and career. It's a chronic addiction, and a mind game that will exhaust you to no end.

So how can we overcome this? How do we deal with feeling insignificant? Try not to latch on to the negative, the reasons why things won't work out, why you feel like you aren't good enough, or why you shouldn't keep trying.

Time is on your side my friend. Make the most of it. It's easier said than done to say, "don't rush the process." It's not just some yogi mentality; it's a practice of patience that is acquired with time. When you finally accept that you won't know how long it will take to get to your destination, or if you will ever get there, you finally have given up resistance. You’ve finally learned to accept yourself for who you are in the now, with wrinkles, cellulite, pimples, or other "imperfections." You've learned to embrace everything as a learning experience, a building block, and a part of you.

We have become accustomed to instant gratification, instant results, and have forgotten that worthy things take work, investment and yes, time. Time is contingent to our patience and growth. As we learn and progress, our goals in sight will surprisingly transform as much as we do.

At the end of the day, what we are all searching for is meaning. Meaning in building a prosperous life. Meaning in our relationships. Meaning in the mess of it all. We are all interconnected by this humanistic desire and inner fire that drives us to wake up each morning.

So why is it we always compare our lives to others? What makes what they are doing any better than what you are doing? You see, what's different is the way your friends speak about what they are doing (and we do the same in social situations) or what they share on social media. To you, they seem happy, content and on the right track, because this is what they are forced to portray to ironically make you feel comfortable.

They’ve somehow pushed your insecurity button and envy and jealously inevitably surface. You want to feel the kind of security and happiness they are portraying. However, unbeknownst to you they don't divulge the pain, the disappointment, and all the bad things they have dealt with along the way to where they have gotten (in your mind).

We think that everyone else has their shit together, is able to make more money than us, and has the secret ingredient to this mysterious formula. It's just not the case. We are just thinking romantically and latching on to ideals that society has engrained in us from a young age. Telling us that we will grow up and be rich and have a happy life and family, and once we have all these things, this is the true definition of happiness and success.

The reality is, things aren’t that simple. The definition of success differs from person to person. I realized this when I began meeting people and they were honest about their struggles in life. They were dealing with exactly the same problems as what I was going through. Not being happy with their job, wanting the freedom to travel, and their struggles with dating and being single. I began to realize, I’m not the only one, and neither are you. Get out of your head, stop over-thinking, and begin to look within. What you want, you have the ability to create, but dwelling on what you don’t have, will get you nowhere. 

You would think by now, after all these years of experience, we would have learned. But you know what? People don't like the truth. And why? It's brutal, raw, and honest. The truth can't be romanticized into some fairytale dream with a knight in shining armor. The truth isn't always happy or fun. The truth makes us confront our deepest insecurities. So of course we want to avoid this!

When I was ready to grow I began to welcome all of my insecurities, all of my inner struggles, and a lot of uncomfortable feelings. Why? Because I finally learned that accepting these feelings, these aspects about myself, meant that I finally accepted myself for who I am. Beautifully broken. I use the word broken in a positive context, because being broken means that you have endured pain, and learned how to be resilient and strong.

Most of all you've learned. You've learned that the bits of you that are cracked don't necessarily need to be fixed. You've learned to take responsibility for your actions and words, and you've become more connected to your individual beauty by accepting what you used to perceive were flaws. Those flaws have transformed just as much as you have. I no longer felt like my flaws defined me, and I began to have the strength to define them, because I knew who I was. I realized that I would forever be evolving into a new beauty, into a new beast, into a more aware person.

I realized when I accepted these uncomfortable feelings that I was more connected to my truth. Instead of avoiding the pain, and escaping it through any vice, I decided to look at pain right in the eye. I developed a more consciously aware relationship with pain. I began to ask why it was present, and reflected on my experience with pain to help me become stronger and avoid any self-destructive patterns in the future.

I’ve learned that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. It’s just unknown. It intrigues you, and because others describe their life in a desirable way, you endlessly search for what they have. Not realizing that you’re standing right in your own oasis. Don’t seek what others have, because what they have is unique to their life and their path. Look down where you are standing and notice how the grass feels in between your toes. That’s the beauty in it all. That’s where you will find your success, your strength, and feeling complete in life.

Everyone will always want more, but when you accept what you have in this moment, you will not only attract what you desire, you will become it. That’s the secret, not thinking about how life will be when you have obtained what others have, it’s about realizing all that you have already.  

Radishtowear's Sophie Jorissen Talks About Everything From Food to Fashion

My good friend and Amsterdam based fashion blogger Sophie Jorissen from Radishtowear shares everything from food to fashion. Not only is she a fitness fanatic, and fashion enthusiast, she also loves to eat and cook healthy food! 

1.    What does Radishtowear represent? How did you come up with the name?

I started Radishtowear to continue my writing. I fell in love with writing down stories during a six-month internship at a Dutch magazine and I really wanted to keep pursuing that. I figured online was such an easy way to do so and creating a blog was the most logical step for me. At first I only posted recipes (cooking is also a big passion), because I was a bit shy about pursuing my dreams in fashion.  But after a while I figured I wasn’t getting any younger haha, so if that’s what I wanted to do, why didn’t I just go ahead and do it! So just about a month ago I started focusing more on fashion on radishtowear.com and I guess it was the best decision ever – my followers on Instagram are growing with about 2000 a week ever since! I guess it’s true what they say; if you do what you love others will love it too.

The name is easy! It sounds like ready-to-wear, which is about fashion of course, but because I also love food – I just switched ready to radish! Haha.

2.    What are healthy food staples you always have in your kitchen?

I got these great old fashioned storage boxes for food from my grandmother where I like to keep things like rice, and legumes (lentils), but also breakfast-stuff such as oats, flaxseeds and pumpkin seeds. The other thing I do is I also always make sure I have enough fruits & veggies for the next day, but I don’t really have to because I live right above a farmers market here in Amsterdam. This market is everyday except for Sunday, so I usually get fresh blueberries, raspberries and avocado’s there.

3.    What inspires your blog content?

I think reading lots of magazines, checking out street style on the streets, seeing what other bloggers do online, but also everyday life.

4.    What else do you do? (Study or work)

I’m currently getting my Masters degree in Communication Science in Amsterdam, but I work in my big brother Lukas’ Agency, called Coqtail. This is a big company in Amsterdam focused on fashion & retail that offers solutions for brands within the digital connected world. They do lots of things, such as building websites and apps, but also strategic branding, e-commerce, social media etc. I create content for social media. This involves writing strategies, planning shoots, or shooting myself, and doing copywriting.

5.    Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?

You can dream right? Let’s just say I’ll have about 3 million followers for my blog, which of course is turned into a huge success, live happily ever after with my boyfriend and ha, maybe we’ll even have a kid in ten years! –Who knows? Oe and I’ll be an amazing auntie for my nephew who’s just been born. He’s the cutest. He’ll be ten years old by then, so I can take him to concerts and spoil him rotten.

6.    What is your fashion style? Favorite brands at the moment?

I love using one statement piece in every look. So this might be the jacket, or shoes, or even pants. I try to combine it with soft, subtle tones and fabrics to let the statement piece stand out. Favorite brands …oh I have so many! But current faves are definitely SET and Filles a Papa. And of course I’m still crushing on the Chanel boy bag. Who doesn’t love that one J.

7.    Has health and fitness always been important to you?

No, not growing up. Let’s just say I wasn’t really the sporty spice ;).  I was more the kid that did musical (yep, singing haha) and theater. I actually discovered sports later on and I was really surprised that I loved it so much as I did.

8.    What are your favorite ways to exercise?

I really love yoga. It just makes me so relaxed. But just doing Yoga doesn’t satisfy me, so I do these HITT workouts at my gym and I jog in the park.

9.    What are your career goals?

Hmm, just doing what I love I suppose. I think when you’re working in a field that doesn’t have your heart makes it very difficult to be great at your work. I get that sometimes there aren’t really any other options, but if I could decide then that’s my goal.

10.  What are three pieces of clothing to always have in your closet?  

A white T-shirt, jeans and something to keep you warm like a blazer or my current favorite a bomber jacket.

11.  Who has inspired you the most in life?

Can I pick two? My mom J, because she’s the strongest, funniest and kindest person I know.  Second my grandmother, because to me she’s doesn’t feel like someone from another generation. Seriously if she weren’t my grandmother, she’d be my friend. She get’s our jokes. She’s honest, tells you exactly what she thinks and isn’t scared of anything. I want to grow old to be exactly like her.

12. What do you like to cook at home?

My addiction du moment is zuchetti with home made pesto. I just HAVE to eat it at least once a week. I love zucchini and mixing it with my favorite pasta saus is such a power-combo!

13. If you had to choose between getting to travel around the world, or having the most amazing closet filled with beautiful clothes, which would you choose and why?

Traveling around the world. There’s nothing like visiting other cultures, talking to people, experiencing nature and just live and breath on the earth we walk on. 

14.  What is your favorite beauty product that you cant live without?

Bobbi Brown Mascara! It’s the best.

15.  Do you take all of your own pictures?

Well obviously not the pictures of me – but all the others yes. My boyfriend loves photography so he just happens to help me out from time to time.


Bai5 Ipanema Pomegranate Hot Chocolate with Whipped Cream

Well a girls gotta survive this brutal winter somehow, right? Hot chocolate and winter are a match made in heaven, and I decided that Bai5 Ipanema Pomegranate and dark chocolate would go together just as well, and man was I right! I mean dark chocolate anything is good in my books...

I always opt for using high quality dark chocolate 72% or more. I also added cocao powder, for a boost of superfood nutrients and added chocolate flavor, can't hurt right? Again, I sweetened this recipe with an all-natural sweetener, maple syrup. The dark chocolate and cocao powder can be quite bitter, but the maple syrup and Bai5 Ipanema Pomegranate balance out this hot chocolate perfectly.

There are a variety of health benefits form eating dark chocolate as well. Not as sinful as you originally thought, huh? Disclaimer: everything in moderation. Dark chocolate and pure cocao are extremely high in antioxidants, one in particular,  resveratrol, which has been demonstrated to protect the heart from heart disease. Dark chocolate and cocao are also high in iron and magnesium, so you may want to think twice next time you are crave chocolate, because your body may be trying to tell you something.

Oh and it gets better…I even whipped up a dairy-free but heavenly whipped cream!! It came out tasting like vanilla ice cream, I almost ate the entire jar…And guess what it's made out of…almond milk!

Ok now heres the best part, the recipe. I'll let it speak for itself. Hope you find an excuse to curl with this hot chocolate to keep you warm!

Ingredients:

Makes 2 servings

Pomegranate Hot Chocolate:

Whipped Cream:

  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 cup almond oil (or other oil that isn't overpowering)
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp. xantham gum (optional)
  • Ice (optional)

Directions:

Pomegranate Hot Chocolate:

1. On low heat whisk all ingredients together in saucepan and mix until chocolate is completely melted and mixture has begun to boil.

Whipped Cream:

1. Place all ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor, if using a vitamin, start on low speed and then gradually to high speed.

2. Blend until desired consistency is reached, it won't get too thick without the anthem gum. If serving immediately add a few ice cubes to cool down.

3. I didn't have xantham gum, so I placed my mixture in the freezer for about and hour and then scooped a dollop for on top of the hot chocolate, and it was perfect!

Heal Your Gut: The Food Combination Diet

It takes a great amount of energy to digest every meal, and your body needs a healthy gut flora in order to do so properly. What happens if your digestion isn’t working properly? The undigested food stays in your digestive tract and isn’t broken down, creating a toxic environment and allowing yeast, viruses, cancer cells, and parasites to grow inside you. Making you more prone to illnesses, causing your blood to be more acidic, and essentially damaging your inner ecosystem.

Food Combing is a way of eating that allows food to be processed and broken down more efficiently. This way of eating also alleviates symptoms of bloating, stomach pains, indigestion, constipation and gas. All digestive related issues. Not only will food combing heal your digestive issues, but it will also help you lose weight. There are many guidelines to follow within this diet. Here is a breakdown of the basics:

1.) Fruits should be eaten alone on an empty stomach and melon should be eaten alone entirely. Fruits digest extremely quickly that by the time they reach your stomach, they are already partially digested. If they are combined with other foods they will rot and ferment in your stomach, which cause bloating and stomach pains. Melons shouldn’t be combined with any other fruits or foods because they will ferment those other foods in your stomach. “Melons are best taken alone because the sugar and other nutriments are in a less stable form than the nutrients of other fruits. It decomposes much more quickly than other fruits. Consequently, if it is held in the stomach awaiting the digestion of other foods, it will decompose (ferment) and cause a great deal of gastric distress.”

2.) Protein and starches should not be eaten together. If you eat proteins and starches together, they tend to neutralize each other and inhibit digestion. The undigested food will then cause your blood to become more acidic. To prevent this from happening, its best to avoid combing proteins and starches including grains like rice and quinoa and starchy vegetables like potatoes in the same meal. Instead, have non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, and ocean vegetables like seaweed with your protein meals to achieve optimal digestion.

food_combining_chart

3.) Fats and oils combine with all foods except fruit, but should be used and eaten sparingly. They won’t inhibit the digestion process, but will slow it down.

4.) Foods digest at different rates, so it’s important to wait for what you ate previously to be digested before eating again. Here are the times to wait between eating foods that don’t combine:

  • Two hours after eating fruit
  • Three hours after eating starches
  • Four hours after eating proteinThis will ease the digestion process, and allow for the food to leave the stomach and reach the intestines before introducing a different food group into your stomach.What are the benefits of following this way of eating, you might be wondering? Well first off, you will avoid feeling bloated and gassy after meals. You also will have more energy, and not feel sluggish after eating. Food is nourishment, and you should feel rejuvenated after eating, not like you want to take a nap. You also will have clearer skin. If you breakout on your forehead a lot, it’s a sign of poor digestion. You also will get rid of constipation and promote a healthy gut flora that will be able to break down food efficiently without harming your body’s ecosystem. Your sleep will improve and you will be able to concentrate more easily throughout the day and think more clearly. I highly recommend incorporating this way of eating to heal your digestive system and digestive symptoms that may be holding your back. You can read about more ways I recommend to improve your digestive health here.

5.) Foods digest at different rates, so it’s important to wait for what you ate previously to be digested before eating again. Here are the times to wait between eating foods that don’t combine: Fats and oils combine with all foods except fruit, but should be used and eaten sparingly. They won’t inhibit the digestion process, but will slow it down.

6.) Protein and starches should not be eaten together. If you eat proteins and starches together, they tend to neutralize each other and inhibit digestion. The undigested food will then cause your blood to become more acidic. To prevent this from happening, its best to avoid combing proteins and starches including grains like rice and quinoa and starchy vegetables like potatoes in the same meal. Instead, have non-starchy vegetables like leafy greens, and ocean vegetables like seaweed with your protein meals to achieve optimal digestion.

7.) Fruits should be eaten alone on an empty stomach and melon should be eaten alone entirely. Fruits digest extremely quickly that by the time they reach your stomach, they are already partially digested. If they are combined with other foods they will rot and ferment in your stomach, which cause bloating and stomach pains. Melons shouldn’t be combined with any other fruits or foods because they will ferment those other foods in your stomach. “Melons are best taken alone because the sugar and other nutriments are in a less stable form than the nutrients of other fruits. It decomposes much more quickly than other fruits. Consequently, if it is held in the stomach awaiting the digestion of other foods, it will decompose (ferment) and cause a great deal of gastric distress.”

  • Two hours after eating fruit
  • Three hours after eating starche
  • Four hours after eating protein
  • This will ease the digestion process, and allow for the food to leave the stomach and reach the intestines before introducing a different food group into your stomach.

What are the benefits of following this way of eating, you might be wondering? Well first off, you will avoid feeling bloated and gassy after meals. You also will have more energy, and not feel sluggish after eating. Food is nourishment, and you should feel rejuvenated after eating, not like you want to take a nap. You also will have clearer skin. If you breakout on your forehead a lot, it’s a sign of poor digestion. You also will get rid of constipation and promote a healthy gut flora that will be able to break down food efficiently without harming your body’s ecosystem. Your sleep will improve and you will be able to concentrate more easily throughout the day and think more clearly. I highly recommend incorporating this way of eating to heal your digestive system and digestive symptoms that may be holding your back. You can read about more ways I recommend to improve your digestive health here.

Improve Your Health With Gratitude

After recently returning from my trip to Guatemala, where I visited beautiful rural areas on Lake Atitlan, I was filled with an overwhelming sense of gratitude and happiness. Happiness from visiting such a welcoming country with friendly and loving people. Gratitude for being where I am today and having the opportunity and means to travel and see as much as I have. Many of the indigenous people living on Lake Atitlan don’t have much in life. They may not have an education, much money, or food to feed themselves and their children, or real homes to sleep in and protect them from the cold or rain, but they laugh, have families, and communities to support one another. The timing of my trip coincidentally fell before Thanksgiving. As I reflected about my my trip  over the holiday it gave me time to think about all the things in my life I’m grateful for. Gratitude is such an important part of life. It’s humbling, reflective, and provides a sense of peace and calmness.

Life can be overwhelming at times, and it’s so easy to take little things for granted, like having a warm bed to sleep in, and food on your table. It sounds cliche, I know, but without these kind of thoughts and without realizing how much we have, its easy to create a little bubble where only your small petty problems matter. This way of thinking unravels into selfishness and sadness most of the time. Not being able to see outside the walls that you have caged yourself in will only allow you to see the insignificant things compared to the big picture of life.

One way that I like to incorporate gratitude into my everyday life is keeping a gratitude journal. This not only allows me to have “me time” but it also allows me to reflect on my life and put things that may be stressing me into perspective. Okay, I know I have to work on a new project and do a number of meticulous tasks, then go to work at night, and run errands in between, but I also have so much to be grateful for at the same time. Like being able to have such opportunities and work for myself. You see, instead of feeling bad for yourself you can change your attitude to having a more positive outlook.

Living with gratitude has a multitude of health benefits. In an experimental comparison, those who kept gratitude journals on a weekly basis exercised more regularly, reported fewer physical symptoms, felt better about their lives as a whole, and were more optimistic about the upcoming week compared to those who recorded hassles or neutral life events. Also, those who kept gratitude lists were more likely to have made progress toward important personal goals (academic, interpersonal and health-based) over a two-month period compared to subjects in the other experimental conditions.*

Gratitude is also linked to sleeping better.* Researchers have also done studies and found that writing 15 minutes before bedtime about what you are grateful for, will allow you to fall asleep more easily and sleep for longer.

How else can you incorporate gratitude into your life? You can thank your friends and express how much you appreciate what they’ve done for you. Wouldn’t you like to know if you affected someone in a positive way? I know I would, and your compliments and positivity will spread. It will make your friend more happy and you will feel better for just doing that.

Another way is remembering the good times. Look back on experiences, people you’ve met, you’re childhood, and anything that will help reconnect  you to where you have been, what you learned and whom you have loved along the way. I always find myself reflecting on my childhood, when I had no worries about paying rent, and ran around knocking on my friends houses to see who could play outside with me. Remembering allows me to never forget and to forever be grateful about my past and upbringing because it has molded who I am today.

Place gratitude reminders around your room, house, office, anywhere you will see these notes throughout the day. Use visual cues that elicit feelings of gratitude and happiness. Putting them in different places where you will see them throughout the day and constantly be reminded of these good warm feelings will help support your feelings of gratitude.*

Gratitude’s value is intrinsic, but it also has many health benefits. Those who take time to be grateful may enjoy improved sleep, lower stress levels, enhanced overall well-being and even improved heart health. Practicing gratitude has also been linked with stronger personal relationships, higher self-esteem and greater life satisfaction.*

As the holidays are approaching I think we should remember to be thankful for what we have and give to others more than wanting so much for ourselves. Whether it be giving  toys, a hot dinner, or just some advice, it all is meaningful and appreciated, and whoever receives your gifts will be filled with gratitude.

Sources:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/mequilibrium/gratitude-benefits_b_3321351.html

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/26/benefits-of-saying-grace_n_6200202.html

Live Consciously To Become a Better You

Breathe. Listen to your thoughts, but don’t let them overwhelm and control you.  If you set goals, and achieve mini-goals one by one, you’ll be on track to getting where you want to be in no time. Time doesn’t exist to pressure you. It exists to allow you to become who you want to be. In today’s fast-paced world, where multi-tasking has become second nature, we need to take the time to slow down. We need to realize that we have all the time in the world, and we need to enjoy our journey through life.

Managing stress is a struggle for many, but it’s important that we make the effort to heal these stressors in our life. Not only does stress release a harmful steroid called cortisol in your body, but it also shuts down your immune system. This makes you more susceptible to illnesses and affects your sleep and overall health. When you begin to feel overwhelmed, step away and breathe for five minutes. Meditate. Center yourself, regroup, and go back to where you’re needed. When you let stress take over, that’s when your mind becomes cloudy.

Take time to do the things that make you happy and do activities that are important to you. Surround yourself with people who you can share these positive moments with and make memories with them.

Set mini-goals to achieve your larger overall goal. This will make you feel as though you are making your way to where you want to be, and chipping away at what needs to be done in order to be there. This makes the process more enjoyable, and allows you to sleep peacefully at night, knowing that you’ve checked off a lot of your to-do list.

Try not to rush when eating. Living in a society where people eat on the go, or don’t make time for a proper meal is something that we lack culturally in America. Put love, time, and effort into the meals you cook, because when you or your family eats those meals they will be eating that love and energy. Sitting down and taking time to eat is also important, because it allows you to digest the food properly. When you chew your food and eat slowly, you’re more likely to eat less and feel satisfied. You won’t feel tired and sick from overeating, or have indigestion from rushing and not chewing your food properly.

Listen to your body, when it tells you that it’s had enough to eat, stop eating. When it’s thirsty, drink. And when your body needs more nourishment to keep going, eat a small snack or meal.

Taking the time to live consciously and listening to your body and mind will only bring more clarity to your life. Your decisions will bring you closer to your goals, and you will be able to maintain a stress-free life. You will be more aware and less overwhelmed by what life may throw at you, and the best advice I can give is to enjoy what you have now, in this moment.

This moment you can never rewind to, or go back to. Treasure your struggles and treasure your life, however you define it. You will get to where you want to be. If you see yourself there and know it will happen, and make a conscious positive effort to be there, there’s nothing stopping you. Just don’t forget to live in the moment, and cherish the excitement and challenge of reaching your destination in life. Even when you make it to where you want to be, there will still be another step or goal to achieve. There will always be something else. So why rush through it all?

Enjoy your journey, because no one other than you will be able to experience it.