Ted Talk Friday: How to make stress your friend

In a recent conversation with my boss, we discussed the differences between good and bad stress. I’ve always been the type to experience higher stress–this has helped me succeed in so many ways, but it also has serious detrimental effects when it goes too far. It is about finding the healthy balance of using stress as a tool, and not letting stress control you. This talk delves into the research on how our perception of stress dictates its effect on us. I hope you enjoy this enlightening Ted talk!

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How do you find stress to be helpful in your life?

Thoughts on Grief

I have been so lucky to have very few experiences with death and loss. While the few that I have experienced have been incredibly difficult, the loss I experienced over the summer absolutely floored me.

The death was unexpected and quickly became highly publicized. He passed away from an overdose and his parents were so bravely open and honest regarding the circumstances. For the purpose of this post, I will call my friend M.

I remember meeting M. for the first time in high school; I thought he was one of the coolest kids I had ever met and was immediately intrigued. In getting closer with him, I became enamored and we started dating.

Looking back at our notes, letters, and text messages I transcribed in a journal, I recall what it feels like to be so deeply in love with someone. He was my rock. We texted night and day, often talking on the phone late into the night until one of us fell asleep. His songs permeated my iTunes library, his phrases pepper my vocabulary, and his comfort with himself has given me something to strive for.

I’ve learned that grief is not linear. Even now, months after his death, a favorite song of his coming up on shuffle moves me to tears. I think of his family’s holiday traditions and can’t imagine what they will be like without him. I don’t think it ever gets easier. Whenever I do feel sad, I just imagine how annoyed he would be with me; I would tell me to chill out, take life less seriously, and appreciate the now.

There’s a theory in psychology that everyone goes through five distinct stages of grief. I disagree with this idea entirely. I think it is simply a construct we set up to provide a sense of control, and create an endpoint, for our grief.

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Grief follows no step-wise process, and I don’t know there truly is any sort of “end.” I think the only way to move forward is to create meaning from the loss. For me, that meant taking action to combat addiction, even if in only a small way. I joined the board of local substance abuse counseling center and every time I attend a meeting, I feel the tiny inkling that I am fighting for M. in some small way.

M. introduced me to this song, and it fits my feelings perfectly (and provides a few laughs):

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How do you cope with grief? Do you believe in the seven steps of grief?

Ted Talk Friday: The revolutionary power of diverse thought

This talk taps into so many preconceived ideas we have about people from different cultures. I think we automatically assume we are all so different based on where we are from, but we forget about the common humanity and emotional experience we all share. Shafak does a beautiful job putting this idea into words, with a particular emphasis on political thought.

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Do you agree with Shafak?

Meal Prep Hacks for the Holidays

I love chicken–it is delicious and works as a healthy protein in nearly every dish. One thing I hate: cooking chicken. Many of my coworkers assumed I must be a pescatarian since I rely so heavily on tuna and plant-based proteins, but really it is my sheer distaste for touching raw meat. Not to mention the added cooking time! I’ve gotten burnt out from other protein options and I am desperate for a healthy easy protein to add to lunches and dinners.

I was thrilled to find the new USDA-certified Coastal Range Organics Chicken products.  I love these products because I know they are never made with any antibiotics, hormones or steroids. The chicken is fed 100% organic vegetarian feed without animal by-products and raised free-range. This is the only frozen chicken brand I feel confident eating–it is free of artificial ingredients and preservatives, unlike so many of the other brands (read the labels!). It is nice to have reassurance that you can actually get some goodness from your freezer with Coastal Range Organics. They also make make a variety of other products: crispy stripsbuffalo wingschicken nuggets, and chicken burgers .

I decided to make a fall themed pumpkin risotto with the delicious grilled chicken strips. It only took 20 minutes start to finish–perfect for a quick dinner or meal prep.

Ingredients:
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Black pepper
1 tsp Maple syrup
1 tsp Apple cider vinegar
Pumpkin, roasted and puréed
2 servings Coastal Range Organics Grilled Chicken Strips
1 bag Miracle Noodle rice

Directions:
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2) Arrange 2 servings of your Coastal Range Grilled Chicken on a lined cookie sheet.
3) while oven is preheating, preparing Miracle Noodle rice according to directions on the bag.
4) Place chicken in preheated oven and set timer for 10 minutes.

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5) In a separate bowl, combine pumpkin, spices, vinegar, and maple syrup. Combine well.
6) Add Miracle rice to pumpkin mixture and stir until thoroughly mixed.
7) Remove chicken from oven and add into rice mixture.

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8) Enjoy! I actually served this dish over romaine to get in an extra serving of veggies.

Use code HANNAHNOV for a discount when you order from Miracle Noodle.

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Do you eat chicken frequently? What are your favorite healthy cooking hacks?

Disclaimer: Coastal Range Organics sponsored this review, however this post represents my honest thoughts and opinions

Ted Talk Friday: Life’s Third Act

I have loved the show “Grace and Frankie,” which Jane Fonda just show happens to star in. The show features two strong older female leads living full, exciting lives. Jane Fonda does a wonderful job discussing how aging can include incredible personal benefits and new ways of existing in the world. The fact that two-thirds of how we age is a choice. We can alter, and improve, our own experience of getting older.

 

 

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Do you fear aging?

Yogohana: Yoga Community

My friend Tiffany, who I met through Sweatpink SF, invited me to an event called  “Yogohana.” I was not sure what to expect, but I left feeling connected, calm, and excited for the next Yogohana meet up.

If you’ve seen “Lilo & Stitch” you know “Ohana means family” (if you haven’t seen it, stop what you’re doing and please go watch it). After walking into the event, we were given glow bracelets and necklaces to wear. There was a nice crowd and great music going while everyone munched on snacks and drank while chatting. The lighting was low and the atmosphere was like a health-focused introverted extravert’s dream come to life. We were all connected through a love, or curiosity, for yoga or social connection.

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We were able to greet our neighbors before moving into the main sequences of the class. The low lights, music, and floating rings of light resting on limbs as we moved through Warrior II and adho mukha shvanasana (downward-facing dog) created an almost magical ambiance.

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My favorite part of the class was the amazing partner stretch sequence. I forget the power of touch–even with a stranger–and how wonderful it can be. I stretched with my fellow SweatPink SF blogger, Tiffany. With some moves we mutually supported each other, we laughed throughout some, and at points we acknowledged our own weaknesses and took a break to respect where we were physically. It was all about communication and tuning into your own body.

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Disregard my concerned expression—this is my “resting” face

After stretching we also had a wonderful mini dance series, which was followed by savasana. Afterwards, we all hung out and chatted, talked about the fitness scene in the bay area, and enjoyed the provided refreshments. I can’t wait until the next monthly event to meet new people, get deeper in my stretches, and let loose a little more bit more while I dance.

Be sure to check out the  Yogohana meet-up happening November 18 if you are in the Bay Area!

Ted Talk Friday: The Psychology of Your Future Self

Dr. Dan Gilbert is one of my favorite Positive Psychology researchers; this short talk is so engaging and fascinating. I think it is so fascinating how greatly we underestimate how much we will change during the next decade. This talk really provokes me to think about how this underestimation will impact my lived experience–from what I do to where I live. Even with this knowledge, I’m sure I will still underestimate the amount of change that will occur in the next years; while this might be a negative feature, I think it also serves to protect our sense of self.

 

 

 

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Do you agree with Dr. Gilbert? Do you expect to change within the next year? 10 years?

Gratitude in Action

We talk so much about gratitude; usually we talk about expressing gratitude, but it often revolves around reflection–or events in the past we now feel grateful for.

But what about the gratitude of the NOW? Of the present moment?

I had a surreal day where I made a particular effort to be mindful of my gratitude in the moment, and it truly enriched my experience. Living in California has been both the scariest change and this biggest blessing in my life. I had the chance to go horseback riding along a beach trail and every moment felt like a magical gift.

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I love horses. Sure, they smell and there are more flies, but these are wise animals. I feel a strange sense of security and calm when riding. It was a quiet, peaceful ride along near the beach, through a woodsy trail, culminating at a pristine beach.

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We had to leave our phones behind (a wonderful exercise for living in the present) so while we couldn’t take great selfies, we could fully embrace the beauty and experience. I felt so calm, centered, and fulfilled afterwards and will continue to seek out experiences that force me out of my routine, cut me off from technology, and let me immerse myself in deep gratitude.

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Do you practice gratitude in the now?

Herb Infused Stuffed Squash

I recently received garlic herb Miracle Noodles and I was dying to use them in a fall inspired dish. I had a delicata squash to use and after I had such success with my last stuffed squash dish, I couldn’t resist running with this variation.

This screams comfort food to me; it’s a hearty blend of fall flavors, herbs, and garlic. I always love cooking and the inspiration struck me around 8pm after I had already made dinner so it became two days of lunches. This is also surprisingly budget friendly–a perk of eating seasonally that goes beyond the environmental benefits! (Delicata squash are only $.99 at Trader Joe’s!)

Ingredients:

1 delicata squash

1 tbsp canned pumpkin

1 tbsp broth

1 tsp coconut oil

1 tsp amore foods garlic paste

1 bag garlic herb miracle noodles

1 small bunch green onions

1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped

Directions:

1) Puncture delicata squash skin with a fork and cook in microwave on high for 4 minutes.

2) While the squash is cooking, prepare Miracle Noodles according to directions on the bag.

3) Heat coconut oil in a small skillet on the stove and briefly sauté green onions and mushrooms until tender.

4) In a separate bowl, mix pumpkin, broth, and garlic paste.

5) Add the pumpkin mix to the stir fried veggies and noodles and mix well.

6) Carefully remove the squash from the microwave and cut open (watch for the steam that will come out), then de-seed the squash with a fork.

7) Set seeds aside for roasting if you want–they make for a great crunchy snack!

8) Fill each half of the squash withe the Noodle mixture.

9) Enjoy!

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What’s your favorite part of eating seasonal produce?