How you view intention + how it shapes your interactions

I believe we construct so many detrimental stories about others and how they treat us. We assume they are trying to leave us out, trying to make us feel bad, or trying to ignore us. But what if we change that and instead assume they are oblivious, self-focused, or are struggling with their own issues? While this does not change the actions of others, it can help us feel better about the intention, about the why we so often struggle with.

When we frame others as humans who only want belonging and happiness, the negative assumptions we make often melt away. I don’t want to seem naive; sure, there are always those malicious people who are actively trying to hurt us, but they are far less common than we think. I know I would rather feel naive than bitter.

This way of thinking is self-protective and inherently positive; leaving the space for us to give others the benefit of the doubt where we often fill in the blanks with malintent.

I think of all the times someone made an off-hand comment or forgot to thank me when I assumed it must have been a purposeful, spiteful choice. In my experience, spite is the exception, not the rule. While it is not easy to cultivate a positive outlook on others, it can be easy to begin questioning assumptions–and even asking the person directly in some instances.

What if that guy who cut you off in the parking lot just lost his job or is worried about his ailing mother? Would you feel differently about how he stole your spot? Maybe you wouldn’t cuss him out or send over a death glare. Maybe you would instead feel compassion for him and his situation. I know feeling compassion always leaves me feeling happier and healthier than an expression of rage or frustration in moments like these.

Ted Talk Friday: How to Achieve Your Most Ambitious Goals

A friend of mine shared this talk with me and thought I would like it–he knows me well! Duneier, the Guinness World Record holder for the largest crocheted granny square along with numerous other accomplishments, provides great concrete examples of how small tweaks and changes we make in our life can add up slowly and make a huge difference. For example, I started listening to Ted Talks consistently four years ago and I believe my knowledge and general perspective on life has changed dramatically.  It is all about those small little choices we make, not the drastic New Years resolutions so many of us make in a few short weeks. Start little, start now.

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Do you agree with Duneier’s advice?

Holiday Travel: the good, the bad, the ugly

Holiday travel can be unpleasant, to put it mildly! I hate traveling on the average day (the flights, not the destinations and experiences), but somehow the holidays amplify the stress and bring out a little extra crazy. I’m now flying home from the West Coast and opt for overnight flights to avoid losing a day at home or work, plus these flights are often less pricy. In an effort to make my travel as comfortable as possible, I’ve come up with a few tips and tricks that help me.

  1. Make a packing list: you’ll probably tell yourself “oh, I would never forget that..,” but there is nothing worse than arriving at your destination without underwear or the murder mystery you were halfway done reading.
  2. Packing cubes:
  3. Water bottle:
  4. Chargers:

Specific to overnight flights:

  • Pack a pillow! I recently bought a Turtl pillow (yes, I realize how silly they look). It is so important to have good neck support so you can sleep and wake up without serious neck pain when you arrive at your destination.
  • Take something to help you sleep whether that’s melatonin or a low grade sleeping aid; just ensure that you have enough time in the air after you take it so you are not too drowsy when you land. Depending on what you take, I like to have a minimum of six hours of buffer time after I’ve taken my melatonin or other sleep aid.
  • Pack socks–nothing is worse than cold feet! They take up so little room and will definitely be worth it.

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Will you be traveling this holiday season? What are your best travel tips?

Ted Talk Friday: What makes technology so habit-forming?

Nir Eyal is an Emory alum and has been referenced numerous times in one of my favorite podcasts, Note to Self. He poses an interesting idea about technology and why it has a death grip on our minds and behaviors. I think he is really on to something; I find myself compulsively checking my Instagram, Facebook messages, and even this blog on occasion. I think it is all about setting healthy limits and using technology in ways that enhance wellbeing rather than detract from it.

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Do you agree with Eyal’s argument?

Maple Roasted Winter Veggies (GF + DF)

My favorite dish at thanksgiving every year is as beautiful and colorful as it is tasty: roasted brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and onion tossed in a maple & apple cider vinegar dressing and topped with pomegranate seeds.

Full of vitamins, fiber, and flavor! Plus, it’s easy to prep ahead of time when you’re preparing a big holiday meal.

Ingredients:

1 stalk of brussel sprouts

1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 large butternut squash, peeled

1 large pomegranate, seeded

3 tbsp maple syrup (can use sugar-free)

3 tbsp Apple cider vinegar

1 tsp minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

2. Place whole butternut squash in microwave for 6 minutes.

3. Remove brussel sprouts from stalk.

4. Chop onion and larger brussel sprouts in half.

5. Remove butternut squash from microwave, then peel and de-seed the squash.

6. Chop the squash into 1-inch cubes.

7. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, apple cider vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper and stir until well combined.

8. Toss brussel sprouts, butternut squash, and onions in maple syrup mixture until well-coated.

9. Place veggies on a greased cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes or until all veggies are tender.

10. While the veggies are cooking, break open your pomegranate into a bowl of cold water and separate the seeds from the white flesh.

11. Remove veggies from oven, place in serving dish and top with pomegranate seeds.

12. Pause to admire, then enjoy!

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What are your favorite winter veggies?

Holiday Gift Guide 2017

How are we already to the holiday season?! Where did 2017 go? Honestly, I’m not sad to see it end. I am so excited for all that is to come for 2018; I have a feeling it will be a good year. Luckily, we only have the best of 2017 left: the holidays! I love everything about the holidays–the gratitude, family time, hot tea, traditions.  I personally love picking out gifts for people, but I know it can be a real stressor for many of us…thus, I have created my holiday gift guide with a few of my favorite things!

  1. NuNaturals Products– This is my favorite stevia brand out there. There is no bitter aftertaste in their stevia packets and the syrups are beyond delicious. I’m obsessed with their cocoa syrup–it’s 1000x better than Hershey’s syrup and it is naturally sweetened. Their new holiday flavored syrups (pumpkin spice and chai spice) are amazing as well! This would be a great gift for anyone who loves sweets, baking, or is working to reduce their sugar intake.2. Jord Watches- I love my Jord watch and get so many compliments on it. These are such unique, special gifts. They size the watch for you and have tons of different styles and color palettes. I currently have a giveaway going on now (through Thanksgiving 2017). Each watch is unique and you can read all about the type of wood and style on their site. Each watch comes in a beautiful wooden box complete with a watch care set.

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3. Packing Cubes– These have completely changed the way I pack and travel. I studied abroad for five weeks and could only bring one suitcase and I could not have packed without these cubes. They are not just helpful for organization, but they also compress everything to make your clothing even more compact.

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These are especially helpful for multi-part trips; you can simply divide your wardrobe into the different cubes. I have the teal and lavender colors–so pretty! You can order yours on Amazon (with free shipping!).

4. Derma E Skincare -Nothing beats an amazing product with a conscience. Most skincare brands out there use harsh chemicals and engage in unethical practices–ranging from animal testing to the packaging they use. I love Derma E because this brand is dedicated to creating the highest quality skincare products without sacrificing their values. I use their products everyday. Some of my favorites include their charcoal mask, microdermabrasion scrub, and hydrating cleanser (great for the dry winter months). Plus you get free shipping when you spend $25!

5. Detour Bars– If you know me, you know I literally always have one a bar on my person! They are delicious and come in candy-bar-like fun flavors. They also make an oatmeal based bar that my mom (who doesn’t usually like protein bars at all!) absolutely loves. While nothing beats eating whole foods it’s impossible to have the time and access to fresh options all the time. I stash these in my car, purse, office–basically everywhere! This is a great gift for someone trying to create healthier habits. Use code HAPPY20 for a discount when you order!

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6. Designer Protein– I love all the different lines of protein DP makes; there is literally something for everyone. They recently released an amazing superfoods powder (two versions) that are great too. The travel packets would make a great gift for someone who is trying to get healthy on the go. Use code HANNAH20 for 20% off your order from Designer Protein!

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Do you have a hard timing finding gifts for loved ones? What are some of your go-to gifts?

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.

Kubler-Ross

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