Ted Talk Friday: Why wildfires have gotten worse — and what we can do about it

The wildfires in California are raging on either side of the Bay Area–part of Los Angeles are up in smoke and a small town called Paradise north of San Francisco has been burned to the ground. The air where I live This talk is timely and I learned so much about why wildfires are becoming more and more common. Diversity, even in nature, is critical and serves a protective function, which is such an interesting parallel to the importance of human diversity.

 

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What was the most surprising thing you learned in this talk? Have you been following the California wildfires?

Beetnik Foods: A fresh take on frozen meals

Beetnik Foods recently reached out to me to try some of their newest products. I love their frozen meal options–some of my favorites include the Lemon Chicken with Cauliflower Rice and the Peruvian Inspired Chicken Stew.While I still prefer to meal prep with homemade fresh options, these frozen meals come in handy in a pinch. They are healthy, USDA certified organic, gluten free, and hit all the nutritional boxes I look for when choosing a pre-made meal option. I am try to consume as little meat as possible, but I feel good eating the grass-fed beef and organic, humanely raised chicken included in Beetnik meals.

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I got a chance to try out their new grass-fed meatballs over the weekend and was blown away! I never grew up eating meatballs, we generally did not eat that much red meat in my household, so I was not sure what to expect. The package is resealable so I took out enough meatballs for two and threw together a quick dish with spaghetti squash, marinara, and dairy-free parmesan cheese.

Prep was super easy with a short 12 minutes in the oven at 375:

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I steamed my spaghetti squash in the microwave a few hours earlier. I cut my squash in half length-wise, scooped out the seeds, and filled each half with marinara sauce (my favorite brand is Whole Foods Everyday Value marinara). After the meatballs were cooked, I placed them in the squash and put them back in the hot oven for 15-20 minutes to warm up. I enjoyed my half over a bed of spinach:

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The squash also tastes delicious with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese (I use GoVeggie! dairy-free parmesan cheese).

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The meatballs did not have a bread texture, but instead tasted like real, hearty meatballs with a great Italian-inspired flavor. This meal kept me full for hours and didn’t even feel me weighed down like the typical spaghetti and meatballs might. I will definitely be using these again!

Curious about the nutrition stats?

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Disclaimer: I received this product from Beetnik Foods, but all opinions and thoughts are my own and represent my own experience.

Ted Talk Friday: How to Let Go of Being a Good Person and Become a Better Person

This talk is especially important right now. I think there is immense pressure to stay on the moral high ground, that we often sacrifice how we could be better or think more deeply about our action out of fear of being perceived as bad, politically incorrect, etc. Chugh’s commentary on how we perceive goodness and how we can evolve to be better people.

 

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How do you think about being a “good” person? What was your favorite part of this talk?

Ted Talk Friday: How to Stop Swiping and Find Your Person on Dating Apps

Living in the Bay Area in my young twenties means that almost everyone I know is on dating apps. I hear so many stories of bad dates or wasted nights, but Wallace’s approach to online dating is a strategy that even the busiest of people can try. I love her practical tips and business-savvy techniques. I hope you get some entertainment (or practical use) out of this talk!

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Have you tried online dating? Do you like her approach?

Ted Talk Friday: Violence Against Women — it’s a men’s issue

October is domestic violence awareness month and my mom sent me an article about this author, activist and speaker and it really captivated me in the current moment. Katz provides a well-balanced and thoughtful take on violence in society today. He does a fantastic job of broaching the subject in an accessible, thoughtful way.  He is passionate and also realistic about where we are today and the steps we can take to make a real difference.

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Have you heard this talk before? What moment stood out to you most?

Ted Talk Friday: “The Last Serenade”

If you’re like me, you need a moment to pause and think on a Friday morning. I get so caught up in the week’s events and anticipation of the weekend, that I forget to take a moment to be present. I played violin for five years growing up and it left me with a deep appreciation for beautiful violin pieces, and this is certainly a stunning performance. I hope you enjoy this short video and take a moment to re-center yourself this Friday.

 

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What’s your favorite instrument? Do Fridays feel rushed to you too?

A Weekend in Portland: Sweat, Sunshine, and Good Eats

I had to go to Portland for work so I decided to turn it into a weekend getaway! I caught an early 7AM flight Thursday morning and made it to Portland by 9AM just in time to start a beautiful and strangely warm October day. My work visit started off with a minor injury. *warning: bloody foot photo below*

Luckily it looks worse than it was and after my onsite event ended, I walked over to a nearby Whole Foods and tucked into hot bar takeaway while working through the afternoon. I had a frustrating evening sorting through finding a rental car, but luckily I have patient people in my life to help me out! I spent Friday working from my Airbnb and picked up my rental car that evening before exploring the neighborhoods around Beaverton.

I spent my night relaxing in bed with a cup of hot tea writing and went to sleep early…and I slept for 11 hours! The next day I woke up and hit the road to see Columbia River Gorge. I was bummed when the parking lots for Multnomah Falls were full, but I just kept on driving. I ended up pulling over to talk to a park ranger and picked a trail he recommended. The trail wasn’t the most peaceful since it ran parallel to the highway, but it offered some amazing views of the Columbia river and the surrounding mountains.

I started to head back toward Portland and luckily the parking lot for Multnomah Falls had empty spots! I pulled in and ventured over to the falls. It was stunning, but definitely overrun with tourists.

I hit the road again and headed to Flex and Flow, the yoga studio where Sweatpink (an amazing community of female bloggers) began! Visiting the studio was a must-do item on my Portland bucket list. I made it in time for a 3pm Power Vinyasa class with Nic–a lovely lady I’ve known via email for years now! Meeting her in person was surreal and her class absolutely kicked my butt (especially after hitting the trails that morning).

After yoga I met up with an old friend I’ve known since I was five years old. I hadn’t spoken with her in maybe four years, but catching up brought me so much joy. Plus, she has incredible taste in food and brought me to the best place for ramen in Portland: Afuri.

We started with the seasonal Butternut Squash plate with chili hazelnut miso, mustard greens, and hazelnut:

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I ordered the Truffle Miso: miso tare, mushroom tomato broth, wild mushroom, beansprout, Chinese chive, and truffle oil.

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That evening I wandered around the Pearl District and went to Powell’s bookstore–the store takes up an entire city block!! While I loved it, I have to say it was a bit too overwhelming for me. I slept like a baby Saturday night and woke up ready for a day of adventures on Sunday. I started my day in Washington Park and ended up wandering around for over two hours around the trails–I ended at the Rose Garden, which was magnificent.

So many roses in full bloom with unusually warm weather and plenty of sunshine.

Somehow I managed to find my car again and drove to the Oregon Historical Society Museum. I am a history nerd through and through–some of my favorite topics include history related to the Titanic and the Oregon Trail. I still vividly remember a unit on the Oregon trail from third grade; I wrote a diary from the perspective of a young girl (named Lucy Kitty Smith) on the trail and filled 60 pages with her thoughts and experiences on the trail. I hoped the museum would include more about the trail, but there wasn’t too much there. I ended the day in the Alberta Arts District walking down streets full of cute shops, thrift stores, and art galleries. I wandered around until it was time to head to the airport.

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Have you been to Portland? What would your favorite part of the trip be?

Ted Talk Friday: A new way to fund health care for the most vulnerable

This talk was deeply moving; Dr. Bastawrous tells his story beautifully. His scalable solution is a simple answer to the typical funding structure we see in most healthcare non-profit services. He describes a plan for changing the healthcare funding landscape, and how those changes lead not only to better health, but also to increased ROI. I think my favorite line was, “I felt like a chocolate chip in rice pudding.”


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Have you ever looked at healthcare in this light? Would you invest in healthcare like this?

Coping with Loss: One Year Out

It’s been a little over a year since a dear friend of mine passed away. While certain songs still bring him to my mind, like any song by Jurassic 5 or Biggie Smalls–some of his favorites, they make me smile more often than they make me cry. I’ve been thinking a lot about this difficult period in my life and what it means to me a year later. Studies show that how we cope with difficult events helps us make meaning and come out a little wiser on the other side. We need social support to make that happen.

I’m so grateful for the many shoulders I’ve had to cry on, the friends who have listened to my stories, and the loved ones who’ve checked in on me. I’ve also found amazing community through sharing my grief on social media; over 30% of young adults know someone who has died of an overdose. That is a large portion of the population, and sharing our stories is one way to cope with our losses.

I was lucky that his parents and the Nashville community spoke so openly about his death. My friend had suffered with different addictions for years. I remember a call from him a few years ago and hearing fear in his voice. He asked me to hold him accountable, and I did. He went to rehab a few months later, spent more time with his family, graduated from college and had a job that let him be outdoors. I remember meeting up with him and his dad about six months before his passing; I went to one of his father’s graduate school lectures with my friend for fun. We reminisced and he told me some of his stories that inevitably cracked me up. He had a wonderful sense of humor, kindness, and genuine friendliness about him from the first day we met that always struck me.

We texted in the few weeks before his death; he seemed to be doing well and I told him I wanted to visit him in Colorado and finally learn to ski. Skiing was one of his many beloved outdoor hobbies. There was no hint that he was not ok, no signs that I detected. That is one of the scariest parts of addiction–it is an ongoing battle. As friends and supporters, we can only do so much. Addiction is not a choice we can prevent, but rather a disease well beyond the control of friends and family.

His death has prompted me to look deeply at the way I live my life. He was always carefree, calm, and in awe of nature. I’ve taken some amazing trips, hiked new trails, and taken chances with new challenges.  I’ve also started prioritizing my social ties–staying connected to those who matter most with phone calls, letters, and visits. Research shows that our social network actually heals after the loss of a friend. Friends are pulled closer together following a loss–helping to heal both the group and the individual.

While it will never be easy, I am starting to feel that it is getting easier.