Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Vegan Challenge

For almost two weeks now, I have been existing on a vegan diet. Why? Well, I have a variety of reasons for making the change, all of which stem from my wanting to avoid prescription drugs with side effects that can be worse than the actual ailments. After doing extensive research for several months, I decided to take the plunge by trying out the vegan lifestyle for at least one month. So far, I am not missing animal products of any kind.

My vegan challenge includes omitting all oil as well, which has been a big hurdle for me. When eating salads at home or in restaurants, I always chose oil and vinegar as my regular dressing; now I make my oil free options at home, and avoid eating meals out. I still go to caf├ęs armed with my laptop, but now I make sure to eat before I go so I am not tempted to buy pastries or savory items to accompany my herbal tea drinks, which I order iced during these scorching hot summer days.

Making sure not to munch on anything three hours before bedtime has also been difficult; I love snacking whenever I can, so I make sure to stay hydrated and eat filling, nutritious food throughout the day to avoid succumbing to my cravings at night. My reliance on a variety of vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts, rice, oats, and other healthy starches make me feel lighter, even though my main goal isn't weight loss. All I want is overall good health, and I think I am on the right track.

Depending on how things go during the month, I may decide to stay a vegan. To make it work, I have to plan ahead and maintain discipline. I tend to be disorganized and lazy, so the long term challenge will be to change these bad habits to make veganism work for me. It is definitely not going to be easy, but I will continue to try to make it work.

Good luck to all of you out there who are trying to make positive lifestyle changes!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Creative Flow

CHICKS ROCK! is happy to welcome back Giovanna as a guest blogger:

Giovanna lives in New York City. Through her work experiences and
most recently through her studies, she has developed a passion for the
dynamic of work, the psychology behind it.

A creative mind is a happy mind. Researchers have found that, among other things, creativity increases job satisfaction, creates more positive emotions, and augments the overall wellbeing of a person. Henceforth, it should come as no surprise that people who are creative are happier than those who aren’t.

To attest to it, think about the times when you’ve been your most crafty: that time you whipped up pancakes from scratch or when you came up with that cool hack to save time in the morning before work. Chances are, you look back at those moments with fondness because creativity often comes from a positive place: love, impulse, curiosity.

Our history is full of artists, philosophers and mad geniuses whose ideas were so groundbreaking that they seem novel even today. However, lately it seems the world has lost that creative edge.

We live in a time where anything mainstream looks and sounds the same: the people next to you as you cross the street are wearing the same style, the song on the radio sounds exactly like the one you just heard, etc. It’s as if there are no new ideas anymore. And the shocking part is, most of us are O.K. with that. Many of us have become complacent with living our lives without creativity.

Researchers have even coined a term for it: creative bias; people want to be creative, yet reject creative ideas when they have them.

Sound familiar? It should, because we have all been guilty of this at one time or another. How many times have you thought about trying a new activity, for instance, yet brushed it off as implausible? How often have you wanted to try a new hairstyle but decided against it because you thought it would look ridiculous? We put so much restraint on our own thoughts, that we disregard any possibility of originality. It's as if we're afraid of the stigma that comes from thinking outside the box.

However, as much as we may try to suppress it, creativity needs to be expressed. Creativity is as much a part of being human as breathing; the challenge is learning to apply creativity to our everyday lives.

Creativity is said to come from the right hemisphere: the same side of the brain associated with images, emotions, color, music, expression, and intuition. That’s why musicians, artists and writers are often described as creative. Even so, you do not have to be the next Frida Kahlo or have a page on Etsy to be considered creative. Creativity is not just about making collages and writing sonnets, it’s about creating ideas! PsychologyToday defines creativity as the ability to generate new ideas, new connections between ideas and new ways to solve problems. In order to do this, you have to open your mind to a new way of thinking.

So next time you have a kooky idea - embrace it! Allow yourself to take a different cognitive approach to a given situation. Take inspiration from your environment, the people around you. Let go of mental hurdles you place on yourself and let the prospect of creativity sharpen your skills and abilities. Let it boost your resilience and satisfaction with life. Quiet the negative thoughts and let your creative mind flow!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

When Everything Goes Wrong

This morning, I woke up and had a plan for the day: write a blog post about starting my business, make a couple of phone calls, have a session with a client, work on a website I'm helping a friend with, and reach out to a few more people about my upcoming program.

Then everything went wrong.

 First, my cell service was cut off, for reasons that belong in a whole other blog post. As I scrambled to reschedule my calls, I noticed a message about a problem with my student loan payment. I spent 30 minutes on the phone (via Skype) before the call was dropped and I had to start the process all over again. The issue was only sort of resolved an additional 20 minutes later.

Sometime during that call, I noticed that my laptop charger had stopped working. Yesterday, a cat nibbled on the cord and bit into it; it worked this morning after jiggling it a bit but hasn't worked since. By this point, there was not much battery left on my laptop, my phone still wasn't working, and I realized my goals for the day were taking a detour. It was only 10:30am.

When I'm stressed out, I clean, so I set off to do just that. I noticed a weird smell and found three piles of rotting fruit covered in maggots and completely freaked out. I hate bananas, anything rotten or moldy, and tiny bugs... this could not have been more of a nightmare situation for me. This is when I almost gave up and went back to bed, because it wasn't even my mess -- I'm staying at somebody else's place.

But I forced myself to do something to feel like I could get a handle on things.

I wrapped a scarf around my face, got out all the plastic bags and cleaning supplies I could find, and rid the place of all the fruit and maggots. Then I took a break from everything and drank hot water with lemon and honey. I cleaned some more, organized my bags, ate, and had a generally productive day despite not being able to do the things I planned to do. I'm now at a friend's place charging my laptop, writing this on my phone, which is finally back on.

This is partially a chance to vent but mostly, I'm proud of myself for getting through the day instead of quitting. It was also important to me to actually cross something off my to do list, woohoo! Blog post done!

Maybe next week I'll write about my business but I do want to let everyone know about my online course, Launch Your Website in 4 Weeks; check it out and sign up if you've been wanting to start or revamp a website! Now I'm off to watch a friend do some improv and laugh the stressful day away.

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